Talking, if you ask me, may look like a function of being human, but it is like trying to cross four lanes of two way traffic in China where there isn’t a crosswalk for another mile. I’ve spent most of my life standing on the edge assessing the traffic of conversation, only to keep missing my chances. Sometimes I puff up and take a step, only to be a millisecond too slow for the appropriate lapse between comments, and I’m ran over by someone coming faster and louder.
It had costed me everything from face-burning shame and haunting regrets, to stomach-knotting anguish and heart-stabbing pain, that many a night I swore into my tear-soaked pillow that I shall never, ever, utter another word except “Yes”, “OK” and “Thank you”. Even “Hi” must be taken off the table.
Social media has provided a crosswalk where there was none. I will no longer miss my turn, I will no longer be talked over. I can even start my own conversation and go at my own pace! I was crippled, and now I walk. A beating heart being brave and talking to the world.
Until nobody likes.
And all you hear back is crickets.
I sat in the dark clutching my phone and swear that I will never, ever, spend another second writing another stupid post about my stupid thoughts and feelings that nobody cares to know.
I sink into the dark ocean of loneliness.
No more pain.
No more noise.
The world does not need me.
Even though the world does not need me, when morning comes and I see people and evidence of love and solidarity, I yearn. I yearn for connection, I yearn to be seen. I yearn to be seen like I never was. If the world does not care, then the world does not care what I say and how much I post.
I’m conservative in looks, but I’m a rebel in my bone marrow. I croaked my first “Hi” at the boys standing in the lunch line. Even flashed them a smile and took them by surprise. I shouted one of their names across the gym like I was a cheerleader. It worked for him, though I’d never felt so much shame for a success. I have the strength and determination to make myself speak against my nature, I can make myself say things that are waiting to burst forth like fireworks.
I won’t let it go unsaid that sometimes I do get likes and comments that lift me up into the clouds where all the angels live. They’ve shown me the way home. But all the likes and comments and love shown are not a solid enough ground to stand on. The antidote to this dangerous sport is, perhaps, to learn from the local Chinese gliding through the four lanes of two way traffic, undaunted by provoking an occasional held-down honk: Knowing that you are entitled to the road as much as the cars and other people.