Hi friends, welcome to “About Me: Unmasked.”
What’s the purpose of this page? Here, let me explain.
After reading through my “About Me” page, you may have gathered that my goal for this blog is to be “unmasked” and genuine with you. After reading about me and my story, I hope you walked away with a sense of my willingness to bring into the light some of the painful and vulnerable areas of my life, in the hope that you may find encouragement in some way in your own life.
Now, given the information I’ve already shared, you may be wondering what else needs to be “unmasked” regarding such information. While I agree that my “About Me” page most definitely reveals personal information that is often hidden from those other than one’s closest circles (if even that, for those who are more “private” and “guarded”).
However, I still felt the page was lacking a bit, as it did not actually capture the angst and emotional turmoil that went into crafting (and ultimately releasing to the public) the information on that page. I wanted to be open and honest with you about that. Hence, I created this page to provide a bit more context to that regard.
OK, ready for this? Let’s get personal.
So for a long time, I had pushed off writing my “About Me” page for this blog.
It overwhelmed me.
“Where to start? Where to begin? What key pieces of oneself does one share with the world that will accurately depict who one is as a whole-being?”
Whenever I’d start to begin to capture the “essence” of Rachael on a single page – I’d hit a wall. I struggled with how I could concisely summarize all that I had experienced in the past 35 years to amount to who I am today. How does one begin to tackle the vast breadth of life experiences – the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly – all neatly presented in a nice little one-page summary? Especially when life has been anything but neat and tidy?
For one, I’m not the best at being concise; particularly when it’s something important to me or relates to matters about the heart and soul. (Funny side note: I’ve been known to pause mid-way through a somewhat lengthy story and say to Sean, “I have a point; it’s just so far away…”). You get the idea. 😉
Secondly, I wanted my “About Me” page to stand true to my mission to remain “unmasked.” After many hours of research, podcasts, trainings, and other various educational efforts, I had a plethora of resources, several “suggested templates,” and plenty of good examples and advice from some very successful entrepreneurs and marketers. And yet, I still found myself stuck.
I understood how one was supposed to write her “About Me” page; but it all just felt a bit “icky” to me. And a bit disingenuous. Like I would be trying to market how “awesome” I am in some way. The templates I had at my finger-tips helped me present my “best self” – but the whole purpose of my blog was to show all parts of me and my story. Not just the fun and beautiful parts, but the hard and ugly as well.
It terrified me.
I mean, think about it. When you go to someone’s site, one of the first things you do is immediately jump to said person’s “About Me” page. If we’re honest, we often bring skepticism, curiosity, comparison, and judgment along with us as we begin reading about the individual and what she/he has to say. We come ready to “assess” the individual, anxious to determine for ourselves whether the person is “worthy” to take up any of our precious time or be welcomed into our lives.
I mean, I know that I personally come to the table with several questions ruminating in my mind as I browse through the one-pager describing an individual’s impressive accomplishments/accolades, honorable core values, glamorous travel experiences, picturesque family and home-life, and desired life experiences.
I browsed through various “About Me” pages on the Internet to try to find SOME kind of direction for my own page. As I read about the stories told by various individuals, I noticed myself asking questions:
“Who IS this individual? What has she accomplished or what does she have to say that makes her worthy of my time? Can I relate to this person? How does she measure up to my expectations?”
Skepticism would also creep in as I ingested the information: my own life having both peaks and valleys, I questioned whether the lives I read about were as glamorous as advertised: I though not.
“Rachael!!! What are you doing?” I thought to myself, “Why are you being so critical, pessimistic, and judgmental? That’s not you!! That is not in line with your values!”
As soon as I brought awareness to the voice of my Inner Critic, I quickly yanked myself back into my True Self, reminding myself that judging others is directly in contrast with some of my core beliefs: that we should be accepting of all others, each person has unsurpassable worth, and each individual has something unique to offer the world that should be celebrated and encouraged.
Wow, was I taken aback when I brought awareness to how quickly my Inner Critic jumped in to eye up an individual and make snap-judgments about who the person was and/or the value he/she could offer. How narcissistic! And on what basis? Formulating a judgment about the essence of a person based solely on the limited information provided on his/her “About Me” page (which is also tainted by my own perspective and life experiences)? Determining for myself whether he/she is “worthy”?! I mean – what?
Wow, that’s a hard pill to swallow.
When I thought about it some more, I realized: it was a bit paradoxically comical, really. I was so ready to offer criticism, when quite frankly – I was somewhat intimidated by these individuals’ accomplishments. Add in the fact that they were showing an immense amount of bravery to willingly put themselves out there in such a vulnerable (yet confident) fashion. And yet…the Critic within me was ready to take her seat at the table: ready to judge, ready to compare. I think for many of us (if we’re honest), this is often the case.
As I thought about how easily my own Critic was able to chime right in and offer up judgement, I considered the fact that folks would be reading about my life, ready to size me up and formulate the same kind of judgments (or possibly even worse) based on whatever information I included in my own “About Me” page and blog posts.
