When I began my writing career in the early ’80s, personal computers were just starting to enter the workplace. They were so slow, I’d switch on the box then head down to get my coffee. When I returned 10 minutes later, if I was lucky, the cursor was blinking lazily at the DOS prompt.
Why do I mention such ancient knowledge? Because it puts the idea of WYSIWYG into context for you younglings. As a writer, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) was just this side of a miracle. Before WYSIWYG programs like WordPerfect, we had to imbed code into our text to apply formatting, such as underlines, bold, superscript, etc. It was like writing in HTML all the time. You had no idea what your text looked like until you printed it out. We killed a LOT of trees back then just trying to get titles centered!
Anyway, during the nine months that have passed since I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, I’ve thought a lot about WYSIWYG and how it applies to life in general. As things have gotten more difficult or time-consuming for me, I started to realize how much energy I was wasting just to “keep up appearances”. I worried about whether my coworkers considered me relevant. I fretted about keeping my gray roots colored. I kept up “friendships” with people who continually sucked the energy right out of me. I allowed myself to be cut off and boxed in just to keep the peace. Sound familiar?
It’s taken me awhile, but I realize I don’t have time for that kind of crap anymore. I have a focus … a mission. And if I’m going to succeed, I need every ounce of energy I can muster. So, I am going WYSIWYG. And what, you ask, does that look like?
- My hair is a lovely shade of silver gray now. I keep it short and spikey — sassy like the real me. And people mistake me for much older than I am. But I feel a lot better than I ever did when I stressed out about trying to “hide” my gray roots.
- I’ve let my “friendsucks” go by the wayside. I’m pleasant and gracious, but I don’t seek them out or engage them. And you know what? They don’t even notice I’m missing.
- At work, I don’t worry about how I am perceived. I know I have as much to teach my younger coworkers as they have to teach me — maybe even a little more. I’ve been through the wars, I’ve seen battles won and lost. And I understand human nature with an intimacy that only comes from living 50 years. Don’t count me out, kids!
- That box? It’s busted. I speak my mind. I push back. I make a ruckus when it’s called for — while the welcome mat is always out, the doormat is gone.
- I am grateful, everyday. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to start the day with a sense of gratitude — it permeates everything, and it makes the setbacks much easier to accept. It’s all part of the long, bumpy, winding road that is now my life’s journey.
WYSIWYG is my term. There are much cooler names for it now… living your truth (LYT), being transparent, keeping it real…that kind of stuff. But it all really comes down to dropping the bullshit and just being who you are. Have you gone WYSIWYG in your life? What have you learned? I shared my story — I’d love to hear yours.