October 2015. I'm sitting in my living room mindlessly flipping through Facebook and feeling sort of blue. I text a guy who broke my heart earlier in the year because he's spent the last four months trying to be friends again and I know he'll answer. He does. I call him. As soon as I hear his voice I know he's actually the last human I want to be talking to. But I'm lonely so I make an attempt to care about anything he's saying. I don't. I can't. I get off the phone and I'm mad at myself for being weak and dumb. I'm 39, I should be better at loneliness by now. I should be stronger but I've just spent two hours looking through hundreds of photos and status updates that have me convinced that I'm the only one failing at life. In a fit of needing to make some dramatic gesture of regaining control, I deactivate Facebook. And Twitter. I don't make a silly announcement, I just disappear.
It felt good. I needed a break. I knew objectively that it is silly to compare your own real life to the PR versions of everyone else's lives on the internet but when you are in the midst of your lowest lifetime low, it is practically impossible to put miles and miles of shiny, happy faces in perspective. It was good for me to stop looking at photos and instead, focus on phone calls and dinners and sitting face to face with people I love and hearing what was really going on in their lives.
However. Social media wasn't ruining my life any more than anything external is ever responsible for how we choose to live our lives. I got a bad hand last year. My dad died. A man I really wanted to marry didn't want to marry me back. I struggled in my job. I had some blows to my faith. It was like all the ways I defined myself fell apart and I spent a fair amount of time just trying to distract myself from feeling out of control. I quit Facebook as a step towards being myself again.
I filled November and December with good things. My roommate and I started a clean eating program and I basically cooked every single thing we ate for six weeks. It felt amazing and I'm more convinced than ever that taking care of our bodies is probably the best thing we can do for our souls. It also took a fair amount of discipline which reminded me that I'm good at doing hard things.
I spent the holidays with various family and I did yoga and rode mountain bikes and ran in the woods and went skiing and laughed until I was sick with friends who have known me since before I knew me. I snuggled my brand new nephew and then went to the cemetery on the one year anniversary of my dad passing away.
And on December 31, I packed up all my grievances against 2015 and told them they were not welcome in 2016.
Here we are at the end of January and without sounding like I have everything figured out, I do feel like I have one thing figured out: I will never be "done". There is no finish line here. Life is messy. Sometimes I am going to feel like I'm crushing it on all cylinders and sometimes I will be limping along, hoping there is a rest stop where I can pull over and cry for awhile. But this idea that there is a destination, that I'll achieve "x" and then everything will be awesome? It's not a real thing. Everyone is just out here trying their best and the big secret is how often we are totally winging it. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time but I think it's partially because I was forced to get comfortable in the messiness of a year that didn't listen to what I wanted.
So I'm reactivating my Facebook profile. I hope I am more mature with it this time. That I don't waste one second of my life thinking about what a guy I had a math class with once thinks about gun control or feminism. I hope I'm smart enough to know that underneath all those PR posts are real friends who are dealing with real things and I should text them once in a while instead of just liking their posts and feeling like that's staying in touch. Mostly I just hope that the lessons of 2015 stick with me and that I'm more patient, more teachable, more empathetic.
I'm also looking forward to all the memes I've been missing out on. Don't disappoint me people.