A Perfect Illusion

Correct me if I’m wrong, but almost everyone seems to suffer from some form of anxiety or stress these days. In fact there seems to be an epidemic of mental illness and suffering.

Why is this? Yes there’s the usual stresses; economic stress, overworking, unemployment, personal or family tragedies. These are not new issues. But theres something different now. There have been a few extra things added to the mix. Social anxiety isn’t just affected by your personal interactions. It can also be dictated by your online interactions. The strive for perfection has been upgraded. The standards have become higher and more unrealistic.  It is a thousand times harder to disconnect and live in the moment. Everything you need is on your phone. Stop using your phone for a few days, and somebody will probably file a missing persons report. Deactivating your social media will be seen as a serious sign of distress, and often is. The masters is the new bachelors degree. Want to work a menial job? Hope you have three years experience and a completely irrelevant PHD.

Everyone looks so polished and perfect. Social status is a legitimate character reference. Want to work for us? You must have x amount of followers on Facebook. MADNESS. Your ability to influence people or carry out work effectively is judged by how active and popular you are on social media. Surely everyone knows that ones image on social media is entirely controlled and carefully constructed in an unrealistic way, simply to garner positive attention? Have you ever sat beside someone as they compose a Facebook status, wracked with anxiety and desperation?  Have you ever been on a night out in your local, and everywhere you look there are people taking millions of selfies in a desperate bid to look like they are having fun, instead of actually having fun?

Is anything sacred anymore? Wouldn’t it be nice to run into someone you hadn’t seen in a while and actually be surprised by their new haircut or job or pregnancy? Because the “obligatory” pictures or status hadn’t been posted to inform everyone of this news?

I may sound old and bitter, but I am in fact 24, which puts me bang in the middle of the current young adult generation, who are mainly responsible for all of this. And I was a part of it for a good while. Until I became more and more disheartened with what the world was turning into.

Is there such thing as empathy anymore? People don’t seem to reach out as much. You can have 700 friends on social media and yet feel incredibly alone. Most of what you will see is other people showing off their own lives. Where is the connectivity that we claim is such a vital part of social media? Mark Zuckerberg claims that every country has the right to connectivity, and he is right, but I sincerely doubt that his intentions were entirely humanitarian.

Snapchat started off as a fun way of communicating, but I’m sure we all have had those people in our feeds who like to document their entire day, mundanities and all, for the world to see, in the style of a pseudo celebrity. I’m not trying to offend individuals. I’m simply trying to open peoples eyes to the fact that technology and social media have completely taken over our lives.

How many times have you been at a concert only to look around and see everyones phones in the air, filming? They are not in the moment, watching the concert with their eyes. They are watching it through the lenses of their phones, making sure that everyone at home knows exactly how much fun they are having. These days, “the fear of missing out”, affectionately referred to as “FOMO”, can actually be considered a real source of stress and sadness. You are not seeing an honest view of others lives. It is like a “best bits” montage.

However, anyone who has a twitter, or indeed a Facebook will know that people will openly talk about their mental issues as long as they can do it in a way that is amusing and witty. Or allows them to put down others, while still appearing to be a victim.

I think its brilliant that people have more of an understanding or their own mental health, and are more honest about the issues they face, but I can’t help get this sinking feeling that this is being used and abused as an excuse for all kinds of negative behaviour. If you have a message to spread and wish to inspire or uplift others, using your own personal experience, go ahead, but this doesn’t seem to be the case a lot of the time. Many people seem to use their anxiety as a crutch, or to lash out at others or compose long-winded essays which portray them as a victim but condemn others. This can be the case with many social media “activists”. Surely attacking others and pointing the finger is not an effective way to get your point across? If you really do strive for understanding, you must have empathy and a well-rounded perspective, and be willing to understand both sides and attempt to bridge the gap, instead of further instigating the divide. But that’s just my opinion. The problem is that everyone has the public platform to say and do as they please. You don’t have to earn it. Online, we can all be Gandhi.

When your message becomes more about how others see you, and boosting your personal image, it is time to step away from the cause. Trust me. That may sound harsh, but those who crave attention the most, are often those who can’t handle the criticism that you will inevitably open yourself up to. This is why it is important to do these things with a real passion in your heart. The human ego is a fragile thing.

There are anonymous sites in which people you know can ask you questions. Some people naively think people will use the site to reveal their secret crush. And I’m sure they often do. But what about the risk of bullying? Why is it that those who seek public approval and validation the most, are the ones who are the most vulnerable to criticism? I am deeply worried for a lot of people, because of this. Why let others define you?? They don’t know the real you.

