"…When somebody saves you, the first thing you want to do is save other people. All other people. Everybody."
A few weekends ago, it was Thanksgiving in Canada. I'm horrible at remembering dates when it involves history or school, but I'm really good at remembering dates where something occurred that changed me in a certain way. So I began thinking about how last Thanksgiving was a huge turning point; I quit a job, got my first adult job, saw the person that broke my heart for the first time since the act was committed, I saw a faraway friend for the first time ever, and a strong friendship of many years ended abruptly. But all of those things added up to the fact that for the first time in a long time, things started to settle back into a routine. The heartache I was feeling faded with my summer skin, the friendships I forged over time were as strong and unwavering as ever, and I embraced the next journey that was in front of me.
Over Thanksgiving, I thought about everything I was thankful for, like my health, my loved ones and their health, and... the Internet. I know, you're rolling your eyes already but hear me out. I do have a lot to be thankful for; my mother, who is the strongest person I know. My education. The roof over my head. The privileged life that I lead. Everyone I love is healthy. I'm healthy. I'm thankful for it all.
And I'm thankful for the internet. I'm thankful for the people on the Internet - with all of their words and stories and photos and the movements they have brought to life. I've befriended so many people from the Internet that I sometimes forget that I haven't known them my whole life. Being on the internet and becoming friends with people on the net have taught me many things, which leads me to believe that it takes a village to raise a child and I believe it takes the internet to raise a woman.
Why do I believe this? Well, I've grown up up with the internet and the creation of social media. I've had some form of social network since I was 13. I had my own 'blog' - a Piczo site - when I was in 7th grade. I had fan sites and MySpace accounts and when January 2016 rolls around, I will have been tweeting for 7 years. 7 whole years of tweets. 7 whole years of my life, documented and stored on the Internet. 7 years of cringe-worthy things I've said in statues' on Facebook. I don't even want to see what my MySpace page probably looks like right now, but I know it is probably filled with photos from me with a big fringe and a lot of black eyeliner.
So basically: there is a lot of information about me on the web. I'm sitting at 10.6k tweets right now, so if you wanted to read about me having a breakdown about the Jonas Brothers in 2009, you probably could. And I'm okay with that.
The thought of so much of yourself being available for whoever to see is scary for some, but the Internet really helped me shape my views, values, and opinions on things. It's helped me become the open-minded, sympathetic individual that I am today. Not only that - it's connected me with people I would've never have known if the Internet didn't tie us together through the web. I've written about the importance of friendship before & I've written about finding friends on the web. The internet made me more open, more aware, more sympathetic, more loving. A lot of that comes from the people I've met through the Internet and the little village we've created.
In September, I started university. On that day I was nervous for multiple reasons that I won't go into here, but I expressed how I was feeling on Twitter (naturally) right before I started my first class. When I came out of that class, I had a bunch of replies from people I know from the Internet. A beautiful example of people I do not traditionally 'know', but people that I learn more and more about as they show themselves over the internet. People that may not know me, but also are learning more and more about me as I show myself over the internet - and are rooting for me. Now this may seem a tad ridiculous - no one should have to validate your feelings/decisions for you to feel better about the choices you're making, but it's really nice to feel like I have a village around me, wishing me the best. The internet has allowed me to be open, which in return has allowed me to find some really incredible people that welcomed me into their own little village.
After I sent my first Living Lightly email last Sunday, I received an email back from someone suggesting I listen to the song Brother by NEEDTOBREATHE, a band my good friend Danielle (and Taylor Swift) introduced me to. To me, the song's message is sung loud and clear: we need each other. We need each other when we don't want to. Others need us when they don't want to. We need each other to help, to relate, to love. We can joke about 'hating everyone' but I believe that when we are down in the gutter or at the top of the mountain, we really do need other people around us. Sometimes we just need another person to be that lighthouse, lighting the path that we need to take to heal - by finding our own village and getting to that place where you're able to stop and say "I saved myself, and I'm ready to help someone else learn how to save themselves."
"But everybody needs someone beside 'em,
Shining like a lighthouse from the sea.."
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