If I’m honest, I can’t count the amount of times I’ve auto-piloted my response to “Hey! How are you?”
I’ve got enough variations of “Yeah, fine”, “Nothing to report”, “Good! You?” on my dashboard that I can use any one in a succinct breath, deftly tapping the letters out without any thought or feeling; exhaling what feels like the start of a hurricane when I hear the little swoosh noise jump from my phone as I press send.
Another attempt at truthful contact avoided. Brilliant.
All well and good when I am fine, when there is little else to report other than an assuring “I’m OK”. But, inevitably, there is going to be a slice of time when things aren’t so great, or moments when I don’t really want to admit that I’m not feeling fine – times where, if I’m honest, I could do with a little bit of help; some comfort, advice.
Why then do I still stick to what I know best?
Just like that, I pull another “I’m fine” out of the bag and actively choose to continue the same melancholy carousel ride. The ride where I see the same sights over and over, where I move no further forward; where I am just blindly continuing with the same sad lie.
I could argue that the “beauty” of technology is the absolute ability to be anyone, at any time. It doesn’t matter if I’m crying, stuffed away and curled up in bed, because I can type my way into making others believe that I am feeling however I want.
Because, to me, deception seems easier than truth.
Remaining incognito and emotions-anonymous simply seems easier. If I ever drop the pretence, the smiles and the empty eyes, I find myself clawing at the ground to wrap myself back up in a web of lies desperate to go back to just being “Fine”. Or, in the silent void after actually saying how I really feel, I jump to stifling my emotions with
“But you don’t want to hear that”.
Actually, no. I am totally, totally irrevocably wrong.
Everyone gets stressed. Everyone gets tired, emotional, frustrated – tens of thousands of emotions are felt in a second by different people, on different continents and time zones, changing their moods as often as we blink our eyes.
No one wants to be seen as weak, vulnerable; less accomplished or evolved than others. When magazines are stuffed full of criteria on how to be prepared, more efficient; successful and beautiful, it is hard to run a white-wash over them and ignore.
We’re all starting to forget about the reality behind the edits.
The reality where people bond over closeness. Over being truthful, letting one another in on our secrets, fears, worries. Humans crave contact. We want eyes to look at us, to feel someone else’s skin against our own; we want a thumping heart that is excited/nervous/head-in-the-sand-terrified about meeting someone.
The faux-pressure of keeping up appearances is a myth – and we know it.
We know it from when we put on a top and some lipstick to take a Snapchat to make it look less like we’ve been in our PJs all day long and more like we’ve stepped out of bed at a normal hour, we know it from when it’s the third consecutive day of wearing the same outfit; we know it from the song we just can’t stop repeating because the lyrics make us feel like we have a friend who gets how we feel.
We shouldn’t be afraid of telling the truth, or admitting when things aren’t quite OK, because we know that life isn’t always shiny/exciting/oh-my-god-amazing all the time. We need to remember that we are allowed to feel down, sometimes.
We’re just too busy keeping up the pretence of being OK to realise it.
So, in the interest of ‘keeping up appearances’ – let’s not. Instead, be brave, open, honest, and stop filtering our (sometimes-less-than-perfect) reality.