Authenticity in a messy life

Rolls of paper

I’ve been thinking about authenticity lately. Authenticity as in what is going on in my real life versus what I show on this blog (right now everything is a mess). How truthful to what is really going on in your life is your blog? Sometimes as bloggers we pick the photos where our home looks tidy and beautiful in the sunlight, we avoid head-shots, bad-hair-days, and the mostly boring bits of our lives. Instead we highlight our arranged nooks and crannies, and show off the small parts of the whole, you know?

It’s easy to show your perfect creative and prolific moments when you get to pick and choose. We edit, everyone does. We must, because who has the time to tell the whole day to day story (if we wanted to tell it)? We don’t ever have to mention sleeping the whole weekend, crying over our journals, working on a post for hours and getting zero comments or feedback (or the wrong kind of feedback that we didn’t want) or feeling stressed about finding even more inspiration that we don’t have the time to deal with…

Rows of material

Is this self-deluding and a way of not being authentic with your readers and your self? Are you lying to your readers because you’re not telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Personally I choose a long time ago, when I started to write this blog, to focus on the good parts of my life. I want to be upbeat, inspiring and positive in the way I talk about life, but as I’ve written about before, that does not mean it’s all bliss and joy in my life! Not at all! Personally I would say on the contrary! It just makes it easier for me to write, and it makes me happy to focus on happiness! Blogging my happy moments actually helps me re-focus on the happiness of creating a second time and how wonderful is that?!

I think that it is super important to focus on what makes you happy. How can we feel content and happy when we don’t even know what brings happiness?

Stacks of ephemera

But why is it so easy to feel that everybody else is perfect and has a perfect life? We create an image of others as super heroes/humans, we idolize them and see them as something to look up to! Maybe we need that too, we do need people to look up to and dreams to strive towards – but I think it would be much more helpful to try to be content with our own lives and what we’ve already got! I often feel I am not making enough, focusing on the wrong things and never ever making enough money or having enough energy for everything I need to do, etc. I look around in my life and I all I see is the mess.

Authentically messy, that is me!

Abundance of piles

I just want to say that if you want to be authentic and real you don’t have to share “everything” and all the dusty piles in your life, though you have to be aware of those piles too! Not just your own, but that everyone has them even those who don’t want to talk about them, photograph them or shine a light on them… I do not write this blog to shove my dust under the mat (or well, just temporarily on some days) but I don’t mind that you know that they are there. I want you to know that they’re there. Okay? My piles are full of tears, dirt, dust and cat hair!

Did you know that the word authenticity refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions? So my 7 years of blogging (writing, photographing, editing, sharing, and posting) speaks a bit about my devotion and the commitment I have? I like to think so. I write to inspire, I aim to be happier than yesterday and find new adventures for tomorrow, so that I’ve got something fun to share with you!

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35 Responses to Authenticity in a messy life

  1. Jodi says:

    Oh, Hanna, I hung onto every word of this. I am right there with you.

    I am very accept of myself, yet I sometimes have to purposely stay aware of the fact that a blog doesn’t represent an entire person. There is so much talent and inspiration online, and it’s easy to not think about all that has been put into what we see. And not just the obvious stuff either, like a lot of stitches in a blanket, but the working and cleaning and thinking and family and money and and and…

    Thanks for writing this.

  2. Madde says:

    Vältalig som alltid, rak & ödmjuk inför livet. Jag tror också på att genom att fokusera på det roliga, positiva, kreativa & vackra så blir det roligare, mer positivt, kreativt & vackrare. Allt annat finns, självklart, men det blir så mycket enklare och lättare att handskas med genom det positiva ljuset. Heja & hurra Hanna. You’re doing good girl :)

  3. linda says:

    I’ve been dealing with this very topic on my blog lately as well… because I do share the downtimes and often I hesitate to click publish because I felt like it was weird to ramble on about my issues…afterall, I don’t want to spread negativity! But I found that instead, many people connected to the truth and really take heart in seeing both ups and downs…because it is more authentic. Suffice to say that it is okay to show what you want, I think we all choose what we want to present of ourselves. Just like when we clean up a bit before going out to the store – LOL! I think it’s great if you’ve decided that the blog is for good times, you have that purpose! Everyone just has to find what works for them.

