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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Why Your #firstworldproblems Are Valid

I was given a book as a teen and there was a chapter in it that talked about experience validity, and why your reality is authentic.   Although the chapter sticks out vividly in my mind, I can’t for the life of me remember what book this is (desperately hoping someone can tell me so I can give it the props it deserves).  It gave the example that if you were in the emergency room with a broken ankle, that sucks.  If someone is brought in next to you who was just shot 9 times, that sucks too.  You might say that sucks more and you’d much rather have the broken ankle.  It does not, however, make your ankle hurt any less.  The pain you are experiencing is still real and the problem still requires treatment.   The hospital staff would not be likely to tell you that you can’t have any pain medication because your ailment isn’t as bad as the guy next to you, so clearly you can just suck it up.  Your family would not likely tell you not to complain.

I found this example quite poignant, and relative to our lives today.  We are told as children to eat because there are starving kids out there who would do anything for our meal.   A friend vents to us that they can’t stand listening to other people talk about their problems because they have no idea how good they have it, and thus should have no reason to be frustrated.  Our issues in a first world country are often discounted as petty or frivolous in light of the suffering experienced in other parts of the world.  We are taught that if we feel anything except constant and unwavering gratitude for our lives and every situation that comes our way, we are selfish and naïve.

There is some truth to this, of course.  There’s importance in recognizing our station in life.   There’s value in evaluating our concerns and determining if they’re fleeting or a bit premature.  There is an utmost necessity in understanding what is going on around us and around the globe, and a responsibility to speak out against injustice.  Sometimes, having a grasp on another’s situation can help us reframe our own.  There’s no harm in that, and definitely no harm in choosing to live your life with a bit more gratitude.

Where there is harm, however, is in dismissing anyone else’s concerns as invalid, simply because you can’t relate or find them petty.  A person’s reality is valid, simply because it is theirs.  There are always going to be people who we perceive to be worse off.   There are always going to be people who we perceive to be better off.  The key is that it is just that: perception.  You don’t walk in anyone else’s shoes and are thus in no place to determine that anyone else’s challenges are insignificant.  Having my husband come home late 5 nights in a week is super frustrating, even though I know many parents are doing it solo all of the time.  Losing my iPhone at the mall is a loss, even if I’m aware of the massive loss of life happening in Gaza.  Burning my supper is really unfortunate, even if I know I’m lucky to have food to eat at all.    I can acknowledge the situations of those around me without detracting from my own, and I’m not any less grateful for accepting my feelings as real and reasonable.  They are real and reasonable, simply because they are mine.

This isn’t a permission slip to complain to your heart’s content, though.  I mean, you can, I won’t stop you.  Too much negativity tends to attract more of the same, however, and let’s be honest – we all know that person who just bitches all. of. the. time.  I encourage you not to be that person.    This is simply a reminder that we all walk at a different pace, on a different path and we need to accept that our journey holds different experiences, perspectives and emotions than one another.  A request to stop invalidating the feelings of others because you have no authority to do so.  To practice a bit more patience and understanding with one another.  And to recognize that your, and everybody else’s, #firstworldproblems do truly exist.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Random Shit

 

How I Got Myself Kicked Out Of A Mommy Group (and Why It Was A Blessing)

I find myself on Facebook more often than I like to admit.  When I’m looking for a distraction at work, a break after a hard day, on my phone after the toddler has fallen asleep and my arm has been commissioned as the pillow.  Although I could stand to limit my social media time more, I have found great value in Facebook: it led me to the group of people I lovingly call my ‘village’, who hold similar parenting values and are truly there to support each other through anything and everything.  I would not have found this network without the power of the internet, and for that I am grateful.

