SUBMISSION BY ZOE ALLEN
Fear. The word has an abundance of different, ominous meanings to every person. The fear landscape of one person is incomparable to that of their neighbor. Fear attacks people in different ways.
There are normal fears, per say a gunman, or a Great White Shark, or being abducted by aliens. There are weird fears, like being sixteen and legitimately being afraid of vampires (cough cough, me. The fear is called Sanguivoriphobia, look it up). And there are consuming fears, or phobias.
Even more so than vampires, I am scared of people. My fingers tremble before posting anything on Instagram and just recently I learned how to be okay with not getting above 200 likes. From the moment I first got Instagram to that point, I believed perfection to be getting 300 plus likes or more on every picture. I was obsessed with this notion, obsessed with the need for people to validate my worth. A few nights ago I deleted and reposted a poem of mine six different times out of fear of being mocked. I got a new job at a cool website just yesterday and when I informed my followers about it, it accumulated a mere 60 likes in three hours–how pathetic is that? With over 1,000 Facebook friends, I tell myself that anything below 100 likes on a profile picture is a failure. Here I am, sitting at 94, cursing myself and wondering why I didn’t post the “better Sadie Hawkins photo”.
I’ve always wondered how truly possible it is to reach a point of not caring. A total state of apathy, indifference, and surprisingly, bliss. It is human to care, but I am sick of caring this much.
After breaking up with my boyfriend, I realized I had far more potential and power than I had realized (to no fault of him, this was completely on me and the limitations that I placed on myself). I deleted all of the photos off of my Instagram and decided to start fresh in life. I told my friend Lili that “I had been posting pictures that made me seem exactly like everyone else, the people I’m different from, the people I dislike, and I didn’t want that anymore. The first step to being myself is ending the charade of being someone else on social media”. Don’t get me wrong–social media is beautiful, and I love it. 95% of my daily news I get from Twitter, 50% of my inspiration I get from Instagram, and 75% of my life updates I get from Facebook. I just know too many people who use it as a way to brag about their accomplishments and to show off their “fabulous” life. We are all those people sometimes. I guess my restarting of my feed was an attempt to wean myself off of that lifestyle.
Life imitates art; art imitates life. We are what we put on social media. By refreshing my feed, I refreshed myself.
I spend far more time than I would like to admit worrying about what others think of me. “Am I smart enough?” “What will happen if I date this boy”, and most commonly, “I think my writing is good, but it is probably trash, and that is what everyone thinks”. It is hard to live like this. But, I don’t know any other way.
I am trying to learn. With each day, I grow stronger and more resilient to the masses. I think less about what other people want, and more about what I want. In the end, I can’t expect other people to like me if I don’t even like me.
In reality, far less people are against me than I believe are. The boy who didn’t like me back is not dreaming up the newest rom-com (not so rom) blockbuster entitled “the 101 ways in which Zoe sucks!” The people who didn’t vote for me for a student council position probably do not think I’m the worst person for alive/for the job. The teacher who gave me a C+ on my test didn’t give me that grade just for kicks. And my friends on social media don’t not like something because they hate me, they just choose not to like it. In the end, that’s their decision. I should post what makes me happy, and they should like what makes them happy.
I will go on feminist rants. I will sing in the shower. I will defend my friends. I will continue to write (no matter how crappy it can be sometimes). I will dislike math. I will wear the “dramatic” brown lipstick that my mother condemns. I will post what I like. Most of all, I will be what I like.
Written by Zoe Allen, a contributor of Written Citizen, Crybaby Zine, and Mad Sounds Mag (among others!). Follow her on instagram at @eozallen.
Image by Megan; it was originally published in the Crybaby Zine series “Technolo-she: Exploring Consciousness Through Technology“.
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