How we tell stories

road

Photo by Simon Pape

Sunday night, I sat in front of my computer. I sat down and intended to write my blog post for Monday (we’ve already established that I’m a night-before-publishing type of blogger). What was I doing instead? Clicking from Facebook to Twitter to blogs and back again across the stream of 20+ tabs open in my browser.

I wasn’t inspired to write.

I could have written about teaching my first two real yoga classes over the weekend. But, I choose not to because I would have focused on the self-doubts blooming in my head instead of the overwhelmingly positive experience and feedback I received from teaching. I would have nitpicked and I would have given the impression that I was unsure as yoga teacher – not exactly the picture of confidence that I am trying to portray. So I didn’t write and I didn’t share.

chai and sunrise

Fakestagram or instagram?

Monday morning, I woke up to read Carla’s post If One Woman Told the Truth.

She talked about the tendency that many people have for Fakebooking and carefully cultivating their life and persona online through meticulously arranged Instagram photos and the perfect Facebook status in order to project  a certain image.

More than anything, she made me think about why I choose not to blog about my classes over the weekend. I mean, you would think that teaching your first two yoga classes would be blog worthy material, right?

yoga studio

We’re constantly telling stories and crafting narratives about ourselves, our identity and our lives – from our seemingly “perfect” lives and families to insecurities (I’m not a runner. I’m not a writer.) to successes (I’m rocking my face off). I didn’t share my doubts about teaching yoga because I’m supposed to be confident and nailing it.

The stories that we tell through words, in-person or social media (and that others tell about us) are layers or veils that we drape over ourselves. The more we hear these words, the more we begin to believe them and the more that they obscure our true selves – our truth.

I’ve mentioned before how I often feel like a hypocrite. Through my writing, I like to share the joy and the bliss, the challenges, the setbacks and the lessons that I’ve learned from life experiences in a real and honest way – but I don’t always feel like I’m being 100% honest. That I’m not sharing my whole truth.

Pema Chodron Quote

While stories can be veils, I believe that they can also help us connect back to our truth and to others. If we can connect, then we can support each other.

Carla and Tracy, through her beautiful post that I shared on Friday, have made me realize even more that if we open ourselves up to being more vulnerable, maybe – just maybe – we can all find a way to let a little more love in and figure out a way to lift each other up more.

I started to experience this during yoga teacher training. I began to feel the layers – the deep layers – start to crack open within me and strip away.

There’s so much that we can learn from each other and so much that we have to offer each other.

In Carla’s words:

What would happen if one woman an entire Tribe told the truth about their lives?

I can only hope the world would split wide, fantastically, and authentically open. 

I’m ready.

Me too.

*************************

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Comments

  1. says

    After reading Carla’s post on Monday, it really hit me. I edit myself a lot more than I want to. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer so I spin things to the positive. Is my life perfect? Hell no. There are some posts I write where I just vent to let it out. Then I go back and edit, edit, edit. I guess I’m afraid of exposing myself too much? One thing I really wanted to do this year is be more true to me. Blog about what I want to, say what I want, do what I want. You and Carla are helping me see that it’s what needs to be done. Thank you.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..The Injury UpdateMy Profile

  2. says

    Carla’s post has been on my mind as well and I wrote about it on my site today. It makes me so happy to see the effect it’s having! As for being so positive and sure after ONLY teaching your first two classes – don’t be so hard on yourself! When I first started teaching (many moons ago!) I was filled with doubt. The only thing that helped me was experience. Week after week I walked into the gym and faced my fears head-on! It gets easier, better and more amazing then you can probably imagine. Believe in yourself!…I do :-)
    Allie recently posted..In Defense of SkinnyMy Profile

    • says

      I’m so glad that you wrote your post (weeks ago!!). Finally getting around to responding to comments :-)
      It is slowly getting easier each time I go to teach. I know that it’s mostly my own self-doubt than anything else and doesn’t necessarily reflect how those who are taking my class perceive the class.

