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Thirteen Reasons Why Your Appearance Shouldn’t Keep You from Sharing/Posting

It amazes me the number of people, myself included, who believe that they should not talk, post, or share their ideas or creations in part because of their physical appearance. Being too fat or too thin or plain or scarred or anything else is not a reason to silence oneself. But sometimes we all need a little encouragement.

These are general concepts and mostly drawn from personal experience and musings. There are probably some deeper nuances that we could get into, but I’m hoping I state these clearly enough. All of these are going to be under the assumption that you are a kind person who does take others into consideration and does not seek to make other people’s lives miserable. While some of the points remain true even then, others such as people looking forward to getting to know you might not be.

Your appearance does not change the value of what you have to say.

Weight seems to be one of the most common factors people use to claim they don’t want to share publicly. I hear many state that they are too fat or sick-looking to be able to share anything of value. Your physical body is a shell of meat and bone that encompasses a soul. Whether your skin sags or stretches, whether your stomach swells or flattens, whether your complexion inspires or repulses, it does not change that what you have to say has value.

Physical beauty is a wonder to behold, but that is not the admission price for sharing your heart and thoughts with the world. People may treat you differently because of the way you look, for better or for worse. Sometimes that will hurt, sometimes it may inspire.

But no matter what, the thoughts you maintain their value.

Your perspective and voice matter.

They do. And if you are the sort of person who generally keeps quiet or who is highly selective about what you say because you are constantly overthinking what you should or should not say, I’d suggest you are probably the sort of person who does need to speak more when you are able.

Bear in mind that there is only one you. Even if you believe that a multiverse exists, the you in these other dimensions would not be the you who is here now. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14).  When you share your works and perspective, you contribute to the richness of stories and works already out there and give people the opportunity to understand, empathize, and connect.

Your speaking up does not keep someone else from speaking as well.

This, of course, presumes you’re not taking steps to silence someone. But speaking up alone unless you are literally talking over someone else. (I’ve also found that while this excuse does not really relate to one’s appearance, it’s often one that is used to excuse oneself from sharing rather than admitting that it is about one’s appearance.)

But the Internet does give us a great gift in that there is room for all of us to talk, share, and connect. Perhaps not on every platform in existence. But somewhere and most likely on most of the major platforms that are available to us. (There are some troubling indications of increasing censorship, but that’s another conversation for another time.)

Additionally, your decision to refrain does not guarantee that someone more conventionally attractive or better suited will step up to speak or share what was on your heart to begin with.

If someone attacks you because of your appearance, you probably already know how to handle that because it has happened to you before.

Most people have had to deal with various forms of bullying and shaming in their physical lives as well as online. And while certain situations may be emotionally problematic and even cause PTSD, I’ve found that those situations were generally harder to handle in person.

If you are not sure how to handle an online attack, you can reach out for support. Generally, though I’ve found ignoring is one of the best methods as well as refusal to engage while emotionally charged. I also realized that having to handle it in person made the online attacks distinct in that I did not feel quite as threatened.

Now do exercise proper care for yourself. If you are struggling with troll bombs or it just hits you really hard or you find it too much to deal with, you are not a failure for withdrawing. Prioritize your health. Take care of yourself.

Ultimately, the takeaway I want from this point is that you are stronger and better equipped than you realize. It does not mean that it will be easy necessarily. This does not mean you have to submit yourself to trolling attacks or cyber harassment.

Being silent when you have things you want to say can be damaging to your health.

When there’s something you want to say and don’t, you bottle it up inside you. Unless you have another outlet, this remains inside you, often festering and increasing your stress and frustration.  For me, continued silence can sometimes lead to eruptions that have about the care and effect of a spewing volcano.

If people dismiss what you have to say because of what you look like, they were never going to listen to you to begin with.

This is pretty simple, but if someone responds to your art, your blog, or your post by saying, “put down the cheesecake and maybe we’ll talk” or “eat a sandwich and then I’ll listen,” they were never going to listen to you. Focusing on superficial attributes is generally an excuse to avoid engaging, and your physical appearance is not truly to blame.

Other people need to hear what you have to say.

Whether what you have to say challenges the status quo or comforts those in need or simply shares your perspective, other people need to hear what you have to say.

Also if you don’t share or post or put yourself out there, it’s going to be incredibly hard for you to find your tribe and for them to find you.

