Several months ago, I got a Facebook friend request that surprised me, from a mom I’ve been acquainted with for several years through school. Our paths have crossed through various sports and school parties, but we don’t know each other at all and normally wouldn’t get past that “how’s your kid doing?” type of conversation.
This mom is a confident woman. She’s successful in the business world. She’s comfortable in leadership positions.
In other words, she’s the opposite of me.
My own bad experiences in high school (I was the middle-class kid in a very small school populated largely by the Ivy-league crowd) lead me to instinctively fear people like this mom. And by “fear” I mean “do anything I can to avoid having to be near” such people.
That’s not conducive to getting to know someone.
That doesn’t help you dispel the crazy illusions you have that someone else, someone you really don’t know, leads a charmed life where everything is perfectly perfect.
My fear of confident, successful leaders, it turns out, is born of a bad combination of social anxiety and jealousy.
There. I said it.
Anyway, I accepted the friend request and didn’t think anything of it.
Over the past few months, this mom has shared some things that have opened my eyes.
She does not live the charmed life I thought she did. This is not because she was ever lying about her life–it’s about the assumptions I made given the little I knew.
Her life is not perfect. She has problems too. She has trials and struggles and difficult situations.
She’s just like the rest of us, trying to make the best of things.
This mom has been gifted with confidence and leadership abilities. She uses them at work and she uses them as she volunteers to help her children’s schools. She’s a hard worker, not standing on some perfect pedestal.
So for those people who say that spending time on social media is useless, I’m sharing this story. If I had not made this Facebook connection, I’d never have learned that someone I thought was so perfect, who had it all, has problems too.
I’d never have had the opportunity to feel less jealousy and more compassion.
I’m still working on the social anxiety part, but this is a big step in the right direction.