I sit here writing with a face full of make-up that I’m trying desperately not to stain with tears. “Suck it up,” I say to myself. “Please try not to let it bother you,” my loving mother encouraged to me on the phone, just twenty short minutes ago. “People are just so mean,” she said.
And she’s right. They can be.
When I decided to go into TV news as a teenager, I was as hopeful and starry-eyed as thousands of others who think that they were born to be on TV. It’ll be so glamorous, they think to themselves. Can you imagine? Total strangers knowing your name; knowing who you are and what you do.
Everyone knows going into this business that you can be subjected to a certain amount of scrutiny. For women, it’s even truer than it is for men. It’s a given. Yet here I sit, face hot and hands shaking, after a viewer whom I’ve never met decided she needed me and the entire staff at my station to know just how she feels about me.
“Please keep her off the desk,” she implored in her e-mail. “She brings your A+ newscast down to a B-,” she insisted. Finally, the ever-threatening , “ Please don’t make me switch stations just to avoid her.”
And there I was in my car, moments after reading what felt like an unbelievably personal attack, sobbing to my mother on the phone. Me. The glamorous news anchor who apparently brings down the newscast an entire letter grade.
How did this happen? When did we, as a society, become so jaded and unaware that we find it totally acceptable to belittle complete strangers who are just trying to do their jobs?
Here’s what I’ve come up with: people don’t like themselves. People are insecure. People are sad.
It sounds simple, and maybe a little cliché. Bullies are only bullies because they are insecure with themselves. It’s a concept that’s been hammered into our brains since we were children. Unfortunately, in the age of social media and the internet, the capability of remaining anonymous behind a screen acts as a proverbial bullet-proof vest, and it is that much easier for those bullies to cause emotional destruction.
No, it’s not ok. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to stop anytime soon.
So the trick becomes, in my case and in millions of others, learning how to let unwarranted attacks that feel so devastating just roll off our backs. Whether that attack comes from a viewer, a teacher, a friend-of-a-friend or an ex-boyfriend, we can deal with it…somehow.
Now would be a great time to let you in on the secret: The secret to ignoring the meanies, the haters, the jerks and the bullies. I wish I had a miracle cure-all for you. I don’t.
You have to find it in yourself- your awesome, beautiful, tragically-flawed but effortlessly fabulous self, to say, “I am enough.”
Look in the mirror. You were born a blank slate. Yes, we all enter the world with different circumstances, some making it much easier for them to succeed than others. Nonetheless, that face that you see staring back at you is a masterpiece of your own making. Not your mother’s or your father’s. Not your greatest enemy or your biggest supporter. It’s all you.
Not everyone is going to be ok with what you’ve decided to do with your life. They might hate your hair, your make up, your sense of humor or your chosen profession.
Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s ok.
You are enough.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a show to do.