"Likes" Can Be Deceiving

I don't usually write posts back to back, but sometimes there's more and it just doesn't belong in the same place...

Being with Elijah made me recall what it was like to be young. Eight years old was a magic time in most ways. I wasn't shy about affection and still hugged Dad and smelled the smoke on his face when he returned home from his work as a firefighter. I never apologized for sitting on Mom's lap or asking for squeezable dolls for Christmas. And I played outside from sun up to sun down, acquiring the dark-skinned complexion that inspired the nickname "Indian."

There was no preparation for all the changes that later occurred in my teenage years. I'd gone from one who was involved in several sports to almost nothing. My clear, Ivory skin complexion now featured the regular appearance of one single Mount Everest zit that painfully emerged from my chin or, worse, the tip of my nose. The food that fueled my energy for running after balls on fields and courts now had nowhere to go, so I gained a lot of weight.

When I said out loud that I was fat, Mom said I was equally proportioned, which I interpreted to mean I was fat from head to toe. Others called me pleasingly plump. To make matters worse, since I had no penchant for fashion primping and makeup, I still wore my hair in a pony tail. I'd retained my olive complexion, though, so I looked like an Italian boy who ate a lot of meatballs.

When I raised my own teens, I read that teenagers can experience extreme fatigue, because their body parts are all playing catch up to one another. Their organs grow at different paces. A girl can be tall and lanky, with long arms and a short torso while her lungs have not caught up to all the change, so she's fatigued all the time. Add weight gain and "women" issues, and, for me, I slept standing up.

Each stage of life had it's pinacle experience. When you're little, you're liked because you're little. Later, sports was a big congratulatory experience. But when that was left behind in the heap with my dolls, I'd lost my compass, and, though I couldn't name what was gone, I'd lost my goal, and my sense of purpose and likeability. Hanging out with boys proved to be one way I was able to continue sports and gain some of that back, while making the awkward transition to womanhood. Boys preferred sports to, say makeup and hair, and they were always willing to play since I competed well. Win-win! That eventually funneled into the dating experience: the new confusion. But I won't even go there.

While it's natural to want to be liked, it can lead down a slippery slope when you're too invested in it and especially if you don't like yourself first. It can make a social person reclusive and self-conscious or keep one so busy there isn't time to identify it's awful grip. And now with the introduction of social media's "likes," the pleasure and convenience of a computer can turn into a hellacious experience of self-consciousness for those whose internal clock is set by approval. Like a "help wanted" sign posted in a hair salon, in social media, everybody needs their following. While there's nothing wrong with that, it can go haywire for approval junkies, like me.

A good friend suggested that I open my business to Twitter, Facebook and yadda yadda, and I noticed that each one leads into the other, like a river. When you place your business page on Facebook, you need to have thirty "likes" to receive "insights." Insights are basically metrics that can deliver an approval junkie into a maze of distraction. But it can also lead to a blessed, needed reality check.

A woman in recovery once told me that her mother spoke unbearably harsh to her. She said, "Since I've been in recovery, I've learned to listen with one ear open... just in case she says something I need to hear." I loved that! And that's probably the best way to view "insights."

I've also learned that sometimes the one we need to hear from most of all speaks from a still, small voice within.