On Gratitude

My dearest reader, you who have occasionally, or frequently, perused the pages of this blog – read on. This is for you.

I think very often that there’s a certain untruth to the phrase “It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.” We’re taught from a young age to believe in ourselves, and we should. We’re taught to rely on ourselves, and we should. We’re taught to ignore the naysayers and speak our own truths, and we should. But the truth of the matter is that we live in society, and society requires that we interact with other people. As such, the statement “it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks,” often paraded as an affirmation of individualism and self-reliance, is really kind of bullshit.

Because it does matter what other people think.

To be one person against the world is to be pilloried, ostracized, or incapable of seeing reason. To be one person with no awareness of others’ feelings is to be rude, cruel, pathologically selfish. To be one person who ignores the world around him is to be a hermit, a recluse, entirely insignificant.

We are human beings, and we are social animals. We thrive on connection; we die in isolation.

When I wrote my post, “Half-Marathon; Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Body“, I admit to a certain trepidation before I hit the “publish” button. The button that would put my internal fears, my personal journey, and not a few fuck-yous to the world at large, on the big stage. Not to mention a photo of myself in a bikini. Covered in mud. When I heard that my post had been selected to be Freshly Pressed, I was even more nervous. Aye, sharing my deep, dark fears and insecurities with trusted friends and long-time blog readers had gone well. But who knew what Teh Internetz at large would say? Would anyone trivialize my struggles? Would anyone openly mock my decision to put myself out there? Would anyone insult my physical appearance, or the mental demons to which I’d publicly confessed?

I confided my fears to a friend, a Twitter buddy who had already had a post featured on Freshly Pressed. He reassured me everything would be fine. I believed him. Mostly. But the doubt lingered.

Now, almost five days after the post has been featured, I can say with confidence that I have never made a better decision; that publishing my post and sharing my fears and triumphs was a joy rather than a terror; that love and self-confidence won a glorious victory over guilt and insecurity.

And for that, I am deeply grateful.

It is to all of you that I owe my gratitude. Every one of you. I’m grateful to my friends Drew Chial, Rachael Spellman, Graham Milne, Nillu Steltzer (with whom I shared the Freshly Pressed ride, what an honor!), Joanne Blaikie, Jess West, and many more, for sharing my post and getting it into the right hands. For giving it the opportunity to be featured on Freshly Pressed in the first place. I’m grateful to everyone who read and commented long before the post was featured. I’m grateful to everyone who read after the post went live, who gave my words wings. I’m grateful to everyone who tweeted, shared, or reblogged my post so that others who might suffer from the same problems could read it. I’m grateful to everyone who commented and therefore reassured me that I had done the right thing. I’m grateful to everyone who told me they took strength from my struggle, that my words had given them a new perspective, and a new light in which to view their own bodies.

Because at the end of the day, it does matter what other people think. I’m grateful to all of you for sharing those thoughts. And while I am proud to have spoken words that resonated, I am infinitely more grateful to everyone who shared the love right back at me.

With all my love,