(No one) knows what you go through because you portray to have it all together on the outside, that’s all (they) see.
Being vulnerable? Never that.
Lol even to our closest people…
Behind closed doors and alone only.
But I️ also think those are the pressures we’ve been put under.
From family and living up to certain expectations with so many people watching us closely.
This was a series of texts from my Sister (who, in real life, is very close family friend that I️ grew up with… who also happens to be a “Smith”).
They all immediately hit home.
The more I️ read them the more they explained the way I️ am now. I never felt that I was “allowed” to have problems or insecurities or any other mood than content/happy (in public), and that has since followed me into adulthood as the standard I️ feel I️ must keep at times.
I️ met my Sister in the lobby of an affluent black church in Minnesota (which I️ immediately thought of while reading those texts and therefore became my example for this post). Before I️ knew her well, I️ admired how she managed to balance “her world” and the world she made public in our church lobby. I️t was somewhat effortless. But, why would she (or anyone) need two worlds? Let me paint the picture of this church a little better. Imagine a place where the scene after every service was any networkers fantasy and the parking lot was a fashion/expensive car show. No pressure at all, right?
I️ always hated being there (sorry, Dad).
I️ felt like everyone was wearing a mask. I️ know I️ was never really myself. I kinda just played my part. I️ was surround by so much “excellence”, I️ felt there wasn’t room for anything else… and, I️ had a ton of “everything else”.
Nevertheless, head up, shoulders back, and smile.
I️t was the ideal environment to produce some of the finest debutantes (and beaus). We knew how to make an entrance and most of us could small talk better than our Lawyer, Doctor, and Engineer parents… but we were all secretly carrying the weight of our own private worlds under our white gowns (and tuxes).
I️ remember one day in that lobby my Dad was sharing that my AP US History project went to State and that I️ got a 33 on my ACT. However, all I️ could think of was the breakdown I️ had a few days earlier in a school bathroom. You see, I️ had also gotten my period that week for the first time (at 16). This wouldn’t normally be an issue, but little Loni had no idea what was going on because no one really had that conversation with her.
My stomach hurt so bad, I truly thought I️ was dying. After some time I️ tried to use one of those cardboard applicator tampons that they had in the bathrooms (and nearly passed out)… I️ cried for at least an hour in that stall… It seemed like everyone who was showing me how to be an intelligent, well put together, respectable lady conveniently skipped some of the most important parts.
(The how to be an actual adult parts.)
This created a decent amount of pressure… trying to (as a teenager) find the answers a mother-figure would typically provide. But, I️ would deal with the pressure and find the answers because I️ could never allow myself to feel that vulnerable again. So, it became another weight to carry with me. Another thing to smile through. Along with my anxieties, insecurities, and failures.
I️ taught myself a lot of things (let’s be real, I️ still teach myself a lot of things), messed up a lot, picked myself back up, and got a little stronger… To the point that I️ knew how to look at my best even when I️ felt at my worst. I️ mastered the nonchalant in times of distress… The problem now is that it’s a part of who I️ am and how I️ operate, and therefore people think I must have it all figured out because I’m so well “put together”. Which was why I️ was texting my Sister in the first place. Because I don’t.
Life has happened to everyone. We all have problems. We all have insecurities. We handle them differently. I️ don’t wear mine on my sleeve. I️ honestly don’t think I️ would even know how to at this point outside of the text on this page (Which is why this blog is important for me). I️ don’t have the world figured out and I️ am making the same stupid mistakes as the next 25 year old… you just wouldn’t know that if you weren’t reading this.
I mean, obviously I get angry, I can be sad, I have joy… There’s just few people who I️ tell my feelings to and/or who know what scares me the most or keeps me up at night.
I️ don’t know where I’m going here… I️ just know we all do life differently. And, I️ probably will struggle to understand those who need to be coddled or are super upfront with their emotions… and, they definitely won’t understand me at first.
I’m not sure how to end this, and my flight is landing… Don’t believe what you see on IG, kiddos.