The Public Self and the Secret Self
“There is the public self that lies sweetly so that people will love them and be drawn to them and the secret self that feels like a broken record who doesn’t know how anyone could ever love a mess like them” -Glennon Doyle Melton
My name is Audrey. I despise small talk, first dates, waking up in the morning, Disneyland (not sorry), when people call hot chocolate coa coa (CRINGE), elevator silence, being cold, and there’s a 97 percent change if you tell me your cat died, I’ll laugh. I love sunshine, long walks on the beach minus the long walks part, people that know me well enough to make me laugh from across a crowded room, fiercely loyal friends, bubblegum ice cream, and sun dresses. All. Year. Long. These are some things that only those closest to me would know. They are just a few things that make up my secret self.
I only write things I really believe in or that are true and honest to how I am feeling at the time that I write them. One of my main goals in my writing is to keep myself accountable to be emotionally honest so people can get to know me beyond the social media highlights of my life, and I hope I can inspire them to do the same. We live in a world where we constantly scroll and like and envy what people put on social media–their public selves. But don’t we all have another side to us? One not as shiny or perfect or enviable, but one that is even better because it’s genuine and real? So I decided to try to use social media to both showcase what and who I love but also to connect with people on a deeper level than what I am wearing or which shade of lipstick I am currently loving. I love lipstick and fashion. But I love the depth of human relationships that come from being vulnerable and messy and unfiltered and real so much more. I try to show you my public self and my secret self and to help more women have the courage to do the same.
The scary thing about writing and putting everything out there is that what is true for me is not necessarily true for everyone else. Someone will always be offended (and I’m so over it!) Someone will always give you well intended but misguided advice, and someone else may use your words against you. And then there is the awkwardness of trying to tactfully write about your experiences honestly and to be transparent which complicates things because they involve people that are likely to stumble upon it. Eventually if I really want to post something I just say “screw it.” You really can’t win them all but if I can help someone else feel less alone in their pain than I am fulfilling my purpose. Whether I am on the phone with a friend, or talking to a stranger on an airplane, or listening to someone at work, that is always my goal.
But the pros of writing for me have been immense. I started writing when I was 15 and was going through a hard time. I am a pretty guarded person so writing became therapeutic for me and became a safe way for me to share my secret self. Since that time I have filled up about 8 journals and when I feel alone I go back and read them and it is usually only then that I see God’s hand in my life and I realize I am not alone at all and that life is so hard but also so good. So I desire to share some of these experiences publicly now because so many times in my life when I have felt alone I have questioned why no one talks about the hard things. I don’t do it to throw anyone under the bus, or over expose the details of my life, but to help others not feel like there is something wrong with them because everyday isn’t Disneyland. That is not only okay, but also what makes life so meaningful. Some of my most cherished memories are laying on the ground looking up at fake stars with my best friend while were both crying and laughing because life is hard but also so funny. And I’m not wearing pants and she has her retainer in but you know each other’s secret selves so well that you’re unfazed by it all. I know her secret self like the back of my hand and for that I am one lucky girl. Or when I am sitting in the middle of Panera bread with my beautiful sister-in-law eating carbs and talking about how dang messy this thing called life is but how great it is to look back and see how through our trials God has made us so much deeper and better because of them. And you don’t have any answers but you have an inherited family member that is a wonderful friend and bread so that will due for now. I love it when people show me their secret self because it means they trust me with the most fragile and beautiful part of who they are. And it is my mission in life to show them that who they are is someone amazing.
It is hard when you are falling apart yourself to be there for others but I have realized that is when the measure of our character truly manifests itself. When our hearts our breaking but we take that call from a friend that needs to complain about something. Or when we show up and are there for someone when we really need someone to be there for us. The past few weeks have been particularly challenging but instead of responding to the stranger on the airplane that asks how I am by saying “Well sir, funny you asked…I feel like I’m swimming up a stream of sh*t and I don’t have a paddle. And you?” I try to listen much more than I speak and love the way I hope to be loved. This amazing thing happens when we give love more than we expect to receive it. For starters, we step outside of ourselves and our own problems, and two it has an amazing way of coming back to us in even more abundance.
We live in a world where everyone is so much more concerned with being interesting than taking a genuine interest in others. So I challenge you, next time you are concerned about capturing the perfect moment on social media, don’t miss out on an opportunity to take in the moment and be fully present with those around you. Everyone secretly really wants someone who will love their secret self–the part they are really afraid to show the world.