I am not the biggest fan of the depersonalization that I go through as a byproduct of my anxiety. I often feel like I’m watching my life play out in front of me as if I’m not an active participant in it. I can become so distinctly separate from my own life that the idea of being “present” feels completely intangible. Even the act of sitting and doing nothing can become so stressful, because even in the stillness of my body, I can’t find stillness of my mind. I’m constantly watching myself and wondering why I’m not relaxed enough for somebody who is just sitting there. I psyche up the idea of relaxation so much that when it comes down to it, I am so preoccupied with my expectations of what this experience was going to be, that I can’t seem to enjoy anything! I rarely know the feeling of being in the moment. Even with life’s simple pleasures, I find myself constantly torn between trying to enjoy the things in my life and getting mad at myself for needing to try and enjoy things instead of just actually enjoying them. Yikes. The point is, it’s hard for me to relax enough in order to enjoy the life that is right in front of me. I truly wish that I could just step into the life that that is playing out before me, to be a character in my own video game instead of the one with the controller on the other side of the screen.
And it drives me crazy that this sense of derealization has become so normalized by social media. Not much is very real anymore. I look on instagram and see falsified versions of life, displayed and then directly compared to other people’s versions of their own life. Communities of people pretending that their life looks a certain way, constructing their life over and over through their phones, watching it from afar. Using their feeds to watch their own life play out the way they want it to look, treating it like a game. They’re the ultimate controller, but they’re not really an active player. And each construction of somebody’s life has the potential to make other people feel so defeated about their own real and important and worthy lives that they then enhance the image of their own life for the sake of social media. All of this, only to compete with a person who isn’t even the person that you think they are.
There is an overwhelming addiction to our audience. I know this. I am obsessed with thinking about my audience, thinking about who is looking at me, perceiving, watching, or judging me at any given moment. I feel that I am constantly part of my own audience, watching my life unfold through this judgmental lens. And if I am forced to watch all of this happen with such analytical judgement, then it makes sense that everyone else would view myself the same way. What does my life look like? What do I want it to look like? And what benefit would I even get from having a life that looked a certain way on social media, even if it leaves me feeling completely empty inside. I think about this emptiness, and I think about my future. When I’m old and wrinkled, and my tattoo looks like gross scribbles, and my tits are sagging below my stomach, am I going to look through my instagram feed to determine whether or not my life was worth it or not? I hope not. I hope that I won’t have to utilize these altered images in order to prove the merit of my own life. I hope that when I’m old, I’ll just know that it was a good life. I hope everyone knows truly, once they put their phones down, what their life means to them.