|Emmy Ellis, aka Sarah Masters, Natalie Dae, |
Geraldine O'Hara, Posh Gosh, Charley Oweson
I have a lot to be thankful for, and one of those things is the internet. Without it I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today—not just with writing but things in my day-to-day life. I imagine, had I not taken my neighbour’s advice and used the internet—which we had but I’d never accessed—I would still be leading a very boring, scary-at-times life where I was never allowed to be my true self.
However, the internet opened up the world for me, and I met people who told me—sometimes bluntly, sometimes slathered in sugar coating—that I wasn’t in a life that I should be in. At first, their words didn’t register—after all, I’d been conditioned in ways where other people’s input wasn’t anything I should listen to, except, of course, if it came from certain individuals.
One day, someone said something to me in an instant message that changed my life forever. I began to think about what had been said, applied it to my life, and saw that yes, my God yes, that person was right. I needed to do things that I’d always wanted to do but hadn’t had the courage to do so. One was breaking away from a dominant force in my life—a woman I will not acknowledge as being anything to do with me ever again—and the second was to break from another force—male this time.
I divorced the pair of them and moved on, feeling freer than I’d ever been before. Things felt “right”. I felt “right”. Thus began my journey of self-discovery, knowing that I could act on whatever thoughts I wanted without them being frowned upon or advice coming my way to talk me into not doing things. For once I was able to be me—but it took a long time (years) for me to get used to being allowed that “privilege”. There are still times now where insecurity kicks in and I slip back to how I was, but they are few and far between.
I am not the same person I was. I am not frightened of much these days, and some say I’m so laid back I might fall over. I’ve learned, for the most part, not to sweat the small stuff, not to be bothered by little things that really are a waste of my thought time. I have learned to love myself, to be myself, and to not feel that doing so is wrong.
I’ve also met a wealth of people I would never have met if not for logging on for the first time that day.
I’ve made best friends for life out of total strangers.
I have cooked food I would never have eaten.
I have watched a man struggling through cancer and be so damn upbeat about it that I can do nothing but admire him. His battle is still going on and I’m rooting for him. While being so sick, he is still writing, still fighting to meet a deadline on a book so he doesn’t let his readers down. My God, what a man.
I have watched a woman fight cancer also, watched as her hair fell out and she was so tired she couldn’t think straight, yet still she ploughed on to care for her parents. I’ve watched the caring attitude of her other half, the way he is her world and she is his, the way he cares for her and nothing is too big a request. In that particular instance, I have watched pure love and continue to watch it.
I have gained a full-time job, one I love, and found that my boss is someone who I can tell my darkest secrets to—those really, really dark ones where you cry until your stomach hurts and you can’t get the words out, and she waits patiently on the other end of the line for me to tell her how I feel. She is there for me, any time, all the time, and in her I have seen the bright glimmer of an angel.
I have met some women, those who have become my close friends, who, if they lived near me, would be round my house at the drop of a hat to help me in times of need. If they had the spare cash, I have no doubt they would hop on a plane or in the car just so they could give me a hug and tell me everything will be all right. I don’t speak to them all the time—we have the kind of friendship where we’re like stars; you can’t always see them but they’re always there—and I am eternally grateful for them.
I have three special friends who I can totally be myself with—and I mean totally. We’re talking about the fact that I can say, “God, I need a big shit!” Friends where TMI doesn’t exist. They make me laugh, make me cry (in a good way!), they understand. They are the best, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet with two of them in real life. One day I will meet the third, please God.
I have been able to write and be published. Be on TV, in the newspapers. Had people read my work.
I have indulged in being myself behind the scenes, doing things for people just because I can. I have done these things for nothing but the pleasure of doing so. I have given gifts, something I love doing, and cried with those people when they’ve received them. I have felt the power of good deeds, of the priceless feelings you get when doing them.
I have been used, shit on, talked about, slated, accused of many things I haven’t done—but still I continue on, because those negative things teach me something new every time. They help me to grow.
I have made some bad calls, said some things I shouldn’t have said—many I regret as I walk through the world that is the internet, many I wish I could erase—and stumbled with etiquette, struggled with fitting in, finding my place. Accepted that some people will like me, others won’t—the same with my art and writing—knowing that I will continue anyway, doing what I love, being who I am.
But most of all, and the best thing of all, is that I am always evolving, always finding new things out about myself that I honestly don’t think I would have if it wasn’t for the vast amount of interaction that is to be had online. I would never have laughed so hard my ribs ached because of seeing a picture of dogs’ noses that looked like alien faces. I would never have cried at the video of a man who enjoyed life despite having no arms and legs—a man who changed my perspective. I would never have seen and been taught so many things.
I’ll continue to grow, I’m sure, continue to read status updates that touch me, witness snippets of people’s lives that they have been brave enough to share. To read books by people where I’ve seen their process and thoughts as they’ve been writing that book and know how much sweat and tears went in to creating it. To read memoirs like one I read at the end of last year by a woman who was so very courageous in writing it that I’ll always be in awe of her—she laid herself wide open and changed my perspective forever.
I will continue to be me as you continue to be you. Through the connection of Facebook and emails, I have the wonderful opportunity of being a part of your lives. We are all connected in a magnificent way, so many people tied by threads—some thicker than others, but threads all the same. We are so very lucky.
What has the internet brought into your life?