Stomping on the Boxes

The other night I was at a dance mom meeting (because of course I was) and someone said, "You're being really quiet," to the woman sitting on the other side of me. But I was all like, "Who? Me?" because I am pretty much always quiet and yet completely self-conscious. And the response was, "No, of course not you. . ." or something to that effect.

Then the next day I couldn't think of a freaking blog topic because everything I wanted to write about was something I was afraid to let people who know me IRL read, or something not pin-able, or something that would alienate readers and/or frighten sponsors. Then I found out something upsetting about some of those "successful" bloggers (not my story to tell, sorry). And then I realized that I was afraid to write about what I wanted to write about. I skipped a day and then I wound up posting about the fucking weather.

I'm not quiet, actually. I am afraid that I will offend other parents/local acquaintances and then my children will be socially ostracized or judged or whatever. I am afraid that you will judge me for having a much smaller budget than you do. I am afraid that I will have to tell you about my ulcerative colitis. I am also really bad at small talk and have a hard time focusing. But I'm not quiet and I didn't used to be self-conscious.

I'm never going to be into posting about lots of brands, or reviews, or recipes or coupons or family tragedies or my beautifully appointed home or whatever else is popular. If that's your thing, good for you. I've said this before, but this is my little internet yard. I would love to make money from my yard - if I grew a lot of tomatoes in my actual yard, I would be happy to sell some at our local farmer's market. But I wouldn't be happy to cover my entire yard in tomatoes and paint pictures of Justin Bieber on the fence, you know?

My authentic self is controversial. I swear like a truck driver (wait, was that insulting to truck drivers? Never mind, this is the authentic me and the authentic me knows some truck drivers, all of whom swear more than she - I - do). I can't cook. I don't watch any shows on CBS. I'm not sorry for calling out Dove when they called New Jersey an armpit. My house is messy and I dye my own hair. I don't want to read blogs that are inauthentic and/or don't have a narrative voice. I think good and bad people can be found in every religion, including atheism - but it makes me uncomfortable if you constantly talk about your belief system. I like discussing politics. I'm proud to call myself a feminist. I am loud and have spent most of my life getting in trouble for talking too much.

I've tried to fit myself into these neat little boxes. Proper Bergen County mom. Blogger that wins over sponsors and fans. Fat but unobtrusive. PR-friendly. Family-friendly blogger. Nice. Nice. Nice. Inoffensive. It's the opposite of how I felt when I first got into my forties, when I was all about self-acceptance and kicking ass and taking names. We've had a lot of setbacks in the last (almost) 3 years and I guess the fear and uncertainty has driven me to try to fit into the safe little boxes. Depression also gets me like that - it makes me feel small and terribly worried about what people think of me. Which feeds right into trying to brand your blog and attract sponsors and get lots of people to like you.

Not that long ago, I burst into tears over a social event. Not that anything bad happened or that anyone was mean to me or anything like that. . .I just lost my shit because I had felt so self-conscious. Paralyzingly so.

Looking back, and having spent the last 3 days vomiting onto the page (er, screen. . .keyboard?), I now realize the truth. I am depressed. It doesn't look like it has before - I get out of bed and do things, I am not filled with venomous self-hate, I'm not cutting or binging or drinking excessively or any of the other fun things I tried in my twenties. Depression is not only a lying bitch, apparently she is a sneaky bitch as well.

It really wasn't until I wrote that sentence above on Saturday that I even thought of depression in the context of my self-consciousness and fear and frustration.

Fuck you, Depression. 

I made you a good-bye picture:

Those are boxes. I stomped on them. 

You know what? I would much rather you all think I'm loud, or obnoxious, or domestically inept, or terrible at small talk, or depressed, or broke, or chronically ill, or fat, or a boring writer (all of which are basically true) than for you all to think of me as that quiet lady who only writes about child-friendly activities. It's time to blog and be authentic.*

*Does that sound a little too Oprah?

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