FACT: The quickest way to feel free is to strip yourself bare.
“You say fuck too much. And tone down your opinion. Why don’t you read @OscarPRgirl and see how she does it? Then...Do that.”
The “or else” was implied so as not to turn this advice into an ultimatum. I was staring out the window down to Wilshire Blvd, unblinking. I let the glare from the Miracle Mile seer holes into my retinas.I was suppressing at least 7 facial expressions.
I do this whilst listening to advice I’m not going to take.
“Oh. I see.”
The words slid sickly through my dead-fish lips. Eyes still set on the street below. I was already gone.
This is a story about getting naked.
It wasn’t that the dude sitting across from me hadn’t been acquainted with my...voice prior to hiring me. My digital profile was part of what got his attention initially.
I ignored the advice. I’m not a goddamn actor.
In less than a month, I would be fired from this particular advertising agency for a series of failure-to-give-a-fucks and (most importantly) a failure to pretend to want to give said fucks on, around, and subsequent the above conversation.
I fucking hated working there. My boss was a tyrant. The whole agency buzzed with caffeinated anxiety and resentment. But, I had tried to stay. I tried because "it’d be nice if [I] could just live with it or keep [my] mouth shut because everyone wants to work in that kind of place." (My ex boyfriend’s words, not mine. And, for clarity, by 'it' he meant 'undue censorship and sundry other insufferable indignities.')
But, still, I'd never been fired. That felt shitty.
After that, I questioned the very intuition that lead me out to California. No words would come. I stayed quiet.
The blessing and curse of social media is that you are forced to deliberately consider which parts of you to share, with whom, and how. I stopped writing for myself entirely. Like I said, I can’t pretend. It is easier for me to say nothing than to withhold.
Whatever the cause, my writers block dovetailed with commonly held professional social media cautions:
[Be personal. Not be too personal. Be honest. Not too honest. Someone might find out and keep something from you. If you expose the wrong sides of yourself or step into the wrong light, you risk being seen. Worse, you risk shame and rejection. They might point at your cellulite or pinch your love handles.]
Better not get caught naked.
And as the year pressed on, I was relieved of my remaining dignities. And, frankly, I was hiding from a cyberstalker and working on two startups. It wasn’t exactly the perfect time bear my soul naked unto the universe in new and challenging ways.
By the time fall arrived, I was cashing in some bad bets, personal silence notwithstanding. I lost, gave up, or otherwise abandoned everything.
I started to write.
As this project took shape, I talked almost exclusively about things that scared the shit out of me. I remembered the afternoon on Miracle Mile...when I had trusted my voice enough to risk my job for it.
Being naked -- having nothing to hide -- means confronting the fear of exposure. And it means confronting exposure. The reward is permission to speak freely.
I was tired of being held hostage by my own stories. If I don’t speak these words, like a caught spy, I swallow them like caplets of poison broken from my own molar. If I don't say them, eventually they will kill me.
I'd rather be naked than dead.
But, talking about your heartbreak, sex, a series of failed relationships and...your bush on the internet may be perceived as a sign of mild- to moderate-psychosis, temperate drug use, or both. Because of what I’ve written, connections and friends have fallen away.
The bad news is that this was an expected exodus. The good news is that also because of what I’ve written, I get to have no bullshit conversations with people all the time now.
My people bagan to arrive to fill the void. Speaking of, this post was inspired and edited by Sina Mossayeb. He asked me if I could write on HOW NOT TO BULLSHIT. I demurred...
Remember how I said I have nothing to hide? Well, that’s bullshit.
I did NOT want to write this post because then I would have to tell you the truth. I am presently procrastinating on finishing a project that could change my life. Because it could change my life.
That's fucked up. But that’s where I am right now.That’s the naked goddamn truth.