In part 1, “My Social Media Happiness Practice“, I talked about using my herrberta Instagram to train my brain for the inclusive normal I aspire to live and feel. I want my normal to be an inclusive, accepting and supportive normal.
So the first part was about the challenges, nudging ourselves to go further like an explorer in the 21st century. Therefore, the unknown and maybe scary is different for all of us, and it changes over time as we explore. The good thing is that these challenges foster growth and expansion, and clarity, and they ultimately bring joy. Here’s how that works for me.
It’s doesn’t have to be serious or challenging all the time. I follow Terrell Britten. I also don’t care about makeup, fashion or skincare, but I happen to enjoy Mr Britten’s skincare videos. While I don’t feel like I should be using more skincare, I enjoy watching him enjoying skincare products. That’s all. I enjoy another person’s joy.
The secret ingredient is joy
Make sure there’s a lot of real joy sparking joy in your feed. And that again is quite individual. The secret ingredient is joy in itself. Be aware of snark, sarcasm, negativity. It might feel good to rally together putting others down, but does it really bring you joy? And if it does, ask yourself why. There’s something deeper behind the “joy” of putting someone else down and be it the likes of Donald Trump. There’s nothing to gain in joining a choir of dismissive commenters. I am not saying we shouldn’t critically analyse agendas and behaviours.
We can learn a lot by analysing, understanding, criticizing and all. It’s important to do that, and then what? Lashing out is the last straw of despair and the first impulse of anger. And while despair and anger are valid feelings, there are better uses of their energy. Lashing out on top of that won’t make things better; it’ll just make an already hostile environment worse. Not doing anything isn’t an option either because that keeps the system going and us rotting from the inside out, but the valid energy needs to go somewhere.
What to do with our anger?
That’s again where Instagram can come in handy. Charge and educate yourself by watching people defy the gravity of “usual” by being a black bisexual Muslim woman with a hijab making educational videos and a 400k+ following (Check out Blair Imani). Being an explorer in the 21st century means finding these people – your people. It’s possible. I am soaking in the joy, the energy and the possibility.
Search for people who share your anger and despair and create something out of it. Be inspired. Speak up, analyse, role model and to do so, be inspired yourself by role models. We are in this together; we grow and heal together.
And in between, watch skincare videos by a person who you would at first not have expected to be your skincare expert. Watch people dance and move and laugh and make it, even if the usual wants them to be invisible. It’s fun. Oh, and there’s art—plenty of it.
Being an explorer in the 21st century
And to round up the possibilities of learning and growth, remember it’s a process.
It’s all a process;
life is a process.
So today, Milk might be a challenge, tomorrow it’s something else, and Milk is a source of joy.
I will never be done.
We will never be done.
Once we accept that, we can relax.
IT IS NOT ABOUT “GETTING IT RIGHT” IMMEDIATELY.
It’s nice when that happens, but I try not to hold myself to unarchivable standards. This sets me up for failure, frustration and fragility. That’s yet another important post in the making.
Follow people who bring up something in you, joy, irritation, curiosity, smiles. Challenge yourself in whatever way you need to be challenged.
My favourite example is my SciFi journey. I love SciFi, and at one point, I wondered if it’s only possible for white men to understand the genre and write good SciFi? So I ventured out to find a female SciFi writer, and as I accepted the challenge, I made it even harder – or that’s what I thought it would be at the time: hard.
It turns out it just requires a tiny impulse not to follow the first best next recommendation, and wooosch there are whole new wholesome universes with Binti – a Himba woman – as the protagonist, for example (By Nnedi Okorafor). It’s all there for us to discover and enjoy. That’s what it means to be an explorer in 2021. Not finding a new continent to colonize and erase its people and cultures but finding people and cultures that defied the attempt of extinction and uplifting and enjoying them. We can still be explorers, and the wonders are there for us to enjoy.
What are you curious about?
The wild west? Well, you can watch some old movies with John Wayne and dress up at a festival. You can also follow indigenous people and get lost in the multitude of tribes, lands, traditions, wisdom, languages, tales, beauty, dances, … That is an excellent trade they offer. Unlike when they got killed, and their land was stolen and never got returned. I stop wearing a headdress, and in return, I can respectfully admire a treasure chest of tradition, culture and wisdom.
How else could you be an explorer in the 21st century? Interested in the life of a queer person in Nigeria? It’s there (Hint: Matthew Blaise). Wanna challenge your stereotype of women in Iran? Go for it. (No more hints from me, be an explorer yourself) Another treasure chest I opened was contemporary black art and literature from “Africa” (Africa is already quite a generalization, but it’s a starting point) – I now have moments when I hear “Ibu” or “Himba” and tiny spots of knowledge light up in my brain like a starting friendship. It’s beautiful. (Yeah, I could have chosen to beat myself up as I should have done this before, I should have known this already, but that won’t help anybody. I am late, but I am here now.)
Look at the world with the eyes of an explorer (not a conqueror). It’s a gigantic treasure chest, but the treasure is there to be admired, inspiring us and teaching us, not to be taken unless taken into our hearts.
CoverArt by me (a mashup of the four Instagram accounts I mentioned in the text)