Thursday night, while still up at 2:15 a.m. doing not-work, I came across this blog post, which made me think about a text convo I had had earlier that day with a beloved friend about another friend whose vulnerability we both miss. And her genuine friendship, too, if we’re honest…it’s weird how you can be in your mid-thirties and still experience the phenomenon of feeling like you got dropped for the popular kids. And maybe those two things are connected…she doesn’t really write about her heart anymore, and it’s hard, sometimes, to still see the tender, sensitive, funny, self-deprecating human underneath all the stand-up comedy tweets and “look what cool thing I’m doing without you right now!” Instagram posts.
But I can’t even really talk, I realized, as I read the post mentioned above and specifically this line: I miss when I used to just sit down and write you letters instead of essays.
I haven’t done that in a long time. On here, especially, or even in life in general, lately.
The past couple of months, I’ve been digging through and archiving posts from An Amber Colored Life (my old blog, for you new readers). It struck me, how easily I used to share so much of my life with readers…almost to the point where some of it makes me blush, now. And not blush out of regret or embarrassment…just. Wow. I was so open. I was so opinionated. And more than that, I was so accepting of how open and opinionated I was.
And here’s where we can go into a million different directions – we can talk about rejection and how it can come in a million different forms – a missed invitation, an unreplied-to text, a post nobody seems to care about, a book that friends don’t buy – and how it can make you feel like, if that’s the response you get when you share yourself, then maybe you just don’t wanna do any of that anymore; or how social media these days seems to make me feel more isolated than connected – like I’m standing at the bottom of some abandoned canyon, crying out “Helllooooooo! Can anyoooonnnnne heaaaaar meeeeee?”; or how I don’t always feel like I have a lot to say because I’m always kind of doing the same things, which is working on a new book or building out this here website or trying to figure out how to get lattes and donuts delivered to my house for free; or how it just doesn’t always feel good to lay yourself bare to the world and hope for a nice soft warm blanket made by adorable alpacas vs. a heavy steel-toe Red Wing workman’s boot to the chest.
And I always feel like it has to have a purpose, these days. The writing. That if I write something – anything…a journal entry, an email, a status update, a blog post – it has to be worthy of something. I will literally spend an entire afternoon on an email to one of my friends, writing it and then editing it and then writing it and editing it some more, because what if I die suddenly and tragically and she decides to catalog all of my emails into a beautifully bound book entitled I Remember Amber and because our email exchanges are so witty and warm and brilliant without being, y’know, purposefully brilliant, the book becomes an international bestseller…but everyone agrees that that *one* email I wrote that one time was just not that great and I must’ve been in a huge rush to send it off which is really a shame because some of the insights and observations truly had the potential to change someone’s life if I would’ve just taken the time to edit my thoughts in that email a little more?
See the (imagined, self-made) pressure I’m under?
But then I read this post by my former-coworker-turned-friend Nicole, which I’m going to invite you to go and read right now and then come back with the knowledge that I am crying, too, just thinking about it. Because Nicole is just joy…she’s the kind of person who brings the sunshine into the room without making you want to punch her for it, you know? And she’s also the kind of person who is really easy to envy, for a lot of reasons – she’s so pretty and put-together (she, along with my other former-coworker-turned-friend Keri, is probably the only girl in the universe who ever made me think, “yeah, it might be worth it to get up at 5:00 a.m. to do my hair instead of just rolling into work every day with a ponytail…”), she has a handsome husband who adores her (he’s the kind of guy who will drive downtown at bar close to pick up his wife from the Shout House after a company social night just to make sure that she gets home okay…pretty stand-up guy, right? And yes, all past boyfriends + future ones…I was and I will be judging you against that standard), and she’s just funny and likable in a way that just makes you feel like all of your after-school commitments are just not good enough, okay? #CluelessRefFTW
But also, at the end of the day, Nicole is so likable because she’s the type of person who makes you feel okay about getting choked up just a little during that one scene in New Moon because she totally copped to getting choked up to it, too. And she’s also the first person I ever knew in real life who struggled with fertility, and I will always be grateful to her for being open about that because it helped make me less of an ignorant jerk when a most beloved friend started struggling with the same thing. And this post – this one post – has already brought so many unrelated friends together thanks to connection they all share from having experienced the same or close to the same thing as Nicole is experiencing. They feel heard. They feel understood. They feel recognized. They feel valued.
Because that’s what happens when someone else is vulnerable, you know?
It loosens you up, it shakes you out, and it gives you a big ol’ shoulder-punch right in the feelz about the fact that hey, we’re really not so alone.
So let’s have a little more of that, yeah? Executive realness has its place (for instance, as a challenge on one of my favorite episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race), but I just don’t know how much a perfectly curated Instagram profile can change the world, y’know? And I don’t know if I would want to live there anyway, if it could. And I’m mostly talking to myself here…I don’t want to do the thing anymore, where I don’t share about stuff because I can’t see the overall value or lesson or worth it *might* have for someone else. I want to start sharing because life, man. Shit’s crazy. And you never really know when a piece of your life is going to make a piece of someone else’s a little more bearable, or meaningful, or hilarious, or just straight-up adorable, like that brilliant Clueless reference I made earlier that we’re all still thinking about.
(It was good, right? GOD I love that movie…)
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