When you hear someone order a black coffee, what pops into your head?
Do you think: “Yuck! Black coffee?! That’s way too strong for my taste!”
Or do you think: “Mmm…I love bold coffee! I’ll take one, too!”
Personally, I can’t start my day without a piping hot cup of dark roast coffee. Like that catchy jingle, the best part of waking up is, in fact, [strong] coffee in my cup (you totally sang that line, didn’t you?!)
The first part of a successful day is waking up to that AH-mazing coffee aroma and jacking up my heart rate as I sip myself awake.
Yet, many people can’t tolerate coffee. Whether it’s “too strong, too bitter, too acidic, too bold,” coffee haters want nothing to do with the beverage I adore.
Different people have different tastes. And if social media has taught me anything in the last 5 months, it’s that I’m not everyone’s cup of… coffee. (I know the saying is “tea,” but I never liked tea. This is my blog so I’ll talk about my caffeinated beverage of choice, okay?)
A Storm’s Been Brewing (Pun Very Much Intended)
Earlier this month, I put a pause on my social media. I didn’t ghost my followers, but I cut back my postings from every single day (sometimes twice a day) to once a week for 2 weeks. I consider it a “pause” because there was no true “break.”
Behind the scenes, I worked around the clock – brainstorming, creating new content, and writing new scripts. I was burning the candle at both ends with my online graduate program and professional development, sitting up at the kitchen table until the 5 am hour reading and writing. I even fell asleep on the living room floor by the shoe rack during finals week.
I have this problem where I am seemingly incapable of resting, ever. I feel a compulsive urge to always be productive. This character flaw inevitably leads to [functional] depression/burnout, a contributing factor to my social media “pause”.
A Bitter Taste
Despite the division in our country right now, I think we can all agree on one thing: 2020 is the year of perpetual doom.
It’s no secret that my mental health took a substantial hit throughout the pandemic.
My academic and personal timeline are now skewed.
After 6 years of busting my ass in school to graduate with highest honors, there was no ceremony or celebration; my long-awaited internship was moved [mostly] online; I need to postpone my wedding due to Covid-related hardships.
My depression and anxiety reached peak heights. My chronic health conditions resurfaced, and I had a [minor] relapse of my eating disorder. Oh, and my cats went missing (both of them within a 3-week timeframe).
I lost my job and mental health outlet: the gym.
I was attacked for speaking up about unconstitutional gym closures in New Jersey; for advocating for exercise as medicine. In my most recent blog post, I Stand With Atilis I wrote:
What about my 81-year-old Granny who relied on Senior classes at our gym to help her stay mobile?! 5 days a week of flexibility, balance and physical therapy for degenerative disk disease and osteoporosis – gone…What good is protecting seniors from COVID-19 if it means they will deteriorate in loneliness and isolation?!
My Granny has since had an ischemic stroke. Guess I knew what I was talking about.
I’m not stating all of these things to play victim, but to make a point. It’s important to realize that we never truly know what someone is going through behind closed doors. We are so quick to judge; attack; accuse; when we’ve made no [sincere] effort to understand the person or their circumstances.
Hold the Cream & Sugar
I lost 40 followers for my post with Ian Smith, some of whom I had considered real-life friends.
I worried people didn’t like me anymore.
“Maybe I’m too outspoken? Too passionate?” (Apparently supporting the U.S. Constitution is controversial and advocating for holistic, preventative healthcare makes me a “mask hater.”)
My enthusiasm for defending what I believe in brought on accusations of aggression. My Instagram activity was even reported to the Director of my Dietetics program. (It was a coordinated effort by classmates who look for any tactic to stand in the way of my RD credential. My program is basically real-life Mean Girls).
All of this self-doubt over irrelevant “follows.” Still, after working so hard to grow my following, it seemed as though my efforts with social media/content creation were dissipating in front of my eyes.
I started to get full-fledged panic attacks from angry DMs and comments. (It blows my mind that people are willing to throw away years of friendship over Covid-19 disagreements). I started to feel I couldn’t be my [genuine] self online without eliciting hate. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to handle the confrontation anymore, but I refused to delete my posts and/or blog. I made a judgement call to [briefly] hold back for my own mental wellbeing.
Extra Bold Ain’t for Everyone
A week after that announcement, I resurfaced. And I hit the ground running!
It’s as if I never missed those 2 weeks: new YouTube/IGTV videos, a new Professional Works page on my website, this blog post. Oh, and I finished out my first summer of graduate school with straight A’s.
After much self-reflection, I’ve come to the realization that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea (or Joe, to my preference).
And I am learning to accept that.
I will always stay true to myself, even if it means rubbing some people the wrong way (or giving some people acid reflux, if we’re sticking to this coffee theme).
There’s no doubt I bring value to my followers and have been using this time in quarantine to better myself (and hopefully land my dream job with 1st Phorm someday). I know my value and I will never apologize for being my candid self.
And surprisingly, a lot of good came out of my “pause.” I strengthened my relationships with both new and existing followers who engaged with my openness about anxiety and uncertainty. It’s funny how people are most receptive to depressing, yet relatable, content. Followers are just like real friendships: it’s quality over quantity.
The opinions of others are irrelevant, anyway.
To come full circle on this blog post, ponder this hypothetical situation:
I fill up a 24 oz cup of piping hot black coffee at Wawa (the best convenience store in the Northeast).
The person in line behind me yells: “YUCK!”
I look at them, laugh, and proceed to happily sip said coffee.
Just as I would never consider abandoning my beloved coffee because a stranger thought my beverage choice was “too bold,” I will never consider “watering down” my content/personality. Much like that strong, bitter coffee, I’m a lot to handle. While some cringe at my boldness, others can’t start their day without me! 😉