Yesterday it occurred to me that I've been doing a weird thing. I have been responding to SparkFriends' blogs and posts, especially those in which I was trying to say "congratulations," or
or "you did it," or
. I was either celebrating one of their victories with them, or encouraging them to keep on the right track, or sharing their hurt or frustration. The important point is that it was THEIR victory or journey.
Right, CSAgirl: it was their individual victory or journey.
And yet, I have signed off nearly every post and comment with this emoticon:
, which probably would be more appropriate, but
Yesterday, for the first time all month, my emoticon choice struck me as odd. I thought I'd better reflect on my actions, and see what it was telling me. Why was I turning all of those "you's" into "we's"? Why was I turning something that one special person had done into something that we all shared? Is it right that one person's accomplishment became the group's accomplishment? That one person's struggle belongs to the group? My question for myself became this: in saying "WE" instead of "YOU," was I minimizing the heart-felt challenges or the wonderful accomplishments of each special person? Was I undermining the authenticity of their experience? Making each one less special?
Well, I dearly hope not. That certainly wasn't my intention. Rather, I believe I was drawn to the "WE" for deeply held reasons. In my heart, I know that:
* WE are all in this together.
* WE are all enriched by the successes of one another
* WE all share the challenges, even if they show up differently for each one of us
* WE keep each other on track
* WE create a positive energy together that sustains us when we aren't connected by the computer
* WE have a responsibility to one another
* WE all truly CAN do this -- together
Here on SP, individual successes and challenges spark reactions and responses in others; that is one of the ways in which we are powerfully connected. It is one of the key reasons the group is so important to the program. The group isn't possible without all those individuals, but at the same time, each individual is stronger for being a part of the group.
You might ask, why is this sense of belonging to a group so important to me? So important that I reinforce it every time I congratulate, encourage, or reassure someone?
Well, one reason I'm overweight because I haven't felt I'm a part of something for a very long time. One reason I haven't been able to lose the weight is because I have been so isolated and have been trying to do it on my own. As a single parent, I have no choice but to do everything on my own. As a relatively new transplant to a pretty unfriendly part of the country, I have had no choice but to do nearly everything on my own. Truth to tell, I've been here over a decade without making more than a few friends -- which tells you just how unfriendly this part of the country is. I give 110% to my job, but none of my colleagues have my back. They have taken a lot from me, but have not given any moral support in return. I'm out here, by myself, doing the best I can. And I've been struggling.
Here at SP, I know I'm not alone in feeling this way.
Here at SP, I've been able to be a part of a group in which we build each other up, listen to the frustrations, hurts, and challenges, and celebrate one another's successes. When one of us wins, we all win. That is all too rare in this world.
In fact, my weight loss efforts didn't succeed until I became a part of this group. In three weeks, I've lost the 7 lbs I'd tried unsuccessfully to shed for the past year. There's plenty more to go, but it's a heck of a start. I credit the group for my success.
So, on reflection, that's why I unconsciously chose the "WE can do it" icon rather than the "YOU can do it" one. It is one thing to tell other people what THEY need to do ... but really, we all need to do it. Together. I'm committed to that message, and feel it deep in my soul.
We can. We must.