This little blog has existed for almost seven years now. I’ll be honest, that kind of blows my mind. It’s had numerous lulls (most of 2011 comes to mind, as does one of my most recent posts), but I keep coming back to it and I keep going with it. There aren’t a lot of things in my life that I can say that about.
Lions and science in general, as referenced below. Beer? We’re not that far along yet, but I’m still entranced and I think we’re in it for the long haul. Bill? More than double that in time, at this point (if not romantically for about half of it).
I started this post almost two years ago. I’m not sure why or how it fell off my radar, but in looking through my drafts, I came upon it again. And… It’s still pretty accurate. And feels especially so right after having read my friend Kelly’s musings on her life changes and while contemplating the changes my nation are embarking on as of noon EST today. I’m doing a lot of thinking about me and… Apparently that’s not new. What’s new(ish) is being willing to share such thoughts.
When I started this blog, I was scared (very) to let the science part of my life see the food part of my life and vice versa. I was timid and nervous and concerned my friends in either realm would judge me for the other. Since then, I’ve so thoroughly embraced that I am both food person and scientist that I have written about cryopreservation of genetic material in animals and told everyone six things they probably didn’t know about lions. Blatantly embraced my past with that post.
In these nearly seven years, I’ve written a ton of words about beer, a ton more about food, some about other science things, a bit about mezcal, and about loving tea and being a New Mexican to my core.
I’ve, in the end, written about me. Even when I didn’t realize it.
I’ve spent a lot of years struggling with being fully me. I can’t promise you I’m there yet. But I’ve realized recently that I’m getting closer. And that it is, in fact, possible to live and be authentically all of me. (Spoiler alert: I’m still getting closer, it’s still possible, I’m still not even remotely there.)
But I can blend me into myself, and show that blend to the world.
More importantly? I’m beginning to learn that no matter what I do, all of me WILL come along for the ride. Different facets may show up more prominently, but I can’t visit a brewery without being most interested in the spent grain they produce. Two years ago, it was the “yeast wrangling” part of it. I can’t visit my niblings without asking them questions to try to get them thinking scientifically. I can’t taste a beer without contemplating what food I’d like to pair it with (or hearing my friend Theresa claim the only appropriate pairing is more of the same beer).
Trying to hide this part or that part leads to frustration, confusion, occasionally anger, and a ton of stress. It was, somehow, better and worse when I was so stressed from my graduate program, then from leaving it, that the only thing that felt sane was to hide pieces of me. Whether that was truly right or not, I don’t know. I was in a pretty rough place, mentally and emotionally, and so I’ll actually never know if I was right. All I know is that, in some ways I tried to cauterize out pieces of my old life, because it seemed like a way to protect myself. I won’t ever know if it was, at first.
But, long-term, it didn’t work. The old life came back in weird ways and places. It blorged out and occasionally exploded onto people in conversations. It would occasionally take over. Occasionally try to haul me back to that place. Because it wasn’t the “old life” that was coming out; it was the me I was trying to pretend to myself I’d left behind.
The vital thing is I now not only recognize all parts of me come along, but realize it’s true for everyone. And when we are both able and willing to bring all of ourselves out, we have so much more to bring to the experience. I wrote those two sentences two years ago, but it amazes me how correct they still are. How much more I identify with them. I am a better bartender, for example, because I can discuss astrobiology, physics, and lions with my customers, in addition to giving them amazing beer guidance and food ideas and suggestions.
Even so, “able” is a lock I don’t know how to open at will. There’s so many situations wherein we can’t allow our fullest selves to shine through. Where we are truly unable for a variety of reasons, and that’s a loss for everyone, most especially the person who must hide themselves. I suspect it’s going to be all of us, pushing on the social wheel. Pushing hard. Making ourselves uncomfortable.
And, honestly, with today some people will feel more able to be their fullest selves and many will feel less able. Less safe. I don’t know if I will be one in the less, and that scares me. I mean, I know how liberating it has been to even be able to say, “My relationship with food politics & policy is strained”, and that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. It was a lot harder to admit to my family (and now here, super publicly) that while I look it, I’m not straight.
It’s been even harder to admit to all of my readers (regular and “drive-by”) about my mental health diagnoses of major depression and ADHD. So much so that I… haven’t. Until now. But they come in and the come up. And if I’m not careful, they (especially the depression) blorg out all over. In the case of blogging, this usually happens in the form of my disappearing, but occasionally comes out in posts that are kind of downers.
But it’s me. Scientist is me. Gastronome is me. Certified Cicerone® and general beer enthusiast is me. Depressed is me. “Flighty” is me. “Hummingbird” is me. Not heterosexual is me. Obsessed with lions, still, is me. There’s probably things I don’t know that are me, and there’s things I don’t know how to share that are me.
Today, I am willing and able to share. Tomorrow, who knows? But today’s important and today I can. So, today, I will. And I will ask, what are you willing and able to share with me today that is you?