6 Quotes On Overcoming Obstacles (From A Woman Who Knows)

Images via TED
“In 1998, I lost my reputation and my dignity,” Monica Lewinsky said in her recent TED Talk, The Price of Shame. “I lost almost everything, and I almost lost my life.” Now 41, she has spent nearly two decades recovering from her overnight ascent from unknown intern to one of the most reviled women in America — and come out on the other side as a leading advocate for victims of bullying and harassment.

“I was patient zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously,” she said in her speech, admitting that the journey to reclaim your identity after this kind of large-scale victimization is harrowing but that, with empathy and compassion, it can be done. We were inspired and moved by Lewinsky’s insight into how to solve the digital age’s public shaming problem, and while we would definitely recommend watching the entire video (see below) these six moments resonated with us long after Monica left the podium.

1. “I was seen by many, but actually known by few. And, I get it: It was easy to forget that that woman was dimensional, had a soul, and was once unbroken.”
Whether we’re talking about Monica Lewinsky or the man who was recently fat-shamed for dancing in public, it’s easy to forget that behind the Twitter pic is a real human being with feelings. “I was branded as a tramp, tart, slut, whore, bimbo, and of course, 'that woman,'” said Lewinsky, who holds a Masters of Science from the London School of Economics. She is, of course, so much more than that — all victims are, which the public often forgets.

2. “There is a very personal price to public humiliation, and the growth of the Internet has jacked up that price.”
Prior to the Clinton impeachment scandal, the world was still getting its news through the radio, newspapers, and magazines; the Internet was only beginning to encroach on our minds 24/7 with its constant news cycle. Lewinsky suggests that it’s the advertisers who feed the beast: “The price does not measure the cost to the victim...but the price measures the profit of those who prey on them.” To be a conscientious consumer means to skip the salacious headlines to keep from contributing to the larger problem.

3. “We’re in a dangerous cycle. The more we click on this kind of gossip, the more numb we get to the human lives behind it.”
The more normalized trolling and bullying becomes, the more we tolerate it as part of Internet culture. Lewinsky encouraged members of the digital community to counter harassment with messages of positive support, as well as to report it when they see it. “The more we saturate our culture with public shaming...the more we will see behavior like cyber-bullying, trolling, some forms of hacking, and online harassment. Why? Because they all have humilation at their cores. This behavior is a symptom of a culture we’ve created.”

4. “I admit I made mistakes — especially wearing that beret.”
Lewinsky kicked off her speech with a mea culpa, owning up to her own missteps and asking the audience, by a show of hands, if they had regrets from their days of being 22. “Not a day goes by that I'm not reminded of my mistake, and I regret that mistake deeply,” she said. But, by owning her decisions, she is able to liberate herself from victimhood — and even laugh about the fashion faux pas that contributed to her pseudo-celebrity. To see her standing tall today is an empowering signal to victims everywhere that it’s possible to overcome their struggles and be known for something new.

5. “We all want to be heard, but let’s acknowledge the difference between speaking up with intention and speaking up for attention.”
With all the outlets for communication at our disposal, it’s hard to know when to quiet down. Thinking about why you’re sharing something might make a difference in letting a fire die out or throwing gasoline on the flames.

6. "Anyone who is suffering from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing: You can survive it...you can insist on a different ending to your story. Have compassion for yourself. We all deserve compassion, and to live both online and off in a more compassionate world."
This statement stands on its own: Monica Lewinsky is living it, and we can't wait to see what move she makes next.
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