Hey, everybody! K. A. Parker here with your promised monthly update.
In May, I posted about what quiets the mind–how to listen to criticism and how to listen to what the mind likes and dislikes. This post is going to be a little different in that it’s going to talk about how I’ve reacquainted myself with speaking and finding my own voice.
So, to give some context: After I posted in May, I went on a Facebook page purge. I went through all the Facebook pages I liked and unliked/unfollowed all the ones I thought didn’t serve me anymore. I wanted to go through this purge because I decided I wanted Facebook to be about people whose stories I wanted to hear, not pages whose purpose is to post ads and get me to buy things. Yes, I like Studio Ghibli. Yes, I like bacon. But do I really need to display that interest through liking a page about it? Nah. I don’t think so.
I think that’s where Facebook tricks most of us. It’s turned “liking” things almost into a kind of game–as though you’re collecting different stamps for a virtual scrapbook. Of course, those “stamps” then get used against you by companies that buy access to you based on what you like in order to make your newsfeed filled with the most likely things you’d click on, and the feedback loop just keeps going. There are some instances where I will follow a page. Maybe it’s run by an author I really like, and I want to keep tabs on them. Maybe I like a certain organization and want to keep in touch with them.
Everything else, though? Nah. Not keeping it.
Doing this purge, however, made me realize how much I check Facebook for new content, new info. At first, I thought Facebook was updating slowly, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was the lack of pages bringing new content in the cycle every second. Noticing that change, I became more aware of what was on my feed and much more aware of my use–which is definitely a good thing.
Twitter, admittedly, will be a harder purge, but at least I’m on the right path.
Now that I’ve cut out some of the noise on my main social media page, I notice the content of posts more mindfully. It’s also made me realize how long I’ve gone without contacting anybody even though they’re practically a click away. And, over the next few days, I got in touch with old friends and made new ones, and it’s been absolutely wonderful.
I’m terrible at making the first move when it comes to friendship. To be honest, I sometimes wonder what friendship and friends even are. Is a friend someone who will do anything for you no matter what, or is that a servant? Is a friend someone who offers you advice when you’re feeling down, or is that a mentor? Is a friend someone who will always have your back and never disagree with you, or is that a puppet? Is a friend someone who will talk to you on a set daily/weekly/monthly schedule, or whenever they feel like it? Is a friend someone you’re friends with on Facebook, or are they merely an acquaintance?
More and more, I’m coming to believe that “friend” is more of a flexible term than I initially thought, and that’s been both liberating and frightening. After nearly one year of ending a very close friendship I had with someone, there’s a part of me that realizes that we weren’t a good fit, but another part of me recognizes that I could do and could have done “more.” But would that “more” come from a place of genuine curiosity and openness, or would it just come from the fear of loss?
The former, I think, is the far better choice.
Being genuine is something that takes practice. The world loves telling you that you should be something else. Thin, happy, rich, beautiful, masculine–the adjectives go on and on. What complicates things further is that the idea/concept of one’s self is constantly changing. Remember those Facebook pages I was purging? Those used to be me. They aren’t anymore. My self is allowed to change, and it should. Some things will stay the same, but others won’t. And if I don’t acknowledge that, I’m not being genuine. I’m being rigid and false.
If I’m rigid with my novel, I won’t give it the best shot it has to being the best version of it that it can be. If I’m not flexible with the people I know and trust and don’t want them to change, then I’ve failed to see them for who they really are. If I keep drinking milk without acknowledging my lactose intolerance, then I’ve failed to see myself for who I am (and I’m going to be feeling physically miserable).
I need to check in with myself every now and then, as well as tell other people what’s going on, so that I don’t feel as alone or rigid. If I fail to listen, I fail to learn. Simple as that.