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Monthly Archives: January 2016

When “How are You?” “FINE.” Hit Home Hard

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A story’s been sitting in my heart. Deep. Within. Crying to be let out for nearly two months now.

A story of FINE.

“How are you?”

“FINE.”

“How are you?”

“FINE.”

This story of FINE. It’s so old. I’m so over it. So done with the mask of FINE. FINE. FINE.

Let me tell you the real story of FINE. The pervasiveness of FINE that hit home hard when I was in Africa two months ago.

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One morning, our group decided we’d walk to the local village. On our way, we passed women doing and drying laundry on stones. We visited the orphans’ school. We prayed for a store owner, and a woman who’d just come from the doctor with significant chest pain. We stopped at the medical clinic, and discovered they were completely out of supplies. A medical clinic without supplies? I was floored. Unthinkable. Not okay.

It began raining.

We didn’t have umbrellas.

We didn’t have cover.

I had my camera along and was rightly concerned it could get destroyed with one swift downpour. I sent Eric, a college-educated teacher and full-time volunteer at the orphanage, with pocket change. He bought me two thin, plastic green bags with Mickey Mouse on front for protection. They worked great.

Before we knew it, we were nearing the church. The children’s church. The church the orphans attend every Sunday. Randy, our trip leader, wanted to show us. Randy wanted us to see this place where earthly FINE becomes gloriously, heavenly FINE.

To our sweet surprise, out called a group of children from the distance.

“How are you?”

“How are you?”

“How are you?” 

“How are you?”

“How are you?”

Their “How are you’s” sang in harmony.

Their “How are you’s?” rang true.

Their “How are you’s?” were familiar.

American.

English.

“How are you?”

They were asking us. Truly asking us, “How are you?”

Out came the children from the distance.

Out, out they ran.

Out they came to greet us.

“How are you?”

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We thought it was cute. It was. It really was.

They were the most adorable children.

But here’s the thing…it wasn’t so cute as it was a little bit cutting when they started answering their own question, when they started answering OUR questions…

“How are YOU?”

“FINE.”

These precious. Adorable. JOYFUL. EXUBERANT. DELIGHTFUL children were “FINE?”

I’m so sorry, sweethearts. I know this is the English you’ve been taught, the English you know to speak to us today, but this is not okay.

You are so much more than FINE. You are AWESOME! You are truly AWESOME. Excellent. Fantastic. SO good.

And so began the downpour I was afraid of.

In we went to the church, along with the whole group of children who’d just greeted us with “FINE.”

We sang.

They sang.

It was chill, relaxed.

Beautiful.

Holy.

We waited the rain out.

We gave some hugs.

Laughed. Smiled. Reveled in the moment.

It was more than FINE. It was good. Awesome.

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Eric explained the phenomenon of “How are you?” “FINE.” to us later. In most Kenyan schools, children are taught English as standard practice. They are taught to inquire with “How are you?” And they are taught to respond to that question with “FINE.”

What???????

I couldn’t believe my ears.

Eric, my dear African brother, was telling me that children in Kenya are taught to say “FINE” in response to the English question “How are you?”

How can this be?

Could it really be that our culture of “FINE” has become so pervasive that it’s crept it’s way ALL the way to a group of JOYFUL children in Africa?

FINE?

I’m sorry. Maybe I’m off base. Maybe I’m too sensitive. But that’s totally NOT okay.

These children are NOT fine.

They are GOOD. GREAT. EXCELLENT. AWESOME.

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Later that week, as a group of us were walking down the long road to the orphanage, I took the opportunity to chat with Eric about this “How are you?” “FINE.” business.

I approached the conversation tenderly and sincerely, but with as much passion as possible. I wanted him to know that “FINE” is not an accurate word choice to describe the HEART CONDITION of most of the children I met in Kenya. I hoped he’d be a change agent for this incredibly incorrect word choice. “FINE” wasn’t Eric’s fault. “FINE” wasn’t any of their faults. It’s what they’ve been taught. Innocently. Completely innocently. How would they ever know?

