1.2 million followers on Instagram, DM’s for booty calls by the dozens, shoutouts on every corner of the internet, and still Amanda felt empty inside every time she looked in the mirror. Well, looking in the mirror is a big statement. After a couple of seconds of eye contact with her reflection, she just had to look away. She was unable to look at herself because she didn’t like what she saw; she didn’t love herself.
Even with all that attention on Instagram for Amanda and her #instabooty, she never felt more alone. “If all these people love me, how come I still feel alone and unable to receive that love?” Well, dear Amanda, they don’t love you, they love your #instabooty. In fact, love is the wrong word here. Your followers materialized your #instabooty, and to put things as clear as possible: they want a piece of that ass.
Amanda and her 1.2 followers reached a weird impasse where both sides try to satisfy a primal hunger and fail miserably. Her followers are ‘hunting’ her #instabooty in a digital way, which might feel just a bit like hunting, but in reality, it isn’t.
The upside for them is it’s hunting with the training wheels on: they don’t have the risk of getting rejected, and the downside is they will never catch their prey. Amanda is just out there trying to be loved, and paradoxically she gets everything (well, only a weird digital ‘hunter’ nation that’s too scared too actually catch a prey) except love.
We might not have an #instabooty and 1.2 million followers like Amanda, and we might not be the type of people that ‘chase’ a digital prey, but somehow we play the same game Amanda, and her followers do: We show only a fragmented part of ourselves and hope to be loved as a whole.
Modern-day world is hyper-connected, without an actual deep connection. We are in contact with each other 24/7, through dozens of platforms, and these platforms open the doors to a phenomenon that was almost impossible to achieve pre-internet era: we can be who we want. Nowadays we are all actors. We act in real life as well, but connections are real, and people with just a tiny fraction of awareness know when someone is acting.
The Internet has changed that.
The whole concept of how we meet new people and interact with them is complete upside down. In real life, you have to muster up the courage to approach someone who you’re interested in. There is the hard fear for rejection, the possibility that you say dumb shit, the investment of time and physically showing up, and so on and so on. But, when there’s a click, it’s real. You have connected as human beings.
The perfect picture
We spend days crafting our perfect profile, building a lie we so desperately want to believe in. We open our app and grade each other like pieces of meat. Swipe right if we like what we see, and if they don’t return the favor, it’s nothing to worry about. It hardly feels like rejection, and you have 356 options in your queue anyway. You have lost without reaping the benefits of losing and growing from it.
If we post something that doesn’t have the number of likes our previous posts had, we delete it. No one has to notice that tiny part of us that isn’t as popular as we hoped. Click, delete, done. With every piece of ‘ourselves’, we post and carefully curate, we create the perfect image of who we should be to be ‘loved’ by everyone else. We have created a persona that has the least chance of being rejected. And we have shown our ‘true and authentic’ selves to the world and people ‘love’ us for it, but we don’t love ourselves (because we know it’s a lie).
“If you conform to the status quo, everyone likes you, except yourself.” – Rita Mae Brown
The fear of rejection
With all these picture-perfect people on the internet, everything should be honkey dory, right? All these fantastic people with cutting edge technologies and shiny platforms, I mean, can it get any better?
We pretend to be open-minded and loving, but if someone has just a slightly different opinion, he gets nailed to the internet. Why? Because we aren’t connected out love, we are connected out of fear. We don’t listen to understand; we listen to respond.
With everything being super-connected, there’s a lot of responding going on. And it isn’t pretty. People’s ugly sides come out. They say things they would never say in real life. Again, just like the training wheel hunters that ‘chase’ Amanda’s #instabooty, these people express their ‘true’ selves without the actual risk of being held accountable.
“We are not afraid of heights, we are afraid of falling. We are not afraid to say I love you, we are afraid of the answer.” – Kurt Cobain
As people, we choose the way of polarization because it’s safe. If I already reject you, there’s no harm you can do to me. You reject me as well? Big fucking deal. But what if I love you and you reject me? Ouch, that’s a tight spot to be in when you are stuck in a scarcity mindset. Fear is a scarcity mindset. It’s based on the idea that there’s not enough for everyone. It’s a mindset in which we to compete with each other to get the last scrap.
