A couple months ago I called my friend from university. She had recently scored a new brand deal and I was feeling down on my luck. Her platform felt bigger than mine, her TikTok’s were performing better, and I felt like I was drowning in a sea of inadequacy. We talked on the phone for a couple minutes before she revealed to me that she felt like she didn’t know what she was doing. Social media was fast and changing everyday. Trends were created as quickly as they ended. Some of her content flopped and some took off, and she couldn’t find a pattern.
And I laughed.
Not at her, that would be rude. I have my character flaws but I’m not a bitch. I laughed because I had been working in social media for four years, and I got conned by the oldest trick in the book: Fake it ‘til you make it. And it truly is faking it. It’s not “trying your hardest” or “putting in the effort”, it’s all about lies and facades and masquerades. Even though I work in the field, I got tricked by someone I know. I forgot the cardinal rule of the internet: Everything you see is a lie.
And I am the same.
This is not to say that it isn’t based in reality. My name is Victoria, I am from Toronto, I have a myriad of mental illnesses, and I am a musician. The framework that you see and the stories that I tell are true. But I have painted all the details of my life from one point of view. I have spun a web and shown you only my side of the story. I have timed my relay of information for my benefit and that is because you are living in my fantasy. You are witnessing my life in the way I choose to play it out in front of you.
I edit my photos so the sky looks bluer and the lighting looks flawless. I tell you I’m spending my rainy day at a coffee shop in downtown Toronto, when in reality I was there three days ago. Currently, I’m sitting hair awry, trying to understand the intricacies of Google Analytics for work. Everything I’m telling you is a lie.
I tell you about my mental illnesses, but you don’t get to know all the details. All the dirty secrets and the diagnoses. You don’t get to watch the panic attacks and hear the thoughts that rattle around in my head. You don’t get to watch the self-destructive behaviour or get invites to the pity party because those are my secrets, and you only get to see slightly behind the curtain because that is all I want you to see.
You hear my songs, but you don’t get to see all the dates and the quiet moments. You don’t get to hear all the salacious details I share over cocktails with my friends as we play out a Sex in the City knockoff. You don’t get to watch me smile and laugh over texts and bad jokes and you don’t get to watch me cry when it ends. Because I don’t want you to see all that, I just want you to see the shiny, funny, and public moments.
And maybe this wrecks the magic for you. Maybe it’s like a child learning Santa Claus isn’t real, but I think in your heart of hearts you knew this. You knew that social media was one large con created by Mark Zuckerberg and his lizard-people-friends. You knew that for every good photo I take there were 200 of me looking weird and stupid. You knew all these things, but you let yourself believe that it was all true. You forgot that everything I’m telling you is a lie.
You knew all these things, but you let yourself believe that is was all true. You forgot that everything I'm telling you is a lie.
If you find yourself screaming at me or the sky or some other individual, thinking “why, why have you done this?” the answer you’re looking for is not simple. First and foremost, it’s the market. People want to seem flawed but not too flawed. They want to know you’re relatable and a human, but they don’t want to know all the dirty details. They don’t want to see messy or unkept. They only want to colour slightly outside the lines. I’m simply meeting the demands of a market. All in all, social media is a business and I’m the product.
Secondly, to maintain some sanity. If I create this divide between my real life and the life you see online, then I can’t get caught up in the part that might destroy my self-esteem. If the person you saw on your Instagram was truly me, then I could get personally offended by hateful comments or messages. I could be scared when men say the terrible things in my dm’s. But the separation of church and state provides a buffer between my well-being and my work.
Finally, it’s because frankly, it’s my life. My life is truly in technicolour. It is full of laughs and people I love and adventure. And I get to choose what gets shared. Yes, I take lots of photos and share lots of moments. But there are private moments that are mine. There are moments I keep memorialised, the stain-glass windows to the church that is my brain. I think sometimes there are moments that don’t need to be shared.
So yes, I’ve been lying to you. I’ve been showing you a single side of reality, which the truth is that my life is a 20-sided die. I’m telling you this because it means the next time you’re scrolling through Instagram or TikTok you might remember: Everything everyone is telling you is a lie. But then again why would you believe me? I’m a liar.
