Updated: Feb 17
Right after I wrote my first post, I got some encouraging feedback, and it felt great! I walked around feeling proud I had taken those first steps. And then, something strange occurred. I was so jazzed that I decided to treat myself to a virtual musical theater dance class (these exist!). I finished the class, showered, and suddenly felt panic rising in my chest. Soon afterwards I was crying while trying to get in some deep breaths. I eventually calmed down (and had thwarted a too-familiar panic attack and anxiety spiral) and went about my evening, periodically relaxing but also trying to figure out what would have brought on such overwhelmingly bad feelings after what was mostly a great day. Nothing made sense for such a strong reaction, so I brushed it off as the faulty wiring of an anxious brain. That night, as I was falling asleep, I was seized by an icy feeling that wouldn’t let go. People had been so nice, so encouraging and enthusiastic about my first post—even people that I only knew virtually. But it was my first post—they must have been just being polite. Readers would quickly move onto something else and I would be left posting thoughts into a void or—worse—be thought of as a social media nuisance when I announced, “New post!”. Who needed or even wanted to hear what I had to say? Wasn’t this just a vanity project and some self-serving navel-gazing? I pushed the thoughts out of my mind—not the last time I did so over the next few days. After several days of increasing anxiety and obsessiveness (more on these topics to come!), I finally broke down and talked to my partner, Jonathan. He let me ruminate on my self-doubt for a few moments but finally stopped me, which is good because I can go farther and farther down the rabbit hole until I disappear. He suggested something I thought was ingenious. Why not show the real-time struggle of building Living Unglossed and all the messiness and magic that it entails, right there on the screen? If I want to encourage others to honestly talk about the challenges and changes in their lives, I should take the lead. The truth is, I want to curate my insecurities and issues. I want them to be the right amount of messy and have just enough control over them---not too depressing or chaotic but not non-existent. I want to be self-effacing enough that it’s funny and not sad. But the unglossed reality is that it is kind of sad, sometimes. There are times when I want to stop doing much of anything. I want to stay closed in my little cocoon rather than break out and see what might be. Because what ‘might be’ could look self-indulgent or pitiable or incapable. It’s no wonder that with (just barely) underlying beliefs like these I went from a happy place after my first post to a familiar place of fear and self-flagellation. Luckily, I know that the only way to a healthier space is going through the tough and discouraging ones. And, my “through” in this instance is total transparency with anyone who reads this.