Photography: Rebecca Bradley Photography
Balloons: Pretty Little Packages
When did life become such a competitive showcase where everyone felt the need to show how happy they are? Don't get me wrong, happy events should be celebrated and shared with your friends, families and loved ones. What I'm saying is, we shouldn't feel obliged to talk about the things that impact our lives negatively. I get that a lot of people are not comfortable with voicing personal business, but I feel like it is not okay to pretend to be happy and put on a smile when you're not.
Of course social media has a huge impact on what kind of feelings we "should" be putting on a public platform. I have had so many conversations with friends where I was completely oblivious to their emotional and mental hardship. They seemed so happy on social media. A few had told me that their job on Instagram had become exhausting having to pretend to smile 24/7. How healthy can this sort of strain be? What kind of faux pas are we teaching the young followers who are looking up to their inspiration and role models?
For someone who creates content and has photo shoots on a weekly basis, my life is revolved around capturing "perfect moments". Most of the time I am smiling on camera and seemingly finding everything in life pretty entertaining. I am one of those who struggle to show people my vulnerable side. However, I'd like to remind you that this is not my entire life. It is just a form of lifestyle that I have chosen to put on the internet. I still go through heartbreaks, anxiety, stress and sickness, just like everybody else.
It seems so taboo for one to let another know they are not okay. The consistent need of painting a smile on their face reluctantly has turned into a reflex or form of habit. When I walk around with a serious face and people say "Oh what's with the face? Smile Ange." Okay, yes I am normally a bubbly person but does that mean I don't feel beaten or have something on my mind. Maybe a family member is sick, maybe I'm supporting friends through a tough situation, or perhaps my facial muscles just wanted to relax that day. Why is there this expectation for me to always smile? One should not have to be judged based on their facial expressions. We are born to condition to different emotions. That's what makes life fruitful. If everyone is happy 100% everyday - I'd be concerned.
Suppressing feelings, especially alone, isn't healthy. We all know it, yet we all do it. Bottling anything up inside is toxic. If we all opened up our emotions we will find that there will be at least one person out there who will listen to us. To help us through our situation and give us support. It doesn't need to be huge support. Just a simple "Take care" or "I'm here for you" will make one feel so much better.
December 2018 I was assaulted by a complete stranger. Bruised face, black eye and a bleeding nose. PTSD symptoms were expected from me by doctors, the police and the community. However I took this opportunity to open up to my Instagram followers about the tragic experience and well long story short, it allowed me to remember the good in this world. The infinite amount of love that is out there ready to be consumed. I did not have to put a smile on my face and pretend everything was okay. People were grateful about my honesty because it allowed them understand that my life isn't all rainbows and unicorns. Which is why I feel like one shouldn't be afraid to show their vulnerability. When I see heartfelt posts I see strength and feel pride, rather than weakness in the person.
Finally, I recently read an article from Buzznet and something really stuck with me. It allowed me to question myself: Why should one have to live through life trying to be someone else for the rest of the world? At the end of the day, your smile is yours. You own it and you can decide whenever the heck you want to show it to the world. If you're not happy, then don't be. Your audience will not hate you for being human.
xx - Ange