From me, with love, to you,
I believe we’re past the point of lying to each other, so let’s be honest. I had a really shitty day today. I felt ugly and stupid and anxious. I felt like I was bad at my job and a bad friend and a bad musician. I felt like no part of my life was a place to land. I was overtired, which made me nauseous and gave me a headache, and nothing was really working for me.
I tried working out, listening to loud music, talking to friends, just hunkering down and getting through the day, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of mediocrity. But it was more than that, the feeling that I was subpar. And those days are awful, the days where everything feels bad but you can’t attach the feeling to anything in particular. There is no problem to solve, no answer to find, nothing. You just feel awful.
On days like today, I find myself really caught up in my mental health recovery. I start thinking that I’m not as far along as I want to be or should be. I start second guessing myself, and I start to use the phrase “what if”, which is an anxious person’s least favourite phrase.
So, in the name of being honest, this post is not for you. It’s for me. It has been written entirely to make myself feel better.
I've always been anxious. It's just kind of written into my brain
I have always been anxious. It’s just kind of written into my brain. For me, like many people, anxiety presents itself as catastrophes. The worst possibility to every situation – no matter how unlikely. Every person hates me, every exam I will fail, every song I write is awful, and I am ultimately stuck in a state of paralysis as my brain tries to figure out a safe route.
And when everything is scary, sometimes you just stop doing things. There are things you cut out of your life altogether out of fear. Things you write off as “Impossible”. Throughout my recovery, I have slowly been able to incorporate those things back into my life. Not all of them successfully – there are still panic attacks and breakdowns because I am far, far from perfect. But I have begun to move things off my “Impossible List”.
So, in an attempt to show myself I am not a massive failure, let’s take a look at what’s been scratched off my “Impossible List”:
And I understand it seems silly to some of you. It seems ridiculous to me that at one point in my life I was unable to take cabs. I was unable to drive on the highway. I was unable to go to class (as a university student I might add). So yes, today sucked, but I’ve had worse days. I’ve had days of complete panic and paralysis and fear, and this was not one of those days. Despite what my brain has decided to latch onto today, I am getting better. I am recovering. And there is not nearly as much on my “Impossible List”.
From me, with love, to you,
I was shocked when I realised I hadn’t taken the time to write about this. Flabbergasted, one might say. Absolutely jaw dropped, that I hadn’t yet broached this topic. Because I’ve got some opinions on it. So, let’s discuss.
The first time I remember getting catcalled, I was 11. I was walking with my older sister who was 15 and a truck honked at us. It pulled up slowly and drove away pretty fast. My sister grabbed my hand and she turned really red. I didn’t understand fully what had happened. I had seen movies where guys hollered at girls, but those situations seemed like it was all in good fun. The guys in movies were in high school and wore polos with popped collars and drove convertibles (it was the 2000’s), and they complimented girls who they already knew, girls they were already involved with. But this wasn’t like that. These men weren’t in high school, because my sister was in high school, and they were so much older. And there was no fun music playing or cheerful smiles, it felt like they were sneering at us. Most importantly, it wasn’t all in good fun and we didn’t know them. My sister seemed embarrassed and I was uncomfortable because I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what was going on.
And catcalling has remained that confusing for me ever since.
I often say, “It’s funny until it’s not”. My friends and I trade stories about catcalls and bad pickup lines and that’s fine. We laugh about it because otherwise it feels scary. I often tell people about the guy who followed me for 5 blocks when I was 19, and I tell it with a jokey tone. But that’s because it ended without harm. In reality, I was scared. I called my dad to come meet me because I was only a block from my house. The guy left as my dad approached, but not before repeatedly touching my arm and asking me to come home with him.
It’s funny until it’s not, but otherwise I feel gross. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin, because I don’t understand why I’m attracting that sort of attention. I don’t understand what I did, what signal I made, what clothing item I wore that warranted being followed, being touched, being yelled at. And that’s the worst part, that I sit around asking myself what I could’ve done better. Should I have worn a sweater in the summer over my tank top? Should I have gone running in leggings over shorts? Should I have made eye contact with the ground, as not to attract unwanted attention? I treat it like a learning opportunity for me, when in reality I’ve done nothing wrong.
