When I looked at this photo all I could see was how freaking powerful it was. I was a neon on Phoenix conquering the seas and righteously ruling over the Carnival cruise’s adult bar/pool combo. It was poetically graceful, fiercely real and undeniably beautiful. I couldn’t help to want to share this magic with the internet. And so I did. I shared it on my instagram and facebook with the love and words that this image reminded me of. It was a special post and I was proud of it.
Was I Being Shamed?
It was only a few minutes before comments and private messages started to flow in regarding the women in the pool to the right of me. She was holding her iphone. Assumptions were made that she was taking a picture to shame me. She was called spiteful and jealous. The digital world had created a back story for a women who’s actions and intentions they could not confirm from just a single picture. Why had people so quickly gone looking for the bad in the image? I hadn’t even noticed her in the pool when I reviewed the shot because naturally I was too blinded by my own awesome.
The Surprising Truth
Upon further analysis, I realized that this wasn’t just any pool partier with her phone in hand. This was a woman, who during the cruise, had gone out of her way to come and said hello to me. She thanked me for being bold, brave and frankly not giving a damn. She said I inspired her to be comfortable in public as she was. If this woman had even been taking my picture (she could have very well just been reading her texts) it was very unlikely she was doing it to shame me.
We See What We Want To See
I share this example today because I think it’s important to note how much our own self perceptions and hang ups can get manifested onto others. If you go looking for shaming and negativity you will find it in buckets- even if you have to create it on your own. Sure, some people are cruel heartless beasts. They will mock you and maybe even snap a sneaky picture to try and embarrass you. However, the majority of the time, people aren’t out to get us. They don’t care what size we wear, what color our hair is or how pretty we are.
Choose To See The Good
Often the cruel world we perceive is all around us is created in part by our own insecurities. It’s easy to see and hear what we are expecting others to think of us. Don’t let those mental perceptions taint your reality and happiness. Self love comes acknowledging you are worthy and capable of receiving love from yourself and from the world around you. So next time you have the suspicion someone is talking negatively behind your back or discretely mocking you, stop yourself and think- ” do I really know this? Or am I allowing my own personal discomfort or previous experiences to be manifest on a stranger?” Use these moments to acknowledge your feelings, analyze where they come from, and grow stronger from them. The world is so much more beautiful when you stop looking for the ugly and start acknowledging the good.