I was excited to have the reunion with my class from high school. I was meeting some of them for the first time in 25+ years. Each of us had traversed down a different path, from the time we graduated and threw our graduation hats into the air on a hot summer afternoon.
I’ll admit…I was nervous, almost backed out at the last minute. I had decided to make this trip a few weeks ago, and it was out of true determination to work at building my external network. I am not an introvert, but I do get caught up in my every day work and family and forget to stay fresh with my perspective. I wanted to bring in more diversity into my thought and action.
We had a great weekend of reunion times together, made new connections, exchanged phone numbers and Facebook names. Many of them walked away praising me on what a vivacious person I am, how great I look from the chubby teenager they remembered in high school. But here is the thing..
This wonderful group of friends saw me for two days under controlled set of activities. I was all dressed up, always excited, eager to chat, genuinely interested in the other person, high energy. This is what they saw. Therefore, this is what they knew.
And truth be told, there is darkness in this kind of knowledge. Especially now, when so many of our connections happen only one fleeting minute at a time…fully filtered and perfectly hash tagged. Sometimes, even a video message through Snapchat or WhatsApp. In our defense though, it’s not entirely our fault. That battle we’re fighting…those rough days we are having…the loved one who is ill, all this does not translate well when you have a hundred and forty character limit or ~800 other friends who view your profile to spell out your day.
Honestly, what could I really tell my friends who I met after 25+ years?
“Yes, I am with a great guy, and a great job, but scared shit to consider what future can bring?! I just had a terrifying health scare…I’m suffering hypo-thyroid weight gain…and I’m feeling pretty far from vivacious and perfect right now.
No. I wasn’t going to tell them all this. Because shocking friends and total strangers into oblivion is not only cold and harsh but also cruel. Especially when they watch your profile with a completely different view.
But I did spend the entirety of that flight wondering; about our sense of authenticity…our collective vulnerability…our polished identity. And it made me feel like a total fraud. Because I’m not any of those things that this group of friends see me for that one happy weekend.
If I showed up one morning, wearing my most frumpy clothes and scarred past…it would be a very different reaction wherever I go!
Because I was happy and free spirited as a teenager….
Lost all my will and passion during my twenties…
Afraid of water.. and terrified of drowning…
I spend an absurd amount of time worrying about what other people think of me.
I hide behind my humor for fear that people will want to know the real me without it.
I feel like I have failed as a daughter.
I function on the assumption that others view me so much lesser than I view myself.
I am eternally guilty of not being the best mother pretty much all the time.
I hate cleaning up after cooking.
I want to write a book, but afraid that no one will ever read it.
I struggle, every single day, if I can be good enough for everything I want to be.
I cry often, alone, so I don’t shatter the image of being strong.
But now, at this time, I know better.. I know that scars tell volumes. Scars indicate that you have survived. Scars mean you showed up for the fight instead of running from it.
And we’ve all got them…
And maybe it’s not about accumulating the maximum number of ‘Likes’ on your Facebook post, for the perceived reality we give the world…but it’s about the brave hearts we get for living in the real one.
Because life requires guts…it requires bravery…and it requires vulnerability.
So, tweet your thoughts, post your feelings…wear your scars proudly…and carry on…
Welcome to the digital world.. its just as real!