TO CONTINUE TREATING MY LIFE LIKE IT’S SOMETHING FROM A SCREEN IS TO EXPERIENCE IT IN INCOMPLETION. SO NOW I TELL MYSELF; THIS IS NOT A TV SHOW – THIS IS REAL AND IT IS HAPPENING. THIS IS NOT A MOVIE – THIS IS YOUR LIFE.
I can put this simply. But I will journey first, because that is what I like to do, and background is important.
University life was cut short in March 2020. Then I was locked up for four months because I was immunocompromised! In the Summer I was finally allowed to go outside and enjoy the sun, but with extreme caution. I fought pessimism throughout Autumn and Winter, and I was obsessed with love as a spectacle. Someone (for lack of the better word, according to them) described me as a female incel (LOL), but I believe I was reacting to the love I was seeing, rather than responding to an absence of love in my life. I regret nothing about the conclusions I came to, I stick beside them!
I started a course in March 2021, which ended in August – it was challenging. I’d also moved out in April and I felt so free. Some of the things I’ve experienced since moving out have felt like a movie – so surreal and ideal at the same time. So dreamlike.
Autumn began beautifully but became not so beautiful as I started going in circles about my career, self-perception, love life, faith, and future. It took a huge toll on my mental health. Habits I developed during the pandemic had more control over me than I would like to admit and I felt hopeless. Sometimes I still do. Apathy towards my faith was unhelpful in all of this because I didn’t care to pray about any of it. Music is all that kept me going.
But one thing I have picked up on is the phenomenon of speed in my life since 2020.
Life was moving at an expected pace during university; I had no complaints other than busyness here and there. Then from March 2020 – March 2021, everything was on pause. I found joy in my creative endeavours but sometimes I had no motivation to carry them out. Also in February 2021 I carried out a fast from secular music, social media and TV, and it showed me just how empty I was without distractions. But life pressed play in March 2021 and it has been like diarrhoea since. Non-stop, and painful (yes).
The weight lies in the way everything has played out. So many situations feel extremely symbolic, down to body language and my physical positioning in relation to others. Different people are saying the same words to me at different times as if they all agreed to do so. The convenience of some situations is perfectly orchestrated, and some curveballs feel like they are spitefully placed just to see me suffer. The lessons I am learning feel like something I’d hear a wise man say and so many songs speak my exact situation. I feel better just as fast as I feel awful, as if yesterday didn’t even happen.
At one point I thought to myself, “This feels like a script. It’s so eventful and tumultuous.” So I began holding my life at arm’s length, and during Autumn I decided to view it like a TV show. Was this a bad idea?
“January to March was season one,” I said. “March to August season two, and September to now is season three.” I told people about it – it was in line with my year after all.
I may rain on a parade here.
Though it was fun to see new people in my life (there were many of them) as new characters and romantic interactions as mere love interests, it soon felt tiring, because this fictional character that I made myself into was dealing with real, non-fictional emotion. There was a disconnect.
I was in disbelief when crazy or symbolic things happened to me because I had been distancing myself from the ownership of my experiences. Yet the truth is that these experiences were not ‘plot-twists’ – they were real! My life was not emulating cinema, because in fact, cinema emulates life. I just hadn’t experienced anything like it before.
What we see on our screens is a perfected version of real-life experiences. In most cases, writers write from a place of truth and identity; they just exaggerate or downplay what they choose.
To continue treating my life like it’s something from a screen is to experience it in incompletion. So now I tell myself; this is not a TV show – this is real and it is happening. This is not a movie – this is your life.
This year, hearing ‘you only have one life’ resonated more than ever before. I think this is what it means. I am not a spectator, I am real, so will be real! I realised that I need to stop being passive, and to instead, actively participate in my life. Sometimes I need to be more serious about these things.
Yes, life can feel unexpected and surreal, but that’s what makes art so beautiful, as art itself imitates life.
Maybe it is just personal. But I am teaching myself to say it feels like a movie less. Now I would like to say, it is beautiful. It is my experience and it is exclusive to me, I won’t give credit to a non-existent writer’s room.
So, when I am walking down the street feeling any type of way while listening to a song that fits my mood perfectly and it ‘feels like movie’, I remind myself that life really is just like that.
Beauty starts with me, not on screen. I will participate in that wonder, not spectate it from afar. That is a blessing.
I think it should have always been that way. But at the same time, I don’t mind learning this now.
Be it tragic or beautiful, I’m playing the fullest part in my life now.