Written by: Lisa Listwa
Blogger at: The Meaning of Me



Not too long ago, a friend told me I was brave.

I think the word she said was brave… she admired my chutzpah in posting my whole and actual weight in a group setting focused on lessening our overall gravitational pull.

The compliment did not set well with me. What she couldn’t have known is that mere seconds before I saw her message, I clicked off my own desperate and panicked message to the group moderator asking him to please and immediately pull the image of my whole and actual weight. Here, use this partial one instead, I asked. Because no one wants to know I don’t want anyone to know what I really weigh.

And then I started to think about it… Why is it that I am so embarrassed to put my real weight out there? Is it because someone might think I’m overweight? Here’s a newsflash: I am. Is it because I’m somehow keeping it a secret? Like no one can tell that just by looking? Well, hey, this is the Internet after all…as far as you’re concerned; I look however I tell you I look.

But I can’t play that game. I’m a terrible liar – always have been. As my Mother used to say, lying is a dangerous game and far too complicated because you always have to remember which version of the lie you told to whom and make sure you tell it again. That’s just way too hard. I really do not have a desire to lie or embellish or otherwise falsify anything about me. But for some reason I sometimes find it difficult to step up and own who I really am.

And that admission is what really got me thinking…it’s not just about weight. The question might be about weight or health or what job I do or don’t have right now. When I thought back over different inquiries and circumstances, I realized just how often I wasn’t able to confidently give a straight answer. I realized I was afraid of being judged.

Let’s talk poetry for a second – Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Now here’s a woman who fought to come to terms with who she really was and how much that persona did not fit society’s idea of who she was expected to be. See? The whole societal image vs. real image debate? Nothing new.

Dickinson preferred to be herself. And that Self was quiet, introverted, highly emotional, not terribly interested in society’s expectations of her or the proscribed path her life should take. She (and her poetry) was unorthodox; she was different. By all popular standards, she was nobody.

She talks about this in one of her best-known poems –

I’m nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there’s a pair of us–don’t tell!

They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!

How public, like a frog

To tell your name the livelong day

To an admiring bog!

We could talk for a very long time about what she has to say here, but let’s cut right to the chase. Dickinson clearly delights in her “nobody” status. You see, to be “somebody” means to conform to societal expectations, to be correct and accepted by the popular masses – and that is anything but what Dickinson desired. She thrived on her uniqueness, on the things that made her different and special and perhaps misunderstood. She accepted her Real.

And so should we all. The difference between me and Emily Dickinson? Well, she seems to have accepted herself completely, embraced the person she actually was in her most real and honest moments, not the person she – or anyone else – believed she “should” be.

That’s a dangerous word, isn’t it? Should…

I should be thinner…

I should have more money…

I should be applying for certain kinds of jobs…

I should have stayed at the job I hated because the pay was decent…

I should be less irritable with my child…

I should a clean house and clean laundry…

I should be nicer to my spouse…

Another friend tells me often that there are no “shoulds” in life. She’s right. There is only reality. Focusing on what we “should” be or do only emphasizes what we are not; it suggests that whatever we are is somehow not good enough.
So I guess on that day when my friend told me I was brave, I decided that it was time to actually be brave. It was time to step up on the stage, speak the truth, and accept who and where I am right now in life. Because it is good enough.

I am cruising rapidly into middle-age. I am indeed overweight. I am a woman who loves good food (and perhaps not-so-good-food) and I enjoy sharing it with family and friends. I enjoy Margaritas and a good glass of Scotch every now and then. I am a woman who does not like to exercise. I am a person who lives with managing chronic pain. I am a good mother/wife/daughter/sister/friend. I am a person who can be quite irritable. I am funny. I am kinder and more sensitive than I will ever let you know. And I am a woman who would rather do pretty much anything than clean my house.

