I don’t know if it’s a combination of 2016 finally being over, the new year energy, the incredible addition of anti-anxiety meds to my life, or me finally being ready and open to my own truth, but DAMN I’VE BEEN HAVING A LOT OF EPIPHANIES LATELY.
This morning I had one/a million about the way I do social media, and the anxiety and judgmental traps I get stuck in over and over.
1. Say Goodbye to Judgey Mcjudgeypants
I’m honestly embarrassed to admit this. I have been wearing the hat of JUDGEMENT when I read people’s posts on social media. Ok, true confession time: If I’m having trouble with someone or don’t like them at the moment for some reason (or even if they post something that I disagree with), I stop liking their posts. It took me a while to admit that I was doing this, because HELLO who wants to admit that shit?!
Once I started to become aware that I was doing this, then I tried justifying it to myself. Oh, I’m angry at them so I don’t want to send them angry energy. And if I like anything they like, I’m sure they’ll feel that I’m angry. YEP, that one’s a head turner. WHY did I think this was a good idea? That is a mystery I’m still untangling. But I do know that I do it. A lot. A LOT MORE than I want to admit.
If you’re willing to read through more awful realizations, I will eventually get to the part where I decide to be good person, and how I want to change my game here…ok, self conscious moment over now…
2. I feel miffed when people are offended by what I post
I take that shit PERSONALLY. I get riled up and vent and rant. I’m offended that you’re offended. But why?? Because we disagree? Because I think that your position or opinion on something is wrong or off base? Because I think I get everything right all the time??
I’ve been trying to notice when I start to take something personally, or when I feel feelings of anger, bitterness, resentment, frustration, or even disappointment or hurt bubble up for me. Then I ask myself “why?”
I’ve not been very impressed with the answers…
3. I don’t know how to acknowledge or ask for what I need
It’s really hard for me to admit my own needs to myself. Especially and definitely when I think I shouldn’t have a particular need. Like asking for people to send me healing energy. Honestly, this is something I could use pretty much ALL THE TIME. My body hurts just about every moment of everyday and pain is constantly sucking some life and energy out of me. But if I was to ask for that, then I would have to admit that I can’t solve my pain on my own. That I can’t fix it, even with the ridiculous amounts of rest and tender care I build into my schedule.
It’s scary to bring myself to the world when the vast majority of my own experience is pain, anxiety, and exhaustion. I don’t know how to keep saying over and over, I hurt today. Please hold me in the light. I could use some love and healing today.
4. I don’t want to have to explain everything all the time
Speaking of it being hard and scary to admit my needs in a public-ish way, one thing that makes it so hard is how a lot of people do sympathy. You saying how bad my life must be because of all the pain doesn’t feel great. That is not motivating me to admit and accept my needs. I generally respond to this by feeling guilty for having these needs. And I want to say them out loud EVEN LESS than before.
I realized that part of my retreating from sympathy or brushing it off with an “It’s fine” or “I’m alright” is not just because of the scariness of being vulnerable, but also because I want people to see ME. All of me. Including the pain, anxiety, and fatigue. But also including the joy, creativity, and magic I bring to the world. I want to be a whole person. Part of that is asking people to not get stuck on my pain. I feel so supported and loved when people acknowledge my pain but don’t fixate on it.
4. I am trying so hard to be a good activist
Fuck. This might be the hardest to admit (tied with that first one though, yikes!). Since I can remember, even as a child, I’ve been trying to be a good person. Like REALLY HARD. This is sooooooooooooo important to me. I want to be good, and I want to contribute goodness and healing and love to the world. I want to be a part of making the world a more honest, community oriented, joy filled, just and whole place. This desire comes from DEEP within my being.
And I’ve been living it out in a toxic way. I’ve been trying to control the image I project to people, and make sure that ALL the content I post, share, or comment on is something that is 100% in line with what I think/feel/believe/feel strongly about at that moment.
The problem is, this doesn’t allow any room for mistakes. I’ve brought perfectionism to my activism in a way that actually ends up making what I’m saying harsh and not completely honest. I’m not posting about how I struggled with an article I read for hours before posting. Or how I was initially defensive or critical of a new idea. Or how I realized I had been using non-inclusive language. Or how some days I don’t have any fucking clue what to do. Or other days how I give up rather than engage with the world, or even respond to emails.
5. My activism has been missing my truth
So far I’ve seen activism as a way to spread THE TRUTH. I’ve taken the evangelical christian framework I grew up with and applied it to how I do activism. This framework says YOU NEED TO CHANGE, HERE, LET ME TELL YOU HOW. It assumes that somehow I have stumbled upon the great truth of the universe and now know it better than anyone else. It critics others HEAVILY while leaving it’s own patterns and systems unchecked and unevaluated. It promotes a false idea of objective abstract truth rather than an embodied, lived truth.
And I’ve been suffering and causing suffering because of it. By not bringing myself and letting my own truth shape the way I do activism, I’ve tried to do what I think activists I admire think is best. I’ve been trying to live up to some sort of unspoken invisible code that says “THIS IS THE WAY”, even when it feels wrong for who I am (not wrong objectively – I’m done trying to say I know what is objectively good for everyone – but contrary to my natural energy and passion).
Here’s how I want to change the way I do social media and activism on social media:
1. Admit when I’m being judgmental. Notice. Ask why. Sit with the discomfort of it. Try to see it from someone else’s perspective. Listen to the soft voice deep within me that is always willing to give gentle guidance to my actions.
2. Bring myself to every post, re-post, share, comment, and blog. And remembering that there is always grace to begin again when this goes amuck or not how I would hope. I want to include my process and processing in what I post. How things are affecting me, and changing my own patterns of thinking and action.
3. Let go of shoulds. One should is about time. I want to be less concerned about what time I post things. The reality is, I sometimes am awake and asleep at odd times, and that is when I read a lot of great articles and want to post about them! Also want to let go of the should that I need to be perfect all the time, or get it 100%. That shit is not helping anything.
4. Stop equating “likes” with something being “good”. If only a few people like a post, I’m so glad it resonated with those few people. If the whole world likes a blog, I’m so glad it resonated with the whole world. My truth is still my truth, whether it gets shared or liked a lot, a little, or even not at all.
5. Share the hard stuff too. And the little things. The sometimes cheesy things. The adorable cat videos that light up my face with a smile. I want to be more open about the complexity and interconnectedness of suffering, pain, anxiety with my life.
I’m grateful to others who have modeled and taught me these things by how they do social media and activism. I’m excited to keep learning.