If you read this blog, I just want to thank you and wish you happy holidays.
I honestly don’t know how to interpret backend blog analytics or to understand if my numbers of readers are good or bad, high or low. I’m kinda low-tech.
But still, if there are ten of you (other than my mom) who read this blog and support my work then that feels good to me. And if there are a hundred then that’s pretty awesome. And if there are 1,000 then that is amazing. But for some people, 1,000 would seem insignificant.
I’ve spent a great deal of this year grappling with numbers–financial, instagram followers, likes, clicks. It is incredibly (like unbelievably) distracting and way beyond stupid.
Here is what I’ve observed just in the past week:
When I was in college at RISD in Providence, RI, I was away from my family in Alabama for the first time. All the things about being grown-up were new to me. But my anxiety wasn’t. I’d had that for much of my life although I didn’t have a name for it until years later. And so I’d make art and learn about art and drink coffee until dark. And then I’d have all-night anxiety attacks–some resulting in true panic attacks that took me to the ER and some that just felt…like my skin had peeled off and I could feel all the fear and sadness of the world directly on my nerve endings (did I mention that anxiety and coffee don’t go together?)
So, I’d be awake at two in the morning and I could still feel the cold coming in from my drafty windows (even though I bought those shrink-wrap kits that you hair-dry over the window to keep out the drafts)? And I’d be thinking and feeling EVERYTHING and I couldn’t call my mom. Or my dad. But sometimes, because of the time change, I could call our family therapist (mom’s best friend) in California and she’d talk me off the ceiling.
But what I felt in those hours of the night, after days of making art, and alone with all the feelings, was just alone. So alone. And I couldn’t do anything about it. And I didn’t even have cable tv to distract me. And I didn’t have my mom.
I used to go spend weeks or months in New York City doing internships or seeing art and while I was there, that feeling was gone. I’d be in my room at night but I could feel the city all around–I could hear evidence of people’s wakefulness just outside the window–in their cars or picking up trash or drunk in the streets. And I felt less alone because others were awake–even though they were strangers.
I had the profound realization this week that there is a mini-Manhattan with me at all times, now. I don’t suffer with anxiety the way I did when I was a kid although I still feel it. Having a name for it and years of therapy have largely helped me navigate my anxiety.
But now I’m not alone because Manhattan and Brooklyn and Europe and Australia are right in my purse. At all times. Next to the bed in the middle of the night–with me in the bathroom–in the hands of my children–my iPhone.
The Internet and Social Media offer all the connection and wakefulness that anyone could ever want–at all times of day and night. We are never alone–we never have to feel alone–because somewhere, someone is tweeting. And all that tweeting, though it might not sound as loud as New York City…it really is as cacauphonous, distracting, and so very awake.
And that right there has changed the game for all of us–no matter what our mental health issues are.
And we seek it like the anti-anxiety drug that it is. It soothes one ailment while causing a whole host of others. It handles feelings of aloneness while at the very same time breeding both feelings of connection and isolation, depending on likes and clicks and all that.
And so, my friends, I just wanted to say that, although I don’t know you, If my random words here are a light in any darkness for you, then I am grateful I can be of help. And you are sometimes that light for me…when I’m not worrying about whether I did or didn’t say something in the way I meant to.
So, I’m vowing this to you now as I sign off for 2015: 2016 will be a year of meditation and connection. I will only speak, write, act, and create from my highest and most loving self, at all times. I will neither temper myself nor try to please anyone. I’m just gonna relax and be me. And I truly hope you will too.
Let’s read fewer blogs. Give fewer thumbs. Click LIKE a lot less and just drink tea and watch the dust particles coming up from the carpet in the sunlight. Because if you’re looking for inspiration, you’re never going to find it in your mini-Manhattan–your iPhone 6. It is in your heart. In the faces of family and friends, in new places and experiences, and in just being very, very present with yourself in your reality–not trying to distract yourself from it. My children are way more fascinating than that same piece of art I’ve seen thirty times on Instagram. And they love me back. I won’t look at my screen instead of my husband. Because he loves me back, too.
Wishing you a happy, inspired, and deeply connected holiday with the people you love the absolute most.