The Faces We Display

'Oh,he's ok if you get on the right side of him.'

‘Oh,he’s ok if you get on the right side of him.’

As an author, it’s important for me to have a social presence. And I don’t mind blogging, sharing silly book memes or nerd events. I like doing those things. I like guest blogging, sharing poetry and sharing good articles. But I’m not a big fan of the social media selves so many of us create. Including myself.

I wrote about how I stopped posting selfies. It has been a wonderful experiment, for me. I don’t expect that to be the case with everyone. I was using the selfies as a self-affirmation of how I want others to see me, instead of just appreciating how I actually am: no makeup, wrinkles, chub. I was creating a me who was the perfect mom, a wonderful cook, an expert geek.

And I am some of those things sometimes. But not usually. Mostly, I’m an okay mom whose getting by, who likes her mother-in-law’s cooking better and would prefer to stick to making side dishes for her mother-in-law’s meals. I am a geek. That’s pretty true. But I overdo it on my author site because there is a certain person I think people expect to see from me. a person who is smart and capable, who is witty and sarcastic and geeky. A person who is open-minded and cool.

Again, that’s not a bad persona, necessarily, but it’s still a persona. I’m pretty normal, really, apart from some bi-polar mood swings and talking to myself when I’m trying to come up with dialogue. But even if I’m not normal, I always feel inclined to share my abnormalities with others, prove to others that I’m like “this.” I feel like social media does that for many people. It’s about creating a persona that other people will enjoy sharing, commenting on and liking.

It makes me tired. I have a hard enough time with my contending moods. I don’t want to create myself online all the time. I just want to get through the day without a suicidal thought, depression so numbing it doesn’t even hurt. I just want to be able to tame the stupid rage that hits for no reason. I just want to maintain a level voice and brush away the ever present agitation that plagues most of my days. Does that portrait I painted you sound a bit awful? Well, that’s the truth. That’s how I see me. I see me as someone who is getting by, despite the fact that she is off. I know a person who prays, daily, that today will be a day where she doesn’t take every comment personally, get agitated over normal silly kid things, will be able to get out of bed and get her kids off to school without feeling like she is failing and falling behind.

I like acting, and I feel like I was pretty good at it when I had the time to hit the stage. Many a theater was graced by fake drunk Hannah, kleptomaniac Hannah, romantic Hannah, heartless business woman Hannah. But I don’t want to do it all the time. And I don’t really like seeing other people I know do it. I see pictures of people I love and I’m like, “You don’t look like that, and that’s okay. You’re beautiful.” “You don’t talk like that, and I’m glad. If you did, I wouldn’t be your friend.” And so on.

I’m Hannah Jones. My author name is H.M. Jones. We are not the same. And we are both sick of acting like something we are not.

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8 thoughts on “The Faces We Display

  1. I’m trying to break through that glass ceiling into it’s simply ok to be who we are and not performers. This is honestly one of the best posts I’ve read on this conundrum, very well said. ❤

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  2. Amen, Hannah. I hear you loud and clear. I think all of us are pretty normal most of the time, but there’s some pressure that comes with being a writer and wanting readers (or potential readers) to see us a certain way. And it IS exhausting. On a better note, I think it’s getting better with social media. At least we can be out there communicating on a regular basis, so people who want to get to know us a bit better have the opportunity. I remember being a kid and loving Beverly Clearly so much, and wanting so badly to know what she was like as a person.

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    • I’m not going to lie. I love reading Tamora Pierce’s blog. She is so a wonderful writer and it carries over into her blog. I do think these little spaces are special. And we need to keep them that way by being genuine. Thanks, Mary, as always, for stopping by.

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  3. Hi Hannah! Thanks for sharing this very real part of you.

    I struggle with this question as an author too, and I struggled with it a great deal when I was doing face to face retail. Sometimes I’d just have to put on a big fake smile to make a sale, even when I’d really feel like screaming at the world to go away. It made me sick inside, and I never want to do customer service again as a result.

    Ironically, I think other people crave the kind of authenticity you demonstrated in this post. I clicked over here from facebook because I was looking for something real in a sea of personas. Your words resonated and touched the parts of me that are also struggling with depression and tedium and the general difficulty of life.

    Your honesty helped me feel less alone for a minute . . . thank you for that.

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    • Wow. Thanks, Selah. I also struggle with depression often, sometimes mania and other forms of solitary hell. When I write fiction and poetry, I often write about those dark places, and I think people crave that type of honesty. It’s a bit ugly, but it’s just as much part of life as joy, so why not be honest and say so? Hugs to you. I am glad if I made you feel less alone, though I am very sorry if anyone feels the debilitating woes of depression.

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