It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and I almost didn’t write a post for today. After all, the university where I work is on break.
But I did some thinking…and I realized that I need to say something today.
Yeah, that’s about it. Thank you. This Thanksgiving I am thankful for you.
I’ve written this blog for almost five years now. Some of you have been with me since the beginning. Some of you have joined me recently.
Thanks to all of you.
I have gotten some negative feedback on my blog. If I’m being honest, I get much more positive feedback than negative feedback.
And yet the negative feedback affects me more negatively than the positive feedback impacts me positively. I wish I weren’t that way, but I am. Maybe you can relate.
The one negative comment on your work evaluation is what you think about…not the dozen positive comments.
The one person who mentions they don’t like your new haircut (just rude) is your focus…rather than the several people who compliment you.
You know how some stuff just eats at you, right?
If you are a person who left me one negative comment about my blog in 2016, I probably remember you. I may or may not remember your positive comment from 2017.
I’ll give you a list of terms that have been used in association with me and my blog: unkind, rude, bitchy, overly politically-correct, offensive, patronizing, uncaring, unprofessional, mean, obnoxious, self-promoting, judgmental, uneducated.
I didn’t realize typing that would make me feel better, but it was somehow cathartic.
When you put yourself and your work out there on the internet, I’m sure this is par for the course. And guess what? The more people who read my blog, the more people who criticize it. When my mom, my husband, and three friends were my only followers, I only got glowing reviews.
But I really do get over (most of) those negative comments. Much of the time I delete them so that I can’t re-read and overanalyze them. I also worry that I will respond in a way that I wouldn’t be proud of if I read a comment too many times.
I’m not talking about constructive criticism. I won’t tell you I always respond well to constructive criticism, but I do appreciate people who make me think. And I know I’m not perfect, and my blog isn’t perfect.
But here I’m talking about comments that aren’t constructive. Sometimes they are just mean. (I feel very Taylor Swift here.)
I’m not trying to play the victim. Anytime you put something online and encourage people to read it, you’re going to get responses that run the gamut. I know I’m not unique here.
I’m tempted to go on about the criticisms–because once you get me started…but this blog is about Thanksgiving. Gratitude. Feeling blessed.
Every single damn time there is a comment that hurts me (even though I know it shouldn’t), y’all pick me up.
I was having a bad day recently. I had gotten some bad news about a friend with cancer. I spent some of my day helping a student in a mental health crisis. And my cat had a stroke. (She’s doing quite well now.)
I got home from work and happened to notice a comment on my blog that wasn’t exactly positive. Looking back, I overreacted to it. In the context of my day, it was a very small thing. I let my crazy brain take hold and make it a big thing.
Then I saw another comment that picked me up. A person had shared my blog with the comment “This is the lady I’ve been telling everyone about.”
I’m not sure why this particular comment was so impactful to me. Maybe I was just flattered that someone had been talking about me…in a positive way.
It picked me up.
In the last few years, there have been a couple of times I’ve seriously considered giving up writing. Most days I enjoy sitting down to write, but I also have a full-time job and it’s hard to find the time some weeks. I don’t make any money off my blog. I’m not selling a book. I’m not pushing an agenda.
So why do I keep doing this?
As a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I’m sure it never occurred to me that I’d write things that people didn’t like. It also never occurred to me that I’d make these connections from people across the world. I could’ve never predicted the power of the internet.
I thought I’d write book and people would buy it. I didn’t know I’d have the opportunity to write 2000 words a week that would be distributed instantaneous by the literal click of a button.
And that people could give me instantaneous feedback also by the literal click of a button.
It’s a crazy world. The internet makes a pretty easy to tell someone you think they suck. You don’t have to look them in the eye. They probably aren’t going to show up at your doorstep with a baseball bat. So insult away.
I keep writing because of the many of you who I consider “my people.” Sometimes I know your names, and sometimes I don’t. Maybe you have some internet nickname that I try to interpret (What does joygirl88 mean? Was she born in 1988? Is she 88 years old? Were joygirl1 through joygirl 87 taken?).
Perhaps, from your comments, I know you have a parent with dementia. Or a spouse with dementia. Or that you work in a memory care community.
Many of my readers are living with dementia. When I started this blog, I didn’t expect to have readers with dementia. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t anticipate this, and I’m embarrassed I never considered it. Your feedback is especially important to me, even when you’re telling me that I missed the boat…which I sometimes do.
Yeah, you’re “my people.”
I appreciate you. It means a lot to me that you invite me onto your screen once a week. I try to write stuff you can read in less than 5 minutes. You are kind enough to keep inviting me back, but I don’t want to monopolize your time.
You are the reason I keep writing.
If you celebrate Thanksgiving, enjoy it. I’m giving you permission to opt out of events that don’t work for you now that dementia is becoming a bigger part of your life. I’m giving you permission to have an exit plan and leave without saying goodbye to every single person at your holiday gathering. I’m giving you permission to say no to obligations and to say yes when people offer help.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
Thanks for reading what I write.