I have a confession.
I stopped following a lot of you on facebook.
Some of you may have guessed as much, some not. What most of you will not realize is that it’s not because you are boring or because you don’t have this, that, or the other in life. Quite the contrary.
I have unfollowed you for what you DO have. If you were to call me jealous, I would agree with you emphatically. I AM jealous. I fully recognize it; unfollowing you is how I keep my sanity, or at the very least from turning into the Hulk. Even if you are privy to my past, I’m still not sure you would understand why I need to filter what constantly ticks by on my timeline.
A wise girl once told me that facebook is just a computerized trophy case to house everyone’s best moments. Soon after, a viral video emerged that addressed that very sentiment. I began to connect these ideas with my own views of social media, coupled with lessons I continue to learn as the years go by, and have come up with this theory:
Everyone is just trying to get by.
Seriously. No one I know has life figured out, or at least not completely. Even the golden children who the universe seems to bless at every turn sometimes slip and let out a status which reminds us how human we all are.
We are all just trying to get by.
I was an extremely sensitive child. I cried, a LOT. It wasn’t until I was out of school that I found out my teachers suggested I be held back in Kindergarten because they felt I wasn’t “emotionally ready.” My parents chose not to heed the advice; I thrived in all outward academic appearances but was, and still am, an extreme perfectionist. To me, earning a B on an exam was an absolute tragic failure, dooming me to a life of mediocrity. The thing was, all of these feelings were self-driven.
Try as I might, I’ve never been one to be able to control my emotions well. Stiff upper lip was a hurdle I was, and still am to some extent, unable to leap over. My Mom used to say, “No one wants to be friends with someone who is down all the time.” At the time, it struck me as harsh, and stayed with me as a negative blow for years… until I came to realize the truth of it. Unfortunately, as someone who suffers with severe depression & PTSD, it is a daily obstacle.
I have always tried my best to be honest with people. I know that I’ve put out my fair share of depressing status updates, tweets, and posts on social media. Still, I have become anxious, honestly sometimes terrified, that I am going to say or do something wrong. I have greatly withdrawn from social interaction. That said, I never knew how good of an actor I have been able to be until a fellow performing colleague said that he never knew the depth of my personal suffering.
The most detrimental attribute of a big, easy smile is its astounding ability to mask the truth.
Yes, good things do happen, and when they do, you best believe I grab on with both hands and milk these times for all they are worth. My latest trip was a much needed kick in the pants. I made myself get out of bed, get packed, and hit the road for times with friends. Was I scared? Shitless. Of friends? Yes. You see, that social fear and anxiety never seems to go away, regardless of relationships.
I will say one thing. I will never ‘unfriend’ you. Ok, never is a strong sentiment. If you become some sort of psycho sadistic maniac, I will probably disassociate with you. Note how I still say probably! If you did kill someone, I would more than likely try to rationalize it away rather than be rid of you. If you know me, you know that I run at a ridiculously high level of belief in people, though frankly I should know better!
When I post pictures at an awards show or a premiere, know that those are my version of a baby’s first steps or field day at school. For so many of you, your everyday reality is my dream. The 10 minute silence you wish for is often my 24 hour prison. (There’s a reason solitary confinement is the worst place in prison.) I am so glad that I learned how to fall in love with fictional characters at an early age as they are my reluctant, but steadfast, companions now.
When I repost old pictures of my adventures in London, it’s most likely as a fight or flight response to a steady stream of the new babies, weddings, and engagements filling my feed increasingly by the day. When life has left you behind, you have to find a way to remember the good and fight hard to make yourself strive to find it again.
If you’ve made it this far, I only ask one thing: Please remember that we are all in this together. We all have our good days and bad. We all have little successes and big failures. Sometimes life feels like an endless black hole for some as they watch everyone else dancing about in the sun. Think twice before you judge or criticize. Strive to comfort and empower rather than intimidate and stifle.
Above all else, be kind.
“Kindness is magic.” – Derek