  4. Laila says:

    My wise old granny once said: If there’s nothing bad, there’s nothing good either, and: you can reach as high as you’ve been down low. I don’t think I really understood what she ment at the time but I certainly do now and I still think she was a wise old lady.
    So Hanna, when you have hard times and the rest of us too, remember it pays off in the other hand. That’s a really comforting thought for me at least.
    With all that said I think it’s important to focus on the bright sides of life.

  5. Kelly says:

    I love this post Hanna. So true and very well said. I wrote about this very topic a little over a year ago here.

    I too try to always focus on the positive. Things aren’t always peaches and cream, but that’s why we have choices. We have a choice on how we react to things and we have a choice about what we choose to, and choose not to, blog about. Yay, Hanna! :-)

  6. Paula says:

    Oh, Hanna, this is so wonderfully written and so very true. I also try to focus on what’s good in my life, but at times, I share the not so good as well…like my dad, for example. I know it’s going to creep into my art and my blog, so I just put it out there. No long hairy details, but parts. I also know that it’s brought me so much comfort and love, along with so many prayers. Knowing I’m in so many people’s thoughts has helped so much. I know I have deliberately stayed away from blogs that are nothing but negative…I don’t need that!

  7. Arielle says:

    Very well-written and thought-provoking post, Hanna! Thanks for continuing to share you self-proclaimed “authentically messy” life with us!

  8. Libby says:

    oh Hanna this post reached right out and grabbed me.
    Thank you so much for your authenticity in THIS post!
    it brought me so much comfort to see some photos of mess! it helped me feel less alone.
    Every time I see photos of the home or studio of another artist, I search for the mess – wanting to feel like they are a real person that I can connect to.
    I’m so inspired by this post of yours that I have an idea in my mind of posting on my blog about it – encouraging others to take photos of their authentic mess and share links to their blog where they share it.
    would you mind if I did that? I would give you credit for inspiring me of course :)

  9. karine says:

    so true…
    thank you!

  10. Caatje says:

    This is a wonderful thought provoking post, thank you.

    As for me, my blog is just a part of who I am, but it’s the part that I love a lot, my artsy part and for that part it is totally authentic. I know who I am and I have no need to express everything that goes on in my life there, nor do I have the need to hide anything. But my blog is about arsty stuff, so the subjects will be related to that somehow. Even if something sad happens, like my cat dying about a month ago, I’ll try to include related journal pages or art in it.

    I don’t shy away from personal stuff, but I see no need to elaborate on it either. I’m not an exhibitionist who needs the world to know everything. That’s what my journals are for, to get out all my loose thoughts and emotions, to blow of steam or to just put in a picture of my sisters for instance. A blog is a public place and it’s good to remember that.

    Also by focusing on the positive aspects of life and art making on your blog, you get a more positive sense of your own life. I have always had this delusion that I didn’t do enough, produce enough etc., but by blogging about what I do I kind of scare that criticism away. When I check back on my blog I get happy from it myself!

    I think only people with half a brain would think that a blog paints a full picture of a person. I for one never thought your life was perfect and I sure know that mine isn’t, but if your goal is to inspire people you are doing a great job, my friend!

    PS. I love the pictures in this post!

  11. Hanna, great blog topic. I think most of us come from the same place as you – setting a tone on our blogs to present the positive side and admitting our vulnerabilities from time to time. I look at it like this: if you visit my home I will clear the junk off the table and put on a fresh cloth. I will try to make things look the best they can, which is different than it might look on a daily basis. I treat my blog the same way. Putting my best face forward. There are some things I prefer to keep private but I am not afraid to expose some personal things because it allows the readers to invest in me and connect on another level. In real life we are drawn to people who are positive, enthusiastic and encouraging because they make us feel good about ourselves – so it would make sense that we seek that same quality in a blog author. We love to visit you because it is a happy place, filled with vibrant color and cheer. You are a generous open soul, and we are uplifted when we peek into the creative life you choose to share. xo

  12. Melissa says:

    What a wonderful resonant post! Authenticity is a tricky thing. It’s like it fades in and out of focus for me. I’ve had old friends read my blog and think that I’m some sort of super mom who never yells and always has the perfect craft project. I wonder sometimes how bloggers that I admire manage to do what they do, and then I realize that people were thinking that about me. It was kind of a surreal moment. Knowing my own messy, crazy life and seeing how my friend perceived my life through the lens of my blog.

    It’s good to know that other bloggers struggle with this too. Thanks.

  13. charly says:

    Thank you for these honest words :)
    There should be more people who are as self aware as you seem to be.

