I’m in quite a strange season of life at the moment. I feel like I’m learning new lessons everyday. And I don’t know why it surprises me but it does. I always thought that I would begin to have most of it figured out by now. That I would know the way the world works, that people are not always kind and that things are not always as they appear. But it seems some of the hardest lessons are the ones I’m learning right now.
Nothing has surprised me more in the last while than how rapidly things can escalate on social media and how quickly people forget that people are people and that no matter what, they need to be treated with kindness and respect. Treated with love.
Social media is such a peculiar thing to me right now! I feel so removed from it in a way and I sit back and watch it all and wonder to myself, “Is it just me, or is it all rather ridiculous?” I LOVE Instagram, don’t get me wrong but lately I’m looking at it from a totally different angle. I mean, we post stuff on Instagram, a platform made up of tiny little squares. Squares that are supposed to reflect parts of who we are. We post things about our private lives everyday with captions that are meant to inspire others and show them how we live, what we wear, what we eat and I dunno, that we are still alive? You know, incase anyone forgets about us.
We strive to grow our followings, to increase our engagement, to expand our degree of influence. We tell ourselves that we want to use this power to inspire other women, help people find contentment, offer them solitude and a place to commiserate over common struggles. We tell ourselves that we want to connect with others in a meaningful way and portray an authentic life. Perhaps that’s true for some.
But I can’t help but feel that so often we post pictures of our lives that have very little to do with what we are really feeling, or that ironically leave people feeling envious, empty and dissatisfied with their own lives. SO far from inspiring others if you really think about it. Yet there’s this need in us to keep the little pictures coming, this drive to keep up with the Jones’s and feel validated by people we don’t even know.
We post cryptic tweets about things that we feel other people need to know about. What, instead of just talking to the person directly? We subtweet and take personal digs at people to make a point and let others know how we feel about it. We highlight people’s mistakes and failures, instead of concentrating on our own shortcomings. It’s like this innate need in us to not let anyone get away with anything. Like the social media world is the bar to which we are all held accountable? God forbid we let anything slide or allow someone escape the wrath of those angry people behind their screens.
But lately I’ve been even more dumbfounded than before by the kind of messages we are portraying on social media. I’ve seen some nasty stuff go down and noticed how easy it is for people to forget the one thing we all so proudly preach: To be women who stand up to bullying and who promote woman empowerment. To be kind and loving no matter what. No matter our differences, no matter our mistakes. Instead I’ve seen hate and spite at every corner. And I just wonder to myself: are we being helpful? Are we being constructive? ARE WE BEING KIND?
I’ve had to open myself up to these life lessons and to check myself on these issues a lot lately. I realise how easy it is to judge and make assumptions about people. How easy it is for words to be twisted and taken out of context, how damaging this can be. I know that even in my own personal life, dealing with people I actually see everyday can be challenging as I am confronted with our differences in opinions. I find myself being effected by others people’s choices and feeling upset by how they conduct themselves. I find myself not always acting out of kindness and love, instead acting out of character.
But these words have begun to ring in the back of my head of late, like a gentle reminder about how we need to live:
” We are not called to like everyone, but we are called to love them” AND “Love is not a feeling, Love is an action”.
Say those words over to yourself again. We are not always going to like what people do or the choices they make, but imagine a world where we loved those people anyway? Where our first response was kindness? The repercussions would be drastic!
Look I’m not even talking about the Hitlers of the world here. I’m not saying we all need to bow down in submission and show kindness towards people who are blatantly evil and causing us direct pain and harming us and those we love. NO, I’m talking about the very women who walk among you everyday, who you follow on social media, who work in the same building, across the room from you. The mom who you see at school pick-up everyday or in the grocery aisle at Pick ‘n Pay. I’m talking about the woman who also has a family, a job, children who drive her mad and her own personal struggles. Personal demons she has been fighting since she was a little girl. I’m talking about ordinary people just trying to get through life. JUST. LIKE.YOU.
So yes these may be my lessons. My experiences. My opinions. Something I feel has been placed on my heart over the last few weeks. I’m not subtly trying to make a point or in any way pretend I have it all figured out. In fact, the feelings that have pre-empted me to write this post have taken me on a long journey: one filled with reflection, contemplation, mindful consideration and most importantly a crap load of inner questioning of myself.
Here’s just a couple of these small lessons in a nutshell, lessons I’m sure we can all take away from and apply to to our own situations, our own lives.
- We are not not always going to be liked (no matter what Industry we are in) and that’s okay! Love those people anyway.
- We are not always going to like people or what they do. But love them anyway. (Or at the very least show them kindness and respect!) We may question people’s integrity, thats okay, but don’t forget to hold tightly onto yours. And remember, LOVE IS NOT A FEELING, LOVE IS AN ACTION.
- We are not always going to see eye-to eye with people, heck we may not even appreciate their opinion but…. show kindness towards them anyway!
- Love people even when their actions are wrong. There’s a massive difference between supporting someone’s bad decision and loving them despite it. If your best friend makes a bad judgement call, do you rub salt in the wound and kick her when she’s down? Do you turn on her and shame her? No you challenge her, stand by her and love her in spite of it. Why should it be any different with those people we don’t know very well? Show love towards people, even when you don’t like what they do.
- Let go of always trying to prove your worth and rather find validation in people who value you. Stop feeling like you are not enough and feeling like you need to live an Instagram perfect life. Of course we are trying to capture beautiful things and highlight the good parts, but let’s be authentic and show people the crappy parts from time to time.
- Be true to yourself, despite people opinions of you. If you feel in your heart you know your truth then don’t waste energy trying be someone different.
- It’s very easy to misconstrue things on social media and believe things about someone. Stop believing everything you hear and turn your ear away from gossip and slander and shaming of any kind.
- In a world of so much online hate and shaming, choose kindness. It’s scary how we treat people from behind a screen, it’s even more frightening how we feel it’s ok to judge and play God.
- We are all human and we are all on our own journeys, don’t let other peoples battles and shortcomings effect you more than they need to. We all fall short at times, we all make silly choices, but let’s remember that we are all people learning from our mistakes. Let’s LOVE PEOPLE ANYWAY!
Sorry for the preach guys, but I really felt like these things needed to be said! Can you weigh in? PLEASE tell me if you agree or what you find hard or how you think we can do better as women? Also, who can make us these tracktops? ♥