Honesty has always been incredibly important to me.
That sounds kind of obvious, but when you start to pay attention it’s amazing how many little lies we let slip through just in the course of a day – excuses for not wanting to go out in the evening, white lies to children – it all adds up.
The older I get, the more I try to avoid these little lies, even if they feel like they might not do any harm. It might feel easier to tell a friend you can’t come out because you have a headache, but is it really any harder to just say ‘you know what, I really do want to see you, but today has just been exhausting and I know if we go out tonight I’m going to be rubbish company and neither of us will have a good time’?
I also try to be honest because I want other people to be honest with me. I’d much prefer to ask someone how they are and hear that actually, things aren’t great, if that’s the reality of their situation. I find it hard to be all ‘oh yeah, fine, great!’ with people when that’s not how I’m feeling and it’s through our vulnerability, sharing the bad stuff as well as the good, that we form real connections with people.
When it comes to blogging and social media it’s the same – I want to present a real version of myself so that you feel that the relationship we have as writer and reader is a genuine one. I’m not afraid to tell you when I’m sad, or when I get my vagina rejuvenated, and I like that. It’s like we’re chums.
What I’m finding more and more difficult though is feeling like I’m telling you the truth, but not the whole truth.
When I first started blogging, ten years ago, Bee and Belle were 14 and 7 years old. They were already of an age where I was mindful of what they may or may not want me to share, but Belle at least was still young enough that our day to day lives contained plenty of low key, sharable anecdotes. I could tell you sweet stories about her, like this one where we found the rabbit ‘asleep’ and had to have a chat about death.
As they’ve gotten older though, their lives have become more complicated and, quite rightly, more their own, and I feel less and less able to share their stories. It’s not that there’s not plenty to talk about, both in terms of the things that they go through and the impact on me, or even that I don’t think it would be interesting – I actually feel bad that I can’t share some of it, because I know as a parent of older children how much you want to hear that other parents are going through the same things.
The fact is though that they are not my stories to share anymore.
As much then as I want to present a full and honest version of myself to you, I can’t help but sometimes feel like a fraud. It’s silly I know – I’m under no obligation to share every detail of my life after all – but can you really get to know a person when big chunks of their life go unspoken? Can I still be authentic if I only share a slice of what I think about every day?
It’s something I think about a lot, and I think it’s part of the reason why the last year or so of blogging has felt like harder work. I have so much that I could say, plenty of truths to tell, but I have to balance that now with respect for other people’s privacy. It’s frustrating sometimes, because I so enjoy being able to write in a raw and frank way that really connects with people. It can feel like I’m short changing you.
I have some ideas for how I want to change this, which I hope will make my blog a more interesting and valuable place to visit, but in the meantime I’d love to know if this resonates with you. You might not be a writer, it might just be in terms of how you talk to friends or family, how honest you feel you are or can be in every day life, and what impact this has on you. Please do leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash
Nodding along with this. My youngest is 8 and I already feel wary of saying too much.
It’s tough isn’t it? On the one hand it is a good thing to censor yourself a bit, because I always feel a bit uncomfortable when I read people writing about young children in a negative way – you forget that they might actually grow up and read it! On the other hand though it definitely stifles some of the creativity and self-expression, which is tricky when you’re trying to write from the heart.
Yes! So much and I don’t blog. But my oldest is 15 now and I just feel like I can’t share his stories. Even with my friends now it just feels like I’m betraying his trust.
It’s a really difficult balance isn’t it? On the one hand obviously you want to protect his privacy, but then also YOU need support too as a parent, and so sharing your experiences, in the context of his, with friends you trust, is really valuable and important for you.
I completely agree with this; both in terms of talking about my children, because I don’t want them to feel embarrassed in later life. But also a lot of stuff in my life, and my past and how that had shaped me as an adult. I’m head in the sands about sharing it, even though there’s ‘life lesson’ stuff, maybe because I don’t want to deal with the consequences of sharing?
I totally get that. I can think of a few things that I could share – experiences in relationships and that sort of thing – but at the same time I want to not think about it all again! I’d also be nervous of people reading it and potentially lifting the lid on something, either in terms of how it might make you feel, or repercussions from other people?
I only do reviews on my blog so there’s not so much of me coming out, but I totally get it as I have to watch what I put on facebook all the time – there’s always some drama unfolding in my family, and I have to take a step back before I type in case I’m sharing something others might not want shared!!
I think social media is harder sometimes because it’s quicker, so we often don’t give ourselves that thinking time before we post!
I know I don’t, lol x