I’ve been thinking about the new thing Facebook has of putting together a summary of your year in pictures and posts. Something has stopped me sharing mine- list of successes for the year mostly. I’m not sure why – maybe I had a sense that it was overkill, like boasting again about the great things that happened to you in 2014. The successes are true but it is so little of the truth.
What about all those rejections that came in or in the most cases silences instead of rejections? Or worst of all the email praising your work from a very prestigious literary publication, with some reservations and a request for some slight changes and an interest in seeing other work. Away you go rewriting and examining and sending off the very best of your other work after meticulously re-editing it. You are high on the possibility and basking in the glow of little old you about to appear in the hallowed pages and the editor is your new best friend. And then weeks later he tells you that the changes haven’t really done it for him and your other stuff doesn’t float his boat either. The rosy glow on the horizon becomes the blue tinge of disappointment as winter steals the warmth from the earth…
There were the nights when you lay awake worrying about your children or how you were going to scrape the money together for the mortgage at the end of the month or the love affair that started out as a great expansive thing and then petered away to a really small thing and disappeared. Like those mysterious turloughs in the west of Ireland – fields that suddenly fill up with water during the winter months and then dry up completely over the summer. Something you thought you had disappearing down a swallow hole as if it never existed.
The good thing about that image though is the possibility of the return, the new thing a few months/years later. Ireland of the fairy tales and magic, from doom and gloom to recovery and optimism- the glass half full again.
It’s also the Ireland of putting your best side out and putting on a show for the neighbours. For the most part we share our disappointments and tragedies only with our relatives and close friends. You are delighted when they are talking about your success at the corner shop but would probably feel invaded if they were standing around talking about your breakup and they would be embarrassed to be caught. Gossip when it’s bad but generosity when you are spreading the good news about someone else.
Yet it’s the human failings that make us real, that allow other people to empathise with us. We admire success, our culture is obsessed with celebrities but we feel more of a connection when we see the vulnerable side of people. When someone shares a story of depression or tragedy on Facebook we all rally round, we want to help and subsequently feel something protective towards them. Bressie (singer, former rugby player, celebrity, tall, good looking ….) coming out with his stories of fighting anxiety and depression in such an honest way will have a huge impact on bringing the illness out of the darkness.
And millions of us were mesmerised by Nuala O Faolains memoir ‘Are You Somebody’ with its brutal honesty about her life.
And yet there’s that lingering old thing for me and many of us, of hiding our disappointments, those times when we did not live up to the standard we set for ourselves. A fear perhaps that on some level, if we allow others to see our failures it might then affect our perception of ourselves. Something about being a victim that then feeds into the the way things work for us on some other subconscious level?
This post is probably confusing because I’m in two minds myself.
I’d share my Facebook year in pictures with you all but I can’t find it now, maybe it has a self destruct date if you don’t give it due attention when it pops up! (honestly. I’ve trawled through the emails and the Facebook page and can’t find it -I’m sure someone will tell me now though!)
You’ll have to take it on faith that it’s all been happy, happy, happy, success success, success and joy and next year will be even more success, success, success and I promise to share all those moments with my social media friends…
In this blog Jeff Goins talks about looking back honestly at the year gone by and I’ll put aside an hour or two later to do that – but I don’t know that I will be sharing it with the world..