Several weeks ago, I witnessed an exchange that instantly made something click in my brain. It was one of those lightbulb, total epiphany-type moments.
I was at the gym getting my bike setup for spin class. I hopped on and started slowly cycling, getting warmed up for the hour that was ahead of me. (SIDE NOTE: it never fails that 20 minutes into spin class, I think I’m going to die, but then once the hour is over I feel like I could punch through a brick wall. Exercise – go figure.) As I was pedaling, I could hear the ladies in front of me talking to each other. Lady 1 was talking about some kind of triathlon/mud-run thing she was training for – ya know, the kind of thing that makes me want to completely give up on fitness altogether, grab a sleeve of Oreos, and Netflix the rest of my life away.
She was trying her best to convince Lady 2 to start training and do it with her.
LADY 1: You should *totally* start training with me. It would be so fun if we could do it together!
LADY 2: I’m not sure I’d really enjoy it…
LADY 1: Oh, sure you would! We can keep each other accountable and I promise you’ll love it!
LADY 2: Sounds like a big commitment…
LADY 1: But think about how awesome it will be if we can finish together!!
LADY 2: Nah, it’s just not for me.
Wait – maybe you guys didn’t catch that, so let me break it down.
It’s. Not. For. Me.
Holy cow, do you understand the POWER in that statement?!
We live in a world where everyone has an opinion and everyone is right. How can that be possible, you ask? I’m not really sure, but ask the millions of people on Facebook that feel they need to weigh in on every topic great and small. The social media echo chamber makes us feel like we’re justified in giving people advice they never asked for. Like we’re qualified to weigh in on situations and circumstances that we only know 140 characters about. It’s a dangerous place to be, guys.
And this is coming from someone who LOVES social media. Really, I do. I’ve met some incredible people online – people that I consider close friends – and I love sharing pictures & stories and seeing those same kinds of things from other people I love. It’s wonderful and amazing that I can keep up with all my friends that are literally scattered around the globe.
But the shaming? Oh man. It’s real and it’s ugly. It’s not becoming of us, as humans, and certainly not for me, as a daughter of the King. Just because it’s easy for me to tell someone what I think doesn’t mean that I should. The Internet could stand for a good dose of the Golden Rule.
So when I heard this phrase – “it’s not for me” – somewhere in my brain, there was a tiny person jumping up and down in celebration. It’s not like I haven’t heard it before, but it just clicked in a whole new way. When Lady 2 responded that way, it let Lady 1 know that the answer was “no”, but in the most positive way possible. It didn’t put down Lady 1’s choice in any way or make it seem like Lady 2 was too far above that request. It’s an elegant response that says it’s ok if we’re not the same. If you choose something different than me, it doesn’t make you less than. It makes you YOU.
I think this is especially important for mamas. Parenting choices are deeply personal and there’s not a one-size-fits-all manual for this parenting gig. So being scrutinized by the people around you can be total agony. Especially if it’s on social media, where those people may or may not even actually know you. Raising kids is a tough, often thankless job and a little kindness & encouragement can go a long way towards making someones day – maybe even their whole WEEK.
It’s ok if we’re not the same. It’s ok if we don’t always agree. I will still celebrate you and your triumphs & joys, and I hope you’ll do the same for me. And the next time I see those Internet trolls just baiting me to weigh in with an opinion, I’m gonna roll right on by because, you know what? It’s not for me.