Why are we so scared of things we don’t understand? Why do movies about aliens always end in war? And why does the minority get picked on, even though they were brave enough to show up?
Because in a world of scarcity, there’s no room for unconditional love, you can’t afford it. It’s all about me, me, me, in every relationship.
People who have many ‘friends’ in many places usually just have a lot of employees. A lot of friends always surrounds them, but there’s never a deep connection. These friends are just company, so they don’t have to be alone. It’s based on superficial things, and when interests shift just a bit, the friendship ends.
When you look from a distance, it seems like these people are socially very successful, but often they are just lost and keep company, so they don’t have to sit in that awful silence that reminds them of how lost they are. One week they are punk rockers, the next week hippies, always chasing one fad after another.
They seem open-minded, but in reality, they are lost, and by trying to be everything, they are nothing at all. They never commit, afraid of missing a better opportunity, and by doing so, they miss everything.
Again, this friendship has nothing to do with love; it has to do with other people filling needs they have. It’s a high form of narcissism where you betray someone genuinely interested in friendship. You use their genuine love for you as a commonality — a lack of love and fear for rejection fall like a blanket over their entire life.
Real friendship is a beautiful thing
People who value real connection and real friendship often have just a few (sometimes only one) good friends, and that’s it. You know, the type of friendship where you come in without notice, empty the fridge, take a shit, and leave without saying a word. There is no shame; you can be your weird self. It’s all good. These people are perfectly alright with being alone, and if they don’t see their friends for a while, that’s perfectly fine as well.
These people have high standards and don’t bend easily. They are themselves without compromise, and the beauty is, they don’t have to. When someone in real friendship changes, shifts interests, or develops in an entirely different direction, it’s perfectly fine; the friendship stays the same.
In a commonality driven ‘friendship,’ the dynamics of change are way different. If you change, develop yourself, or whatever, your not my friend anymore. Not because you are not good enough, but because you scare me. You make me doubt my truth, and I can’t have that. Therefore you must go. I will soothe myself by saying how you have changed, that you are living in a dream world, but all I’m saying is, “Stop making me question my reality. Deep inside, I know my reality is built on a weak foundation, and you changing directions might collapse the damn thing.”
Will the real Mr. Perfect, please stand up
With everything being more internet-based, we forget what unconditional love is. No wonder, since we can build a false persona of ourselves, of what we want people to believe we are. And so, people love just a fraction of us. They love our shiny and perfect profile. They love that we wake up with a fully styled face, and they love that our shit smells like roses, that is if we even shit at all.
People walk around with a twisted idea of what and who other people are, but when they finally meet the full human being, they get disappointed. Soon they realize little Ms. Perfect looks like a mess when she wakes up in the morning and needs at least an hour to make herself presentable.
And who is this grumpy guy on the couch that’s too lazy to get up and get you a drink? Where’s the Mr. Perfect part you saw on all his profiles? Wait; what? He can’t keep a conversation going for more than five minutes, and he’s seeing a psychiatrist as well? Fuck this shit; this isn’t what you signed up for! You want my mister perfect!
So you break up again, back on the internet to find the next Mr. or Ms. Perfect, because as it turns out, this one was broken and ain’t nobody got time for that shit. Or maybe you are the negotiable type: “If you do X, I will love you.” But, that’s not love, that’s a business deal.
A lack of love
Even some parents love their children to a certain extent. There’s an agenda. Their kids are merely fulfilling a job. If the child doesn’t meet the standards of the parents, they are not good enough. The child becomes an extension of the perfect persona they try to achieve, just like the newest Mercedes model on the driveway.
A lack of love is just fear in disguise.
When I’m fearful, I create duality. I create a distance. I create a world in which it’s me vs. you. It’s a world in which I ‘love’ you just because you can make my perfect picture prettier. It’s like dating the cool guy in high school not because you love him, but because he made you cooler.
Love, in this sense, is just another word for a job. I’m ‘connected’ with you so you can fulfill a need that I have. If that need, whatever that may be, disappears or changes, it’s adios amigos.
