A lot of people seem to think that just because I’m a chronic over-sharer and have few problems speaking my mind that I am brave. As much as I’d like it to be so, it’s not true. I am a constant TMI person because I have very little shame in areas that many people are self-conscious about. I don’t really care about modesty, bodily functions, or even outrageous opinions.
In fact, this extreme extrovert persona is just that – a persona. I’m not really like this In Real Life. (Or at least, I try not to be. It would get old real fast.) I’m actually a really wounded little girl inside. Please love me. LOVE ME NOW! (Only kinda kidding.) All this bravado and shit-talking, well, that’s my “idealized self.” I mean, it’s easy to be full of sass when no one is actually in front of me and giving me guff. Who doesn’t want to be like the heroes and heroines on TV and in movies who always have a wise-crack at the ready?
Truthfully, it’s not hard for me to be outspoken because that is my natural tendency. It might seem brave to be broadcasting my thoughts to the world in this forum (you know, due to my million readers and all), but I’ve never been prone to stage fright and am often an attention whore. Perhaps for an introvert or someone less self-centered, the things that come out of my mouth are hard to say. But because my internal censor is often broken (usually to my detriment), it really has never been a problem. (Hapa Papa often says that my mouth writes checks my body can’t cash.)
In reality, I am quite the coward. It took me four years to realize that I hated being a Microbiology major in college – and by then, I only had one quarter left so I might as well finish my degree. What a waste of four years of education that was completely paid for by my parents. It took me nine years to tell my mother I hated being a financial advisor. That’s almost a DECADE of living a life that I hated and made me miserable.
One of my biggest regrets in life was how I ended the relationship I was in before Hapa Papa. I basically forced this poor man’s hand to give me an ultimatum because I didn’t have the balls to end it properly. I dragged him along, making him hope that I would stop my quarter life crisis and go back to loving him when I had already given my heart to another. I was too chicken shit to break up with him because I didn’t want to leave a sure thing (we were thinking very seriously of getting married) for something that was a gamble (Hapa Papa).
Even now, with this blog, I am constantly weighing what I have no problem sharing and things that are important to me but am afraid to write. A lot of times, I tell myself it is because I don’t want to risk publicly exposing the rest of my family (such as my mother) because even though it’s part my story, other people that I love are also involved and it may be even MORE of their story.
It took me more than twenty years to finally tell my mother that her asking my brother and I to pretend and ignore all my father’s problems actually contributed to him never experiencing any consequences of his actions. TWENTY YEARS. Twenty years of lying and willful ignorance, of pretending to be someone that I am not just to protect a man who is not worth protecting. Two decades wasted on a man who never cared about anyone other than himself, who carelessly broke the lives of my mother, my brother, and myself (not to mention others in his family).
After thinking it over, my mother told me I was right and said my brother and I no longer had to pretend. I waited five days before I told my father he was dead to me. My mother was livid. I was finally free.
Twenty years. Two decades. That’s almost two thirds of my life!
How much more of my life am I going to waste being afraid or hiding my true self because I am fearful of disappointing or hurting my mother? (That’s usually the primary reason.) How can I teach my kids to be brave and courageous if I, myself, am constantly hiding? Do I really want my children to give me a false version of themselves because they are afraid to disappoint me? Their mother? Who will love them no matter what?
That thought makes me unbearably sad.
I’ve decided that I want to be brave. To be someone who is not afraid of disappointing my mother. (And it turns out she doesn’t mind me not wanting to be a financial advisor. Just like she didn’t mind me not wanting to be a doctor. She is made of sterner stuff than I thought.) I want to be someone who consistently chooses things that I want or think is good for my family versus what I think other people expect me to choose (in which case, I am frequently incorrect).
I think that’s why Sara Bareilles’s new song, Brave, almost always brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. According to wikipedia, Bareilles wrote the song for a friend to encourage him to come out to his family. The song may have been written about a specific situation, but I think it is so true for life in general.
The part that resonates the most with me is the bridge:
And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good,
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?
How true is that? Truth with a capital T.
You can find the full lyrics here.