Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Honest Truth About Sharing The Honest Truth - Or The Vulnerability of Being Authentic - Or I Seem To Have Gotten Lost On The Way To Being Me

6" x 6" "Utterings" Prayer Collage by Crystal Neubauer

I am having a really hard time starting this post. Partly, I think, because it has been 2 1/2 months since I last posted and my writing wheels are rusty. And Partly, I think, because it has been over 5 months since I actually wrote anything authentic or vulnerable about myself and not just a factoid about my work or my next show or workshop.

I have this sense that I want to speak from the heart and be real and allow myself to be vulnerable with you again, I just don't know where to start or even what to say.

And the honest truth is, I'm scared of what you might think. Yes, there it is. I'm scared and I am afraid that you will judge me.

You see, this blog used to be a place where I not only shared pictures of my art and talked about my work, but also a place where I could share my life experiences and my thoughts on faith. And sometimes I shared those experiences and thoughts in a way that might not be as polished as I would like. And sometimes maybe, especially in the beginning, I shared from a place that may have been a little too raw and open - with less discretion then I might have now. Sometimes I re-read some of my old posts and I cringe. and I have to admit, I've thought about taking some of them down.

And along about the time that my work began to get accepted into finer art shows and a few people began to express interest in carrying my work in their shops and galleries, I started to worry that maybe the things I shared so publicly would hurt me.

I was excited at the direction my work was taking and I wanted more of it, and so without realizing what I was doing, I started to hide the real me.

Just as I had begun to find my authentic voice, I conscientiously made the decision to stop using it online- it was so unprofessional and so messy.

I thought in order to succeed in the world of fine art I needed to present a finer version of myself. Because, you know, if my work was going to be hanging in galleries then I needed to be the kind of girl who was comfortable in said galleries. And maybe the kind who can sip wine and talk about politics and the human condition with my head tipped just so. While wearing something stylishly suitable of course.

And I certainly didn't need to be airing my dirty laundry in public.

I needed to have it all together. Or at least look like I do.

But the truth is I don't have it all together. And while I do enjoy a good glass of wine, I honestly don't know anything about selecting it. And as far as that stylishly suitable outfit? It just never seems to fit me that suitably. And even though I do have opinions about politics and the human condition, I feel kind of stupid when I open my mouth and try to express them in front of other people. Especially when my opinion is challenged because what I have just said is against the belief system of the crowd-which somehow is nearly always the case for me. Depending on the circle I find myself in, I am either the fruity religious one who is far too conservative and naive in her thinking, or I am deemed too loose and liberal minded and in need of a good course in sound theology.

I do seem to always be just a few steps out of sync with the norm and it is easy to want to hide that from you. And yet, I know it is time to write again and risk being messy and misunderstood and laughed at, or determined to be unprofessional or unrighteous in the expressing of my opinions., otherwise I fear that I may lose track of who I truly am. And right now I can think of no better way to explain it then by leaving you with the words of Frederick Buechner (which a very dear friend recently passed along to me):
“What we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are…because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier…for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own…”


  1. hiya crystal. just know there are many of us struggling with this or that. i cling to Ephesians 6:10-13AND know you are supported & prayed for, always! transparency is a scarry thing indeed. also, know your "utterings" have blessed me in so many ways, in different circumstances. blest be ;)

  2. Good for you, for deciding to be honest with yourself and with others. Be yourself. You are an original creation with a specific bit of work to do, God-intended work, and however you choose to be or speak or write is just right. Openness is a good thing.
    I used to feel just like you, that what I said would leave me vulnerable to the contempt of others, and maybe that's the way it will be sometimes, but I've found that when I speak up, with honesty and integrity, people respect me and honor my right to my particular set of convictions.
    I agree with donnalee, your Utterings are each one a blessing, an unspoken prayer that we have access to.

  3. how wonderfully refreshing this post is!!! so honest, so real, so right. i am so inspired by you just saying it like it is...why is that so hard to do? i can't wait to read more from you because it allows me a peek into your golden heart and lets me be a little less afraid to be me. what a gifted writer you are!!! the world is waiting for more!

  4. your work connects with people because you feel deeply and struggle... i get the wanting a polished shiny presentation to the world... after all, putting our work out there makes you vulnerable enough - people are seeing something that moved through you... so baring your soul is even more threatening...
    but who are you?
    i know that interests me - it gives more meaning to what you create and allows me to make beautiful connections...
    if you come from a place of authenticity, there will always be critics - but you will also be able to touch people in the way you really want to...
    you know, it's that bittersweet, yin yang, cost/benefit kind of thing!

