Hi, I’m Josie, It’s been nine months since I have been on Facebook. Yes, for me I saw it as an addiction. I would have never said I was addicted to Facebook when I was scrolling through it, but now, after a nice break away from it, I now know I was addicted! I have seen my thoughts, attitude, and feelings towards others change since I haven’t been obsessively on FB. Why is that? Why was it such a setback for me? Well for one, I do not think I was truly “connecting” with the REAL people around me.
I do believe that some social media sites can give us a sense of belonging and we can FEEL so connected to so many people, at such a rapid rate, we may not feel the need to physically connect with those around us. Looking back, that was clearly the case for me. Our brains are wired to connect with others. That’s why FB is so addicting. We can look through 50 peoples pictures within five minutes of scrolling our newsfeed and somehow have such a sense of “pseudo-connectedness”. We discover in that time that Sally is in Mexico with her beautiful husband, and Charlee is pregnant with her third baby (and of course she is LOVING the experience), and well me… I hate being pregnant, and sometimes I do not always feel connected to my husband, so umm, this sucks.
Does this make me a bad person? I must be a terrible mom…my kid cannot write his name and my friend with a three-year-old just posted that hers can- and has been for weeks! Ugh, so frustrating, right? Or maybe it’s all of the energy I gave hitting “like” to my friends that are super stoked about a new job, their first marathon run in under two hours, or their oldest child going to kindergarten. These are ALL GREAT things, but to me, can feel so exhausting.
It was a true mind battle for me. I tell myself, “yay, good for them!” Then in the same second say to myself, “gosh, Josie, stop being so lazy, you need to do something fun and exciting with your life!”
I am not saying social media is bad and everyone needs to get off of it right this instant. What I am saying is that maybe it is good for us to know how we feel when we are looking at Facebook. Is this brining us joy? And if it truly is, than more power to you! If it is causing you anxiety or separation from your REAL life, well, let’s put that into check.
There’s a lot of substitute activities to do on your phone when you are not on FB. I love my local Libby app. I can download free books from my local library and get them on my Kindle to read anywhere I want! I love smashing good books from Brene Brown, Echkart Tolle, to suggestions from Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations! These are great alternatives that have helped me stay engaged and encouraged in this very crazy, exciting world we live in.
Will I go back to FB? Well, I’m not saying I never will, but right now I know it’s best for me to continue what I’ve been doing for the last 9 months.
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to belong. I wanted to belong to my dad. I wanted to belong to my teachers. I wanted to belong to my friends. I wanted to find my place in this world, and I was starved for love.
But, when do we finally come to the realization that our definition of belonging is not the same definition of the true, real meaning of it?
How do we find it? When will we know? What will it feel like?
When we define belonging in a quick Google search we find “acceptance as a member or part. A sense of belonging is a human need, just like the need for food and shelter.”
My Story Begins…
August in Nebraska is blistering hot, some days are unbearable, especially without a yellow yard sprinkler and a delicious, chilled cherry Kool-Aid, a drink made of powder and sugar (a product originated in Nebraska – my home town). Summer, however, is still my favorite season. It is full of adventure and sunlight!
Yeah, you guessed it, I’m a Leo… with a humorous and optimistic personality, according to my zodiac sign description. I feel that does suit me well, however, I define my humorous behavior as my “people pleasing” skill, I have near perfected. I believe getting people to laugh has always had a deeper meaning to me than just being labeled as the “class clown” (circa 2005, high school yearbook). It has been a way to mask a deep rooted longing and feeling I never realized was missing.
My dad is a pilot, or in other words an aerial sprayer, or even a better yet a crop duster… yeah , a “crop duster” that always made my middle school students laugh outloud when I told them what he did for a living. In layman terms, he flies a plane over corn and sprays it with chemicals to kill off the bugs that would infest the crops. Have you seen Pearl Harbor the movie were Faith Hill’s song, “There You’ll Be” is featured in the soundtrack? The very first scene of the movie is a crop duster flying over a field of golden corn in the dusk sky, a scene most people probably would not find nostalgic like I do.
Let’s just say we did not see much of dad when Easter came and the grass turned green. Well… to be honest, I do not really remember “seeing” my mom or dad much growing up. They were physically present and I know they loved my sister or I, they were just in a different place. A place I think some of us can relate to, possibly temporarily, but pray we do not live or stay there permanently.
Both of my parents are alcoholics. My mom has 25 years of sobriety. My dad, well let’s just say, his drinking is better today than it was 31 years ago, as far as it seems.
Me, well, I have always been a dreamer… I mean a real dreamer! When I was four years old I was obsessed with the movie Grease. I would watch that movie over and over again, I’m pretty sure I was a pro at rewinding and fast forwarding our one and only VHS player. There’s many nights I remember riding home from bars in the back cargo space of my parents navy Ford Explorer. Back then I do not recall being worried about them drinking and driving, it was just our way of life, it never seemed abnormal or strange to me.
In rural Nebraska, on our rides home, to escape from my reality, I would admire the nights sky. I loved viewing every dotted star from out the window of our car. My young mind would be lost in the dark clouds thinking, thinking of what I would wish for if one of those stars above would fall in my direction… wondering if it really did, would I find my wish under my bed that next morning?
