Staying Vulnerable When People Don't Like What You Do
The internet is a beautiful place to build a community, share stories, inspiration, motivation and entertainment. It's not easy sharing parts of myself that I worked incredibly hard to keep hidden for decades. I have to work really, really, really hard to convince myself to write and then publish the pieces of myself that I'm uncomfortable with. Some of it has to do with shame but the majority of it has to do with fear.
The biggest lesson I've learned over the years is that not everyone is going to like what I do and that's OK. It's not my job to try to please everyone. My job is to share my story as honestly and openly as possible. Every single day, I set out to inspire and motivate as many people to look in the mirror and say yes to themselves as humanly possible. That's my mission. That's what brings me the most joy inspires me to create articles, graphics and videos that I believe makes running, getting active, or even get out of bed in the morning when you're facing an unthinkable tragedy feel less impossible. That is why I do what I do.
Now a lot of what I create pushes the envelope. Would I call this video groundbreaking?
No. I think it makes a really gross and terrifying aspect of running, the ever looming possibility of pooping your pants, something we can laugh at because most runners have experienced it. When it happens, it's not fun. In fact, it's really awful. But it makes you feel less alone or embarrassed because you realize that we all have been there! I went back and forth about making that video. Do I really want to make a video about having to poop my pants? Is that something I want to live online forever? Yes, yes it is! Because runner's trots are awful! And I would much rather laugh about it instead of pretending that it doesn't happen.
I deal with fear in two ways, my initial response is to find laughter. I've dealt with enough trauma and heartbreak to know that laughter is the only thing that gives me hope when I feel broken or hopeless. The second way I deal with fear is to find hope and inspiration in other people's stories and experiences. That's part of the reason why I share so openly here on Run, Selfie, Repeat. If sharing my devastating grief, doubts, failures, successes and experiences gives hope to even one person, then it's worth it.
But it isn't easy. In fact, being vulnerable and honest about my insecurities is really terrifying and difficult for me. My biggest frustration with the internet is how easily we disassociate a human being from something they've done. When I try something new, I do what you're not supposed to do and I read people's comments. I come from a theater background and I'm not afraid of constructive criticism. In fact, I welcome it with open arms. I know that I'm not going to grow or continue to challenge myself if I don't figure out what works and what doesn't work. The problem is, people don't give constructive criticism online.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece here on Run, Selfie, Repeat that I was hoping would motivate and inspire people called "16 Inspiring Quotes For Runners". I shared images of myself with my own thoughts and words written on them. It's easy to share the words of someone else but your own? That's pretty tough. My good friend's at Women's Running shared my piece on their social media outlets and this was a comment someone wrote on Facebook.
I'd understand if Susan's comment was in response to something a little more crass like 11 all too real stages of having to go to the bathroom during a run (because it's a little on the obnoxious side) but this particular piece? I was confused. Susan proclaiming that I'm obnoxious doesn't help me! And I'm sure it doesn't really help her so what does that comment do? Susan, what isn't working? What about me bothers you so much that you felt it was appropriate to write that I'm so obnoxious that you can't stand it. I'm not mad, I'm just curious.
Look, I'm not here to please everyone. I know people aren't going to like what I do or even like me. It's not my job to care about the people who think I'm obnoxious. That really isn't my fault, that's a difference in taste. It is my job to listen to feedback and figure out what is working and what isn't working. My point is, I challenge you all to think before you post your reactions or responses online, especially responses that are emotionally charged. Remember, even if you don't think the person you're responding to is ever going to see your response, comment as if you're saying it to their face. And if you don't care what they think, maybe go take a look in the mirror and ask yourself why that is. It's OK to disagree, just be smart about how you respond.
The internet can be a wonderful place. Be compassionate whenever possible. Try to put yourself in other people's shoes. Think before you react and respond. Do good! And if I do something that you find frustrating or disappointing, email me! I want to hear those things just as much as I want your likes and LOL's. I'm not perfect, I'm here to grow. Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.