One of my good friends recently asked why I hadn't written any blog posts in a while. I admitted that even though I really enjoy writing in this manner, I just hadn't had the time. "I guess I've felt too busy with life," I said, "I haven't had much breathing room."
"So why don't you write exactly that?" she asked.
Somehow the question startled me. What I had revealed in my simple sharing was not something profound or insightful. It was just a real and honest answer about how I'd been feeling lately. But her question made me wonder: Why not write about something so real and honest?
Sometimes I trick myself into believing that my every blog post has to be some lofty sharing resulting in all sorts of "aha" moments. It doesn't make my posts less authentic, but it does keep me from writing about other topics that I feel aren't as enticing or interesting. Which makes me wonder if I do the same with myself. Do I share only the parts of me that I feel are exciting and interesting? With whom do I share my simple, real, and honest self?
I suppose that's what made my friend's question so startling. I wasn't planning on sharing my simple self. Her question was the impetus that made me ask, Why not? Why not share what's simple?
My life might look exciting to people from the outside. If you look me up on the internet I bet you'll find my various social media accounts; my photo and bio on a website or two; and a number of videos that myself or other organizations have produced. I've been asked to speak for different conferences and with groups of all ages; I have been offered some intriguing job positions; and I have been invited to write reflections on a variety of topics for some wonderful Catholic organizations. But the internet cannot show you who is underneath all of that.
Underneath the media spotlights and before all the labels - Sister, Catholic, Person of Color - I will always simply be Desiré.
I still get overwhelmed. I still wake up sometimes and say to myself, "I wish all of it would just stop." I get tired of the phone and the computer and the work. I get tired of trying and tired of doing. I get tired. I am human.
There are days you'll see me smile and say, "Now there's a woman who loves life." And you would be correct. I do love my life. I love this life. But loving this life doesn't mean I'll always be smiling. It doesn't mean I'll never get tired. I know I will keep going. I will keep working for justice and praying for peace. I will keep learning and unlearning so that I can be better and love better. I will keep getting out of bed, even when it takes me longer than I'd like it to some days. I will keep loving this life, and I will keep giving love in whatever way I can.
But I will still be me. I will still be human and simple and real. I will still have great days and hard days. I will still wish I'd said, "No" to something I just agreed to do while attempting to keep my eyes open on yet another Zoom call.
I may be a smiling Black Catholic Felician Sister with over 4,000 followers on Instagram, but I am still simply human me. There will still be plenty of times I struggle to stop and remind myself: Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Just breathe.
We all have permission to be human, to be in love with life and to be worn out by it at the same time. That's why we all need reminders to breathe. Maybe this is your reminder, too.
Sister Desiré Anne-Marie Findlay