  3. says

    Yes to this and Carla’s post! I truly believe that authenticity shines through, so it only behooves us as bloggers to be as true to it as it gets. Life is indeed messy and there’s nothing wrong with sharing that as well. Or not sharing it if we aren’t inspired–I think you did the right thing by not writing for Monday if you weren’t in the mood. I’ve started choosing that path as well…I don’t think a forced post is worth it for writer or reader.
    misszippy recently posted..What I’m loving right now (Polar Vortex edition)My Profile

  4. says

    I am one to never ever be fake – it’s just not in my DNA, but I loved Carla’s story and your post on the same! Honesty breeds honesty and gives insight for others into lives – this builds relationships and helps people feel like “It’s not just me!” totally worth it
    Kat recently posted..Reader Roundup: 2014′s goals in ONE wordMy Profile

  5. says

    Beautiful, my friend! I know what you mean- I strive to be open and vulnerable but sometimes it doesn’t seem like the whole picture comes out even when I try. But making that effort to put it all out there is huge- both for you and your readers. And it’s what I love about you and your blog!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..1st Trimester UpdatesMy Profile

  6. says

    I think, as in so many other things, we hold ourselves to a higher standard, and so think everything should be good, even when we all know it’s not. I am such an optimist/glass-half-full person. I don’t like to write about negative things until I can put them in perspective or find something positive in them, but that off-line process helps me through.
    Coco (@Got2Run4Me) recently posted..Wordless Wednesday (The Polar Vortex Edition)My Profile

    • says

      I definitely agree and I’m very much the same way. There is a lot of off-line processing that has to happen before I can share it through writing here. Because I don’t just want to complain and get it off my chest. I want there to be a point too, you know? But that processing and the sharing still needs to come from 100% of me. I don’t process an experience offline just to make it seem shiny and good,
      Christine Yu recently posted..Laws of MotionMy Profile

  7. says

    I didn’t read her post, but I have it bookmarked now. I don’t necessarily project my insecurities either…I’d rather be viewed in a positive light than air out my dirty laundry all the time. But I don’t also project that my life is perfect. It drives me crazy when people are constantly putting out there how perfect their kids are and how perfect their marriage is and how great their life is all the time, because you know real life isn’t like that. I think there’s a happy medium.
    Michelle recently posted..When One Word Just Isn’t Enough…New Year’s ResolutionsMy Profile

  8. says

    I don’t tell all on my blog, simply because some of those stories are not really mine to tell. Or that they only tell one side of the story.

    I don’t tell all on my blog because as much as I want to be honest and authentic, some things are better left off the ole blog, and stay put where they are.

    Does this make me fake? I don’t think so. What I write is always true, and what I don’t write is my private truth. I am showing a more measured side, not necessarily a more polished side, but it’s not unreal.

    I do understand the need to strip some layers away though, because no one can be that perfect, it is true. And laying it bare on some topics is cathartic.

    xo
    Alison recently posted..New Year, New You: Kick Off 2014 Giveaway!My Profile

    • says

      Absolutely. There are many stories that I don’t share because they aren’t mine to share (and really, some people would be mad, pissed off, upset and that’s not worth the battle to me). And no, that doesn’t make you fake or me either. I guess, for me, it also goes back to the intention for why I’m sharing something – because it comes from my life/struggles/happiness/success versus projecting a highly polished, manicured persona that I feel like I have to project.
      Christine Yu recently posted..How we tell storiesMy Profile

  9. says

    Excellent post, Christine! Very thought provoking. As storytellers, we have to find the balance between writing honestly and oversharing. Alison put it perfectly – some stories aren’t ours to tell. I don’t write about every aspect of my family life because some things are best kept for just us. And, to be honest, it makes my husband uncomfortable, and I want to respect his feelings. But I strive for honesty in my writing, openly sharing my feelings and experiences and trying to record family moments and milestones so my girls can read them later and see them through my eyes. Storytelling is inherently skewed because every story is filtered through the author’s perspective. That doesn’t make it any less valid. And there is still much to learn from sharing our experiences.
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..There’s No Way Like Broadway (Guest Post)My Profile

  10. says

    Having just read your post twice, and then the comments from all of your amazing readers, I believe that we are the ones who’ll split this world “wide and authentically open!” Just the fact that we all wish for it means that we are different. Aren’t we lucky to have found each other in this enormous land of the Internet where too many people choose to hide. X
    Martha recently posted..Tears and the UnavailableMy Profile

  11. says

    Christine – this honest and wonderful food for thought. I have often noted that my “blog persona” is not me. It’s a persona. My stories typically originate from a struggle and I write about things after I’ve processed the struggle and come to a neat conclusion. However, there is a good 98% of me, the messy, flawed me that people don’t see because I write about the neat and tidy conclusion versus what it’s like to be in the mess. Is that the truth? Or does my real truth come before the neat and tidy conclusion? It’s an ongoing dialogue I have with myself and a topic I’ll continue to explore. Thanks for discussing it.
    Ilene recently posted..A Modern Family ChristmasMy Profile

