Transition from Transparency

This post is part of an ongoing series exploring why I blog and my values concerning both writing and my personal life.


I had originally intended to write about how I value transparency, and how my blog helps keep me humble because I put everything out there for all the world to see. How I write (or used to, anyways) about my faults and failures, about my weaknesses, and about my degenerate childhood to serve as both an example and a warning.

This is in contrast to when I was younger, before I became Christian and when I had several different masks I wore depending on where I was. No one truly knew who or what I was, least of all me, and I subsequently developed a tightly wound ball of neuroses that made healing and growing next to impossible.

On top of the lack of self-understanding, my fear of abandonment (stemming from a workaholic mother and a distant father) had led me to assume that if anyone knew the real me, they would turn away. That if I let anything slip about myself, or if someone found out what I had done or what I was, that I would lose what little companionship I had managed to garner. I hid out of fear.

When I first saw that people (Christians, notably) forgave me for my past sins… no, that sentence is not quite true. They didn’t forgive me, they just didn’t think about it. As Christians began to learn more about me and my past, it was a complete non-issue, and that was a huge relief to me. There was no drama: I’d screwed up, it was in the past, and we were different now. It was like being reborn with every truth I let fall from my lips.

Being brutally honest, wearing my heart on my sleeve as it were, was the only way I knew to excise those fears, doubts, and masks, so I committed to always be transparent. To not censor myself, and to not hide behind another mask. And this translated into my writing and blogging (beginning my freshman year of college), where I forced myself to be public with my private-most thoughts and concerns. To be honest, lest I fall back into that trap of fear and self-loathing. Blogging transparently, and living honestly, helped me break free of those fears.

Now, however, my writing is transitioning from that stage. I write less about myself personally and more about technology, the world around me, and interacting with that world. I censor both my blog and my social networking accounts (such as Twitter), not sharing certain thoughts or words, for fear of offending or alienating.

While this leaves me a little unsettled due to my previous commitment, I am comforted by knowing that I now have personal relationships, rather than the impersonal eye of the Internet, to keep me accountable and honest. I have friends who I know I can trust, and while my blog is less transparent than before, my friendships are far more honest than they ever were.

Of course, that means there are more arguments, more heated debates, and a few more apologies, but from these are friendships forged, as far as I’m concerned. If we cannot fight, trusting that the other will not walk out, then there is no real friendship there.

I am glad to have friends I can trust well enough to be transparent with, and equally glad that I need not put every detail on my blog just to keep myself honest. My blog entries from years past are nearly incoherent piles of worthless prattle, and not worth being read by anyone. By transitioning to writing about something other than myself, I am able to communicate something worth reading. I am free to give something to the World Wide Web that might help others, rather than pouring out my heart to only help myself.

Generations Seeking

lonely

When I look around at my peers, I see a great deal of confusion, insecurity, instability, and/or non-commitment. I first thought that this had to do with comparitive opportunities: where our parents might have had relatively few choices regarding what they might do with their lives (limited by finances, education, family, etc.), my generation(s) seem to have fewer, if any, barriers. Education is relatively easily accessible and affordable, the Internet makes information pervasive and instantly available, and the cost of learning continues to decline.

I began to think that, if we are unable to decide what we want to do with our lives, it isn’t because we don’t have the opportunity to do what we like. Rather, it’s because we see and experience so much we enjoy that we can’t settle on what we want to do. Despite this initial conclusion, however, it didn’t seem to fit. We could do a little of everything, or settle on something, and enjoy our lives, but I don’t see a lot of people who are satisfied. Rather, most everyone I know continues to yearn for something else, usually something indefinable.

While conversing with April about this topic, we came upon an interesting thought. Our parent’s generation (labeled as the Baby Boomers, from which both Generations X and Y really sprung) were a group of independent, centralized small families. Following World War II and especially the Vietnam War and subsequent political fallout, there was a move away from the larger community, with a greater a focus indoors on the household, on the family, and on isolationism.

I believe that growing up in this setting has instilled in our generation a deep and abiding desire for community that we might neither understand nor acknowledge. We know that we are unsatisfied, that we want something more, but we’re not finding it in money, materialistic goods, education, careers, etc. We want a family, but we want more than the nuclear family of our parents.

For a lot of people, though, I think that desire has been associated with negative experiences from our childhoods to the extent that people are hesitant to seek out the community they desire. A dislike of “organized religion,” or organized-anything for that matter, leaves people in a place where they cannot get the satisfaction and help they need. And so people remain unsatisfied, frozen, and insecure.

And if one isn’t put-off by an organized group (and let’s face it, someone has to bring people together for there to be a community; there has to be a core before anything else can form), their hesitance tends to come from other insecurities. We become afraid to invest in people because either we might leave or they might. College-age students in particular struggle with this, because their time in any location is limited: once they graduate, get a job, etc., they’re gone and those relationships are left behind.

Or, in perhaps the most self-destructive state, we do not seek out community because we feel selfish doing so. We don’t feel like we’re worthy of friendship, or we feel like we’re imposing on others by seeking them out. We are hurt by our loneliness, and then hurt ourselves further because we cannot trust others to help. We do not seek help and so degenerate into self-imposed isolation and depression.

Those of us who are secure, and have found our communities, have an obligation to reach out to others and alleviate their loneliness. Some people might not know what they are seeking, but they will know when they have found it. All we have to do is welcome them with love and the rest will take care of itself.

Image by: mrjamin

Seeking Closure

I wrote a pretty bad poem by this title around four years ago, when Abbey was ending her friendship with me. Amongst all the different failed relationships I had, I wanted to know why they had ended so poorly, what the final straw was, and how to make things better or, at the least, not make the same mistakes again in the future.

A few months, or maybe a year, later I read the poem again, then wrote another poem in reply mocking it. The original was sappy, and Granting Closure was what I needed; a kick in the rump telling me to get over it and move on.

Ever since Margaret got back in touch with me (around a year ago or more now, I think), however, I’ve been craving that closure once again. I don’t need to know what failed now, though. I have a pretty good idea that it was me: I failed.

The blame isn’t all on my side of the table; I’ve learned to not blame myself for everything under the sun. But I still feel, or felt rather, the need to apologize. To try and make amends. At the least, to let them know that I’m sorry for my part in the negativity and failure of the friendship.

So I’ve been contacting these people, apologizing and tying up loose ends. As of last week, I sent the final missive, and there are no ends left to tie.

There are probably two others I could contact, but am not, either because communication has been tried in the past and failed, or because it doesn’t seem worthwhile. When trust has been so badly damaged, an apology becomes worthless; how do you know they mean it, and aren’t just trying to manipulate you yet again? I have nothing left to apologize for in those instances, and their words could never mean anything to me. I’ve elected rather to let it lie in the past, where it belongs, and move on towards a brighter future.

There is an important part of me that has found peace through this process, and what’s more, I’ve discovered the wonder that is forgiveness. Its healing power is truly remarkable, and I never understood it before this last year.

Being forgiven by God is one thing, and difficult to grasp and understand. Being forgiven by Margaret, or Katie, or Jennifer, or all the others is another entirely, and helps me understand my Lord all the better. Jesus has forgiven me for far greater things than these few forgave me, yet how wonderful their forgiveness is.

The question has been posed many times elsewhere, “What would our lives look like if we were to act truly forgiven?” I suspect it would be happier, and far more free. It is something I need to work on, accepting and understanding God’s forgiveness. On a mental level, I have, but now that I have felt mortal forgiveness, I can recognize that a part of me is struggling to accept God’s forgiveness.

It will be the last great closure I will ever need to seek.