A Beginning

Today I am starting a new blog. I have watched others start new blogs when they enter new stages of their lives and I have always thought to myself, How silly. You are still the same person. Don’t throw out your old writing and dismiss your old life. But now I understand. I am the same person, but I am writing from a different place, and this new place needs a new space that has never borne my words before.

Blank pages by RoccoMathijn

Blank notebooks are one of my favorite things. They contain so much possibility. I buy them and wonder if this time I will fill it with deep reflections and thoughts.

But a journal is not the right home for the words I need to say, no more than my old blog is right. Sharing is not enough to fill me- I am strong enough to admit I need listeners.

The main trouble, as I see it, is this: Comparison is the thief of joy.

My old blog was too much about comparison- that is why I must leave it behind. I displayed pictures of the places I had seen and wrote stories of my adventures- partly to record them, yes, and hold on to bits of them, but also to show them off to the world. Do you see me? I am worthwhile because of all I have done and seen and been.

The messiness that we all hold inside came through in snatches and fragments, but was always excused away the next morning. I’m fine, not to worry…

I’m not fine. None of us are. We are all trying to do this difficult and beautiful thing called life, but we only have a vague idea of how to do it, so we bumble along trying our very hardest to look like we’ve got it all together, but it’s a facade. We all have cracks and stains and parts that don’t fit together quite right. We’re all human.

So I’m stepping away from all of the comparison. From chipper facebook statuses, from carefully posed pictures, from carefully edited narratives. Instead, I choose honesty. That means writing about joy when I feel joyful, but also writing about isolation when I feel alone, or sadness when I am depressed. It means being my true self. It means facing down vulnerability and admitting I need love.

This morning, as I perused facebook before heading out for my morning commute, something snapped. All of the comparison overwhelmed me. The photos of smiling friends, the posts between friends, the tagging and the β€œlike” counts all contributed to my irrational conclusion: I am not as loved as any of these people. I am alone. No one wants to share in my life. It was the specter of my fourth-grade fear, come to haunt me again: You will never be popular no matter how hard you try.

So I drove to school and I sobbed. I know it’s dangerous to sob while driving, but I’m still pretty amazed at myself for making it out of the house at all. While I sobbed, a part of my mind noted that fact. I’m going to class anyway. Twenty year old Laura would have gone back to bed. That little realization was enough to remind me of the progress I have made. I held a little therapy session in my head.

Why are you so upset?

Because I’m all alone in Michigan and my friends are having fun without me
and no one cares that I’m not there.

How does that make you feel?

Worthless. Unwanted. Broken.

None of that is true. It feels true right now, but it’s not. At the very least, God loves you.

And I prayed. God, it hurts. God, I’m lonely. God, please take some of this pain away. A miraculous thing happened: the crushing weight in my chest lifted. I was able to breathe. In and out, in and out. The need to sob receded. I pulled into the parking lot, turned off the car, and sat still for a moment. Then I texted my husband, mother, and two best friends: I’m struggling hard with feeling lonely and isolated this morning. I think I’ve got it under control now, but prayers would be appreciated. I miss you. I grabbed my bag, locked the car, and boarded the bus.

It was not a perfect or whole recovery. I still feel the shadows at the edges of my thoughts. But I fed myself comfort food for lunch and set myself to reading empowering instead of comparing things, like the writings of Glennon, Heather, and Kristen. Their collective courage, honesty, and vulnerability led me to ponder and then write this. Later today I will bake scones for my husband, feed us a nourishing pasta meal, and contribute to a group project for school. I might talk to my mother, who is understandably worried about me after my SOS text this morning. I will definitely snuggle against my husband and tell him I love him. And when I pull the covers up to my chin tonight, I hope I will remember to say a little prayer of thanks that today was not nearly as bad as it could have been. In fact, it was a good day, because now I have a new place to be my true self.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

10 Comments

  1. The lesson here is not to look at Facebook. Your life is a lot bigger than that. Also, I’m pretty sure they just did a study that showed that the longer you look at Facebook the shittier you feel. Or something like that: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2011/01/the_antisocial_network.html

    Also, “In fact, it was a good day, because now I have a new place to be my true self.” this is true every time you move.

    <3s

    Elyse

    Reply
    • I am seriously considering giving up facebook altogether… or at least not checking my news feed anymore. I haven’t made up my mind yet. What’s your facebook policy?

      Reply
  2. I just make my best effort not to give a shit : )

    If Facebook isn’t benefiting you in any way, lose it. You can always post giggly baby pictures and updates on your blog or Flickr or something else. Hell, even Google+ would work. On the other hand, maybe it’s just particularly bad right now, in which case you could always take a break and come back to re-evaluate when you’re in a better place.

    Reply
  3. Laura, thank you for inviting me to share in this part of your life’s journey! I really do miss being able to find you within what was practically a one mile radius while we were both at the best university in the world (I figure that no more precise description is needed). So this new blog–no matter what ever else it becomes–makes me feel like I can still speak with you at a meaningful level, and that makes me feel great!

    I think there is something profound in what you say about our “culture of comparison”, in which our joy becomes ranked relative to the joys of others, and I think it is interesting that you have analyzed such a culture against the background of social networking. You ask us to think of something as ostensibly innocuous as a “like” and a “status update” as a desire to place our lives into competition with others. I find this challenging because, when I think about my own posting habits, I tend to put up articles that I find intriguing, funny, or otherwise worthy of regard, but I don’t do so consciously thinking about how it compares to the lives of others. That’s not to say, however, that it couldn’t be read that way. For example, perhaps my desire to post on my Facebook wall the most recent article from some journal or news source is a way that I express my “superiority” as a consumer of information, effectively saying to the world, “A-ha! I am so educated that I am able, not only to read, but to post this article before any of YOU,” where “you” in this case is some diminutive.

    Of course, the fact that something is not consciously present to my mind does not necessarily exclude me from moral responsibility for it. (For example, just because I am not consciously thinking that such a term is racist does not mean that I exonerated from moral culpability for that reason if I choose to use the term.) I am wondering, then, do you think that Facebook statuses, “likes,” posts of photos from trips, etc., inevitably express this type of disintegrating culture of comparison? Or, alternatively, is there such a space that we can reach where our social networking habits participate in “culture of authenticity,” where I can unapologetically express to the world who I am without regard for how it compares to the lives of others?

    Reply
    • Craig, I miss you too!! Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a long and thoughtful response. I think it’s definitely possible to be authentic in social networking and post things without trying to one-up anyone. I just recognize in myself the tendency towards comparison, and I know it’s not healthy. If you look inside yourself and find your motives are pure for engaging in social networking, rock on! For me, I think I need to do a better job of examining my motivations and being aware of myself. I click through facebook and twitter as part of my internet routine on most days without really stopping to think why I’m doing it. Since I wrote this post, I took a few days off of facebook and removed the app from my home screen on my phone. Recently I have checked it once a day, tops, and it feels like a healthier balance for me. It’s an ongoing process- awareness is the key. Thanks again for reading and I hope all is well with you πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. Kristi

     /  February 18, 2012

    Lovely comparison/contrast of a blank journal and this space you’ve chosen… So much possibility! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  5. I had and “old blog,” for nearly 6 years and it was a lot like yours. I often compared my little old blog to bigger and better ones. I also complained a lot on my old blog and I really wanted a fresh start where I could focus on the good things in life! I’ve been blogging at my new site for 5 months now and i’m so glad I “started over.”

    Reply
  6. I know you wrote this a while ago, but I love it so much!!!! πŸ™‚

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s