Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the idea of going your own way and being comfortable with not being popular. This idea seems peculiarly American — individualistic to the extreme — and in my mind, that is not necessarily a positive thing.
I’ve struggled with fitting in my whole life. Please do not think this is written with any desire for pity or sympathy. I’m not looking for that, honestly. I’m simply stating a fact. This concept of fitting in can be overwhelming and corrosive, and it’s only as I enter my 50s that I’m at a point where I’m somewhat comfortable with expressing it, talking about it, and making a bit of peace with it.
Ironically, I am active on social media, an arena that amplifies this concept to the extreme. The question of how to interpret “likes” or, more likely, no likes or comments, is a common one, let alone acceptance or rejection of friend requests. What is popular, what is considered worth commenting on, and who you are friends with, or not friends with, are all extremely complicated things to figure out or live with. This can be even more amplified when you’re part of a relatively small in person community and trying to find your place in it, as well as trying to navigate those relationships.
I don’t have answers, unfortunately, just some observations and thoughts.
A recurring thought, something I remind myself, is to not take it all too seriously, to not give it too much head space. It is all too easy to make assumptions or jump to conclusions about online or in person interactions, especially if you yourself do not find it easy to navigate social situations. What I choose to “like” or comment on on social media, and with whom I choose friendship, are quite significant things that have meaning to me. But that does not mean that another person views you or this type of interaction via social media or in person in the same way at all, and it’s not wise to readily ascribe motives or intentions. You have to learn to be comfortable with this ambiguity.
Let’s be honest, we all want to have the approval of others at times, to feel like what we say matters to someone else. We all have insecurities; none is exempt from it. Some are better at hiding it than others, that’s all. It really can make us feel good when others “like” or comment on our social media posts, and it can be like a drug, an addiction. I’m no different.
I want to encourage anyone who might read this to go your own way, to learn to appreciate and be comfortable with your own views, whether they are affirmed by anyone else or not, via social media or other means. That is not to then imply that we shouldn’t listen to and/or adjust our views as we interact with others, or that we should avoid community. Community is so important and we should continue to strive to live together respectfully and in peace. But ultimately, and especially for me as a person of faith, the only one I should really strive to please is God.
I am learning and growing in these thoughts, and writing this post is one way to help me to clarify, and possibly refine them over time.