The other day, a new colleague admitted to me that she feels like she’s one step away from us being best friends because she is a regular reader of my blog. I took her proclamation as the greatest of compliments. It fills me with warmth to know that my words speak so intimately to her.
It isn’t the first time I’ve heard this said. Often when I meet up with a friend I haven’t seen in some time, I find that I don’t need to do any talking because this person feels caught up on my life. And in a recent bout of rapid fire dating, the gentleman in question professed to know me better than I could possibly know him based on the fact that he is (was?) one of my avid readers.
All this Chelsea love got me to thinking about the private me versus the public me and how those two versions of who I am calculate into my real life relationships.
Yes, I wear my heart on my sleeve, for sure. I can be generous (maybe overly so) with details. (You may have noted I had second thoughts and took down the picture of my weirdly sunburned back.) But there is more to me than you read in these pages. Sometimes less. I might (gasp) exaggerate once in awhile. And I certainly under-report when there are details involved that I want to keep private. Does having a public presence make it easier to get to know the deeper me or more difficult because new people enter the relationship with a preconceived sense of who I am? Does maintaining a very personal blog enhance my relationship with longtime friends and family or lessen it because there isn’t as much perceived need for them to make a direct touch to me?
I don’t spill the inner workings of my heart and brain in this format to make/keep/update friends. After all, isn’t that what Facebook is for? I write as a creative and emotional outlet. In that respect, my blog is a very public form of private therapy. Incidents or feelings that unknowing to you have left me shattered can be transformed into a funny tale. My deepest fears are often turned on their head with a little self-deprecating humor. Touching interactions with my children are recorded as little tributes to them so that there’s written proof in the universe that they happened. Contrary to popular belief, I’ve never hooked up with George Clooney. And the style posts are as fleeting as fashion itself. But there are moments, many defining and profoundly special, which I save just for me.
To know me truly, you have to spend time with me, laugh with me, cry with me, sweat with me, drink wine with me. “Then, and only then,” as a dear friend of mine recently noted, “will you be lucky enough to maybe know the real Chelsea Henderson.”