There is a lady that I sometimes see in passing. A mini-celebrity you could call her. She has gone through some incredibly hard times. Through heartbreak and hardship. Bereavement. And she pretends that she is strong. Her social media suggests that she is strong. She tries to inspire others through giving hope and using her own life circumstances to make people understand that things can get better and you can overcome adversity. Better times are possible if you change your mindset.
I wholly subscribe to what she says. I totally believe in what she preaches. There isn’t a part of me that doubts her intentions. Yet, when I see her, if I ever look at her in passing, I see etched on her face, a look of grief, of unspeakable sadness that I don’t think she is even aware of. Her mask, her smile, that glowing positivity reserved for the adoring public, subconsciously slips off and the real her is revealed for all and sundry to see…..that’s if they are paying attention in the first place.
Public persona versus private demons. We try so hard don’t we, to control what people see of us? We try to control people’s perceptions of us. However, try us much as we want, during times of stress, or sadness and even happiness, we leak who we really are. The mask will always slip and we reveal glimpses of who we really are or how we are really feeling – even if we don’t want others to know.
Whenever I see this lady, looking anxious, looking sad or preoccupied – I feel incredibly sad for her. For any ordinary person, it’s horrible to see another human being in pain. I see her battle. Wanting to be strong. Presenting herself as an accomplished, successful woman, doing her best to make a positive life for herself. Inspiring others to feel better about themselves.
But quite often, she just looks broken, lost and alone.
I wish I had the courage to go up to her, strike up a conversation with her and ask her if she was ok? I don’t have the guts. She’d probably think I was a massive weirdo. But I think to myself, if a non-threatening, friendly stranger (which is how I see myself in this scenario), came up to me one day all of a sudden and asked if I was ok – I think initially I would be shocked, but then I think I would be grateful that someone had taken a few precious moments out of their life, to see if I was ok.
It’s just not done though is it? To ask people you barely know, how they are, if they are ok. It is way more acceptable to watch or not even notice people struggle from afar and then lament afterwards – I wish I’d reached out. I wish I’d taken the time to do something.
I suppose there are two things that I’m getting at in this blog. People are never as strong as they pretend to be. They are definitely not as strong as how they present on social media. And the other thing I suppose is a rhetorical question -what do you do when you see someone you don’t know very well, appearing to do their best, holding everything together, not giving up, being a role model for others – but you can see that they are finding life tricky?
I don’t have any answers. I only have observations.
Finally, if you get the chance, please read the writing on the photo I took when I visited Baddesley Clinton recently. The lady who wrote it, explains how she communicates so much more easily through writing, than she could through talking with someone face to face. Struck a chord with me….