I recently saw a viral Instagram post circling social media that detailed what anxiety might look like for many of us. I really resonated with it, because whilst I might not be experiencing the full-blown panic attacks that I used to when using public transport, I’m certainly not feeling normal or good. And that’s okay. I’m learning that that’s okay. One of my personality traits is that I like to find solutions to things. Hungry? I can combat that by making some food. Wanderlust? Book a flight or read a great novel. But anxiety that isn’t really rooted in anything? I’ve felt stuck for a long, long ol’ time.
The simple act of asking someone ‘how are you?’ has lost tack, I think. It’s almost become a greeting. As though by reflex, you respond with ‘I’m fine’. We no longer share the intricacies of what we feel, and that could be the cog we’re all missing. Even as I sit and shakily tap out a short Instagram caption, I think of all the things I could really say, the things I take time to share on here. I’m a little bit ropey but I’m not sure why, I think it’s because I haven’t hugged anyone in a long time but that sounds stupid. I sat and stared at my wall for, gosh, three hours earlier, and then finally smiled at the way the light bounces off my Golden Egg money box. Wouldn’t the world be a thousand times lovelier if we could all say what we mean to say? Oftentimes, there just isn’t enough space in the little box with a character limit.
A couple of days ago, Megan’s thoughtful post (‘Bring Back the Blog: The Rise and Fall of Personal Blogging’) made me literally sit back in my chair and think, ‘huh, this is what I’ve missed’. Because once upon a time, when I started this blog, I was enamoured with documenting my little life and seeking out connections with others around the world. I formed endless friendships and it was like a virtual hug to hear from unbiased strangers who knew exactly what you were going through. It’s rare that you’d find that in real life. I’d return from Uni and feel excited to write about the oddities of my day, spend my evenings responding to comments. I still do.
Despite the increased shift over to more fast-paced platforms like Instagram or Twitter, I still feel happiest here. Here, I can ruminate at length and pretty much think out loud. It’s never perfectly curated or planned out – I do enough of that for work – but it is unfiltered and very much ‘me’. Or so I thought. I spent some time this morning digitally flicking through the archives. It felt like, yes, a virtual hug, but it also missed a lot. So, let me catch us up…
In 2020, my family and I moved out and broke the chain, living in hotels for a month. I turned 29 on the cusp of a nationwide lockdown. I experienced the darkest depths of racist abuse in my hometown, on trains, in the streets of London. I went viral and read thousands of racist Tweets. I appeared on the radio, and cried in front of thousands of listeners. A pandemic was announced. We moved into our new home a few days before we were all told to stay at home. I was spat at and experienced more racism. I lost all of my freelance clients. I called out an influencer for anti-Chinese racism and nobody cared; they continued to support them. My sister and puppy were attacked by a dog. I didn’t get dressed for a fortnight. My community, British-Chinese, have been constantly villainised by the media. I’ve been blindsided by people in the online community
And, despite all of that, I’m here. Weathering a storm no-one knew was coming. Starting a journey with a therapist. I might be burnt out and not quite myself, but returning here – to you – always feels like home. There may not be anything ‘in it’ for me, 2020 has shown me that, and yet it still feels good.
So, let me ask: how are you?