Jessica Yin shares her thoughts about the impact of public judgement on her personal life. 

There is nothing personal anymore about my personal life.

My personal life has always been the greatest source of confusion for me. Cupid stayed his arrow when it came to innocent elementary crushes or horny high school romances. I flew to university honestly thinking that the piece of junk in my chest wasn’t good for anything besides pumping blood into my busy body. But university has kick-started the useless organ and I now miss the days when it didn’t understand how it feels to miss someone like you do oxygen or sun during the dreary Scottish winters. Being new to the whole concept of liking, sleeping, and dating people, I made my fair share of mistakes while fumbling my way through understanding these foreign emotions.

What didn’t help this whole endeavor was the fact that my excursions into the world of desire were being moderated by a panel of judges, sports anchors analyzing each move with opinions, objections, and advice on what I could have done differently. Before I could even have a chance to figure out what making out with someone at a party meant to me, the rumor mill was already churning out conclusions, theories, and ridicule that couldn’t help but color my analysis of the whole situation.

kissingAnyone on a sports team knows that romance within the team has the potential for drama. But though there are people who insist that I set myself up to make my private life a public spectacle, I’d like to counter with the fact that university is a very shared experience and it is difficult to meet that special someone in a semi-private moment. Between training sessions and pub nights, I spend at least six hours a week with just one sports team, which is unsurprisingly why they are aware of nearly everything that happens in my life.

In a town as small as St Andrews, everyone somewhat knows everyone and there isn’t a party that is safe from prying eyes or moving lips that will get information to sources who want to speculate. I have had plenty of therapy sessions with friends, seeking their wisdom on the messes I’ve managed to get myself into. But there is a difference between advice with good intentions and jokes that turn my personal life into everyone else’s weekly reality TV show. When I’m on my best behavior and this week’s episode gets a little dull, sometimes re-runs will be played to make it more difficult for me to progress, grow, and move forwards. Unlike a TV character, I am not static, and it is difficult to evolve and attempt to be a better version of myself when the habits of previous versions are impressed upon me as the template of how I’m expected to behave.

clubIt may take a village to raise a child, but it does not take a team to have a relationship. When I find myself developing feelings or losing feelings for a person, I am too aware of the reactions of my audience. I know how I feel is ultimately my choice and my choice alone, but it is hard not to hear their reservations and disapproval. This spotlight makes me nervous and I second-guess myself, knowing all the while how unfair it is for the other person stuck on this week’s episode with me. They should have a chance to examine their feelings free of judgment and I don’t blame them for thinking twice about entering the circus ring with me. I honestly don’t think I’d ask anyone to and that makes me a very lonely person at the end of the day.

The saddest thing about the whole affair is the fact that I think my love life is the least interesting thing about me. I speak another language, I’ve lived in more than one country, and I have a mild obsession with philosophical discussions and ethical debates.

readingWith this column, I have shared a lot of my personal life, but I am happy to do that to show people there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to how you feel, who you love, and how not figured out your life is. I have plenty of doubts and moments of utter confusion that I would like to sift through on my own, without the constant companionship of the panel passing judgment on my progress. Who I date and how I am getting along in my relationships is something I would rather keep private, unless I choose to share. The narrative of my love life should be mine alone to control and I am going to take some privacy to figure out what that story is going to look like.


Images courtesy of Pixabay.