Saints, it’s good to be on here again after an unplanned break of sorts. I’ve been very busy being not busy and the weeks just flew by.
I hope you are all safe and healthy. I know some people have been very productive during this time. I’m not one of those people. I’m quite certain I’ve gained all the weight y’all have lost and have spent all the money for my future on clothes for the summer we won’t have. Welp.
I decided a few weeks ago that this was going to be the one time I was going to go easy on myself. I’m usually forcing myself to meet tense deadlines and conjuring make-believe problems to solve and this wasn’t the moment for that. This was the moment to protect my peace and wellness…whatever that looked like (ice-cream and sleep). Now it’s important to me that my life doesn’t completely fall apart, because who would pick up the pieces? Me. But I wanted to give myself the longest rope, and some much needed ‘me’ time was a huge part of that.
Public life has become such a maze to navigate, and social media is now one of our largest public forums. I spend a lot of my time online and it’s a wholly problematic and confusing space. Even for me: A GROWN ASS WOMAN. There’s an opinion about every opinion and a think piece on every possible way we should conduct ourselves. And when all the 18 paragraph captions started emerging about how we should make the most of quarantine I decided it was time to head out. Granted, those posts are useful and necessary. But I certainly felt ashamed that I wasn’t a part of the “learn several languages while mastering yoga” crowd and I have decreased my time online dramatically.
Now it’s not just that I felt excluded, it was more that I felt it was time to go back to focusing on my private life. And I’m grateful I still know how to do that. I do what I want to do during my day, and I mind my business. It’s both simple and effectual. It was like a detox. I didn’t realize I was backed up with all the filth I see online every day. My husband doesn’t have any social media accounts and his skin is CLEAR and his personal opinions are unwavering. What a life!
There’s simply moments where you absolutely don’t need to see and know what everyone else is doing. Not to remain ignorant but to keep a grasp on your own sanity. Because believe me you will be disappointed by people and by what you observe. Save yourself the heartbreak of becoming obsessed—with people or anything, really.
I needed to center myself and I wondered (Carrie Bradshaw voice) how can we get in tune with ourselves if we are constantly consuming other people’s content, messages, thoughts and opinions, and watching them go about their whole day?! And when you come offline a lot of what you’ve consumed is buried in your psyche. You hardly notice when you’ve incorporated it into your own life, your beliefs, you mimic it, regurgitate it, envy it, despise it, oppose it…constantly reconciling with what has become your world.
And we should rightfully grapple with what we see and consume. We must take part in public life as responsible adults. We should interact, engage, have discourse, free expression…all the things. We should just be careful of what we sacrifice of our private selves in order to fashion a public life: the persona, the Instagram account, the influencer status (its exhausting—how are y’all NOT tired of keeping this up?). I thought about spending a day commenting “relax” under a few posts but that’s not my public life that’s my private one (which is to say I judge y’all heavy behind my phone screen). But seriously, kudos to you all that spark serious conversations and advocate for meaningful progression in our society. And I know it’s a job for a lot of people to maintain that public persona through everything else that’s unfolding. You all keep the fire burning when the rest of us get very exhausted and start to feel hopeless.
I personally tend to feel highly productive and at peace when I am being myself and that often happens when I step away from “it all” and take care of me. I must listen to myself. I need to meditate in silence as well as meditate on my own thoughts; I concern myself with my own feelings and take interest in my own wellbeing. And I can’t do all these things in a public space among other voices. I need to hear myself. We spend too much time on the public version of ourselves and not the private.
And yet I still don’t know who a lot of people are supposed to be. Sometimes the public mystery is intentional, and I realize this person is genuinely more interested in their private life and is therefore protecting it by keeping most of it off social media. And this is not to say who we are publicly has to be different from who we are privately, but let’s be honest—it is and it should be. We should have a secure private life to rely on when everything we build publicly falls to pieces.
I’ve drawn a line for what constitutes my public and private life and all these exercises y’all doing on live is private for me. I’m not doing a burpee for all the “world” to see. Actually, I’m not doing them offline either. That’s not my ministry. Make sure you draw the line for yourself is my point. This is not just about what I’m going to reveal and not reveal but who you are and how you protect that.
I thought to myself that I’d hate to wake up one day and suddenly realize I slipped and fell into being something I’m not; to one day hate myself and others because of what I’ve internalized; or to neglect facing the real me—fail to check in with her, make sure she’s okay, make sure 2020 hasn’t left her in complete shambles. I mean when people get torn apart online (sometimes deservingly) they retreat to the safety of their private lives. If you’ve neglected to check in with yourself for too long, when you need to retreat you will feel REALLY lost. Because your public life has become your everything. And while it’s important to grow, evolve, and open yourself to new thoughts and ideas…you don’t want to wake up one day and not recognize who you’ve become and not be able to decipher if it was true growth or just indoctrination or pretense.
Social media has enabled a lot of us to cultivate a public life. That’s not to say it’s the “fake” you but it’s the you that you present to the world as authentically as possible (I hope). And then there’s the private you…the you that deserves to be his/her self at you’re purest (for me this is while eating ice cream). This is the person we take care of, challenge, and be honest with. This is the person I hope we can all love and face without shame.
I hope you all are staying safe and hopeful! Thanks as always for reading my musings and letting me drop random pics in here of what I’m wearing!