I wish I looked like this when writing. But, I really look more like Josey Grossy from Never Been Kissed.
About ten days ago, Huffington Post published an article I wrote at the end of 2012. When they asked to publish it, I didn’t really think anything of it. It would go on one of their blogs and a few people would read it. I didn’t even edit the thing before I gave my permission for it to be shared.
And then my online world exploded. The thing went viral. Hundreds of thousands of “likes”, thousands of shares, so many comments...most of which hated me...and mentions on everything from national morning shows to Australian mommy groups. It was a thing beyond my control. Still is.
I’ve learned a few things from the goodness and the mess that followed. And yeah, I think I’ll start applying them to everyday life...you know the thing I live every other day except the day of viral velocity.
Don’t Expect Readers to Understand the Whole Conversation.
Man. I am so used to this space. Where each essay leads to another and you and I understand that this is a conversation of give and take. That what I say about manhood in one essay is buoyed up by what has been said in the writing that preceded and followed. That conversation didn’t exist on Huffington Post and I was naïve to think the HuffPo readers would come here to find it.
I think the same can be said about our everyday interactions. The people that inhabit your home and inner circle understand the conversation of your life. They can follow when you pick up mid-thought and can you let you set down long enough to catch your breath without demanding more. They know that not everything you say is an irretrievable statement of ideology. They let you grow into your ideas and search your mutual acquaintance for context. When, however, the lady in the aisle at the grocery store hears a fragment of one of my conversations, that is all she has to judge me by. Whether her judgment is fair or not, doesn’t really matter. It is, what it is.
Sometimes I am the lady listening in the aisle and sometimes I am me. I am working on remembering that. (And loving the thousands of ladies angrily listening in my proverbial aisle right now.)
Impersonal personal attacks really hurt. And are pretty damn funny. Like that person that just tweeted,
@meg_in_progress you are a piece of s&%t.
I cried. And then I laughed. So. No, thank you. And. Thank you.
Let’s see the ridiculous in the everyday anonymous hurts of our lives. How can someone who has nothing to do with the little or big parts of your life have anything to do with the little or big parts of your heart? Those PTA women, the group of girls at work, the neighbor down the way? They don’t know you. They aren’t an integral part of the fabric of your life. It is okay if they don’t like you. You know what else? It doesn’t matter if their dislike is valid, delusional or some godforsaken place in between. Just strive to do better each day. Smile when they walk by. And for heaven’s sake, laugh a little. I mean….no one’s ever called me a piece of feces before. I can check that off that bucket list I keep hoping to compile someday. (Man. Would that have made it onto my bucket list? Is that pathetic or revolutionary?)
It’s okay to disagree. Hey. You. Yeah, you. It’s alright if you and so-and-so don’t see eye to eye. Disagreement is the great fertilizer of discussion. Just try to keep from slinging it in the other person’s eye and everything will be okay. Better than okay. It will be expansive and inclusionary and, you know, interesting.
At the end of the day, no one moment - no matter how good or bad - defines us. Keep moving forward. There has been plenty of good in this moment. And there has been plenty of bad. And now it is time for the next step. Let’s take another step.
My next step? I’m on my way out of the country to write about efforts to rescue children from human trafficking.
I started writing because I felt like I wanted to empower women. I’m stepping onto that plane in a few minutes for the same reason. I won’t be sharing the children’s faces or names. But I will let you know how you can help, too. Follow along at @meg_in_progress on Instagram and Twitter.
Let’s do something good.