  5. Thank you for writing could have been written by a lot of least definately by me!!

  6. Crystal,
    Thank you for your transparency. I've missed hearing from the "real you," with your willingness to be vulnerable and open. Isn't that just the way that the enemy of our soul likes to make us feel -- that we are at the same time "too much" and yet "not enough." I have been meditating a lot in recent days on Psm. 57:3, particularly the portion that says, "He reproaches the one who would swallow ME up." I'm one who easily can find that I have been swallowed up by all the things you describe in your post and more. I encourage you to cry out to Him and not allow yourself to be swallowed up...

  7. Crystal,

    you are generous in allowing us to peek into your mind, imagination, work, and family via a blog. I, for one, follow because of my admiration for your art, it's a reflection your life, there is nothing shallow or lacking depth, I doubt your blog could be any different.

  8. I want you to know...I am struggling right now to complete this wonderful opportunity and the fear is just at the tip of my brave and risk what you fear the most...I am telling myself that right now. Peace, Mary helen Fernandez Stewart

  9. It was the "real you" that drew me to your blog a few years ago, Crystal. I appreciate your sharing and having read this post I feel less vulnerable. We all struggle with similar issues especially when blogging. So often when I've revealed something about myself, readers offer far more in return and what started out as an uneasy post (for me) ends up feeling pretty good. Generally people want to reach out and connect and share.

    I love this piece! Your work is growing in leaps and bounds. Still Crystal Neubauer but on another level.

  10. even though you didn't know how to were very clear in expressing yourself...thank someone else commented - It could have been written by alot of us...including me...all we can do is "beat on against the current" (part of my favorite quote by FScott Fitzgerald)

  11. Hi, I don't think I've been on here for quite a while. I loved your post and those in the comments. This won't be so eloquent since I just woke up but I like to see both sides of the artist. To see that he/she struggles with similar thought processes as most of us do. To see his/her human side. I understand your concern that as you show more of your work you want to show less of yourself. But the truth is that those who purchase your work do so because there was something in your artistic 'voice' that drew them in. Something that would ring familiar if they also happened to come across your words, perhaps. I'd like to think of a piece of my own creation being in the home of someone who could appreciate it vs just filling up a blank place on the wall. Someone who would be put off by your thought sharing probably wouldn't be purchasing your art anyway. Ok maybe that came out wrong....heehee hope not. Anyway, love your sharing and huge congrats on your artistic success!

  12. Hi Crystal, this is a lot to ponder--that fine line we walk as artists and bloggers who also present their work to the world. I struggle with this in my own blog and when and if I finally get real, the responses of my readers/friends always bring me comfort as well as a new dimension-- Robyn is right! But it's still so hard for me to present my "real" authenticity in writing. Maybe that comes after finding it in the work.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts--it's always good to be reminded we aren't alone in this!

  13. it's nice to know i'm not the only one who feels this way. well said and thank you!

  14. Excellant post and I love that quote!

  15. It is hard and scary to just be who we are but I think even harder and scarier to be that which we hope will be accepted as in that lovely quote. I so appreciate your honesty and I think your work is beautiful because of it.

  16. The blogs I love the most are the ones that are most real, that reveal the depth of the writer/artist. Your art speaks volumes, but your words spoken authentically make the rest of the world more brave.

  17. Hey, you.
    Remember me??
    Before the galleries?? lol

    I think of you so often and when I do, I miss the dickens outta you! I see your success and I'm so happy, sincerely happy, for you.

    And, don't take it personally when someone thinks you're naive in your beliefs (I'm talking christian - other than that, this would be a different comment:)
    Believing in God, in our Lord, is believing in something that you can't see, like the wind, and some people have a really hard time with that.
    So, know that you are safe in your beliefs and stand strong with the armor of God surrounding you.

    And don't discuss politics or religion. lol

    i miss you, sweet friend.

  18. I think we all struggle with this at times; being "stylishly suitable" is a lot to expect from ourselves. It's important not to lose track of who we really are, and I thank you for this reminder in the words of Frederick Buechner.

  19. Oh, darn, I completely forgot to tell you how much I like your collage! beautiful!

  20. Crystal, I read this post and found myself relating to your words completely. Today's sermon addressed how we make being/living as a Christian complex and it's really not so. The pastor said we basically either say yes to God, or no to him. The illustration was about Johan. When he clearly heard God speak, he decided to say "no". The message gave hope to how when we choose to say "no" to the voice of God, he gives us another chance. He does not give up on the vision he has through us. The message also spoke to how we will experience life when we chose "no". I'm simplifying the whole message, but it convicted me. All that to say we are challenged as artists, especially when everything is against the grain of our faith, our convictions, and how to express them. Thank you for being so open and honest.
    Re Kielar