The Life of Bon: On Authenticity

Sunday, March 22, 2015

On Authenticity

Last week Greg and I got released from our primary "calling".  A calling in the LDS church is basically the type of work you do in the church.  When we started going to the church in our area they gave us the calling to teach the class of 10 year olds ("primary") every week.  We agreed.

A calling can begin or end at any time.  We believe that our leaders are inspired to choose people to fill callings based on the needs of everyone at church.  Greg and I were called to teach primary a year and a half ago.  Then, last Sunday one of our church leaders pulled us out of primary for a minute and said they were releasing us from our calling.  We said okay.

There is a lot that is really cool about this system.  You get to contribute in ways that you normally wouldn't choose for yourself.  We put a lot of trust in our leaders and ultimately in Heavenly Father to put us in a calling that we need and that also needs us.  We also trust them to know when it is time to switch up the callings.

All this to say that today, for the first time in 18 months, I found myself sitting in adult classes during church.  Instead of teaching, I was being taught.  I felt uplifted, edified, and instructed.

The lesson in Relief Society (the group for all women) was on choosing wisely and was based on this talk by one of our apostles, Quentin L. Cook.  I was struck by this that was said about living an "authentic life" online.  Naturally, it made me think of blogging and my own "online life".

(Quentin L. Cook is speaking.  It gets a little confusing because he starts quoting Arthur C. Brooks) "A prominent thought leader, Arthur C. Brooks... observes that when using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life—sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume the “almost exclusively … fake lives of [our] social media ‘friends.’” Brooks asserts, “How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?”

I found this quote especially interesting as it is something that I had already been pondering a lot the past week... how to be real on the internet. This was partly triggered by an article I had read online earlier in the week entitled "7 Things that Shouldn't Impress Us Anymore."  Not surprisingly, one of those things that shouldn't impress us was people's social media pictures and posts.  Within the article it stated this:

Almost everyone posts flattering images and experiences of themselves online- from new clothes and restaurant food to local concerts and airplane wings.  These images are closely guarded and selected routinely portraying only the most exciting parts of our lives.  With foolish abandon, we blame Photoshop for perpetuating unattainable images of perfection while simultaneously editing and photoshopping our own lives for social media.

I agree with both of the quoted sentiments, but the problem is I don't know how to do post more authentically about my life.  Sometimes social media and blogging reminds me a lot of education.  A lot of questions, but not a lot of answers.  I don't know how to live a real and authentic life online while still protecting the privacy of those closest around me.  I don't know how to write authentically about education while protecting my students and my job.  I don't know how to write authentically about my experiences in marriage, my experiences hosting a French foreign exchange student, my experiences balancing work and motherhood and everything in between.  I don't want to complain, but I don't want to brag.  I don't want to tell you my life sucks, nor do I want to tell you my life is perfect. 

I have felt this blog shifting in the past year- I guess mostly since I have had June.  I read posts that I wrote two or three years ago and I kind of cringe, to be honest.  I am still me, but I am not me either.  There are things I said then that I would never say now. Then I wanted a big social media following, I wanted lots of comments on my blog, I wanted to make money from writing more than anything.  I wanted to be funny and make people laugh- sometimes no matter what the cost.  I still want many of those things, but first and foremost, I want to be authentic.  To portray my life as accurately as possible while still protecting the privacy of those around me.  I would rather someone tell me that a blog post of mine made them think than that at a blog post made them laugh.

Now... if someone could just tell me how one goes about creating this authenticity.  I'm all ears.

And now for some pictures from the last few weeks...

^^^ Agathe about to leave for Sweethearts dance. I curled her hair.  She said she can't believe Americans really curl their hair like this.  She thought it was only in the movies.

^^ Maverick thinks he's her boyfriend.

^^ I have no idea who this baby is.  But she's freaking cute.

^^ Scentsy party!  The spring/ summer smells make me CRAZY they're so good.

^^ Representing at the Jazz game. Four year anniversary.

^^ This guy = my everything.  The way to get him to love you forever is buy him a big fat coke with lots of ice and maybe some beef jerky to wash it down.  He's a man of simple pleasures.

For the sake of authenticity, I must admit that I never took a picture of when I was grumpy and late and stressed in the morning.  I never took a picture of being frustrated because June didn't nap long enough.  I also never took a picture of seventeen year olds who asks me questions I have already answered six times.  I didn't take a picture of Greg's and my disagreement over dinner nor are there pictures of how overwhelmed I sometimes feel for all the people who live with me and rely on me.  No, I didn't get those pictures in, although they are every bit a part of my life as smiling babies and curling hair and anniversary dates.  Our stage of life right now is a mix of hectic and calm, stressed and fun, confident and a little bit scary. It's overflowing with teaching and chocolate chip cookies and 6 am mornings and Sunday walks and end of quarter stress and cooing at our perfect angel baby.    

Here's to authenticity!

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