In the era of Instagram, I’m always wondering what deserves to be seen. What are our images worth in a space saturated by Gymshark apparel and “Live, Laugh, Love” quotes? So much content is intended for manufactured positivity. Things are objectified so that we believe nothing but sunshine merits the light. But social media isn’t always a mirror to our experiences. It’s more of a view-finder.
Happy isn’t the only emotion we’re supposed to feel. You have no obligation to feel good about everything all the time. Part of the human experience is welcoming its complexities rather than suppressing them. Experiencing the myriad of sensations associated with life is a crucial part of personal development. Recognizing and processing all the things we wish we didn’t feel and worry make us less desirable is how we grow into more aware, compassionate people. There is no way to circumnavigate discomfort. It demands to be felt.
If you’ve met me, if you’ve read my writing, if you’ve seen my Instagram, your response to this is “DUH”. I know I’m an oversharer. While deliberate, this doesn’t mean I don’t feel overexposed. I know not everyone deserves my story. I know that my narrative is not for public consumption. Yet, I despise euphemisms, metaphors, verbal breadcrumbs the reader is enticed to consume toward but just shy of the truth. I’d rather just say it. Lay the words bare and surrender to something outside my control.
Stifled beneath the etiquette of display-case social media where only the shiny things deserve to be seen, I felt isolated. Was I the only one adrift in my twenties? Surely, someone else buckling beneath the weight of everything they couldn’t say. But I didn’t hear anyone talking or writing. I failed to find people sharing the unpolished parts of themselves outside of success narratives. I wanted to hear about hardship in the present tense.
Gusts of trauma rolled through my life, and I would find a book or segment on Oprah, but never someone I knew. Life is inherently and intentionally flawed. The paradox of humanity lies in our need for closeness but an aversion to looking foolish. The liberation in desperation is that you care less about looking foolish.
In the summer of 2017, I was rendered desperate enough. I amassed more resources than I ever had in my life, and yet, felt more helpless than ever. I no longer had the energy to preserve my ego as the toxic situation swallowed me whole. In the mouth of a predator, the face is too heavy to save. So, I wrote about the symptoms of my struggle. I posted it to Instagram. Then, I posted again. I am gritty, candid, unglamorous before the digital world. From a selfie where I was crying without make up on to an undies-only picture after gaining twenty pounds, I posted it.
When I am vulnerable, I sacrifice my veneer. Every word erodes the varnish a little more, unveiling my sensitivity. My oversharing betrays my ego. There’s no posturing or performance in the wake of my writing. My words couch no lies in their syllables. It’s just me here. And, inevitably, that positions me for judgment. I am helplessly and unknowingly subject to people gawking at my rawest moments.
Don’t coddle yourself into believing vulnerability has an incentive. It doesn’t. But perfectionism– remaining distant and untouchable– has a cost. The price of perfectionism is our ability to be visible and connected to the world.
For the record, I’m not saying you need to overshare on the internet. I’m saying why I overshare, or more likely, I’m trying to justify it to myself. The justification is simple: for so many years of my life, I ached with loneliness, believing my traumas and woes and even victories were isolated. I would’ve done anything to hear a story like mine. I would’ve done anything to see a woman, unfinished and unapologetic, seizing her space.
In absence of those images, I became that woman. I sacrificed my privacy and comfort for it. I’m not just my prettiest pictures. Oversharing is how I made space for my worst self, and when I allowed her to be seen, I could show up more for my whole self. I burrowed my way through grief and ire by allowing my ugliest parts visibility, by believing that they are more valuable seen than hidden. Appraising that value is an inside job, and after putting myself out there, post-overshare, I am nothing short of golden.