“Turtle” is my nickname from high school. It was given to me by my best friend after I nicknamed her “Rat”. I gave her the name because I could just picture her with whiskers nibbling on a piece of cheese. She just had that kind of cute little face. In retrospect, I think “Mouse” would have been more appropriate. In retaliation for the nickname “Rat” she named me “Turtle” and said it was because of my green jacket I always wore at the time and my green backpack. She did very well with her nickname for me and because it was all so true, it stuck. To this day she and many others I went to high school went still refer to me as “Turtle”. I don’t mind. I consider it a term of endearment I guess. In order for you to call me “Turtle” and know what the reference means it requires having known me for at lease 15 years.
“Turtle” has been an appropriate nickname for me in more than just color. I no longer wear green very often. I still walk slow a lot of the time. I hate to rush into things. Do you remember the story of the Tortoise and the hare? I was, am, and will always be the tortoise. It takes me forever to get to the finish line but when I do it is always worth it and full of enriching experiences. This is definitely the upside to my turtle-like personality. However, there is also a down side. It comes in the form of my hard shell, protective, covering that I slink into for various reasons. Sometimes, it’s when things get too tough. Other times it’s when I just don’t want to deal with life. Most of the time it’s when I don’t want others to see me. The real me that I often hide in this blog.
Lately, I have not shared any of my posts on Facebook. I have wanted to but then I always stop myself and think “that is way too personal to share on Facebook”. Now, my Facebook page is not filled with a bunch of strangers or people I don’t know that well. My Facebook friends are family members, close friends, acquaintances, former co-workers, and people I went to various levels of school with. They all know me in some capacity that is familiar. Yet, I don’t want to share my most intimate thoughts and feelings with them. I’d much rather share them with people I’ve never met before. As well as people think they know me, they do not. They only know what I have allowed them to see of me. There are many more parts of me that would surely shock and surprise them. When I published my first post about being lost and found on Facebook many people were surprised at the honesty that was put into it. They had no idea that I was ultimately so frustrated and confused about the situation I was in. To many of them, I had it together and it was surprising to see I don’t.
Here lies the heart of the matter. I’d much rather endure the scrutiny or judgement from perfect strangers than those I know personally. I don’t want to be dissected by my friends and family. After all, aren’t those who know you best always your biggest critics? I don’t want to create distance between those I love and care about because of my feelings. Yet, this makes me feel like I’m being fake to them. Am I pretending to be something I am not just to impress them or make them feel better? Or make myself feel better? Perhaps, I am. After all my turtle shell is my go to place. It is my ultimate defense mechanism. I don’t want you to see who I really am so I just slink away into my tough outer shell.
I do not want to live the rest of my life like this. I don’t want to constantly hide when my emotions are heightened. One day, I want to put “me” out there for everyone to see and sort through the acceptance or rejections of those I care about. I am afraid of the, metaphorically speaking, nudity that this process places me in. However, it is my greatest challenge that I hope to accept one day.