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False humility and hashtags

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Over the last year or so, women (and some men) have been embracing the hashtag #iwokeuplikethis, posting pictures of themselves “first thing in the morning” in the name of being #real and #authentic. While I know that some of these posts are meant to be funny, and some come from a genuine place of embracing oneself au naturel, I’m struck by many of these images as being carefully staged and posed: steaming cup of coffee in hand, messy hair that conveniently resembles that of a sex kitten, wearing a chemise, nestled up in a white duvet. The only sign of morning face is calculatingly smudged eyeliner. The images are often run through a filter, which makes anyone’s skin look like that of a glowing angel. She probably recruited her boyfriend or roommate to take the shot, after being #awakelikethis long enough to get the lighting right.

(Fine. I never found a picture that was ALL of those things – but I found those elements in a bunch of different shots, and combined them for a super #iwokeuplikethis conglomeration. You can see it, right?)

But the picture isn’t really the issue for me. I can’t fully know the intent behind each of these posts – but sometimes, they have long captions that reek of what I can only call false humility.

I’ve run across images from women (and an increasing number of teenage girls) who wax poetic about the terror of exposing their physical imperfections, only to get comments about how stunning they are. They call out their flaws, in turn receiving adoration for their courage to share. They talk about humbling themselves, which results in their followers thinking they’re amazing for being so humble. It seems to work like reverse psychology: By talking about how imperfect I am, people will tell me that I’m perfect. Some of these women have tens of thousands of followers, and when they address the question that they claim “so many” people are asking them – How did you get so many followers? – they attribute it to being so #real and #authentic.

Rather than telling people that we are #real and #authentic, why don’t we just live real and authentic?

Any of us is capable of taking something good – humility, for example – and twisting it into something selfish. I know I am. In a world where we’re taught to be defensive and cynical, we’re not exactly invited to celebrate our confidence out loud – and so we shroud our proud moments or the things we like about ourselves in a humblebrag, all the while hoping for the validation we’ve been craving all along: acceptance, admiration, and love.

What if we just said what we meant?

When someone gets a piece published in a magazine, she shouldn’t have to express being “grateful” and “humbled” by it, all the while secretly wanting everyone she knows to read it and share the link. It should be okay to say, “I love this piece that I wrote, and I’m proud as punch that this publication loved it too!”

When someone loses 20 pounds, he shouldn’t have to brush off recognition of his hard work by saying “Oh, I’m nowhere near my goal,” while covertly savoring the positive response and being hungry for more. It should be okay to say, “I know, I’m killing it!”

When someone is told “You look really pretty today,” she shouldn’t have to clam up and deflect the compliment. It’s perfectly okay to just smile and say, “Thank you.”

And when someone feels the urge to pose for an #iwokeuplikethis shot, styled however they like, it should be okay for the caption to read, “Here’s me in the morning. #iwokeuplikethis” without listing all of the reasons she doesn’t deserve to post the picture, all the while knowing she looks pretty hot for an #iwokeuplikethis shot and hoping for compliments. Sure, it’s a little narcissistic – but it’s more honest than feigning a lack of vanity.

In our false humility, we are projecting the message of “I’m not that great,” while secretly hoping that we actually are. We are assuming that there isn’t enough wonderful to go around, leaving all of the worth to the girls with the thigh gaps and perfect skin, even though we are desperate for the world to find us beautiful. We are protecting ourselves against the potential accusation that someone will find us arrogant, even when we know we’ve done a pretty great job.

But in a way, false humility is the same thing as arrogance – because either way, we’re giving ourselves too much credit.

Confidence in our worth is not the same thing as arrogance. Confidence in our worth is claiming what is true: We are unique and irreplaceable. Our worth isn’t based on who we are or what we do. Our worth is intrinsic, built-in, and doesn’t in fact depend on us – which, ironically, is the genesis of true humility.

I want to live this way. Just don’t expect me to post an #iwokeuplikethis, because the world is not ready for my nightguard. #real #authentic

Out loud

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Sheesh, thank you for your wonderful words of solidarity and encouragement after Monday’s post. I’m humbled, truly.

A few things I haven’t mentioned:
1) This blog has a Facebook page!
2) I’m on Instagram!
3) I’m NOT on Twitter (this girl is not me) – you know I need more than 140 characters.

