In spite of some newly established introvert tendencies, tonight I set out to spend a relatively normal night out with friends. Booze, weed, and all that jazz. As it happens when you become a bit of a hermit, I’ve run into a few people I haven’t seen in quite a while, except for the smokes and mirrors of Facebook.
As a naturally quiet kind of girl, I’m usually taken over by storms of personal stories and big talk in most conversations. Apparently, everyone is starved for sympathy and some good old being listened to. Being in my head all the time, I tend to believe everyone is as happy and carefree as they tell the world on social media.
It’s not some tragic form of naivetè, either – it’s more that I’m in my early twenties and, like virtually everyone I know, I tend to assume that I’m going through the worst, even though things are never as bad in hindsight.
When the victim comes out, it feels like luck has abandoned my life. Lack of clear direction, vague life plans, hurtful memories and an irrational sense of loneliness. It feels good to complain that other have it easier, with their pretty faces, astonishing talents and rich backgrounds with great futures ahead of them. I believe this is that expression I’ve found in so many self-help articles, the fear of failure. If I understood it correctly, that’s when you give up before even having tried. You don’t play, you don’t lose – but you tell yourself that you would have won if you had tried.
Then you start fearing you’re on your own, against a world that doesn’t want you to be happy, and you start shielding your vulnerability with a toxic combination of false confidence and obsessive search for external validation.
My own fears are so deeply ingrained that I even avoid playing the show-off game.
So, when I found myself talking to a couple of friends I knew back in the day, hearing about their own personal stream of consciousness, so filled with confusion, hurt, and hidden rage, I didn’t know what to think. I’m a big hypocrite, so I found myself sharing words of wisdom and an optimism that was so out of character it was hilarious.
Now I’m back home, it’s late and I can’t make sense of this. The truth is that the people I’m talking about have it pretty good today. In our small realities, we have food, shelter, and freedom of speech. We aren’t really struggling to make ends meet and get a few hours of sleep after long hard days working under the sun.
What I believe is making us all so desperate is that we’re more isolated and disconnected than ever before. Sure, the Internet is full of possibilities, minds are opening, travel is easy. However, we are constantly sold the need to follow impossible standards before even thinking of happiness.
In the meantime, no success is big enough and every failure makes you feel like a loser in a sea of winners. Different, incapable, frail. Sharing these feelings is not a good look, so you keep to yourself and you sip your drink with a forced smile and a fake laugh.
Starting tomorrow, I’ll make my best to remember all of this. Life is hard for all of us, but never as tragic as we like to think. It’s also very short and ever-changing, each moment will never be the same. If only we could all just share hugs and kind words with each other, we’d spend less time in our heads and more appreciating this unique journey we all get to take. I’ll keep on trying, you never know.