Would I like to change some of those things? Sure. But it’s time to stop living in the future, waiting to buy a cool pair of jeans because I’m embarrassed to buy that size. Self-improvement in any form is a wonderful thing. But living solely for the day when I’ll be something better or different? That is a waste of time and I don’t have time to waste.

This is me. This is my reality.



Author Image 2 - Lisa A. ListwaAuthor Bio – Lisa A. Listwa

Lisa is a wife, mother, and self-employed recovering high school English teacher. She works as a freelance writer, editor, and tutor.
Lisa lives with her husband, her daughter, and three Rotten Cats. She spends her time stacking the pile of books to read ever higher, wondering if she should have been a chef, and trying to figure out where she last left her damn cell phone.
Lisa writes about life and all its fascinations and banalities at her blog, the The Meaning of Me. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

SM links:
The Meaning of Me – http://www.themeaningofme.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Meaning-of-Me/1549497105318801
Twitter – https://twitter.com/LisaMeaningofMe

33 thoughts on “#BeReal – LISA LISTWA

  1. The Emily Dickinson poem and its “nobody” reminded me of this on seeing Nobody from Lewis Carroll:
    “i see nobody on the road,” said Alice.
    :I only wish I had such eyes,” the King remarked in a fretful tone. “To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance too! Why, it’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light.”

    Yes, it is such a special thing to get to see such Nobodys, by any light, and Real people too when they are not as they “should” be, but as they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is really challenging, because I am constantly trying to become a better version of myself. I think your determination to accept yourself as you are, rightnow, is awesome, and GOOD FOR YOU. I really, really like this post, even though I found it tough to take on board, just because it strikes a few nerves for me 🙂

    Thanks for writing it, Lisa, and thanks Hasty for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: #BeReal – LISA LISTWA | hastywords | The Meaning of Me

    • It is, Liv. And no matter what happened in our past or what we hope for in the future, none of that is as valuable as right now. Now is the result of all the past and now is what will set us on course for the future. If we don’t embrace now, I think we probably end up a whole lot more messed up in the end. 😀


  4. This is fantastic I love the real honest truth as you see and believe it. I wrote something recently about the lies we tell ourselves and it felt very freeing. I believe that your Mom was very wise woman like my own was. I was always taught to tell the truth and when I made a poor choice and didn’t the guilt was crushing. Thank you for this beautiful post I really enjoyed reading it today. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Lisa; thanks for such an honest post. Louise Hey likes to say that should and shouldn’t are two of the most dangerous words in the english language. to me self improvement isn’t about that perfect someone some day in the future but taking small steps each day. I used to weigh over 500 pounds. had gastric surgery changed my diet made better food choices exercised more and am now in really good shape. am i going to run a marathon? no, i just manage riding my bike that doesn’t go anywhere or walking on the treadmill. its hard to exercise when you have chronic pain. shame more people don’t have access to pools or water treadmills. its good that you accept yourself. there are people who look beautiful to the rest of the world who still aren’t happy with who they are. just be the best person you can be each day. that’s all any of us can do. and most of the time we come up short. smart money is on knowing tomorrow can be better. take care, max

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maxwell, thanks for reading. And my apologies for not answering this when you posted.
      You’re so right about “should” and “shouldn’t” and a dear friend reminds me of that when I slip into it.
      Thanks for sharing your weight loss journey with us here – that’s amazing and you have such a smart attitude. I understand the exercise/chronic pain conundrum – it IS hard!
      I am a big proponent of the idea of self-improvement as an ongoing journey. We are who we are today, for better or worse, but we can always choose to strive for more and better tomorrow. Any progress is progress.
      I hope that you are well and happy all this time later!


  6. I enjoy the way you laid out your story, it flowed well. I definitely feel like I know you better now, your writing voice is refreshing and honest. Thank you for sharing!
    Xo. Abbie

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: Meet OTV’s Author In Residence: Lisa A. Listwa – Open Thought Vortex

  8. Pingback: Meet OTV's Author In Residence: Lisa A. Listwa - Open Thought Vortex

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