Authenticity or attention seeking ?

If I’m honest, I don’t even know anymore. I guess it’s subjective? I could post a picture on here where I think I look nice and some would think I’m trying to grab attention. I suppose I am in a way, but not necessarily because I’m all ‘look at me, like my photo’ but mostly because I want people to read my captions. Again, not for popularity purposes but because I think at least some of the stuff I have to say might be helpful to someone out there. And I think if we’re all honest a slightly more aesthetic photo is more likely to get someone to stop scrolling then one where I look like shite.

They say social media, (Instagram in particular) is a highlight reel of people’s lives and people only post what they want you to see, which I agree with to some extent. But I think it totally depends on what you are using it for. My Instagram has gone through phases. It started out as an app where I posted the occasional photo before transforming into quite a health and fitness page. That phase of my life was inconsistent to say the least. I was either all in or on the couch. And if I was on the couch my mental health struggles were often on fire, fuelled of course by alcohol. Either way at the time I thought I was being authentic. But was I really? I know for a fact everything I posted was real, but it’s more what I ‘chose’ not to post that puts a question mark over my integrity. The bad workouts, the unflattering angles, the sweat patches. The stuff that basically didn’t look so pretty or impressive, that was kinda neglected so maybe I did only show the highlight reel.

These days those who’ve followed me through my trials and tribulations will see that my Instagram is focussed on my lifestyle blog, my mental health and soberiety, my health and wellness business AND me just sharing a bunch of life lessons and lightbulb moments because….well because I believe that I have some things of value to offer people. Whether that be nuggets of wisdom, solutions to problems or even just a friendly face and an ear to listen. And I think this is the first time I’ve really appreciated what it is to be authentic. I think I can safely say that prior to February 11th of this year I wasn’t authentic. I wasn’t going around trying to be fake but my mental health was so bad at times, even I didn’t know who I really was. And I’m pretty sure if you don’t know who you are, you can’t be authentic.

When I stopped drinking on February 11th 2020, I started a new journey. One of self discovery, personal growth and just learning to understand myself better. Only now do I think I’m seeing my true self, and that’s why I think it’s only now I can say I’m being authentic. And I think when you achieve that level of authenticity you start to notice those around you that aren’t quite there yet. I’m seeing it everyday in my business, all over social media and even in people close to me. It’s not their fault, they might not even realise. And being true to the core, voicing YOUR beliefs, following your own path even if it means upsetting those around you is not easy! In fact it can be really fucking scary.

I saw a post on LinkedIn a few weeks back. Someone asked a question and it turned into quite a…I want to say debate but it was actually more like an excuse to take the piss out of people who show emotion. So the question was something along the lines of ‘why do people feel the need to cry on their social media?’. Now, there wasn’t much more said in the initial post but the comments…wow! Some of the words I saw: Attention seeking, no-one needs to see or hear that, have some dignity, why wouldn’t you just pick up the phone and call someone? Ridiculous, cringey, how embarrassing. These comments went on into the 100s! I was stunned and to be honest extremely fucked off by these responses. Someone’s tears could literally be a cry for help because they have no one else to turn to.

I try not to get into these keyboard battles but I took this one personally. So I rolled up my sleeves and started typing.

My response

I did get a response from the author of the post about it being jest but in today’s current climate, when mental health struggles are rife I didn’t see the funny side of it. What it did get me thinking about was the actually meaning of the phrase ‘attention seeking’. Am I right in thinking we use this with a negative connotation attached? Because that’s the only time I’ve ever heard it used. And when you think about it, all it means is looking to gain somebody’s attention. So really, this could be for all manner of reasons. You could be seeking attention because you’re in danger, or trying to get yourself noticed for your talents, it doesn’t necessarily have to be because you’re desperate for validation or want to have all eyes on you. And personally, I think showing that kind of raw emotion on social media whether it’s intentional or not is closer to authenticity then it is to attention seeking. Maybe I’m wrong?!

I’m noticing that this post does not have a clear direction. I don’t feel like it’s heading towards any big finale. Which I find disappointing. I always like to end with something poignant or dramatic. But perhaps this post doesn’t have a clear ending because there’s no clear answer. Being authentic is more than just being yourself. You have to know what that self is. And what I’ve learned is that through no fault of our own too many of us don’t really know who we are. Society has moulded us without us noticing and sometimes it takes a big life event (one that perhaps say involves wearing masks and staying indoors a lot) to make us stop and ask ourselves the questions. Am I being my authentic, true self? Am I attention seeking or just trying to stand out? Whatever your thoughts and opinions I think these are questions we need to ask ourselves…and probably more than once!

I am the 1%

It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone.”

– Hans F. Hansen

All my life I’ve felt like the outsider. The one in the group who didn’t quite fit. Apparently, it’s a personality trait of mine but that’s something I’ve only recently discovered. 16personalities says that as an INFP (that’s what I am) the need to be understood is strong. And conforming to the norm or to be part of the crowd, is where that feeling of ‘I don’t belong’ comes from. Because we (INFPs) are not meant to follow the crowd, we aren’t meant to fit in with the majority. We can only be our best selves if we go against the grain.

