I was thinking yesterday about reality shows, and what a misnomer that term is, since like Vegas, everything about a reality show is contrived and unreal. My husband is a big fan of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, and we both are sporadic watchers of Survivor. Both of these shows are transparently inauthentic in that they’re designed to create a “plot” from unscripted behavior, and the end result is that they’re force to more or less script a lot of what’s done and said in their respective environments. Very little feels true to life in these heightened realities.
But it’s got me thinking. Because I do think people have genuine, real transformative experiences on reality shows. Maybe all that contrivance pushes some people to dig deeper and connect with what actually is real and genuine about themselves. Maybe it causes some to seek out and actively pursue their own souls, for fear of losing them in that environment.
A conference like BlogWorldExpo is also a rather unreal, heightened environment. The famous, infamous, web-famous, and anonymous are all congregated here based on mutual need. There are parties and there is excess. There is the bizarre spectacle of cewebrity on full display. There is the awkward dance of relationships that heretofore have only existed on the ethereal plane of social media having to figure out how to survive a face-to-face meeting.
I think I am in the midst of a little transformative experience myself, here in this unreal environment.
(Another attendee here, a lady who is as cute as a button wearing a “FREE HUGS” t-shirt, just came up to me and offered me a free hug. I accepted. See? Unreal.)
Almost exactly eight years ago, I had an experience that forces me to reevaluate who I thought I was, at a very basic level. I couldn’t keep being who I thought I was, so I spent some time “trying on” different aspects of different identities for a very long time. Eventually, things stabilized, but I think what I’ve been realizing over the last few weeks is that things stabilized too much. They stabilized to the point of creating a rigid, inflexible and woefully incomplete understanding of who I am.
I stopped exploring who I might become.
A year and a half ago, I made a decision that even I didn’t see coming. When everyone else was expecting me to zig, I zagged. The really alarming thing is, even I didn’t see that decision coming. In fact, not two weeks prior, I had told someone with a great deal of confidence that I would never make that particular choice.
And then I did.
It weirded me out. I thought I knew who I was, but the person I thought I was wouldn’t have made that decision. I’ve spent the better part of a year and a half now, trying to figure out the implications of that.
Now, in the midst of this weird conference, in the midst of an even weirder city, where nothing is quite what it seems, I’m am inexplicably getting a lot of clarity. I am digging deeper and examining my soul, and finding there was WAY more to it, more to the real me, than I ever realized.
Well, kiddos, I gotta grab some lunch. Back down the rabbit hole. I’ll send more missives through the looking glass, if you like.
If you’ve got a parallel story of getting real in the midst of unreality to share, drop me a comment. It may take me a bit to moderate, but it’ll get through.
Free digital hugs from me: (((((((reader friends)))))))