With social media as it is, we’re constantly surrounded with the “best” of others.
The best angle.
The best outfit.
The best news.
The best attitude.
While the mainstream media might often show us the worst of others, what we pick and choose to show about ourselves through social media is often the best we have to offer.
And I can relate. I understand the desire to show ourselves the way we want to be seen, and to leave out the other – not so pretty – details.
Recently I got engaged, and anybody following me on social media could verify that.
My fiancée and I have both been sharing pictures from our engagement photo shoot, asking for mailing addresses so we can send out announcements, and basically presenting the world with the happiness one would expect from a recently engaged couple.
But there might be some out there who would feel better knowing that not every moment is butterflies and rainbows. It might be helpful for some to know that the day I got engaged was one of the worst days of my life.
And that isn’t because anything went wrong. Honestly, everything went right.
I proposed how I wanted.
She got the ring she wanted.
I got the response I wanted.
And she was engaged to the man she wanted.
But even though everything was going right, after the initial excitement and nervousness of proposing faded away I felt nothing.
No happiness. No sadness. Just nothing.
This couldn’t be right…right?
I mean, this was supposed to be one of the most exciting days of my life. This was a day I had been looking forward to since 4th or 5th grade, and my fiancée and I had been planning our wedding even before we got engaged.
Yet there I was holding the hand of the woman I loved…feeling completely empty.
People often talk about very special moments in their life being surreal. It hadn’t ever happened to me, but it didn’t really seem too complicated. The experience doesn’t quite feel real, and the excitement one would expect to feel hasn’t quite sunk in.
What I didn’t realize was how scary it can be to find yourself in one of those situations. You know you should be feeling something, it just isn’t there.
While I was trying to figure out what was happening inside my head I started getting responses to our status update on Facebook.
They were so happy that we had found each other. They knew how lucky we both were to find each other. They felt the excitement that I for some reason lacked.
But why were they happy for me?
I wasn’t even happy for myself?
As somebody who thinks too much, I began to panic.
Mind you, this was all happening during an 8.5 hour road trip to spend Christmas week with her family…allowing my thoughts plenty of time to completely spiral.
Was I not supposed to be engaged to her? Am I not in the right mindset to spend the week with her family? Should I drop her off and then spend the rest of the night driving back to my house alone? If I’m not supposed to be with her when do I break up with her? Do all my friends congratulating me on Facebook realize that we’re about to break up? If I can’t be happy with her will I ever be happy with anybody else? If I’m not happy now will anything ever make me happy? What if this is how I’m going to feel for the rest of my life? If this is how I’m going to feel for the rest of my life what’s the point?
While these thoughts were busy tearing me down I was also very aware that I wasn’t the only one who just got engaged.
This was also a day my fiancée had been looking forward to her whole life.
Yet there she was sitting next to me in the passenger seat, holding my hand as she listened to me apologize over and over again for not being able to give her the engagement day she probably expected.
Lucky for me I’m marrying the most incredible and understanding woman in the world.
She listened to me ramble on about how lost, confused, and hopeless I felt. She held my hand and let me squeeze her fingers as I tried to stop crying. She told me how much she loves me and how we’re both going to have moments like this throughout our lives.
Together we were able to calm my thoughts enough so that by the time we arrived at her house I don’t think her family knew I had been crying. Maybe they just thought it was late and I was tired.
But those first few days were difficult. I would be fine for a few hours and then get freaked out again. Sabrina would ask me every once in a while how I was feeling, and I’d let her know where I was mentally.
After 2 or 3 days the feelings of happiness and excitement finally caught up with me, and I remember being able to say that I felt really good. It felt like we were really engaged, and I knew that I was happy with her and where we were headed in our relationship.
Now, the reason I’m even talking about this is because there are people out there who feel like something is wrong with them because all they see from others is the picture-perfect, share-worthy moments of their lives. They don’t get to see the dark, confusing, sad, and ugly moments others go through, meaning the only place they see them is in their own life.
Nobody following me on social media would have known what that day was actually like for me and could have assumed we spent it as happy as we were in all the photos we’ve been sharing.
But life isn’t like that. There are ups and downs, and I felt it would be valuable to admit that my life is full of both. I hope by admitting this I can help those going through rough moments, as well as those on the outside who may not know anything is wrong.
To those going through rough moments: You are not alone. We all go through crap, and most of us experience moments of complete hopelessness. There is nothing wrong with you. Some days are going to be great. Others are going to suck. Find some way to push through the sucky days, because they don’t last forever.
To those on the outside: Please understand that for some people around you the most exciting days can be the hardest. Emotions are complicated, and what might seem like the most exciting and happy moments to you might be the darkest and scariest moments for others. Listen to how others feel, and be willing to accept it regardless of how you might be feeling.