Over the course of the last couple of days, I’ve been told that my face was too long, my natural hair color looked better, and that my biological clock is ticking so I’ll probably miss my opportunity to have children. I was also told that one photo that I shared on social media was good while another was “not good of me at all.” Granted, people are often way too giving of information that we don’t necessarily want. However, it’s seems to have been running rampant lately in My Neck of the Woods. I could spend a bit addressing each one of these negative, hurtful comments (and giving you more examples) and discuss why they’re each terrible and add up to create a bit of an insecure monster inside of me. However, that’s not the purpose I have in mind here. Instead, I wanted to talk a bit about pushing through things like this.
If we had a few years and an unlimited supply of Kleenex, I could probably list out practically every mean thing that’s ever been said to me. High school would provide its own chapter in this story, and most of these mean-spirited things will be forever burned into my mind. It’s very likely that you could make a similar list too. For many years, I’ve wondered why people say hurtful things. I’ve wondered why I let them upset me. I’ve often dreamed of a world where everyone only has nice, uplifting things to say and where we all live by that golden rule that says, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” What a joy it would be to live in a world like that! Instead, I feel like I’m constantly seeing instances where people both unintentionally and intentionally say hurtful things. This plays out among peers, in families, and on social media daily. Sometimes, I get so frustrated that I want to yell and cry (and I sometimes do both) and I exclaim generalities like, “people are awful and terrible and I hate them.” I group all people into one nasty category because it seems like I’m often taken back by the nastiness that comes out of their mouths. The most unfortunate of these scenarios is the one in which people close to you repetitively say hurtful things.
That’s not fair of me though. I shouldn’t group everyone together. I shouldn’t generalize. If I were being honest, I also shouldn’t keep this mental list of people who’ve said hurtful things to me. Yet, I do. For example, someone close to me once said that I “needed to get a life” if I had time to blog. I’ll never forget it. I do my best to not dwell on it or harbor resentment, yet I think about that statement every time I hit publish here.
The hardest part about events like these isn’t even the hurt feelings. Unfortunately, I never really forget what’s said or done, and it does add a bit of extra insecurity to my emotional wardrobe. However, I think the worst part is having to muster the courage to keep going. The hardest part is disregarding the negativity and continuing to write blog posts. It’s continuing to share that photo of myself, even though I can quickly identify the flaws that others have pointed out to me. It’s the struggle to be excited about my new car, when people close to me make comments about how I must want to “keep up with the Jones.”
You see, life is full to the brim of hurt and disappointment. It takes on a lot of different forms, and we all experience it. As I started reading a book given to me by my lovely assistant, I realized this very thing might be my struggle. The thing I need to work on right now might be perseverance. I may not be as afraid of falling, as I am of getting back up. You see, continuing to do something that someone has criticized, even subtly, is very hard for me. My first instinct when my feelings are hurt is to abandon the thing or person in question. Don’t like my Facebook photo? Ok, I’ll never post on Facebook again. Think blogging is lame? Ok, I’ll make it a private blog and only invite in those that won’t hurt me with their comments. It’s pushing through that fear of continuing that’s immensely frightening for me. It’s getting back up when I’ve been knocked down by those around me. It’s certainly easier to just stay down. It’s a lot less scary to just fly under the radar. Sometimes I think that I should just live small and not go after big dreams, so that I’m not a target of criticism. It’s sad that the thought crosses my mind more than it should.
Unfortunately, I won’t wrap up this post with a list of tips for avoiding this sort of thing. I won’t concede with a story of how I figured it out and how you can too. Instead, I know that I’ll continue to struggle in this area. I’ll continue to want to stay down when my feelings are hurt. I’ll continue to want to mark people off the list when they hurt me. I’ll probably always wear my feelings on my sleeve. However, the moral is that we must continue to get back up, even when we’re hurt and afraid. We have to continue to live our lives as boldly as we can dream of. For me, it usually won’t be evident to the average acquaintance. Most likely, the exterior will appear thick and impenetrable. I’ll appear strong and resilient. On the inside though, I’m probably making a mental list of the stones being thrown at me. It’s a list that I’ll keep forever and review over and over again in my head, all too often dwelling on the damage they’ve caused. Some leave lifelong scars. Others are more temporary bruises. Either way, I must get back up again and continue the fight.
“The truth is falling hurts. The dare is to keep bring brave and feel your way back up.” Brene Brown
(Similar thoughts here if you’re interested.)