Note: I shared this anecdote on LinkedIn the other day and the response has been strong and passionate, so I wanted to share the story here, too. I hope it connects with some of you who have experienced similar things. xo

During my job search in early 2018, I found a really mean-spirited post about me on LinkedIn.

It was from a person to whom I’d never been anything but nice, and had known from working with him tangentially at past companies. But he slammed my career (and the careers of others), basically saying I was mediocre and overrated. And he made a point to tag me and the others in the post so we’d be sure to read it.

I’m not sure why he posted it, but it hurt when I was already doubting myself after a lay-off – my second layoff in as many years – and in a seemingly an endless and sometimes demoralizing search for a new role.

But here’s what I learned.

I’ve been carrying around a mental suitcase full of the shitty things people have said to or about me. For years, like a weighty, clunky collection I drag behind me everywhere I go.

People have regularly – and publicly – slammed my weight, my appearance, my intelligence, my laugh, my work, and more. It’s heavy. It’s painful. And more than once I’ve felt like changing course or giving up because I started to believe the terrible things people said. (I’ve even made my own mistakes channeling that pain into saying unkind things about others, albeit not publicly like this, but that confessional is for another post).

But somehow, in all these years, I haven’t also brought along the truckload of *amazing* things people who matter a lot more to me have said over the years. People who have demonstrated that they care and invested in me as a human, but whose kind words and support were more easily dismissed.

Part of letting go of the burden of consistent and repeated self-doubt was to STOP lugging around the crummy comments of people who haven’t earned the space they’re taking up in my head.

Instead, we owe it to the people who love and support us (and who demonstrate that support with their words and actions) to invest in THEIR words, not the words of small people. Otherwise, we’re saying their feelings and opinions somehow matter less than those who want to hurt us. That’s hopelessly backwards.

I’m sharing this because I hope that you too can quit carrying around the extra baggage. Set it down. Stop letting unkind people rent space in your head. And make room instead for the whole world of people waiting out there to cheer you on.

There are more of them out there than you think. And they’re the ones who deserve your attention.