“Living a double life” is a concept we hear about in movies, series_ and some dreadful divorce stories. I wonder if the number of people who can relate to it would surprise us. My life, for many years, followed suit. It was during high school late years that I entered a contentious space were different definitions of a “good life” diverged or simply collided.
The expectations and desires igniting my soul seemed to trigger unbecoming reactions on those around me, submerging me in confusion and struggle and turning my family into a weapon of mass destruction aggressively attacking whatever could serve as a step towards my “odd” dreams.
Regardless of the motivation behind their actions –upbringing, beliefs, traumas, or experiences– my close circle of “acquaintances,” opposed vehemently to my ideas. I ended up shutting the outside world down and immersing myself in one that was mine alone or secretly shared with other oddballs later in time.
I was not ready to let go people and passions not fitting societal and parental “control.” I quavered, yes! I was so young and filled with doubts. However, when you have had a taste of what makes your heart sing, is rather impossible to give it up without dying on the inside.
Living a double life was my way out. One moved according to family and society expectations while the other was filled with the things I wanted to explore and protect despite being “forbidden.”
When you become used to hide your inner self or have experienced abuse or ridicule in moments where your guard was down, showing up feels dangerous. Unconscious patterns and sensible parts of yourself will resist logic and antagonize your efforts to be brave. After all, is a matter of survival to them.
Social-Media & Showing up
In today’s world “being-out-there” has become the norm. The increasing number of social media platforms and apps aiming for connections, sharing, expressing, creating, and consuming, make it easy for anyone interested in “going on stage” to do so with ease.
Photos, comments on daily activities, links to articles, news, trends, and celebrities, you name it. For those comfortable with showing up, the content shared and consumed varies depending on things like habits, values, networks, and needs.
Exploring the “why’s”?
The “why” people share on social media englobe things like:
- Getting and staying connected
- Bringing value to people
- Defining oneself to others
- A sense of belonging through supporting causes that matter to them
All very sound reasons!
Social media has a lot of benefits for sure. To name a few –it helps us keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues, build our personal brands and connect with other like-minded people who can motivate and support us in reaching our goals. Social Media culture of likes, comments and posts tap into the very traits that make us human, our addictions, longing, fears, and joys.
Sharing and passing information are wired into our brains, marketers look into the things we acquire to profile who we are and bombard us with offers that speak to our online identity. The pull of dopamine and oxytocin is hard to resist.
- What if living in a world of social influencers is not your cup of tea?
- What if you never felt the need to keep up with trends? What if you are an introvert?
- Or, as I said before, exposing your “secret” life threatens your sense of survival?
Social media side-effects may outlive the pros
My resistance to show up comes from stories of inadequacy and unworthiness ingrained in me. I get that. However, changing the narrative appears to be harder when exposed to social media culture’s side effects.
1. Tension between idealized or authentic ways of presenting ourselves
Self-idealization and genuine self-expression are both human needs, there is nothing wrong with wanting to create a positive impression in others or in cultivating an affirming sense of self. But when our authentic way collides with our idealized image or the “paragons” in social media platforms, we might face an hard-to-solve internal conflict.
Trying to “fit in” by denying who we are or by reframing our self-expression to match that which is consumed and “liked” by the masses, can result in a growing sense of inadequacy, impostor syndrome or paralysis, which can block any attempt to break free from molds and expectations alien to our inner selves.
2. Outer focus vs. inner life
Social media can induce what a call “appearances mindset,” in which “the other” always seems to have it better! Thus, we go busy emulating trends, adding followers, likes, or friends to join the fabulous big leagues.
Turning inward to explore the riches of what lies within us takes the background because it requires determination, bravery, and time. The time we spend on FB, Twitter, Instagram, and alike. Looking unique and being unique, is not always the same. Our inner world might be controversial or uncommon, and putting it out there makes our “fight or flight” mechanism shout “TROUBLE!” Feelings of rejection and unworthiness can get triggered when the response is less than satisfactory.
3. The illusion of connection
Face to face interactions were my default to meet like-minded people, explore the world and grow. After COVID that changed. I got used to communicating virtually and learned to work my way around many online tools and apps. Time flew away while I was sleepwalking through my daily activities or distracted with frivolous entertainment. Anxiety and doubt festered crumbling my courage and goals while intentions vanished under the weight of old patterns and beliefs.
Building a framework for Showing up
What is convenient might not be the best…
At the crossroad of new beginnings, I realized be it online, or face-to-face, meaningless social encounters make me feel lonely, empty, and frustrated.
As an introvert, I enjoy silence and being alone. Noisy, crowded, or cluttered spaces- virtual or physical- and interminable chains of ads, suggestions, and invitations– overwhelmed me. Friend requests that end on an “anonymous” list, and irrelevant content plunged me into a well of stress and anxiety.
