MESSY, UNSURE AND IMPERFECT WITH SCATTERED BOUTS OF SERENITY
If you asked me to describe life right now, that is how I would do so… my own personal weather forecast if you like. There’s been way too many storms of late and whilst the actual summer has been good to us, there’s been virtual dark skies aplenty here. Some of the goings effect more than just me and so aren’t mine to share but suffice to say when added together, the events of the past year or so are taking their toll on me in more ways than I care to list.
I don’t tell you this to garner sympathy - it’s simply a statement of fact and a reminder that regardless of all that we presume, everyone is carrying the weight of something(s) that they’re not telling you about. Despite living in a world where the regular online sharing of our lives is the norm, we still have a need and more importantly the right, to only share what we’re comfortable with. And as for my sometimes gloomy forecast, it’s not all bad - there are good days in amongst the bad days. I’m beginning to understand that with times of sadness and difficulty come small moments of peace and clarity. Maybe they were always there but I just value them more now? Either way, when they occur they’re welcomed with open arms and I believe they point to lighter times ahead.
I’m also telling you this because it’s relevant to two things that are really don’t foster serenity and really, the main point of this post. Over consumption and the call out culture - the irony being that by doing less of one, I can retain some control over the other.
On my continued quest to slow things down, minimise, declutter and generally live a more fulfilled and meaningful life, I’ve probably been consuming way more online content than is considered healthy. When you grab ahold of a concept and become determined to live it to the letter (as one prone to the go hard or go home mindset, I do this a lot), the temptation to check in and see how everyone else is doing with their own particular hashtag becomes overwhelming. You observe, compare and maybe question… “Am I doing this right? Does it fit? Is how I approach it enough?” The voices, opinions and influence of others can seep rapidly into your freshly constructed world… and that’s not always a good thing.
The previously calm and inclusive waters of Instagram have slowly been infiltrated by what was previously the scourge of Twitter and Facebook - the call out culture. “Calling out” shouldn’t be confused with the actual act of speaking out and standing up for what you believe in. The fact we’re able to do this is a positive sign of the times we live in and in the main, a positive force if you want to partake.
IF. Thats only two letters - be careful or you might miss them.
What if you don’t want to publicly speak out about subjects that others are championing because you don’t feel mentally strong enough - does that make you a bad person? If you quietly do your bit without “using your platform” for the greater good, do your below the radar efforts still count?
If the ill-thought out statement that I see popping up every now and again is to be believed, then apparently not. You know the one - it generally goes along the lines of: “If you choose silence then you may as well be on the side of all that is bad”. Now that right there is some fucked up logic if you ask me… and has the potential to do some serious damage to those who are already mired down in their own personal battles.
Clash with someone’s specific vision of an ideal and you might find yourself in for a public dressing down on social media. This often prompts pack mentality behaviour… until the only way to make it stop is by issuing a humble apology and a heartfelt promise to do better next time. Sadly, I often see two brilliant movements exhibiting this behaviour - sustainability and body positive. Both vital causes that I support and wholeheartedly believe in - but when the actions of a few end up frightening anyone considering adding their voice, is that such a good thing?
And if we’ve not already been called out, we’re desperately taking steps to avoid the possibility of it happening. I’m all for accountability but when I see good people who do good things go to exhaustive lengths to explain the rationale behind their every word and action in case someone somewhere misinterprets it, it makes me think its a good thing gone ever so slightly mad. The call out culture is poisonous and does nothing more than defeat anything positive that it may have set out to achieve in the first instance.
If these musings seem slightly disjointed and reminiscent of a woman on the verge, it’s because some days I do indeed feel on the verge… and have recently realised that the over consumption thing I mentioned at the outset is doing nothing to help. The noise, anger and My Way Or The Highway attitude ties me up in knots.
Paying way too much attention to what others are doing and saying rather than taking only what I need has left me feeling uncomfortable, inadequate and severely lacking in self-belief. I forgot to filter and disregard as appropriate.
I would do well to remember the wise words of Anna Mathur that I read here a few days ago - how I feel due to the content I consume is my issue and mine alone. If someone wants to publicly champion a cause, I’ll (quietly) applaud them but I’ll no longer feel bad because I’m not seen to be doing the same. I won’t let the actions and words of others cause me to doubt myself or my principals. If their content causes me to do any of the above, then it’s time to stop consuming it.
If you’re consuming too much of what makes you feel bad, whatever form that may take, please stop. Just because it’s out there, it doesn’t mean you have to fill up on it and jump on board. In a world where we’re constantly told why, what, when and how we should live, sometimes it’s better to remember the old fashioned adage of live and let live. Or as my Nan used to say - mind your own spinning.
As for me, please take me as you find me - messy, unsure and imperfect with scattered bouts of serenity. A work in constant progress and flux with no end goal… and learning to embrace the journey.