I explained to Eric that in our American culture, if we say “FINE” in response to the question “How are you?,” it might mean that in reality, we’re doing okay, that we’re surviving, that we’re getting by, that maybe we’re not that great and maybe we’re too busy and too masked to say how we’re really feeling. I explained that in America, “FINE” is a vague way to answer “How are you?” “FINE” is a way to mask the true condition of our hearts. I explained the words they could use to more accurately describe the condition of their lives, the condition of their hearts. If they’re feeling good, “FINE” would be at the absolute bottom of the barrel. GOOD, GREAT, EXCELLENT, and AWESOME would be much better alternatives. Eric smiled and soaked it in. I’m pretty sure he’s acting as a change agent for “FINE” in Kenya, Africa.

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Friends, I know I’m edging on preaching here. But we really need to stop it with the “How are you?” “FINE.”

I’m just as guilty as anyone else. “FINE” is my default if I want to tell you my vaguest truth. “FINE.” I’m “FINE.” Yep. “FINE.” Does that work as we pass in the hall? Does that work as we have one minute picking up the kids from volleyball practice? Does that work when we greet each other in the Target checkout lane? Does that work as you’re texting me quick to check in on this or that? Yep. It does.

But truth is, inside I know the truth.

Inside, you know the truth.

Inside, we all know the truth.

Sometimes, we’re NOT FINE.

Okay. Let’s admit it. Sometimes we’re NOT. FINE.

As a solution to this problem, I’d like to propose that we completely eliminate the word “FINE” in response to the question “How are you?”

Can we do that?

Let’s be honest.

Let’s be real.

I’ve been through enough.

I’ve masked enough.

I’ve hid long enough.

I don’t want to be “FINE.”

I don’t like to be “FINE.”

I don’t find any value or reward in telling you I’m “FINE.”

What is “FINE” anyway?

Nothing?

Life as is?

Status quo?

Okay?

Mediocre?

Surviving?

Getting by?

Fine?

Let’s stop the “FINE.”

It doesn’t mean much of anything to anyone.

Let’s be real, even if we don’t have time to explain the details.

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Here are the words we can use instead of FINE…

“How are you?”

“I’m actually doing pretty horrible.”

“I’m feeling like crap today.”

“Sorry, I don’t have words for how I’m feeling today.”

“We’re running low on money and it’s stressing me out.”

“I don’t know.”

“I was feeling like junk this morning, but the fact that you’re asking makes me feel like someone cares.”

“I’m really feeling depressed today. The weather’s getting me down.”

“I need to get out. Wanna grab dinner tonight, or maybe coffee sometime next week?”

“I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“I’m overwhelmed by all that’s going on.”

“I’ve been better. I’d appreciate your prayers.”

“My kid’s giving me trouble, and I don’t know what to do about it.”

“My kid’s giving me trouble, and I feel like a horrible mom.”

“My husband’s requiring a lot of care, and it’s really draining me.”

“Honestly, I can’t do it all anymore.”

“I don’t have a clue.”

OR how about these alternatives…

“How are you?”

“Hey thanks for asking! I’m doing great today. Loving the sunshine and just had a big win at my son’s game.”

“I’m doing pretty well. I was feeling like junk last week, but this week I’m feeling way better.”

“Feeling much better now that I get to see you!”

“Feeling much better now that I’ve been able to workout more.”

“Feeling much better now that I’m skipping those daily doughnuts.”

“Better than I’ve ever been.”

“I’m great. So glad to be here!”

“Feeling super chill right now.”

“Excellent. This is incredibly relaxing.”

“Thanks for asking! It’s been way too long since I’ve seen you. When can we catch up?”

“Good question. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but I’ve worked my way through it and I’m through to the other side now.”

“It’s been an awesome day! Can’t wait for tonight!”

“I haven’t felt this good in a long time.”

“I’m great! Every day’s a good day!”

“I’m good.”

“I’m great!”

“I’m excellent!”

“I’m AWESOME!”

Let’s be authentic. Let’s be real. Let’s stop saying we’re “FINE” when in reality, there’s so much more to the story. Let’s be change agents HERE, so when they learn English THERE, “How are you?” “FINE” will be no more.

orangesig

 

Tom Baunsgard - Interesting post Amy. So How are you? I’m good, I’m blessed and i’m “fine” with that :)January 30, 2016 – 2:24 pm

The Best Compliment I Ever Received

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Mama had significant concerns. Her daughter was barely speaking when we first met. We worked together for a year and a half. Two times a week, we sat on the living room floor, then at the dining room table, for intense speech-language therapy. A year and a half later, after all that therapy, after all that working together, mama’s baby girl was speaking like everyone else. I had the rare opportunity to discharge that sweet girl from speech-language therapy, no qualms, no second guessing about it.

