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On online presence and guilt.

The thing with being a woman of the Internet generation is that you feel obliged to be online all the time. We’re obsessed with newness, fresh content and shiny new things to keep us ticking over. So when huge things happen in real life, you instantly feel obliged to apologise for an imminent absence. Last week I had some pretty terrible news and I wrote a lengthy post just to get my thoughts down, as well as a tear-soaked sheet in my notebook that remains water-creased even now.

I felt at odds to be online, I felt at odds to be doing anything, I felt at odds to be going away on the holiday of my dreams. Everything felt trivial and inconsequential. I'm a passionate advocate of positivity and finding the beauty and flickers of happiness in the everyday mundane, but who cared about continuing with the everyday mundane when it was beginning to sink in that she'd never be able to again? So, I wrote it all out and then I slept a little and so far what I’ve learnt is the grief doesn’t really pass, it just lodges itself there. A neat little nook slap bang in your day, in your world. It just rests there. Will people judge me for being online? Am I helping myself from closing myself off even further when I’m already hundreds of miles away from my loved ones? Am I helping myself by trying to keep busy and doing a half-arsed job at every task I turn myself to? Nope, not really.

Once I landed in Seoul in the dawning hours of Saturday, I was happy to finally feel something that didn’t wholly come from grief. I felt relieved to be away from my Granny’s holiday apartment, which is actually where I live, surrounded by her things and realising she’d never be able to complain to me about my awful rose gold clock or my messiness or how I was never dressed appropriately for work or compliment me on my hair or fuss about what I wanted to eat for dinner. I felt a numb sort of excitement and dull strain of disbelief that, finally, I was there. And then almost immediately after feeling that, I felt guilt that I was about to almost-happily share photos of my holiday. Guilt. Because I know how the Internet operates, you know? I didn’t want to go through the motions of being in Seoul, so you keep on keeping on, in situations like this, don’t you? I wanted a hug from my Mama and yet I padded on tentatively, foraying into solo travel, which infinitely helped me to feel better, more whole. I mean, when you need to rely on your own terrible navigation skills to keep yourself from losing yourself, you have little other choice. In fact, once again, the heady world of blogging and the instantaneous nature of social media and WhatsApp and LINE meant that I could keep some grip on contact with friends and distractions. I called my best friend - of course - and he told me to do whatever I bloody well pleased. I didn't owe the Internet an explanation, I owed myself a sprinkle of happiness, even if temporary.

I’m going to keep on keeping on, I think. Thank you so much for your continued wonderful messages on both the blog and Twitter, you have no idea how much you kids mean to me.

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