Being 360 Degrees of Authenticity

This is a “lifestyle” blog right? So that means I can talk about “life”? Well, awesome. I have some life stuff to talk about.

Over the past week I did something I didn’t think I would ever do. I opened up my blog to people who know me ‘offline’ on my personal Facebook and Instagram accounts (Hi, friends and family!). That may not sound like a big deal to some, but man, it was pretty huge for me on so many different levels. I had been debating for weeks about whether or not I would ever get the courage to open it up them. For the life of me, I could not figure out

why on earth was it so stinking hard for me to let my friends and family read my silly little blog?

There is nothing on here that is ‘damaging’ or that I have ‘hidden’ from them. I am not bashing my family. My friends aren’t mentioned. I am not saying anything offensive (at least I don’t think so?) Everyone knows I am Catholic, that’s not a secret. I don’t talk about politics (and never will, in case you are curious). So why on earth was I SO nervous about it?? Well, thanks to the wonderful invention of the world-wide web and the increasing polarization of almost EVERY topic known to man, there are literally endless opportunities to create a limitless number of perceptions of ourselves. Therefore, creating one cohesive authentic online version of yourself and SHOWING it to EVERYONE… well that is just crazy!

5,000 ‘Leah’s’

Do you know how EASY it is to have like 5,000 versions of yourself and not even realize it?? I have ‘work Leah’, ‘Dad-side of family Leah’, ‘Mom-side of family Leah’, ‘college friends Leah’, ‘highschool friends Leah’, ‘facebook Leah’, ‘instagram Leah’, ‘work Leah’, ‘liberal friends Leah’, ‘conservative friends Leah’, oh and the list could go on. Now, before you start yelling at me for being “fake” and “changing who I am”. Every single one of those ‘versions’ of myself are authentically me. One is not more “true” than the others. My beliefs and convictions are constant and no ‘version’ of myself contradicts my convictions. I am still my same perky, loud, Jesus-loving, talkative self. However, I do tailor what I say and who I say it around. For example, everyone knows I am a Catholic convert. I don’t hide that fact. However, I don’t go up to all my Protestant or Atheist family members and talk about how great my rosary prayer was last night. Why don’t I do that? Well, first, they wouldn’t exactly be the best people to understand what the rosary means and then I would likely have to explain the apologetics surrounding intercessory prayer. Then my whole point about just expressing my fulfillment that came from a simple prayer could totally derail into a theological battle. So yeah, I do censor myself to some extent. I don’t think I am necessarily shocked by this revelation. I think it is common knowledge that we all tailor our behavior somewhat depending on the environment we are in (that is sociology 101 y’all) but I think this blog has brought to light just how many different sets of censorships I have had!

‘Leah’s’ Throughout Time

In addition to my ‘Leah versions’ that are shaped by my environment, I am also not the same ‘Leah’ as I was ten years ago. 15-year-old Leah is not the same as 25-year-old Leah. 18-year-old Leah is not the same as 25-year-old Leah. 22-year-old Leah is not the same as 25-year-old Leah (nor should I be!). However, social media has a wonderfullyconfusing way of re-introducing me to people who only knew me ‘off-line’ years ago or have only known me in an environment that only showcases certain characteristics (i.e. work, school, etc.). Therefore, the only ‘Leah’ they have gotten to know in the past decade (or however many years) is through whatever presence I have put out on my social media accounts. When you really start to think about that… that is really weird.

Talk about a fast-track to such a disingenuous perception of people.

Maybe I am the only one, but I have friends and family from ALL different walks of life with ALL different belief systems. Some have some very strong convictions that I don’t necessarily agree with, but love and respect them as people regardless (that is a novel idea isn’t it?). I never wanted to use social media as my own personal soapbox because I never wanted to alienate any of them (and still don’t, FYI). Therefore, you can see how there may be some fear related to being honest and totally real on a public forum that includes friends and family (again, hi guys!).

Soo… what brought this up?

On top of my stress about revealing my blog to friends and family, I recently had a couple of Catholic bloggers, who had originally been extremely complimentary and encouraging to me after my first Catholic-focused post,… unfollow me (a post about supporting other Catholics online- let’s find the irony in that one). I started to take it personally and stress about it. I do not want to assume too much, but my guess is that maybe my last post about beauty products didn’t sit right with them? I honestly felt deflated. Like seriously? Was I not being “Catholic” enough for them? That’s when I had my mini epiphany. When I started to really think about all of the STRESS I have caused myself over what everyone thinks of me (from friends, family, to fellow bloggers, etc.)…well, my energy would be much better served actually SERVING others on this platform in some capacity (whatever that may be). We all know someone who will disagree with us and may not like us, and that. is. okay. (easier said than done for me- I am working on it). Regardless of others opinions, I want my blog to be genuine, serve a greater purpose, and not censor myself as I do in almost every other facet of life.

What this has taught me

The crazy thing about all of this is that this blog is a convergence of all the ‘Leah’s’ people know.

This is 100% me all in one place! It is like a one-stop shop for all things Leah!

This is me. More authentically myself than I have ever been on social media and showing every side of me that I normally don’t reveal “off-line” (with exceptions to this, of course!). Now, I have never gone on my personal social media with the intent of being anything but myself. However, now that I have a blog where I am discussing things deeper than the last vacation I went on, I am ACUTELY aware of my previous censorship. There is also a strong chance that most people who know me ‘off-line’ are probably meeting at least one side of me that they didn’t know before. It is a little scary to show the world what you really have to say, to let them in them in to all the different sides of you, but it is also really liberating and extremely freeing. Does it seem a little backwards to show 360 degrees of authenticity on cyber-space? Yeah, it does. It seems a little backwards to me too BUT I believe the internet CAN be a place of understanding, authenticity, collaboration, and encouragement. It is what you make it. So here I am, trying to make it that. One blog post at a time!