A Letter to a Random Girl on Instagram

Dear Stranger,

I saw what you said.

“u know when all ur friends have there bellys out and your the chunky one in the middle, literally me :(“

If you don’t remember when or where you said this, I’ll help remind you. A few days ago, you posted a comment on a photo that a well-known company shared. The company shared a picture of 15 girls wearing their latest workout clothing line. These girls were ending a weekend of a lifetime, making sure to thank this company for believing in their community and for sponsoring this incredible weekend. These 15 girls were my friends and myself. The chunky one in the middle was literally ME.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that reading your comment didn’t hurt. I’m not going to act like I didn’t read it over and over again, crying harder each time. I’m not going to lie to you and say that I easily brushed it off. What I will do, though, is use your unnecessarily upsetting comment to shed light on a situation much larger than mine.

I’m hoping that by sharing the comment mentioned earlier, you were trying show that you can relate to the “chunky girl in the middle”, rather than sharing it because you were trying to hurt her (A.K.A. me). Regardless of your intentions, your comment DID hurt me. But fortunately, I’m not the same girl I was years ago. I’m a healthy and strong human and I have an endless supply of love and support coming from the empowering community of women that I’m surrounded by. I was able to walk away from your comment (although it did take some time) feeling stronger and more empowered than ever before. I wish I could say the same thing about every other girl who has been affected by comments like yours.

The crazy thing about the internet is that EVERYONE has access to EVERYTHING. People who you have never met before can see pictures of you and vice versa. What these people choose to do when they see pictures of you is up to them, which is pretty scary when you think about it.

Because everything and everyone is on the internet these days, you don’t know 99% of the people in the pictures you see on a daily basis. You don’t know their names, you don’t know their story, you don’t know their struggles. Whether this person is “insta famous” or a random girl who was standing next to a distant high school friend in a picture, it’s safe to assume that you’ve only seen a tiny glimpse of their lives – and that glimpse is only what they want you to see. You don’t genuinely know these people.

You had no idea who I was, yet you chose to post a comment about my body anyway. What if I was someone who struggled with depression? Or someone who suffered from an eating disorder? Or maybe someone who struggled to appreciate the person I’ve become? A comment from a random girl on the internet could have broken my already broken spirits even more. Thankfully, I’m none of these people. But I can’t say the same about other girls out there who may be struggling to love themselves. There are girls out there who DO suffer from depression, eating disorders and a lack of self-appreciation. You may not realize it when you post things like that, but what you say can and does affect these girls, regardless of whether or not you know who they are.

So next time you think you need to share a comment that may not be kind or empowering, do us all a favor. Keep it to yourself.

Naturally,

Ari.

 

Toxic Friends: It’s Okay to Let Go

Recently, I’ve reconnected with my childhood best friend and we’ve been spending more quality time together than we have in quite some time. We both lead such busy lives that it’s hard to keep up with each other so during our time together, we spend a lot of time catching up and reflecting. Yesterday, we got on the subject of toxic friends. It all started with a simple question – “How are you and X?”. There was a moment of awkward silence before I gathered my thoughts and said “I haven’t talked to X in months… she’s not really a part of my life anymore”. Understandably, my friend was surprised and confused by my response, and so we got to talking about toxic friends.

We all have a toxic friend or two at some point in our lives, whether we know it or not. The worst part about having toxic friends is that it can be so difficult to pinpoint if someone is or isn’t a toxic friend, especially when you’re blinded by the really, really good moments. There are so many different kinds of toxic friends: friends who expect you to drop everything you’re doing to help them, but are never around when you need it; friends who are constantly complaining about themselves, other people and even you; friends that you always have to reach out to for plans; friends that always have to have higher highs or lower lows than you; friends who can’t let you be in the spotlight for even a moment; and friends who can only hang out with you when you’re both inebriated are just a few examples.

I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m constantly asking myself “Does this make me happy?”. As cliche as it sounds, life is far too short to do things that don’t bring you happiness. Hate your job? Leave it. Hate your major? Switch it. Don’t like going to the bar? Stop going. The same should apply to the people you spend your time with. If your friend brings negativity into your life more often than she brings you joy, that’s a sign that they’re toxic and it’s probably time to cut ties.

Once, someone told me that you become the people you spend your time with. I have no idea who told me this, but I could not thank them enough. I don’t want to become someone who makes my friends feel ashamed of who they are, who always has to be better than someone else, who has to be drunk to have a good time, or someone who brings negativity and takes happiness from someone else. I don’t want to become a toxic friend just because I’m too afraid to get rid of my own.

I know. It’s so hard to leave a friend behind when you’ve spent so many days, weeks, months and years together. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who you’ve shared birthdays with, grieved over broken hearts with and celebrated successes with. But take this as your sign. It may be hard, but it’s okay.

You don’t have to cause some huge ordeal or confrontation to get rid of your toxic friends. It can be as simple as spending more time with people who you’re proud to be friends with, and less time with your toxic friend. More often than not, if they’re a toxic friend, they probably won’t even notice that you’ve stopped putting in the effort anyway. That’s how it worked in my situation.

Once the friendship fizzled out, I noticed that I was still feeling negative every time X would post something on social media. So I took it upon myself to unfollow her on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. I stopped responding to the insincere, obligatory “I miss you” texts. I didn’t cause a dramatic scene. I just silently let things naturally fall apart. It was tough to hit the unfollow button and to delete texts but I’m so much happier without someone dragging me down with them.

By cutting ties with a toxic friend, you’re not losing the good memories. You’ll always have those. By cutting ties, you’re losing the hurt feelings and negative energy. You’ll become more proud of the person you’re becoming and the people you surround yourself with.

It’s not going to be easy. But it will be okay.

Naturally,

Ari.