Do you ever start to get that feeling, while diving into the dark mycelia of social media that you’re beginning to lose yourself, your Self with a capital S?

All the highlights, reels, filters, performances, people pointing at words and dancing to try and get a message through a million small boxes, in screens, trailing past blasé eyes. We’ve seen this, we see the same shit over and over. Desensitized to all the talking, talking, talking.

We are all collectively simmering in this subtle, screaming white noise.

I catch myself trying to manipulate my body, face and words into something more digestible. Something that makes me look better than how I may actually feel. We get swept away by all the stories, other people’s narratives, we can’t help ourselves. We’re human.

Slowly we try to tame the addiction, curate our feeds. We find ourselves not doing the thing, reading the book, taking the class, sewing the patch, writing in a journal, because we find ourselves, scrolling again. Without even realizing, we catch ourselves. Put the phone down, upside down.

There! Ha! Now it won’t distract me.

Only to find yourself, 15 minutes later, deep in a comment battle over whether or not a white person teaching yoga is racist. And you know, a part of this is good, the conversation being laid out, real voices reaching through our catered, cookie-cutter, TikTok step culture.

Where we learn to not even use our voices, but to allow pop culture to dub over us, re-enacting something else because our own stories are just not catchy enough.

Silent charades, because it’s more entertaining that way.

But you see the sheer beauty of everyone, all of it, the possibilities are endless. And at the same time you see how vile, ignorant and down-right stupid even one person can be via Twitter feed. Because nobody knows how to censor themselves like they used to and musky laundry gets aired out online.

In all of this, in this tangled web we’ve created of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, websites, online offerings, videos, newsletters, podcasts, Patreons, and all of us, inundated and trying to become the perfect human with all of this information, everywhere, constant.

Do you ever feel like you’re losing it?

Like you’re losing your autonomy, your individualism?

Are we truly islands?

When you start to get that sneaking suspicion that we are all in this. A unified consciousness strung between heads like pearls on a necklace. Globules of water and blood and shit encompassed in skin all to hold up this wet, mess of a brain where some sort of spark navigates us through this mess.

We worship these beings who “made it.” The celebrities, the actors, the people with millions of followers, the same voices re-posted, screenshot, shared, over and over and over again. We listen to their podcast, read their newsletter, look at their images over, and over. We program ourselves internally to think, act, speak, look, like our idols.

We stack on these titles like trophies, whoever has the most acronyms after their name is winning, they’ve won it, they’ve become ALL. OF. THE. THINGS.

What’s happening when nobody’s watching?

Who are you when your job is stripped away, your self-perceived purpose?

Who am I without any of the titles I think will deem me respect?

What happens if I am just a single human, named Rae, with 0 followers and no string of letters following my name?

Will I ever stand out?

Will I make it?

I feel I’ve tried so hard to become so many beings that maybe, in the end, I’m becoming no thing. Not a thing. Nothing. Simply human. You make this connection with a deep part, inside of you, that knows that none of this really matters.

That feeling when you get to the cabin, the deep part of the woods and it’s silent. Or you’re flying in the air, going somewhere far when the signal cuts off and it’s just you, alone. There’s this exhale, a parasympathetic release, you’re no longer in bondage of “what’s going on.”

We’ve all had these moments, but they seem to be getting farther and fewer between in our new Zoom meeting, pandemic-plagued realities. I find myself spending more and more time on screen, first thing, last thing, and when I take a small moment. Close my eyes and breathe, the silence is so sinfully, sweet.

I realize, maybe it isn’t so bad to have nobody watching. Without recognition, there’s no expectation.

With that, I have space, by becoming no one, I can be anyone. There’s grace. Without expectation, we have no attachments. I discover this in sheaths, in small steps. First, I let go of my physical body, appearance, makeup, weight, scales, portions, calories. Then comes the next layer of reality: my hourly salary, a safe job, a mortgage, a house, business, title. The day to day routine, the program we’ve plugged into. Lastly, an online identity, the account, the name, the followers. All of these layers of perception, when we just let them go, even for only 5 minutes, even if you’re only imagining it.

Being here, soft eyes. With a long, deep inhale through the nose, and exhaling it all through the mouth in a long, soulful sigh.

When you strip away all the physical, mental perceptions of who we are, who we think we are meant to be, we are simply left with. This.

This single moment, a jumping point. A reframing of identity, ego. A breath, the next word, an inner voice begins to speak out of the silence. When we are quiet enough to listen, when we strip down all of the layers of what’s expected of us and what we expect of ourselves, something deep inside shines.

When you’ve been trying to be somebody for so long, to surrender that heavy baggage, the “shoulds.” There’s nothing quite as sweet as feeling the lightness, even for just one moment, of being no one. Not anyone.

A breath.

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