But let’s connect on Facebook and/or Instagram, shall we?

Also, you may have noticed that the Music tab at the top of the page has disappeared. This is temporary. It’s probably time that I tell you that I’m writing again – writing toward a project that is slowly coming into focus. If I say it out loud it has to happen, right? But I’m so nervous to say it out loud (too late).

Seriously, after typing that, my hands are shaking. I just stood up and had to flap my arms out.

I hope you have a great day, and I really hope that Deacon and Rayna are okay.

RIP, Google Reader

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you’re like me, you’ve relied on Google Reader to aggregate all of the blogs you follow into one long list. With the recent (horrible) news that Google Reader is going away, I’m switching over to Bloglovin. Maybe you’ll want to do the same.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, forget you ever read this.

“Written Together” by Shanna Mallon

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

As is the case with so many people in Nashville, we had been sort of peripherally acquainted for a while. We had a lot of mutual friends, had been in the same room a few times, lurked around each other’s internet spaces – but I wouldn’t say that I really knew Tim Mallon.

So you can imagine my surprise back in 2010 when I had just finished running the Country Music Half-Marathon and looked up to see Tim – internet-acquainted but real-life-unfamiliar – making a beeline for me. Sweaty and disgusting is not the state in which you want to have your first real in-person interaction with anyone, man or woman, but Tim was unfazed: he gave me a hug and, after talking for a few minutes, we concluded that we should continue the conversation.

So a week later, I met Tim and his brother Nathan for coffee at Frothy Monkey. It was pouring rain that Saturday. The rain would continue for two days, and by Monday, Nashville would be under water – but we didn’t know that yet. We were just enjoying casual conversation, learning about each other’s families and each other’s work and why they had started drinking unpasteurized milk. Tim and Nathan are disarmingly genuine. I wish everyone could meet them.

Somewhere in the conversation, Tim mentioned Shanna. “We’re talking,” he said. And just as I always do when I hear about a crush, I got excited. “You’re talking?” I asked. “You’re talking to Shanna? Shannalee the blogger Shanna?”

He grinned. “Yeah! Shanna and I are talking.”

At the time, I was a new reader of Food Loves Writing – I don’t remember how I came across it, but once I found it, I was hooked. So much more than a foodie blog, Shanna weaves stories from her life into her experiences in the kitchen – her perspective is compelling, her heart absolutely beautiful. And the food that she makes – oh my word. The recipes send me into guilt spirals for standing in front of the fridge picking store-bought rotisserie chicken straight off the carcass and calling it “dinner.” Everything about her site is lovely and worthwhile. She’s one of my favorite voices on the internet.

And I couldn’t believe the coincidence: Tim Mallon, the Tim Mallon sitting right across from me, was talking to Shanna!

I’m going to spoil the ending: they kept talking. Shanna moved from Chicago to Nashville, and they got married. I met her in real life, too – a picnic lunch at Sevier Park, where we talked about struggles and faith and where this life might be leading each of us. She is every bit as wonderful in person as she is online.

And now, she has written a book – a book about that period in her life when she and Tim were talking, getting to know each other, falling in love. Written Together is a quick but gorgeous read, a story interspersed with recipes and details and hope. Last week, I put on my pajamas and crawled into bed, started reading and didn’t stop until I finished it. I loved it.

And I just wanted to tell you.

– – – – –

Written Together is available in both ebook and printed format. Shanna didn’t ask me to write about it – but if you want to support a couple who lives and loves in a way that is inspiring, I encourage you to get a copy or three.

Girl, interrupted

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

… and we’re back.

I thought about making a video to give a glimpse into my life in November, but if I had, it would have been full of long, drawn out silences and artsy frames of my face staring off into nowhere.  Trust me, I respect you more than to put you through that. The month was fairly quiet, nothing exploded, and I crossed off each day in my calendar as it passed.

It’s an odd thing we do, this virtual sharing of our lives. The internet is still a new frontier, and WE are the ones determining the etiquette – how much to tell, how vulnerable to be, what is meaningful, what isn’t. In real time, we are succeeding and failing and flying and flailing – and we’re often giving hundreds (if not thousands) of people a front row seat.

When it’s great, it’s really great. But when it’s not, it’s magnified.

