I live in the Grey. Will you meet me here?
I live in the Grey. Will you meet me here?
As I was gearing up to officially launch this website, I did a lot of research and consumption. I found life coaches, entrepreneurs, bloggers, influencers, small businesses and bad ass women in general to follow. I wanted to see how they engaged with their followers and audiences, what their newsletter experience was like, how they promoted products without looking like a car salesperson and so on. Most of it was inspiring, some of it was cringy, all of it was educational.
One observation kept popping out at me. There was a tendency to speak in absolutes and extremes. For example, “Block anyone who doesn’t support your business dream!” and “Never quit!”
Now there’s a reason for this, multiple reasons actually. These types of statements are more inflammatory. They trigger immediate and strong emotions. When you have an emotion at play, you are more inclined to remember the association, more inclined to comment or engage, more inclined to share this information and more inclined to navigate toward people who feel as emotionally strong and connected as you do to this thing.
Also, in the age of digital, having snackable or bite-size content that’s catchy and sexy to say and remember is part of key strategy. Politicians, activists, religious leaders have been doing it for centuries. It’s the equivalent of having a snazzy tagline or slogan, except now almost every piece of content posted by anyone of affluence has to deliver to that same affect.
When we repeatedly do this, it can get harmful. We lose the nuance, the story, the gray area between the black and the white. People are complex, messy creatures and most life experiences are the same – messy, complex, layered, nuanced. There are always exceptions to this rule. Racism is bad. Always. No matter what. No gray there. Rape is bad. Violence is bad. There’s more, but my point is, other than these few uncontestable instances, there’s usually more hidden in the cracks and crevices of those absolute statements. So, what happens when we keep removing the guts of things?
Well, cancel culture for one. But I don’t know that I feel like getting into that debate at the moment. Something else happens though too, and that is that we as humans stop doing the work. We don’t take the time to investigate, to understand, to empathize, to feel or imagine the possibilities. It’s so much easier to operate in a world where celebrities, viral tweets, influencers and mass influence just tell you what you’re supposed to feel or think or believe about a person, place or thing.
But how much power do you want to surrender for the sake of ease? How much of your own identity are you willing to sacrifice for convenience? How many people are you willing to classify and not forgive for the sake of conforming to popular opinion? These are legitimate questions. Questions that I don’t think people take the time to consider when scrolling and interacting online.
I challenge and invite you to try pausing before you join in a flurry of reactivity and ask yourself some questions:
Do I know this to be true?
Are there any instances where this is not true?
Is this true and does it make sense for my life and worldview or core belief values?
What might have happened to cause this and what would I might have done in this situation?
What is my gut, my instinct, my conscious telling me?
Let’s break down that example again: “Delete and block anyone who doesn’t believe in your dream.” This could be a small business, a career as an actor, to collect all the yoyo’s in the world, whatever. She also went on to say that it doesn’t matter if it’s your mom, your best friend, your sister, f$%# them and keep believing in you.
So, let’s unpack this a little bit. It is very true that a lot of times when we have a crazy dream that could be of some great risk to us or bring financial ruin or failure, the people in our lives who love us often react with skepticism, worry and fear. At it’s purest, they are trying to protect you and at its most dastardly, they don’t want to be associated with you if you go down in flames. Either way, the root of that is preservation of either your or self.
Sometimes it is worse than that and the relationship itself is toxic, hurting you and holding you back from your full potential and happiness. Is that the case? Is that what it is happening here? If so, then by all means, block that person. Remove that infection from your life and heal and grow. But if that’s not the case, do you really want to block mom?
If you happen to not be a sociopath, then you probably don’t. This situation actually invites opportunity to have some hard but necessary conversations. The first would be that because they love you and do want the best for you, is it possible that you missed something that they see? Is there valuable feedback there, constructive criticism, a path to improvement that you didn’t identity?
If that’s not the case and mom just wishes you’d go for the security and dependability of being doctor rather than starting an ostrich farm, then you get to have the conversation about how this is your life, not hers. And these are your choices that you get to make because it’s your happiness and bank account on the line, and while you appreciate her concern, you would much rather have her love and support because you’re going to do it either way, and how much nicer would it be to have her on your team?
Is everything going to be perfect? No. Are you still going to keep having hard conversations? Yes. Is it worth it to not destroy every relationship in your life who doesn’t perfectly grasp and 100% support your dream? I sure think so.
You know the difference in your core when you are surrounding yourself with people who drag you down and make you feel less than and the people who are difficult and questioning because they care about you. Don’t skip over taking the time to decipher those differences and never let some online personality tell you when it is or isn’t time to remove someone from your life. You can use that moment as an awakening. You can absolutely use that moment of resonation to start asking yourself those uncomfortable questions, but don’t just blindly accept the terms because wherever they’re at in their life, their business, their relationships, their story; it’s different than yours and what’s right for them may not be right for you.
I think so often in our society people are afraid to talk about things because they’re worried, they won’t use the right language or terms and get attacked. They’re worried that they’ll say something wrong and against popular opinion and get attacked. They’re worried they won’t come off as liberal enough or inclusive enough or smart enough or knowledgeable enough, but all of that just creates more and more barriers that we have to break through in order to talk about what’s at the heart of these very real and very hard issues.
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