I've unavoidably been spending a lot of time reflecting back over my time in New York.
I had the singular most incredible, enlightening and life-changing experience of my life, and I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced what I did, comfortable in the knowledge that I made the most out of every last second.
Now back in the UK, my mind is still so attuned to NYC that I seem to notice it everywhere - Tumblr pics of outfit shots taken on Broadway reblogged onto my dash, people on Instagram sipping Cosmopolitans in Brooklyn, every blogger under the sun jetting over for NYFW. At first I was joyous; I know that coffee shop! I walked down that street! I took a picture there too!
But the more I see, I've begun to notice small trickles of fresh regret seeping into my mind and contaminating my memories.
Regret which never once appeared while I was there.
I could've (should've?) written, blogged and published every single day to let everyone know what the city is like but I didn't. I could've (should've?) filled up my networks with endless tips and tricks - calling up every restaurant and coffee shop in town to offer a review - what great material! - but I didn't. I could've (should've) poured my camera roll through instagram, tumblr and pinterest, allowing people to live vicariously through every second of my life (who am I kidding - be more jealous) but I didn't.
With so much more I could've (should've?) done... Even though whilst there, I was so sure I was making the most of it... had I really?
Last week I found myself depressed and hopeless, stuck back in the UK flicking through shit TV to try and distract my mind from feeling like crap. And bizarrely, that was when I figured out what was so, so wrong with me.
I was watching some crappy but addictive reality show with 'real people' in 'real situations', and I was doing what I always do - scowling and moaning and rolling my eyes but remaining glued to it anyway - when my mind began to wonder about what went on behind the scenes.
There's no way that girl just did that of her own volition, I found myself complaining internally, She was obviously told to do that.
But this was no secret. Everyone who watches reality TV knows it's just as carefully controlled as scripted entertainment. My imagination then ran away picturing the scene before the cameras started rolling, the producer taking the girl to one side and saying:
'Just do it, it'll make great telly.'
I pretty much sat bolt upright in realisation.
Holy shit. That's it.
Aren't we all just trying to make great telly?
Except now, we say we do it for the vine.
Suddenly, my diagnosis was so obvious it hurt.
I was not feeling regret about the unsiezed potential of me living in New York at all. I was feeling regret for the unsiezed potential of TELLING EVERYONE about me living in New York.
Social media has made us the stars of our own one-man reality shows, and it's down to us to create the content, get an audience interested, and keep the ratings up. And now I was upset because I'd let real life happiness get in the way of what would've been an absoloutely killer 'storyline.'
And despite already being seated, I had to sit the fuck down right then and really think about that.
This was terrifyingly misaligned with everything I stand for, but there it was clear as day, sitting in the pit of my stomach, weighing me down, ruining my happiness, and making me regret something that was actually perfect.
And I know this is the tired old argument of perpetually-embittered philistines bleating SOCIAL MEDIA WILL BE THE END OF DAYS to deaf ears with picket boards outside Tescos, but for the first time in a long time, that actually made a hell of a lot of sense to me.
I had become Oscar Wilde's fabled Dorian Gray, sat here basking in the glory of my Instagram-filtered beauty and my meticulously and precisely-phrased paradise of a life, while the unfiltered, uncensored truth of myself lay festering in the dusty attic above my head, periodically rattling in it's chains howling reeeememmmmbeerrr meeeee whilst I angrily bash the ceiling with a broom just out of shot.
And to be quite frank, it scared the shit out of me that even someone as anti-internet-bullshit as I like to think I am, had succumbed so quickly, so silently and so easily into the proverbial crack den which is the 'public eye', only to realise that fact when the harsh light of day shines down upon this quivering addict reaching for her phone to #tbt a pic of a New York street lest she be deemed boring now she's left.
So consider this a self-intervention. Cold turkey.
I don't want to get sucked into the vortex of persistently trying to one up myself, just to remain interesting to people I don't know. I don't wanna live life in scenes and epsiodes. I don't want to fight my friends for airtime.
Yeah, of course I was that kid that suddenly acted up when the family camcorder came out at birthdays and Christmas - but I don't want to have to live the rest of my life that way too.
Being an online content creator can be such a headfuck at times, and it always seems we have to be on top of our game or it's gameover. And it's great to be productive, but don't kill off your character, to sustain your protagonist, y'know? Take out your earpiece, switch off your autocue, go upstairs, open that door and face your hidden portrait.
Because Dorian Gray did the opposite, and it didn't work out so well for him, huh. And I mean, if you haven't read Dorian Gray, none of this post is gonna make any damned sense to you at all, but yeah, you should read it because it's a brilliant book then get back to me.
I guess what I'm getting at here is that social media urges us to make broadcastable entertainment of our day-to-day lives. And bloggers in particular are expected to provide a bloody good show. But there are some really important times in your human lives that you need to draw a line, step back from your self-constructed limelight and spend some time with yourself.
Because the truth of this, if you sacrifice yourself to make your 'show' important, then the only person that none of it will end up mattering to, is you.
Don't get in so deep that it's too late to get out. Spend as much time in your uncensored self as you do as your polished, broadcasted self, and you'll always know what's best for the true you underneath.