Friday, September 5, 2014

Self-Censorship Vs. Courage

Back in January, I decided to erase all of my old blog posts.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that they’re all back.

I read through the old posts over the last weekend and I realized that I can’t just erase the last two years of my life.  It’s full of good times and some bad times.  This blog is a record of my journey as I try to figure out what being an adult is all about.  It’s not always perfect, it’s not always appropriate and it’s not always about me being the best person I can be. 

But that’s life. 

One of the greatest struggles I face as a writer is self-censorship. 

I believe in being open and honest about my life (not just when writing but in person as well) but that can sometimes make people uncomfortable – hell, sometimes it makes me uncomfortable to be so exposed.  But as much as I’d love to sit around and talk about what an angel I am and how I lead a Pinterest-perfect life, I just can’t do it.

In this day of social media and unending image-crafting, it can feel shameful to lead a life that is anything other than the standard white-picket-fence-shiny-happy-people American Dream. 

Sometimes I’m not happy.  Sometimes I think mean things about people.  Sometimes I really want to talk about staying up until the sun comes up dancing in my friend’s living room.

Sometimes those seem like things I shouldn’t write about. 

This inevitably leads to long dry spells in my writing.  I’ll have things on my mind that I want to talk about but I’ll be too afraid of offending someone or looking like a fool that I just end up not posting anything.

A few months ago I tore down the wall between my personal life and my professional life. 

On August 16th I celebrated my eighth anniversary at my company.  As I neared that milestone, I realized that I’d been working tirelessly in all of that time to keep my work life and my personal life separate.  It was probably the right decision for the first few years.  I was just 21 when I started and although I had a drive to prove myself professionally, I was still making the kinds of decisions that 21-year olds make.

But as time went on I settled down a bit and became more comfortable in my skin.  There came a point where keeping the division felt like being unfair to myself as a person.

Since tearing down that wall I’ve had to constantly fight with self-censorship.  The whole reason I did it was to become a more-whole human being.  If I keep trying to edit my life, it defeats the purpose entirely.

I’m still working at it – just as I am with my writing.  Some things I want to write about are still uncomfortable but I have to ask myself “Is this something someone else might find useful?” If the answer is yes, I have to put my comfort aside and realize that bravery and creation go hand-in-hand.

I’d imagine I’m not the only person who feels this way – let me know if you’re the same.  What do you do to keep your voice genuine without feeling uncomfortable sharing?

Love and things,

Annie Jay


  1. I still very much keep my personal and professional lives separate. A handful of people know I blog but don't know how to find my site and I make sure that my blog and personal Facebook posts are kept separate. Part of it is the environment I work in, part of it is the handful of evil people I work with that are judgmental. In an ideal world I could have a harmonious blend but sadly that's not in the cards which sucks because it takes a lot of effort to cover your tracks.

    1. I definitely understand that part of why I'm able to integrate my lives is largely in part due to the company I work for. And thankfully I don't have to deal with evil people anymore!

  2. I like that you are putting this out there where your mom can read it. Considering she is such a hard-ass critic, you are really brave to let her into your private life. But then again, she has always been your number one supporter, too. Hmmm. I guess it does make sense to share with her. Maybe I will do a guest column some day.

    1. I won't lie, one of my biggest fears in self-censoring is saying or doing something that my mom won't agree with. But I also know that she wants me to follow my passions regardless of how much it may make her skin crawl ;-)