You, dear friends, will never read my first draft. I don’t show them to anyone. Not my best friends, not my husband….not my AGENT (who I would trust with my offspring and my chocolate, which is saying a lot).
Nobody sees them but me. Because they are just-got-up-in-the-morning and still-has-mascara-caked-in-the-corner-of-her-eyes. Raw and ugly and icky.
I’m in the editing phase of this little novel I’m working on. Now, editing has a way of making me contemplative. Not only about the work, but about me.
Over the years I’ve started to edit, not only my work, but my life.
I choose the status updates that will make me look witty or loved or perky-peppy. I never post about being too hard on my kids or the times I’ve messed up big time with a friend.
When I put up a new profile picture, I choose the one that makes me look prettiest. I try to find one that catches the light just right…and I always angle the camera so you don’t see my chins. And, I make sure my gray hairs aren’t glistening under the flash.
If I ever talk about rejections or reviews that weren’t great, I reframe it. I talk about how these things have made me grow (which they have). But I never tell you how bummed I was about a few of them. And I don’t tell you much about the bitterness that threatens to snake into my heart.
I am very careful, very deliberate about what I show. I am editing and revising myself near constantly. Why? Because there seems to be a standard. A level of perfection expected of me. Of you. Of all of us.
Yeah. Yeah. Facebook. Twitter. Blogs. Yes. We’re sharing more of our lives than ever before.
But, really, I’ve been doing this longer than Al Gore’s been running the internet.
I started in Kindergarten.
At least that’s when I remember doing it for the first time. I told my whole class that I was in ballet and piano lessons. I was not. And that was very clear when the teacher asked me to show them what I’d learned in those classes.
But I wanted my classmates to think I was that kind of girl. The kind who got special lessons. The kind that could perform Swan Lake and be her own accompaniment.
Why did I do that? Why do I still?
Because sometimes I just don’t feel like I’m good enough. Sometimes I’m embarrassed that the laundry room is a complete disaster. That I have 3 or 4 or maybe even 5 baskets of clean laundry that still need folding. That my tupperware cupboard scares me a lot. Because I want you to think I have it together.
So…instead of this as my profile picture…
I put up this…
Instead of this as my Facebook status…
I put this up…
And yes, that really did happen.
Just like my novels, I edit all the things that don’t seem to work from my life. Well, the part of my life that you see, at least. I cover it up. Sweep it under my carpet which, frankly, could use a good cleaning.
Why? Because I want you to think I’ve got it all together. I really want you to see the good parts of me. The cleaned up version with no errors or poorly constructed ideas/thoughts/actions. I don’t want you to see my laundry room (gracious, I don’t even want to see it). I don’t want you to know how much I weigh or what size my pants are. Or that I struggle with perfectionism and envy and low self-esteem.
I do all of this because when I look at Facebook, I see perfect profile pictures and witty or sweet status updates. I see the beauty and the good and the cleaned up version of life.
Because, really, we’re all working so very hard to edit life.