I remember this one time in college when a guy giving a talk (about what, I can’t recall) nonchalantly chuckled and said, “I mean, who doesn’t have a Facebook account?” Me. I didn’t have one at the time. Though it made me wonder if I was missing out on something.
I had a Facebook account in school, but I just didn’t see the point so I shut it down. It didn’t bother me one winkle-doodle-doo. But you see, there’s another human walking this earth with the exact same name as me who did have a Facebook account – amongst others – and, hence, arose a problem: people were adding her to their Friends List thinking she was I.
This was happening across other social media platforms as well but the one thing that really pushed me over the edge was when my name doppelganger posted a picture of herself and a guy in the middle of PDA and the post was shared with one of my closest friends with a message implying that they didn’t know I was that kind of girl. Now, I’m not a prude and people can post whatever sets their hearts on fire but COME ON.
I was about to graduate and I began to fear that prospective employers were going to do an online search of me and mistake me for being someone and something I was not. So, I bit the bullet and I had to create accounts with my real name everywhere with a Display Picture actually showing my face.
You can basically say that I’ve had to make accounts on every major social media platform because I began to realize that my image was now at stake. I could not afford to not have an account almost everywhere because we’re living in a world where your reputation and your image are not benefitted or hindered just through word-of-mouth anymore, but also through your online presence as well. And to all that, all I can say is ¡Ay, caramba! The pitfalls of being a social animal.
I didn’t know how much I actually sucked at maintaining boundaries until my anxiety began to overwhelm me over a year ago. You’re expected to play so many roles as a person, both personally and professionally, that the lines between the two can blur to the point of non-existence.
Growing up, I was surrounded by messages of pride and confidence having to arise majorly from the work you do and the career you have. Landing a government job was tooted ubiquitously as the be-all and end-all of making a living but I never subscribed to it. “So you’re a black sheep of the family, huh?” someone said to me once. Yes. Yes, I wholeheartedly am. But not with ease.
I think the fact that I eschewed working towards a position in the government made me work that much more harder – too hard, in fact, as a way to prove that by doing so, I’m not a complete and utter idiot. I studied hard, became obsessed with doing assignments just so and my brain literally crumbled in the process.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I became harder on myself than anyone else could be. Nothing I did was ever good enough. If I didn’t do well by other people’s definition then I was failing.
I’ve had to learn to put up boundaries between my own expectations and those of others after what you could call a breakdown after graduating university. Partial seizures, anxiety and panic attacks formed my daily life for months on end.
I have always been an ambitious and intense person. My work-mode consists of me starting on a piece of work and forgetting to eat or breathe until everything is done. Start-stop is just not how I’m wired, which is why when the work day is done, I literally need to switch off; otherwise it starts to feel like a never-ending circle and I break down. So yes, I have had to work on those boundaries and make an effort to slow down by a lot.
I’ve been extremely lucky of the understanding that has been shown towards me when I do set my boundaries. I understand how competitive our world is and how much we have to sacrifice in order to meet the definition of “hustling” or working hard. But I’m just no longer willing to sacrifice my actual mind to it all anymore.