Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Thanksgiving is just around the corner! You know what that means?!? It's that time of year when you may find yourself surrounded by relatives, both pleasant and otherwise. It's also the time of year when you may feel lonely and internalize these negative feelings. This blog series, Friendsgiving, is all about taking the social pressures off the holiday season and bringing back the joy and peace.
Recently, I had an experience which reinforced the importance of classifying friends and family. Some family and friends should be held sacred and dear, such as my amazing son, boyfriend, sister, brother, and yes, my dad. Then there are family and friends who should be kept in a whole different category which we will call "My So-Called Friends." These are people who have been connected to you through some twist of fate. They may be distant cousins. They may be old classmates or coworkers. Either way, you must evaluate how much importance their opinions should hold in your day-to-day life.
Social media is the Happy Place for My So-Called Friends. They jump on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to find fuel for family gatherings, fodder for awkward conversations. These family members and associates are regularly on your feed, watching your every milestone and date night. They wait patiently for you to do something they can hold under a magnifying glass, then expose every minute blemish. Just this week, I had a very distant cousin who I have yet to actually meet in person attempt to stir things up. She reached out to my elderly father, told him I was posting inappropriate content on Facebook, and said he needed to "get me in line." I've had a cousin tell my uncle and godfather she didn't want to see my "titties" on Instagram. She was referring to posts of me in my bikini top. This cousin even went as far to say, "Tell Ashley she's not too old for me to take her across my knee." Keep in mind, this cousin is four years older than me. "My So-Called Friends."
So what is the solution to the onset of unsolicited advice from people who really have no say in how you conduct yourself? Counter the nonsense and the negative and with peace and the positive. Take inventory of your true friends and family. How will you know the difference? People who are truly there to give you constructive criticism:
correspond with you outside of social media on a regular basis
know your true character and will hold you to it
will address you directly and in private
are also there to cheer your victories and lament your losses
No matter how much your "So-Called" friends and family want to mettle in your life, be steadfast in your goals and destination. Know when it's worth explaining your stance and when it's a total wast of time. In those latter instances, take comfort in simply
being yourself. Your focus can and will silence the white noise. Feel free to comment below. We can discuss these awkward situations and get through the holidays together.
Next topic: When to Explain and when to Maintain