2018, The Year of the Bully

IMG_2097 In today’s age of social media, it is easier than ever to be a bully. We can negatively comment on a thread, send a threatening private message, or simply talk ill about each other to mutual friends based on what we have seen on social media. This year more than ever, I have read posts by friends about the ugliness they have endured, generally through electronic means. For all of our connectivity, we are not very connected to the feelings of others. The cyber bully sounds off, feels a bit of relief for a moment, and then is left alone with the phone in their hands looking for another place to spread hurt. Let’s remember, those words cut both ways. You don’t get to rant and then walk peacefully away, suddenly a ray of sunshine to the world. The negativity remains with the sender, and the reasons for the negativity are far larger than one comment or post.

Although my current career is focused largely on encouragement, I know I have been a bully. Sometimes I am an accidental bully when someone misinterprets my comment, an e-mail or a text. But I have also been an intentional bully, not treating people who are different from me very well. I have bowed to pressure to exclude certain people because I don’t want to be the uncool one who is friends with the “weirdo.” I hope I am learning from those mistakes, and I honestly believe those missteps are what make me a vigilant supporter of the underdog today.

If you were on the receiving end of “mean” this year, remember the person who hurt you is hurting far worse. As the saying goes, hurt people hurt people. The best we can do is to forgive the sender and to continue to be a light, not allowing those words and actions to negatively shape us. You could take it a step further and allow those moments to elevate you in your drive to do your best.

4240405My daughter is experiencing some problems at school from a few older peers who don’t understand why she wears her hair short and prefers “boy” clothing. She feels sad during those encounters, but, overall, she is a bright, happy girl who loves being her own person. How she wears her hair and her personal style make her happy and comfortable. She seems to inherently understand her own comfort and happiness with her style is more important than making others comfortable with her style. Way to go, my sweet daughter! I am very proud of you.

I don’t generally make resolutions, but in 2019, I want to be inclusive and more kind. I want to think more about the person on the other end than of myself. I vow to keep unhelpful comments to myself, and to stick up for someone who needs it. It is a mean, mean world out there. Let’s make 2019 a kinder year. —Bethany

Related Post Here: Why I Allowed My Daughter to Cut Her Hair

 

 

Looking Back and Moving Forward

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Sometimes you have to look back in order to move forward. I have been doing a lot of looking back in the almost three years we have been in Seattle. At first, my looking back was because I was lonely and homesick, which I still feel at times. Now, with year-end upon us, I am looking back to better understand why I am where I am and to determine what I should do next.

There is a lot about life that does not make sense. We have seen a lot of chaos, heartbreak and disaster this year, more than I recall in my lifetime: hurricanes, wildfires, wars, bombings and the threat of nuclear attack are daily topics of conversation, real occurrences in our lives or in the lives of those we hold dear.

We imagine our life will go a certain way, and it rarely, if ever, plays out the way we pictured it. Why? Because that is life. Life cannot be pinned down, and it cannot be predicted. In the end, life is a compilation of one unexpected moment after another. You can fight against it, or you can work with it. Over and over life is teaching me this.

I am a reformed people-pleaser and a reformed planner. As for the former, I still like people to like me, and I work a bit too diligently at it at times. However, I do accept that some people will like me and others will not, and there is nothing I can do to change their minds. As for the latter, I feel the pendulum has swung too far the other direction. Much to the dismay of my data-driven, super plan-y husband, I plan and prepare for almost nothing. I let the day take me where it will. I do not make New Year’s resolutions, I do not make a to-do list for the day or the week, and I do not write down personal goals or goals for my business. Now, I am the last-minute girl who is always 5-10 minutes late to her engagement, under-prepared and slightly frazzled. There must be a happy medium, don’t you think?

I was telling a trusted colleague about this swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, and she observed that I needed to give myself permission to let my hair down. A great deal has occurred in my life, in the last seven years especially, that were far beyond my control: giving birth to twins at 32 weeks, my mom’s diagnosis of a non-curable blood cancer (she has been in remission for five years), and our move to Seattle, Washington from Dallas, Texas, where I had spent 21 years building my social and professional life. So, yes, I needed to stop planning for a while, and just be in the moment.

future and pastBut I don’t like the feeling of not being prepared, so, for the first time in a long time, I am going to make a list of 2018 personal goals, as well as a list of goals for my business. I have always feared writing goals because I felt I was setting myself up for failure. On the contrary, written goals are guideposts designed to help me succeed. I may not meet them all, but at least I know the direction I am heading. One thing my younger brother said a few years ago that stays with me, “An anxious mind is an unfocused mind.” If I want less anxiety in 2018, I have to create focus for myself. While I still want to flex and bend as life throws me curve balls, I need tangible goals to keep me moving forward and to keep me grounded.

I have shared a lot of my heart with you this year: a day of heartbreak, a big change for my daughter and my insight regarding social media. You have been very kind to read these posts and to offer wisdom and encouragement. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I will leave you with a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which gives me comfort: “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.”

Black and white photo of me by Christina Childress.