    • says

      I struggle with this and go back and forth…a lot. The reason I didn’t write about teaching over the weekend was because I hadn’t had a chance to fully process the experience and tie it together into a nice, neat package of 3 lessons I learned from teaching my first yoga class. I do think that’s being real and authentic because we do write about the struggle, that we struggle. I think that the truth comes in both the before neat and tidy and after the neat and tidy.
      Christine Yu recently posted..How we tell storiesMy Profile

  12. says

    Yes to this…and Carla’s post too!! This was beautifully written…it is scary to open up and reveal the not perfect parts of our lives…but then again maybe it would help us all feel better. I know that if I knew that there was someone out there struggling with the same things I was as a mom, runner, teacher, wife, whatever then I would at least know that I wasn’t the crazy one!!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..WIAW…Detox StyleMy Profile

  13. says

    I just hopped over to read Carla’s post. I’m in. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot anyway, in terms of where I want my writing, both on my blog and elsewhere, to go. Thanks for inspiring me to continue exploring this subject, Christine!
    Shana Norris recently posted..Pint-Size PB&J MuffinsMy Profile

  14. says

    Carla is always so inspiring, as are you. Even if you don’t always share every nuance, I still feel your honesty. I don’t feel like you’re hiding anything. I still feel your realness. I feel that there are struggles and self-doubting moments. You don’t flat out say it all the time, but you put your heart and sole into your words so it’s there. I struggle with telling it too much like it is. I will be honest if I’m having self-doubts or pushing too hard or whatever. So sometimes I think my posts end up looking like cries for approval (not quite the word I’m fishing for at all). I’m still foggy headed so I hope I’m making some sense LOL.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..I Give Up – I’m SickMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you Heather. That means a lot and yes, you totally make sense :-) I struggle sometimes and sometimes I think that I’m being honest and straight forward but then I read the comments – which are all great and supportive – but I then realize that I might sound like I’m looking for approval, if that makes sense. It’s definitely a fine line but I’m so grateful to have this outlet.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Laws of MotionMy Profile

      • says

        OMG YES I almost always feel like people might think I’m begging for attention or approval when I lay it all out there. You almost always get advice of some sort. Even when it’s really that you’re just being honest. I mean, it’s great that people care and that they send advice, but sometimes you just wanted to say it and move on.

  15. says

    I think about this all the time and, on many occasions, never hit the publish button because I didn’t feel like the words on the page represented who I really was at that moment. The same holds true for my instagram and other social media genres. I feel like if the picture is not perfect then it doesn’t deserve to be shared.
    Michelle recently posted..RedirectMy Profile

  16. says

    I so get this. I edit myself so much for many reasons – I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining, don’t want to tell just one side of a story, I can’t be too vulnerable, etc.
    It’s definitely a fine line between telling just enough and telling too much.
    Maureen recently posted..{Organically} LivingMy Profile

  17. says

    The past few months events have allowed me to be 100% unfiltered and raw and real. I never thought I would be able to be honest about how everything happened and how I felt. Sometimes I think that we don’t share things because someone will hate it and when its something so near and dear to us (like your YTT) you don’t want to always hear the negative or trashy comments or sometimes posts that people will write in response.

    I, personally, would love to hear about your first teachings, when you are ready!
    Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly’s recently posted..WIAW: Pinterest Wins!My Profile

    • says

      Thank you Kelly and personally I have loved reading your posts. I know that it’s hard to be real like that, especially hard with what you have gone through. I will share about my teaching. I think the reason I haven’t yet is because I haven’t quite wrapped my head around what I want to share or what I’ve learned from it yet.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Laws of MotionMy Profile

  18. says

    I’m ready too.
    I almost used to feel that I was too honest. I was going through some pretty debilitating anxiety two years ago, and it was chronicled pretty regularly in my blog. My friends even worried about me at times. Lately there’s not as much discussion about it, but that’s just because I’m managing it better..most of the time.
    Anyway, I don’t even know if that was related.
    On Facebook, I always try to be positive and if I’m in a foul and uninspired mood, I won’t post at all that day – not on my business page or my personal page.
    Tamara recently posted..Where’s My “Get Up And Go”?My Profile

  19. says

    I love this and very much enjoyed Carla’s post the other day!!
    I want to be completely honest on my site (and in my comments on other blogs) and not come across any different than I do in person. Even saying that I feel like there are things I don’t share on my blog because I’m afraid that the written word wouldn’t translate exactly the way I intended.
    I think it is a fine line between trying to keep my site positive overall and still sharing all parts of me. (and going through the comments above it sounds like others feel sort-of the same) I hope that doesn’t make me dishonest or fake – not my intention.
    Kim recently posted..You’ve Never Been Where?!My Profile

    • says

      You’re absolutely right Kim. There is a fine line and I don’t that being positive is being dishonest because you are still sharing parts of yourself. I guess what I wanted to try to get across with this post is that I don’t expect everyone to share everything but I hope that whatever we do share – whether we’ve processed or learned something or just reporting our thoughts/feelings/daily happenings – all come from a place of truth, if that makes sense.