  14. Lotta says:

    Det ?r ju de sm? outtalade och hemliga egenskaperna som g?r n?gon intressant. Och det ?r det som g?r att alla orkar forts?tta eftersom alla vet att alla andra har mornar med gr?t i halsen och kv?llar med o?ndlig ensamhet. Det ?r ju det som g?r dig s? fin, att din blogg inte ?r en fasad utan en helt underbar inblick i den t?rtbiten som ?r helt perfekt. D?r allt ?r rosa och solen skiner och du aldrig spiller ut lim ?ver hela bordet eller klipper dig sj?lv i fingret. Det g?r dig b?st. Och g?r att jag l?ser, f?r alla h?r vet, att bara f?r att man inte skriver hela sanningen g?r inte att det blir osant.

    Du ?r finast. Forts?tt s?h?r. S? att b?de du och vi kan forts?tta inspireras och leva p? v?r glada fluffiga t?rtbit n?r allt annat bara ?r regn och slask.


  15. Steph says:

    Ah yes, this talk of ‘authenticity’ doing the rounds in cyberspace… I’ll tell you what, I must confess to be ever so slightly sick of hearing about it because, as you rightly point out, there are plenty of websites that claim to be authentic, and yet they all edit their content. Mind you, I am not against the editing per se, not unless someone really wishes to see pics of my dingy bathroom or of the cracked drive outside, but rather I am not comfortable with this idea that a blog becomes your brand and that you should present its content in a certain way. Clean, edited, always focused.

    I have noted though that people do not like it very much when writers of blogs change tack; once you start sharing things that are not-so-perfect you’ll also come across people who say your blog isn’t any longer what it used to be and it’s now negative/boring/fill-in-the-blank.

    I rarely share anything of a personal nature on my site not because I don’t want to (I often burn to do just that, particularly when life is a mess, as you say), but because revisiting it at a later date makes me feel queasy and ill and, once again, wounded or sad, depending on what it is that I talked about. This therefore may be interpreted as some sort of distance that I willingly place between myself and my readers, while in reality it’s a distance that I place between myself and unhappy memories, a block that I want to place so that I shall never revisit the mess. All who have emailed me know how open and immediately sharing I become once off the online, public stage and I guess that this suits not just my writing goals but my personality too. I am not interested in fleeting, shallow relationships but in all-encompassing-and-deep ones. And one cannot interweave profound relations with 10,000 people.

    This is my first time commenting on here, hence I would like to thank you for your contribution to the creative landscape and all of your commenting readers for providing interesting insights and entertainment all the time. All the best!

  16. Kim Mailhot says:

    I love your authenticity. It is what keeps me coming back and reading. Being authentic doesn’t mean you need to share everything; it means that what you share should be “real”, genuine, and yours. What you share definitely is ! And I think this world has enough focus on the ugly, bad, terrifying, depressing. Focusing on the good, light, joy-filled everyday moments helps balance all that grossness out at least a little.
    I thank you for being you, Hanna !
    Cheers !

  17. ainelivia says:

    Thank you for writing this post Hanna, it’s so true. it is good to keep a positive outlook, though that doesn’t mean that there won’t be days that there is self-doubt and anxiety, I think that is part of the creative process. So cherish those days you stay in bed the whole weekend!! Duvet Days i call them. Whenever i am in that mood i always think of myself as a hen, sitting on her eggs, keeping them warm and waiting to see when something will hatch. all the best Carol Ann aka ainelivia

  18. MissKoolAid says:

    Dear Hanna,

    You work magic with your words and your images. This post resonated so much with me. I, too, chose to focus on the good parts of my life for my blog. Yes we edit ourselves when it comes to blogging but I think that it is necessary in a way. Your blog would not have the same feel and the same following if you blogged about the dark bits. We are all human and we are aware that perfect is not of this world. So, keep being yourself. You are a beautiful soul and such an inspiration to many many people.
    Love and hugs,

  19. Cath says:

    I agree with you! Sometimes when I’m feeling down it’s the upbeat blogs full of dreams and positivity that inspire me. That’s why when I blog I try not to talk about my frustations (that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen sometimes), I like that the people who read my blog think about me as a fun person full of energy. Sometimes it happens that I’m not full of energy but so what? We all have our defects =) It’s all right.
    Just be true about what you believe, nothing else matters.

