It was just another weekday night. My family had just sat down to eat dinner together, and all was well. The salt and pepper were passed around with melodic precision. Conversations were explored, and I could carve another notch in my belt for a successful family dinner. My father was the primary financial provider for us, and my mother stayed at home keeping the house in order and lovingly addressing my siblings and I's daily needs and struggles. When my father got home from work, we would all gather around the standard dining room table and eat the nutritious meal my mother had created with her skilled Minnesotan abilities. Casseroles and hearty meals were what the menu consisted of to say the least. Even though my family was never financially plentiful, my mother always figured out ways to feed us well. It was a regular occasion for all of us to sit around the dinner table every evening and converse over how our day was. The thing for me is that I do not remember any particular event or outbreak of insanity that negatively scarred me from this tradition. Rather in recent times as I have begun to reflect on my person and why I do what I do, I realized that being the youngest of four siblings I have always craved attention. Whether it is emotional or not, I wanted and still want people to acknowledge my existence and uniqueness. In thinking about those longings, I was drawn back to the dinner table where I felt so small and insignificant, where being the youngest attention rarely seemed in my direction.
I have been working on this project "The Man Effect" for a decent amount of time now, and it has been a long, painful journey if I'm honest. I did not realize how much I would discover about myself on this adventure. My emotions have been one of the biggest things I have been learning about through this time. Since I started to write articles I have been attempting to craft things that are what I consider substantial and authentic. In that process, I have found myself wanting to prostitute my emotions for attention and affirmation. Writing has made me realize I feel affirmed by this momentary attention of likes, comments, and shares; through self-observation I found my motives were slightly askew. I was suddenly back at the dinner table with my family trying to find ways to be noticed, affirmed, and loved. No longer was food being served; rather it was the table of social media and the internet which I was sitting beside, sharing my articles to make me sound intelligent and profound so that my need to know I exist in this world would be fulfilled. I found myself trading my emotional state for affirmation and recognition. There I was sharing things with the world that I am not sure I would even share with a close friend.
This epiphany inspired me to think deeply and be reflective. Why would I trade the struggles of my heart for momentary affirmation? I just wanted to be someone who took action, rather than sitting around speculating about all the ideas I have. Is this what I received in return for being pro-active and pursuing my passions? I find that the journey to attain the dreams I have is strenuous yet positively essential. I am starting to believe that even though my motives may not have been what I thought, the fact that I am going to continue moving forward is positive. Can I not expose my heart and emotions in a balanced way? What does that look like?
The next thing that transpired after these thoughts is the realization that it's a standard practice in many ways. In today's day and age of social media, we are starting to have to take such extreme measures to be recognized and heard. I honestly am disgusted with most of the content on the realm of social media. Maybe that is because I have taken a small part in it. Regardless, it is my observation that in the name of authenticity people(myself included) are trading and exposing parts of their heart to the world in order to feel affirmed and acknowledged. It seems we are selling the commodity of our emotions for momentary attention. That which used to be revealed in the depths of family, friends, and intimate relationships; is now exposed to the whole world to judge and use just for a small amount of affirmation and attention.
I was talking to a friend about this topic. He brought to my attention the willingness of many people to emotionally divulge information about themselves just to have a moment of significance. Have you ever been talking with someone who just vomits struggles they are going through that seem so far out of the relationship context that you have with them? What is emotional prostitution? Does it exist or am I just making this up?
At the end of the day, this is what I am learning. I can be vulnerable and authentic without prostituting my emotions. Honestly, I am unsure if this whole article even makes fluid sense. I just really wanted to get this basic concept in writing. I have been thinking about this for a while.
What are your thoughts after reading my thoughts?