I love a good inspirational meme or video, especially in my plight to successfully manage the aftermath of taking a risky, super-challenging, sometimes-can't-even-afford-a-dollar-burger leap into self-employment.
But let's get real here: Some of these social media self-help sadists---with their warped, tired versions of advice on how to glow up, must be stopped.
In the past few years, I've noticed a consistent undertone of struggle and insecurity in some of the so-called motivational content that often goes viral:
- Let your haters be your motivators.
- You can't start a business with a 9-to-5 mentality.
- If you're not afraid, your dreams aren't big enough.
- The best revenge is success.
- Don't invest in those who have nothing to offer in return.
Oh, and let's not forget all the skewed descriptions of what it means to "boss up" or "be a boss"---those memes and videos that detail "what millionaires/bosses do" that we mere mortals "don't or won't." The worst of them always include strict, robotic, unrealistic "formulas" for success.
I liken the bombardment of such messaging to the rants of preachers claiming to save souls but only focusing on hell, "the enemy," and damnation with no mention of grace, love, truth, and forgiveness.
I'd read (and sometimes share) these messages, and then find myself thinking, "Hey, maybe I'm not working hard enough," or "Yeah, these haters. I gotta prove them wrong." I would totally revamp my week, push myself into habits and routines that were not a good fit, and conduct manic self-checks that caused me to feel inadequate and exhausted.
Then, one day I had a major Girl, Bye moment. Just because I'm not a crack-of-dawn morning person ready to slay a never-ending to-do list every day, doesn't mean I'm not going to reach my goals.
The greatest leaders I admire are givers and look at life in a way that does not define every relationship by what someone can do for them. (I'm sure Oprah meets people who could never offer her anything nearly as tangibly "valuable" as the billions of dollars in her bank account, yet she pours into people all the time.)
And let's get into these invisible haters.
Why am I seeking "revenge" on anybody? I'm not a platinum-selling rapper or superhero out in these streets. I'm a regular girl with ambition and a loyal circle of friends and family. I have an 8-year-old niece who looks up to me, mimics almost everything I do, and calls me "famous." I don't even get trolled in my comment section.
Some of the "gurus," "influencers," and speakers who constantly feed us these warped narratives are oftentimes profiting and prospering not from our advancement and enlightenment, but from a constant, unhealthy craving for affirmation, envy, and acceptance.
Those same cravings fuel low self-esteem, procrastination, wickedness, and delusion.
Well, I finally said, "No more." I couldn't drink the pseudo-positivity Kool Aid anymore. I took three important steps toward weaning myself off the motivational-meme crack:
I gave my follow list a cleanse.
If the person or org I was following constantly posted memes or videos about haters, struggle, "enemies," or sterile do's and don'ts (ie common-sense adages that black grannies been drilling in our heads since the devil was a baby), I unfollowed them.
I began to research the influencers, gurus, and motivational entrepreneurs I wanted to follow before committing to receive their messaging every day.
I'd ask myself several key questions: Does this person or organization have tangible receipts that show consistent progress and happiness similar to how I define those concepts for myself? Does their life reflect anything I want to replicate in my life? Do they have solid training or experience in the area of which they focus on? Is the content they share relevant, balanced, timely, and useful to my life?
Hey, someone's social feed can seem so attractive and lit, but so does a $19.99 flash sale on a 30-inch blonde wig. Cute on the next girl but not quite right for me. Decline and unfollow, please.
I began to stay away from folks' timelines whose messaging constantly led with words or related concepts of "can't," "don't," or "won't."
People who constantly focus on what can't be done or who are always trying to be the Negative Ned masquerading as a "voice of reason" really annoy me. I'm into solutions. Call me overly optimistic or too full of faith, but I'm that girl who will say, "Ok, you don't have the money to do that. So what do you have? How can you get the money? What are our options?" If the messaging consistently focused on the don'ts, I'd hit the unfollow button with the quickness.
It's cool to gain inspiration in the form of a kick-in-the-butt every now and then, and it's definitely okay to share a girl-you-know-that's-right moment with a friend who needs encouragement. I just believe balance and discernment are key.
Let's enhance the motivation narrative with adages that celebrate who we are and where we're going, show love to those who ride for us and give credence to progress and sisterhood. The only motivation you need is you. Bump the haters.
Featured image by Getty Images