Social media. It’s a bloody hard thing to get your head around. I see people getting trolled for oversharing, for being too real, too fake or in my case too happy. Yep – you read that right! Too happy.
I got asked the other day, “Why are you always so happy?”. It wasn’t asked in a nice way, but more of a “What are you hiding?” way. There were also some other comments, which I won’t publish.
My first reaction was to say “bugger off’, you don’t know the half of it”, but after taking a breath, I smiled, because that happiness was hard fought for. (just a side note, I am not ALWAYS happy – ask the hubby!).
Heading into my 50’s, I’ve never been happier, felt more confident and starting 50sowhat with James, has connected me to amazing people, has created a community where we don’t judge, and where you will be supported no matter what you feel or how you share it.
It’s a bloody great feeling just being able to be you! You can be happy, sad, love cosmetic surgery, hate it, work out, don’t work out, eat healthy, or not, whatever – we’re a community of 45-plus and we accept you for being you.
But in regards to me being happy. I made a choice six years ago, after being house-bound with intense anxiety for a year, and having suffered for most of my life, it was either jump off my six-floor deck (which I contemplated, cried over, felt guilty over, couldn’t sleep, sweated over and seriously felt was the only way to get the hurt to stop) or get help.
I choose to get help and be happy. It didn’t happen overnight, it took a good few years. I choose not to share the bad times on social media, that’s just me, I wallowed too long, it nearly killed me, I spent a long time in therapy to get over an overwhelming experience. But what didn’t kill me (and it nearly did) made me better, stronger and happier.
While I choose not to share the grief, pain and bad times on my personal social media accounts, others do and I respect that and have such empathy for those who feel they need to reach out.
I’m here for you, I really am. All I ask, is don’t judge me based on my personal social media feed (which by the way isn’t that great, it’s just a few shots of me, the hub, dogs and the beach, really rather boring).
My life is not all happy and great, but when I am happy, that’s when you’ll see me. When I’m down, and life gets the better of me, I need time, I don’t want to plaster it all over my social media page.
It’s not being fake sharing the good times, those times are not manufactured, or staged and nor have I spent hours in front of a camera perfecting the shot. It’s just me, usually with no make-up, with the hub, family or friends or at the beach.
It’s just me saying here I am, I’m having a great day with my loved ones and that’s how I want you to see me, or remember me. I don’t want to be remembered for the sad times, those times defined me for long enough.
I see enough sadness, heartbreak, poverty and social isolation in my role at a community centre. I see older people come in who just want to talk, I love these people. I see others come in who need to be fed, others on drugs, some who have mental health problems, young mums struggling, others whose life is so bad it hits you like a lightening bolt.
You know the one thing about these people, they are resilient, they don’t want pity, they don’t need to share their problems with the world, but if they did, I’d be there for them too. These people are happy regardless of their situation, these people made me happy. Made me a better person. That’s why I’m happy. I worked on it, I chose not to go back to my state before, it’s too painful, it’s horrible, it’s unbearable.
Does it rare its ugly head every now and again? Yes. But I know it’s better to be thankful, grateful for what I have and how far I’ve come, than to go back to that place. It’s not helpful now, but it did define me in every way imaginable. It’s defined who I’ve become.
The one thing I learnt along the way, is to have empathy, forgive and be kind. Those three things will take you a long way towards happiness.
My happiness came at a cost, a personal one, but one that I didn’t let define me in ways it should, nor one I needed to share with the world, but it defines who I am now – happy.
So, the message I want to get across, is social media is great, it’s great for connecting, it’s great for creating a community. But respect those of us that use it, either for the good times, or for reaching out when times aren’t great.
Some people need to reach out, as it’s their only form of socialisation (one of the most important aspects of living and human resilience) those tears and messages are a cry for help, have empathy and support those people (who knows, one day I might decide to change and share more).
But please don’t criticise those of us that don’t want to overshare the tough times, respect us as much as those that do want to share those tough times, because for all you know, behind that smile lies a hurt so deep you could never imagine.