Last night I was reminiscing on some of the decisions I’ve made and I felt such a sense of embarrassment I almost grabbed an anxiety pill to control the cringe. I’m in my early 30’s but I still look back on moments in my life with shame and horror. I’ve made some BAD decisions. Terrible ones. To be honest, I can’t always remember or understand why I made the choices I did. I don’t think I could possibly explain my rationale because I’m not sure there was anything rational about some of those decisions.
While I can’t explain the “logic” behind some of my more terrible choices, I can explain what was going on in my life during many of those times. I was and still wrestle with being insecure and depressed. For several years I was suicidal. I was trying to survive a sexual assault and for too many years I did so without anyone’s support. I was under the influence of two narcissistic and abusive parents AND their toxic spouses. I was coming to terms with my sexual identity, my spiritual and political beliefs, and doing so in a legalistic and controlling environment. And generally, I was just completely lost and miserable.
I have often felt like I am trying on different choices and mentalities, just to see if they fit. Cuss out a sibling over a minor infraction? Maybe that fits. Say some really offensive stuff to a person who just lost a family member? Let’s see how that one feels. Do something extremely petty and cruel to a friend? We’ll slip into that too. I was trying all of these things on, like a character, and unfortunately I hurt a lot of people while I did it.
I’m very grateful that social media was in its infancy while I was going through this damaging and destructive phase. My MySpace account has long been deleted. My old Facebook account from back then was deleted years ago too. Even a Twitter account I had in my mid-twenties is gone. To my knowledge there isn’t too terribly much from that time in my life that people could pull up and use against me, but if they could and if they did, I would deserve to be canceled too.
While I never used racial or homophobic slurs, I have definitely had questionable and harmful beliefs that I was still working out. I wrote a blog post in 2008, for example, about how people who voted for Obama were all Sheeple following an anti-Christ type character. (Yes. I did that. I’m not proud of it.) I also subscribed to the idea of “love the sinner, not the sin” and believed gay people went to hell, all the while stuffing my own bisexuality down as far as I could. I didn’t even come out to my own partner until six years ago, four years into our marriage.
Yes, I deserve to be cancelled. I deserve to face the mistakes I’ve made and feel the consequences of them. And I have felt many of them already. Friendships were ended, relationships fell apart, and I lost the respect of people whom I desperately wanted the respect of. I’ve had to start fresh more than once. I’ve had to look back on content I’ve created, things I have said or written, and purge them from the internet, hoping to distance myself from them.
I have made mistakes. I have made the wrong choice over and over again. And I have a lot left to apologize for.
But, the key is in the apologizing. The only way to survive Cancel Culture is to embrace it with humility. You have to face your past mistakes and poor choices and you have to own them. Don’t deny, as some people choose to do. And don’t deflect, as others also do. Simply accept the consequences of your actions and then do all you can to learn from them and be better.
Everyday I am endeavoring to be better. And I will still make mistakes, I will likely still look back with regret and shame, but I know that at least now I am trying. And I hope, if ever I do get cancelled, as I rightfully should, I can work through that humble pie with dignity and determination. Because we have all done things worthy of cancellation. So, let us also do things and become people worthy of redemption.