I value friendships and believe in supporting and inspiring others. Still, I cannot keep up with feeds, respond to subjects of no interest to me, or disagree with certain popular lines of thoughts of ideas without feeling anxious. Social Media and trends are exhausting to me. They can bring more frustration, guilt, and shame than joy.
Despite wrestling with staying genuine while trying to navigate the culture of our times, living in a way that speaks to my core principles and philosophy of life trumps developing a social media persona. I understand both can coexist, I just have not found the balance that brings me peace of mind yet.
Doing you in a world of algorithms
Music is vital in my life. As a professional musician not only do I have very curated tastes, but I bow to complex structures and rich harmonic progressions. It is sad to see how the creative process and music itself are being affected by algorithms forcing their automated recommendations and taking hostage our freedom to discover and explore things outside the long strings of code filled with the biases of their authors.
It is NOT Music Alone!
Algorithms have become the new decision-makers. Their vast influence is shaping many of the most important aspects of our lives. If you are overwhelmed by choices, lost, moody or running out of ideas, there is an algorithm that can help. Algorithms are reinforcing tastes rather than widening them.
Using music as example, composers face the need to change their voices to fit technical parameters that constrict creativity and crush diversity by setting unchanging standards.
Where do self-expression and calling find respite!
Increasingly rushed and complex lives might call for algorithms to help us make more efficient choices. Nothing wrong with that. Yet our favorite apps and programs depend not only on data connectivity, but algorithms. It makes me wonder…
- Are those in charge of databases defining one’s future?
- How can we be open-minded and adapt to the rapidly changing world when the information or news we receive come from sources that never challenge their worldview?
- How can we nurture a personal voice that is unique and expresses out-side an algorithm?
- Why are we delegating critical life decisions to “codes” written by others?
How to use social media to one’s advantage
After many meetups and networking events that left me disoriented and empty. I became an expert online matchmaker and researcher! The shield of the computer screen allows for “tweaking and weeding” in a respectful and civilized manner that bypasses being forced to do “small talk” and moves right into “building” relationships.
Experience and curiosity nurture the learning curve of life, maneuvering through the virtual and social media world has strengthen my determination to be social and active on my terms and to carefully ground the message I want to send into the world around what “It IS Me” or “Speaks” to me deeply.
Showing up, genuineness and self-care
I carry the baggage of old stories and beliefs accumulated over years of struggles and quests to owning who I am. Internet and Social media have widened the spectrum of knowledge and things one can access, no doubt. I am a child of this era, and despite my diatribe, these fantastique tools.
The quid of the issue is precisely that, the word tools!
As long as I am aware of that part in me insisting “you should” while making what I want to appear out of order – “unlike-able”– I can plot a course that is both, meaningful and self-loving.
Showing up encompasses a philosophy of acceptance
Author Geneen Roth defines showing up as experiencing life.
“It is called presence—-being (body, mind, and soul) where you are and feeling it.” Showing up is about being where you are, appreciating what you have, what you are doing, what you can do, and not wasting your energy focusing on all the things you don’t have, you haven’t done, or you wish you could achieve. Instead, it’s about our ability to do the things we need to do, even when we don’t feel like it.”
If we choose to be seen, to show up, to put ourselves out there with all our fragility and vulnerability, we need to be prepared to ignore or reframe criticism, ridicule, and failure. Because they happen.
Knowing what we want and who we are are paramount to helps us avoid being stuck in the things other people and markets think would be good for us. Constructive feedback, knowledge, learning from past mistakes and modelling our heroes are good things when we remain loyal to “Us.”
My walls in the office and practice room are filled with notes serving as compass to my makeover.
- If it does not serve you, Let it Go
- Be aware of when you are not Showing Up
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- If your brand has strong opinions, incorporate them. Go right into controversy.
- Don’t be afraid to Speak Your Mind.
- Stop worrying about how many “likes” you get or how many followers you have. Just Be Relevant.
- Do it for You, Do You
Everything starts with self-love, with embracing “US”
When we show up for ourselves, as ourselves; we tap into self-respect, self-trust, and greatness.
I have an altruist vein that prefers to show up with content that relates to my life’s journey and ever-evolving identity. I have an artistic one pushing for cutting edge and creative content that might be disruptive, esoteric, complex, or just silly for others. Yet for me? It is my raison d’être.
“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”
Winning and losing are terms deeply ingrained in our society and, despite my tendency for “black and white” thinking, I know that life flows in the “in-betweens” of those two. When Fear wins me over, when I cannot live up to my divine “madness,” I call upon my Perseverance, as is a strength that allows me to rise to the occasion and perform against all odds.
What strength helps you to show up?