After letting this fact sink in, I was immediately consumed by the fears and self-doubt of my shy, messy-pigtailed-elementary-school version of my Inner Child who so desperately wants to belong and know she is loved and wanted.
She screamed at me, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Please, just stay quiet, follow the rules, don’t make any waves. Let someone else step up and take lead. Please, we can’t let anyone see how scared and undeserving we feel! Don’t let them see how unique we are – please, I desperately want to belong. What if people abandon us or don’t love us if they know the whole story?”
Can I be (even more) honest?
I know those fears and self-doubts are not true. I know in my heart and the core of my being that I am perfectly loved, enough, and worthy; I know that I belong, just as I am.
I have spent (and continue to spend) a lot of energy, time, and money in an effort to bring more self-awareness to my life and actively weed out the various limiting beliefs that had previously kept me in bondage for so many years. This includes many (many!) hours of therapy, self-study, multiple instructor-led courses, and a devoted spiritual life (actively seeking God, devoting my life to following Christ, and practicing spiritual disciplines to put my faith in action).
While I’ve put an incredible amount of effort into this journey, my ability to realize and internalize the truths referenced above are entirely credited to God and my relationship with Him. I know that not all of you who are reading this page have faith in God or are followers of Christ. But I hope that our disagreement on that aspect of my life will not discredit me in your eyes. However, I felt it necessary to shed light on this truth. Because for me – it’s at the core of who I am. It’s my faith and my relationship with God that has gotten me to where I am today. He’s my Source of life, and He has enabled me to re-discover my True Self: the person He created me to be. He’s shown me, and continues to remind me daily, how He sees me and how incredibly loved and cherished I am.
And yet, despite knowing who I am and Who’s I am, I still can find myself feeling like that little girl from my childhood: desperate to belong, to be accepted, to be wanted, to be worthy, to be enough.
Feeling as though who I truly am is not good enough, and so I find myself tempted to wear whatever “mask” I think I need to wear to be accepted and affirmed by others – tempted to hide the pieces of myself that I think others will see as weird, undesirable, or too much to handle.
The deceitful “mask”: expected freedom, experienced enslavement.
Over the years, I learned how to excel at playing the “game of life.”
Plastering on a smile while simultaneously stuffing down uncomfortable emotions.
“Getting over” hardships and painful moments in life by trying to find my worth through various sources (e.g., academic/career excellence, others’ opinions of me, my physical appearance, etc.) that could never bring lasting fulfillment.
I started becoming the person I thought others wanted me to be. Shaping and molding myself to whatever external standards were set out before me. Hiding or trying to change the pieces of me that appeared to be “shunned” by society or my peers. Obediently accepting the messages and expectations thrown at me by society, media, family, friends, leadership, and others – without pausing to question “Do I agree with this? Does this align with my values and what I believe to be right and just? Is this supporting the character of the person I want to become?”
Being a perfectionist and achiever, I got really great at playing the “game.” So good, in fact, that I soon didn’t even realize I was still “playing.” In turn, I slowly started to morph into someone I was not intended to be.
After years and years of self-deception, self-denial, low self-esteem, and self-preservation, I found myself in the midst of an existential crisis. If you’re interested in this aspect of my life, you can read more about that here in my blog post describing My Undoing: Ruined for Redemption.
Having said all that, I feel that I need to disclose to you the honest truth about me and this blog. I genuinely feel called to share my story and let others in on my experiences. It’s something God has placed on my heart and I feel very passionate about. However, there’s still a piece of me that feels as if I’m not worthy of your time and questions whether there is anything I have to say that will truly have any impact whatsoever. I personally do not think of my life as remarkable and certainly don’t see myself as any kind of expert on life. So to say that I feel under-qualified to have a blog and believe anyone will be interested in my perspective and wisdom gained through my faith journey and life experiences is quite the understatement.
And yet, here I am.
For those of you interested in sharing in my small little piece of the Internet: Welcome! I am seriously SO excited you’re here. For those who are not currently, I hope I can one day call you “friend.”
For those who aren’t interested in my story, experiences, or perspective – that’s okay. I don’t expect everyone to find value in what I have to say. I do ask, however, that you please be gentle with my heart and be kind to others. Open dialogue and countering perspectives are welcome and encouraged here. I appreciate that we are each so remarkably uniquely, have different opinions, and interpret life through our own perspectives and life experiences. It’s our differences that make us so beautiful and when positively channeled, can be used to help each other grow, learn, and become better human beings. However, in this space I expect conversations and dialogues to be respectful and loving. So please avoid any viciousness and do your best to leave your ego and any hate at the door. As many, many mothers and fathers have said over the years: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
So anyway, there’s the “unmasked” truth. Thank you for your interest in getting to know me and for your patience in making your way through to the end of the “About Me” section.
So anyway, now that the foundation has been set: feel free to take a look around my blog. Do some exploring. In fact, do some cyber-stalking if you feel so inclined (it’s okay – I give you permission, so you can do so guilt-free, haha!).
I hope you are able to walk away from this blog with some encouragement or hope. At the very least, I hope you walk away knowing you are loved – exactly as you are right now.
You, after all – are the best version of “you” out there.