How many personal social media accounts do you own?
(Or better yet, 0?)
My inner communications major has never been a huge fan of social media. I mean the term “privacy” has gone out the window, the word “friend” is a verb (how weird is that?) and don’t even get me started on cyber-bullying.
On the plus side, social media has given birth to a whole wealth of jobs. It also lets people communicate with their loved ones and friends using something that’s a lot faster than email.
They can be really helpful if you use them right, but they can also bring a lot of pain.
Everyone goes through pain. Sure, other people around you might have gone through similar issues, dealt with them in different ways, but everyone goes through it. No one got anywhere zooming around a real-life Monopoly board collecting $200 every time they passed Go.
Yes, it’s scary as heck, but people relate to vulnerability.
The girl I was a year ago would have looked at the person I am now and thought I was on some kind of drug for saying that. She would have thought I was crazy for starting a blog.
At the time, I thought blogs were reserved for companies and people like Perez Hilton.
I wasn’t the CEO of a billion dollar company, and I had no interest in which celebrity was dating who. All I wanted to do was find a job.
Therefore, I had no interest in starting a blog. Who would want to read about my daily woes anyway?
Then a friend asked me 2 questions:
“What do YOU offer the world? Where can you share your experiences and stories to help other people feel like they aren’t alone in their own experience?”
That made me realize that I could help other people by sharing my story. So I bit the bullet and claimed a WordPress account.
When I shared my story back in November on my blog, I remember my fingers shaking as I went to press the Publish button. I was staring at the cursor for a long time, listening to the battle in my head.
“DON’T do it.”
“You’ve already come this far, just hit the big blue button.”
“Are you crazy?!”
“Yes, little voice in my head, I heard you.”
“No, no, no, no.”
“Do not press that blue button. I repeat. DO NOT PRESS IT.”
I spent the next 48 hours wondering what ungodly power possessed me to a) start a blog and b) share the most painful part of my past with the Internet.
But then I realized something.
I was free.
That post gave me freedom. There was nothing to hide from anyone anymore. It was already out there.
There were no likes on the post, no comments, but I didn’t care. Setting myself free was a greater gift than the fleeting stab of joy we all get when we see a little notification on our social media networks.
A few months later, I got a message from a college friend, who told me that they really related to what I had already written, and found it extremely helpful. They encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing.
Cue the waterworks. Knowing that I helped this person was better than the feeling I got walking across the stage at my university’s commencement ceremony.
Fast forward to now.
I’m still chugging along, struggling to figure out my issues. I forget to meditate sometimes. I can’t tell you that I haven’t thought about going back to my not-so-happy place.
But I know better now. That little Facebook message made me realize a few things:
1. Putting Yourself Out There Can Be A Good Thing
Yes, it’s scary as hell, and you’re going to want to turn back because sharing your pain is…well…scary. But even if you aren’t a celebrity with thousands of Twitter followers that sing your praises, being vulnerable allows you to connect with people. You may not be finding the cure to cancer, but your story can help someone in some way.
2. The Little Things Matter
Have you been bullied? Than you know how powerful words can be. Sometimes all it takes is one little thing to turn your day upside down. By the same token, it could be the smallest thing that makes your day magical.
It could be:
- A conversation with a friend.
- A kind email from a supervisor.
- A smile.
Some of us live in places where we learn to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. Some of us spend hours worrying about what we look like and starving ourselves when there are children (and adults) out there who eat out of trash cans to survive. There are those of us who take our education for granted when there are people who can’t even complete middle school.
I’m not trying to say that we should all volunteer abroad (although that is really high on my bucket list). The important thing is to recognize that the littlest things can make a big difference. YOU have the power to inspire others, to make someone’s day. Why not embrace that?
3. Take Your Time
Have you ever rushed through something? What happened afterward? Were you happy with the result, or did you want to go back and do it again?
OK, maybe you’re that person who can pull really amazing things off at the last second, but in my experience, I generally felt like I’d cheated myself out of a job well done.
Sharing your story with the world is no different.
You don’t have to disclose everything once the floodgates open.
You have the power to choose what you put out there into the world. If you’re not ready to disclose certain things when people ask you, don’t.
Honor yourself instead for your courage and the boundaries you set. Honor yourself for how far you’ve come. Sure you may not be Demi Lovato, but your story can have an impact that is just as powerful.
I’m going to say that again just in case you didn’t get that.
Your story matters.
So be the warrior you know is inside you. Do not fear change, because your story could change someone for the better.
What can YOU offer the world?
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