Hungover and hungry and I sat on my Victoria Line train last Saturday afternoon, on my way to meet up with a girl from Instagram. She had messaged me to say she liked my blogs, had seen some of my acting work and wanted a little guidance on her career. She had asked would I meet for a coffee. I messaged back and disclaimered that I might not be the best person to advise as I'm still working it all out, but of course, I would be happy to meet her. It turns out arranging a meet on Saturday afternoon after a heavy Friday night at Hackney’s Oslo was not the best idea. As I came out of the station, more than slightly headachy, I changed the location to Leon where I could eat, in an attempt to feel (and look) a bit more normal. As I sat there in a packed restaurant with my unsatisfying healthy hangover food, I slightly resented being out of my cosy bed on my day off. It's not like I have it all figured out, I said to myself. What advice could I possibly give?
And then she rushed in – and was immediately lovely. I thanked her for getting in touch and asked a little about her. And so, we talked. And soon we were talking as if we had known each other forever. We talked values, goals, career, obstacles and made strategies. Then at some point, the topic turned to love.
With love, I found myself being clear and uncompromising in my advice. The need to put oneself first; to not ever regret the past nor apologise for it; never give it all to someone (and by that I don't mean sex) you have a right to your secrets, your past lives, past loves - love isn't ever unconditional - hold the important things back for yourself. And crucially, always remember: your relationship does not define you. I surprised myself with how much I had to say. Ten years her senior, I guess a lot had happened in that time. I was whisked back, revisiting my 16 year old naive self – the pain of my first heartbreak, the growth that takes place in the years that follow and the surprise realisation that yes - it hurts just as much years later.
We walked down Oxford Street station together, before parting at the station. She thanked me again for meeting her and we hugged goodbye. I sat on the tube, hangover forgotten. Thank you Samantha (name changed), for reaching out. You had no idea how much that meeting helped me. I had woken up that morning not expecting (nor wanting) to be forced to reflect on my own relationships or life choices. But sitting here, now, I could see just how far I had come and it spurred an energy inside me.
It got me thinking - maybe we should all be reaching out more. Maybe we should be using social media more as a tool to empower and support each other - instead of using it to perpetrate the myth of the ‘perfect’ life. The life that doesn’t even exist. In reality, we are all simply muddling our way through; posting our best moments in an attempt to carefully scrapbook our successes and goals. And as much as that is inspiring, it can leave us feeling incredibly lonely - even if we do have 100s or 1000s of followers. Sometimes it’s nice to step out of the perfect image-filled world and delve into the real life behind it. That's undoubtedly the great thing about social media - you get to be a part of communities of likeminded people. We have the ability to actually make real friends, find mentors or seek out what we want or need from life, in a way that was never offered to previous generations. So maybe it's time to stop scrolling, step out of the comments box and step out of your comfort zone. Let's have a real conversation.