I am a genuinely self-conscious person. This isn’t a fact I like about myself, but it’s one I can admit to. So it would seem totally against my nature to completely open myself up to the world on the internet. There are a lot of judgemental people out there. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of kind and supportive people because there are, but there are also a lot of judgemental and critical people.
I live with multiple autoimmune diseases and illnesses that have left me to be what some people would call “disabled.” I’m unable to go to school, and I’m unable to work. Oh, and one more thing: I love social media. Being trapped close to your home due to illness makes your world grow smaller and smaller. But the amazing thing is that through social media, you can meet people just like you from all corners of the world. Some say social media is a waste and that we shouldn't live behind our screens. But have they ever thought about what a great resource it is to those who don’t have as many opportunities to socialize, or who may be bed-bound? To us, it’s a gift, and I wouldn’t have half the incredible friends I do had I not put my story out there.
Some people see frequent posting on social media as attention seeking. Some see posting pictures in the hospital as attention seeking. Some see captions with bad news, or with a long, detailed update as attention seeking. I think that’s nonsense if I do say so myself.
As someone who does share my life, illness included, on social media, I’d like to tell you why I do it. I do it for awareness. I want the people who see it to learn something new about my disease or feel encouraged to spread awareness of their own. I know that some people out there might be seeing me talk about a disease and it’ll be the first time they’ve ever heard of it. Just a few words on my Instagram and now they’re aware of something that is changing people's lives. See the image below? That is how awareness is spread. One small word of mouth can reach more ears than you can imagine. And in doing that, the people you’re spreading awareness for can live in a world that is so much more understanding.
Why else do I share my life? I get bored, I enjoy taking photos, I enjoy connecting with people, I enjoy writing, and in the best case scenario, I hope that maybe I can help someone who is in a similar situation. Yes, sometimes as I go to post something, I worry that a few will judge. I wonder, “Does this sound too whiny?”, or “Will people think I’m annoying?”. But most of the time, it just flows from the heart and I think that’s worth sharing. The truth is worth sharing, I think. Is this how everyone likes going about things? Nope, because everyone has different passions in life, and some people prefer to be quieter with their personal lives, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. As long as they’re doing what’s good for them.
So instead of judging that person who posted a hospital selfie, or spoke out about their illness, maybe think about how your judgement about them might really be more of a reflection of yourself. Maybe consider the fact that these pictures are someone’s reality, and why should they have to hide it if they don’t want to? Why shouldn’t they spread awareness and tell their story if that’s what they feel called to do? Maybe consider the fact that everyone moves to a different beat, and just because someone doesn’t move to your beat doesn’t mean they’re moving to the wrong beat. Are you passionate about something? Raise your voice about it. It deserves to be heard and might take you to places you never imagined.