By Karen L. Waite, Ph. D.
If you are a friend on my personal Facebook page, I’m sure at some point you’ve thought “Why does this insufferable woman post so much? And why does she always post about her FAILURES? Who DOES that?” Great news. I’m hoping to clear that up for you with this post. But first…one of my “failures” (in quotes because “failure” is a relative term. I was on the horse, I stayed on the horse, and was in the pen, so…). On this particular occasion, we started one set of spins with a little too much enthusiasm, and then V got VERY excited about her fancy lead changes so she threw in an extra for good measure. Plus I’m still getting used to the idea of just “letting her go”. Anything that resembles speed feels like super turbo to me.
Back to the matter at hand, there are two main reasons for my either daily, or several times daily, Seinfeld-esque posts about “nothing”. First, my almost 83 year-old mother can’t get out quite as much as she once did, but she can use Facebook. She loves people watching, and now she can do it from her chair! Facebook is a great way for her to keep up with what’s happening and I want her to know what’s going on…and even more importantly, when she “Likes” something I’ve posted, I know she’s ok. The peace of mind that comes with that is priceless.
Second, Mark Zuckerberg says I can. Facebook is my personal scrapbook, diary of daily events, or whatever else you want to call it. Russian hacks not withstanding when I’m 83, my memories from 30 years ago will pop up in that delightful orange box, asking if I want to share them. You betcha, I do, Mark Zuckerberg.
In addition to those two things, however, there is one additional reason I post so much about the good things, the bad things, and the totally mundane, ridiculous things. I think that Facebook, and social media in general, lacks the authenticity and “realness” that makes up an actual life. Success happens, failure happens, happiness happens and sometimes, very, very hard times happen. I work with a fair number of youth and college age students, and sometimes even adults, and I try to be a good role model. (And yes, I fall down on this front consistently as well.) I want them to see that a person can have a pretty successful life full of things they enjoy, judging horse shows, being blessed to travel all over the country and even world, while at the same time being afraid of chickens, and forgetting which way or how many times to spin in a reining pattern. Repeatedly. And they can own all of it. It’s 100% theirs. Someday, they’ll realize that IRL (in real life, for those who don’t know), the journey to the success makes up a much larger and more interesting part of the actual success. Oh sure, your mom cares that you won, but honestly, If someone wins at a horse show, I’m MUCH more interested in the effort that went into it for weeks, months, or years prior. How they fell down 7 times and got up 8. What they had to overcome, and just how much grit they have. That to me is much more interesting than the (nifty) cooler they won.
But what if you’re just not particularly gritty and you can’t possibly imagine that you’ll EVER be as successful as “those people” you see on Facebook? What if grit is genetic, or you’re born with as much as you’ll ever have? The good news is that grit isn’t just for chickens anymore! Grit is an actual psychological skill that you can develop if you’re lacking. There is an entire book about it, in fact. You might want to check it out: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perserverance Duckworth says of the high achievers she has studied “Apparently it was critically important-and not at all easy-to keep going after failure. “Some people are great when things are going well, but they fall apart when they aren’t.” This book shares accounts of those who learned to keep going, and in all honesty, that’s what sets them apart from others. That’s why I post the good and the bad…a failure is just a step on the staircase. And yes, I realize that in the big scheme of things, “failing” at a horse show is pretty small…but we learn to handle big things by surviving the small ones.
If you don’t have time to read an actual book, you can get the audio version and listen while you drive, clean stalls, or even while you work out. And one day (probably before you’re 83), maybe Facebook will show you that memory of the day when your horse leaped into a spin in Green Reiner. And hopefully by then you’ll have stuck with it long enough that your Green days are long behind you, “speed” is actually fast and maybe you’ll even be a Rookie by then!