Oppdatert: 1. jul.
The deepest desire I´ve ever known
Is the desire to be understood.
If I go deep
In the darkest, loneliest corner of my mind,
I find it.
The earliest memory I have.
A little girl laying on the stairs, crying into a pile of her own hair.
I can´t explain to you why she is crying, only that my body remembers.
I can feel it. I can feel her.
The heaviness consuming her tiny heart.
How it feels to be five years old.
Feelings that weren´t taken seriously.
Feelings she was too young to articulate.
A feeling she could only verbalize as
"Why doesn´t anyone understand me?"
And there it is.
Hidden in the depths of my shadows.
The identifying belief I have spent my life devoted to.
No one understands me.
I have another memory, around the same age.
I am running to my dad in tears.
My younger brother had just done the unimaginable.
He called me...stupid!
I confronted my dad with the crimes of his son and he simply asked me,
"Well, are you stupid?"
What? How dare he! Of course not.
"No!" I shouted incredulously.
"Then who cares!"
Who cares? Who cares?! I did! How couldn´t he see that??
It wasn´t enough if I knew I wasn´t stupid. I needed everyone to be on the same page.
What I think of myself has never been enough.
I needed someone else to agree.
My inherent need to be understood ended up manifesting in beautiful ways.
I couldn´t make sense of the feelings in my body.
The traffic in my head.
So I wrote. Music, poetry, movie scripts, short stories.
It´s amazing how natural it came to me, looking back.
How effortlessly children seem to grasp that art is the language of our inner world.
I wrote because it felt powerful to put pen to paper.
To translate what was going on in my head.
It made sense. It felt easy.
Writing was the comfort for my cry to be seen.
Writing showed me myself.
Ahhhh yes. That´s how it feels to be me.
My life changed when social media came along.
Writing was how I´d translate my brain.
But sharing my writing online would reveal who spoke the same language.
I was suddenly connecting to likeminded souls all over the country. All over the world even.
Teenage girls and adult women resonating with my words, telling me I perfectly explained something they´ve never been able to communicate.
I can´t describe the feeling any other way than pure relief.
"I feel this way too"
Was an exhale.
It validated all the parts of myself that felt wrong.
Too scary to say out loud.
The world feels so small when you´re stuck in your own head, convinced you´re the only one who feels the way you do.
The internet opened my world.
I was addicted to the reassurance that I wasn´t alone.
But seventeen year olds don´t know themselves.
We look for who we are in everything around us.
Movies, songs, characters in books.
The cool older cousin. The Fiona Apple song she showed you last summer.
Our personalities bend with the hottest, latest whatever.
We desperately crave individuality,
Yet we can only stomach the pursuit of acceptance.
Seventeen is a dangerous place to be.
Because when you don´t know yourself,
You´ll listen to anyone tell you who you are.
On one end, being vulnerable gave me peace, confidence, a community.
But I could have never prepared myself for the other end.
The pain of a stranger rejecting your open heart.
The pain of hundreds of strangers rejecting your open heart.
What that can do to a young girl by the time she is becoming a woman.
On the other end, waiting for me, was bitter judgement.
The worst thoughts anyone has ever had about me.
Confirmation of secret insecurities.
Construction of new ones.
The proof of being perpetually misunderstood.
We don´t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
I know this now, but my seventeen year old self had no idea what she was getting into.
The mortifying ordeal of being known.
I think of Social Media as a window. A metaphoric view into someone´s life.
Participants open their windows, open their lives, inviting us into their world.
The window gives you the illusion that you see it all.
That you´re peeking in to something intimate.
It´s an addicting, voyeuristic form of entertainment.
But just when you think you really know someone,
just when you think you have them all figured out -
you touch the glass.
The glass exists to remind us that the world on the other side of the window, on the other side of their social media accounts - isn´t really a world at all.
It´s just a room.
A room they choose to put on display.
There is an entire house behind that room.
An entire life behind that face.
