Sam Plavins taking in the woods.

We will be judged.

Some recent goings on have sent me spiralling down my own reflective Rabbit Hole. (Holy crap, it’s dark down here! I need a flashlight and a thermos of Lipton Chicken Soup.) Nothing is off limits: my life, my opinions, a few of my recent decisions, and the state of the world. 

I’ve become super mindful of judgement, and it all started when I found myself on the receiving end of the stick. 

The provoking incident in question was a newly discovered troll on my youTube channel. Now, the optimistic, ‘Susie Sunshine’ part of me just assumed that nobody would ever come out and say mean things about me or my channel. I mean, I’m a harmless, middle-aged Canadian gal who had a one-time moment on the Camino de Santiago. It doesn’t get any more freaking benign than that. 

Moreover, the kind of people who go searching for info/inspo on the Camino tend to be either a kindred spirit, or the ‘Practical Joe’ wanting to know about backpacks and toe socks. Both ‘types’ of these people have been inherently kind towards me. 

I was wrong, however. To believe that I would be immune to the kind of nonsense that entered my orbit the other night? Ha!I’m definitely not! There is good news, though. This dude is forcing me to think about the future and the inevitability of what happens when we put ourselves out there. In cyberspace.   

Guys, we will be judged. 

Let me use some other words just to ensure I’m clear: if you choose to put your ideas out into the wacky, world wide web, you’d best have a thick skin, and a strategy for moving past what I’m politely defining as ‘assholery.’ 

So, the troll. 

Do I know he’s a troll? Well, maybe that’s an unfair characterization. To me, a troll is a person (debatable, really) who spends all his/her time looking for opportunities to tear into egregious arguments online. I’ve always thought a troll’s goal is to steal the spotlight and wreak havoc on humans who want to have a balanced discourse about something. 

Now, this fellow? He made the effort to pepper my Camino videos with what started out as innocent, unfettered burns. (For anyone unfamiliar with the urban use of the word ‘burn’: it’s what the teenage folk do on a regular basis to their parents. Try to find ways to sass-talk/disrespect them without crossing into the ‘that was unacceptable and now you’re going to be punished’ territory.)  

Anyhoosie, his burns quickly morphed into beastly rudeness. 

So what’s the biggie, you ask? I’ve been on this earth for 46 years and have already dealt with my fair share of shade. I also know the rule of thumb is “don’t engage.” (Haven’t we all been taught to ignore someone who is bothering us?!) But for some reason, I took his bait and that has ultimately led to my taking up residence in this dank and cavernous Rabbit Hole. Is my soup coming? Anyone? Hello? Bueller?  

Buddy’s main beef with me was that I basically create videos that say “fucking nothing.”

Nothing. 

Sub-beefs include me being sexist (ROFL), my walk into Santiago as “barf” and “fuck Deepak Chopra.”

In the midst of digesting all this hoo-haw, he also sent me a private Messenger request, entitled “My Dear Sister Samantha”, the crux of his note being his telephone number, a request for me to call and a final greeting of “Love, Hope and Joy!”

What. The. Actual. 

After I took a few minutes to try and understand what circumstances would make a person be such a dick online, I learned that he is potentially very lonely and seems to be unwell. It didn’t take much detective work to draw these conclusions, either. (Thank you, open Facebook accounts!) My research pointed to a man with a pituitary tumour, for which I have an immense amount of compassion. But I did find it funny that his Facebook likes include a one… wait for it… Deepak Chopra! I tried to imagine what heinous crime Mr. Chopra must have committed to isolate a former fan who now insists “F*** him.” 

Again, what??

I decided to make a conscious effort to just move on, but by then, the damage had already been done. 

See, our minds are like fertile garden soil. We must be judicious with the thoughts we plant, otherwise we could have invasive, quick-growing weeds suck out all the moisture and nutrients, leaving us stripped bare. Overrun, even. It sounds dramatic, but you know it’s true. 

If you’ve ever had a negative thought, or been at the other end of someone’s obnoxiousness, you know that your mind can take over rational thought and spiral into a yucky place where you cannot shirk the damn thing away. Like a stubborn, prickly weed, you can’t just pull it out and toss it down the hill, either. It’s right in there, super deep. You may wind up grabbing a fistful of something if you yank with all your might, but the roots of the thing still linger, which means before long, there will be another, stronger weed occupying that much-coveted real estate in your brain. 

Truth time: my deepest, current insecurity is that I’m making something from nothing. And that it won’t matter. It won’t be relevant. And that nobody will care. And that I’m completely full of shit.  

Omigosh, I said it. That’s what keeps me up at night! For us sensitive types, we rely on others to care about what we offer to the world. But I’m smart enough to know that even with all my experience, my comfort level with risk and the bold vision I have, everything could still bellyflop with one robust splash. 

So this dude did a number on me. He re-ignited all the fear I thought I had control over. Thanks, asshole!

Mercifully, I also view his “fucking nothing” comment as a gift. Because I’m not going through all this soul-searching and work and pain for nothing. It’s very purpose-driven. If anything, though, he’s reminding me that whatever I put out into the big wide world, it must be in service of others. 

It will be. And I’ll still be judged. 😂

To lighten this moment, please enjoy an old photo of my daughter Piper, about to jump into the coldest pool in Ecuador. You see that smiling face? She doesn’t care. She’s just going for it! And that’s where I wanna be. This picture is an #accuratedepiction of my feelings right now. So I think I’ll hashtag some more feelings below, just because it’s fun to invent painfully-long words!

#goingforit
#itcouldbellyflop
#stillhavetotry
#trollscansuckit
#whenwillcovidend

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