Don’t get me started on trying to explain to men. I got catcalled this week on a run and I told my mom about it when I was home. The guy stopped me at a red light and said, “Well, you’re a good girl, aren’t you? Mmmmm yes, you’re such a good girl.” It took most of my strength not to dive headlong into traffic.
My mom cringed with me, and my dad asked me, “Why didn’t you say something back? Why didn’t you tell him to fuck off? Why didn’t you kick him in the balls?” and while I understand where my dad’s suggestions were coming from, he didn’t get it. He didn’t get that talking back isn’t always an option. Yes, I’m 6ft tall, but this man easily cleared 6’3”. I’d bet my lucky stars that he was stronger than me, and based on our previous interaction, I don’t suspect he respected women very much. I was outnumbered by this man, even though it was only 1-on-1. I was clearly not in the position of power. And that’s often how it is. Interacting, engaging, calling back doesn’t end in a witty punchline or a victory. It ends in more discomfort, or even retaliation.
I said earlier that catcalling still confuses me. And it does, what do they think the suspected outcome will be? Do you think you’ll holler “Hey baby, you’re looking good?” and I’ll hop in your Hyundai Sonata and we’ll just go at it like animals in the back seat? What caveman part of the brain thinks, “Yell at that woman, I think she’ll find it endearing”? What is the point if not simply to make women uncomfortable? Why do it, because I can’t imagine it actually garners positive attention.
That’s it from me today. Just frustration and fear and a good anecdote, because it’s funny until it’s not. It’s funny until you’re 13 and trying to explain to a 40-year-old man that you’re not interested in going on a date. It’s funny until you’re telling the man on the subway to stop touching your knee as he tries to get your attention. It’s funny until you get off the bus three stops early just so the man will stop bothering you. It’s funny until he keeps asking you for a price because “girls that pretty are always hookers”. Its funny until it’s not.
And let’s be honest, it’s rarely fucking funny.
From me, with love, to you,
I feel old, but also very not old. I guess the word would be young. I feel old and young simultaneously. I have an apartment and a job that could lead to a career, but I woke up on Halloween in my childhood bed and the only things in my purse were a bottle of tequila and a bag of candy. It’s a dichotomy my life.
Your 20’s are weird. My Instagram feed is full of engagement rings and my LinkedIn is popping off with people starting careers, but for every engagement ring there is someone binge drinking on a Monday night living unemployed in their parent’s basement. And both are equally likely and equally acceptable. More importantly, it’s so easy to oscillate between these extremes. You can go from the top of the world to rock bottom really quickly, and vice versa. Less than a year ago I was unemployed due to lockdown and living in my parent’s house. It’s a quick turn around.
And when these extremes exist, it also means you can live anywhere along the spectrum in between. There are an infinite number of options in your 20s and that makes it all the more terrifying because figuring out what you’re supposed to be doing is much harder. I still have so many questions. (Okay, that’s a low bar to set because if you’ve spent 10 minutes with me you know I ask a lot of questions, but still). I’m not sure what I’m doing or where I want to go or how to get there and frankly it’s a little overwhelming. With the hopes of getting some stuff out of my head and free up some brain space, let’s ask 23 questions about life so far:
All in all, I’m happy with my 23rd year. I’m happy with my job and my apartment and my roommate who puts up with all my shit and my friends who put up with all my shit and my family who…I think you get the point.
I’m happy that I’m happy. That I’m healthy. That I’m back in the studio. I’m not super excited about turning 23, but you can’t stop time, so I won’t lose too much sleep over that. I guess if I read this back in a couple years, that’s what I would want to know. That I’m happy. Happy Birthday to Me.
From me, with love, to you,
It’s been a minute since I’ve talked about dating. And if I’m being totally honest, there was a different beginning to this piece. There was an opening that talked about dating apps that will likely get recycled and used in a different post. Because, as much as I have my fair share to say about dating apps, as this story unfolded it started being about something entirely different.
