What happens when someone you trust cautions you about a product they purchased? Naturally, you would heed the warnings of the friend who you trust and avoid the product. The same holds true for opinions and beliefs regarding people; we want to avoid the crazies and the the trouble makers. These two scenarios both revolve around trust which is the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing. We trust those we love and those who have built it over time. The value we place on the recommendations from a trusted individual depends on the value we place on the subject being discussed. The cost of a product is numerical and the value we place on it is based on the price tag. Depending on the value of the product and price tag, we may be willing to take a chance. By the same token, the value we place on the information provided is directly proportional to the chance we are willing to take to see if our trusted source was right.
Now what happens, when the rules of reviewing products and people weren’t part of life? And what if there were so many products and options, that it would be exhausting to review each one or ever possible know about each one. And if you wanted to review the product, you had to give the product a chance. And regardless of your review, the decision you made regarding the product had very little impact on the overall reception of the product.
That’s what it’s like living in a city. Being the new girl in town meant very little to me considering I was from Toronto where the lack of social cohesiveness was part of daily life. You had your close friends, family and possibly colleagues who knew who you were as a person. The rest did not impact your life because they were not part of it. In a small town, everyone somehow knows you and where you work and where you came from.
When you’ve had anonymity in the public sector your whole life, you assume that it’s translatable everywhere that you go. The combination of assumed anonymity and the need for escape would prove to be a deadly combination in a town double the size of my high school. I re-experienced high school as the girl who, despite her efforts, was constantly publicly shamed.
The content of these rumors was hurtful and confusing, but what struck me more was the speed at which they traveled and the impact they had on my personal well-being. I internalized the gossip and began to doubt my self worth and value. I became paranoid about what others thought and tried to fix the problem by reminding people that I deserved a chance before being judged. What I didn’t realize was the potential for gossip and rumors is always there; as it is anywhere, I had to learn to devalue it.
The major difference I found was that in a city when gossip starts, it starts inside your circle (because acquaintances do not have any real impact on your life). Through constant contact and resolutions is easier because you can address misinformation within your personal circle of friends, family or colleagues. It is not however easy to address it when rumors circulate without a source or an informant. Then there is no resolution when everyone you know is an acquaintance. So how do you do about confronting and dealing with rumors and gossip?
Here are my tips:
- Everyone is entitled to their opinion. How you choose to react to opinions is entirely up to you. Devaluing the act of gossiping and detaching from it is the first step.
- Gossip and rumors stem from curiosity and fear of the unknown. They will dissipate over time, just be patient.
- Finding things your niche and things to occupy your time and mind will do wonders because it will redirect your focus to productive and healthy things.
- Have a positive self-image and remind yourself of it daily. Self-care and honoring who you are in difficult times will build character and resilience.
- Don’t try to change anyone’s mind, it won’t work. Just let it go.
- And lastly, live for you and no one else.