encouragement · failure · inspiration · Life · parenting · transparency · writers · writing

My Unmasked Manifesto

Being transparent in a social media masked world.

I want to do something radical today… I want to unmask myself. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been putting off this post. Being real is so hard and I’ve been dragging my feet and arguing with myself about writing this. Showing all the ugly scars, admitting (surprise, surprise) that I’m not perfect is downright painful. Not that I ever intentionally wanted to give the wrong impression of myself, but in a world of social media masks, I think it’s easy to show others only what you want them to see.

What I want to say today terrifies me, not only because it could upset some people but also because it exposes me.

I’m gurya nova couchilty of it, you’re guilty of it– posting angelic picture of the kiddos, bright clean smiles, everybody is getting along, perfect. What people don’t see is the fight right before those cherub poses, while you tried to wrangle them into place for that picture. Oh, here’s one such picture. Yup, those are my cherubs! Or bragging up a vacation, or promotion, etc.

Okay, so right about now the girl I once was, the one that was always on the outside looking in when it came to the ‘cool crowd’, who was picked last for just about everything, and rebelled rather than cried out to show the pain– is really sweatin’. And guess what? Those feelings of, ‘I’m not good enough’, don’t always go away with adulthood. Life has a way of beating people up and excluding them even as an adult.

So, here it is, my disclaimer:

As inclusive as I want to be with everything I write, I have to apologize right here, right now. This post is for you– yeah, you. You know who you are. You’re the mom who looks at Facebook “friends'” posts and feels like you’ll never be as rich, as beautiful, as well dressed, as much of a super-mom, have children as talented or mature in their faith, the perfect husband, have as many vacations, have your dreams fulfilled ( you fill in the blank) as Mr. or Mrs. So and So.

It hurts doesn’t it? It’s like being in grade school as the new kid, looking around at all of the lunch tables filled with the cliques and groups you want to be a part of, but having nowhere to sit.

Friend, my heart aches for you because I’ve been right where you are dozens of times. Know that I am in prayer over you tonight. This is a hard day and age to be a mom and to be a dreamer. I pray that my own vulnerability will give you a laugh, help you realize you’re not alone, and ultimately be a salve for your soul.

Now, the social media guilt-trip and the masks we wear on said social media, are topics unto themselves. Certainly from a Christian perspective, I think there is much to be said as well. That is why I plan to do another post on what God says about that green-eyed monster we sometimes encounter when looking at others’ lives– jealousy. But for right now, I want to concentrate on my own unmasking so I can do my small part in making it okay to not be perfect in our perfectly posed, sometimes plastic world.

First, I’m pulling back the curtain on what I’m not: I am seriously not cool, or anything that is trendy– hipster? what is that?– I aspire to be stylish but I’m usually covered in too much food, children’s boogers, etc. I do not have ageless perfect skin. Ugh, in my thirties here and still getting a monster zits. Yup that’s me. You will never see pictures of my artisan cappuccino topped with heart-shaped foam, the beautiful gourmet food I’m eating, or my pouting selfie. I’m not sitting in a dreamy home library with the luxury of endless time on my hands to stare out the window or write for hours on end. I’m not the perfect mom or wife. I wish I could say I multi-task like a super-mom, but I don’t. I do not have a good enough memory for that! (Calendars and lists are this foggy-brained lady’s friends!) I am not great at verbal communication, which is probably why I love writing. I hate big crowds. I’m the one hanging back until my nerves die down enough to actually make words happen. I don’t always say I’m sorry when I should. And even though I know that God loves me, I have always struggled with the feeling that I am not worthy or accepted, even in the body of Christ. As if my past still mars me.

Here is what I am: Real. With all the scars and all the messiness of a wife/mommy/dreamer/redeemed. I have grey hairs that I dye.  Far too often I get wrapped up in my own little world and forget to check in with the great big world out my window. I struggle with being selfish. My feelings are pretty tender, even if I put on a tough front or laugh it off. And I’ve fought depression and anxiety for as far back as I can remember, before I had names for them. I know what it’s like to be in the trenches of life with a dream. I am loved by God. I work hard at everything I do, and even though I get discouraged, I rarely give up. I am extremely shy, especially in big social situations. I worry WAY too much. Nature awes me. I love to sing. Even though I want to be so much better as a mom and wife, I LOVE my children and husband. They are precious to me. And speaking of that, I’m a mama bear. I tend to be mild-mannered, but if anyone messed with my children– watch out! I can be sassy and sarcastic, but also sweet and kind. I’m a good cook and well-organized, when I try to be. And one thing that keeps me going forward toward a dream like becoming a published author is, I still have a childlike wonder and faith in the impossible.

I want to encourage you in any way I can (again, you know who you are :)), and I hope that this has inspired even one person out there to look past others’ masks and also remove their own. And friend, I want this blog to be a community, a safe place for those of you who are living the unglamorous life, like me.

Those of you who are so effortlessly cool, you are welcome too! Just know that those of us with Cheerios stuck in our hair while we desperately try to squeeze in 5 min of writing during nap time, will look on you occasionally with the ‘I want to sit at the cool table’ eyes.

So, here we are. All beloved of God. All chasing the dreams He gave us. Let’s love each other enough to be real. I’m going to be brave enough to take off this mask. Will you?

Love and Blessings to All,

Mollie Joy

P.S. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have any expertise to offer. But what God is showing me is that I am an expert in something– being a mom/writer/dreamer. So that is what my blog is about. I’m looking for other dreamers out there to help me create a community of encouragement on this same journey. If you would like to contribute to that community, please comment or message me.

Any brave takers out there? I’d love to have you share one ‘unmasked’ comment. Something you are or you aren’t.

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