A guest blog by awesome poet Jemima Mitra.
In this technology-centred world it is so easy to get lost in the posts, likes and comments. It’s addictive. But success online won’t truly make you happy. Happiness comes from being around those we love and taking care of ourselves. It doesn’t matter if your photo flopped, if you accidentally tweeted out a typo, or if you take time to get back to someone. We are human and the internet can be an exhausting place to be. So, take a step back, and don’t feel guilty for it.
This past week I suffered a mental breakdown. I barely slept or ate and that took a huge toll on my ability to make rational decisions. I hurt some of my friends and lashed out at people that didn’t deserve to feel my wrath. This probably has happened to you or will happen to you. Do not be afraid though, understanding is forged from pain. Though I have lost some friends at the moment, other stayed by me and supported me through this. Their words of compassion and understanding saved my life. In your life, your friendship circles will likely change and adapt as you grow as a person. Some people are better suited to you than others and often, time is rarely a factor in that suitability. You could know someone for months and they could treat you better than friends you’ve had for years. So, how do you move forward when friendships break down? Accept that its neither of your faults, we are all human and ultimately flawed, as long as we apologise for our own mistakes, we can move forward as people. Recognise, however, that friends do not have to forgive you, and if that is the case, it isn’t meant to be. This can suck balls, trust me, but it gives you an opportunity to invest your time and energy into the people that did stick by you. Think of it as a fresh start rather than a painful loss.
Accept advice. To grow, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them. Do not see advice as criticism but rather, a different perspective. It is so easy to get tunnel vision and miss information that could help you. Accepting advice will open your eyes to other, easier, possibilities. The poet Malika Booker gave me some advice to step away from social media and look after my own health. I didn’t listen properly and two days later suffered a nervous breakdown. I cried and yelled and threw up. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Luckily, my mother didn’t give up on me (as frustrated as she was), and we came to an agreement that I needed to be away from my phone and social media for a while. So, the past few days I have not been active online, but instead invested energy into looking after my unwell family, helping around the house and writing pages and pages of poetry. And it’s healed me. I have been reading and praying more too. Recently, I got back an essay I wrote for University about the genius of Albert Einstein. In this essay, I discussed Einstein’s philosophical thoughts about the relationship between science and religion. He states “the development from a religion of fear to a moral religion is a great step in people’s lives;” religious texts offer brilliant advice and moral teachings – even if you don’t believe in a God it could open your eyes to a lot; anyone could benefit from reading them.
So, this week, instead of spending an hour before bed scrolling through Twitter or Instagram, leave your phone downstairs or at the opposite end of the room, and pick up a book instead. Whatever you fancy, fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose. Not only will this help you fall asleep but encourage you to think more critically and regain all the brain cells you lost after shit-posting. Reading is good for the soul, coming across passages that you connect with and find beautiful, is a joy that you shouldn’t underestimate. If you struggle sometimes with concentrating like I do, keep a pencil nearby and underlines passages you like as you go along, not only will this help you keep your place in the book but also makes it easier for you to locate the lines you like. When you’ve finished, consider sending that book to a friend or writing up your own thoughts, it’s refreshing to get all your ideas on paper, so you don’t forget them. It’s handy to have a notebook by your bed too. Often, my thoughts keep me from sleeping, so I write them down and get them out my system and only then can I sleep properly. Some of my best poetry I wrote at stupid o’ clock, and I’m glad I wrote them down rather than trying to forget them and go to sleep. Don’t underestimate the therapizing effect of writing, it really can give you peace. You don’t have to share it with anyone but sometimes that can help too, showing your friends your depressing poetry or your late-night thoughts can help them understand you better. Writing exists so we feel less alone. Don’t be afraid to be lonely though, loneliness can help us think and reflect on our own actions. Just know you don’t have to feel lonely if you don’t want to, this is within your power, ring a friend, take your dog on a walk, read a book with adolescent heroes or listen to a podcast.
Our world is far more connected online, let’s not forget to stay connected in person too.
For more of her words of wisdom, follow Jemima at @punkofcolour.