“No matter how good you are, someone is always going to be against you. But never let them be the limit of your success.”
This past week I had an experience that kinda stung. An experience that taught me a valuable lesson that I feel is worth sharing. It all started with the planning of my high school reunion. (Crazy right?, I’m not even 25, and I’m discussing a reunion of my high school peers). For about three weeks I have been coordinating with my high school to create a magical high school reunion. The team and I discussed the intentions of the reunion, what we wanted the reunion to be like and how we could make it happen. As we discussed the program, I thought it would be appropriate to have some alumni presentations during the engagement. Our school has been around for about ten years, so there are not that many alumni, but some particular talents that I felt should be represented throughout the event.
As you know, I’m a published author and love telling people about my book. When we discussed what alumni should present at the reunion, it was a no brainer that I would speak and tell all of my former teachers and peers about my book. I came up with the idea that I could bring some copies to the event, sell them to attendees and donate 100% of the proceeds to the alumni fund the school was starting. The team I was working with on the program agreed. We thought not only could I speak and inspire my peers but I could also try to raise some money in exchange for my book. I agreed to bring books and prepare a five-minute speech.
Following our conference calls, the plan was set. The reunion takes place August 11th, and we needed to post on social media about the event to raise awareness. I posted the alumni reunion flyer on my Facebook, and quickly the word began to spread about what was going to take place. On the announcement, there was two other alumni that were announced to perform at the reunion and me. As the post began to get feedback, I was excited. There were many comments from my peers expressing how pumped they were to attend and how fun the reunion would be.
While reading the comments, I felt proud knowing that the event we were working on was resonating with the TCS community. After all of the positive feedback from the event, I went to bed knowing that an amazing event was on the horizon for myself and my former high school colleagues.
That night, I decided to run through my social media accounts one last time. This practice is a nightly ritual to ensure I don’t miss anything or need to handle something before I call it a night. In the midst of me scrolling through Facebook, I saw a Facebook status from one of my former high school peers that read,
“Definitely not going if I’m gonna have to listen to his arrogant ass all night.”
The status was posted at 1:22 pm and had over 25 comments. When the status reached my newsfeed, it was late that night. As I scrolled through the comments, I instantly knew that this status was aimed towards me. I was the only male on the flyer, and the comments were from people who I didn’t know too well and never actually addressed while in high school.
I have struggled with negative criticisms about my confidence being overbearing and “arrogant.” It was clear I was the target in this discussion.
I read every single comment. The sentiments I read felt daggering, fierce and overwhelming. I felt like I had to come back more vicious, stronger and nastier than the comments I read. I didn’t understand how an event that I had worked on for weeks could blow back up in my face. To let my out my frustrations I commented back with,
“Wow nice status you all can have it, I’m not going.”
“And if you really had something to say you should have tagged me. ALL OF YALL are disrespectful, shady and insecure and sad. Enjoy the event.”
I completely let my negative emotions get the best of me and lashed out not only immaturely but publicly as well. Yikes!
I concluded that no one wanted to see me at this event, I should not attend and I was not going to give my speech at the reunion.
Days following, I began to reflect on what had happened. I questioned why I decided to help with the reunion and what I should I do next? After much reflection and meditation, I decided that I am going to attend my high school reunion and give my speech on August 11th. I came to this conclusion after understanding three main ideas.
1) People Don’t Like My Brave Ass, and That’s Okay
Simply put: I live a brave life. I create content for people to read, I’m always putting myself out there and because of that criticism is inevitable. What I’ve learned is that you can do the greatest good for the greatest amount of people and still not be loved by everyone. When Beyonce performed Formation at the Superbowl, I loved it and thought it was one of the best performances I had ever seen. Unfortunately, many CNN reports and bloggers did not. The weeks following the Superbowl, Beyonce was slammed in the press.
Tim Ferriss is one of my role models and a New York Times Best-Selling author, and in his book, Tools of Titans he expresses how he still deals with Internet trolls online.
It’s a universal truth that: anyone who plans to do anything of value will face opposition from individuals, and that’s okay because it is a part of the formula for living a brave life.
2) I Still Have To Do My Best
In life, all we have is our best. The capacity to control, what we say, how we think and how we interact with one another. I’d be a fool, to be completely numb to negative criticisms and pretend that I am above reproach as if I have no room to improve. Oprah has a quote that says, “Your legacy is every life you touch.” I know that statement to be true. With this said, I must always continue to do my best to be as true to myself as possible without offending others. If I do all I can to be the best person I can be, that alone is enough.
3) People Still Love My Brave Ass
My father used to always tell me,
“You’re always going to have your haters but remember, you will also always have your fans.”
In life, we always have people that love us for the people that we are and are rooting for our rise. Every day I’m overwhelmed with the love and support from the lives that I touch through my brave living. I currently have an auto response on my phone where I can type in two letters and get the sentence “Thank you so much I appreciate it.” because I’m always receiving compliments, well wishes, and love.
It’s important that whenever we face criticism or opposition, we never forget the ones who are cheering for us. We may not all be Beyonce, but I promise every single one of us has a Beyhive, even if that Beyhive is one individual we call, “Mom.”
I’m grateful for this experience and hopefully will connect with some of my former classmates who bashed me on Facebook. Their true sentiments taught me a lesson I genuinely needed to learn. I can’t wait to speak at my high school on August 11th.