The Unfiltered Version
I filter myself into your lives like a coffee drip. Drop by drop, I let some parts fall into you, the parts I want you to see. Outside this permeated filter remains all the elements I’m afraid to show you. The vulnerable parts, the things that might kill me if you knew about them. When the jug is full, when you have enough of me to understand the version I present, I rip out the filter and replace it. I pour the old one, full of all my shame, down the sink. Let the water cleanse, wash away, rid us all of these corrupted files.
I do this again and again, each time distilling myself into a version that doesn’t resemble me. Not really. It’s a polished version, a version you can consume, that you want to consume. I’m not the only one who does this. I think we all do. I think we’re all filtered into shapes we think people will accept. Don’t look at the painful parts, we say. I’m afraid you won’t accept me if you know about them. If you know about the depression, how I struggle to even brush my fucking teeth. How I’m as old as friends who got married and have never been in a serious relationship. What the fuck is wrong with me?
I wonder about this often. I sense that I’m too much all at once. I’ve been described as intense when I’ve let it all show in the past. So I stopped doing that, covered it up, hid myself, reduced myself to something more palatable. A half version, unreal, unrendered version. The person I am when I want to be accepted. But it’s not really me.
But maybe I’m too inside my own head, too close to really see. Maybe you are too, ashamed of things that no one else would really care about. See, we’re all caught in this self-absorption, worrying about what others think. And if we’re all living in this way, then nobody is looking at us. We’re all too busy focused on ourselves that we don’t have room to focus on anyone else. The paradox of this – expending great effort and energy to hide ourselves from people who aren’t even looking.
The contradictory part about all of this, is that people commend the honesty. They say well done/you’re brave/remarkable/a credit to your parents/doing important work/chasing your dreams/accepting yourself/an inspiration/a role model. Commended for something no one else is mad enough to do. Because, although the honesty might be refreshing and compelling, it’s also isolating. It puts me at a distance from you. Glad to watch but not comfortable to be a part of. Ostracised by my own hand. Cast out due to my own nature. It’s this part that hurts the most.
Something to be proud of. I know this. But while it is admirable it also breeds reluctance. The honesty is too much for people. And so, I am too much. Cringey for some, embarrassing. Am I embarrassing myself? I don’t feel embarrassed, but I’m embarrassing for you. You find me to be embarrassing. Something – someone – you could never back fully because the vulnerability makes you think less of me. You’d never say this. You may not even know it consciously. But this is the reason. It’s why you’ll never get too close, never let me in. never really accept me. Admiration is different from acceptance. Fair play to him, is different from being welcomed in.
On nights when I find it hard to sleep I wonder whether I’d be happier if I never did any of this. If I was just normal, if I just fit in, if I didn’t talk so much, write so much, it would be easier. I would just be me. I wouldn’t have to put on this show and I wouldn’t have to convince you to accept me. You just would. There’d be less barriers, easier to hide, easier to join the crowd. I think you’d accept this filtered version, this half-version of me is the version you’d like best.
I also sporadically write a Substack