The World Doesn’t Always Need to See Your Plate

Post by Rebecca Hunter for the Kind Kindred series.

print by ericdebarrosart on etsy

The World Doesn’t Always Need to See Your Plate

So apparently, every predicament worth its salt is nothing without an acronym these days (one sentence in and I’m already sounding like an old lady preaching to the youth). Hankering after sun rays when January’s sucking the life out of you? Maybe you’ve got SAD. If you’re young and reckless, you’ll have YOLO tattooed on your psyche. And if you’re one of those hyper-connected souls who can’t resist peeking at their Twitter feed just one more time before they hit the hay for the night, you’re probably in the grip of FOMO.

FOMO is the Fear of Missing Out. It’s the gnawing niggle that convinces you to stay at the party ‘til they’re sweeping up around your feet ‘cause you never know what craziness you’ll miss if you leave. It tells you to check Facebook just once more in case you got a new ‘like’ on your status in the last ten seconds. It has you (OK, me) getting nothing done because you (OK, I) spend way too much time falling into one blog-shaped black hole after another and then sitting in a puddle at the bottom, wondering how you got there and why your clock is lying to you (it can’t possibly be 4pm already).

Pings and pokes are commonplace for most of us, and it’s become ridiculously easy to spend hours looking at pictures of green smoothies uploaded by that girl who lived next door to you a decade ago. You could argue that there’s nothing wrong with being connected. I mean, connection is what we’re hardwired for, right? But the ‘always-on-ness’ of our brains and our laptops makes it way too easy to slip into comparison mode, and you end up scrutinising the every word of that friend whose status update beat yours by miles in the popularity stakes (how did she do it?!).

As someone who’s grown up measuring her worth against the prettier/funnier/effortlessly much cooler people in her vicinity, I’ve found my widening social circle a struggle to deal with. Bearing witness to everyone else’s polished veneers has made my reality seem positively unkempt in comparison. It’s made me worry that any business I ever launch will never win as many adoring fans as the big hitters on the web (and I’ve subsequently let myself wile away the hours “learning things” rather than doing things to make this happen). In an effort to be the witty one, I’ve crafted scintillating tweets in my head to share with the world later, and then I’ve watched, deflated, as they’ve fallen on apparently deaf ears. No replies. No retweets. Not even one measly ‘favourite.’ In an attempt to show the world how “together” my shiz is, I’ve taken my phone on dates with my boyfriend and been “that girl” who Instagrams her superfood salad before she picks up her fork. And to be totally honest with you, I think that girl’s had her day.

Why do I have this incessant need to be switched on all the time? I’ve been pondering this, and I narrowed it down to a phrase that a friend shared recently (my friends are the wisest):

Connection is love. Validation is fear.
Sometimes I share things that I think people will genuinely appreciate. Other times I share things ‘cause I want people to think I’m cool. (There, I said it.) Connection’s my thing; I thrive on it. And getting the seal of approval from someone can make this girl’s day. But how much sense does it make, really, to always be seeking love and self-worth from some other place?

The more I think about it, the more I reckon we’re all just looking for love. We want people to see us and tell us we’re OK. We want to be heard, and we want to belong. But my people-pleasing, validation-seeking days have brought me to a point where I’m doubting how much satisfaction perfunctory retweets can keep giving me.

I’m not saying that I’m quitting Twitter or hanging up my Facebook hat. But what I am saying is that I need to give myself a little more love and think twice before I share my world with the rest of the world. Why exactly am I snapping a shot of my ice-cream before I eat it? Is the ulterior motive to show people what a stellar time I’m having, or do I simply want to spread some vanilla-flavoured love? Unless it’s the latter, a couple of deep breaths might be a good idea.

Something’s clicked in me recently and it goes a little something like this: Self-love comes first. We can be showered with all the love we ever thought we wanted, but unless we know we’re enough, the compliments won’t fill the hole. On the other hand, when we’re brimming with the knowledge that we got this, flattery’s just the pretty sweet icing on top of the cake.

(One other thing: seeking validation is stressful! And self-love’s better cultivated without excess noise. Which is why this website I just stumbled upon is so lush: The Quiet Place Project. Take a couple of minutes and go see what I mean.)

I’m a writer, not a fighter. Stories and words help me wrap my brain around the craziness of this thing we call life. When I’m not pounding pavements, dancing in my kitchen or drooling over vegan cakes on Instagram, I’m dealing in stories over at Soul Riot, a digital magazine/journal for people who prefer soul talk to small talk and the real to the superficial. I’ve also been known to spend a fair chunk of time conversing on Twitter. Do come and say hi.


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