Even if it has already been said, even by you, some things need to be said more than once.

If you saw how many times I’ve had to repeat things to myself and go back and learn things I thought I had already learned, you might be ashamed of me. Or you might relate.

Anyway we do need to hear things more than once for it to sink in. Some lucky folks are able to learn on the first go while others of us require more time and more repetition.

If you are wrong, you can make amends, learn, and improve.

It’s a given that none of us are going to do this perfectly. I had a hard time accepting that I was going to mess up, particularly in an environment that seems especially harsh and unforgiving. But in the end, if we are humble in both what we do and how we respond, we can hopefully learn and improve.

Completing something and expressing yourself is good for the soul.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with depression. Particularly when dealing with a bad bout of illness. There is something remarkably healing and encouraging about completing something. Unfinished projects tend to add stress and feelings of failure. Expressing yourself helps you to put it out on the page.

Even if you don’t publish or share it, it is healing to finish. For me, a project rarely feels truly finished until it is published or released as that means I can no longer tinker with it.

You may meet some horrible people, but you will meet and connect to incredible people as well.

The Internet is a portal to some truly terrible people. Not simply individuals with whom you have a difference of opinions or core beliefs. But people who actually want to make others miserable and who take trolling to pro levels.

But they aren’t the only ones, mercifully. And there are increasing resources to avoid interacting with such individuals.

More importantly, there are other incredible people who want to meet you and connect with you and share with you. Some of my dearest friendships came through online communities and sharing my work.

It does take effort and time to locate these people, but if you are up for it, they will truly make your life better as you will make theirs better.

The process of putting together your thoughts and allowing them to be seen publicly can help you finetune and hone your skillset.

It’s easiest for me to write within the privacy of myself, knowing the story or piece is intended only for completion, not necessarily publication. However, when I force myself to go through the steps of polishing and preparing it for publication, I work harder at accuracy, proofing, and finetuning. More importantly, I have a definitive end.

You are the only one who can tell your story.

This has been said in part, but it’s worth saying again because it is vital. The combination of your experiences and responses is unique. You are the only one who has seen what you have from your specific perspective, and you are the only one who can tell it.

 

Note: The irony in all this is that I feel as if this post is garbage, but I am working to be more accountable at completing and posting things. So hopefully this was helpful. Much love! Talk to you soon.

Bold Kindness and Gentle Words

It all started with my mother. It is her habit to speak kindly and gently to everyone, even though she is excruciatingly shy. Talking to strangers used to send her into panics though now she manages it better. But that terror, despite it being a powerful force, has never stopped her from being compassionate.

girl writing a letter with ink penThe other thing it has not stopped her from doing is sharing encouragement with people. Sometimes it is with handwritten notes. Other times, it is just the spoken word. And always the truth. She has the ability to see beauty in practically everything and to find even the smallest germs of goodness and praise them. Most don’t realize what strength it takes for her to do this. Some call her naive or a Pollyanna. But she is always sincere. There is life in her words, and it seeps into the soul.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone receives her kindly. While this has happened on more than one occasion, I remember one incident quite vividly.

There was a church event of some sort around Easter. Perhaps the Mother Daughter Banquet. After the event, I saw my daisies-1373075mother step up to the speaker. She thanked the woman for sharing and told her what a beautiful job she had done and precisely how it had affected her and what a gift it was. The woman’s eyes welled up with tears, and she thanked my mother.

As I stood there watching, it seemed to me that all my mother had done was notice little things that the speaker had woven into her speech and shared how it had affected her. It wasn’t much, yet it made such a difference. And then my mother gave the speaker’s hands a quick squeeze.

Other women stood nearby. As soon as my mother and the speaker were out of earshot, they just shook their heads. Some of them laughed into their hands. And then they started making fun of my mother. Because of what she had said. Because of how she said it. Because obviously she had only said it to get attention. Because she was such a silly foolish woman. On and on they went.

What they didn’t know was that I had heard every word they said as I stood around the corner of the painted concrete wall. And just as my mother’s words strengthened the speaker’s spirit, these women’s words poisoned mine. To see how they mocked my mother who had done nothing but speak tenderly to another human being and encourage her on her path was devastating.

I didn’t tell her what they said. That would have only furthered their cruelty. But some small part of me hated those women.

vintage-1029413Yet it turned out that these women had not responded atypically. Again and again, I have heard people speak words of kindness and then others stab them for it, almost always suggesting that there is another agenda or that the person is false or foolishly naïve or silly in some way. As if the mere fact that one is kind is proof of weakness.

