There has been more and more talk as of late about how social media makes for – to a certain extent – white lies representing a so-called whole life. One hundred and forty character tweets share only what we choose to, when we choose to, crafting a log of our lives made from slices and snippets of the daily. Filters on Instagram make things more aesthetically pleasing, the way we pick and choose what to share helps paint a profile of nothing but that which we wish to be seen as.
But let’s get real for a minute – really, truly real. We all know that life is not all unicorns and rainbows, smiling selfies and over-populated hashtags. We know that for every good photo there are 27 deleted ones, and even before that photo can make its way to the public’s eye, there is much discrimination over which photo will make the cut (and, after posting, whether or not it was good enough to use.) Then there comes the question of what to use as a caption, which hashtags to use, whether or not to tag people or companies in the image and the like. In many ways, while I am definitely a social media user and subscriber thereof, I am incredibly thankful that I grew up in an era before this was the norm – before any of this was so seemingly important.
Maybe it’s proof that I was cut from a slightly different cloth, but I have never seen anything wrong with sharing my vulnerabilities, with being honest about my stance even when it differed from the majority. To a certain extent, I have always embraced the fact that I am willing to share my own truths, usually with the hope that if someone else who has remained silent feels the same that they are able to feel less alone. I’ve always felt there was something alluring about us when we are raw, real, uncensored and unfiltered. Maybe this is why I didn’t take it the wrong way when I had two different people on two separate occasions tell me that I was beautiful when I cried. Triumph cannot be had without struggle, beauty cannot exist without its own opposition.
While I will full admit that my own social media channels may deliver a certain overall cheery perception, I try to find my own ways to be more honest, even if at times perhaps I am too much so. Sure, I love to share about the unicorns that are post-race medal photos, the rainbows that are delicious eats and good times with friends – but I am also willing to shed light on the bad and the ugly, the moments that find me biting my lip to maintain silence and the cuffs of my sweatshirt crumpled and wet. Sometimes I feel compelled to share the bad and the ugly, even if I am unsure how to best do so.
What better time than now for a bit of honesty?
Here are seven truths I have been pondering as of late.
1. As much I as wish I were a mileage eating bad-ass mother-runner-to-be, in reality I’m barely moving. Bay to Breakers proved to me that my body is feeling the strain of rapid front-loaded weight gain (yes, even with new, non-minimalist shoes now in my arsenal) and glimmers of the fabled third trimester fatigue are beginning to set in. In my mind I told myself I would be a BAMR and keep my mileage and pace up for 40 weeks should I ever become pregnant. Reality has humbled me. While there is truth in my saying “I’m thankful to move as long as I can,” I admit a certain sense of disappointment.
2. Taking great race photos doesn’t say anything about the race itself. My buddy Erin, who ran the last two races with me, commented that I look as happy as ever in my most recent finish line pictures. Truth be told, the pictures came out great, but I felt like hell. Fatigued, hungry, pushing myself harder than maybe I should have, inside I was maxed, but I didn’t want to let it show outside. Heaven forbid someone think I was weak, right?
3. Recovery is not a one-and-done event and vanity has made itself known. While for all intensive purposes I never, ever see myself falling down an eating disordered hole again, it would be a lie to say that misplaced vain longing has not arisen within me from time to time. Folks keep telling me “you look great!” and “you’re so cute!” and of course, it’s wonderful and affirming to hear during my first pregnancy as I begin to live more and more in a body that seems foreign, but knowing doesn’t counterbalance the feelings that sometimes arise, if you catch my drift. It took me four or more tries this morning to dress myself in something I deemed “acceptable,” and even then all I could think about was missing the body and reflection I knew for so long.
4. It’s possible to be excited and thankful while being, well, upset. Every little kick and punch from within my womb amazes me and reminds me of the changes my life has undergone and of all the changes to come. It’s all very exciting and I am grateful that I have had a very easy pregnancy overall – and that I did not struggle with infertility. Not everyone is so lucky. However, that doesn’t change the fact that more than one afternoon has found me in the laundry room mid-fold with tears streaming down my cheeks, feeling sorry for myself because I was missing out on X, Y or Z, or frustrated because of similar reasons. It doesn’t change the fact I cried off and on my entire drive to work today for no apparent reason at all, or that being upset and tearful made me feel silly, which made me feel worse. It doesn’t change the fact I’m tearing up as I write this, or that some nights I collapse on the couch after a long day at work and just wish I could have one cold beer.
5. Sometimes what we feel are our greatest strengths are not that which are celebrated by others. While I’ve made a career out of writing quirky emails and headlines, informative and cheeky product copy and more, more than once I have felt my strongest writing comes from the raw outpouring of emotion. Sharing the trying times that have shaped my person is a far cry from a sixty word block of words that makes someone giggle while learning about a jacket.
6. Certain things we may never outgrow. In elementary school, middle school, even high school, no matter how confident I was in myself and my quirky ways, I always felt the pull of wanting. Always the friend of the girl the boys were after not the girl herself, always “cool with” the cool kids but never one herself, within me will always live the awkward girl who wants to be part of what seems to be THE thing, THE event, THE clique. While I love the online running community for having a place for everyone, this pull sometimes remains.
7. Life in the middle of the pack isn’t so bad. There’s so much more to life than likes, retweets, how many followers we have. There’s so much more out there than race medals, online recognition, fanbases and having the most or biggest networking ties. Those are all wonderful perks – but that isn’t what life is all about.
And, just like that, I share a few truths and it feels as though a weight has been lifted, like I was finally honest about a secret I had been keeping bottle up within me and now I have been freed of the burden.
Tonight, I will sleep – with dry sleeves.