I struggle to stay true to myself online.
What do I need to write about? What do people need to read about? What is the truth?
Maybe writing always centers around those three questions.
Those three questions and one more question—maybe this one question most of all—this question I hate and love and fear (oh, I fear it—it makes my stomach knot up and my knees shake)…
What do I need to say that seems impossible to say, what seems like it might kill me to say, like it might rip me open to say, like it might unravel my entire life in a paragraph of prose, like it could blow me to bits in a single sentence?
Because more often than not, that’s the exact thing I need to say.
And maybe that’s exactly what writing is.
To risk it all, and say the writhing things that seem so passionate and grotesquely vulnerable and obscenely true that they can’t possibly be written about. Or spoken about. And—gasp!—certainly not openly discussed between proper ladies and gentlemen. Oh my.
Maybe writing is to take all the hush-hush sh*t we smush down—to kiss it, love it and expose it boldly to the expansive light of day through ink splatters on the page. Ink splatters that are like heart splatters. And look right at it—together.
We hide so much, don’t we?
From others. From the world. But mostly, we hide from ourselves.
Sadness. Shame. Worry. Loss. Loneliness. Struggle. Trauma. Insecurity. Heartbreak.
We keep secrets from our own hearts. You know, all the superbly juicy stuff we all experience as humans, yet so often dismiss with a shrug, a roll of the eyes and a very unconvincing “I’m fine.”
Maybe the point of writing is to unearth those secret landmines within ourselves and find unbelievably beautiful rubies in the darkest, most unexpected places. Maybe that is the point of living too.
And yet, I sometimes wonder—how the f*ck do I express that sacred unearthing within a blog? Within an article found, often randomly, on the internet that people might skim through for a few seconds—be intrigued by the title, be hooked in by the picture and maybe read a line or two between advertisements, before their attention wanes?
Do I need to be louder or sparklier? Is it not enough to just say what’s true—to awkwardly say the things that might matter to our hearts?
How can we express authenticity in a goddamn blog—is it even possible?
Oh, hell yes. Of course it is.
Because blogging is writing. There is no difference.
It is the pure and absolute power of the written word.
It is not about clicks. Or likes. Or comments. Or Facebook shares.
It is art.
It is the hot, frothy mouth of transformation itself.
It is where our souls go to shimmer and bleed and rebirth themselves.
It is the smooth, crisp, slap in the face of honesty that we didn’t want, but needed so badly.
Writing is sacred. It’s prayer. It’s freedom. It’s lightning bolts of inspired, writhing, live-word, tear-stained action. It’s the blossoming beginnings of the seeds we once planted and quickly gave up on and forgot about. It’s the blazing inner springtime where we go, ultimately, to change our lives.
Writing is sacred. Nothing less. These words come from somewhere—not me, not my mouth—I’m not special for saying them—they come from the swirling pool of truth that we can all reach out and taste.
And yet, I find it’s so hard to stay true to myself in this strange, online world. I find myself feeling like I need to write for show. To impress others. To create a cute, curated version of myself in order to properly compete with other writers. I find myself showing off, being more sequined than I really am for no real reason, other than the compelling thought that it’s maybe, what people want.
Will that get them to click? Will that get them to read? Will they like it?
Those questions aren’t wrong, but writing has exactly nothing to do with people-pleasing. It has exactly nothing to do with bending myself to the will of others or being pulled in a thousand directions to give people what they “want.”
It’s the complete opposite.
Writing, to me, is not at all about giving people what they think they want—but what they didn’t know they needed. Myself included. Writing is standing in the pulsating, sticky, tender center of soul and allowing ourselves to be surprised. Shocked, even, by what’s really real. It’s about dripping heart, it’s the gorgeous, gritty struggle of life itself—I mean, what else is there to write about, to live for—rainbows and puppies and ponies and the cheap plastic threads of worn-out tired, old bullsh*t?
I want grit. I want real. I want truth. I want juicy darkness and heaps of deep love and the utterly terrifyingly terrific throes of transformation.
And that is what I wish to hand to you.
Not a list of generic how-to’s. Not my prettiest mask so you can pat me on the back and we can smile blankly and get frozen yogurt and make small-talk for the rest of our empty lives. That’s too easy.
I wish to hand you my raw, dripping heart.
Maybe it won’t be pleasing to read—good!—it’s not always supposed to be.
Because life isn’t always pleasing. Life hurts. Our tears sting. Betrayal burns like lead weights in our guts. Jealousy poisons us like snake venom. Loss happens in a freak flash of a second and alters the entire course of our lives. Grief fills up our lungs like seawater and makes us weep like babies, even when we promised ourselves we’d be “stronger” than that.
So, should writing always be pretty or fun and easy to read?
Some pages of writing should be tear-stained and absolutely unbearable to face. Some sentences should feel like knives, like choking vines, they should punch us in the gut and hurt like hell and make us wince and feel so uncomfortable that we shake.
It is there, in discomfort, that we can find truth and meaning and love. It is right there, in the utter depths of discomfort—that we can find ourselves again.
Writing isn’t about being good or happy. Because life isn’t about being good or happy.
It’s about being real. Showing up, as best as we damn well can.
This world is full of angels and hells—mostly hells what we create for ourselves. And isn’t that just utterly fascinating? Let’s talk about it for the rest of our lives. Let’s write about it all.
Because writing has to do with truth. The deepest truths that we’d like to pretend away. It has to do with gut-wrenching honesty, most of all.
How can I be myself as my fingers clack-clack-clack, frantically typing these words?
How can I be my real self behind this title, this picture, this glossy, concise description you’ll maybe read at the end of this article and think, either that I know more than you (not true)—or that I’m an idiot and I have no f*cking clue what I’m doing (more true).
Maybe it’s just about letting you see me. Admitting that I am utterly naked in these words, that I don’t know more than you, that I’m rising, but struggling, too.
Because we’re all struggling.
We smile. We cry. We succeed. We laugh. We fall down. We skin our knees. We f*ck up. We get scared.
We’re so deliciously human.
So I reach out to you, through these stacks of sentences, through these winding roads of words, just to say—I hear you.
I feel you.
Let’s dive into depths and peaks of truth, together.
Let’s be more real, together.
Let’s be human beings, together.
Because this beautiful sh*t-show called life—we are in this together.
So maybe the question isn’t how sparkly and likable can we be, how many clicks and likes can we get through writing or any other thing we do…
But rather—how deeply, deliciously vulnerable can we be?
How daring can we be in our deepest, heartfelt authenticity?
How can we risk it all, for truth?
Author: Sarah Harvey
Image: Flickr/Christian Gonzalez
Editors: Yoli Ramazzina; Emily Bartran