As I write this, I’m already playing out a dozen scenarios in my head about how this would be received; not that I feel entitled to people even reading this (though I appreciate those that do), I could see it being picked apart quite easily on the interwebz. We live in a very critical, judgmental and narcissistic era….especially with the ease that people can semi-anonymously be…well…assholes.
So, I’m walking into this expecting the worst while hoping I’m wrong.
And that’s just a piece of me. I am a very self-criticizing, insecure soul. There’s obviously a much more complicated story to it than that, but let’s not drone on about that quite yet. Anxiety (mainly social) and depression are things that I live with, and that’s okay. Being aware is half the battle, I guess, but I also was in a situation where seeking mental health care was both expensive and inaccessible.
I needed to find a way to try to get through the tougher days when I did not have a support structure in place. I used to grab a glass of wine (or three) when it would flare up, but I’d strayed from that habit…thankfully. Sometimes, in the midst of the chaos, I would find some respite in Second Life and my small group of close friends within it.
I got a lot of enjoyment in the ability to feel a level of control with the activities I’d dig into virtually. See, when life tailspins for me, the loss of that sense of having a grip on my own life makes the anxiety kick in badly. I know the reasons this happens (again, another long story for another day), but it’s a struggle to reason with myself when I get like that.
Time to time when I would go radio silent (and it’s a contrast with my babblemouth ways), I withdraw. I’m aware of it, I see it, but it’s almost like this instinctive self-preservation thing my body does “in my best interest” when I’m feeling overwhelmed by everything. I’m aware I’d become a person that only a couple of people know how (or have the patience) to navigate around. I hit this limit on how much I can handle “draining” social situations (read: with people I don’t know that well) and the stresses of my employment and offline life.
My journey to work on myself has been a very long one, but the reality is that it’ll always be part of my life. But I can always work on being the best version of myself that I can, and alleviate some identified triggers so I can focus on the bigger things. I had to learn to put myself first more. However, during the times where I didn’t have the resources I needed, Second Life certainly helped give me a bit of focus and a way to decompress. I’m incredibly grateful for the friends that were always willing to lend an ear.
Sometimes, in Second Life, I like to play around with photography. In a way, it’s become this creative outlet for me when I am stressed or inspired. Either way, it provides me with something I enjoy doing quite a bit and sometimes can vent with.
Starting this blog and the Virtual Black History Museum were also positive things that I began doing as a result of my experience in Second Life. And while I started out with no support structure in the past, I’ve naturally have built a new one that exists in both worlds. There are some really inspiring people out there if you pay attention.
I’m really not sure what the “purpose” of this post is. I guess, some transparency. I’m one of those people who will keep saying “I’m fine” when my world feels like it’s crashing. I also know that I’m not alone, because I see people like me every day. I just want to say that I think it’s okay for those of us who find some solace in the platform to utilize it in a way that is healthy and productive. I’ve found some things that personally give me a great deal of hope and joy whether I’m having a great day or dealing with anxiety. And I am well aware that there will always be a population of people who will basically shit on anyone who is transparent about their own struggles.
Fuck ’em. Be your weird self. Just make sure that you take care of you in a way that works for you and your needs, and the rest will start to come into place.