It was beautiful. Incredibly beautiful. To bring a child from barely speaking at all, to testing “within normal limits” and speaking like all the other children her age is a true honor and pleasure.

But there was something else extraordinary about the year and a half I spent working with that mama and daughter.

My relationship with mama was special. Unique.

We clicked.

We got each other.

We totally understood each other.

Can I say it any other way?

I adored mama. Adored her.

She was smart, witty and quirky, full of little faults like everyone else. She was passionate and opinionated, strong-willed, fierce, motivated and determined. She knew what she liked in life, and she knew what she didn’t like. She knew what she needed as a mom and a wife, and wasn’t afraid to gift it to herself if necessary. She wasn’t like most of women I knew, and I loved that. I loved ALL those things about mama. But here’s what I absolutely adored about her. She had a soft side she barely, rarely let out. I saw it peek out here and there and it was so incredibly tender. I wondered if she’d been misunderstood more than once. I wondered if people didn’t always “get” her. I TOTALLY “got” her. And I’m pretty sure she TOTALLY “got” me, too.

It was beautiful.

I loved every bit of that mama.

Still do.

When we stood at the door that last day of therapy, when I’d reviewed the standardized test results that proved her daughter’s speech and language was now “within normal limits,” mama thanked me for all I’d done. She thanked me for how far I’d brought her daughter. She thanked me for all the therapy, for bringing her and her daughter through some really rough and uncertain times.

It was humbling, of course.

But then she said something else I’ll never, ever forget.

It was much, much more personal than speech-language therapy. And it meant the world to me.

“I don’t usually like people, but I like you.”

No doubt about it. That was the greatest compliment I’d ever received. Two years later, it’s STILL the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.

“I don’t usually like people, but I like you.” 

I’ve always perceived myself as a little mysterious, a little hard to read, a little hard to fully understand. I get that about myself. Just 1% of the general population has my personality type, so sometimes I’m not sure if I’m really jiving with everyone else’s more popular personalities.

So when that mama told me she “[doesn’t] usually like people,” but she likes me?!

Oh my goodness.

I totally knew her. I totally know myself. And I totally knew what she meant. So I totally took it as a HUGE compliment.

To be completely honest, I don’t really WANT to be like all the other people. I don’t really FEEL like all the other people. So the fact that she recognized that, the fact that she subconsciously felt that from me, and the fact that she was able to articulate it in a way that really meant something to me, was absolutely an honor.

So I’ve been pondering mama’s compliment – the best compliment I’ve EVER received – and have been wondering if there’s a take-away.

How can we compliment people in ways that mean something to them?

How can we compliment people in ways that build them up?

How can we move FROM “I love your haircut,” and “I love those boots,” TO “It seems like you always know when people need encouragement,” and “Did you that you’re the most generous person I know?”

How can we compliment people in ways that feel sincere and authentic?

How can we compliment people in ways that make them realize we’ve actually paid attention to WHO they are, HOW they operate, and WHAT makes them tick?

How can we compliment people in ways that really stick and stay with them?

How can we compliment people in ways that change they way they do life?

How can we compliment people in ways that bring out the best in them, not just for today, but for long-term always?

So many questions to ponder, but I think you get the point.

“I don’t usually like people, but I like you.”

It’s the best compliment I ever received.

Who can you compliment today? For real?

And if not today, who are you noticing so you can compliment them tomorrow or down the road when your words will mean even more?

Just asking.

Because honestly, I need to do the same.

Those words, those compliments, they’re a true gift if given wisely.

greensig

 

Tom Baunsgard - I really LIKE this post Amy! “Positively” great! Oh, and I like you too!January 25, 2016 – 11:35 pm

Wrestling with Life, Good and Bad?

This is a guest post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Once a month, Tiffany documents a single day in her life. The purpose of these posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’m also hoping the posts will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. If you’d like to read the posts I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the guest posts she’s shared on this blog, check out the mental health page. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.

