Gossip is a Form of Connection… and I Don’t Want a Part of It

A couple of years ago I heard a group of people making fun of me after I left the room. In a fury, I started writing a short and not-that-sweet blog post about it- a post titled “Gossip: It’s Low Vibe Energy.”

I often write about the things in life that irritate me, and almost immediately felt better afterward. I’ve written about the things in life that are painful- heartbreak, my experience in treatment, depression, and trauma. I’ve revisited stories of high school bullies and people who pushed me out of their life. I’ve talked about my alcoholism before people could start whispering about where I had been for a month or my poor behavior in the past. I’ve tried to own my side of the street, and took back my narrative before others tried to construe the truth- or think their words would break me.

I’ve noticed how gossip isn’t necessarily meant to be malicious or cruel toward other people, though. As a person who used to have a habit of taking everything personally, I was deeply hurt when people gossiped about me. Whether it was a flat out lie or laughing at my misfortune, I withdrew from connecting with people out of fear. For years I kept to myself and avoided interaction whenever possible.

This all began to change when I moved to the city. In San Francisco, being quirky was widely accepted. In New York, it was encouraged to drink during the day. In Boston, well, people were more concerned with themselves than even giving you a second glance, let alone gossip.

Now back in my hometown of 14,000 people in the city proper, of course gossip runs wild. Whether it’s school board scandal or frowning on changes in the community, people thrive on the dirt. They feed off of it.

I’ve learned an important lesson though- one even more pertinent than owning my narrative:

A lot of people use gossip to connect.

They talk about others to feel heard. They whisper about people behind their backs to gain some sort of validation from their peers.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Connection is a powerful thing, but a lot of people aren’t comfortable with sharing their own truth. They connect based on other people, shallow aspects of life, and material gain. They judge other people by what they have or what they’ve accomplished, but not what’s inside their soul.

Today, I connect based on truth.

I’ve been invited to meet old friends and I’ve received messages from acquaintances who are merely curious about my personal life. I’m aware not all of these people truly care about me as a person, but they do care about what sort of drama or problems I may have.

It’s okay, though- I’ve beat them to it.

I’ve already shared what’s really going on with me throughout the web, and I hope to have more opportunities to share my story with the world. Whether it’s public speaking or writing, I know my experiences have helped people learn they’re not alone in their struggles.

My own struggles have brought me strength, for I have overcome them. Gossip may still be low vibe energy, and it’s not something I will participate in today. I wish the best for those who have snickered behind my back or tried to watch me fall; because today, I continue to rise. I hope they find their own way of doing so, too.

Own Your Story

“May the Forth” Be With You!

This probably isn’t the first time you read that today, and it probably won’t be the last.  However, as someone who has never even seen one Star Wars movie, this phrase doesn’t mean a whole lot to me- until Brené Brown posted an article on LinkedIn:

The most difficult part of our stories is often what we bring to them—what we make up about who we are and how we are perceived by others. Yes, maybe we failed or screwed up a project, but what makes that story so painful is what we tell ourselves about our own self-worth and value.

Owning our stories means acknowledging our feelings and wrestling with the hard emotions—our fear, anger, aggression, shame, and blame. This isn’t easy, but the alternative—denying our stories and disengaging from emotion—means choosing to live our entire lives in the dark. It means no accountability, no learning, no growth.

To harness the Force, we must own our stories and live our truth. In we must go.

Adapted from the amazing book Rising Strong, Brené related “the force” to shame, vulnerability, and fear.  As a role model, Brené has taught me there is beauty in my story- even when it doesn’t seem so pretty.  Our society teaches us to “be” a certain way, when in reality, we’re doing ourselves (and others) a disservice by holding back what’s truly in our soul.  Why would we want people to love us for what we are not?  Why would we ever want to be accepted under false pretenses?

It’s amazing when I look back on how I used to live- I used to be crippled by what the outside world thought.  I used to hold back my talents in fear of people criticizing me, I used to quit things in fear of failing, and I questioned my talents because of a few naysayers.  I used to be on defense, 24/7, wondering what little remark or mean comment would come next.

The people who always seem to have an opinion may never change, but you can.  

I used to have an internal battle with my own brain, second guessing every move I made:

“Don’t say that!”

“You shouldn’t wear this!”

“Someone might laugh at you!”

“What will people think?”

Thank goodness my mindset has changed.

Today, I own my flaws.  I embrace my mistakes.  I share my story, and I can laugh at the pain; but most of all, I feel grateful to help others not feel so alone.

I hope you will gladly accept your power, give yourself a break from doubt or shame, and own the uniqueness that is you.  You are worth it.