I've been debating whether or not I would blog about this, but for obvious reasons it's been on my mind, I need to get it out there. Even if i post it, I don't know how long I will keep it up.
I almost feel silly being as upset I am, being that I have given advice to others about not taking comments and content on social networking sites like Facebook too seriously. It's just Facebook, right? Just let it go. Easier said than done, as it turns out. I got a notification yesterday morning that set my blood boiling - a family member had signed into an application on the 'Book that allowed you to give professional endorsements to anyone on your contact list. Normally, I ignore things like that because I don't really trust those apps and games and whatnot to be legit or worthwhile, but my curiosity got the best of me. And then it all hit the fan.
"Lovely lady. Still growing up. Needs to lose weight."
Jaw meet floor. I wanted to laugh, scream, barf, cry, and throw things all at the same time. My immediate instinct was to fire off a response telling him exactly where he could put his endorsement, but I bit my tongue. I did defriend, and proceeded to pour out all my anger and battered feelings to my mom in email. One thing my mom is especially good at is commiserating and consoling her daughters when they have hurts, vents, and issues. She always seems to say the right things. Of course, she shared in my outrage and let me talk through it. How dare he! Why would he say that? Where is this coming from? Why am I the only person he wrote something negative about? Why, why, why? Sharing it with a few friends and Mr LikesIt, the response was all the same as mine. Why? What would possess someone to say such a thing, much less on a public forum and about family? The fact that I use social media outlets like this for my work only compounded the insult and potential injury. But still, I didn't respond. I kicked myself for letting something so seemingly trivial work my emotions into a frenzy, so I waited to cool off before proceeding to whatever it was I wanted to do about it.
I shared the story on twitter last night, but even after a few hours of stewing, the hurt hadn't worn off. I fell asleep with my heart still pounding from being just plain old pissed off. I've gotten so many comments about it from friends and internet strangers, as well as the kindest messages from other family members, all of which have gone so far to make me feel so much better. I sincerely appreciate every single reply, email, and text I've gotten. I am not going to tell you it doesn't still sting. Unfortunately, it's not the first time someone in the family has been wildly and purposefully insulting (towards me or others), but it was wholly unexpected coming from this person. And it sucks. It sucks a lot.
I don't need someone to tell me I need to lose weight. I would probably be the first person to agree with the statement if it was said to my chubby-cheeked face. I'm sure it's easy to tell from photos, the only means this person has of seeing me. Does any person, especially a somewhat superficial and self-conscious female, really need it to be pointed out, especially in such a harsh manner? I know it more than anyone, but I'm also working on it. My health is a huge priority in my life, equal billing with my job and my marriage. I am really proud of the changes I've made so far - running 5+ miles twice a week, taking kickboxing classes, cutting most processed foods, incorporating local and organic foods, etc etc. All well and good, but I still have a ways to go.
What hurt worse, amazingly enough, was the insinuation that I am immature, that I still have some growing up to do. How condescending, I thought, how utterly patronizing for someone to think they know me well enough from my Facebook statuses to think that I am falling short of my mark. Yes, it's taken me longer than some people to find my place in this world, and I've had moments of floundering and self-doubt. I had to learn what I didn't want to be before I knew where I was headed. I'll even admit that my weight gain over the years has been a direct result of feeling lost and without a path. But here I am, closer to thirty than makes me entirely comfortable, and I have succeeded in creating an amazing life that makes me proud of everything I've done to get here.
I have a career (that I excel in) with a world-renowned company. It is exciting and gratifying to wake up every morning and go there, doing a job that truly changes peoples' lives. I am married to a man who makes me walking-on-sunshine-glitter-puppies-and-rainbows happy. I have fantastic and supportive relationships with my family, Mr LikesIt's family, and a wide circle of friends. We own a beautiful home, have money in the bank, live within our means, and enjoy the material things we have worked hard to buy. In short, I've got my shit together and I know who I am.
I am interested in everything from cupcake baking to architecture, from American history to books about vampires, from Real Housewives to Renaissance art, from marriage equality to never-ending Scrabble games, from meditating on enlightenment to shopping for dresses. I have an eye for color, a soft spot for very small dogs, a love of cooking magazines, and a never-ending taste for guacamole. I vote, I donate blood, I try foods and activities that scare me, I stay in touch with current events, I keep track of my friends' birthdays and anniversaries, and I pay my taxes. I don't iron, I spend too much time on twitter, I rarely wash my face, I am chronically late, I talk faster than I think, and I always burn grilled cheese. I am liberal, intelligent, compassionate, creative, quick-witted, high-maintenance, fiercely loyal, messy, and dramatic. I believe in marrying your best friend, in honesty with a side of kindness, in wearing your heart on your sleeve, in working hard and playing harder, in the value of caring for something smaller than yourself, in the dangers of high-fructose corn syrup, in dressing for the job you want, in the ability to laugh at yourself, in listening for two sides to every story, and in seizing the moment.
Do I know everything there is to know? Hell no. Of course I'm still figuring some of this out. When is the right time to go to grad school? Are we ready to have a baby? Will I be a working mom or a stay-at-home? Will I ever find a religion that matches up to my spiritual beliefs? Will I ever be a real runner? Where will I find curtains for the dining room? Big issues, to be sure.
While it's hard to let go of the hurt, I know that an off-hand comment from a relative who I rarely see does not change any of those truths. I truly love my life, and I hate harboring negative emotions, even if they might be justified. This person has since apologized and removed the post, which doesn't necessarily make it better, but it helps. I haven't decided how to respond yet, but time will tell. It sucks a little less than yesterday, and as these things go, it will suck even less tomorrow.
If I can offer any advice from what I have learned, it is that the internet is accessible to anyone and that it is forever. Be careful what you put out there, both about yourself and others. Perception creates reality - people are judging your silly pet photos, expletive-ridden statuses, the inside jokes on your wall, and every single like button you click. Create the reality you want to share, think twice before posting. Be careful who you're connected to, even if it's family. Especially if it's family. Don't say anything you wouldn't want your mother in law, great uncle, or second cousin to read, because they can and and will read it. Hell, they might even be reading it right now. And most importantly, don't say something about a person that you wouldn't say to their face.
And as my Dad often says: "Illegitimi non carborundum." Don't let the bastards wear you down.