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“Not everything in life can be defined as good or bad. Sometimes things just happen, they just are.”

My mental health worker offered me that piece of advice, and I’ve been applying her thoughts to my life ever since. I’ve debated good vs. bad a number of times. Is that a good decision or a bad decision? Is this situation good or bad? I have spent years of my life lying around, trying to figure things out. The issues I’ve tried to figure out aren’t always good or bad. They just are.

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Sometimes bad voices are in my head, and it’s difficult to hear the good voices over all the noise. One night recently, I lay in my bed all night searching for answers. I needed the alone time to just think and figure out what was going on. Staying awake is an example of a bad decision on my part. My symptoms get worse when I’m tired. My brother was home for a few days, and he probably noticed that I was stuck in my own world. I was trying to figure something, anything out. My brother told me, “Maybe you should stop searching for answers and just live?” I agreed with him. Sometimes you don’t need an answer.

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What should I tell my kids when they are old enough to understand why their dad and I aren’t together? My psychologist told me to tell them that I was infatuated with him. He was a musician and said things to me that caused me to respect him at the time. He said, “You’re the most beautiful girl in this place.” He also said he’d give anything to have kids. We were together for a few months and went our own way. I continued to pursue him because I didn’t understand what was going on. We connected again when my daughter was around three. We were together for a very short time, but I, once again, listened to his words. When I was a few months pregnant he left me. He said, “You love me, but I’ve never loved you.” HUH? Ok?! This complicated situation is an example of something in life that isn’t bad or good. I have two wonderful children from an unexplainable situation, so no worries. My kids have shown me what unconditional love is.
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Another real life example is my dad. He was diagnosed with a chronic lung disease about thirteen years ago. From my perspective, my dad having lung disease has not necessarily been good or bad. Personally, his disease has given me hope. I’ve wanted to become the best person that I can be, given the circumstances. He is moving forward trying to get on the list for a lung transplant. His fate is in God’s hands.

cloudsMy final example is my consumption of prescription medications. When the medication is working, I feel great most of the time. If one of my medications is off, I usually know. I go into my own world, start talking to the voices more than normal, and almost feel trapped. I know there is a way out, though, as long as I figure out what medication changes need to be made. I try to inform all the parties that need to know, including my family members, mental health worker, psychologist and psychiatrist. My close friends and family can usually tell when I’m not acting like myself, as well. My mental health condition is considered a chronic disease. To be on prescription medication is not good or bad. It just is what it is. Now to get the prescription dosage right!

Hopefully these examples have illustrated that I attempt to turn what could be bad situations into neutral ones, at least. Maybe you’ve experienced some of the same situations I’ve been in, and understand how difficult life can be sometimes?! Many great things can come from messed up relationships and situations.

“Not everything in life can be defined as good or bad. Sometimes things just happen, they just are.”

Tiffany

Jody Sparkman - Great writing Tiffany!February 2, 2016 – 6:02 pm

Paula M - I always enjoy your posts, Tiffany. Beautiful writingJanuary 23, 2016 – 7:46 pm

My 40th Birthday Gift to Myself…Six Months Early

Amy

Six months from now, I’ll be 40.

Finally…the decade I’ve been waiting for.

I know. Crazy, right? Who WANTS to turn 40?

Me. I do, please.

My 20s? They were good. Finished college. Got married. Went to graduate school. Moved a handful of times. Bought our first house. Bought a lot of stuff for the house. Had two babies. Worked and worked some more. Found a church. Made some friends. Lost touch with some friends. Went to a lot of weddings. Visited a lot of babies. Had some fun times. Went through some bad times. Began dreaming. Grew in my faith.

My 30s? They were good. Sold a house. Built a house. Worked. Worked some more. Then decided to take a break from paid work and work on a hobby, a passion, a calling, whatever you want to call it. Worked out a lot. Had another baby. Did lots of kid stuff. Spent lots of time with other peoples’ kids. Got some date nights and a couple vacations with my hubby. Didn’t get nearly enough date nights and time with my hubby. Left a church. Found another church. Made a few friends and a lot of acquaintances. Lost touch with more friends. Had some great times. Went through some very bad times. Received and processed diagnoses. Read a ton of blogs. Began a blog. Felt sure. Felt totally unsure. Had dreams come true. Continued dreaming. Grew in my faith.

