“You know, it’s actually kindof boring to watch pineapple. . . . But somebody’s gotta do it.”
And with a big sigh that carried the weight of the world, she put those puppy’s back up and dutifully watched the pineapple.
Outwardly I simply thanked her for being so dutiful in her job. Inside I was laughing hysterically, and the first thing I did was snap this picture so I could post about it on Facebook. (Oh yeah, I’m totally that mom). And lots of people smiled at the picture, and laughed at her totally made up job.
But here is the thing. It wasn’t long after this that she looked away for a second. And guess what happened??! Big Brother sneaked in AND STOLE SOME PINEAPPLE!! Turns out that Pineapple Watching really WAS important! And nobody knew it but Girlie.
So of course I’m going to turn this into an analogy, because analogies make me happy. Ready? Here we go:
Sometimes, when we do things that aren’t the norm, people are quick to laugh. And to be honest, that doesn’t feel very good. Actually, it feels downright crappy. And sometimes, we let other people’s laughter or criticism decide what we will or won’t do. It can be hard to stand alone and follow our convictions . . . whether it is about watching pineapple or sticking up for a friend (or a not-yet friend). But you know what? Life is better when you stay true to you.
You watch that pineapple! You wear those socks! You try out for the juggling team if that’s what you love! You be you. And just remember that when others laugh, it’s only because they don’t understand.
But you do.
And that’s all that matters.
prize in the county fair (I thought this deserved its own bullet point)
hand-shaken ice-cream with my kids (4th annual, baby!)
the Sweet Sixteens debut author group
It was awesome. My husband and I have been gone a lot lately, so the kids were excited to be spending time with us. The train delivery of our food was just cool. We smiled. We laughed. We even let the kids get light up toys for the performance. We were just happy to be together. And even my 11-year-old was loving the ice skating.
At intermission I posted a happy picture on facebook of our super fun evening, and if that was all you ever heard, you’d have an idyllic picture of our family evening. Maybe you’d be a little jealous and wish you could do the same. Maybe you’d roll your eyes and doubt it was that great anyway. Whatever your reaction, my “story” is out there exactly the way I told it.
See, the first half of our night really was that idyllic. I just never got around to posting about the second part.
Just after intermission, 8-year-old began complaining that his stomach hurt. He really wanted to wait it out because we were having that much fun. But shortly before the end it was too much. Husband took him out, and shortly thereafter the rest of us followed and met them at the car where 8-yo was holding an empty grocery bag and moaning.
We hurriedly got on the road (thankfully we beat most people out of the lot), but it wasn’t long before the puking began. The other kids immediately complained of the smell, and though it was a chilly night, but we unrolled the windows and did our best to ignore the shivering. Well, that worked right up until the skunk smell hit. I couldn’t decide what was worse.
At home we began the process of cleaning up the child, doing laundry, scouring the car seat, finding a suitable place for him to sleep (with low clean-up factor and easy access to a toilet). Oh, let me tell you that it was the polar opposite of the first half of our night. Not fun.
Not fun at all.
Except I was cracking up the whole time. Because polar opposite! Hahaha! Okay, well, I think the irony is funny.
Point is, the rest of story completely changes everything. Yes, we had fun, but it wasn’t the idyllic evening that was potrayed in that facebook post (even if that WAS an honest posting at the time). And this is like the writing world (and any other world, but since this is a writing blog . . .).
We read stories about writers getting agents, making book sells, doing class visits, signing books at overcrowded book signings, whatever, . . .
. . . and maybe we think that’s really cool, but maybe we compare ourselves just a little. And maybe a little jealousy creeps in. And we wonder why we don’t have what they have. Why haven’t I found an agent yet? Why didn’t my book sell that fast? Why don’t I have crowds and crowds of people at my book signings?
Not that I have ever felt this way. 😉
Here’s the thing: We may know all the good stuff, but what we don’t know is the rest of the story.
Because I guarantee you that everyone has their struggles. Surrounding those idyllic moments are doubts, and concerns, and HARD THINGS. Things we really, really, really wouldn’t want to go through.
And I sometimes need this reminder. We are all different. We have different successes and different trials. And that’s okay. We take the bad with the good, and we are grateful for what we have.
So let’s stop comparing ourselves. Stop thinking we aren’t good enough because we don’t have what they have. Let’s remember The Rest of the Story.
And then let’s laugh a little. Because that’s so much better than the alternative.
I am a person with strong opinions. Only natural considering my family loves to discuss. After meals, we’d sit around the family room and “passionately discuss” (my husband’s euphemism for the sport). I never thought much about it until my then-boyfriend, now-husband sat in with us. He was shocked that we hadn’t all leaped over the coffee table to beat each other up. I was shocked at his take on the evening.
But since that time, I have thought a lot about how a discussion can come across. Especially in the last few years, given the explosion of social media. I love discussing things passionately, but I have been amazed at how quickly a discussion turns to mud-slinging on the internet.
Instead of discussing issues, people turn to name-calling. Anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a jerk, and a whole slew of much more vulgar insults. To make things worse, intent of the Written Word can be much harder to interpret than that of the Spoken Word. Plus, it’s easier to be rude when you don’t have to look your audience in the eye, and it’s double easier when you can post that rudeness anonymously. The exchanges can leave you feeling like this:
Which is why I’ve hesitated to join in. Instead, I’ve kept my posts/tweets/status updates innocuous.
Once, I broke my silence. Expressed my confusion on a current Media to-do. I sincerely wanted to understand and said as much, asking commenters to keep it civil.
From that, I had a “friend” explode on me. It was crazy. She unleashed her anger on me over a slew of subjects that had nothing to do with my post, and before I could even figure out what had gone wrong, she unfriended me. And I don’t just friend anyone on Facebook. This was someone I knew well. Someone I truly considered to be a friend. It made me sad.
More thinking ensued, and in the end, I determined that I can’t avoid discussion forever. But I refuse to let others dictate my behavior. As such, I have come up with three rules of conduct for social media:
1. Treat others the way you would want to be treated (the Golden Rule, yo).
This means you gotta show respect. People will have different opinions than yours, but going all kinds of piranha-crazy-fish on them isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. When someone can express their views passionately yet respectfully, I’m much more likely to listen.
2. Let your work gel before hitting “send.”
Does what you are typing really need to be said? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Let it sit for a few hours and see if you still feel that responding to something is the best choice. But ask yourself: What am I accomplishing with this tweet/facebook post/response/social-media-message-of-choice? Are you really convincing others of something, or are you speaking to dead air? Are you venting, or are you defending something that needs defending? Time gives better perspective.
3. Accept that you cannot possibly please everyone.
No matter how nicely you say something, you will find people who just don’t want to hear what you have to say. People have their own reasons for doing what they do. I’ve found people ready to be offended at nothing. We can’t change others, we can only change ourselves. But if we are respectful in what we say on social media, try to consider other’s points-of-view, well, in my book we will be happier.
What suggestions do you have for engaging in social media debates?