Warning: R-rated content.
Ever wonder why no matter how many mean things your mother said to you when you were a kid (or yesterday), you remember only a select few?
Bet you think it’s because, out of the gazillion mean things she said, the particular ones you pocketed were her greatest hits.
Or, ever wonder why when you get fifty plus emails a day, many of which are beautiful and filled with praise and gratitude, you, without fail, only hover around the one bad one you got? You, in fact, hold onto that one bad email like it’s gold. You (fine, me too!) not only talk about it, you dissect it. You feel badly about it and forward it to friends and family. Hell, you practically put glass around it and bring in someone to light it properly.
You even go so far as to use it as an “ah-ha,” as yet another good reason not to X, Y, or Z, ever again.
Kinda pathetic of us, no? Or, maybe it’s just plain sneaky…
Let me shine a light on a recent example of mine.
Several Sundays ago (July 6, 2014 to be exact) the New York Times published a piece in the Style section by a reporter who came to “Campowerment,” my friend’s weekend camp for women. It’s the camp where I regularly lead a coaching workshop.
Now, in all fairness, we knew the reporter was coming, knew she was writing a piece, and knew that there was risk involved. But, we also knew that the camp, without question, makes a profound difference for so many of the women who participate—so it was way worth the risk.
I mean, how bad could it be?
Just as an aside, the last time I said a goofily optimistic phrase like, “how bad could it be?” out loud, my tire came off in the middle of the Midtown Tunnel the first time I ever drove through the damn thing. Obviously many, many years ago, but as you can see, that memory is also well lit and the pessimism preserved.
Back to camp.
The reticent reporter got there, didn’t participate a ton, and mostly watched and wrote. She sat next to me at the first small workshop I led. She didn’t take a ton of notes. Miraculously, I managed to have fun nonetheless, played, packed a punch, snickered, and coached. Of course, you never know how what I spew will land with everyone, but enough people were still talking to me after, so, how bad could it have been…?
The article came out. Truth is, it was a huge piece with amazing, fun-filled photos. Sooo, the reporter was a tad mean-spirited (I’m being nice) and so, she may have forgotten to mention that her own mood may have been a bit off and colored the piece (rightfully so, given the fact that her father had passed away just a few days earlier) and she, like the rest of us, really needed the ropes course, color war, and “get-your-sexy-on” session offered at camp. Did my knowing that back story on her help ME when I read a misquote attributed to me from Ms. Thing?
Did I walk around being compassionate, understanding, and forgiving?
Was I sad, mad, and misunderstood?
Were these new feelings for me?
Did I keep the article, figuratively and literally?
Okay. So, though I did not exactly laminate the article, I did keep the piece, because magically (not really) masochistically (certainly) and sneakily (but of course) it was useful. Not so much in the kindling-sense, but more so, sneaky-me used the article to prove some of MY own theories about myself, about the world and all it’s unfairness and lack of appreciation of me.
But did her two or three lines tops (no kidding) about me really prove me right about the world?
Sure, her misquoting me about vomiting your dreams on paper and putting a Valley Girl-like “like” before my misquote easily let me host my own pity party. But truth be told: one, I do say “like” a lot. And, two, why is it that only I can make fun of myself? And three, it REALLY could have been worse! She could have also put “um” in there too, ‘cause for shift sure I say it a lot, possibly more than I say “like.”
Sure, she messed with the truth, took me and many others out of context, but couldn’t I have ALSO taken the fact that I was even being quoted in the New York Times at all as evidence for a new X, Y and Z?! Namely, my bravery, my leading, my risking being liked (or not liked) for something bigger, for making a difference in people’s lives?
But, is that the evidence my sad wimp wants to garner?
Nah. If I can prove my age-old favorite theories of unappreciated, misunderstood and now my new one – misquoted, do I have to go back to camp? Lead again? Let a reporter sit spitting-distance from my cursing mouth?
Take a look at your own version of this.
You, I promise, have a list of hurtful things important people in your life have said. What if you pocketed the ones you did because you, in some way, agreed with them, they were somehow useful, they were, quite possibly, yours to begin with?
We’re that smart and that sneaky of a species. Had the reporter called my backside big, would it have hurt? Only if I thought so too. If I point ONLY at the snarky reporter and use what she said to never be generous, and certainly never be center stage again, is it really the reporter who’s looking to get me out of doing brave big things again or is it me?
Like, um, nice try.
P.S. Sleepaway jokes aside, Campowerment is one of my favorite things to do in the world. A couple of times each year I get to go play and coach with an amazing group of women. And YOU could come! Learn more and register for the upcoming Campowerment weekend in the Pocono Mountains Sept. 14-17.
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