A while back I got some shade thrown my way. Some of it was at me specifically, but most of it was vague and ambiguous and the sort of thing 97 out of a hundred people will always assume is directed at them. Either way, it left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. I’m accustomed to random trolls who tell me my eyes are bulbous, my writing shallow, and I’m much fatter or skinnier than they thought. But the “you’re just a cool kid” thing? All the meh.
I’ve never been a cool kid. I used to hide in my brother’s car during lunch when I was in high school. If he wasn’t there I’d lurk in a bathroom. I still have a hard time setting foot on a college campus without feeling inadequate because people might look at me and find me unworthy.
Not. A. Cool. Kid.
Of course, none of this really matters. People will perceive you however they want—often in whatever way helps them feel better about themselves. If someone can justify their own dissatisfaction by blaming you, they will do it. I know calling someone popular isn’t nearly as heinous as splashing your ass-backwards racism all over the place, but I will still employ that wondrous unfriend button.
We have GOT to stop making comparisons. Someone else’s joy takes nothing from us—but our resentment certainly does. You want to be a cool kid? Here’s your step-by-step guide:
Cultivate meaningful relationships
As I’ve said before, your people are out there, go find them. Start with a core group. No one builds a million-person following overnight unless you’re Jen Mann and we all know she banged the Elf on the Shelf in order to get where she is today.
1. Find three people who meet the following criteria:
•They have the same goals as you
•You admire the work they do towards that goal
•They don’t appear to be a self-absorbed asshole
2. Now stalk the hell out of them, but do it in a subtle way. Think “you’re such a great storyteller!” and not “I want to wear you as a skin suit.” (Unless you’re stalking me, in which case I’d love to be your skin suit).
3. Invest time in helping them achieve their goals, whether that’s buying their book or answering their poll. Thanks to the internet, we’re all used to one-hit-wonder wham-bam-thank-you-ma’m “friends” who show up just long enough to ask for a like on their FB page or for you to sponsor their gluten-free cake walk. Be more than that.
Give More Than You Take
Or as Nikki Knepper said, “Generosity is currency, fuckers.”
Figure out what you can do for people, and do it. Can you share their 90’s cover band music video on Facebook? Can you leave an encouraging comment on their blog? Can you offer constructive feedback when they ask for it? Do these things.
Resist the Urge to Throw Shade
I still have to work on this one. The internet constantly makes me want to jump in like the Tasmanian Devil and be all “Raaraaablargha Destroy!” Here’s how you cope:
1. Deep breath.
2. Ask yourself: Will saying whatever I want to say hurt or help? Does this have more to do with my ego than the other person’s perceived infraction?
Work Through Your Crazy In A More Productive Way
This is why I’ve written for sites like Scary Mommy. It allows me to take all my instinctual pettiness and turn it into humor. Truth is, I’m as insecure and curmudgeonly as they come. I just work that shit out by writing “The Non-Assholes Guide to Dealing with Assholes” and embed my own shortcomings in there. Here’s a syllogism to explain it (because I was a Philosophy major for like 7 months in college):
Shade is much funnier when thrown at yourself
Funny things lighten the soul
Therefore, being funny is the light that chases away the shade
(I have no idea what just happened but it kind of makes me want to play Pac-Man.)
Learn to Appreciate That Some People Are More Successful Than You
This is not a bad thing. We’re all paving the way for someone else and we need each other. Learn to be happy for people and you’ve solved a huge part of the issue that’s currently eating away at your soul.
Now go forth and pepper the world with group hugs and feelings of goodwill. Don’t sabotage yourself before the rest of us have a chance to hate you for being so amazing.
Have you had any shade thrown at you recently? What would you add to this list? How do you work through YOUR crazy?
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