I haven’t written anything long since my Annie Hall essay, so I apologize if this is somewhat random and confusing. I kept putting this off until I finally realized that if I didn’t just go ahead and do it it would never get done. So here it is, even if it is somewhat stream-of-conscious-y.
I decided to take a break from Facebook because it was messing with my mental health. Even though I know everyone tends to post the positive events in their lives and keep the negative ones to themselves, it was really getting to me. Every time I logged on, I’d start thinking how everyone’s lives were so much better than mine. It got to the point where I was really getting envious of others while discounting the blessings in my own life.
While I was on hiatus from it, I also realized I’d been using Facebook as a way to validate my self-worth. I’d post a witty status (at least I’D think they were witty) and them compulsively check to see if I’d gotten any new likes/comments. The first few days I kept thinking of funny things that would make awesome Facebook statuses, and then remembering I couldn’t post them, and I was surprised at how disappointed I felt. I realized I’d been pouring a lot of emotional energy into projecting a certain image of myself.
Eventually I realized that I needed to become more authentic, both in every day life and in relationships, and even with myself. This finally became clear to me when I was picking out a calendar for the new year. I was wavering between an illustrated medieval manuscript calendar and one that consisted entirely of sleeping cats. I wanted to pick the medieval manuscript calendar because it gave me a cool “I’m some kind of intellectual hipster” feeling, but I actually liked looking at the pictures on the sleeping cat one more. They gave me irrational happy thoughts, and I need all the irrational happy thoughts I can get. (The xkcd cat proximity comic is pretty much an exact depiction of me when exposed to felines.) So even though I thought the cat calendar was kind of kitschy (“Here, kitschy, kitschy, kitschy!”) I decided to buy it. After all, it wasn’t like I have people over a lot, so the only person the medieval calendar would impress would be myself (unless I made a Facebook status about it, of course.) And I realized it was more important to be happy than impressive.
I was also reading a lot of Cloud/Townsend (pretty well-known Christian psychologists/authors) books at the time, and they kept emphasizing the importance of relationships and how relationships are the fuel we need to keep functioning. I realized that the times I’d done the best were when I’d focused on keeping in touch with people and connecting with others. It made me realize that I don’t really tell others when I’m struggling with stuff (thanks to my German-American heritage and the phrases “This too shall pass” and “Motivation follows action” that were prominent in my upbringing.) I always thought you shouldn’t share your problems with other people unless you absolutely had to, because it would make them feel bad. And in the past, whenever I DID share my problems with people, I usually just got advice on what I should do, which was helpful on a practical level, but didn’t really help emotionally. Take a look at Allie Brosh’s blog post on depression (specifically the “dead fish” picture) which pretty much hits the nail on the head. Usually I KNOW what I should be doing, but it feels nearly impossible. So if you just tell me I need to eat better/budget/job hunt it just makes me feel worse, because I’M already beating myself up over that everyday. I need people who’ll be supportive when I work eight hours and then come home to clean up my kitchen and do three loads of laundry (i.e. last night) AND when I’m having trouble doing anything (like today, where my accomplishments are: cooking and eating two meals, one with vegetables!, showering, and leaving the house to go to Barnes & Noble to write this post. Granted, it IS my day off, but still.)
So I realized that I need to have deeper relationships with people where I can be more open about what’s going on in my life, instead of trying to project this perfect image of myself. I also realized I needed to quit trying to force myself into something I wasn’t just because it seemed more impressive. So I’ve resolved to quit trying to listen to classical music and drink wine because they seem more “sophisticated” and embrace what I actually DO like. (To be clear, it isn’t that I DISLIKE classical music and wine, it’s just that if you give me a choice between Dylan or Springsteen compared to say, Beethoven, Beethoven will lose every single time. And wine will always lose to the cranberry juice/Sprite/vodka concoction I love.) So I’ve decided to enjoy what I enjoy, without trying to force myself to do otherwise unless there’s a really good reason to. (i.e. like cooking. I KNOW it’s better for my health and budget, but I hate it.) Even though liking classic rock makes me feel unintellectual and liking Woody Allen movies makes me feel like guilty, like it means I endorse him as a person.
Anyway, I feel like I should end this with some profound conclusion, but I don’t have one, so I’m just going to go ahead and end it with that one. I don’t know what being more authentic means in terms of Facebook right now (Facebook doesn’t exactly promote being authentic…) I’m hoping to gradually increase the amount of one-on-one communication I have, since obviously I don’t want to tell everyone everything. I’m considering continuing this blog as well, but I haven’t decided for sure yet. Anyway, responses would be appreciated. Feel free to message/text me if you feel like it. So I’m going to go listen to some Springsteen on the way home and then maybe rewatch Manhattan.