It’s starting to make so much sense to me now. Wish I’d found this out earlier, but such is life. And really, the way things were going for me I’m just glad that I saw the error of my ways before it was too late.

I often refer to myself as ‘a bit weird’ but I’m not really sure where that’s comes from. Am I weird? What even is weird? If I’m honest I think I felt the need to excuse or explain my being a little different to the norm, so ‘a bit weird’ is what I went with. But why do I even need do that? Why can’t I be happy with just being me and not having to explain myself?

Our individuality is what makes us who we are but I think society makes us feel like we need to tone down certain things. In other words, basically shaming people for who they are. And then because you are made to feel this way you start looking outside of yourself, looking to other people, so you can try and be more like them. The ‘normal’ ones. This conforming has been going on for decades…longer probably but I wouldn’t want to speak for those born before my time.

I think these days what makes it worse is that there are people out there; leaders, influencers, even people close to us who we trust; telling us to be true to ourselves. Preaching that it’s ok to be who you are, imperfections and all. But then we do things that are a little bit different and we come up against frowning faces.

For years I tried to fit in and be part of the crowd because the ones in the crowd seemed to have it together. But did they? Fuck knows. Even if they did it doesn’t mean they were my crowd. But I didn’t know that then so there I was, Shaena the square peg. And I just kept trying to plug myself into every hole that I found that wasn’t square because I just wanted to fit. I just wanted to belong.

But here’s the thing about us square pegs. We aren’t meant for ordinary. There’s nothing wrong with ordinary, don’t get me wrong. But we like to do things differently and at first it’s scary because the majority don’t understand it. They get confused by our choices, actions and beliefs. They don’t know why we keep talking to the universe, why we love spending time alone with our thoughts, why we feel so deeply and fall so hard. Why we aren’t built for office jobs, settling down or just settling full stop. And all of this is okay, they don’t understand us because they’re not our crowd.

When I tried to fit, in I felt isolated. When I tried to do the same as everyone else, I got bored. When I tried to hide my feelings, I suffered with anxiety and depression. When I spoke, I didn’t feel heard. But now I know that it’s okay. Because all these things were like little whispers telling me ‘no Shaena, that’s not you’. And I get it now, I get why.

It’s because I am the 1%.

Connect with me

“Social connection is such a basic feature of human experience that when we are deprived of it, we suffer.” ~ Leonard Mlodinow

No, I don’t mean send me a message. I mean, actually connect. Let me explain…

As a species we are not meant to live like lone wolves, we are hardwired for connection. The need to be social is in our make up. But I’m not talking social like going out with your mates on a midweek bender. No, I mean on a deeper level.

We want to be seen for we are. We want to be understood. And that only comes from a true connection, a meeting of minds or better still a meeting of souls.

When we lose someone in our life whether it’s at the end of [any kind of] relationship or saying goodbye forever it frickin hurts. Or does it? What is that feeling? We’ve all felt it at some point in our lives and we call it pain or hurt. But it’s not the same as feeling physical “my finger has fallen off” type pain is it? Turns out social pain is a thing…a real thing. So if you have to take time to heal from physical pain then why is it any different when you suffer the loss of a human connection?

Now I think there’s a whole heap of shit that needs exploring here but I want to go back to the ‘need’ rather than the ‘loss’. I think our need for connection is underestimated. I always used to think I was over reacting when I got jealous of people hanging out with friends or partners even if they were technically ‘staying in’ or ‘doing nothing’. For me, who was going home to her dog (momma loves you Louis) their none plans were still better than mine. And yes, I know it sounds pathetic. And yes, there were tiny violins everywhere. But it doesn’t take away from the fact I felt shit.

But now I know it was more than me just throwing myself a pity party. I mean, of course it was mostly that. But It was also my need as a person to have that human connection. Like we genuinely need it for health reasons, it’s been proven! It reduces anxiety, depression and low self esteem. Those who lack human connection are said to be prone to inflammation, heart problems, ageing and devastatingly, suicide.

And it’s more than just having someone to spend time with or talk to. We emanate those we connect with, consciously and subconsciously. So not only is it important to make and have connections, it’s important that we be aware of how those connections impact us.

Anyone keeping count of how many times I’ve used the word ‘connection’?

One final point on this subject which I’m now realising is HUGE is connections with a purpose. I worked 5 years in a job where I was surrounded by people all day. I made some very good friends there, but some connections weren’t as strong as I thought. But such is life. Now I’m self employed and with my business being an online one you might think connections are a scarcity. Well it’s actually the complete opposite. I may not be meeting people face to face every day but the connections I’m making are meaningful. They have depth because we are connecting over things like mental health, insecurities and sobriety. People assume that I just ‘sell products’, and you can call it that if you want. But it’s not really like that. My business is about making connections with people, getting to know them and finding out ways in which I can help them. It doesn’t always result in me selling a product and it doesn’t have to either. My aim is to help, in any way I can so if that’s just having a chat, offering suggestions or even signposting them to something else then that’s what I’ll do.

So like I said up top, connect with me. Whatever your reason I’m here to help you, listen to you, laugh with you and if you want to, put the world to rights with you! ✌🏽