  20. Leah says:

    I know what you mean! I also write about things that inspire me or make me happy – and I sometimes forget that it’s not just me doing that, it’s all bloggers. I sometimes think that other people have these charmed lives because they have so many nice things to write about and beautiful pictures to share, but I think we are all the same in that way – keeping the “mess” out of sight and just sharing the beauty.

  21. very well said. we are all here to share some part of our lives, the parts we need to reinforce or have no other way to acknowledge. sometimes it’s good to share those other sides with our readers just so they know we are normal. whatever normal is. thanks for sharing.

  22. Eden says:

    Hanna, I’m impressed with your post, with the honesty and the way you’ve addressed the not-so-perfect part of life. Yes, we’re all messy, but who I really relate to are the people that carry on despite the fact….I think you’ve done that here. There’s too much negativity out there, and we can let any little thing become an excuse for not even trying. But where’s the fun in that. I’ve decided I’m going to get in the game (blogging/living) and give it my best shot….I won’t always do it right, or beautiful….but it’ll be a lot more fun. Like you….I’ll be learning something new, either about myself, my art, or others….and that will make all the difference :D

  23. I can just agree with what you write!

    I like the saying that you should treat others like you want to be treated, and I think the same thing works for blogging. Blog about topics that you want to read about and in a way that would make you want to read about it.

  24. April Cole says:

    So true, so true… very well said!
    Thank you for your honesty. I believe…we all can relate.
    It is good to know you are not alone, that others have the same “not so perfect” days.
    It can not be sunny everyday, rain is sometimes good! :]

  25. Jacqueline says:

    True: there is a part of us that we show on our blogs. The part that is inspiring and also nice. But everyone knows that there is no perfect person and that seeing images from someone’s life and art, that these images are just a tiny part of that life.

    I do feel though, that the art that one show on your blog, shows a bigger picture of yourself. That is, if you are able to express your authenticity in your art! :-)

  26. ainelivia says:

    ….apropos your post Hanna, you’ve inspired me to blog my messy side, as much for me as blog readers, thanks

  27. Diana Trout says:

    I love this post, Hanna. It is right on the mark. Authenticity is such a vital part of blogging, making art and writing. Not always easy to show our “flaws.” Thanks for this one!

  28. this is a beautiful post, hanna. i’ve been thinking about this for a while – honesty and intention and geniuity. it can be really difficult to find the balance between openness as you are and presenting yourself as the person you want to be. hm. maybe i’ll publish my thoughts about it in the future. wonderfully written!

  29. Carmen says:

    a woman after my own heart!
    you are in the right path
    keep inspiring us

  30. Jeannie says:

    You have so eloquently put into words why I don’t have a blog. I don’t want to only post “perky” days, yet I don’t want everyone to go running for the hills when I am truthfull. I know one day I will learn to walk the tight rope between too much/not enough. Thanks for being so honest about this.

  31. Sherry Smyth says:

    I’ve enjoyed traveling around your blog this morning…it’s fresh and clear…just what I was looking for this morning. This post especially resonates with me…and I’m going back to read it again. I’m at a bit of a cross-roads and “authenticity” is something I am striving for.

  32. It seems a lot of us have that moment of doubt about pressing the ‘publish’ button when we’ve written something personal, or something that might reveal us to be not quite the springy joyful person we’d like everyone to think of us as. I have many times, and each time I ‘dare’ to press it, I find that people are grateful I spoke about something they feel too, or are interested or just leave a few kind words. I think it’s an integral part of being an artist of any kind to be authentic, and it isn’t always easy when it means opening yourself up. But so worth it! Thanks for this post Hanna. :)

  33. Chris says:

    Hanna, I’m so sorry to be behind so much on my blog reading. I love your blog, no matter what I find, here.

    This is a joy to read. Your feelings are ones I’ve shared, and I do share them sometimes on my blog, where I think most people prefer that I be funny instead of confessional. I think sometimes being funny all the time means that I don’t take my art seriously, and I often do. It is very important to me, and on my blog it often looks like it isn’t. So I struggle with many of the same feelings you do. I know that most of the time you DO try to be more upbeat and inspiring on your blog, but as a long-time reader of your blog I have seen some of your other sides, and they have endeared me to you and given me a great deal of trust for you. You are an honest, kind person who sometimes just want to scream in frustration, I think. We hear you!


  34. Kathy Maximo says:

    Hi there, I found you via Sherry (above) and she mentioned this post, I am so glad I saw it and came to read this. I enjoyed it and I am loving your blog….your photos are simply wonderful… a new friend!

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