Being authentic online (I’ll show you my befores)

August 24, 2016

Written By

Tabitha Dumas

Being authentic online and in real life a.k.a. “I’ll show you my befores”

I have always resolved to be a blogger who shows my befores and who presents my life authentically. After struggling with anxiety years ago, I’ve worked hard at living a peaceful and low-stress life of less busyness and more purpose. My desire to to find–and encourage you to find the sweet spot between being a hot mess and being magazine perfect.

#keepingitreal is a hash tag I use to say “here’s my effort to remind you that all is not as it appears.”

Why I’m big on “keeping it real”

It was very early in my blogging days when I took a “before” picture of my entryway closet as part of an organizing challenge (you can see a similar post here).

It was stuffed full of tote bags, park paraphernalia, jackets and JUNK. That’s why it needed to be cleaned out and reorganized!

One of my first commenters said, “Wow, I’d never post a ‘before’ picture like that!”

It hadn’t even occurred to me not to. I love befores and afters! How can we appreciate our progress when we don’t show where we started??

But her comment made me realize that there are plenty of people who want to hide their “befores,” in all areas of life. 

I realize it’s risky to show your real life mess.

My image is at stake and as an image consultant, the stakes are high.

So back then in 2007, I gave myself a talking-to.

“If someone saw that picture and thought, ‘Ugh, how can she live like that??’ then they can move on. I’m not for them. I’m blogging for the person who says, ‘Me, too!’ and feels like they found a friend.”

Creating camaraderie with people is more important to me than maintaining a certain image.

The problem with “keeping it real”

I call myself a beauty seeker. I believe we were created to search for beauty.

My life goal is to have my home featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. One of my favorite pass-times is touring model homes. They’re just so…perfect.

But I also have a life. My home has people in it. I hope the same is true of you.

We have papers, books, karate gi, candy wrappers, extra flip flops, Goodwill donations, party supplies, playing cards and mail.

We’re active at our church. We have neighborhood kids in our home on a nearly daily basis. I host women in my home office. I hate house keeping.

My life goal isn’t to live a magazine-perfect life.

We had to keep our house perfect for about a week while we were trying to sell it and it was awful.

I loved how the house looked but it was exhausting to hide the laundry, baking sheets and mail all the time.

Life happens.

My kids bicker. My husband works long hours and leaves his salsa-making mess for me to clean up (that was last night). Up until last November, our side yard looked more like a junk yard. There are nights when I have to clear a path to the boys’s beds just to tuck them in.

Real life is messy and when you see Facebook posts or Instagram photos that depict anything otherwise, please tell me that you know it’s staged.

Ugh-oh…my “keeping it real” posts are often not even real.

It’s the “kind of messy” version of the family room–the version that a neat and tidy mom would be repulsed by and would assume that’s the worst it could get. I don’t think a photo of our home at its worst even exists. No one wants to see that! Or it’s my makeup-less selfie…the one I took 25 versions of and used a filter on until it looked OK. Or it’s the disaster in my office after I host a big event but what you don’t see is also the disaster in my car, my closet and my laundry room.

I know #keepingitreal isn’t just about the state of your house. It’s about this notion that life is like a Hallmark movie, with perfectly coiffed people, dreamy scenery and heart-to-heart conversations on the front porch with a steaming cup of coffee.

I’m pretty sure that would get old really fast.

I love imperfection. I even wrote about becoming an imperfectionist.

I want to share my real self with you. I embrace being authentic online. I want to do life in the mess and the chaos, even with the dried-on cereal and errant socks.

I’ll keep showing you my “befores” and I hope you’ll show me yours. That’s what we’ll call #keepingitreal.

I'll show you my "befores." Authenticity online and in real life.


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