"Issa Debut": Addressing Social Media Pressure to Date in Silence

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you may know by now that I have announced my relationship.  [Yes, that's right yah girl gotta man!] I'll be honest, it wasn’t an easy decision to announce my relationship. I thought very carefully about whether or not I should announce it at all. I wasn’t hiding him like Drake was hiding his baby, but this also wasn't my first rodeo. I've debuted a relationship before; I posted enduring declarations of affection and all the work of a sappy love story. Next thing I knew, everything went to hell, and I'm standing in a middle of tired ass social media pictures with, what feels like, the world watching me. And so, there I was discretely deleting pictures and hoping the world would forget about the one time my dumb ass was in love.  

I told myself that I would never post another relationship! Shit, my plan was to either pop up engaged or pop up with a two-year-old. There would be no in between!  In fact, I admired one of my homegirls who had never posted her boyfriend or her fiancé.  She simply updated her Facebook relationship status to married and changed her profile picture to her and her husband on their wedding day. TALK ABOUT BREAKING THE FUCKING INTERNET!  I had completely subscribed to the millennial, social media-aged motto, "When you build in silence, they don't know what to attack." 

Fast-forward to Fall, 2018. I’m happily dating a wonderful man, and I’m also plagued by my own thoughts, "Should I put this on social media?" Let me be clear, my partner is the greatest, AND I also couldn't stop thinking,  "When you take your wins in private, you also take your Ls in private." (Something that I've certainly seen on social media)

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At the end of October, my friend posted a relationship announcement with the caption, "Issa Debut." Now, this is the same person who told me he WOULD NEVER post another relationship on social media until he was married. So imagine my surprise when the announcement popped up on the gram!  Conveniently, the next week we met in Atlanta to catch up on all the things. Reflecting on my own relationship,  I inquired about his relationship announcement. He indicated that he realized his value for love, marriage, and family more than he feared what folks might say.

Whew child… The READ!

I began to reconsider how I was letting my fear dictate my actions or lack thereof.  I thought it ironic how I was supposedly "building in silence," but I still updated my Instastory with my fitness progress, LinkedIn with my accomplishments, Twitter with my social commentary, Facebook with my travels, and my blog with intimate details of my life.  So what exactly was I "building I silence?" I have always lived out loud, so why was I dating in silence?  My love is loud!  

This post is not to shame folks who don't showcase their relationships on digital platforms but to acknowledge and affirm those of us who want to love out loud and are afraid. I have had to do my own work around social media and dating, and this post is apart of that work because it helps me to add language to complicated emotions. Here are a few things I’ve been working through:

  1. Negotiating the amount of power that I lend to social media critics. We give folks too much power, and we allow them to dictate our decisions. I’ve come to the understanding that people will ALWAYS have an opinion about my life! I’m just taking my power back & doing the things I want to do.

  2. Beginning with the end in mind. This approach seems to work well for everything except relationships. In some corridor of my mind, I was preparing myself for a soft landing after all this romance stuff crashed and burned. I was protecting myself out of fear rather than out of self-worth and that is really no way to love.

  3. Getting Out of My Own Way. I wrote a whole blog called, Out Running Fear: Toward a Life of Purpose, where I detailed how fear had begun to dictate areas of my life—fitness, professional, and romantic spheres. So there was a little shame that I was back in this place of allowing my fears and anxieties to self-sabotage my happiness.

  4. Practicing self-compassion. My personal philosophy is that, “life is process,” and I’m beginning to understand that the process is not exactly linear. For a while, I’ve thought of my process as a lifelong journey of moving uphill, but this is too idealistic for what I’ve experienced. Beverly Tatum (2003) compared racial identity development to moving up a spiral staircase. “As you proceed up each level, you have a sense that you have passed this way before, but you are not in exactly the same spot” (p. 75). I akin this proverbial spiral staircase to my own processes. I have days when I let fear and anxiety control my choices and days when it’s hard to practice self-compassion. However, with every eventuality, I’m better at responding and meeting myself with grace, love, and kindness.

    Be Loud. Be Proud. & Remember that the Magic is in the Process.

    Peace,

    Natasha L.