I have been single for four years. Almost exactly. And in that time, I’ve met a lot of really cool people. On dating apps, at parties, through friends, at (vomit) fraternities, at bars. There were times I really felt like I was living my best sitcom lifestyle, and times I felt like Taylor Swift in her White Horse music video. For four years, I’ve been the friend with the date stories, the friend with the roster, the friend who makes terrible decisions and maximizes a bad thing to turn them into blog posts or songs.
And I wanted to date, but I didn’t want to be in a relationship. It’s not to say that I was never completely without emotions, but long-term relationships didn’t seem to suit me. Sometimes I would talk about relationships or think that I wanted one, however in my heart of hearts I know I wasn’t quite ready. And I had a handful of reasons to stay single over the years:
“It doesn’t make sense to settle down because I’m actually into ______________” (ifkyk)**
“I don’t want to date a guy while I’m moving back and forth between Toronto and Vancouver”
“I really want to be single when things open up from lockdown”
“I’m coming back and forth from New Brunswick so it would be a big hassle”
And there are parts of being single that I wouldn’t’ want to necessarily give up. I love going on dates and meeting new people. I love that “will they/won’t they” feeling at the end of a date where you’re waiting for a first kiss. I love writing music about the good, the bad, and the ugly. I love trading date stories with my friends until we are all curled over from laughing so hard.
It’s not that a switch has flipped and I hate dating now. I still am an avid user of Bumble and Hinge. I still love a good first date and more importantly, a bad first date story. But something is a bit different now. Because I don’t want a relationship in the sense that I want to find my Forever person. The idea of being 23 and meeting the person I’ll spend the rest of my life with honestly makes me break out into nervous hives. Plus, I already have my Forever people. I have people that hold citizenships in Victoria-ville. They collect frequent flyer miles in my brain, and I should start paying for their phone bills with the number of minutes I rack up with them
I just want a Right Now person. I don’t need to talk about marriage and babies, but I want to feel comfortable talking about next week or God forbid a month from now without someone getting jumpy. I want to feel special and prioritized. I just want someone who makes me happy now and that’s enough.
One day I’m going to want that Ed-Sheeran-love-song kind of love. I’m going to want the love that grows old in a rocking chair. The love you fight for and work at, but I don’t want that right now. I want easy. I want someone to look at me and think, “Despite the sprinkles of crazy, I could spend time with her right now and that’s enough”. I’m enough for me. But sometimes I want to be enough for someone else as well. You know?
It’s a narrow distinction. It’s a fine line, so razor thin that if you don’t focus hard, you can’t see it. And you may think I’m wrong, but I bet you’ve had Right Now people in your life. They relationship that got you over a bad breakup and was exactly what you needed at the time. The friend you had in residence but drifted apart from after. The colleague who was your right hand at work, but you lost touch with when you left. It doesn’t mean that ending those relationships doesn’t hurt, but those were the people you needed.
This also doesn’t mean that I’m dissatisfied with my life. I have a new job that I love, I’m back in the studio, I have my Forever people, my anxiety is manageable, and – if you’ve somehow forgotten – I’m a goddamn treat. I just want someone to validate me. Someone to stick around for a while. Someone who wants to see me. Someone who doesn’t feel the need to keep shopping the market. Someone who doesn’t make me feel like a sociopath if I catch feelings, because fuck we need to take the pressure of catching feelings – but that’s an entirely different rant for a different post.
So here I am, yelling at the internet the things that I want. It’s a little funny, I always say you can’t look for things when you’re dating. When you look for a relationship, you’ll find garbage men and mediocre hook ups. When you look for casual, you’ll find love. But here I am, looking for Right Now, because Forever seems like too much to put on my plate at the moment. So fingers crossed that I’m wrong and I’ll actually stumble into the thing that I’m looking for.
I doubt it though.
From me, with love, to you,
**I cannot describe the hysterical laughter that ensues from thinking about all of the boys who saw this line and thought, “She’s definitely talking about me.” TRUST ME. I’m not.
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