What is sharing?

I love to share things. I love to share food, I love to share time with others, and most of all I love to share what I love with others. That was the impetus for this blog- I wanted to share the things that influence and inspire me, those things which, once discovered, changed me artistically; sometimes, it even feels, molecularly. 

I remember my first year at Rice, I was having a hard time transitioning and the only thing I could do that made me happy was to stay up until 2 or 3 AM just obsessing! Over late Beethoven quartets, and I didn’t know how to express what I was feeling and thinking or who would even want to listen! so I started writing it all down into what would become this blog. I started writing haikus when, I had tea with Amanda in undergrad, still one of the most nourishing and generous friends I’ve ever had, and that night, I went home and posted a haiku about how full my heart and bladder were. I was inspired by my Mysticism and Literature class where I encountered Japanese Haiku, as well as a Beat Lit class where I studied American Haiku. I wrote a few more my first year at Rice. And then Cassie, one of the absolute loves and blessings in my life decided she would drunk Facebook stalk me with her roommate and I got this wasted voicemail message from them the next day wailing whyyyyy did you staaaahp! So I started writing them daily for her. It was a really fun thing, and when other people started enjoying them, I was so happy! It generally makes me so happy to try and bring any positivity to anyone who could benefit from it.

I’m not one of those people who generally has issues with social media…but it started to feel really heavy. This year with the election, I started to dread going on social media. And I started dreading the need to have clear opinions and to be a part of the dialogue that seemed increasingly futile  and hideously awry though it is clearly necessary. What we share now so easily becomes a kind of stand-in for who we are and as a result, how we are seen and judged…And now that there are so many mediums and platforms to share on, it becomes difficult to know where/how to begin to actually connect with people. We confuse visibility and desirability.

I realized, and this was hard and one of the ugliest things I’ve had to admit to myself….that there was someone in particular that I was posting everything for. I wanted to appeal to them in every post, I wanted them to know where I was, what I was doing, how cool I am; basically, I wanted them to care about me and at first, the idea that they didn’t drove me crazy. But then, I started to feel crazy for different reasons- I felt dishonest…it felt like a kind of abuse to be inflicting my desire to be seen on the world…I felt like I was losing my integrity and getting farther away from the kind of sharing and freedom that mattered to me. 

So I took a break for a week from all social media and shared things I cared about in greater detail with people who I know care about me, and in that way, connected more with them and more with myself. I wrote more, I thought more, and I connected more meaningfully with the close friends I am lucky to have in my life. In that vein, the first 5 days of the break were amazing…I felt so liberated and happy, being able to devote my time fully to family and friends- not checking my phone every few minutes to see if I was loved yet, not thinking about anything except the moment I was in. And then on the 6th day, intense anxiety kicked in, and I realized how lonely and how unloved I had been feeling, for who even knows how long! and I realized that somewhere along the way, my initial intentions for sharing had deviated- even before this one person I was trying to impress, I had started sharing things because I wanted to be loved, acknowledged, known. And of course, that’s ok…maybe even normal. But it was not personally a happy or fulfilling way for me to live and I had to have that breakthrough, had to sit in a place of loneliness in order to resurface a little less dependent. The valuable things I learned last week?

1) There is no replacement for loving, acknowledging, and knowing yourself.

2) Empathy, as well as sharing have boundaries which make all parties more free and more safe.

3) It is sometimes better to be free, than to be loved, or at least, real love shouldn’t mean an end to freedom.

4) Acknowledge, adore, and sustain the love you already have. 

I came back to social media after the week and I was immediately inundated by the beautiful thoughts, pictures, and experiences of friends.

That made me so joyful.

Ling Ling

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