And now…I’m less than six months out from my 40s.

Yes, it’s 2016, the year of my 40th birthday.

40 is first and foremost, totally respectable.

40 is much wiser.

40 is aging very well, thank you.

40 is been there, done that.

40 is I’m done playing games, I’m living now.

40 is prime.

40 is golden.

40 is no longer naive.

40 is (pretty much) half-way there.

40 is time to begin again.

40 is mid-life awakening.

40 is life.

40 is me being me.

40 is let’s settle into this.

40 is I’m tired of playing games.

40 is I don’t (want to) care what you think anymore.

40 is let’s do this.

40 is it’s time to get real.

40 is let’s rock this.

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Three years ago, I was mistaken for a 13 year old when I was in the elevator with my husband on a cruise ship. I’m not. even. kidding. I was wearing a swimsuit and coverup. I wasn’t wearing makeup. Still…I hope I acted older than a 13 year old.

Two months ago, I was mistaken for an undergraduate student at a speech-language convention. Then I was mistaken for a graduate student more than once. For the most part, I looked like all the grad students I met there. Still…I hope I acted older than 18-23 years old.

I know I LOOK much younger than I am. But I’ve always FELT much older than I am. The discrepancy still bothers me. 

This year, I might be mistaken for a 13 year old, an 18 year old, a 22 year old, a 26 year old, or even a 35 year old. But make no mistake, whether I’m 39 1/2, 39 2/3, 39 3/4 or 40, I’m rocking 40 the whole year through.

40 is me being me.

40 is it’s time to get real.

40 is golden.

Eight days ago, I woke up and got dressed in a black and white work outfit with tall black boots, and put my computer in my black and white polka dotted Thirty-One bag. My husband asked why I was all dressed up. My kids did too.

“I’m leaving the house and I’m going to write. All day. And I’m going to write for six hours every Tuesday and Thursday for the next three, four or five months unless there’s a really good reason not to.”

Okay, I’m paraphrasing. I don’t remember the exact words I said. But basically, that’s what I said. That’s exactly what I meant to say, at least.

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I spent five to six hours writing on January 5th.

I spent five to six hours writing on January 7th.

On January 9th, I finished Mark Batterson’s book, “The Circle Maker.” I haven’t been praying nearly enough. I haven’t been praying nearly big enough. And I haven’t been trusting myself, anyone or God Himself nearly enough. God made TWO of my lifelong dreams come true in 2015, and I wasn’t even actively praying for them to come true. I was just walking this dusty, narrow, totally unknown path called…

“I’m following my dreams.”

“I’m pursuing my calling.”

“I’m following Jesus?

What does any of this mean, anyway?

Seriously, is this work or is this not work? Am I living in reality or am I not? Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing or am I not? Because I’m confused, but I’m totally NOT confused all at once.

So yeah…

40.

40 is much wiser.

On January 12th, I spent 1 hour 40 minutes in Barnes & Noble bookstore and 1 hour in LifeWay Christian Bookstore. I prayed. I perused. I looked. I examined. I analyzed. I wondered HOW I fit, WHERE I fit, and mostly IF I fit. I imagined. I dreamed. I took a lot of notes. And I very intentionally decided to begin dreaming bigger. Because I’m praying bigger. I’m believing bigger. I’m believing that God has more. I’m believing that God has more than I’ve visioned, more than I’ve imagined, more than I’ve allowed myself to dream.

It has to be true.

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Then I remembered the dream I’d forgotten until recently, the dream I held long ago to own an Amy’s Hallmark store. I don’t want to own an Amy’s Hallmark anymore. But I have been thinking about that forgotten dream. I have been wondering if it’s more about the cards, if it’s about the words and simple, intentional, and meaningful connections with human beings in old-fashioned pen and paper form. The truth is, I still LOVE cards. A beautifully-designed and well-written card still ROCKS my WORLD. I’m still compelled to buy and send cards. I still find myself at complete peace when I’m alone (aka without kids) in a Hallmark store. Geeky AND cheesy, I know. So I’ve begun dreaming a silly little dream…what if I could land a job writing cards someday? Maybe I could fill a card niche that doesn’t currently exist? Wouldn’t that be an awesome little dream come true?

