Vulnerability is hard.
We sing the praises of authentic relationships all the time, of course. Society says we should. Seeking real intimacy is a topic generating lots of buzz right now — and rightfully so. It’s a goal worth seeking out. We all want to be open books, honest & real with each other, because that’s where closeness is found.
And it is.
I just think it’s easier to let the word “authenticity” roll off our tongues than it is to let it actually shape our lives. And so, even in the midst of a world that clamors for honesty, we subtly find ways to hide. We’re afraid. We know that life gets messy, that relationships can hurt. Choosing vulnerability means we might end up as the wounded ones. We use our words to champion authenticity, all the while using our words to build little walls for ourselves to hide behind. “Just to be safe,” we think. We just want to be equipped, should we ever have to go on the defensive.
My weapon of choice? Sarcasm.
You may not see much evidence of it on this blog, but I’m much less curated in real life. Sometimes the insincere words shoot off my lips before my heart even has time to decide if they’re wise. I’m fluent in sarcasm, & I’m not always proud of that. But sometimes I am. And that’s because this tactic of mine has two-pronged roots that have settled deep in my soul. It’s just a habit, a reflex — one that sometimes keeps me behind a wall, far from authenticity.
The first root, as you might expect, is protection. Sarcastic comments are the shield that keeps hurtful words from settling into who I really am. Say something hurtful to me? Zing. I’ll shoot something right back. It may not be at your expense, but it will most certainly be at someone’s. Maybe even my own. Because if I can joke about it, I won’t be hurt over it. It’s effective — it keeps hurt out, but it also doesn’t let authenticity in. I think the second root is why I’m so scared to let it go.
I learned pretty early on that well-placed sarcasm makes a lot of fast friends. Keep them laughing, & they’ll stay. How complicated it is, that I shield myself from people while hoping to keep them in my fan club? Sarcasm is fun. I’m the first to admit it. But it’s just something I do. When I allow it to seep into who I am, my identity becomes “the girl who is sarcastic.” It becomes almost impossible to be known, to be sincere, to have your heart understood when you cover every conversation with quips and one-liners.
I’m not saying there will never be a place for quick wit & sarcastic comments. I am saying that when I define myself by it, I need to step back & decide if I’m going to keep hiding behind it, or if I’m going to practice what I write.
Winning the laughs in a room is fun for a short time. But winning the hearts in a room is what matters. My closest friends know this about me. But now, I’m dropping the act with everyone. I want to be authentic, not just blog about it. So I’m laying down words that hinder me from that goal.