A while back, I was able to recover a blog entry (through a back channel) that one blogger had to remove because he got too much negative feedback. It was the first time he’s ever had to pull an entry on his blog. Part of me resonated with his post, realizing that perhaps my desire is for not just honesty or authenticity, but something deeper called vulnerability.
I’ve been described anywheres from a touchy-feely warm-fuzzy person to a hard-to-read poker-faced person. My own self-perception is the former and not the latter, and yet realize how difficult it is for people who want a simple 5-line bio to describe someone. As an exercise, I drew up a little chart titled the “faces of djchuang”, ranging from the “networker djchuang,”, “work djchuang,” to the “cordial djchuang.” The “networker” shows up at conferences and occasional events where the topic of conversation touches on areas of my interest. I’m energized by meeting new people, intense dialogue, trading business cards, and doing power lunches. “Work djchuang” can be task-oriented, and fast to get things done. “Cordial djchuang” can be nice, but not known for being smiley-faced nor good at light small talk. People generally like to be around the “networker,” but only certain settings can bring him out. It can’t be manufactured. He doesn’t show up at family gatherings.
To borrow the language of belonging from Joseph Myers’ book, The Search to Belong: Rethinking Intimacy, Community, and Small Groups, I crave being in the personal and intimate space, where I can talk about emotions, mental health (without having to use an alias to talk about the stigma of mental health and depression), and even sex (good people are beginning to talk about sex more candidly now, like LatinoLiz and Willzhead, better late than never in our sex-crazed world) and salaries (without getting fired for it). I can live there for days and weeks on end.
But most of real life is more about public and social space. Conferences are social events alright, but only occasional and too infrequent, not a part of my everyday life. And, no, I don’t want to live on the conference circuit.
On my “faces of djchuang” chart, I left off the “real djchuang,” who is not really motivated to do something that’s fulfills a dream or feeds a passion or makes him feel alive. Though he works hard at what he does all around. He just wants more personally intimate space and time, and when that is so elusive, nothing else really seems to matter.