As far as this blog is concerned, I’ve been playing it safe. Having once written from a very authentic place, I’ve been sharing less and less – and what I do share is surface-level, at best. I’ve wanted to maintain an image of having it all together – of being fine, even when I’m not. I’ve wanted to be cool and smart and witty; I’ve wanted you to like me. There, I said it.

I have spent years chasing excitement, adventure, and change – looking to validate my existence with various and sundry admirable feats. I’ve sought interruptions to the mundane, and solicited drama to avoid being bored with my life (or, more exactly, disappointed with my life).

But it turns out that what I’ve needed has not been an interruption of circumstances, but an interruption at the core of who I am.

These days, my sense of self is being torn apart in the best possible way. Oh, sure, it can feel like being put through a cheese grater, painful and terrifying, like the pieces could never possibly be put back together (unless they were melted in a microwave) (which doesn’t sound much better).

But it’s been SO GOOD, you guys. Humbling. Necessary. And it’s leading to good things.

In fact, Greta, who knows me better than just about anyone in the world, recently wrote to me, “I just feel like you’re leaving this very safe, very small, very familiar square of space and heading out into the biting air – and now you’re WALKING and FEELING and seeing things. I see you MOVING right now, more than you have in years.” What an encouragement to have someone who can recognize the things that we’re too close to see.

And how ironic that the acceptance of what I’ve historically thought of as an “ordinary” life could actually lead to much greater truths: freedom, clarity, peace.

I am still very much in process. I have jack-nothing figured out. But I am tired of holding my breath, hiding beneath the surface-level words posted in this space. I am ready to come up for air, no matter what it might look like, no matter who might see the inevitable thrashing (and you know there will be thrashing).

So thank you for being here, whoever you are. Your presence, even virtual, makes a difference to me. Our stories are meant to be shared – and I’m grateful to have a chance to share mine with you.

West Nasty

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Nashville Miranda has been visiting this weekend, and on Saturday, we climbed Quandary Peak in our East Nasty shirts.  Miranda did awesome, because she is a hoss, and this brings my 14er total to 13.

Depending on weather, I might climb yet another this coming weekend.  It’s still in the 80s in Denver.  I’m still waiting for fall.

On Saturday night, we saw the movie “Catfish.”  Because the marketing scheme for the movie is “don’t tell anyone what it’s about,” far be it from me to spoil the plot.  But I will contribute to the frenzy and tell you that it’s worth seeing.  The internet is weird – so, so weird.

Bad choice

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

I talk to people on the phone all day at work, walking them through various Computer Things.  Yesterday, while the customer’s internet connection was moving slowly and we were waiting for the page to pull up, she decided to make small talk.  She asked me if I’d seen the pictures of the coyote that got hit by the racecar and stuck in the grill – apparently, it’s some amazing “It” email forward out in circulation.

I told her that no, I am out of touch these days.  I don’t even know important things – like if the Taylors are dating – let alone the fate of would-be road-kill.  I am the least “in the know” person around.

So she told me to Google it – to Google “coyote hit by car” – because the pictures are incredible.

Perhaps this goes without saying, and should have been obvious from the start, but THAT WAS THE WORST IDEA EVER AND DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.

Change and sameness

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Life is changing all around me.

The weather is changing – yellow leaves swirling around in little cyclones on the streets, the clouds hanging heavy and low, no trace of humidity. The colors are dimmer, the smell, different. Fall has chased out the summer, and taken up residence in Nashville.

My focus is changing – not my heart (definitely not my heart), but what I am accepting, and moving forward with. This shift feels equal parts defeat and relief – defeat to think that nothing I have tried has worked, and relief to finally just stop with the trying. I just am these days – and that’s okay.

People are changing – growing older and falling in love and moving on from the way things were. Some of their dreams are coming into focus, and taking them in different directions. I feel alone – which is not necessarily the same as “lonely” – but nothing could or should be done to change that. It’s just this season, and the shape of current life.

In the midst of all of this change, this past weekend, I reconnected with a “sameness” in myself – that familiar old me that has been missing for awhile.

I met some friends who were new, and yet knew me. It was so strange – hugging complete strangers and feeling totally at home. We celebrated Todd and Juliette’s wedding, and shared stories from junior high, and explored Nashville, and laughed – honest and genuine and immodest laughter.

