I was at BlogHer this past weekend. Honestly, the weekend was kind of underwhelming, but I don’t want to go into that here. What is on my mind is the reaction that several of the people I was most excited to meet had to me. I’ve heard more than once since the weekend that people were disappointed in me and that I didn’t seem to be the “same person” as on my blog. This from people who never actually talked to me.
How did I feel this weekend? Lonely. Awkward. Intimidated. As though nobody really wanted to talk to me. Not invited to lots of various events. And then, surprised by the reaction I heard about after the fact (and sensed in the moment). Startled that anyone who reads my blog expected that I would be outgoing, confident, and self-assured in person. I feel upset at my own inability to convey how I actually feel. I can try harder, and I will, but I worry that the enormous difference between how I feel and how I seem represents some deep and fundamental lack on my part.
The thing is, my words and writing here do represent the authentic me. This is the place where I really AM open and true. So to know me here is actually to know the contents of my mind and heart. I’ve heard from more than a few acquaintances, from all phases of my life, who stumbled on this blog, and every single one noted that knowing me in passing they never knew I thought about this stuff. This is the real me, and I’m struggling to inhabit her in my day to day life. Not the other way around.
I am lost, again, in the whitewater that fills the perilous lacuna between perception and reality. I feel disheartened to have alienated people who have come to mean a lot to me in this space. And I feel frustrated by the speed with which people seem to jump to conclusions about me. Disappointed in myself for a few assumptions I made, too.
We should not presume to walk the terrain of the hearts of others without guidance. We stumble on our own paths, so how can we imagine that we would be able to navigate those of others without finding surprising contours, confusing switchbacks, darkness and light that flicker and disorient us? This is true even for those we know best, and it is certainly true for those with whom we have limited interaction and small amounts of information.
We do know that no one gets wise enough to truly understand the heart of another, though it is the task of our lives to try.
– Louise Erdrich, The Bingo Palace
I think this is easy to forget. It is easy to assume, to conclude, to extrapolate from tiny experiences and infinitessimal indicators. Let’s not. I recommit myself to remaining open, and I urge you all to do the same thing. In the meantime I promise and swear that any lack of warmth perceived this weekend was about my own insecurity and awkwardness and nothing else, but I am still sorry if I caused any hurt.