It’s past midnight as I write this and I can’t sleep because I got sucked into some Facebook drama earlier this evening and it’s been weighing heavily on my mind, not because of the drama itself, but because I am usually very good about staying out of other people’s business, especially online, and making sure they stay out of mine.
This evening, I failed.
I failed because, for a few brief moments, I allowed someone’s negative perception of me to push down who I truly am.
And I have learnt over time that when I deny who I am—good and bad—I suffer.
I am being intentionally vague because the debate in question does not matter. What matters—and what I want to talk about—is how many times I have made myself small because I feared that if I were truly expansive, if I actually said what I really think, people would be offended, or they’d hate me, or they’d send me nasty emails, or they’d publically tag me to humiliate me.
The funny thing is, none of these things actually impact me. Because anyone who would do any of those things I’ve listed above is not my people.
And I gave up caring what not my people thought of me a long long time ago.
Or did I?
Because someone who doesn’t care what other people think of her does not spend an hour at the expense of her own family time answering questions about freelancing on Facebook from people who are not seeking solutions but validation, and who answer every offer of help with “But I can’t due to…”
Because someone who doesn’t care what other people think of her does not question her worth when someone balks at her prices.
Because someone who doesn’t care what other people think of her does not read three hundred amazing testimonials about her products and feel nothing, but then gets deflated because one person sent her a nasty email about a three-year-old blog post.
Someone who doesn’t care what other people think of her does not have to say she doesn’t care what other people think of her.
I realized earlier this year, after a week of particularly nasty emails and Facebook messages, that I did indeed, care about what not my people thought of me.
But I didn’t dismiss this, as I would have done in an earlier chapter of my life.
This time, I explored. During my meditations and in conversations with a coach, I continuously pushed at the source of this belief.
I found it in my childhood. In a need to not be the rebellious, mouthy firecracker that I was and be more “like the other girls.”
I make myself small when I hear the voice in my head saying, “Why can’t you be like the other girls?”
I didn’t know then, that all the other girls (and boys) were being told the same thing.
I was able to release the fear that says people won’t like me and accepted that given some of the things I’m about to publically say, it’s almost a given that many people will not only not like me, but will actively dislike me, and that this is a good thing.
I wrote a novel, one I’ve just finished, that in part explores how much white journalists in countries like India knowingly and unknowingly exploit local reporters. How when a brown woman is abused by a white man, he gets to control the narrative not because he’s the only storyteller, but because he’s the only storyteller anyone will listen to.
A small part of me—the one that still clings to the notion that what other people think of me makes any difference to my life and being—wants to sabotage the whole thing because it would be easier to pretend that I couldn’t finish or sell the book than to have the book published and slammed by the same journalists I’m critiquing.
But another—thankfully, bigger—part of me knows that I didn’t come here to sit quietly and observe. I came here to be seen, heard, and finally claim back the narrative of a story that was once stolen from me and told by a white male journalist.
It’s my time to tell the story and trust me, I’m going to tell it so goddamned well.