I was speaking with a friend the other day when she mentioned someone we went to school with, and asked if I had seen any of his latest Facebook posts.
I said that I hadn’t because he dropped me as a friend a few years ago.
“Why did he unfriend you?” she asked, and I responded that I had no idea, but I do remember him sending me some lame message along the lines of, “I’m getting off of FB, but you have a wonderful child, and I hope you take care of yourself and your son.”
My friend was like, “Really?” Yup. Really!
Social media is a funny thing. In many ways it’s been a wonderful addition to our lives, and in other ways it’s been detrimental. It has brought families and friends together, while tearing others apart.
But I will say this—when it comes to people you haven’t seen in over three decades, many still think you’re the same person they knew back then.
This goes for schoolmates and family members. Whomever you were to them the last time you interacted, that’s who you still are to them today. They don’t know any part of your journey, yet through the magic of Facebook or Instagram, they believe they know all about you. Social media has given everyone license to make incorrect assumptions about others.
It’s interesting how these people who weren’t around for any of your growth, your struggles, and the hardships you faced feel perfectly okay making judgement calls on you and your life based off a few social media posts. I guess that means they must also know what’s in your head, what you’re thinking, feeling, or facing on a daily basis. They know all about the nights you cried yourself to sleep because you didn’t know how you were going to make it, and how every morning you picked yourself up and pushed yourself to be strong in order to keep going.
Yeah, I guess they know all about that, too.
I didn’t have a safety net when I picked up and left for New York City, not to mention that I was in a miserable and unhealthy relationship. I was completely on my own, and new to the jungle that is N.Y.C. My learning curve was steep and my survival instinct kicked in quickly. I shut down emotionally so I could function in every other way. I’m not a person who asks for help, and if offered, I rarely accept it. I learned to be on my own, because that’s what I do, and I handled whatever life threw at me—on my own.
Some people like to put others in little boxes, because it makes them feel comfortable with the knowledge of what they once knew about you, at a time when you barely knew yourself. Many do this because it makes them feel better about who they are, about their life and their lack of growth.
In the process of viewing you through this reduced lens, they think they can put you down or minimize you as a person, just like they did when you were 16 or 17 years old. But I’m nearly 50, and this isn’t high school anymore. I have zero f*cks left to give to people who decided a long time ago that they weren’t going to like me, for whatever reason they made up in their heads.
I’m a kind, resilient, caring, and loving person who takes no sh*t and stands up for what I believe is right.
I give my all not only to the people I love and care about, but also to complete strangers. I try to help others whenever I can, because I’ve been that person who had nowhere to turn, and I know what it feels like to be alone and in pain.
I learned a long time ago that we can’t please everyone, and if we try, we will lose ourselves in the process. Not everyone is going to like who you are, or what you post on social media. But I’m not here to please anyone, so if someone doesn’t like my posts they can keep scrolling—just like an adult would. If you don’t like my personality, well, I can’t help you there and that’s not about to change. I am far from perfect, but I sure as hell won’t apologize for who I am and who I had to become in order to survive.
No one is going to take anything away from me, certainly not someone I haven’t seen or spoken to at length in over 30 years.
P.S. Your approval isn’t required, either on my life or on my social media posts.