I had wanted to post a picture of my husband, son and two dogs. It was cute because my son was still only a year old and up on his father’s shoulders and I had momentarily given my husband the dog leashes to take a picture. He’s the kind of guy that can hold two leashes in one hand and hold steadily onto our child with the other hand for at least the time it takes for me to snap the picture. The picture was meant to show him “doing it all.” It was cute. But I hesitated. I thought about it and realised that I had stopped because of the way the people online have been ridiculing and shaming each other. It is almost impossible to post something that doesn’t cause a backlash. It’s not even just that someone would take it out of context and assume that we were not safe at the time, but that someone would use that image to make a judgement on everything about our parenting out of one picture. The online trend of shaming everything has gotten to a point where it’s not even considered paranoid to be worried about ridicule.
But there’s still the fear. I was afraid of the shaming that could ensue. It gave me anxiety and while I decided to not post the picture, I was inspired to write to you all about it. I let fear keep me from doing something that is admittedly trivial, it wasn’t an important issue. But what about when it is? What decisions weren’t trivial but I still let the fear of criticism to win? What have I missed out on?
Sure, some of those decisions were probably wise despite the fear, but maybe not all of them. I know that one of the biggest problems with allowing fear and anxiety to stop progress is when the fear keeps us from admitting that we, or our friends or allies, are wrong about something. I fear defending decisions that I don’t feel strongly about and I stay silent at the expense of what I perceive to be progress because I am afraid to make a stand on an issue that I may reverse my opinion on later. This fear keeps everyone in the conversation from being able to better develop their argument or their opinion because I won’t engage in the conversation. Of course, if two intelligent people are already having a good discussion, sitting back and listening can often be a good idea as well. One shouldn’t always argue just because the situation presents itself. That’s not the message here.
Don’t let the fear of criticism be the only factor in whether you speak up or stand up or otherwise just do something.