Tears Of Joy! Do I Have To Be Sad To Be #Relatable Online?
When I started this blog, I called it my digital candid diary. I wanted to create a space where I was free to express myself, reflect on life, share my inner thoughts and desires whilst trying to be and remain as relatable as possible.
Yes, relatable. I wanted people to be able to read my words and nod their head spontaneously without their brain giving a strong signal or command. I wanted them to feel like they had a front seat to my life and wildest thoughts, but I also wanted them to feel like it wasn’t necessarily that different from theirs. But, what does it take to be relatable?
Sometimes, it feels like being relatable means being down in the dirt or struggling. Most times, whenever I encounter a #RelatableAF post on my feed, it usually portrays the negatives we can all come across during our lifetime. It’s often a post that conveys the emotions we feel when we discover there is no money in our bank account or when our job interviews are leading us down a dead end. #Relatable was that time I fell down in public and went home straight away because I was too embarrassed to face all the eyeballs in the crowd or that time I felt really down or betrayed. #Relatable was when I felt like crap looking in the mirror or the feeling after that exam I knew I had completely failed even before the results were out.
These examples are some of the things we all relate to in one way or another and sharing them with the world has begun to feel a lot less taboo due to the fact that the online universe allows and encourages us to share and use our voice loudly which is amazing on so many levels. In fact, I do that a lot on this blog; I’ve written about feeling lost, feeling uncertain about the future, losing friends, dealing with pressure and not being okay. I’ve felt comfortable and confident enough to share some of the dark parts of life here and I am certain that people feel the same way I do when I look at comments or receive messages in my DMs.
During my quest for what’s relatable and often shared, I discovered a lot of the posts I was getting fed with were all about the negatives in our lives, all the things we hated and wanted to get rid of, all the things we would rather hide, but we decide to share to shed light on our feelings or certain issues. Being relatable obviously helps us feel less alone in this world; it’s a comforting feeling to know that someone else out there has experienced first hand our rage and heartbreak at some point in their life, and, although you may wish no harm to others, them being able to relate is almost like them giving you an invisible hug – a digital hug if I may say so.
This leads me to ask the question: do I have to be sad to be relatable? Do I have to share the pain to feel like I’m understood? Are my difficult experiences in life the only thing people will want to read about?
For the first time in my life, last week, I cried tears of joy. I don’t recall that ever happening before although I cry super easily. I’m that girl who can perfectly cry out loud at the end of a movie whilst everyone else manages to keep it together somehow. I usually try to hold it in a while when life throws stuff my way, but I can never hold out for too long before the pent-up river makes its way down my mascara straight unto my cheeks. Despite all the tears I’ve cried in my 22 years alive, I never did it out of pure joy, out of celebration and extasy, but I guess there’s a first for every single thing.
When I first thought about writing about the happiness I felt in that exact moment, the immediate thought that came across my mind was: “but is it going to be #relatable enough?”. I was extremely happy and yet extremely hesitant to share it with the rest of the world, how is that even possible? How is it easier to basically rant about everything that makes me so unhappy and angry rather than the moments of great joy.
Why can’t #Relatable be that fact that you just bought a new car, started a new relationship with your long-time crush, reached a great milestone exceeding even your own expectations, started the new job you’ve always dreamt of? Why can’t #Relatable be having it all together even if it was only for one night, or believing you finally just found your path?
Maybe it has a lot to do with our concept and understanding of what happiness really is, but also the degree to which we believe everyone else is happy. I mean, to an extent, we have all felt pain. It is something we know all too well and can even attempt describing with words. We all know what it’s like to have a bad day and we all understand the concept of not being okay. We know that there are problems behind our problems and layers behind layers, just like an onion we need to peel to get the bottom. Sometimes, we even try to avoid reaching the bottom cause, oh boy, if they see the mess, then, it really would be over. In this sense, I guess pain is also something we hide although we can all understand it or relate.
What about happiness? If we spend most of our time hiding pain behind smiles and empty loud laughs, how would we possibly know who is really happy? The real question would then be: what is happiness and how can we recognise those who are really happy? Those who would then relate to our #Relatable Instagram happy posts and be able to comment upvote and heart-eye emojis under our posts.
Maybe that’s why we believe people will relate to the negative more than the positive; because we believe for sure that at some point they were or maybe they still are in our current situation. It might also be pessimistic or cynical to except sadness to be more relatable, to expect heartbreak to be the norm, or to just think things will hurt eventually and life will somehow come at us at some point, but that is relatable in so many ways and that’s why it sucks.
I had this thought: if I really want to represent my life as a digital candid diary then my tears of joy are also very relevant to the story. They are also relevant to my story and where it’s headed and therefore, my happiness should also be reflected in these web pages. Relatable should not be equal to being down in the dirt, however, it should represent all facets of life; the good, the bad and the in between.
Your restless romantic roamer