These people dragged her down in their discussion, nitpicking her words and the way that she said them along with her accent and her mannerisms. It was beyond despicable.

I even lost a friend over it when I was in college. This friend was an artist who came from a very tragic home. She poured her emotions into her art in vivid watercolors and oil paintings as well as charcoal sketches.

When my mother visited, she looked at this friend’s artwork and said, “you are such a preciously gifted woman. Don’t ever forget that.” She continued on, pointing out the things that my friend had done well. When my friend mentioned something from her past and some of the horrible things people had said to her, my mother said, “Don’t believe them. You are a lovely woman, and I mean that sincerely. Please don’t ever doubt your value.”

blue-925209When my mother left, my friend then looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said, “Your mom is so fake. Can you believe she’d say something like that? What a c***” She then proceeded to mimic my mother in an even more offensive manner.

(It should not be surprising that this friend and I parted ways permanently within minutes of that conversation.)

As before, I did not mention this to my mother, not wanting to burden her with these odd displays of cruelty and mockery. Of course, as it turned out, she was aware of far more than I knew. Apparently the bullying was something she had endured all her life with many believing her to be false, stupid, naïve, or just too much of a Pollyanna. She knew that speaking kindly and offering generosity often led to people assuming the worst in some form or another. Yet she never let that stop her because she knew that what she did made a difference to those who received it, and she could not control how it was perceived. It was hard, she admitted when I asked her about it. But she wasn’t going to let cruel or misguided people change her. So she carried on in her own shy and gentle way, serving the Lord and ministering to all He put in her path.

Apparently there is a certain measure of kindness which the rabbit-913550world expects from people (and for the record, it’s precious small). Display that and nothing more, and you will pass by without much scrutiny. Indeed, you may even be rewarded with assertions that you are, in fact, a good person. But show too much, and the world may grow suspicious. Do it consistently, and you make yourself a target with some.

It may not even be the majority. As I think back on it, those who did respond harshly or cruelly were far fewer than those who were genuinely touched. It just felt so much larger at the time. And there will always be those who just live to put others down for their own enjoyment and self-validation.

But it has taken me so long to extract that poison splinter. And there have been far too many times when I am ashamed to say that I have stowed away my words and locked them up for fear of being thought insincere or naïve or some other silly thing.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized something very

What we say is a reflection of ourselves.

important and actually knew it in my heart. When those people spoke, they were not reflecting what my mother had done nor any true reality of what was within her soul. Instead, they shone light on what was inside themselves and reflected it out for all to see.

Not one of them could point to anything my mother had done to make them believe she was false or that she didn’t mean what she had said. Their words were merely said in a moment, perhaps because her kindness made them feel guilty. Perhaps because tearing down someone made them feel good. Perhaps because they just wanted to laugh at someone’s expense.

So often the charge to act without care to what others think is used in reference to bold or frightening tasks or even things that just seem rather impractical or out of the ordinary like wearing dragon wings out at the park while you sketch your imaginings. In church, it often includes sharing the Gospel or letting it be known that you believe in Jesus in a public setting. In high school, it generally involves not taking drugs and standing against those who offer them. This charge takes many shapes and forms, but it is often something portrayed as being quite large and rather frightening.
water-830374But this charge does extend to encouraging people, including strangers and acquaintances. It takes courage to be kind and believe the best. To reach out and brush the hand of another and say, “It’s all right. You’ve got this. Now keep going. You did that so well.”

Over the years, I have become bolder with my words and more confident in the sharing even when I have received my own share of mocking responses in return. My mother’s example is a fine one, and her consistency and tenderness is something I admire. She epitomizes that lifestyle of grace and compassion that I so often struggle to live out.

This world is cruel. Whether one is a tall poppy or a low lying moss, it seems that something or someone always wants to cut you down and grind you up. If you can speak kindness and life into another, then you should because I can guarantee that many others, sometimes even their own minds, will be telling Depositphotos_48612307_originalthem the opposite.

So speak, share, and love. Encourage and build people up. Don’t let the fear of mockery or derision keep you from sharing words of kindness and encouragement.

Indeed this world could use a lot more bold kindness and many more sincere but gentle words.

 

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