My friend Jacob

I spoke to my long-time best friend Jacob this evening about pensions, doubting one's career and worrying about what others think. We hadn’t had an in-depth chat in a while, so it was nice to spend with him. There’s no one else that knows me as he does. We spent most of our teenage and university days together. But now, with the pandemic, it’s just the occasional late-night catch-up.

So life goes, you have less time for each other. Life is not the same with a baby and a business. Social media becomes a way of keeping an eye on what the other is up to without putting the effort in.

What was interesting is that from where Jacob was standing, everything was going pretty rosy for me. “He’s got his shit together,” he thought.

I thought the same of him. His screenwriting career is on the precipice of breaking through. When I read his work, I am stunned and humbled to see how far he’s come. It’s merely a matter of time before I see his name in the credits of a Netflix hit. He’s such a disciplined writer and so determined to realise his ambition—an inspiration indeed.

But as we unravelled how we were feeling, it became clear, as usual - we’re in the same rocky boat.

We’re both poisoned with self-doubt. We swing from depression to anxiety. We think about giving up most days. We get stuck in the downward spiral of procrastination. But neither of us broadcast that ugly side. We edit our lives online so that we appear successful, funny and irreverent. In fairness, he hadn’t seen I started this blog, where I’m trying to be candid about my life. Though editing is still required. (I hesitated to include the part about all the drugs we did together growing up. I thought I best leave that out in case it hurts his writing career.)

My point is, social media is a decoy. It’s not the real you. It’s a very convincing cardboard cut out. I think we relied on it too much as a signal for how we were doing. Why reach out to someone when everything seems like it’s going well? They’re posting cat memes. They’re totally fine.

It’s easy for long-time friendships to get lost in the tides of life. I’m grateful to have Jacob. I think it was exactly the conversation we both needed to have. Especially the part about the pensions. Consider this a reminder to pay closer attention to the people you care about.