Dear people who gossiped about me online five years ago,
If you are reading my blog, no doubt you’re surprised to see this entry, after all the time I spent pretending you didn’t exist. Rather than saying anything to you, I decided to treat you as far beneath my notice and deserving no attention whatsoever. I told myself that I wasn’t even going to think about you because, as the saying goes, brooding on a grudge is like letting a person one despises live rent-free in one’s head.
But the grudge never actually went away, even though I cultivated an attitude of being much too tough to care. As long as I despised you, I couldn’t evict you. That negativity got dumped like toxic waste into the depths of my psyche, bubbling and reeking as it slowly decomposed. So I came to the conclusion that the only sensible thing to do was to forgive you instead.
In every situation, there are useful lessons that can be taken away. Forgiveness has to do with appreciating them and moving on. So I asked myself: What insights did I gain five years ago? In what ways has my life changed for the better since then? Are there any parts of that experience for which I can honestly feel gratitude?
There’s no doubt I benefited from learning the value of personal branding. Because I wasn’t a business owner or a celebrity, it never had occurred to me that there might be something to gain from building a consistent “brand” online. I didn’t understand that without proactively defining myself, I was letting other people’s random remarks determine my public image.
When that lesson sank in, I registered my name as a domain and started using it for my email and for this blog. Most likely, some other Meg Evans would have taken the domain name if I had waited much longer; so the fact that I took timely action, which I probably wouldn’t have done absent the unpleasant wake-up call, is the second item on the gratitude list.
Although at present I am using this domain only for a personal blog, I’m also building a solid online foundation for potential future business activities. For example, if I began writing ebooks, I would already have a well-established website where readers easily could find me. I wouldn’t need to make major changes to my site, but could just add a page about the books—easy peasy! That’s item #3 on the gratitude list.
Another related lesson I took to heart is the value of authenticity. In the past, I had been overly cautious about keeping the details of my personal life out of other people’s view. I worried that if I said too much about my fears, weaknesses, or mistakes, then I would leave myself vulnerable to nasty remarks from bullies. So I avoided such topics, believing I was safer that way.
But in fact, hiding my true self didn’t make me any less vulnerable. On the contrary, because my acquaintances lacked a good sense of who I was on a personal level, they were more likely to be influenced by gossip than if they had known more about me. If I had allowed my confident, authentic self to come out and sparkle in all my social interactions, embracing candor instead of surrendering to fear, then everyone would have known better than to spread rumors that obviously didn’t match who I was.
And finally, I’ve developed a healthier sense of how to build and maintain nurturing relationships. When I was younger, I still had a lot to learn about setting boundaries. I put up with negative stuff that I never should have allowed in my life, mainly because I hadn’t yet realized the extent of my personal power. I didn’t fully understand that I could design my own life and contribute to a kinder culture through my intentional choices.
Now I focus on steering my life where I want it to go, rather than just drifting along with the current because I didn’t feel that I could expect better. I no longer waste my time and energy on other people’s melodrama. The world is so full—so wonderfully full—of better options to discover! And for that, also, I am grateful.