One of the most intoxicating things about many books and movies is the wish fulfillment. There are certain genres – chick lit, young and new adult, and children’s stories – where you find this kind of wish fulfillment very often. Creators serve up lovely, balanced stories with no loose ends and the perfect happy ending to satisfy and soothe a soul trying to escape the somewhat harsh reality of life and it’s countless harsh stops and inconveniences.
The way we use social media is akin to the way the endings of stories are presented to children. Hastily tidied up and made shiny to appeal. Flawless. Intoxicating.
Happy endings are something to delight in. They can serve as a bright spot on an otherwise miserable day or work to motivate you to jump back in the ring with whatever problem you’re currently tackling that is blaring in the corner of your mind.
I like happy endings. My books generally end on a high note and so do my blog posts. They’re my way of spreading just a little bit of happiness and joy into the world. Nothing wrong with that, right?
I have picked up on something worrying in the way I write posts – both blog and social media – and I think that it’s likely due to the fact that when I’m writing fiction I let myself sink into the minds and skins of the characters I’m writing about. When I write something personal, however, I find myself sinking into the kind of traps that I’ve often warned others about. It’s humbling to be confronted with the realization that you’ve stopped taking your own advice somewhere along the line and now are in danger of jumping straight onto a bed of needles.
What I’ve noticed is that I shy away from writing things that will admit to failure on my part. Failure is a huge sensitive spot for me, and always has been. I’d prefer to not attempt something rather than try and fail, and make a fool of myself. Fear of embarrassment has held me back from experimenting in many ways and of sharing too much of myself with the world at large as well.
A timely example of this would be a blog post that I’ve been wanting to write for a while now on keeping a journal. I’ve written about this practice before, raved about how useful it is and how helpful I find it to be able to sink back into the thought processes I was in the middle of at a certain period of time in my life.
I still love keeping a journal. I still think that it’s an amazing idea with huge potential for aiding a person in self-improvement and as a safe place to vent and rant. It’s also been months since I last sat down and wrote more than a handful of words in my journal. At one stage, I filled a journal up every three months. My latest journal is about 5% full and I started it in October of 2018.
This happens to lots of people. There are times when we’d like to hide from the thoughts in our heads because we’re embarrassed or because we’re ashamed of ourselves. Shying away, though, isn’t the answer.
That right there? It’s something I’ve wanted to bring up for months. But, to do so would require me to admit to a shortcoming that I’d much rather ignore and sweep under the rug mostly because I don’t have a solution to it. I have not yet begun to journal again, nor do I know how to start.
So how do I write about it? How do I present this problem and end off admitting that I don’t have a solution?
It’s harder than I’d like to admit, just sharing an experience without any kind of wisdom or advice to add to it (what little of the two I possess). Today, as I write, I remind myself that advice isn’t always what’s needed. Sometimes, all that’s needed is to know you’re not alone when you’re struggling and your life doesn’t seem to match up with that of others.
There’s an image that does the rounds on the internet regularly. It’s of two lawns side by side, the one lush and green and the other brown and dying. The text that accompanies it is as follows: The grass may be greener on the other side but that’s only because it’s fake.
I first read that when I was in high school and it made me think for a moment. I’ve never truly bought into the idea that other people’s lives are so much better than my own simply because good things seem to be happening to them. After all, good things happened to me too. So did bad, though. We just didn’t talk about those things.
Somewhere along the line, I seem to have misplaced that realization. Not in all things. When I look at the possessions of those around me, I can remember that all those things have their price and I don’t often get to see what was traded for them.
But. When I see accomplishments, it’s harder. When I see people who’ve steadily climbed towards their degrees, businesses, skills and positions of expertise… Well, that’s when I begin to feel that entirely irrational inadequacy and the urge to hide my own shortcomings and paint a much rosier picture than reality overcomes me.
It’s a tough lesson to be made to learn, that you’re not quite so immune to jealousy and envy as you’d think, nor are you as self-assured and content as you’d want.
Do you know what could have helped me examine those feelings and resolve them? Writing it all down in a journal (or a blog post). But to do that, I needed to confront parts of myself that I’m not happy with. I needed to be able to accept that it’s alright to not be happy with those feelings but not to deny them.
I might return to penning my thoughts down every night after this, or perhaps I won’t just yet until I feel braver. What I’m committed to keep doing is being authentic and not rejecting the truth. I can still see just how uncomfortable that could get.
Now, though, I can also see how destructive being inauthentic is guaranteed to get.