My generation is all about new beginnings. Double tap if you agree.
We secretly thrive on events, occasions, and dates that allow us to “start afresh”. I’d say 50% of my Instagram feed are inspirational quotes about signifying the beginning of “something new”. Don’t get me wrong, I have formed part of this pious majority myself, and I’m judging myself equally harshly. #sorrynotsorry
We are so not about dwelling on the old. And if you do, you’re just being negative. And your profile is followed for the sole purpose of watching your emotional roller coaster unfold, discussed in the occasional DM between friends. (“Why would she post that?” being the general sentiment.)
Birthdays, anniversaries, death, New Years Eve – all worthy dates that are planned meticulously in our minds as the perfect conduit to miraculously make us better people. I mean, if we can acknowledge that we are going to start over, we’re totally self-reflective creatures; mature enough to evaluate our actions, right? Wrong.
We are the ever-escaping generation looking for the easiest way to avoid responsibility and accountability. You see, “starting afresh” really means that we want to reinvent our situations under the guise of responsibility. But we don’t deal with what happened in the first place because it’s more fun to post a picture of yourself on top of a mountain you climbed showing your conquest. And while the journey of reinvention is a perfectly acceptable one to be on, what’s the point in telling everyone that you’re starting over when no one knew you had something to get over in the first place? Are we projecting our fears onto our social audience?
Why do we do it?
Is it an outlet? Is it a need to be witnessed on this perfectly lonely journey we call life? Is it that we are so self-absorbed that the prospect of sharing the innermost workings of our lives with, let’s face it, 200 of our most random acquaintances at best is the validation we need to keep going on with our lives? (Your best friends know your situation already, and so they’re the first to double tap on that pretty post with the cursive typography)
Those pings going off on our devices, signifying the number of likes we’re attaining, just make us feel so damn great.
Ah, validation that I can in fact start afresh! Let me show everyone on my feed that I’m doing it, I have a responsibility now! And then I KNOW I will have started afresh. (Cue internal reminder that I totally need to post that picture of me in a yoga pose with green juice in hand as the sun rises. Must diarise. 05h00. Reasonable time to post.)
We hype up new beginnings with so much internal planning that the anxiety and pressure of social media affirmation makes it impossible to actually do so.
We have become so accustomed to not holding ourselves accountable to the actions that created the problem, fixating on promises to ourselves that a new day and a new beginning is the solution. But beginnings never began at the beginning. The beginning moves further into the past than the past does itself. And isn’t that the greatest irony.
I’ve spent many a night pouring out my emotions through social media, cleverly writing captions that are just ambiguous enough to not seem controversial but transparent enough that I seem real. It’s a fine line between expression and exposure. While social media is a space for sharing, it has become a crutch – for empty promises, short-lived goals and instant gratification.
I’ve found that holding myself responsible and accountable seems to be the healer of all healers. By acknowledging my role in situations, as painful as that is, I’ve managed to forgive myself. Maybe not for everything, but at least for some of it. I can address the problems I feel parental protection over and let go of my metaphorical child’s hand so that the skin I’ve now developed can start to weather itself organically. And then suddenly, newness presents itself without me projecting it prematurely.
At a juncture in my life that proves truly life-changing, I can see that the idea of starting anew actually does not exist. The truth is that facing the difficulty and destruction in myself takes reflection on the past and not just a focus on the new. By tackling the unresolved emotions head on, without a notification in sight, prioritising silence, the clearest answers present themselves without the pressure of pre-proclamation. I have found that a hard look in the mirror is far more validation three months down the line than those 100 likes were in the moment. Even if I’m battling to recognise the eyes that are staring back at me.
Those eyes now mean more to me than all the views I’ve had on my Instagram story.
(Image sourced from Pinterest)