Sunday, 7 June 2015

My First Troll and My Thick Skin


A while ago I achieved what can only be described as a milestone for any writer… my first ever internet troll. It was a comment on an article I’d written which had been published online, and made various points which suggested my article hadn’t been fully understood—perhaps my fault as a writer, perhaps theirs as a reader—as well as the inevitable attack on myself as a person by a complete stranger.

I wasn’t really surprised by the troll’s comments, the internet being what it is, but what did surprise me was that, with total honesty toward myself, I didn’t care. In fact, I felt rather important. Maybe it was to do with the fact that I read the comment while relaxing with a coffee in a sunny conservatory with someone who doesn’t agree with such aggressive opinions, but I think that apart from being in quite a good place in life, it’s also due to developing a bit of a thick skin in my old age—after all, I’ll be nineteen in a few weeks.

My first semester at University seemed rather idyllic after a very trying year. I loved almost every sngle moment, and felt I’d finally broken out of the funk I’d been in when finishing school. However during the second semester, no longer shiny and new and exciting, the cracks began to show. Still having by and large a lovely time, things began to happen that brought me down from the incredible high I’d been on for months. More recently, I began to panic as my present began to resemble my past. Was I simply going round in circles? And if so, what was the point?

Short answer: yes. Life is full of circles. You will meet versions of people and experience versions of events for pretty much your entire life: the good and the bad. Life can go absolutely swimmingly and then turn a little sour, but by the very nature of a circle, tends to pick up again after a time. Everything can seem much the same, and life doesn’t seem to have undergone as dramatic a change as you first thought.

As it turns out, it’s not really “life” that’s supposed to change. It’s you. And I have. The way I deal with problems that are thrown up has improved as I grow, and each time I become more confident and optimistic about my ability to deal with being scared and brought down.

The key (cue that unsolicited advice I so love to give in my writing, for better or for worse), I have found, is to retain focus on yourself and remember that no matter what goes on around you, you do not become a different person. If I tell you something bad about yourself, does this necessarily make it true? Similarly, if you’re feeling left out by one or two friends, does this mean everyone else in your life loves you any less? Focusing on my own qualities has helped me realise that even when things aren’t going to plan, this does not impact on who I am as a person. I become no less intelligent, hardworking, or kind-hearted. I do not let these things change me, except when I choose to learn from them. I am still myself, and for the most part I am much cared for and loved by those that know me (Good for me, right?).

Take my lovely troll as an example: it’s one person’s opinion against at least a hundred. Why on earth should it matter? It’s also worth mentioning that the article I wrote was more opinionated than I would have dared to have published a year ago.

So much like the hopeless-at-first female in a generic rom-com, I have gone through my own little “emotional arc” and recognised, with the greatest of cheese*, that it’s not my situation that needs to change all the time, merely my attitude toward myself and the durability of my skin.

So right now, things have been better, but things have definitely been a lot worse. And that’s probably quite a good mindset to have…

...until the next time…

 
 

 Here is a picture of my smile from when I took part in #100happydays on Instagram (only reaching day 50 because I became a lazy student) almost a year ago. The smile sometimes goes away for a while, but comes back quicker each time. Circles, innit…

(Instagram @catherineannmk)


*Edit: Or rather, the "grate-est" of cheese... pun courtesy of Eliott Simpson (http://sockcrumbs.tumblr.com)

2 comments:

  1. I recently experienced something similar- I tweeted the lovely Melanie Murphy, a lifestyle YouTuber, in relation to one of her videos which was a response to a music video by a band, the message of which she didn't agree with, and that I didn't either, and she tweeted me back. That ensued in my Twitter notifications going insane. Most of them weren't very nice and were more so intended for Melanie, but I was tagged in them anyway, and some were directed at both of us. Instead of getting upset like I would have a few years ago, I replied to some of them and muted all of them, which was an oddly satisfying task. Learning how to deal with trolls is an important part of being on the internet!

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    1. I completely agree, it's a shame it's necessary but totally is! I'm glad you were able to deal with you trolls!
      I'm a big fan of the mute and block buttons... I always try to reply to comments out of my blog out of politeness as well as enjoyment, but this particular one I chose to ignore because the commenter didn't appear open to a reasonable discussion!

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