Original Post: 19/09/2016
So, it has been roughly a year since I last posted which is shocking, but I sat down today and poured myself onto paper and hoped for the best. My friend Mima also blogs (found here) and has been doing a few series as of late which has inspired me to do one of my own. I have no idea exactly where it will lead, but hopefully down a good rabbit hole. Without further ado, welcome to my new roller-coaster friends!
I’m good thanks.
Three words we use multiple times a day. Three words that often make us lie multiple times a day. In a world that is increasingly connected, many people have noted that we are becoming more emotionally disconnected from those around us. It infiltrates relationships, friendships and even your understanding of yourself. Saying that you are okay has become the knee-jerk reaction to when anyone asks how you are doing because we are constantly in the pursuit of presenting ourselves as put-together online that we do it in person as well. It is very rare that someone feels comfortable enough to really share what is going on in their mind. It is then very rare to say of someone, “what you see with them is what you get.” In other words, we are not authentically ourselves.
In recent conversations that I have had with friends at university I have realised how little my friends away from home really know me. As soon as I set foot in my family home for holidays it as though I am taking off a jacket and allowing myself to fully be myself after months of constraining myself. Why? I feel as though my lame dad-joke humour goes unnoticed among my friends and I do not feel as though the drinking, partying culture leaves much room for me to be something other than a party animal. I enjoy a good party, but enjoy it so much more when you are genuinely connecting with those you are dancing with and can laugh about it for many months to come. When pure excitement makes you lose your inhibition rather than having to down enough happy juice to have a good time. I hate that I have hidden myself for over eighteen months, despite trying very hard to be more myself.
But the problem goes deeper than that, I was going through a super hard time last year, but told no one because I felt isolated and ashamed in my struggle. No one talked about struggling, no one ever talked about the struggle I was facing. Because they were all “good” all the time. Nothing bothered them in their sugar coated public lives. I decided that enough was enough, I was not good and needed to talk to someone. The more I opened up about what I was going through, the more I found that everyone was struggling and just needed someone else to come forward and be real. Even my most hidden and shameful struggles proved to be points of understanding with the most outwardly perfect people I knew. People sat behind closed doors, covered in a blanket of shame and loneliness, when reality was that every one of their neighbours were fighting the same battles. It is sickening how we isolate ourselves in a crowd of people because no one is brave enough to take the first step and say, “I’m not okay today” or “Actually, I’ve been struggling lately with…”
What sickened me most about this? It happened at church, the one place you should feel comfortable enough to put your heart out on the table. Everyone at church was joyful and excited to be there, which is infectious and wonderful. But there was no space in the path that I walked at church where anyone said, “today sucked.” The more I confronted this and confided in people though, the more doors opened for “I’m not okay, I’ve been struggling” conversations. These were hushed in private conversations after services and then extended to cafes when 20 minutes was not enough to speak your heart. But no one dares stand in front of the whole church and admit to something real. We talk about trivial struggles all the time, but never the real ones. It seems that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough to forgive our sins, but not the shame and guilt that comes along with it. It is true that no one wants to go parading around their dirty laundry, but why is it that no one seems willing to even admit in a safe environment that it exists?
Over the next few posts (that hopefully will be less than a year apart), I plan on airing my laundry. Publicly and on the internet. Not because I am looking for attention, because considering the people that this is exposed to I would much rather keep in hidden, but because I want to start the conversation. I want people to be able to say when they sit next to their friends in lecture halls that they had a terrible weekend, to be able to tell their flat mates that they are feeling sad and to open up to others about the taboo struggles that are only taboo because they are messy and uncomfortable. So please friend, whoever you are, treat these next few posts with sensitivity and care because Pandora’s Box needs to be opened.