It’s a new dream.

Perhaps it’s old made new?

Perhaps it’ll come true.

Perhaps it’ll never come true.

Perhaps it’ll forever be a silly little far-off dreamy dream I shared with a few people who happened to read my January 14, 2016 blog post?

Perhaps it’s something.

Perhaps it’s nothing.

I’m open.

So I made my way over to LifeWay Bookstore’s card section and didn’t waste a second looking at anything but Karen Kingsbury’s STUNNING card collection I’ve been swooning over since it released. The collection is noteworthy, but small, so I allowed myself to handle and read EVERY. CARD. EVERY. ONE. It felt indulgent, this stopping to read a bunch of greeting cards on my third official writing “work day,” but it was necessary for my heart. It was necessary for my acknowledgement that WORDS MATTER, that WORDS MATTER to me, that MY words matter.

By the end of all that looking, I’d gathered three cards in my hand, three cards that spoke to my heart, three cards I LOVED. You know what I did next? I decided I’d buy them all as a 40th birthday gift to myself…6 months early.

Because…

40 is trusting and believing that all things work together for good, even when I feel stupid, silly, dreamy, discouraged, worthless, out of place, or totally off course.

40 is giving grace.

40 is knowing myself better than before.

40 is loving myself.

40 is giving myself what I need, so I’m better equipped to give others what they need.

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In 14 days of 2016, I’ve condemned myself, I’ve disqualified myself, I’ve had disarming and disturbing dreams, I’ve had a whole lot of dreams about broken glass and ceramic, and I’ve been awake in the middle of the night praying “Jesus” because I felt my brain swirling with fear and darkness drawing near.

40 is NOT foolproof, friends.

But make no mistake, I’m rocking 40 the whole year through.

Because…

40 is braver.

40 is bolder.

40 is KNOWING there’s a reason we’ve been here, TRUSTING there’s a reason we’re still here, LIVING like we’re worth more than a passing glance, PRAYING that God can and will do all things, and BELIEVING our best days are still ahead.

40 is knowing with 100% certainty that I DON’T want a 40th birthday bash. It’s not me. It’s simply not me. But make no mistake. I bought those cards for a reason. This 40th is momentous. This 40 means something to me. I’m dreaming big for one thing, I’m working hard for another, and I’m praying hard for both. This year of 40.

40 is…

pinksig

Tom Baunsgard - He or She who does “CELEBRATE” the most birthdays wins! A great start in celebrating your 40th Amy! Happy, Awesome, Fullfilling 40th Birthday Year! CELEBRATE!January 15, 2016 – 6:11 pm

Jaimie West Bowman - Amy! This is SO GOOD. I have all the same feelings, as I turn 40 this July too! Thanks for reminding me that it IS good. I truly hope and pray that your dream to become a card writer will come true!!January 15, 2016 – 12:45 am

Monica Anderson Palmer - How do you do it? How do you have me in a complete mess of tears (forcing myself to stay seated so I can keep reading) wanting to JUMP up and down with huge praise and encouragment for you…this amazingly talented, wild heart wide open to orphans on this globe, deeply in touch with herself and every word spoken or written, beauitfully bold and brave, superhero mom & wife and WOMAN of God? Here’s some vulnerability at it’s finest….I wish for even half a second I lived as intentional as you do, that I would actually have a smidget of the courage you to do to dream anything at all and that I could approach being in my 40’s with as much sheer determination to ROCK this decade! I loathe an enemy that robs you…me….women of the worth they have. I can see yours! It’s oozing out of this post and spreading gorgeous HOPE all over your readers hearts, it certainly does mine! “Go Amy…Go Amy…. it’s your birthday! PS: I LOVE CARDS TOO! It’s not cheesy to read cards, or maybe it is and I’m just cheesy too! HA!January 14, 2016 – 5:25 pm

All the Words We Shared and Never Shared on Facebook

Facebook

Photo credit Kristina Alexanderson via Flickr Creative Commons

I love Facebook. And I hate it.

