We all have that person on social media. You know, the one who is consistently giving you advice or sending you a direct message, letting you know what you’re doing and how you’re doing it is totally and utterly wrong.
It’s gotten to the point where I feel myself moving into the place of overexplaining everything that I do and say so to clear up any confusion and, I don’t know, worry (?) that people might experience when interacting with my posts.
I noticed myself apologizing to people whose expectations of what they think I should be saying I wasn’t meeting. And these aren’t even people that I love, or even particularly like! These are people who hold zero space in my life- people who are are just here to watch the highlight reel, not interested or invested in the actual journey.
Doesn’t it sometimes feel like the people who are alllll up in our business and judging us for the decisions that we make are the same folks who have done zero work to actually get to know us?
So in the spirit of me not losing my mind, I’ve been walking in a new narrative for those people:
“That’s none of your business.”
I mean, it’s said politely and kindly with an ever-so-slight hint of “WHY ARE YOU OBSESSED WITH ME???” coming through. Some days, it’s easy to say. Other days, I struggle with it because my inward self loves to people-please.
But every day- no matter the day- the reasons that I make the decisions that I make are nobody’s business but my own.
Accountability in relationships is healthy and healing. It’s VITAL to maintaining relational wellness. If I am acting like a complete and total psychopath, Greg, the much less dramatic partner of mine, has a right to be like What is happening here? He, as someone who walks life with me and is a formative part of my mental wellness, is allowed to keep me accountable and ask for explanations. Which of course, he never has to, because I am perfect.
But you know who’s not allowed to keep me accountable and ask for explanations? The lady at Walgreen’s who wants to know why I am buying so many Diet Cokes because Diet Coke is poison. We’re all going to die, Alisha. I’m just going to die fully caffeinated and happy.
There’s a lot of folks that you know and maybe even know well who try to put expectations on you or want answers from you, and a lot of times that’s not them being judgy or rude as much as it’s them not having a clear concept of boundaries.
But then there are folks who are emotional strangers– people who know you on social media or from church or work and feel like they have a connection to you, but have never done anything else to truly know you. They expect a deep, vulnerable investment from you and have made zero strides to do the same.
You can know someone for years and they can still be a stranger. And strangers only pay attention to the highlight reels of your life, not the nitty-gritty, everyday stuff that comes with having a relationship with you.
Strangers are the ones who judge you on your social media or DM you to tell you what you’re doing is wrong. They are the ones who you see at work every day, and they make comments about how you haven’t had kids yet or wonder when you’re going to settle down. From what you eat, to what you wear, to what brand of diaper you use for your child, (Are you sure that is the best choice for your child????) people want explanations EVERY DAY. It’s based on unfound courage; I can say what I want when I want because there are no repercussions to this. Why? Because we don’t have a relationship. I won’t lose anything. Also, some people are just total a-holes.
You don’t owe these strangers explanations about your personal life. Sure, you might owe a stranger who happens to be your boss an explanation about the job you’re doing. But you don’t owe him an explanation about your love life. Or why you chose to not have kids. Or your recent weight gain. Or anything that isn’t any of his business.
You don’t owe these strangers explanations. You don’t owe them long private-message discussions about why they think you’re wrong. You don’t owe them accountability. In fact, you don’t even have to respond. You don’t even have to go as far as saying, “This isn’t any of your business.”
My wellness goal isn’t rudeness or quick, petty responses. It isn’t to shut people out who haven’t earned a place next to me- it’s not even to make people earn me at all.
My wellness goal is to speak my truth. To speak about the things that hurt me and the things I’ve learned from and are currently learning from. It’s to share my experiences with others while honoring their boundaries and needs. Or it’s to not share anything at all and just be with them. My wellness goal is to learn how to not be a stranger to people I’ve known for years and people I just met.
The road to wellness is lined with strangers. Some may yell at you from the sidelines, criticizing you while you do all of the work. Others may tell you that they need to walk with you because you need them. Remember: This is your decision, not theirs.
Don’t be a stranger to yourself by allowing those who don’t belong on the journey with you to take up the space that you need.