Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Haters Gonna Hate

Yesterday morning I was happily engaged in my usual pre-lunch routine. Most mornings, after I get to work and check Mr. F's mail and messages, and my email, I go through all my favorite blogs and websites to see the latest happenings in the online world. This usually takes me through the first hour of work, after which I start working on articles, or reading RealClearPolitics, or gchatting Sam, etc. Useful stuff like that. Anyway, yesterday I did what I do every morning and typed this website into my search engine. But when I got there, things were not alright.

I first discovered that website when I was at a happy hour at my beloved CIC. I met a cute blond-haired girl who had just started her online journal for Catholic women, and as I'm a Catholic woman writer, I promptly offered to freelance for her. Our collaboration led to this article, which was for me the fruit of months of thought and discussion about this difficult topic. I put a great deal of effort and research into the piece and was proud of the outcome. I posted it on my Facebook and got some nice comments from friends.

Then things started snowballing. Last Tuesday, I discovered that the article had been featured on RealClearReligion, a massive honor, so I told my co-workers about the article. They linked to it on our website's blog as well, and before long it was getting hundreds of hits. Because I'm naive (book smart, remember?), I was thrilled and happy. Hurray, more readers! I thought. More discussion!

Until yesterday morning, when I discovered two mean, nasty comments that had been left on the piece. Instead of actually engaging with my arguments and answering my questions - they were questions, not definitive statements - both commenters simply offered cruel ad hominem attacks. Both accused me of not knowing what I was talking about. One of them accused me of being ungrateful to our military, which is so egregiously false that it made me want to scream.

At first I just sloughed off the comments, thinking, "Well you can't please everybody." But as the day went by, I couldn't get them off my mind. Those people were so mean. How could they say such nasty and unkind things about me, instead of actually reading the piece and seeing that I'm asking these questions with a genuine desire to know? Why don't they actually answer my questions instead of criticizing me for asking them? I began to get more and more unhappy, thinking about how easy it is to make enemies as soon as you start voicing controversial opinions in public. I don't want to make enemies, I thought. I just want everyone to like me. Then an even more awful thought struck. Maybe I'm not cut out to be a journalist. It was a dark hour.

Despite my best efforts, I began to feel as though I might start crying right there at my desk, so I decided to run down the street to 5:30 pm Mass rather than sit in the office any longer. The walk to Mass was a grumpy and dismal time. I felt as though a storm cloud hung over my head, and I made dour faces at people instead of smiling as I usually do. I sank into the back pew of St. Matthew's and buried my head in my hands. I can't do this, Lord. I just can't. I can't deal with the world hating me. Fear of failure, of public dislike and censure, had taken hold of me, and a bad case of discouragement had me in its grip. I felt so alone.

But around the time I received Communion, I remembered this: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." I recalled with stunning clarity, and with awe that I had forgotten, the simple fact that I am never alone. And I knew that even if the whole world should turn against me, while God and my conscience stood firm, I could go on alone.

So on the way back from Mass, I called my sister and told her of my realization. "Haters gonna hate," she said. "You can't let it bother you." And all I have to say is, true that. I don't intend to let it bother me again.

No comments:

Post a Comment