People always ask me if I blog. I wonder if they think it’s because I usually always have something to say about everything. It surprises them to find out I don’t. Granted, I did. I went from blogging about my day (hello, teenage years), to blogging about current affairs and what I had to say about the sentiments that swirled around us, to blogging about the more personal things in my life – my fears, my emotions, my heartaches. They say expressing our emotions is the first step to truly understanding ourselves better and being able to do wondrous things with the new information we now have discovered about ourselves.
And I suppose that brings me to this. I had no intention of ever blogging again. The world has moved on to shorter, crisper things – the world of micro-blogging introduced by Twitter was born to a society of individuals caught up in the never-ending race against time, and in the process, sacrificing depth and sometimes personal journeys to clarity and enlightenment.
Sometimes I wonder what this world of social media means. I suppose it started out as a way to stay connected with friends, yet many of the people we now ‘follow’ or ‘subscribe’ to, we don’t know personally. I have ‘friends’ I know purely online; some of whom I’ve never ever met in the flesh before. Can I consider our online transactions a ‘friendship’? I suppose in this digital age, we can no longer define ‘friendship’ on a personal, human, face-to-face level. We made that exception for the telephone; and now a phone conversation has become even more valued than a whatsapp conversation.
But is it ever the same? Call me old-fashioned, but I still enjoy meeting up with friends and hearing them tell their stories, complete with hand gestures, facial expressions, intonation, and the sound of good old laughter. Of course, over the years every friend has had their fair share of tears to accompany the laughter. I’ve always subscribed to the notion that confidence is the currency of friendship. Whomever we value as a friend, we dare to confide in them. Knowing full well it leaves us exposed, vulnerable – to judgement, to backlash, to sometimes inequitable or gratuitous opinions – and yet we do, confident that no matter what, they’ll still love us for who we are, want the best for us, do everything in their power to help us, and all because they want to see us happy.
“What you’ve gone through, all the sad and difficult bits, I was there when it happened, and I will never forget it. But I’m willing to overlook all that, all the pain you’ve been through, because you are happy now.” A friend once said that to me. It didn’t make sense to me. I had done so much to move on from my past, leaving my baggage behind, and yet here she was constantly reminding me of what I’d been through. It wasn’t helping in the process of my healing, my moving forward, my starting anew. She, however, was just trying to warn me that I shouldn’t just see what I wanted so desperately to be real, and ignore the reality of what’s really real. In other words, living in my own vision of happiness, but not truly reaching out to grab hold of real happiness.
I mentioned social media earlier because I always wonder if we project our true selves online. A friend of mine once told me that nobody likes to read dreary, depressing posts on Facebook. He said I was always being too negative. At that point, I felt I was already being the most positive that I could be. But I felt that my true friends who were concerned about me might want to know how I was feeling, and since I had the rare ability of being able to be honest to myself about my feelings, that they might want to know it too. I didn’t realize that this was merely a part of the process. The long and winding road towards discovering more about ourself.
I took his advice and started to post only positive things for the public audience, and posting the more negative, depressing statuses for a more intimate group of friends whom I believed were truly concerned about me. Of course, he wasn’t in this latter group. But after a while I felt a chasm grow internally. I was becoming two split personalities. The person who would struggle with her negative emotions and present only her positive side to the world, and the person who would give in to her insecurities and frustrations and just wallow in self-pity. Needless to say, I soon realized this would not do. Who am I if I am two different people to two different groups of people? I am achieving absolutely nothing but lying to myself.
I needed to blend both personas into one. Into me. Into who I am. Or – if that’s not possible because I am simply too broken and too shattered – then into who I want to be. I never realized how afraid we are of admitting that we are not the person we want to be – and how afraid we are of becoming the person we want to be. Because who are we without our stories? Without our problems? Without the drama? Who are we if we were actually to be happy? Oh heaven forbid, we want happiness so much, but we don’t know what to do with it when we have it. Oh, something’s up, I know it, I can feel it in my bones, something’s gonna happen and I will fall so hard; I better not let myself get used to feeling so happy, because that will make the pain only so much harder to bear when it happens. HUH?! It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but yet so many of us are guilty of it.
That sparked a radical change in my life. I started seeing things for what they were. In every situation, there are the facts, and then there is the truth. Sometimes we make up different truths because we don’t want to face the real ones – or don’t know how to uncover them, our own truths within us. Most often our reactions to situations is anger, which grows into contempt, rage, revenge even, but we ignore the fact that what’s really bugging us is because we were hurt. We could have been hurt because our expectations were not met. We could have been hurt because we allowed ourselves to be.
I had to take myself out of situations where I would end up feeling this way. It took a lot of effort to cut out people from my life who were a constant negative influence on me. It took a lot of acknowledging that sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be the victim, let ourselves have a good cry, blame the whole world, anyone and everyone except ourselves, rub our bruises, lick our wounds, by all means, wallow in self-pity, host a pity party – and then pick ourselves up. Because until we do that, we’ll never really heal. So often people say “You shouldn’t feel that way”, “You’ve got to be stronger than that”, “You shouldn’t be so negative about everything” – FUCK THAT. If I needed to feel a certain way, trying to resist it is going to get me nowhere. Instead I’ll just hole myself up with all the bad feelings I know I shouldn’t be having, while trying to be someone I’m not. Imagine building a future based on a shaky foundation. Certainly we’ve played Jenga before, what’s going to be the last block that crashes the entire tower?
Of course, once you’ve given yourself time to indulge in your own feelings, it’s time to take a look at the bigger picture. What’s the truth here? And oh, along the way, you’ll revisit those pity moments. The negative thoughts will creep back in. Come on, none of us are really that strong to ignore all that. If you think you are, you are fooling yourself, and you probably need a couple of counseling sessions to break you down to admit that you’ve built a wall around yourself when what you really need to do is drown in your moat and be born again.
I attended a workshop where this psychologist was saying that our brain picks up on things we want it to. It’s like we’ve already keyed in the keywords in the search engine, so naturally all the results are going to be related to whatever we input. It’s when we go through a break up and every song on the radio is a depressing love song, suddenly there are couples hugging and holding hands in the street – more than ever before – and every show on TV is some sapping Korean drama serial about unrequited love. Truth is, we can’t just let go of everything we’ve invested our emotions into and move on. We need that time to grieve. A loss love is nothing less than the death of a family member, sometimes it hurts even more. But the people around us don’t understand that, and so we look for socially-accepted means of expressing our hurt, because it’s alright to cry if it’s a sad show. We want to feel jealous about what other couples have because we need to feel the pain of losing it. Ignoring pain causes pain to grow, to evolve into other nasty things, and believe you me, it will come back to bite us in the ass.
Anyway. I tend to ramble, as you can tell. That, I’ve come to accept, is who I am and who I will always be, and every editor who has ever worked with me knows that succinct is not my middle name. I still scowl every time I am told I need to shorten something, but I’ve also come to embrace it as a life-long challenge. My views change every day, whenever I’m faced with a new situation, learn something new from somebody else, hear a friend’s story, watch an inspiring video, read a newspaper article or an opinion piece about current affairs, or just live life. I’m not coming from a place where I know everything and I’m better than everybody else, hell, no I’m just as much on this conflicting journey as everyone else I know is. Maybe this is my kind of travel blog. My experiences on this road called life. I’ve just only realized that I am not alone on this journey, and that everyone could use a spoonful of truth sometimes. Not sugar, not positivity, not advice, not help; no call-to-action here – and no conclusions. Just truth. Because hopefully, the truth will set us all free.