When you write, talk or present yourself in any way — are you more focused on being authentic at all costs or are you more focused on impressing people and being accepted? How much do you rely on feedback and compliments to feel good about yourself?
It really depends on the space in which I’m presenting myself, and to whom. I would like to live in a world and have only relationships where I can be completely authentic with everyone that I interact with, but that’s not the way my life or the world I live in looks. So, like everything else in my life, there are levels to that shit, haha. I have a handful of relationships in which I can be my full, authentic self without fear of sustained judgment or repercussions. Then I have a larger number of people who get fully authentic representations of parts of me, and more constructed accounts of other parts for any number of reasons. And then I have people with whom I never really delve down past the surface level stuff.
For example, I talk to my parents all the time, but usually about things that are happening rather than about my feelings about the things or what they mean in the larger narrative of my life — we check in, sometimes almost daily, rather than have legitimate conversations. We communicate, but are not “in conversation” with one another on any significant level. And for the most part, I’m okay with that. I do not think that our relationship would be bettered by complete authenticity on either of our parts. My parents each have this idea of the person that I am, and being authentic would destroy parts of it, I think. I am not under the impression that we would like one another if we were really open.
But among the members of my chosen family? My closest friends and my partner? Authenticity is a challenge I strive to meet every day with them. I’ve committed myself to being vulnerable and saying things that are hard to say and asking questions whose answers I don’t know even if I’m scared of some of the possibilities. There are people I want to really know and really see me.
And then there are, like, the people who follow this blog who probably have a pretty accurate understanding of who I am as a person, but with whom my real life relationships (if they exist), wouldn’t suggest that deep a level of knowledge. I don’t really know what group to put those people into, but I like being open here and I like the idea that it makes more people in my life get me and what I’m about. I don’t try to impress people here.
I looooove compliments. Remember the highness of “words of affirmation” on my love language quiz results? But I don’t think I rely on them for self-esteem. I like me. I liked me before I had a boo telling me how awesome I am all the time, and before I had a paying job I was good at that brought a lot of positive performance-related feedback into my life. I have been working on liking me for years and years and years. It is an ongoing project. Other people deeply liking or even loving me helps, probably — at the very least, my relationships bring me spaces in which to develop myself in ways I like — but I don’t need them to say nice things about me to feel good about myself. I appreciate them for reminding me about my likeable things when I have forgotten them in moments of sadness, though. They’re really good at that. When boo tells me how he feels about me, I feel a rush of amazing feelings, but I don’t think it contributes to me feeling good about myself, so I’m not going to include that here. Feeling good about us isn’t the same as feeling good about me.