I am part of many groups on Facebook, some of which have a few thousand members.  As such, my Facebook name is a pseudonym.  I’ve been surprised quite often at how many people take offense to this and think I’m disingenuous.  The thing is, if you meet me in person I immediately tell you my name.  My posts and advice and commiseration are as real as it gets.  I’m simply just not comfortable in groups of thousands of strangers to post private matters attached to my real identity, lest a coworker discover I’m having period troubles, an acquaintance read about my marital challenges or a distant relative see me vent about family.   Of course, I could choose to simply not post about these things at all, but the reality is that there’s a ton of wisdom that can be gleaned from these communities, many times things I would never think of or consider, and I feel restricting myself in this way would be a huge disservice. 

Anyway, last week on a mom’s board that I am (was) a part of, a discussion came up around the members’ desires for anonymous posting and why it may be they don’t feel comfortable asking questions.  Many people pointed out exactly what I just said: you simply can’t know your audience in a group of that size and so sometimes posting in anonymity allows you to ask the questions you need without the worry of repercussions from your peers.  And, as social media threads often do, the post turned into a bit of a heated discussion around how threads were often responded to with negativity and judgement, throwing in a ton of negativity and judgement just for irony’s sake.  I contributed that I understood exactly the need for privacy, and then linked my World War Mommy post because it fit with what others were trying to convey.  The post was promptly deleted, citing a violation of the terms of the group.   When I challenged that because the terms state you can’t self-promote your own business from which you profit and I get absolutely no monetary reward from sharing my blog, I was told I was in multiple violations on the board and promptly removed from the group. 

At first, it was a bit of a shock and yes, I was angry.  I had indeed shared my blog posts there many times, but had never considered it to be a violation of the terms.  I had also never been notified before that day that it was considered a violation anyway (a rule which I likely would’ve disagreed with but still would’ve respected). 

Today, I realize it was a blessing.  The group didn’t serve me anymore, and hadn’t for a long time.  It was the gate way for me finding my village and held some nostalgia for that reason, but I rarely felt nourished from spending time reading the threads.  Many, many conversations went sideways there, and I would either get sucked in to constantly refreshing the page to see what had been added or felt so stressed from the tension that I would need to walk away.  The group took so much of my time, but almost never in a positive light and had become quite toxic to my soul. 

Although it sounds like it, this is truly not a knock against this particular group.  Granted, I feel they could benefit from some better communication strategies around their rules and the violations of them, but as a whole they provide a space for mothers to get support and ask questions they might not otherwise have.  The problem for me was that it was general parenting group with no specific parenting style focus, which meant that anything goes.  My issues with some of the harsher advice were my own.  My reaction to the snarkier comments was my own.  I can’t blame anyone else for that – I chose to read, I chose to participate and I chose to hang around when I wasn’t gaining anything positive from the experience.  I chose to be affected.  I chose poorly.

Being kicked out was the best thing that could’ve happened.  I was stuck in a rut that I should’ve pulled myself out of long ago.  There is little time for negativity and energy-sucks in life, and why I chose to spend so much of it engulfed in that world is beyond me.  Time that could’ve been spent in an environment that nurtured my soul, with people that get me and my style of parenting and offer advice in support of that. 

The truth is, it’s easy to get distracted by the drama and negativity that is prevalent on the internet.  It’s easy to let emotions fly and to spend precious minutes (hours…) arguing with perfect strangers.  But where does it get you?  Do you walk away from those moments feeling satisfied?  And if not (which I suspect is the answer), why do you continue to engage?  I couldn’t answer those questions and that should’ve been the first sign that something needed to change.

My village may not be your village.  What works for me may not work for you.   Maybe the very group I left is the same one that you find great value in.  I did once, too.   The important thing is that you find that niche that compliments your soul and spend time on that, discarding the rest.  Don’t be like me and waste too much precious time focusing on things that no longer work for your life.  It detracts from the things that do.   It’s okay to acknowledge that something had a time and place in your world, but that time has passed.  It’s okay to move on.  For your sanity and your well-being, do so.  You’ll thank me later. 

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2014 in Random Shit

 
 
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