I’d like to welcome you all to my brain on this fine Thursday afternoon. I have been on the struggle bus lately — for a multitude of reasons — and I haven’t been able to finish or publish my “politics” blog posts. I have actually written them all twice. First, they were too nice and too neutral and I had completely lost my sense of self in an attempt to reach as many people as possible. I rewrote them, thought I was satisfied — and then this Alabama abortion bullshit came around.
So of course, I didn’t want to publish a set of controversial blog posts that week. And then I started thinking, what the hell am I doing? What am I even trying to accomplish here? Will I accomplish anything? Or will I be the same as everyone else on Facebook shouting their opinions over each other instead of getting out there and making real change happen? And why has Facebook turned into a platform for political arguments?
This stream of questions continued on for awhile — a couple of weeks — until this afternoon when I came back around to this question:
What am I even trying to accomplish here?
That’s what it’s all about, really. Every time I write a blog post, I have an objective. And the political posts have been hard to write because the objective is complicated and murky. On the one hand, I wanted to get people talking (in a civilized way) about complicated issues. On the other hand, I wanted to share my own opinions about these issues. Finding a middle ground between sharing my own opinions without coming across as “my opinion is the right opinion” is easier said than done. Because when we feel passionately about something, of course we believe we’re right — even if we’re open to conversations and new ideas and opposing opinions.
We believe we’re right and that’s why we’re standing up here on the soap box.
So if I’m not trying to convince people that I’m right, what am I even trying to accomplish here?
It starts with self-improvement.
I have been doing a lot of work on myself since I graduated college — especially this past year. I have been in therapy and have been working through a lot of challenges that I’ve been managing — but not fixing — for a long time. I have always loved self-improvement, but I used to look at it from an efficiency standpoint. How can I be the best? And now, I look at it like this: How can I be the happiest?
I used to think that everyone was busy working on themselves, too, but that’s not always the case. I used to think it was my job to help other people work on themselves, but that’s not the case either.
My husband and I work on our marriage together, and we work on our own, individual selves. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it is not my job to help him do his work, but I am getting better.
My family does a lot of work on ourselves — individually and as a group. And when I say my family, I mean my parents, my brothers, my husband, and my aunt. Together, we have formed a book club and we have weekly video chats to discuss the book we’re reading. The books we have read so far have all had a self-improvement component. We mainly work on ourselves, but we also support each other.
When you start doing the work on yourself, it gets harder to be around people who aren’t doing the work. Sometimes, people are not doing the same work as you are or they are working at a different pace — and that’s okay — but some people aren’t doing the work at all. And for me, it’s harder to be around those people. I look at myself and I see a person who is constantly changing and growing and improving herself and the world around her — and I want to be around more people who are doing that.
That is what frustrates me the most about politics. No, it’s not having to deal with people who have different opinions than I do — it’s the people who are stuck in the mud, who are done growing and done changing and done improving. It’s those people who frustrate me. Because the rest of us are trying so hard to fight for what we believe in and make the world a better place, and those people who want the world to stay the same are holding us back and dragging us down.
I have no interest in having conversations about complex political and social issues with people who are afraid of change and aren’t willing to grow and change and broaden their perspective and improve themselves.
So, back to what am I even trying to accomplish here?
It’s about standards.
We should all be doing the work on ourselves and raising our standards — of ourselves and others — as we do the work.
We should be holding ourselves to the highest standard. Continually raising the bar. Making mistakes, apologizing, and moving forward. Growing, improving, changing, learning.
This is our span of control. We cannot control anyone else’s behavior but our own. But just imagine how different your Facebook experience would be if everyone held themselves to the highest standard.
There’s no reason you shouldn’t be holding yourself to a high standard. Free speech is great, and I love it, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be censoring ourselves. It is possible to be incredibly honest and blunt and express yourself without being an asshole. And it is possible to apologize for behaving like an asshole.
And if we aren’t holding ourselves to the highest standard, how do we expect anyone else to? How do we expect young children, who have grown up in this world with social media, to stop cyber bulling when we’re doing the same exact thing?
This is what I want to accomplish:
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
It really is that simple. They teach it to kids in preschool. It’s common sense. There’s no excuse. I don’t care what your political opinions are — a difference of opinion is not an excuse to be disrespectful and rude.
And if people are not treating you the way you want to be treated, either tell them that they need to change their behavior (but that’s on them, you can’t make them do anything) or get those people out of your life.
Hold yourself to a high standard — be a better person than you were yesterday. Hold people around you to high standards — don’t keep shitty people in your life. Hold the President of the United States to a high standard — every new president should learn from the mistakes of previous presidents.
Maybe I will post my “politics” series, maybe I won’t. I will continue to be vocal about political and social issues that I care deeply about, and I will continue doing the work on myself — learning better ways to express myself without being an asshole, and finding platforms besides Facebook where I can express myself and have a real impact.
In retrospect, this post really only needed three sentences:
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Do the work.
That is all.