But it´s easy to forget that when the glass also acts as the filter in which we view the world.
The filter that has been created by our life experiences, our cultures, our conditionings, our prejudices, our projections.
We think we know, we think we see.
But the trick of the glass is that it´s just a reflection.
A reflection of our own unique filter.
We stand outside the same window, we watch the same YouTube videos - yet we all see something different.
We think we know, we think we see, but the glass reminds us we can never go inside.
We can never see the whole house through a small window.
We can never see the whole person through a short TikTok.
That level of entry requires a lifetime of understanding.
About two years ago, it all caught up to me.
The past six years of my life online.
For so long, I felt numb to the way I was perceived.
My vulnerability also brought out the best and worst of people. Both close to me and complete strangers.
When I triggered the worst in someone, they were loud about it.
I trained myself to remove them from my life and to block, delete, ignore.
I thought that meant that I was confident.
That I was someone who didn´t care what people thought of her.
But I never trained myself to discern between projection and truth.
I knew how to block. I knew how to ignore.
But the comments never really went away.
I was subconsciously internalizing every single one.
My self perception became contaminated by opinions that were never even my own.
"She´s a mean girl!!!"
"She´s so thin! That´s why she goes to a psychologist. My friend told me."
"She´s sooooo problematic"
"Way uglier in real life"
"The ultimate pick me"
"She sucks at writing"
"She is so obsessed with herself"
"She´s not THAT pretty"
But the most painful comments were always from the people who couldn´t even pinpoint their problem with me.
"I just don´t like her and I don´t even know why"
It was a confirmation of my earliest fear.
There is something wrong with me.
There has always been something wrong with me.
I cannot hide it. It´s visible to everyone.
I revert back to the little girl running to her dad in tears.
Seeking validation from someone who knows me.
Someone who can say they´re all wrong about me.
And though, I´m grown, the conversation is always the same.
"Look what these people are saying about me!"
"Well, are you those things?"
"Then who cares!"
But it´s not enough. It´s never been enough.
It´s not enough that I know I have a kind heart.
Or that I am an amazing daughter, a loyal friend.
It´s not enough that I know I am taking care of my body.
It´s not enough that I know these perceptions are inaccurate.
I needed everyone to be on the same page.
I needed someone else to agree.
Because deep down I was terrified that I didn´t actually know at all.
Deep down, I feared that these people could see me clearer than I saw myself.
I grew more and more defensive as the years went on.
Blocking, removing and ignoring was how I kept my head above water.
But once in awhile I´d sink to the bottom.
I´d engage with the gossip.
I´d would swim with the sharks.
I felt justified in putting people in their place now and then.
I had every right to defend myself.
To macth their energy.
What if someone came to your house, knocked on your door and began commenting on your body?
What if they told you they knew you had an eating disorder, and that you are responsible for the many eating disorders you will inevitably inspire?
How would you respond?
You´d probably tell them to get the fuck off of your porch.
And it would be well deserved.
Why is it any different hearing it as gossip about yourself or online?
If a stranger does this on social media, I´m a mean girl when I tell them to fuck off.
What is the difference?
How do people think that´s okay?
I ask myself this question a lot.
One day, I got an answer.
"Because your window is wide open"
All at once, everything clicked.
My window is wide open.
Social media is like a window into someone´s life.
But I never took into account how much bigger my window was in comparison to everyone else´s.
I shared so much of myself.
My windows were floor to ceiling.
My vulnerability attracted a crowd.
There was more to see.
More space to observe.
More behaviors to analyze.
And when people stand outside your window long enough,
They´ll eventually feel entitled to walk up to your door and tell you exactly how they feel about the room you´re showing.
At what point do I just stop answering the door?
At what point do I just close the blinds?
I have spent years endlessly cleaning the glass on my window.
Wiping away any misconceptions people might have.
"Wait, look! I promise I´m not like that! Here, let me show you!"
I had to learn the hard way that the glass isn´t about me.
No matter how clear my display, I cannot control the way I am reflected.
