Sunday, 4 March 2018

Who I am When I'm Not on the Internet

If the internet disappeared tomorrow, the entire world would descend into meltdown. We rely so heavily on online communication and social media. If it was suddenly taken away, we would all feel so lost. So much of our identity these days is tied to our online selves. We all create these internet versions of ourselves, but with that taken away, do any of us know who we really are? Would anyone really know who I was? 

Think about everyone you follow on Instagram and subscribe to on YouTube, too. When you take away the glossy filters and careful editing, do you really know anything about these people at all? The answer is probably no, and yet we all tie so much of our self-esteem and confidence to the validation we receive online.

There is nothing wrong with aspiring to be a certain way, or with keeping some of your life back from the internet, as long as you're being true to yourself while doing that. None of us should feel like we have to hide who we are or what we like just to fit in, yet I find myself doing it all the time. It's not good for me.

I'm spending less and less time scrolling these days, and more time being myself and pursuing interests away from my phone or laptop screen. In part, this has come from not really feeling like I 'fit' into the blogging world anymore. It's also down to the way I've grown increasingly aware of how much I (and others) scrutinize myself against what I see online. I often feel like I have to change or come across in a certain way in order to get Instagram likes or Twitter shout outs. 

It's given me more time to think about who I am without the internet, and to become more comfortable with the quirks and faults within myself that I don't always show openly online. It's done so much for my confidence and self-worth.

It's also led to me reading and writing about subjects that I hadn't felt at ease discussing in a blog post or Instagram caption before. It's helped me feel less of the conflicting duality that comes with a life lived online, and to embrace who I actually am rather than who I want to be seen as.

So, here's who I am without the internet:

I'd rather play hours of complicated board games on a Saturday than go down the pub. I'm not a big drinker and I love to chill out with a geeky game or two. Give me Terraforming Mars or Risk 2210 A.D. over a piss up any day. Next stop, D and D.

I'm a recovering people pleaser. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect, and the thought of upsetting someone or inconveniencing them is totally at odds with that. I used to have a really hard time saying "no" to anything, but placing more value on downtime and learning to juggle life and work more efficiently means that I'll happily tell someone I've got too much on, I would rather eat somewhere else, etc. It's meant that I'm a lot happier with my friendships and how I spend my time these days.

I have a dark sense of humour and will probably curse around your kids. That does mean I can hold my own when it comes to savage banter. I guess having a big group of guy mates that always have their filters off will do that to you!

I'm an impatient person. I often want things done 5 minutes ago and long-winded tasks frustrate me. It does however mean that I'm pretty good at cutting to the chase. I'll ask the real burning question rather than letting someone skirt around an issue.

Human behaviour absolutely fascinates me. If I hadn't studied English and gone into marketing, I definitely would have pursued psychology. I spend more time reading disturbing case studies about the human mind than I do reading Victorian novels. Perhaps one day in the very distant future I'll make the leap, but for now I enjoy feeding my weird interests with articles.

Speaking of weird interests, I've also got an unhealthy addiction to the My Favourite Murder podcast. I can happily admit that I love an unsolved serial killer tale or two, but I swear I'm not picking up tips.

I like to go the extra mile for people. I'll send you a little something when you're sad, deliver a pep talk when you're feeling crap and will happily give a bit of my time up for some volunteering. It doesn't take much to help someone else feel even 1% better than they did before they met you. Every little helps.

I spend a lot of time feeling extremely anxious. I'm high functioning enough that I've learned not to outwardly freak out when I meet someone new or I'm in a situation that I'm not comfortable with, but I'm still working on what's actually going on inside my head. I always will be.

The work I've done on my anxiety so far has helped me to know myself a little better, and to speak more openly with others about my struggles. I was surprised by how many of my friends and colleagues have also gone through similar things, and it's made some of my relationships a lot stronger.

When I'm not feeling well, my go-to snack is a Marmite and salt and vinegar crisp sandwich. I can practically hear you all vomming at the thought but it just does it for me.

So, now I've got all of that out in the open, tell me a little something about yourself that you don't usually share on the internet!

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