I’m not shy when it comes to talking about my feelings (unless I’m in an anxiety-fuelled spiral, or that time when I spent months pretending I wasn’t head over heels for my boyfriend, but those are stories for another day). I’ll happily broadcast my thoughts, experiences and emotions for all to see on social media and my blog. I guess I wouldn’t have created this blog otherwise.
However, it seems to be something that makes some people uncomfortable. They don’t understand why I “overshare”. The assumption from a lot of these people is that I’m attention seeking. I’m often branded a “drama queen” (the jury’s still out on that one) and loud (guilty as charged). My openness has elicited more than a few eye rolls and shudders of discomfort.
I thought it might help to explain my reasons behind living like Gina Linetti – out loud.
I think I caught feelings
I wrote an article last year on the concept of “radical softness as a weapon“. If you haven’t read it yet, you should! Basically, the term is attributed to artist Lora Mathis who considers open and vocal emotional vulnerability to be a form of activism against our oppressive society which hampers emotional expression.
Radical softness is the idea that unapologetically sharing your emotions is a political move and a way to combat the societal idea that feelings are a sign of weakness.
Think about the weird relationship we have with our emotions. Sometimes we comfort those who are crying by telling them to “let it out”. At the same time, Britain is notorious for its Stiff Upper Lip mentality and emotionless approach to life. We’re squeamish about feelings. And heaven forbid a male displays any sort of emotion other than aggression – that’ll surely result in his sexuality being called into question. (I have HUGE problems with this behaviour, but again I’ll save my rant for another time). So boys don’t cry, but criers should let it all out, while never allowing emotion to rise and it’s unattractive for women to get angry (or sad, or political, or horny, or anything really, depending on who you’re talking to). Talk about mixed messages!
So, I’m challenging our collective societal discomfort and pushing myself – and maybe you – to question WHY we are so uncomfortable receiving an honest answer to possibly the most asked question around the world: “How are you?”.
Another reason for my “radical softness” is that I don’t want to fall a further victim to filtering my entire life and only exhibiting the ‘good bits’. It’s unrealistic, unhealthy and unnecessary. Ignoring valid experiences and feelings like this feeds the poisonous train of thought that we somehow fail when we are unable to provide evidence of a happy, successful, fulfilled life. In reality, we all have our ups and downs. Mass media is pretty lacking in the realities of normal life – that includes the bad days, illness (mental or physical, but especially those that are invisible), and general quiet spells where nothing Insta-worthy occurs. We run the risk of manufacturing alternate realities for ourselves that coincide with our quiet, “unfulfilling” lives, which in turn breeds further malcontent as to how we view ourselves and use those around us as a benchmark for our own satisfaction.
I will continue to share my struggles and bad days. I will keep on showing the “unflattering angles”. Why? Because they happen. In being open about my fluctuating mental health among other things, I hope others realise that they are not alone in feeling down, anxious, low or in some way not good enough because their life doesn’t reflect what they see around them.
The truth is that social media can create further isolation, but has the potential to connect and unite people in ways that we rarely see offline.
I have bad days, just like you. In being open about mine, I’m taking a stand against the oppressive Stiff Upper Lip mentality, reaching out for help and support when it seems so difficult to ask for it and hopefully reassuring others that filtered lifestyles of social and mass media are exactly that – filtered.
That isn’t to say that I’m giving up my Valencia or dog filters. I still love me a good selfie, and Valencia raises my photos to the next level. I’m just trying to document my life as it happens and keep my feet planted firmly in reality.