When I very first began blogging, over five years ago now, I was just SO excited to get comments. Any comment, really! The fact that there was anyone out there not only reading my words but taking the time to respond made me so very very happy. And, to be perfectly honest, most of the comments were nice. I suppose that helped.
With time and experience came a few more comments. A few more emails. More interaction from non-”regular” readers. And that was great, too. I welcomed different ideas and, while I never promised I’d change my mind about issues, I enjoyed learning (in a kind, civilized way) what formed someone else’s stance and view.
Over the years, I’ve been told I was judgmental. Foolish. Arrogant. Unkind. Assuming. Closed-minded. Too open-minded. Too religious. Not religious enough. Mean. Weak.
To be perfectly honest? It hurts to type those things. I wish I could say that I read those comments and emails peppered throughout my blogging career and just shrugged and moved on.
But I did not.
Clearly, I still remember all of them. Never mind that I have received far more kindness, support, and gentle guidance over the years than insults, it is the insults that are forever burned in my brain.
As a result, I’ve become slightly more timid. I’m actually more, rather than less, fragile after all these years. I brace myself if I suspect a post might generate backlash and I crumple if I, especially unexpectedly, receive a comment detailing all the ways I fail at being a good person.
I should be tough and strong enough to carry on with my day without sparing much thought on the remark of some– let’s be honest here– unknown person on the internet.
But I don’t. I mope. I fret. I take it very, very personally. And I hurt. A lot, actually.
This all comes across as very, very whiny and I can see that even as I type it. It doesn’t make it less true.
But, while it may sound like these comments have done nothing but devastate me over the years and make me lose conviction, that’s not really true. Good has come of it, too.
In real life, I am more careful in my speech now. I try hard to really listen to why someone has made a certain decision, and I’m getting much better at realizing that, unless someone actually ASKS my opinion, they don’t really need it and probably don’t want it.
I have felt the sting of rejection in the critical remarks of others. I’m not saying there’s never been truth in the criticisms! But I know how very acutely I felt the pain.
It’s made me a bit more sensitive to others’ raw spots. I no doubt misstep and hurt others. But I try hard to be more mindful of it nowadays.
Some of that? Is just the result of a bit more maturity.
But some of it, I owe to the “haters.”