Anthony Bourdain commited suicide… I did not know the man personally, I saw him at some events, read his books, and watched his shows. From the outside, his life looked pretty damned good to me. But that is the thing, it doesn’t matter what you think. When you see someone having things you want, it doesn’t mean that person is happy.
I am not a social media hater. I think it is an amazing development. We are in a transitional period where we are figuring all of this out. We know so much more about everything but we also know so much less because we are looking only at the surface. On the surface, meaning in pictures, written word, and video – many people look happy living the dream. The truth may be that people are living the dream, or they are fronting an image. You don’t know the truth if you don’t know the person beyond your feed.
I know people offline that represent themselves as happy but are actually suffering. It is not an exclusively online issue. We all wear a mask to get thru some tough days. It’s not that we wear a mask, it is how long and why that is the issue.
Here is the point I want to make; get beyond yourself. Don’t be so self absorbed that you can’t have an empathetic view of things. Stop judging people by your happiness standards. Be open to the reality that what you want is not what someone else may want or find happiness with. What you want is what you want, that is it. What someone else wants is their thing, not yours to criticize or define.
You are not driving your dream car. This does not make everyone driving the car you want happy with it. The guy driving the Maserati may actually want to drive a Jeep, how do you know? You don’t. Someone may be driving a beat up old ride because they actually like it and want to. Again, who are you to know or judge a person you don’t know?
I know miserable people with money, happy people without, and vice versa… My 5 year old son has so many toys it is kind of ridiculous, but he still wants that 1 thing his friend has but he doesn’t while his friend is jealous over what my son has. Neither one is happy with what they have while they both are envious of each other?! 5 year olds get a free pass, us adults do not. Are you actually a responsible adult, or do you hold onto the immature and undeveloped ideas of a toddler?
If we can get beyond the idea that somebody having what we want must be good, we have the opportunity to actually communicate with substance and ask each other if we are really good? Letting go of assumptions and actually communicating can save a life. Getting beyond our own definitions and ideas to accommodate the real feelings of others, can save a life. Life is not a restaurant where we say the meal is good when we haven’t even tasted the food yet. We have to share our experience honestly to get anywhere real.
I am asking for all of us to stop being intellectually and emotionally lazy. I am asking for each of us to be more empathetic and to stop assuming. I am asking for us all to recognize that as individuals we all have unique understandings of our situations.
Lastly, depression is a real thing. You may not have it or understand it, but that does not make it less real for those suffering from it. People struggling with depression need more than a surface smile or word. These people need a deep connection to give their life enough meaning so they do not end it. The joy of life is not surface clutter, it is our deepest relationships. Alone in the dark, we can do bad things. Be the light a person in the struggle needs to keep them in the fight.