Almost a year and a half ago, I met a man through work who caught my interest and held it long enough for me to fall in love with him. We exchanged business cards, and three hours later, WhatsApp messages. From then on, we were on WhatsApp nearly every waking moment of nearly every day, no matter which part of the world we were in, no matter how late it was, no matter what was going on in our lives. For more than a year, my cell phone was my literally my lifeline, and I was as disgusted with it as I was exhilarated.
Then, nearly three months ago, the WhatsApp activity came to a dead stop. It was, strangely, the most unnerving and disorienting experience I had had since the first man I was ever truly in love with dropped out of my life five years ago. I had to readjust my mindset, reminding myself that I would never again hear the phone beeping for the first time that day at 9:30 AM, or the ringing that occurred every couple of hours following.
In the last few weeks, it has gotten easier, much easier, as I remember why it all ended the way it did in the first place, and why it will never again happen. I’ve stopped waiting by the phone, and some days, I can’t even bring myself to look at it unless it’s a message that I’ve been expecting. It’s made me aware of just how much my life has been defined by the phone for the last 16 months, and how much I detest phones now.
How does one small, inanimate object that seems so necessary and brings so much self-validation to some people also cause others so much pain?
With this bizarre notion in mind — and admittedly too much time on my hands — I’ve come to realize that nearly everything in life boils down to being on one of two sides of the same coin. There was a reason Jane Fonda came up with the catchphrase “No pain, no gain” in her workout videos: she knew that without exercising past the point of muscle aches, the psychological satisfaction of knowing we worked for that figure might be somewhat dimished.
But how do we know that the pain is worth it, and when it stops being so? We work out and/or starve ourselves to look good, but after a while we plateau because we can’t fight the urge to binge and the weight doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. We get into relationships with people who sweep us off our feet, but whom we can never have a future with because too many things and people stand in the way. Does that still make the relationship worth it because at our very core, we genuinely are happy, even though every single time the phone vibrates we feel like throwing it out a window?
I’ve never held any delusions about the way things would be if I continued to live this technologically-driven life. But it also means that I can never, ever, EVER again allow myself to get comfortable with the way things are or let my guard down or forget for even a second that my life is the way it is because of the choices I have made. And that is where my life is split by the coin: to have the happiness that I’ve always wanted, I have to put up with the anger, bitterness and resentment caused by the bullshit on the other side.