Past Self vs. Future Self

We look to our past to get a sense of who we are. Where we come from. Our genes, our ancestors. But why don’t we look at our present and ask who we want to be. Who are we in this moment? Are we thrill seekers, the introvert gamer, the 9-5er? Or are we somewhere in between? What experiences and how do we react to things make us more of who we are than any family hierarchy.

My friend is addicted to solving the mysteries of her family tree and recently found out her background isn’t what she’s been told for thirty plus years. When she told me, I was stunned. It was like our giant pink balloon had popped and we were left with broken pieces. Until I realized that this piece of knowledge doesn’t change one thing about her or our friendship. She’s still my best friend, she’s still the most beautiful soul you will ever meet.

While I’m not saying it isn’t great to identify with your heritage–because it totally is. Own it! But you shouldn’t let it define you. Let your current actions and your future dreams define you. Who are you today? Who do you want to be tomorrow? And finally, what will you DO right now to be the person you are meant to be?

What I’m reading now: Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach

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The Social of Social Media

The realization began when a friend reached out on Facebook to thank me for something that hadn’t considered a big deal. But to her it was. She thanked me for coming up to her–a complete stranger at the time–and talking to her. I remember the moment from approximately three years ago, but not in the same way she remembers it.

She sat at a table by herself, new to our MFA residency, an adult beverage in front of her. Me being the lush I am, sat with her so that I wouldn’t be drinking alone. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, other than my circle of friends didn’t drink and I didn’t want to feel awkward (I don’t know why I try to not be awkward–I’ll always be that girl). It’s something I’ve always done. I flit from group to group, never really establishing deep roots.

Then, years after that brief moment, through social media, she publicly thanked me. Without realizing it, she had returned the favor full-fold. My own struggles and self-doubt had taken a toll on me and I felt alone. With her words, not only did she remind me that I am a decent human being, but she affirmed that I do have true friends despite not belonging to one particular “group.”

I think we sometimes forget that social media and our “friends” can not replace the those real moments of what makes us human: those moments of raw connection that illicit a genuine feeling. Because without these complex emotions, what really separates us from artificial intelligence or a pet?

While social media is a wonderful avenue for so many ventures, this year I am going to step out from behind the screen. I am going to make more physical memories, more human connections, so that I have more stories to tell.

My Version of the Truth

Someone asked me last night if I tell the truth. What a loaded question. This person referred to a specific event in our lives, but their question got me thinking about my writing. What truth is in my writing?

“Write what you know” is common advice for writers. Does that mean that fiction books represent real events? Maybe, probably, no way in hell. But a real event can be construed so many ways by the “what if this happens?” question that writers ask themselves as they place their characters in the middle of a huge shit storm.

A seed of a truth can be taken, used, morphed, rewritten so many times that the original seed is no longer visible. Does this make something any less true?

While writing, I take an incident– or several incidents– and blend them into a story. The only truth that matters to me while I write is the question I ask myself every day: did I tell this story to the best of my ability? This is one of the hardest questions to answer truthfully, but also one of the most important instances for me to be honest.

So, truth in writing only matters at the end of the day, once the words are on the page. Is this my best work to date? Did I pour my soul into these words? If the answer is yes, then it is the only truth that matters.

Currently reading: Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion