Sometimes, it feels easier to immerse yourself in somebody else’s life, and to become invested in somebody else’s dreams, than it is to face the overwhelming emptiness of your own.
I love watching television; I always have. When I first came to the United States, watching television was how I learned to speak English, and the closed captions were how I later developed my vocabulary. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that TV isn’t educational! All that said, at the lowest point in my life, I spent hours a day watching television. I was severely depressed, and although not suicidal, I just had no real interest in my life, present or future. I binge-watched shows and movies that I’d already seen, and had a Netflix queue ranked by expiration date; I had to make sure that I watched everything before they “left” Netflix.
I threw my mind and emotions into every frame, every episode, and every character. I felt disoriented and out of place whenever I would decide to shut off the television and finally get some sleep. I was so disconnected from the emptiness of my real life and constantly on the run from my own feelings, but I was totally immersed in the lives of people who were nothing more than someone’s brainchild being portrayed by a paid actor with a real life of their own. The resistance to confronting my most uncomfortable feelings and fear of taking accountability for how my actions and inaction had created the life that I was living led me down a rabbit hole of pure fantasy. As I child, I had used books as my escape, devouring at least four a week. When that required too much energy, I moved on to television. But the root was the same: I was afraid of facing myself.
If you’re currently struggling with feeling “stuck,” feeling as if you’ve been living life on auto-pilot for the last one, five, or even ten years, I must ask: What are you running away from?