Have you ever felt the need to ask for advice from a stranger on the internet? Or just talk about life in general without having to actually reveal too much about anything? Well, that’s what this is for.
Many moons ago, I sent out a post about my idea of creating an advice type podcast. I’m not actually a professional advice giver nor am I a person who has her shit together all the time, in fact, to have an idea of who I am as a person, I have named my blog “Not Your Role Model” as I am, and probably will never be, an ideal role model.
But for some insane reason, my friends, both in real life and internet life, have asked me for some advice. Or not actually ask for an advice, just a person that they can talk to. And I must say, I had some good advice to give, some that they have taken to heart. That sounds like a very self serving statement, but most of the time, we don’t necessarily need someone’s professional sound opinion. Sometimes what we really need is just a person that we can talk to.
For the past two years, I have mostly lived a solitary life. I have devoted my time to work and mapping out a career that I have been putting off for a long time. At the same time, I have made myself very available online. When friends see you online, specially in the middle of the night, they immediately turn to you for comfort or support or just simply to pass idle time. And it then soon transpired to some sort of counselling session.
Whenever one of my real life friends is feeling blue, they’d chat me up and confess their feelings, even if we are not that close in real real life. Whenever a person on the internet says, “Who is up? :(“ I almost instantly reply, which then turns to a 4 hour conversation about life and problems. This is the beauty of the internet to me. That even if I am living very far away from my real life friends I can still be there for them, although it would have been better if beers were involved. And getting to know people online is amazing and beautiful, even if it’s just for one night you are the best of friends.
If you don’t know me, I am the kind of person who dislikes feelings. I am repressive and non-confrontational. Real life feelings makes me anxious and awkward and I immediately close up (like you can literally hear the sound of a zipper closing). In fact, I have been told in several occasions that I am a human robot. The internet and being online cures me of that! I become more vulnerable. More importantly, I allow myself to be vulnerable. Something about the barrier that the computer creates makes me feel like I am allowed to have feelings – not that it’s illegal – and admit that I cry over montages and commercials, that I have violent feelings towards my ex, that I am jealous of other people’s success, that I feel useless, that I am weak, that I am, after all, a human.
I guess there are a lot more people who are like this. I used to think, “Why would they ask me for an advice about their marriage? I’m single and childless!” But then I realized they are not necessarily asking for an advice. They just need someone to talk to. They are asking for my permission to feel the way that they are feeling. And I am grateful for being that for some people. I realized that it is not about giving people advice. It’s more about helping them validate the way that they are feeling, to hear the thing from someone else even if that something is something that they already know. That they are not crazy to feel the way that they feel.
When I posted that post about me thinking of putting up an advice column, I received two emails from internet strangers who have let me in to their world by sharing their feelings. I was surprised and grateful that they have, first of all read my blog, and two allowed me to listen to them. I have since asked them permission if I could put up their “situation” in my blog. Both gave me their blessing and of course out of respect (even if they didn’t say it) I will be keeping the two of them anonymous (and anyone else who decides to email me for that matter) and not unless they want to leave their contact information (if anyone else wants to be in contact with them) I will not be including them in any of my posts.
Replying to their emails left me with a cathartic feeling. Like I lifted a personal boulder from my chest. I was glad that I, even though very wary of it, left my email without even thinking twice about it. I helped someone feel better and even my robot heart has felt like sunshine and rainbows.
So that feeling of catharsis has lead me to start (Oh!) Dear Dora. A weekly confession column, where I respond to emails, Facebook messages, or other whatnots, from strangers from the internet to people I know in real life.
If you would like to participate, let some feelings out or any non serious issues, or maybe just share your own personal point of view, you can virtually talk to me via the ff.
And of course you can always leave a comment here on WordPress!
If you have any other suggestions in terms of contact, please let me know. As I understand twitter and facebook and wordpress and email, don’t necessarily allow any anonymity. Until then don’t forget to be a kind human. 🙂