I love social media. If you asked my husband, he would probably say it's my favorite thing in life; he's pretty darn close. Recently, I've also developed a negative mindset around social media. Getting on every day has been a struggle, posting has been an even bigger struggle. Since I started building my virtual business, I've jumped into every new social platform because it allows me to share my heart, which I believe in my core is the reason that I've been so blessed with the growth of my business. I don't believe in secrets or living a life that's anything less than 100% open and authentic - here's why: because I have nothing to be ashamed of. Can I repeat that? I have absolutely nothing to hide and zero apologies to make about who I am.
Confused? That's supposed to be an alarm sound (like a "hold the phone", "no she didn't" kind of reaction). Did you get that feeling when you were reading that sentence? Good, because I got it when I was typing it, which is exactly why I typed it anyway.
The media waves their "be unapologetically you" flags, which is what we've been saying we want for years, yet we stare each other in the (virtual) face and ask for an apology for the very same thing; being authentic, different, and true to who we are as individuals.
"I'm sorry my bikini picture on Instagram offended you."
"I'm sorry the way I shared my infertility struggle made you think I don't really want a baby."
"I'm sorry... I'm sorry, I'm really sorry for just being me."
Here's the thing: I'm not. I'm not sorry that my bikini picture offends you. I'm not sorry that your judgements on a very personal fertility journey are wrong. I'm not sorry, I'm not sorry, I'm just realllllly not sorry anymore. Can I use the #sorrynotsorry hashtag here?
Please don't confuse this with me believing that I'm always right, that I know best, that I never need to apologize, or that I'm entitled to some sort of respect from the world. I'm wrong about 90% of things, 90% of the time. I'm controlling, obsessive, quick-tempered, self-absorbed, selfish, loud, and reckless. I need to apologize all the time, probably far more often than I do. I don't deserve respect from the world, and truth be told, there's nothing I could do to earn it. But here's the really cool part; I don't have to. Today, I finally know that. I like to believe that I've always known it, but if I have, I certainly haven't been acting like it.
No one will really ever understand what it's like to be pulled so strongly in two different directions. Let me clarify that; every woman understands what it feels like, but only in her particular situation. We all do it, right? We judge someone for carrying the same burden we're carrying - sure, it might have different packaging, but underneath, we all have similar struggles. Instead of acceptance and empathy, we're using manipulation and hate. We've been asking for the freedom to love who we want, wear what we want, do what we want with our bodies, shave or not shave, pierce anything, tattoo anywhere, believe what we believe, support what we believe, birth children how we want, not birth children if we don't want, and run naked through Coachella - yet we shame anyone who takes advantage of that freedom if it looks different than how we'd do it?
I love what I do and I love that I get to do it. I'm blessed beyond belief that God saw me fit to share a virtual life with so many people, to be a witness to Him and His incredible blessings, to share knowledge on taking care of these amazing temples that He's given us to live in, and to make a fool of myself regularly and have thousands of people to share it with.
But not all glitters is gold. The world has been trying to teach me that I need to apologize for who I am. From the clothes I wear (or don't wear) to the level of body fat that I have, the religion I practice, the animals I eat, the animals I live with, the places I shop, the fertility treatments I've endured, and the fertility treatments I've chosen not to endure; all have offended or upset someone in some way, all have been cause for a passive aggressive comment, a hateful message, and even a full on virtual attack.
I know what you might be thinking - I get it. Now is the part where you roll your eyes and tell me that I didn't have to do this job, that no one's forcing me to share my life. You're right. You're so right.
:: Insert pulling of heart strings in opposite directions here. ::
2016 has been an incredibly difficult year for me. Awhile back, I started titling the new year to come, based on what we had "in the works". 2014 was the Year of Work Hard, Play Harder. 2015 was the Year of Travel. 2016 was the Year of Success.
At this time last year, I had no clue what 2016 would hold, but I can say with 100% certainty that I didn't think it would be any of this. I cry a lot more than I thought I would, I fail a lot more than I planned to. I've grown more and learned more than I ever thought was possible, let alone had the desire for. I've spent thousands of dollars on individual counseling and marriage counseling, but the most detrimental thing that I did, unconsciously, before I even realized it was happening, was that I started apologizing for who I am. Eventually, I started proactively apologizing, by not sharing what I really wanted to share, not saying what I really believed, and crafting my content based on what would sound the most PC or offend the least amount of people, so that I wouldn't be asked to apologize again.
That's not who I was called to be. Truthfully, I don't believe that's who anyone was called to be. There's a huge difference between being kind and sharing your truth with as much love as possible, and not sharing it at all, in order to be loved. 2016 Olivia didn't realize that if you have to hold a part of yourself back in order to experience or "earn" love from someone, that's not real love.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
I cannot live out who God intended for me to be if I'm living with the fear of having to apologize for who she is. So, I won't. The interesting thing about life is that we do things in an attempt to control others; what they say, what they think, what they do - ultimately, we're getting further away from the space where we feel most authentic - doesn't it end in unhappiness or discontentment either way? Well, it doesn't have to. It's much easier to swallow that someone else doesn't like us if are feet are planted firmly in who we are, and who already loves us. You know what hurts like hell? Feeling inadequate from the inside out - because you aren't living an authentic life, then having someone else pile their dislikes on top. No one wins. And the only way to choose to love that person instead of hating them, is to first love yourself, because you understand a love that Someone else has for you that is unwavering, unshakeable, and never failing.
You are like salt for everyone on earth. But if salt no longer tastes like salt, how can it make food salty? All it is good for is to be thrown out and walked on. Matthew 5:13
My truth isn't always right, but I would rather share who I am authentically than risk not spreading my message, the message that I was created to share. The life I have, the circumstances I've endured, the mess that's all around me; that's my message. I have a bigger purpose here, and it's not to apologize for navigating through who I was made to be.
If the bible verses aren't speaking to you, let me share a concept that was introduced to me by one of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, in her book, Daring Greatly. It's the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt can, and should be apologized for. I did something wrong: an action that isn't who I am, it's a mistake I made. I used a harsh tone, I made a bad joke, I tried to shield hate with hate. Shame, on the other hand, isn't about a specific action, but a person's character. Shame should never be apologized for, because the truth is that the person on the other end isn't looking for an apology; they don't need to forgive you. You are not bad and you don't deserve to feel like you are. You can read a better breakdown of this here.
When Jesus died for us, He sent us the Holy Spirit, which lives in us, always. It's like having an unbiased bestie always helping me navigate; like when you have a really long road-trip, but there's someone awesome riding shotgun who reads your texts for you, switches the Spotify playlist, and changes the GPS route when you decide that you can't go another mile without finding a Starbucks. The more grown-up way to say this; conviction. The more time I spend getting to know God, the stronger that conviction becomes.
Instead of avoiding my usual New Years prep, I'm diving in, full steam. I'm ready to name 2017 - it's going to be the Year of Discernment. This is the year that I hold steadfast to my beliefs that are based on something real. They're deeper than what sells on Instagram, they're bigger than a number of likes, and they're stronger than an inbox of hate mail. This is the year that I apologize, willingly and excitedly, when I need to and I don't when I don't. It's the year that I forgive others for their lack of understanding, not because they deserve it, but because I do. It's the year that the authenticity that I used to know and love is welcomed back with open arms. 2017 is the year that I don't change for the world, because in doing so, I'll never be able to change it. And when I don't live up to all (or even half) of these things, I'll press forward, shame-free, because that is who Jesus died to save.