We can worry about people or wonder how they are, but how many of us actually take a chance and reach out? We let our own anxiety and fear of what others will think, get in the way of what is really important. Trust your gut and hold onto your integrity. You owe it to yourself.

I’m scared. Terrified. I don’t want to lose people I love to this crazy world we live in. Life is hard enough! All these beautiful, beautiful souls stuck in this invisible prison.

I hope that anyone who is reading this and feels affected, knows that this comes from a place of love and understanding. My aim is not to make anyone feel about bad themselves, but to realise that you are special, no matter how high you rank on the social ladder, or how insignificant you feel. It’s funny how easy it would be for me to make it appear as though my life is perfect. Meanwhile I sit at home, agonising over jobs, over not being skilled enough and feeling as though everything is going wrong. The more society progresses, the more we can feel left behind. It’s hard to keep up.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever kind of day you’re having, I hope you can take some time out of your day to be in the moment, to go for a nice walk and look around you. Or to spend time with a loved one. We often think we don’t have time to do this. But the secret is, we can make the time, and it will make all the difference to your day. Sometimes we need to just take a step back and breathe and re-evaluate our purpose. And I’m not talking this big life purpose. Just being. I often suffer from dissociation and existential crisis and I find reconnecting to the universe is the best way to lift me out of this.

I’m sending you all love. As terribly cliche and cheesy as this sounds, the more you learn to love yourself, the less you will care what others think. I used to roll my eyes at affirmations and when people told me to look inward or spend time with nature, but it worked for me. Stop fighting for affection and love and acceptance, and find it within yourself. You deserve it and you are worthy.

Tis the Season to be Jolly……..

It’s that festive time of year again. The time of year that fills people like me with dread. Many people will frown upon my disdain of these kind of occasions or think that I am mean-spirited or a “Grinch”, but that’s not really the case.  I love giving gifts and catching up with people. But sometimes Christmas and the New Year can be very difficult. These are times when you are expected to feel joyous and content. It can seem unnatural. When you don’t feel that way it almost makes your sadness magnified because it is in stark contrast to how you are expected to feel and behave. Maybe I am just a difficult person. I don’t like organised fun or anything that feels contrived or forced. I don’t enjoy the expectation that comes with it or anything that feels like a pretence. Perhaps because of that old façade of perfection and “What will the neighbours think?” mentality that I have always hated. It was such a strong theme growing up in a small town. That said, anything showy or overly coordinated makes me uncomfortable. I don’t enjoy songs that come with dance routines or any kind of forced group interactions such as icebreakers. I’m more of a freestyle kind of person.

Christmas and New Years in particular can often bother me because of the massive unrealistic expectations that are built up over such a long period of time. The “Christmas Spirit” is not always something that you are going to feel. People are often disappointed when they don’t “get into the spirit”. Christmas in particular is very commercial and over the top. While I love giving gifts and the food and the lights and the atmosphere, in reality, being stuck at home with your family can be very boring and can be a time when lots of arguments arise. It’s not always ideal. And growing up I wasn’t spoiled by any means, so I guess I never expected as much as other kids. To many people their “happiness” is a direct result of the gifts they receive. You will see posts on social media of people flaunting their new expensive gifts. Usually an expensive brand and whatever is the current trend. What is more important to me is the meaning behind things. And the atmosphere. All I would really like is to have a peaceful time, which often does not happen. I find it funny sometimes how a lot of people will only admit the reality of how boring their Christmas was when you tell them about yours. Everything is for show. What about the real meaning of Christmas? Of celebrating life and love and giving and sacrifice? I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual. To have such an extended celebratory holiday that is all about materialism and consumerism seems a bit daft to me. All the glitter and parties and run ins with people from the past who will ask you “So, what are you doing with your life these days”, though really they have no interest.

Why cant we show love and be thoughtful towards people all year round? I feel that there’s a reason that Christmas is more magical for children.

