I’m currently ignoring three iMessages, two Messenger conversations, and one Instagram DM—all because I’m winding down from a hectic day of purely functioning. Sadly that means I don’t have time for you. Somewhat literally but mostly figuratively because the idea of mustering up the energy needed to engage in a mutually nourishing conversation seems out of my realm right now.
What I’m experiencing isn’t a new concept; after all I am an over-indulgent 20-something like many others. With every notification I receive during this down time I feel like I’m going insane. When did this 24/7 digital access to me become a bane? How come sustaining friendships feels like an unpaid internship—gratifying long-term but a day-to-day struggle. I love my friends, there’s no denying it, but one moment a text us a much-needed dose of dopamine and in the next feels it like a violation of my privacy. It sounds dramatic af, but stay with me.
Considering my multiple slashes and unconventional work hours, there’s no clocking off. At any one time I should be writing, prepping for gigs, and planning outfits—all tedious, necessary and fun tasks needed to fund my lifestyle (Uber Eats and frequent online purchases). Traditionally once the sun sets, there’s a free-for-all outlook to leisure and communication. You know, school’s out and work’s out so that means you and the rest of the world is available to start the next session of the day: a social life.
Unfortunately, this thought process is outdated and yet we all fall victim to it. I don’t choose when I feel productive, my body decides for me. I’m a slave to the rush of adrenaline I get where stress meets rational thinking. The feeling when my brain finally decides that now is the time to be its best self. You see, that’s why I’ve got to be in a physical and mental sanctuary that allows me to clock on when necessary. How do we get to that optimal mental mind state? Self care, it’s that one-on-one time but with yourself and as often as possible.
Thanks to my eternal love of the internet I’ve amassed a wider pool of confidants than I deserve, making it almost impossible to see everyone IRL anyway. A casual dinner, although fun, is a beautiful black hole. You dedicate an hour and a half at 7pm to a great dinner and even better conversation, but next thing you know it’s 11pm and you’re only just on your way home. All you can allocate time for is a shower and maybe two episodes of Master Of None. So while I thoroughly enjoyed the dinner when the next invite comes along my mind is stuck on the fact that I almost couldn’t watch as much Netflix as I wanted and I decline. I’m a mess, but I know you do it too.
Even if I do manage to accept a weekday social invitation, putting the rendezvous on your Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter often means you’ll be inundated with more dinner requests. Most of them you’ll agree to, and even convince yourself you’ll attend, but in reality you’re about to cement yourself as the predictable flake. You’re “busy” or some other redundant excuse. In typical fashion you’ll continue to nurture your friendship purely through social media, thanking the universe daily for the creation. The same creation that has become the metaphorical barrier to progressing the relationship any further than mutual likes, shared memes, and constant rain checks.
How are these actual thoughts that continue to run through my head? How am I self-aware enough to realise this vicious cycle, but too self-involved to mend it? Why have I yet again forgone human contact in favour of contrived beauty regimes and streaming mind-numbing TV? Mostly because I know I’m not the only one. I’ll continue to respond to texts 24 hours too late and you’ll screen my catch-up call because it’s, “too full on and we could just text instead”.
Maybe this article has checked you enough that you’re left feeling enthusiastic and driven. You’ve got some time off tonight so you’ll probably message that one friend you keep flaking on. You might even share this article for widespread acknowledgement of your faults. But then some time will go by and you’ll forget the feeling. A new season of Stranger Things will come out and you’re right back where you started… and I’m right there with you.