We’re a couple days into January so it might be uncool to talk about something from last year, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
One of my most memorable moments from 2016 was when a particular woman reached out to me on Tumblr. I don’t get a whole lot of messages on Tumblr, and when I do most of them are the same, so I wasn’t expecting much when I logged in and saw the notification. To my surprise it was a very lengthy message from a woman who started off by describing herself as middle-aged, conservative, and Christian. Oh shit, I thought, she’s going to out me and berate me for all these vile things I do. I’ll admit, I passed an immediate judgment based on her self-description, and was thus prepared to read something that would probably make me roll my eyes. She explained how she passed an immediate judgment on me as well, and how her first reaction was to be angry with me. See, apparently her teenage son had been following my Tumblr, and one day she caught him, um, enjoying my pictures. She told me how she looked at my page, to see just what her son was looking at. She told me how appalled she was at my content. Not only was I posting nudes but I had the nerve to have tattoos and piercings! She was in shock that her son was attracted to someone like me. She thought I had corrupted him, and she even began questioning her ability to be a good mother.
She went on to tell me that she took some time after her initial trauma to calm down and think things through. She talked with her son, and tried to understand why he was drawn to me. She even made an effort to get to know me better, at least as much as my social media allows. And in the end, she decided to message me because she wanted to thank me.
Even though she didn’t necessarily agree with my choices, she was moved to tell me how much she respected me for being myself. She complimented my confidence and began to see me as a positive female image instead of something wretched and immoral. She told me that I have qualities she would want her own daughter to have. She grew to see me as a role model of sorts, and ended up being proud of her son for following me.
Oh shit, I thought, did that actually happen? I re-read her message several times. It took me a while to process it, and in truth I was upset with myself for initially judging this woman. She had to look very deep within herself and cross some precarious metaphorical bridges to reach out to me like she did. I grew to have a similar change of heart. I wrote back to her, knowing that she was someone I could respect despite our different outlooks on life.
See, I don’t try to influence anyone. I know it might seem that way at times, because I know how to come across rationally and persuasively, but I’m not here to preach my lifestyle. If anything, I’m just trying to be the most authentic version of myself I can be. When I write about things, they are my honest thoughts and reactions. When I post pictures it’s because I like how I look (and yeah, I enjoy the attention I get from it too). But I was really proud of myself that day, because this woman’s message was evidence that authenticity can speak volumes. I never told her to change her mind about me or question her beliefs. That was all on her. If anything, I created a safe space for her to think of her own thoughts. I believe that being true to yourself breeds authenticity in others, and I’m incredibly humbled to be part of that experience in someone else’s life.
Plus, all of this was centered around sex positivity, which is something I care about very deeply. I was impressed by her ability to talk with her son about sexuality in such an open way, even though it was undeniably awkward for both of them. I respect her for actually listening to him and having an open discussion about a topic that is so often fraught with incredibly harsh judgments. Just for that, I think she’s an incredible mother.
I don’t know if she keeps up with me, or even if her son still follows me, but I would want her to know that our brief interaction really touched me. At the time of this writing, I have roughly 10,000 people following me on various sites. Even though I appreciate all the nice comments I get, they become a blur after a while. It’s messages like hers that truly stand out. Knowing that I’ve made an impact on someone’s life just for being myself is the most wonderful feeling.
Happy 2017, everyone. Remember to do YOU.