Daddy to dubs. In the shopping mall parking lot. She is 10, and battling the 6th grade:
“Look: this is that nasty thing that person said about you, sliding down your chest. Just let it slide off. No big deal baby girl!”
“Hey: Just take that comment and just – look at me now! Just [swish swish] brush it off your shoulders. I’m serious! I want to see you do it!”
Actively participating in the internet in any capacity means putting yourself “out there.” It means you’re creating a (likely-public) record of your thoughts and feelings for anyone to look through. If you’re like me, you spend a good part of your day creating mini-bits of content for others to consume. If you are me, you send every tweet, chat, post, “like” and update into the ether whilst praying silently against your own vapidity and irrelevance. If you’re me, you’re trying to embody insouciance; you’re saying “Yup, I’m awesome, but I don’t know it ‘cuz that would be vain and uncool, but i hope you think so, but if you say you don’t think so, i’ll believe you and be hurt by the presumed truth of it, but when I take in your response, I’ll try to look totally unmoved.” It’s hard to be James Dean (even though I look dreamy in a white tee).
Recently, I got some I-Should-Totally-Be-Able-to-Forget-About-This-Since-At-It’s-Core-It’s-Not-About-Me internet-backlash from an … acquaintance, and it hit me square in the chest. Really knocked the wind out of me, out of my sails. I immediately flashed back to the “pshhh … #F.Haters.” peptalk my Dad had essentially been giving me my entire childhood. But like had always been the case then, forgetting was easier said than done.
I have never been one to take negative criticism well, especially when it’s not of the constructive variety. That’s why I always needed my daddy’s help when a classmate told me I had a head shaped like a banana, or that I was too skinny (GOOD LORD someone should have slapped me for not appreciating it then), or too ugly, or too nappy headed, or too smart, or too much of an easy, sensitive target to pass up. He told me to shake it off. Not in the sometimes harsh way he had when he was coaching me to hurdling championships, but in the loving, caring way that said I hate that people are hurting my child. He loved me hard. Hard enough to combat the vicious bullying that scared us both so badly. But only just.
|“Long Hair Don’t Care”
What I learned, unfortunately, was that when you try too hard, when you feel too good, when you look too happy, there are people who want … NEED to bring you down. Thus, you are conditioned to strive for Insouciance. My saving grace is and has always been my support-network of positive people, who never mince a kind word. “#F.Haters,” they say. With a “#WeDaBes,” “#BeAboutIt,” “#MovingOn,” “#ANYWAY” I’m encouraged to do just that: to move on, to forget about it, and SHAKE-IT-OFF like daddy (and Mariah) say.
Thank you. Thank you, thank you.