Friday, June 10, 2016

About shame, authenticity, and greetings

About six months ago my husband Jose and I were spending the day walking around a local camping store with the kids. We're poor so this is our idea of a family outing.

We ran into an older man shopping with his daughter, her husband, and their beautiful dog. Jose and I were talking about hunting, and how we'd prefer using bows versus guns with the idea that would put ourselves on more equal footing with the animal (although we're both well aware that bows these days are powerful weapons). Harold overheard the conversation and interjected his agreement.

He was such a pleasant person and we all clicked, discussing the prospect of hunting and animals. I shared my obsession with chickens and he told me he used to work for Tyson and could give me tips on raising them. He even offered to share some of his venison since it had been years since I tried it. We even went so far as to exchange phone numbers.

I heard from him a few days later, and after texting about chickens he said he had something to discuss with me, and if I could call? Being in the middle of an anxiety episode it took me a few days to call, but I went so far as to actually follow through and make the effort. It was only minutes into the conversation that my stomach sank.

"I had a business opportunity that I'd like to share with you! I thought it would be a fit for you and your husband as soon as we started talking in the store..."

I humored Harold and listened. At the end of his pitch I told him that selling wasn't my thing anymore and my time was best spent at home. He was kind, I was kind, and I received texts less and less over the weeks.*

I've thought about Harold more than once since. I felt betrayed by his brief friendship, though I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that, amidst his intention to sell, he also genuinely liked me. The experience prompted me to think how I've had my own periods of being a salesfish-friend (my term), or using other aspects of my self as leverage to prop open the door of some superficial opportunity. Even during my 9-5 jobs I bowed and scraped, pressuring myself to meet someone's (usually a superiors) expectations. I was driven by fear that I was never good enough or inflated by selfish ambitions and vain conceits. Thinking about it now makes my stomach turn.

The list of things I should be embarrassed about is long: I'm loud, obnoxious, once wore a horrid transparent shirt with a bright pink sports bra in middle school, more than once have been overly pushy about my faith, frequently fight to have the last word. All of these I feel bad about and have tried improving upon. None of them, however, give me the gut-wrenching anxiety that the other failings do. After reflection I discover that the only significant difference between the two lists is that the one is me trying to shape myself into a mold in order to serve the world or a personal vanity, while the others are genuine (though imperfect) reflections of self.

I'm going to use this musing as my introduction to the blog. I didn't originally intend it for this purpose but I think it serves as a good segue since I'm in a new chapter of my life. This new chapter is all about reserving my energy for those things that are authentic to me, and detaching habits and behaviors that are inauthentic. In fact one of my blogs in the near future may very well be about making myself a mission statement defined by who I am to help me not to stray.

That said, welcome to the blog! I imagine that in the future you're going to see posts about art projects, animals and animal husbandry, possibly books and writing, or theology. I'll try to keep it organized because I know not everyone is as fascinated by every one of my eclectic tastes, but may learn from or contribute to one or two of the topics. In fact, here's hoping that you do..!


* This story is not intended as blanket judgment against sales or those who sell via network marketing, in fact most likely I'm going to try selling some of my art in the near future, and I have a lot of friends who are able to use network marketing while still being genuine people

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