Most of my family and friends, acquaintances, writing colleagues and former colleagues are on Facebook. I’m pretty sure that’s true for you, too. With that in mind, it seems logical that Facebook should be the most welcoming social media of all. Everybody we know and have ever known is on there, right? So why does Facebook feel like a threatening place sometimes? Why does it make us feel insecure? Why does it have the power to cause us to second guess our lives? Why do some people post daily while others simply “troll” the feed without posting a thing of their own? Why do some people go deep and personal while others post pictures of cats and politicians? Why can Facebook cause controversy within families and friend groups? Why do people talk behind other peoples’ backs about whatever it was so and so put on Facebook?

And here’s my biggest question…

Why do we SO overanalyze the words we share on Facebook?

I don’t know about you, but since I signed up for Facebook in 2008, I’ve drafted hundreds of posts, then canceled them before I even shared them. I’ve drafted hundreds of posts, then deleted them shortly after I shared them. Very occasionally, when I really need to say something or really need support around something, but I’m overanalyzing at my WORST, I’ll draft two or three Facebook posts in one day, but ultimately never end up sharing anything at all. Maybe that’s my cue to take a break from Facebook and get God and some best friends around me. Who knows.

I’ve been brave, then terribly insecure.

I’ve been real, then totally not real at all.

I’ve shared my heart, and I’ve shared surface stuff.

I’ve shared my real day, and I’ve shared nothing about my real day.

I’ve shared my vulnerabilities and dreams, and I’ve totally guarded my heart.

I’ve shared good stuff, and I’ve shared stupid surface stuff because I know that more times than not, stupid surface stuff is what Facebook likes.

I’ve shared the most real and true thing of the whole year long, then reeled it in because I’m doubtful about how everyone will respond.

I’ve shared photos and let you interpret for yourself rather than give you the whole real-life lowdown because I don’t want to cross that imaginary line.

I’ve held back on sharing because I don’t want to be “that annoying Facebook person.” And I don’t want you trolling my page overanalyzing my words and my life and talking behind my back because of what I said or didn’t say on Facebook.

I’ve felt unsure and unsteady about what’s politically correct to share on Facebook because I’ve read and seen way too many blog posts come through about “What to Say on Facebook” and “What NOT to say on Facebook,” “Most Annoying Facebook Statuses” and “The Really Annoying Friends we Have on Facebook.”

Does anyone REALLY want to be the most annoying friend on Facebook? I don’t think so. Does anyone REALLY set out to be THAT person? I don’t think so.

Why do people write blog posts like this?

Why do people share blog posts like this?

Why are we so obsessed about WHAT people say and share on Facebook?

Can’t we just be REAL, whatever that looks like?

I’ve fatigued of the Facebook fake.

And I’m especially fatigued of overanalyzing everything I share on Facebook.

Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW we need to be careful. We need to maintain our privacy and guard our hearts and keep the big, realest-life portions of our private lives to ourselves. But truth is, we live in a fast-paced, digital society. If we’re going to spend time in these new social worlds, let’s at least be REAL about it. Let’s be authentic. Let’s be our true selves.

I’m tired of writing REAL-LIFE statuses and canceling them before they hit the Facebook screen.

I’m tired of sharing REAL-LIFE statuses only to delete them 10 minutes, 60 minutes, 3 hours later.

I’m tired of doubting my words.

I’m tired of doubting my life.

I’m tired of doubting the way I share my life on Facebook.

Maybe it’s just me. It’s very possible I’m overanalyzing this whole thing. I tend to do that, you know.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s not just me.

Can we just get real?

greensig

Tara Dorn - It’s not just you! It’s me too and I’m guessing many others also. Facebook is definitely a love hate relationship for me. Your blog posts are thought provoking and I love reading them (your Facebook posts too)! You were born to write. :)January 6, 2016 – 11:13 pm

Tom Baunsgard - Good retrospective post Amy. Here is what I have learned from my posts and posts from others on FB… It goes back to what Thumper’s momma told him, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all'”. So now try only to post things that might make you (my Facebook friends) smile or something that might touch you warmly. There are enough posts out there to raise hackles, spread hatred and make people feel bad. I don’t need to add to that mix. Life is too short on this side of the dirt to carry around or spread a bunch of grief.
You are pretty hard on yourself Amy. Your blog is great and some of the things you post are very thought provoking and touching. Keep up the writing and good works!

Thanks,
TomJanuary 6, 2016 – 10:14 pm