Stick with me on this one.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about bothersome behavior I have been witnessing lately and have no intention of throwing a slew of cliches your way and hoping one of them resonates. I don’t like cliches. They are too easy. And we hear them so often, they tend to swim blindly through our brains and out with the resonation of Charlie Brown’s teachers.
Here’s the thing…I’ve made the online space my career for more than ten years. And I love it. Some of the people who I have met doing this work are some of the people I consider my closest friends – they get me…we trust each other….we support each other. We cartwheel for each other. We pick each other up and talk each other down when life (both professional and personal) goes awry.
But as I’ve witnessed the opposite of that happening far too often lately, I’ve found myself reminded of a little bit of wisdom given to me by a friend that this social space work and universe put in my path more than a half dozen years ago.
At the time, I was walking wounded having seen myself become a target of some deeply unwanted vitriol. It amounted to high school stuff – one person calling me with an ominous, “I think you should know what people are saying about you”. We had just come from a conference together and the words were both untrue and intended to be extremely hurtful.
That intent succeeded for a time. I took it all in, I cried about it, I questioned everything I was doing and the goals I had set.
But let’s be real in talking about this – imagine looking out at a field of beautiful red poppys… if you decide to pick one…which will it be?
THE TALLEST ONE.
It is the first one you see. The one that simply begs to be picked, or, for this explanation, picked on. But it means that you are doing something right: you are growing, you are succeeding, you are chasing and catching your dreams.
That’s a good thing.
But being targeted hurts. And can be damaging to careers.
Honestly – jealousy is a normal emotion. It is both normal and real to allow yourself to be disappointed a job went to someone other than you. It is normal to see someone doing something you have always wanted to do….speaking, writing books, getting segments on TV, nailing affiliate sales, creating online classes and programs, partnering with dream brands, traveling the world, taking professional and personal risks, making money, losing weight and living their best life…
But it is what you choose to do with that emotion that makes all the difference.
If you can sit in it and allow it to motivate you to get working, to push yourself, to compare today’s version of you to yesterday’s – that is success.
If you allow it to fester and then lash out – it is harmful to the person you are targeting, but it speaks volumes about your character and could ultimately backfire.
In the past few weeks I’ve seen horrid comments about people I know on online interviews, passive aggressive Facebook posts shaming people in your friend list and even blog posts intended to question ethics of those we know.
My friend Jill was recently targeted for committing the heinous crime of allowing a website to interview her about her bold move to sell everything with her family and head out on the road to explore the entire United States with her children. While homeschooling. While working. While living. You don’t have to think Jill’s life decision is the right one for you – but the vitriol I saw in the comments was mind blowing.
Another online friend was hurt to see someone she knew posting about her on Facebook. Shelby is someone who has recently done a massive amount of work on her health, her self, her body and her confidence. And yet, how she appears in pictures on her Instagram page was worth questioning for people in the online space. Shelby’s daughter penned a beautiful post defending her mother, praising her as a role model, relishing in the self confidence she is learning within her family and questioning why adult women would resort to shaming one another.
Jill is a tall poppy. She’s intelligent and hard working. She has added a new branch to the online brand she has created. She is taking beautiful photos, making a living AND homeschooling her kiddos.
Shelby is a tall poppy. She has made changes and feels comfortable in her own skin. She doesn’t need permission to post pictures of herself in her bathing suit. The beauty and confidence she finally feels about her outside now matches the inside her closest friends have always seen.
There are more.
Success is often met with both cheers and jeers.
But friends, continue to strive. Continue to grow in to that tall people, dream and set goals and work hard.
The right people will rise up with you.
Be a tall poppy.