I remember thinking a lot about one of my go-to movies, Grease. You remember the scene, the infamous scene where Danny Zuko decides to turn jock and Sandy, the “too pure to be pink” decides to become a member of the Pink Ladies?! She is wearing this beautiful, tight black “female greaser” outfit with candy apple red heels and a lit cigarette in her left hand. Danny walks with his “greaser” friends in the festival when Sandy appears unexpectedly, looking mischievously sexy. He grabs for his chest saying, “Sandy,” she takes her cigarette to her lips and then gently throws her thinly rolled paper to the ground and says to Danny, “tell me about It, stud.”
Why did I always think about that scene and this particular movie? How was it that two people like Danny and Sandy were willing to change their entire identity to belong to one another?
I would search for that rare and remarkable falling star every long drive… and make my wish, my wish (oh, as cheesy as this sounds) for Sandy’s beautifully sleek, black outfit to be under my bed. Why would someone so young want such a thing?
Maybe to feel what I thought Sandy finally found at the very end of the movie?
I think Sandy gave up the most courageous part of herself, her true identity. And yes, in this movie it was for someone, someone she felt was perfect for her. And could some argue that they both were trying to compromise for each other, well sure. I think for a young girl like me watching it, it sent me a different message.
My story is different than Sandy’s story in the movie, but in so many ways we are not that different. Aren’t we all looking for something, something to make us feel wanted, something that makes us feel safe, something that gives us purpose? We all will change and grow for something we feel is important to us. Growing up, this was something I had to learn the hard way.
In my life, I have given up real important parts of my true self in order to feel a false sense of belonging… I can think of many moments and too many choices where I betrayed my inner voice for something I thought could “fix” me or make me feel whole. With a broken family and a longing for love, its been hard to see through dark moments.
I have learned that belonging is present in my life today. It just takes me to truly love myself fully in order to feel it and genuinely share it with those I love.
I’ve never been a writer, I’ve never really written anything outside of my own personal journal, but today I am taking a risk and trying something outside of my comfort zone, I’m writing a blog. So here it goes… I decided to start writing because I have a so many thoughts and feelings built up inside of me, and I feel this may be the place to dive in and discover them.
I’ve been an educator for nine years this year. The last five years I have been working in an extremely diverse middle school in Nebraska as a school counselor. We have over 12 different languages (arguably more) spoken in our school and an 80% free and reduced lunch rate. I have had the opportunity to listen to and advocate for individuals that have experienced trauma beyond my wildest dreams. I have held in emotions and stories that wake me up at night.
When I started this journey as a counselor, I knew down deep that I was made to do this. This profession has taken me down some pretty dark moments of my own, that I believe, has helped me relate to my students, but yet has me constantly “thinking”… Yes, “thinking” these thoughts I have learned a great deal by. And to me, I find it very ironic how one can give so much advise on “how to cope” yet not know how to cope in one owns lives adversities.
I want to get raw, I want to get honest, and I know we can all relate to these stories to come.
I have heard stories of students that have been molested by family members, female immigrant students soliciting themselves to pay for their iPhone, and students who are terrified to go home because the neighborhood gang is waiting to jump them in. However, the student that made me fight back all of my tears (tears I don’t shed, tears that have been held back for 31 years) that I knew were surfacing (which I knew would be wildly inappropriate to allow happen in that moment) was the story that hit closest to home.
These stories made me realize I need counseling too.
There’s no shame in saying that I need help. There’s no shame in saying we are struggling.
This was not an easy revelation for me to come to. But one that desperately needed to happen if I wanted to save my marriage, and raise a (mentally) healthy 3-year-old boy.
I pulled this student in to ask him why his older brother wasn’t in school today (attendance checks are a regular thing as a counselor). He looked at me we so much concern that I knew this wasn’t going to be a quick student check-in. He had a long night the night before. His eyes started welling up faster than my mind could catch up with in order to comfort him. In that moment, however, I chose to say nothing. I told myself “listen, don’t talk, all he needs right now is a listening ear and someone that cares.”
His parents starting yelling at each other so loudly that the two older boys went right into “protective mode.” They had a silent routine they both knew by heart, they grabbed their siblings and shielded them from the fight (every fight). This fight of course, escalated into a physical fight. His older brother, the one that was not present at school that day, jumped into the middle of the verbal/physical altercation. He wasn’t going to let anyone, not even his own dad, hurt his mom. The next thing he shared with me next was the most concerning. Mom and dad left the house that night and never returned. When the two older boys woke up the next morning they had to make a very adult decision. Who is going to go to school today? Who is going to stay back and watch the littles? My student and his brother did not get along often, but nights like that, they were the strongest together.
His brother wasn’t at school that particular day because someone (old enough) had to stay home with their younger siblings. Siblings not old enough to get on their bus and attend school. Siblings that cannot feed themselves, clothes themselves, or articulate their own basic needs. “Why would he need to stay home with them today, I ask”? The answer did not come quickly. “Mom and dad didn’t come home last night,” he said. “Okay, tell me more.” He said that his dad came home after having a lot to drink that night and things got pretty bad. Mom was also drinking at home, I learned. This was something they frequently did. This random school night got particularly out of hand.
I’m sure you’re wondering what happened with all of this? I can honestly only give you my perspective. I did everything in my power to help this young man. I of course followed my counseling training, making sure to dot my i’s and cross my t’s, but in my opinion, that wasn’t enough. This would be trauma that would affect his life forever. He would need a new “normal” someday. Someday sooner than later.
While he was sharing all of this with me, my inner voice was telling me to stay in the moment, don’t lose your shit right now, don’t let 31 years of your own trauma come out… don’t make this about you right now…
His story, is my story. Here is where I begin my journey.