About a Stranger and Depression

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She looks at people, trying to imitate them. But they wear shorts while she has gloves.

In April back home there’s a tulip festival, and colours, warm colours, just like the weather. And happiness. Here, she takes photos of tall buildings, grey sky and crowded underground stations. Everything is grey, the weather, even the people dress in pale colours. But that’s fine, she can get used to that, right?

She is scared of being different, of standing out from the others around. The gloves remind her of her grandma, she used to have a pair just like that, made of wool. But she will never be there with her.

She tries to call home, for the third time, but no one answers. Ah! She remembers. It’s night time at home. She goes out as often as she can. She eats fish and chips, cause that’s how it’s done. But she likes it.

People seem colder in a way though, even her friends. They are all fine, of course, but distant, even when they’re nodding and smiling while listening to her. She still likes talking. Talking about her home, her past life, her future hopes. Cause that’s why she came there.

That’s why she left everything behind, even the blue sky. To start a new life, amongst the black cabs and red double-deckers, and grey clouds, and raindrops. A different place calls for a change, it’s always like that. She oscillates between changing to fit in, and preserving her true self. She has changed so much, though. So much. Is that good or bad?

Some things will always be the same. But she can’t adjust her body temperature when she’s dreaming of proper summertime. She tries to listen to other people’s accents, copy them, cause they can sense she’s not from around when she speaks. They don’t mind that. But she does.

She likes feeding the squirrels, but what kind of squirrels are these anyway? Where are the red squirrels she knew, with fluffy pointed ears?… Even the squirrels are grey here.

They say home is where her heart is, but she can’t remember where she left it.

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P.S.: I’ve been recently diagnosed with mild depression. That was about a month after I wrote the short article above, at the Arvon creative writing workshop (more here and here), but I though I could talk a little bit about it here. The article had to describe a struggle caused by moving to a new place, and I wrote it before I moved into the capital. It’s funny and sad in a way, how I found inspiration in something that hadn’t even happened yet. It’s like I saw it coming.

The cause for this ‘mild depression’ is, according to the doctor, the struggle of moving into a new environment. A little ironical. But I know that’s true, and I know that almost each and every one of us experiences at some point something that can be defined by a mild depression, nothing unusual. The thing is to decide what you want to do in order to make sure you’re heading in the right way. Exercising helps, usually. And friends, and hobbies, and family. It’s not the end of the world.

I obviously don’t feel depressed all the time. There was a video that someone shared on Facebook about a black dog which I find really interesting; some good points are outlined, so take your time and watch it here. An idea I liked is that you’ll get exhausted if you try hide your feelings all the time. Since I believe in honesty, I’m not trying to pretend I’m fine when I’m not. I can’t really see the point, and I don’t understand why people can be ashamed of feeling down, but I guess everyone is different.

Anxiety and depression seem to be quite related, so I tried learning how to relax in order to feel better. Yoga didn’t really seem to work in my case (who can bend their arms like that?!) so for now I’ll stick to what I know from the past that calms me down even if I feel like crying (that happens sometimes): my number one song in case of feeling low, from a magical movie.

Apart from that, having faith that any new environment and situation become familiar after a while 🙂 and sport. And talking about it if I feel like so. Which is what I’m doing now.

 

Facebook Popularity

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I missed the train again this morning. The first one, so I’m still going to be just on time for work with the second one. I try to enjoy when I miss it, cause it means I have time to just listen to music or write, or have a nap, or daydream, or eat, or do some exercise, or go home and come back, and oh, the second train has a delay…

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I have to stop from writing, cause someone is calling my name. I’m always a little surprised and pleased at the same time when I hear people properly pronouncing my name, even though it’s not in their native language, and I really appreciate the effort of remembering how to say it. A young man is approaching the train station, and I sigh as I take off my earphones; but after all, it’s always nicer to have a real, interesting conversation rather than writing by myself, right? And with someone nice.

But when a certain statement was pronounced, I realised that our conversation may have quite large potential of becoming more than an ordinary dialogue. And by this, I mean inspiration.

I know it wasn’t a question, but I still had to give him an answer as soon as the feeling of half amusement, half astonishment has gone. I could still hear the echo of his voice, with that funny accent that I can’t reproduce even after I’ve lived for a couple years in this country. “You seem to be really popular on Facebook, you have lots of ‘Likes’ at that photo from yesterday”. Popular… Facebook… Likes. I didn’t know what to say, so I just smiled and changed the subject.

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But the truth is, his assumption is not true. I’m not popular on Facebook, not even amongst my own Facebook friends, and I know persons with way too many friends and lot way too many Likes compared to me. So what? I remember two videos that roughly explain the whole social media craziness better than I can. The first one, Look up, made me cry – cause 1:43 is heartbreaking whether you’re in the romantic city of Paris or in the filthiest pub… You should take a break and watch it if you haven’t already, there’s too much to say about it.

I’m not sure what the second one is called, (update: I found it! 😀 This is it: What’s on your mind?) but there was a guy comparing everything he saw on Facebook with his own life. Pictures of the food others were eating looked better than his meals. The relationships looked better than his own. Social life and parties looked better. Long story short, he starts to distort the reality, by posting false statuses and pictures, in order to display his ideal, unreal life. And yes, people ‘liked’ those, and he soon becomes ‘popular’, given the number of likes. Until one day when his real, awful life gets even more miserable, and he suddenly can’t stand it any more… and he posts on Facebook ‘My life sucks’. The end of the video? Someone’s unfollowing him (might as well be you).

We pretend to have a fun life, a happy life, an interesting life, and we have the urge to show the others how perfect this life of ours is.
We edit and exaggerate, crave adulation…
We need Likes to see who our friends are, cause he’s not a true friend if he hasn’t ‘liked’ your selfie, right? We need check-ins to see, again, that the others see where we are, and see who Likes the fact that you’re there, the fact that you’re having lots of fun while perhaps in reality you’re really, really bored (or else you wouldn’t care about Facebook. But perhaps you really do have fun and still take your time to share this with the rest of the world… Anyway, you may live more of an online life rather than a real one). We need to Like others’ photos in order to show them that we exist, that we’re here, that we need their Likes in return some other time, even though perhaps the photo is blurry, or too ordinary, or something really boring, or perhaps we don’t even really like that person. We share inspirational quotes that we don’t understand, and life events that emphasise the beauty of our lives… Cause no one posts an update about how wrong things are actually going in your life. No one wants to depress others with their depression, right? So instead of risking being unfollowed, isn’t it easier to invent such a perfect life and display it there? No one cares if you were crying, but I’m sure the 100+ Likes that you have on that photo where you fake a smile will definitely make you feel better…. You’re more likely to end up being even more confused.

‘I have 422 friends, yet I’m lonely.’

I’m not trying to convince you that using Facebook or social media in general is a bad thing (I can’t even convince myself of that). I just try to make sure that next time you’ll Like a photo, post a status or prepare to start a few hours marathon of stalking your ex, you’ll ask yourself Why does all this matter to me? Life surely is more than that.

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The topic of social media is too large to be covered into one post, plus the train has just arrived so I’ll end here for now. Or perhaps I’m ending the post here cause I need a break and I haven’t checked Facebook for a while (it’s amazing how many things can be posted on the news feed in 5 minutes…) You will never know 🙂