A couple months ago, I started posting to my Instagram story every day. My Gen Z sons told me years ago that “posting to Insta more than once a day makes you look desperate.” I assume they meant for attention, and I get that. Later, they told me about comedian Bo Burnham’s stand up, and I discovered White Woman’s Instagram and I felt a little seen. I even wrote a blog post about it. Since then, I’ve been careful about how often and what I post, lest I seem like more of a cliché of an upper middle class white woman. I mean, I drive a Tesla, have an espresso machine I use daily, and have posted photos of a charcuterie board and a Nicoise salad. What can I say? I am a white woman with an Instagram account.
As a way to still engage on Instagram without posting photos of latte art and golden retrievers wearing flower crowns, I started posting memes to my story every day. I’ve been doing this for a couple months now. I’ve been collecting memes on my iPhone for years. Some are funny. Some are inspiring. Some are political. Some are observations about our culture. Many are laced with swear words. They all reflect me in some way, either because I agree with what is said, I reflect what is said, I have said what is said, or I just have that twisted of a sense of humor. This was today’s post:
I’ve had a couple friends today tell me that they don’t necessarily agree with this sentiment. If you take it literally, I suppose this could be not a great statement. I mean, if you’re being mugged, perhaps you are in the wrong place and there is no right way to look at it. But I didn’t take it down that road. I get something different from this saying.
Too often in life we wind up in a situation not of our choosing. Something we worked for or wanted is no longer available. When we’re in that place, it’s easy to be negative about it, to feel sorry for ourselves. We might become angry and frustrated. We might give up. These are all choices. We could just as easily decide, “Well, this is something. Wonder where this will take me?” And then be patient with life and see what new things arise from the ashes of what we feel we’ve lost. Or we could say to ourselves, “Nope. This is unacceptable.” Then we can work to transition ourselves back onto, or at least closer to, the path we wanted to take.
I’ve been guilty many times of giving into the negativity. I’ve blamed others for my situation. I’ve blamed myself, telling myself I was not worthy of what I missed out on. This is ridiculous. All I needed at the time was a change in attitude. Looking back, there were many times when I did not get what I wanted or thought I wanted. In all of those instances, as I reflect back, I can see now the beauty in being denied what I was so eager to have. A lot of the things I missed out on led me to a situation more appropriate for me in some way, more in line with who I am and not who I thought I wanted to be. My life story is a tale of many disappointments I am grateful for. I just didn’t look for and couldn’t see the beauty of the plot twists at the time.
I’m still working to cultivate a patient approach to life, one that allows me the time and space to be curious rather than judgmental. I’m not sure I will ever be thrilled when the record starts skipping and I have to pick up the needle and move it to the next groove, but if you’d asked me at 24 if at 54 I would have the life I have now, I can tell you I couldn’t have imagined it. Like Maya Angelou, though, I “wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.” It may have taken me a little longer to gain consciousness from the stupor of my past than I would have liked, but I am here now. Who knows if I would have made it to this place without all the side roads I had to travel to arrive here?
I get it. This expresses to me a philosophical way of looking at life and reality, disengaging the monkey brain, then engaging rational thought. The Stoics took this on as a daily challenge. And, it is really difficult (sometimes) to pull back far enough from a situation/interaction/reaction to see what else it might mean.
Best of all, it doesn’t mean you have to accept it, or like it; just don’t become consumed by it.
From the Daily Stoic:
This isn’t to say that a Stoic has no opinions–that’s not only impossible but also far too disengaged for an active participant in the world. It’s that the Stoic ignores what doesn’t matter, what is largely outside their control, so they can focus solely on what does matter, where they can have impact, what their unique talents and resources suit them for.
I think the Stoics had it right, then. Thanks for sharing this with me.