Everything is more magical for children. Children know how to use their imagination and spirits to make things wonderful. We have become accustomed to relying on physical and material things. There is pressure to project an image of happiness that sometimes we just don’t feel. And that is ok. Those of us who don’t come from particularly close families know the struggle of the harsh reality that sometimes Christmas is the shittiest day of the year. And that’s perfectly fine. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling irritated. Frankly one day is enough. Things don’t have to be perfect. I guess I found Christmas particularly underwhelming this year because I have gone through a lot of change. I have distanced myself from a lot of people in my life and taken time to focus on myself. I’ve had some painful realisations and losses, as I’m sure we all have. And I did feel that one or two special people were missing from my life. Occasions like Christmas, New Years and Valentines Day can be hard when you feel like your life is lacking love. I wish that people took more time to reach out to each other and show some love. Platonic or otherwise. Kind gestures are important. You have to show people that you care. I feel that these days, with the avid use of social media, people have become more self-absorbed. Social media is no longer used to contact people or stay in touch. It is used as a form of self-promotion and exhibitionism. You don’t see the same level of connection and support these days, I feel. It feels like so many only log on to show off their own lives, rather than to connect with others. I feel that if I reconnected with social media, it would not make much difference it my life. The constant reminder that everyone is just a message away and yet nobody reached out would only cause more loneliness I feel. Solidarity is a beautiful thing to see, and I’m not saying that I do not see beautiful moments of this. I just wish there was more and that I felt more genuine love and empathy from people, and not just when it serves their public image. There is something awfully lonely about today’s world.

I’d really just like to take this moment to send out love to those who are feeling down and disheartened. Just know that there is someone watching over you, and that the universe has your back, even when you feel most alone. It’s ok to be sensitive and to feel things deeply. It doesn’t make you a moody person. You can use this sensitivity is a wonderful way if you put your mind to it. I always find that no matter how alone I feel or how much of an alien I think I am, once I speak up about an issue there are always people who feel the same way, however strange it seems.

The New Year can force you to look back on your life and the past year. And for a lot of us, that is painful. But you must remember that the most painful times offer the most growth and change. Your day is coming and your are getting closer with each disappointment, provided yo take the time to learn from them and reflect. Sometimes we have to learn very hard lessons. We have to let go of people who do not facilitate our growth. We have to say goodbye to things that we wanted, but that were not meant for us.

A lot can happen in a year. We might think we are not where we were meant to be and that everything has gone wrong. But you have to realise that it was important to go through all those things. Every hardship contains a valuable lesson and contributes to our wisdom. You may feel that others are passing you out in life, but maybe they have not learned the lessons that you have learned. Until you learn these lessons, you will continue to fall, and nothing is sustainable. When you have experiences heartbreak and pain you become more selective about who, and what, you allow in your life. And this process is painful and difficult but I believe it is the path to the true self and to true happiness.

If you are dreading the New Year or its bringing up a lot of emotions, you are not the only one. And life is a continuous journey of change. There is no time limit or right time to start. You have the power to make changes to your life at any time and you don’t have to hold yourself to any unrealistic standards. My goals for the next year, and every year, every day are simply to be true to myself, to be kind to others and to continue to grow and learn in whatever way I can. I want to start strengthening my mind with daily affirmations, to keep dreaming and envisioning goals until I have the confidence to believe in them and manifest them, and to hold on to the new positive habits I have developed through the hardships I experienced. My biggest lesson I have learned is to stop people pleasing and carrying the emotions of others. Surprisingly it has made me calmer and nicer. I feel less angry at the world when I pursue my own ideals, regardless of what the crowd does or what is expected of me. And it may cause conflict and alienate me at times but it is what truly makes me happy. What makes you happy? Who makes you happy? Try to keep that in mind.

If you are reading this and identifying with this, then do not worry because it means that you are going through a similar phase of growth. No is not the time to doubt yourself or give up. Now is a time for connecting with yourself and others like you and sending some love out into the world. We all have a special purpose here on earth and figuring out what it is and following that path is what will make you truly happy. Fuck expectations.! Fuck judgments! Fuck behaving in a socially acceptable manner! Fuck this live/work/die thing/ How about live/love/learn/give.

Stay Golden ❤ ❤

 

Obsession and Addiction…

We’ve tricked our minds into believing

Love and happiness

are fiction

And filled the empty spaces

With obsession and addiction

*above is a small extract from some of the new poetry I’ve been writing. I usually keep this on a separate page  (beautifulnightmaresimpossibledreams.wordpress.com) but there’s no harm in mixing things up a bit.

picture also by me. VERY ROUGH version of what I’m trying to achieve. Hopefully when I get actual photoshop and learn how to do things properly when I start my course is January, I can make better cleaner edits. Cannot wait to see the progress. And with every step I take and fear I face towards a better future, I know that I am not alone. And I would love to hear other people’s stories and see their journeys. Other people are the biggest source of inspiration and encouragement you will find and it’s what truly gives me faith. I’m only at the start of my journey and still have no idea what I’m doing. WINGING IT. So any suggestions/feedback/discourse would be greatly appreciated. ⭐⭐⭐