  20. says

    I love this post & Carla’s post! I don’t think I am faking on IG – I do not filter my workout pics so I guess that is good.. but I don’t share the real home life as much as some.. I do mention that life is tough with money & looking for work but I don’t go beyond that.. I think I am showing some of me yet not quite willing to do more because I honestly think some don’t want to read & here it – they want plain positive all the time & life is just not that way….

    Maybe I need to be more true to that part but I have never made my life look like it was perfect by a long shot! ;)

    I think imperfection makes for a wonderful person! :)
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted..Can Reading Foodie Blogs & Instagram Food Posts Lead to Weight Gain (Read First before hating on me)My Profile

  21. says

    I wrestle with this a lot. I often think that I’m so very often pessimistic and whiny in real life (or in my head) that I do sometimes think twice before making it a topic to blog about. Sometimes I do it anyway and other times, I just rant about those feelings in a different way.

    On the flip side, I really enjoy reading about the struggles, imperfections and bumpy journeys of others. I’ve been sucked into marathons of “Intervention” not because I’m drawn to gloom and doom but because I like to see how people navigate through. Some of my favorite books resonate with me because of a similar theme.

    I’ve had conversations with a few bloggers about how they’re uncomfortable about talking about negative things (or where they feel like they’re not succeeding) and I told them that IMHO THAT’S what makes a blogger a human being – we can relate to fear, negativity, failure, disappointment. To me, the inspiration is how someone makes the decision to go on, pick up, move forward and reroute in this life that makes for excellent reading.

    Just my 2 cents but…
    Melissa Burton recently posted..#14in2014 – A Goals/Resolutions/Intentions Post and Link-UpMy Profile

  22. says

    sometimes take the filter off life is what we need. like this. I am working on less filtering, more rawness. There’s a fine line though. Are we being pessimistic or just real? You my friend are never a hypocrite. I’d tell you if you were. .haha. But sharing your heart and the TRUTH of your life is what encourages us to be real with each and be there to laugh, cry, support, and cheer!

    i’m glad yoga has helped you “unfilter” or UNLAYER
    lindsay recently posted..Wednesday Warm-Up: 4 New Running DrillsMy Profile

  23. says

    I think it is a fine line because certain things just need to be private and often I find they are the more confronting and negative aspects of life. Although I often feel like bloggers mostly have the perfeft marriages, balanced work/ family life and cook the perfect meals. I would love to hear more of the reality.
    Jess recently posted..The Fit Spirit 2013 Year in BloggingMy Profile

  24. says

    I’m a little late getting here, but I love this post (as I loved Carla’s). It is difficult to be totally honest. Frankly, most of us want to be accepted and respected, so if we talk about our flaws, our failures, our doubts, we may wonder if we’d lose some of that. There are also other people to take into account. In my case, my husband is not comfortable with my total honesty, so I respect his wishes and leave certain things out. Anyway, thanks for this post. It will help me think things through and ask myself if I’m being honest, and if not, why not.
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Saying Goodbye to Clients and Friends. Plus, Peg’s Last Workout…Can You Keep Up?My Profile

  25. says

    I just started a blog and have been feeling very vulnerable with each post. I’ve had to remind myself that being too PERSONAL is different from being VULNERABLE and real. I don’t want anyone who reads my blog to think that I have it all together by cultivating that sense through what I share. I may not share every detail of my life, but what I do share should be real. Your post helped me clear all this up! Thank you so much!
    Katie recently posted..I Heart Winter RunningMy Profile

  26. says

    I don’t know. I do edit myself online. And always will. Not to really hide anything – but are we really 100% with everyone even in person? I don’t know. It’s such a barrier/protection I put up for me and others who are close to me. This is such a tough one for me. For many. And I get it.

    Love this post my friend.
    tracy@sellabitmum recently posted..Back In The SaddleMy Profile

    • says

      Oh absolutely. I think that there’s a difference between editing what we share online (not hiding but curating) versus putting up a false persona, if that makes sense. It’s more that what I do choose to share online, I want it to be real and me. I definitely am more and more conscious of protecting myself and my family, especially as my boys are getting older.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Friday Round-UpMy Profile

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