I fell in love with these people.

complete-julietodd-wedding-419

Todd and Julie were gorgeous – if you just imagine me out of each of these pictures, and splice them together, you will see.

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Now it is Monday, and they are gone, and the merriment is over. But I have a ticket to an Alison Krauss show tonight, and a trip to Boston on Thursday, and a new 2010 calendar to write my plans in. Thankfully, those plans now include a trip to Austin in March for Joey and Sam’s wedding.

I keep scoring the invites!

If you cannot read this, you must be using Internet Explorer

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

But if you are using Internet Explorer and you CAN read this, then please disregard – the problem must be fixed?  In any case, down with IE.

Let me tell you about a couple of great things that have happened.  Warning: this post has no unifying thread aside from my two hands, my ten fingers, and my blathering brain churning it all out.

First of all, I had a perfect, flawless, divine flight experience on Monday.  I thought that because it was Labor Day, travel would be a nightmare.  But here are the amazing things about the day:
–    When my parents drove me from Colorado Springs to the airport in Denver, we took E-470, a tollway – but all of the tollbooths were closed.  Free!
–    I made it through security in 10 minutes – probably because I had no frozen meat in my purse.
–    DIA has free Wi-Fi, and I got one of the stools at the table where you can plug in your laptop.
–    I met the aforementioned songwriters.
–    I was reading Stephen King’s “On Writing,” which the songwriters noticed, and thought I was really cool for.
–    The flight left on time.
–    I had a free drink ticket, so I ordered a plastic cup of Chardonnay.
–    The flight arrived early.
–    My suitcase was the first one out at baggage claim.

Come on.  All of those things NEVER happen all in the same day.

When I got home and discovered my driver’s license missing, I thought that my perfect day had been torpedoed.  But the next morning, the airline called and told me that they had found it at security, and they were mailing it to me.  Southwest Airlines, FTW!

Tangent:
my co-worker Danny recently told me
that one of his friends thought that
FTW stood for “for the wind.”
I laughed so hard, I snorted.
I’ve tried to tell my non-internetty friends,
and they don’t find it funny.
If you find it funny,
please validate me and tell me so.
If you don’t find it funny, well.
You’re probably using Internet Explorer.

Last night I went to the gym, and Tuesday nights at the gym are the best, because on Tuesday nights from 9-10pm, they play reruns of “The Office” on TBS.  I spent an episode and a half on the elliptical machine, all alone, but allowing myself to LAUGH OUT LOUD whenever I wanted – which meant that I was laughing for 45 minutes straight.

Another tangent:
for the longest time,
my friend Joey thought that
LOL stood for “lots of love.”
This made me laugh, too.

I have had my buddy Del Barber’s songs running on repeat in my head for a couple of days now – and this is the furthest* thing from a problem.  A few weeks ago, he and Dreadlock Dave stopped in Nashville to crash on the floor of the JAM House, and we had a regular hootenanny (hurray!) in the living room – Del and Neal and I taking turns playing songs.

It was so Nashville.

And finally, speaking of music, my EP is almost finished.  October.  Get ready.

*A free EP to the first person who knows the difference between “furthest” and “farthest.” 

Sending Dawn to Antarctica

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

If there’s anything that I love about blogging, it’s the possibility of a connection.

And no, not just for me.

Did you know that two different couples have met in the comments section of this blog, and dated for a bit?  I mean, people with NO prior association, and I had nothing to do with it – I didn’t even know it was happening until it was happening.

So, if nothing else, let that be a lesson to you: comment on blogs – you never know whose internet eye you’re going to catch with your wit and thumbnail picture.

Then again, you could wind up like me – just the ring-leading moron.

Anyway, she might be someone I have never met face-to-face.  But people, Dawn is a Hootenannie reader – she is ONE OF US – and she is trying to get to Antarctica.  I love her passion and enthusiasm for a place that so many of us think of as totally barren; this passion has led her to enter a contest in which the grand prize is a trip to the polar regions.

But she needs your votes!

Click here to vote for Dawn – to support someone you didn’t even know you were connected to – and help her dream come true.  It will cost you nothing.  And honestly (I’m channeling Ira Glass here), what kind of a person do you want to be?  Someone who sits back assuming that someone else will do it for you – or a person of ACTION?

I might be putting words in her mouth now, but I am telling you that if you vote for her, she will bring you back a baby penguin.