Back in March 2021 I was preparing to delete my Instagram account. As Daniel Radcliffe wonderfully admitted, I don’t think I’m strong enough to be online. The hurt that comes from someone muting you, the anxiety of seeing your follower count go down, or checking who viewed your story…
I’m a firm believer in the ‘if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem’ school of thought, so if just ONE other person feels like I do and I can help them by being honest, then I’m happy to do so. And also because I read far too much self help gibberish and I’m striving to reach some stage of ‘enlightenment’. Behind every light there is darkness and the light creates shadow…so perhaps admitting this is the shadow work I have to do to reach a sense of peace and acceptance, if nothing else.
Let me introduce myself; hi, I’m Megan, and I suffer from an overabundance of shame (and a guilt complex, but I think the two go hand in hand). I’m ashamed of my age. I’m ashamed of my appearance. I’m ashamed of my living situation, the house I live in, my lack of a love life and social life, and lack of a life in general!
I start a new job soon, so hopefully I will no longer need to be ashamed of how I earn a living. That has been the case for the longest time- I avoid the issue when people ask because I’m too embarrassed. Let’s not mention the horror of the head shot and bio that comes with submitting a piece!
Back then, so not long ago, it was static white noise on a day to day, year to year basis. I was surrounded by people equally miserable and in similar situations.
Social media changes that: it exposes one to a whole world’s worth of people! Some of the people I’ve met though Instagram I would like to meet IRL…but I don’t want them to know all my truths. I know that’s on me and not them, and it’s unfair of me to think that they would judge me (and if they did, then, they wouldn’t be the kind of person I’d want to have as a friend). Maybe it doesn’t matter, because everyday I judge me and find myself lacking.
Fast forward to the day I write this, and I didn’t delete my Instagram. I did, however, take a long break.
It is a peculiar modern idea to share our lives on social media in an attempt to find the connection and belonging we all crave. I’m not against it. But as the accomplished bios of the writers on girltellme.com drummed home, I have little to say and little to contribute. I don’t take beautiful photographs. I’ve never won a single competition. I can’t even give hope to beginner artists showing how far practice can get them as I suck at drawing.
Social media, like many things in life, is a popularity game, and I’m not wired that way.
I hate the fact that posting good things is encouraged, expected, sold. It makes me feel like everyone except me is happy and having a good time. I know that’s fake, but being a nothing, nobody like me reinforces the idea that everyone has more, does more, IS more than I am.
I could delve deeper and question whether we should accept our lot in life and learn to be happy with what we have. Or I could debate how bad childhoods leave you seeking outside validation and feeling like you are NEVER good enough, but I would be here all day.
Until I have something to say to engage people, Instagram just reminds me that I’m NOT good enough. All I have are burst balloons of popped dreams and directionless ambition.
I once told a now ex friend in a DM, that I was fueled by a deep Irish melancholy and a sense of self loathing. As Colin Farrell poetically and eloquently put it on Jonathan Ross in 2008: “The propensity for self loathing and the pleasure that comes with that”, and “At times, to be in pain, if it’s self perpetuated, can be sweet, you can feel very alive when you’re in pain”.
I agree. I feel like my life is some convoluted exercise in apologising for being me, but I’m tired of it.
I want to be happy. Alas all I have is my shame.
Megan Romaine has, in one way or another, been telling stories all her life. In the last few years she has been taking it seriously and trying to get it off the ground- to make a dream come true. She has had a piece and a short fantasy love story published on girltellme.com, and a story in six words coming in issue four of Type! Bookmark Magazine.