Scrolling through social media today, a thought occurred to me that our generation has become really talented magicians. With colorful pictures and filters, different fonts and backgrounds, funny memes and videos, suddenly it’s like “poof!” everyone’s lives are perfect and just like a movie. The finest magicians would be tipping their hats. We all like to magically make our lives seem perfect. I can say with confidence that I am proud of who I am. It’s taken me pretty much my whole life to get to a point where I really feel like my true self, and even still it will be something I am still discovering for the rest of my life. That being said, the present me feels like the most “authentic and unafraid to be me” me. With the world we live in, it’s hard to sometimes find the courage to be yourself though.
Why as a social media obsessed generation do we feel like we need to pretend to be someone we are not? I’ll admit it, I’m totally guilty of it too sometimes! It seems that with our lives just so out there for the world to see on the internet, it’s always easier to put your best self forward, and only the happy and good times. Being yourself is sometimes scarier than pretending. This is why it’s so easy to go on Facebook for example, and just feel completely rotten about yourself and your life. When all we see is happy, good, fun, amazing things from our friends, we feel like something is wrong with us and our life. FOMO hardcore.
In the time since my mom passed away, I have experienced a complete change of self. Unless you have lost someone so dear to you, you really won’t understand what it’s like. The loss was so monumental to me, that I feel like it literally changed my DNA, (I know it didn’t, but it certainly feels like it!), and I am a much different person than I was before she passed. Just the other night, one of my best friends who now lives far away called me around 10 PM. I immediately knew why she was calling- her brother’s birthday was that day, and he passed away about four years ago. She tearfully told me that she just needed to talk to someone who understood how she was feeling, and I know that feeling all too well. Sometimes it’s hard to describe to people just how devastating my mom’s death was for me, and still is.
This journey of self discovery I have been on the past almost three years has been an interesting one. It definitely has not been easy, and I’m sure a lot of my friends didn’t quite understand the things I was going through. Initially, I pushed away from everyone. It wasn’t because I didn’t love them or appreciate them, it’s just something that I needed to do. I fell into a deep depression and lost a lot of weight. I became dependant on sleeping pills to help my brain turn itself off at night so I could sleep. Nighttime was my most feared time of day because the house was quiet but my mind would race, and my anxiety and heartache would just overcome me. Jess was in Denver that summer, and initially I wasn’t going to go, but by May when he had been gone for two months already I decided that I needed to go. Getting up and leaving this place that was a constant painful reminder of my mom was much needed for me to start to heal. Going to Denver was the best thing I did for myself, because being away from what was normal everyday life for me was so cleansingfor my mind and spirit. We went hiking and on adventures every day that we could and I could really feel myself beginning to heal. I don’t think the pain of the loss of my mom will ever realistically be “healed” but I have gotten to a point where I can handle the pain better and remember the good times we had.
Today I feel like I am more me than I was before because the loss of my mom made me take a good look at what is important to me in life, and what’s not. Death has a way of making you question everything, and I did. I questioned my faith, my friends, my hobbies, my decisions, and my ability to be a mom. I basically disassembled and dissected my life as a whole. Most of these things I was able to salvage and strengthen, but some I had to let go of. It was a really good self-cleansing of my body and mind, and even though it was from something so traumatic, I am grateful for this new me I’ve discovered. I am much more confident now, I stand up for myself, and I don’t let things or people bother me that normally would have before. I have really tried to immerse myself in my faith, and also in helping others. Charity work has become a passion of mine. My sister Aly and I started a yearly donation fund, Kind Like Karen (in our Mom’s name), where we take goods to the patients at the Huntsman Cancer Institute where our mom spent a lot of time in the last 8 years of her life. Also, we have becoming heavily involved with the American Cancer Society in Utah, and have participated in two Gala’s, the second one where we were the co-chairs of the auction. I am honored to be a part of such amazing things, and hope to keep doing more charitable work. It makes my soul happy to be helping others and paying it forward.
It takes courage to be yourself, especially in today’s world. I’m not asking everyone to just stop posting their happy moments, because that’s one of the great things about social media. What I’m asking is that we be a little more real, and to be more authentic. Don’t be afraid to be you! Let’s spread some love and support one another in how unique we all are. Smoke and mirrors shouldn’t be something we feel is necessary with our identity online. You shouldn’t feel nervous to post how you’re really feeling, or who you really are. Obviously there’s stipulations to what’s appropriate, but you know what I mean! If you want to post a cute photo of your baby do it! Or if you want to post about how your kids are driving you nuts and you are just having a crappy day- do it! It’s a balancing act for sure, but let’s not tip the scales with one side or another.
The Raw Brunette