It’s been about a month now since I made my blog available for public consumption. The fervor around it has died down, partly because I’ve been slacking off in the writing department in favor of actually passing my classes. My “Vignettes” have all been published, my Facebook friends have gotten used to the image of me with a bottle of Boost in my hand, and I’ve received several powerful and moving responses from people I never would have expected to hear from. It’s been a smooth transition, I think, and I am grateful that I was blessed with the gift of such beautiful and supportive followers.
It was scary. It still is. All of a sudden a thousand little pieces of me became searchable codes of binary. Google my name and you’ll know more about me than some of my best friends do. Browse through pages of my thoughts and you’ll know what I’m feeling before I do. Most of the time I don’t think about the implications of my writing, but when it hits me, sometimes I get scared that I’ve let too much slip out. Overshared. I get this horrible feeling that everyone is going to think I’m stupid for baring my soul to the ether. After all, what kind of nut job would publicly admit to being crazy?
My roommate once jokingly told me that I should keep my blog far away from potential suitors. Another friend warned me about what might happen if it were discovered by a potential employer. “Do you really want your boss to know that you have a history of mental illness?” she asked me skeptically. “Or that you cry a lot when you’re drunk?”
She made excellent points. My roommate, too, who is never too shy to point out that my “poor future husband” is going to have his hands full with all my baggage, is partially right. These might not be the parts of me that are the most marketable or make the best first impression. I understand that showcasing my roughest edges is a risky thing to do.
The thing is, they’re just pieces.
Everything on the internet can be broken down into a completely abstract code that is read and reassembled by individual computers. Those candid little paragraphs in which I wrote my darkest dreams are nothing but a series of 0’s and 1’s traveling through cyberspace. But me? I cannot be quantified in base-2 or base-10 or base-30 million. I am not a simple sum or product of numbers. I am a person, a person so complex that no amount of neuroscience or psychology can explain exactly who I am.
So I have a history of mental illness. I walk through each day with that knowledge. I rely on the help of a supportive treatment team, an incredible group of family and friends, and psychoactive drugs to live the life I want, and deserve, to live. Should I be ashamed of that? Does it mean that I work any less diligently to achieve my goals? Does it mean that I am a less intelligent, responsible, creative person? Does it mean that I am worth less than anyone else?
I’m human. Not every day is sunshine and rainbows. I have a nasty habit of being too hard on myself. I get jealous, insecure, and nervous. Sometimes I do things that aren’t totally responsible. I have conflicts, I fall in love, I watch embarrassingly stupid TV shows way too often.
I also think that if anyone asked me to identify the most important thing I’ve gained from my struggles, it would be this: I know myself. I know what I do well, I know what I do badly. I know what I want. I know what I’m scared of. I’ve spent enough time fighting my inner demons that I think I have a much more solid grasp on life than a lot of college seniors. And I’m not saying that to be self-righteous, I’m saying it because I know myself. I know what I’ve been through and what I’ve learned.
I’ve learned that I can’t fight who I am. I can’t try to constrain my imagination in a box of logic and I can’t make myself into a leggy 5’11” supermodel. What I can do, however, is discover all the missing pieces of me – the ones I shut out by trying to conform to unrealistic expectations. They’re a part of my story, too, but I won’t share all of them. I will hold some of my broken fragments up to the light because I’m proud of the way my scars are healing. Others I will keep as mementos, close to my heart.
I am more than my eating disorder. I am more than my self-doubt. I am more than my experiences. I am more than my writing. Those are just pieces. The rest of me is in this moment hoping and planning and dreaming and loving in a million ways that cannot, and will not, be expressed in words. But I’m not hiding. The thing is, everybody’s a little bit broken. If you search hard enough, everybody has things they wrestle with and parts that aren’t pretty.
But those are just pieces.