Friday, January 23, 2015

On Living Life Honestly ...

I've not really been the type of person that puts up any wall of secrecy, even with strangers. My mom always tells me that I put too much out on Facebook - like the monthly arguments I have with my uterus via status updates - or that I should be concerned with what people are able to see. When I wrote a post about us filing for bankruptcy back in 2012, I didn't think anything of it; I was trying to be all public service-y. Or when Three and I first got together, I laid out everything that I believed were problems in past relationships when it came to my personality traits ... and that was on the first date. After my coming out story a few months ago*, I decided that it was time to just lay everything bare.

So that is my goal for this year: I am going to be as naked as possible. By the end of 2015, there won't be any unanswered questions about how I feel, what I believe, what my life is like, etc. I was partly inspired by the theft of celebrity personal photos and emails**, but mostly, the credit has to go to my lovely friend, Nic, who has been doing their own similar thing over on the Book of Faces, where they discuss a topic, such as gender identity or childhood bullying, in full and without a filter.

And so here it is: the first post.

Despite my natural tendency to lean toward a very honest lifestyle, it has not always been that way. When my father was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force back in the early 90s, we stopped moving around and settled in Nashville, TN. I'd sent nearly a decade changing locations and meeting other kids who shared my plight (oh, military brats, I will always love you), so the notion of staying in one place - and seeing the same people every day - for more than one year was pretty terrifying. At first, I attended a public school, which actually was as close to being what I was used to as it could have been; the groups of children were so large that it wasn't always guaranteed that you'd have the same classmates every year. But then my parents enrolled me in a private school, where everyone had known everyone since kindergarten. It was quite possibly the most intimidating thing I'd experienced up until that point. These kids did nearly everything together, from slumber parties to traveling soccer teams to Wednesday night church gatherings. I wanted to fit in so badly, but I was viewed as an awkward, four-eyed outsider. I was more interested in reading, writing, and drawing - mixed with a little paleontology and ecology for good measure - than in sports or dance classes***, so I was profoundly ignored. Don't get me wrong: I had a small group of friends, for which I was exceptionally thankful, but as everybody knows, acceptance of the "alpha" peers at that age is of utmost importance. Because of that, I was willing to do pretty much anything to get their attention, to get them to think that I was worthwhile. So, I chose to lie.

Part of being ignored is that, most of the time, people don't catch on. They don't notice to poem you just read in class as your own was lifted from a little known songwriter; they don't care enough to follow up with you when you brag, seemingly to the air, that you can run a six-minute mile. And it wasn't like I was telling Napoleon Dynamite levels of untruths. But it became this constantly evolving tapestry that could easily unravel if I forgot the minutest (most minute???) detail, and eventually, I just stopped talking, receded into my bedroom. My parents later told me they were worried about my lack of a social life. I kept to myself for the most part, and then I began what ultimately became my passion: writing. One particularly awful day in seventh grade, I sat down and began writing my own version of Sweet Valley High, only I didn't even bother with changing names or hiding my contempt. Nope, all of the popular people were leading miserable lives, and I was oddly specific about the types of cars they drove, opting to force them into what I considered at the time to be awful vehicles. My friends and I were the lifeblood of the school, and everyone was trying to gain our approval. It's pretty hilarious to think about now, because hahaha what? Why did I care if Lily Smith drove a crappy Camry? Why was I so concerned with whether or not I decided on the theme for senior prom? Or why did I gleefully read Sweet Valley High?

I abandoned the story pretty quickly - although not before sharing them with a few friends - and went on to better things. Well, better than an unrealistic teen soap opera, that is. I started writing fanfic**** and short stories and the beginnings of terrible novels that I threw into the waste basket. I had found an outlet for my creative energy. By the time I decided lying to my fellow students was just sort of pointless - 1) I had to keep track of what I told who and when, and 2) I didn't create any friendships with them, anyway - only two years remained in high school, and the whole popularity thing mattered about as much as a rat's ass to me. But it was a habit that took me a couple of years to break, and even to this day, I have to remind myself that, even though a story may be more entertaining or might get me out of trouble with someone, it's not who I am. Spinning a yarn, of course, comes as natural to me as breathing, but that doesn't mean that I should focus on anything other than the positive aspects of that talent. I'm about the blunt, honest truth, and I try, to the best of my ability, to live by that standard.

* Dear God, that was all the way back in September. Time fucking flies, I tell you.
** I have no delusions that I will ever be famous enough for anyone to want to hack into my personal files. Plus, all my personal shit is boring as hell.
*** My mom signed me up for a ballet class when I was a toddler - seriously, Mom, what were you thinking? - and I spent the entire 30-minute session sitting on the floor with my thumb in my mouth and a very grumpy expression on my face. Needless to say, I did not go back.
**** The first fanfic I ever wrote was for the Canadian animated show, Reboot. I actually ran across it when Three and I were moving into our first apartment and guffawed at what I thought was brilliant at the time.
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