My haters and I have a common enemy: me. When my haters talk shit, I usually assume they're right. If someone online calls me "trash," I'm like, absolutely! Apparently, one of the benefits of having low self-esteem is that I am rarely caught off-guard by negative assessments of myself. I always knew I was shitty; what took you so long to figure it out?
Of course, it would be self-centered grandiosity to say that my haters are always right, as this would mean that I'm the worst person ever: the queen of the shits. While I am both self-centered and grandiose, I know that I'm not the very worst. There are times when even I disagree with my haters.
One of these times is when people say that I am "romanticizing" mental illness, or that I shouldn't be joking about depression and anxiety. To that I say: Bitch, this is my depression and anxiety, and I can do with them what I want. It seems pretty ableist to tell people with mental illnesses that there are "correct" and "incorrect" ways of speaking about their own condition. Should I be eternally solemn? Speak only in hushed tones? Should people with anxiety and depression be serious and grim all the time, or are we allowed to ever laugh or smile? If we laugh or smile, does that invalidate our conditions?
As for romanticizing depression, I wish I had that kind of power. I wish I had the ability to make depression seem like something unique, precious, or beautiful, so that everyone who struggles felt special. If depression were considered sexy, it would probably do a lot to ease the stigma in our culture. But, unfortunately, I do not have that power. I think when people say "romanticizing," they're referring to the power of humor to create a little distance from my condition. This allows me to feel more like a witness and less like a victim. Perhaps they would prefer I was a victim.
Yet most of the time, my haters and I are in agreement. It seems amazing to me that some people can never admit that their haters might be right. What would it be like to have that kind of self-esteem? I'm also curious about people who consider the bearer of any form of critique a hater. The word "hater" connotes a troll or adversary—someone who tries to take down another person simply for the sake of being a dick. But what if the critique is valid? Is the hater still a hater, or is she a teacher?
I could probably stand to learn a bit from these hater-immune people. Recently, I searched for memes about haters and got a course in the kind of self-confidence other people walk around with every day. While I can't say that I learned how to believe in myself, I was amazed by what I found.
One popular meme is: Haters make me famous. This is an interesting philosophy. It's sort of like the old Andy Warhol adage, "Don't pay attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches." Of course, to reap the benefits of this philosophy, your goal has to be fame at any cost. I don't think that's my goal, but it would definitely be liberating to view anyone who bothers talking about me—good or bad—as supporting me in a way. The Kanye quote, "Love your haters: They're your biggest fans" and the meme Dear Haters, I'm flattered that I'm always a trending topic in your life are based on similar philosophies.
A derivation of this theory is further explored in the meme, Have you ever met a hater doing better than you? Me neither. The thesis of this meme is that all hateration stems from jealousy. I think I would find this meme soothing—even intoxicating—if I didn't have a fear of success. Unfortunately, anything I achieve usually feels like a mistake. If someone is jealous, they likely see that I am a piece of shit and no more deserving of success than they are. The hater sees the truth! Thus, there is nothing calming to me about jealousy underlying the hating.
My favorite hater meme is, Dear haters, I have so much more for you to be mad at. Just be patient. This is of course founded on the classical philosophy of Haters gonna hate, with its underlying principle that you can't please everyone. There is something comforting in knowing that I'm damned if I do or don't. Haters are inevitable, and just because a hater hates doesn't mean I automatically did something wrong. I take solace in the realization that the river of haterade is going to flow no matter what.
In examining the annals of hateitude, I see how it could be argued that critique rarely comes from an objective place. One could contend that we are all human beings with egos, only God can judge, and let he who is without sin cast the first internet call-out. But if I disagree with the tone of a critique, does it automatically invalidate the critique itself? Should we block all of those who seem to be railing against us, or should we be listening to our "haters" for that pearl of wisdom about ourselves?
If I ever do garner a core sense of self-esteem (they say you get it from doing esteemable acts), I hope to find a balanced approach to my haters. Perhaps if I become more successful, I can find a hater intern to sift through the critique for me and say "this is something you need to hear" and "this bro is just trying to be a dick." But chances are I will end up micromanaging that intern. I just can't bear to miss anything said about me, good or bad.