That´s the game you play when you choose to share yourself.
That´s the price of being seen.
I did know that if I kept my window open all the time, I would continue to lose myself in the projections of others.
I had to take a step back to remember who I was.
I had to tune out the noise to even recognize my own voice again.
But it wasn´t long before we found each other.
I started writing. Real writing, like the way I used to do it.
From the heart, from my instinct. Like a child.
I didn´t share these writings, I kept them for myself.
It feels good to keep some things to yourself.
It feels good to return to a fluent language after years being lost in translation.
Because the beautiful thing about art, is that it requires no shared understanding.
We view art, like everything else, through our own unique filter.
We all interpret the image differently.
The intended meaning or impact of the piece is irrelevant.
Art is subjective.
What sparks life in me, may bring up uneasiness for you.
The perception is beyond collective agreement.
But isn´t that what makes art so powerful?
It doesn´t have to be collectively agreed upon.
It doesn´t have to be palatable for everyone.
Good art isn´t measured by the amount of people who see the final product in the way you intended.
Good art isn´t about intentions at all.
It´s about touching people.
Lighting up something once hidden.
Something that makes you think.
Something that makes you talk.
Something that leaves a trace.
Good art does not come from how well your work is received.
In fact, good art actually has nothing to do with being liked by others.
When you like what you made, that´s good art.
It´s perfectly simple.
If I like my art, my job is done.
If I like my art, that is enough.
My return to writing as a pure form of creation led me to a breakthrough.
I, myself, am art.
All of us are. Walking, living, breathing expressions of spirit.
How silly to assume the point of humanness is to be collectively accepted.
How sad to spend your entire life attempting to control how others interpret your being.
Our purpose is more than being likable.
In fact, a good life has nothing to do with being liked by others.
When you like what you´ve made, that´s a good life.
Its perfectly simple.
If I like myself, my job is done.
If I like myself, that is enough.
It is finally enough.
I am not here to be understood.
I am here to understand myself.
Reuniting with my inner voice made everything crystal clear.
This voice was the real authority on my identity.
The only voice in my head with enough information to know the truth.
A voice that had been there all along, drowned out by the opinions of others.
But away from my window, I could finally hear.
I could finally listen.
I could finally know.
And when you really know something, you don´t need anyone else to agree.
You don´t need a second opinion.
When you really know, what you think is enough.
I no longer cling to approval from the outside world.
My foundation of worth allows me to exist among the many perceptions about me.
Accurate or not.
I know my hair is brown. I can see it. I see it every day.
But if it looks blue from where youre standing, then it´s blue to you. There´s not much I can do to change that.
In the same way, I know I am a kind person. But if I´m a problematic mean girl from where you´re standing, so be it.
I won´t spend my energy wiping my window, trying to be seen clearly.
The gift of knowing myself is that I don´t need to convince people of who I am anymore.
I know the color of my hair. I know my own heart.
I know it well enough to be okay if that gets distorted.
I am okay with being misinterpreted.
I am okay with stirring up feelings in others.
I am okay with making people talk.
That´s just good art, baby.
The end of a cycle, the beginning of a new one.
I know that losing myself and finding my way back is all apart of a larger cycle.
I know I´ll swim with the sharks again.
But today, I am resting in a lovely moment of self acceptance.
I understand myself now more than ever before.
And I find it exciting that self discovery never ends.
I get to meet myself every year.
I will still use my window to express myself. To speak my language.
Above all else, I need to share my inner world.
But I don´t hang around long enough to contaminate my self worth anymore.
I am getting better at knowing when to close the blinds.
Because it´s peaceful inside.
I feel grounded. I feel home.
Without all the noise, I can go inward.
I can remember who I am.
And sometimes, when I find myself forgetting...
If I go deep
down to the loneliest corner of my memories,
And I find her.
The little girl on the stairs.
I pick her up, I wipe away her tears
and I tell her,
Its ok. I understand.
It feels so good be known so well.