Social media platforms are a space for expression to lend a voice, to establish an outlet to others, and create connections that are not bound by physical proximity. As it serves a pursuit to form communities social media can also be a tricky space to navigate. Nine squares on Instagram or 140 characters on Twitter give a quick, isolated glance into one’s curated world, which can be “make or break”. So often we carefully ponder what to put out into this space, taking into consideration if it is on brand and speaks to our platform. This can be a heavy and difficult task that creates insecurities and stress. Do we play it safe or express something that could be viewed as inconsistent. More times than not most of us will, myself included, proceed on the side of caution and stick to the “script” we have worked to establish.
As I’ve listened and reflected on the words of Maya Angelo spoken yesterday by Ilhan Omar, I find myself uncomfortable with being comfortable in the social media environment of approval and “likes”. I’ve allowed my expression of thoughts to develop into complacency in an effort to achieve a level of acceptance. Round and round I have debated in my head today if it is inappropriate to diverge from my social media lane and speak my mind. Throwing caution to the wind is terrifying, but silencing one’s inner conscience is exhausting.
Self doubt has held me back from allowing my voice to rise up. I’ve written and deleted several versions of this post in fear of rejection. I worry that “rocking the boat” will take away from my message of health and wellness, have been riddled with waves of anxiousness deep within me from not supporting this courageous women as she speaks out of love and resistance to hatred. I’ve ridden the status quo line in this space promoting things I am passionate about, but if I am truly honest with myself many of my contributions have been one dimensional and only scratched the surface to not anger those that take time to engage with me. In my heart of hearts I know I could do better, I could dig deeper, and take more risks. By holding back my platform is pretty fluffy and gentle, not fully encompass all that I am or exhibit the best qualities that it could. I have not spoken up when I see injustice, have supported individuals fighting causes that I believe but from a safe distance on the sidelines, I have not essentially allowed myself to go out on a limb…to take a chance to be rebuffed within the social media space by speaking out in a bold, direct, fashion about controversial topics.
I teach my children to stand up for the underdog and to always do what is right even if it’s unpopular, but I’ve been a hypocrite. I’m angered and disgusted by the treatment and disrespect directed at Representatives Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) by our President. Representative Omar should not have to rise up to weather this storm alone. For too long we as Americans have been tearing each other to shreds and allowing hate to fester, ultimately dividing us. I hope that put in a position where such repulsive behavior is being displayed my children would speak up and support love not hate in a way that is graceful and dignified as Rep Omar did yesterday. We all know how the saying goes though “actions speak louder than words”…so I can hope my children would act or I can pave the way for them to do so with the biggest bull horn I have at my disposal. So I will lead by example and stand in resistance through my tiny little sliver of space in the vast entity that is social media to support Representative Omar. I am well aware that my platform is small, but that is truly not the point. I need to put on my big girl pants and face my fear of poking the hornets nest. Support in silence on the sidelines isn’t good enough anymore if we want to step into our most powerful selves. We are a Nation of love, I truly believe that but that is a whisper right now and needs a little volume.
Voicing my thoughts on political matters may not be on brand with my message of health, wellness, self-love, and recovery, and I am well aware that it may make me unpopular or causes individuals to unfollow me. Why have a platform at all if it isn’t going to be being utilized to its full potential. I am being honest this space is important to me. It has helped me to open up about my eating disorder and more towards healing. I am not sure how I would feel if it disappeared, but I am not living my truth or expressing myself fully by remaining quiet. As individuals we must speak up, be bold, brave, and challenge ourselves to do scary things so we can grow. If we remain silent hatred will become the norm and that is not a world I want my children or anyone for that matter to struggle in.
I challenge you to dig deep for the strength to speak up and support those that are fighting to make this world a better place. We can move mountains when we support one another. Whether you are coming from a platform with tons of followers or a corner of the world that nobodies ever heard of – YOUR VOICE MATTERS & YOU BELONG IN THE CONVERSATION. Big or small gestures of kindness, support, and love are important…now more than ever!
*Hard to believe that this conversation started in my head because I was struggling with whether or not to post a picture with the words “I Stand with Ilhan”. Reality checks can sneak up on your like that. I was so caught up in what other people would think of the picture, that I failed to recognize that I was diminishing my ability to fully step into my own power and disengage from the opinions of others. I have been working really hard to stop focusing on what other people think of me and waiting for their approval. One does not change their people pleasing ways overnight. I will gladly remain a work in progress as long as there is progress. Not everyone will understand my journey and that is alright, it is mine to traverse not their’s.
#BeHappy #BeKind #BeActive