Can I just say 2021 sucks?
I hate to make hasty generalizations, as my college professor Dr. Funkhouser would point out, from the story he read to us about the man with the beaver-skin hat.
But 2021 reeks.
This was supposed to be the redemption year, the recovery year, the year we bounced back from from that crap-ball of 2020.
Maybe it was the high expectation we all placed on it. <Delta variant laughs voraciously in the background>
Maybe we made unfair assumptions, that anything would be better than last year. <see earlier reference to Delta laughter>
Maybe we (and by we I mean I) assumed most of the tough stuff happened to other people, and it wasn’t coming my way–not because I’m better than anyone, but because it felt far off. You know, like how we were told to eat everything on our plate because there were starving children in the world. It didn’t seem real, it felt more like a tale.
I’m not going to detail my year to date, as I know people have had far worse. I can handle my disillusionment. Suffice it to say I’ve underestimated the effect other people’s lives have on mine. Seeing people I care soooo much about go through things I can’t help them with is rough. Of course not as rough as it is on them! But I’m a do-er. I want to do things. Fix what’s broken. Make them not break again. And I can’t. It seems as soon as the waters start to calm, some big swell shows up unexpected, uninvited, and unwelcomed.
Man oh man, can I sub out for a while?
One thing I think I’ve forgotten is how many people are out there that we can rely on. We haven’t be able hug people or pat them on the shoulder or even truly look them in the eye. At least, not without bleaching our hands and face afterwards.
The longer we are away from that human connection, the more we forget it’s there. That it’s real. And that we need it.
About six-eight months ago, I dropped off of social media because it’s so fake. It’s a humblebragfest, or flat-out bragfest, and it was irritating the heck out of me. Cold turkey, just stopped checking in. Deleted it from my phone. I felt so free! When I see people (you know who you are) on their phone easily 6-8 hours a day scrolling and posting, it breaks my heart they they aren’t living in the moment — they are choosing a false sense of OTHER PEOPLE’S reality instead of looking up and living their own. I find it sad. And I feel bad for their families. My family too.
But I’ve recently realized that social media can be a form of release, like writing. It can be healing, actually. Touching base with friends, having them touch base with you, and being part of a larger community is a wonderful thing. If you can find a way for it to not be all-consuming, it really can be a lifeline to the world that’s in the middle of a huge, swirling, poop storm.
I stopped seeing it for what I came there for–true connection across the miles. I joke that my husband is a “lurker” because he scrolls and scrolls but doesn’t post that much. It’s taken me this long to figure out it’s exactly how he is in real life: at a party (remember those? lol), for example, he’ll stroll by people interacting in conversation and really only engage when spoken to directly, or when it’s important enough for him to join in. Whereas I, as you can imagine, have always felt compelled to join every conversation at all times and if I don’t then I’m either about to miss something or already did. Exhausting, right? Maybe I don’t need to do that. Maybe I can let other people talk for a while, join in when I want to, and know whatever else is going on, is going on whether I’m there or not. But can I do that? With all that’s been going on, I might not have a choice. I need my people back.
I’ve started popping in a little more often, doing my best to prioritize who I check in with, and what I look for. I need those virtual hugs and pats on the back and those group zoom calls that offer eye contact. I miss cheering on my friends and applauding their fun posts. I miss them doing the same for me. And they can’t fill my cup if I’m not there holding it out. If I’m not with them (even virtually), I can’t share a laugh with them. I need some laughs!
My challenge is to not get sucked back in. There is a healthy medium in there somewhere. My challenge is to give back to the online community what it gives me….to thank those that care, to reach out to those in need, and to celebrate with those sharing happy news (even when my news isn’t). My challenge is also not to sit around bemoaning an empty cup. I need to go out and fill it, wall to wall if necessary. How else will you know I want to hear from you if I don’t tell you? Social media isn’t designed to sit and wait for people to contact to you, and get upset when they don’t. They have their own 2021 to deal with.
If there’s ever a time when we need support and back up, it’s now.
Speaking of which, can you join me in telling 2021 to kiss my…no, wait, let me rephrase.
Can you join me in politely asking the rest of 2021 to go easy on us? At least easier?
If not, I thank you in advance for having my back.