Perfect timing. Just as I was fretting over my recent discovery that a friend (frenemy, I suppose) had been talking smack about me, the new Taylor Swift video Shake It Off popped up in my Twitter feed. Truth be told, I am a Taylor Swift apologist. I think she is adorable. And she’s won my heart over even more with this mantra to just “shake it off” when “haters gonna hate.”
While growing legions of people tell me how “amazing,” “inspirational,” “brilliant,” and “strong” I am, a group of about 20 biological family members and former friends think I am a batsh*t crazy loser. No joke. They think I think I am better than them because I moved away and got an education. They think that I am merely the “hired help” within the colleges where I have worked for almost 20 years. They think I am a nothing. They won’t say it to my face, but I hear the whispers occasionally.
My husband and (true) friends let me know these people are just jealous — not to mention caught in cycles of addiction and depression. I know they are right, yet still my heart hurts. I loved all of these people at one point in my life. Professor and researcher Rochelle Dalla, Ph.D. talks about the need to leave “old playmates and old playgrounds” for women exiting prostitution. I strongly believe this is true for anyone getting away from environments and situations that bring you down.
So I thought I had “cleaned house” of people who didn’t have my back years ago. I was wrong. And I guess you can never really get away from people criticizing you, especially when you express your opinions in public and take enormous risks. And those people you left behind – not out of malice, but out of necessity – will still feel the need to weigh in from afar. So now instead of trying to please those 20 people who never have and never will believe in me, I can just “shake it off.”