On Authenticity

I've retreated this fall. It feels like when the leaves began changing I spent more time in my head than I ever have before. Besides what I'm writing right now, I haven't written something in ages. Everything is just a mismatch of words that don't really make sense. I have 147 drafts of words on this blog and 90% of them will never see the light of day. I like to pride myself on being vulnerable, but I've been questioning if I'm as vulnerable as I say I am. I keep thinking about all of the things that I want to write about but can't; the things no one will ever know, the things very few know, the things that are hidden so deep that I don't even know if I could even begin to speak to bring them to life again. I used to think writing things down made them more tangible, and when things are more tangible, maybe that's when you start to get over them and they'll start to hurt you less. That isn't true at all.

It's a lot like being in school and staying silent when someone is being rude or mean or hurtful towards you; you feel stuck. You let whatever it is sit with you and it starts to chip away at this shiny armour you thought you had. But you never say anything to anyone, you stay silent and you just re-read all of the words that you wrote yourself but can't bring yourself to push that publish button. It's one thing for people to know about your trip to New York or your new overalls, but it's another thing for people to know about all of the not-so-nice things happening. 

What I'm dealing with is this idea of authenticity and being my most authentic self, because I don't really feel authentic right now. To me, authentic means to be genuine - to be the truest form of yourself as you possibly can be. I'm trying really hard to be my best self, my authentic self; to not apologize for the person that I am, to not shy away, to just live as genuine as possible. But vulnerability and authenticity feels like it's intertwined, and how can I be authentic if I can't be 100% vulnerable? If I'm not pouring my soul out for people to read on the internet, do they really know me? Will they think I'm genuine with my words? If I only write about the good things, that's not being very authentic, is it? 
Even when it comes to writing - I don't feel comfortable calling myself a writer. I write words in a structured format, but I never feel confident in it. I even wrote about why I write and how I believe I'm a writer just for writing. But I still coward away when anyone says anything positive, afraid that maybe what they've seen online won't match up to the person standing in front of them. I'm dealing with the impostor syndrome all over again; it feels like I don't really deserve nice words because people only know little bits that I choose to write about. It feels like I'm being fake for only showing a certain side to my life.

A lot of this is very melodramatic and you're probably thinking this girl cares way too much about what other people think about her, which I do. I'll admit that. A lot of this sounds also just like an internal battle, which it is. I'll also admit that. I'm struggling with being authentic on the internet - how only talking about the boys I've kissed or the people I've encountered only shows certain sides of me. How getting my heartbroken didn't make me into the person I am today, but something a lot worse. I'm not pretending that not-so-nice things aren't happening, I'm just getting to choose when I'm ready to be open about them. I get to choose if I press publish on those 147 drafts. It might mean that I'm only showing the bits that might seem good or okay, but it might've taken me a few months to get up the courage to be okay with posting them. It's okay to not be ready to talk about things with other people. Some wounds take longer to learn to be okay with talking about them than others, and that is something I'm learning daily. 

An article popped up on my Twitter feed a few weeks ago with the headline: How do you want to be remembered when you leave a room? Ideally, the qualities that I wish people think of when they hear the name Kelsey Barnes are some of the words I think about myself: loving, trustworthy, respectful, kind, and genuine. A girl that is always ready to help out another person. A girl that is as authentic and as true as she possibly can be, even if she isn't ready to give herself away to vulnerability all the time.

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