I've been sitting on this one for awhile. Then magically, Cancel Culture has come up in conversation in a few different ways in the last week. Kismet! The inspiration I was in dire need of!
Jamie Kern Lima, author of "Believe It" and founder of IT Cosmetics, hosted a pre-launch book party for her next book. I'm a huge fan, so I attended. Thank goodness for virtual events! LOL. During that, she said something along the lines of stop the cancel culture we place on ourselves. It was genius. Seriously, how often do we cancel our dreams, our aspirations or anything else?
Fast forward to a networking date I had. My friend and I were talking about the cancel culture our kids face, simply by being disliked by the group of friends that they're trying to fit in with. That statement left me thinking constantly.
When I initially started working on this blog post, I was thinking of the cancel culture of looking at someone's social media from years ago and holding them accountable for it now… even after they've matured, learned and are clearly not the same person. And I'm not talking continual bad behavior or egregious actions here. I'm talking about that one dumb thing you did as a kid. I didn't have social media when I was a kid… thank goodness! I was able to be dumb and not have it in the depths of a computer for someone malicious looking for it to "ruin me".
But as the conversations arose around cancel culture, it is so much more than social media. I'll come back to self-cancelling later, but for our children it's so difficult to figure out who we are at those teenage years. Awkward, scared, lonely, unsure, hormonal.
When I entered high school, it was after years of private school with the same 30 people. I opted for public school where the class size was over 200. My best friend at the time went to the private high school that was affiliated with our grade school. I had to reinvent myself. No more uniforms. No more security in knowing my teachers, peers, younger kids. Thinking about it now, I was the age my son is now. Knowing maybe 10 kids in the school total…. yikes! I still remember my first lunch period.
I was very lucky to find friends through my high school years and to find my place with them. It didn't always come easily or drama free, but I came through relatively unscathed. But the truth is, I never felt like I belonged. If you know me today, shy is not a word you'd use to describe me. But in high school, I was painfully shy. That freshman year, I'd eat lunch and bail to the library so I wasn't alone in the middle of a full cafeteria. Best choice? Who's to say. I could have found more friends in the cafeteria, but the library was my safe space where my awkward self could take a breath. I can remember reading the same teen magazine over and over until boredom set in.
But could you imagine if cancel culture was "a thing" then? The friends I was fortunate to have could have easily shunned me because of my poor sense of style (I had none!), my choice of music or any number of things. Yet, they chose to accept me as I did them. Differences made us unique as individuals. No, you don't have to like everyone. Goodness knows I didn't always have great experiences or like everyone, but I tried!
Not everyone is going to be your cup of tea. That's just fact. But it's a lesson in life to learn what makes a good friend. A true friend. The reality is that you may not find your people until well after high school. It happens when you least expect it. So why cancel the opportunities before you know? I have a very dear friend. It took us years to cultivate our friendship and now it's a bond. I actually thanked her once for not giving up on me when I wasn't necessarily reciprocating. We are different women with different perspectives, but we were grounded with love for our families and our beliefs. And it's great that we see things different. It makes us think differently!
So instead of hearing someone say something dumb and not giving them an opportunity (or worse), engage in a conversation to understand them. Give friendships time to grow. Like a flower, each one looks different.
So Cancel Culture, you're on notice.