Image Crafting Vs Honesty in an Era of Inauthenticity

"Oh hey, Chris.  How's the school year going so far?"

This is the question I get asked by acquaintances who don't know my story, yet.

They aren't meaning to bring up a sore subject. They know I am a was a teacher, and it's casual small talk.

In case you don't know, I recently lost my job. This is nothing new, as it's happened five times in eight years. I'm used to being "laid off," or whatever it is they consider it, when they don't extend the contracts of temporary employees.

Before this last time, I was merely the victim of circumstance. Jobs had to be cut to make budget, and I was always low man on the totem pole.

He got pwned 
But this last time, I'd had enough. I re-interviewed for the job I already had, and was passed over, again, by a nobody.  And I don't mean nobody in the derogatory sense; I'm sure this person is a somebody, but unknown to the district before the interview. Not like me. I was a known commodity.  A commodity, that apparently wasn't paying dividends.

And the passive aggressive anger of eight years of being bypassed and used by a district that moved me around like a pawn that it intended to sacrifice, led me to throw-up verbally on my Facebook page.

It was unprofessional and childish and honest. And I paid the price for it. The district found out, and nearly blacklisted me for my "outburst." I now have to walk on egg-shells around the people who didn't hire me, if I want to substitute teach in the district. I need to substitute to make ends meet and this is my only district that knows who I am. I am dependent on the very hand that struck me down.  

And it is so f---ing degrading to my soul. These were my co-workers, my equals.  We collaborated on projects, shared materials, learned from each other, and now, I'm on the outside. And I've never felt so humiliated in all my life.

Those words are hard to write. It's hard to admit that I have feelings. That I feel like a failure. That I'm angry. I'm 35- years-old. I shouldn't be unemployed, shouldn't be an outsider, shouldn't still be looking for what I haven't found yet.

Five years ago, I would've never said a word. I would've acted like it was all okay. I think that's why I was put on blood pressure medicine, back then. I pretended that everything was okay. That I'm okay with being pissed on, and I became more and more acidic internally.


There's a term called image crafting. Where people use social media to create a carefully crafted version of themselves that is more appealing than what they really are.  You know these people...

*Their marriages are perfect, and their sex lives are documented by Eastern healing gurus.
They look like Janice, the
guitarist Muppet. 
*Their house is amazing and spotless even with their super creepy hairband-like Afghan Hound dog.
*Somehow they look 45% better in every photo then you've ever seen them in real life.
*Their children are better at everything, literally everything, than your own (or you, for that matter).
*They just ran the Everest 10K with the help of a sherpa.
*They are happier, in every post, than Ellen Degeneres in a celebrity dance off.
A salad should be at least 90% green.  That's my rule.  
*Their garden picked coriander, kale, blackcurrant, and onion compote "dinner" pics almost look edible.
*They're always posting from unique spots like Guantanamo Bay, Fallujah, or Pyongyang...and it looks amazing. Clearly they are LIVING LIFE!
*It was partially because of their job, that those American doctors survived ebola.

I've been guilty of it. We all have.

It's hard not to brag about feeding kale intravenously to Nepalese ebola patients right after finishing the K2-5K.  Believe me, it's hard not posting a picture of me doing this in this blog.

Except that I'm not doing anything remotely epic. I'm eating a lot of Doritos and playing hours of Clash-of-Clans on my iPad.  Those pictures aren't good for my image.  Neither are posts with the hashtags #fightingoffdepression or #prayforme.

Somehow, we've turned honesty into a bad word. We've turned straightforwardness into a negative work-force quality. We don't like hearing bad news from people we know, but it's the first thing we look for in the news, so we can judge the rich and famous. #howdareyouRayRice.

And it's phony as hell. And I'm not playing that game anymore.

I'm too damn old to be a fake.  I'm too damn old to care about my image anymore. I'm going to write honestly about the crap and the kudos. I have a fantastic wife, and good friends, an average home with an annoying dog, and I love my kids, even if they don't appear to be the next Tiger Woods of anything yet. And my professional life sucks. I don't know if I'll ever get out of debt.

So you take the good with the bad. So I'm done being a teacher, and it hurts to talk about.

But God's got something else for me.  It just currently isn't paying the bills or giving me much comfort. And if you aren't comfortable reading about it, or talking to me about it, then we probably weren't friends in the first place.

And now that I got that off my chest. I'm ready to be funny again...just right after I do this last Clash of Clans raid.


  1. I'm with you on the "let it all hang out" plan! Do it Chris! I love unfiltered honesty. I can share though, my baby now rolls over so I'm quite certain she's the smartest human to ever be on the planet. Haha.

    I'm certain it probably offers no peace to the issue, but hang in there boss. You will find what you're supposed to do professionally and when you do, you'll wonder why you ever put up with this crap.

  2. Hey congrats on the baby roll, she is well over the bell curve.

    I'll be fine. I always am.

  3. Thanks for being real. So few people are.

  4. Praying for you and your family--there has to be something better out there for you. (Holden Caulfield would be proud:) ).

  5. Chris, I have always enjoyed your blogs precisely because of your honest discussion of whatever topic they covered. Unfortunately, honesty is a trait no longer esteemed by this culture to any great extent. So it, in fact, can make life harder in certain respects. However, what kills a life completely, even while you're still walking about, is not doing what you know to be right for you. That matters most of all. In doesn't necessarily ensure easy, non-problematic change, but it does indeed promise that you get truly to live before you die. If you'll hold the course, it works out, not because the cosmos is about reward or punishment, but because it is about being integral with yourself, and only from integrity comes real joy and true happiness. My words come from my experience of having finally stopped doing anything that was not integral for me. It wasn't easy, but I have no regrets. Now approaching the old end of my life, I wouldn't have done it any other way. Here's where you get to show yourself what you're made of. There is no real ease in life until we know that. Hang in. It will finally work its way out.

    1. The cosmos have definitely lead me to this path. I'm angry, but I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing...I think.

      Thanks for reading, and for the advice.

  6. I am the same way. "Let's pretend it's all okay and put on a smiley face so I don't lose my job/friendship/marriage/whatever."
    And now I have anxiety because of it, so I'm trying to be more open and less of an image crafter, to borrow your phrase. Keep up the honesty. Hopefully, something better will come of it.