A lack of love is a universal consequence of the hype we all fell into. Because we only see the shiny and perfect things, we believe perfection is a realistic standard for life. If something seems just a bit out of the ordinary, we abandon ship. We think something is wrong because we only signed up for the shiny part. We believe love is as easy as a swipe right on perfectly crafted profiles.
This is the only love worthy of the name love. It’s the type of love that is unexplainable. Asking someone why they love their wife is a silly question. It’s a soul thing; you can’t explain it with your mind.
When I love you unconditionally, there’s an opportunity to really connect. To have soul to soul contact. A moment in which the two of us realize that we are all one. Who cares if you believe in one god and me in another? Who cares if our political views differ?
If I love you for everything you are, that means I go beyond the surface. It means I have empathy for you. I respect you for all the beauty and – here’s where the perfect hype goes wrong – all the ‘ugliness’ that is a part of your whole being. I realize you are not what you portrait to be. You are so much more beyond that. If I love you for who you are, I can see beyond the pain, the confusion, the tears, and the trauma. If I love you for who you are, I am a place where you can express your complete authenticity. It’s all good; I love you.
Love in the storm
Unconditional love is the love that understands it’s not all fairytales and unicorns. It’s that love that knows that if you have been in a long relationship, trials and tribulations, happiness and sorrow, good times and bad, understanding the other and forgiveness, are part of the holistic game. And it’s the love that understands that if the branches want to reach into heaven, the roots have to dig deep into hell.
It’s the love that says, “even though I disagree with you right now, and you’re making me mad, I still love you, no matter what.” That is true love without any condition.
When you love unconditionally, you can withstand the storm. You are at ease, enjoy every moment, and have a grounded faith that tells you everything will work out. When all is love, it doesn’t matter what the other one is. Religion, politics, sexuality, gender, race, it’s all obsolete. No matter what you are, I love you. Why shouldn’t I love you? Sounds easy, right?
But, it all won’t work if you don’t
Love yourself first. To be able to love you unconditionally, I have to love myself unconditionally. I have to leave fear behind. Also, I have to look myself deep in the eyes in the mirror and feel joy, smile and be able to say, “hey sexy mofo; I love you!”.
Because if you don’t, it won’t work. You stay trapped in a fearful and scarce state and keep trying to avoid rejection. You keep perfecting your persona, both on- and offline, and you keep believing what you see. Deep down, you feel like a cheat while everyone looks like they’ve got it all figured out, and so your spiral keeps going down.
It keeps going down because you don’t love yourself for who you are. You feel like you aren’t good enough and try to be perfect. Because you care what others think, you struggle with the construct of self, and you can’t live with the fact that people don’t like you for who you are. You are a control freak and can’t live with the fact that who you are isn’t good enough for the other person. It’s because you value instant gratification above the long run.
It’s because you rather live a comfortable lie than the hard truth.
However, what other people think of you is none of your business. It says more about the other than about you if they reject you for who you truly are. These people that reject you live in a bubble, a construct of the fattest lie. They surround themselves with fakeness, so they don’t have to deal with the fact that deep inside, they don’t love themselves.
Why pretend you are someone else Why accept a lack of love, why become a commonality for a ‘friend,’ why merely serve as a means to an end?
If you are living in love, you are vibrating on an entirely different level as when you are vibrating on a fearful frequency. We are all senders and receivers, and the station you are vibing on creates your life.
The unconditional lovers dive into the depths of the ocean because they have trust. The fearful stay in the same place, because they fear the water will be cold. They want to keep things the same. But, they miss the concept of the whole universe: everything is chaos and in constant motion. Yet they cling on to what is with everything they have, and slowly fade away while forcing ‘love’.
The unconditional lovers forgive and have a pure soul. The fearful keep a grudge that will rot on the inside, just because they can’t forgive.
The challenge is to find love for another person beyond the obvious. To recognize them for who they really are. To say, “no matter what you are, I will love you beyond that for who you are”. This creates a space in time in which we genuinely connect behind the programs, the masks, and the facades that control our everyday life. This creates a moment in time and space in which we can enjoy each other’s company without saying a word.
When it comes to genuine connection, there’s just one kind of love that matters: unconditional love, and that starts with unconditional love for yourself.
Photo credit: Luizclas