If you are brave enough to be an open conservative on a college campus, especially a liberal campus, you will eventually be no stranger to backlash. The “tolerant” left on campus is quick to strike out against any opposing ideas that might infiltrate their fragile safe space. If you dare speak out in favor of life, liberty, free speech, or capitalism, the Left will call you everything but a milk cow. Here is a short list of some of the things I have been called by my “open-minded” peers: bigot, racist, homophobe, idiot, ugly, inbred, airhead. Many things they have called me are not appropriate for a lady to repeat. But I’m still standing strong. I’m still an outspoken conservative on campus. How? I quickly learned how to handle backlash, and that has made all the difference.
Realization 1: They don’t know the real you
Learning how to handle backlash is not simply learning how to ignore name-calling and pick better friends. Learning how to handle backlash is all about growing a thicker skin and learning to love your critics, not ignore them.
To grow a thicker skin, you must realize why people make ad hominem attacks. If someone attacks your looks or your upbringing, it is because they have no way to combat your argument. Some people love to attack people instead of ideas, but you have to realize that the majority of people calling you ugly, elitist, or narcissistic don’t even know you.
My favorite example of this is when a student at my university devoted several hundred words of a Facebook status to attacking me. Hilariously, she even said “I know this girl, and she’s a racist.” I knew this girl in name only. We had never had a single conversation. We weren’t even Facebook friends. If this girl knew me, I must also know Santa Claus. That’s the kind of friendship we’re talking about here. She made some extremely disparaging comments in this status, but I wasn’t fazed. Why? Why should I let some stranger on the Internet determine my self-worth? Why should I spend a moment of my time worrying about what some professional hater things of me? Should her made-up opinions of me matter more than what my friends and family, people who actually know me, think? Learning to handle backlash require learning to move on and away from people who don’t know you and don’t want to.
Realization 2: Kindness is the Best Reply
As much as I want to dislike people who disparage my name simply for my conservative beliefs, no one should let hate fester inside of them. It would be easy to hate everyone who disagrees with me, but that would make me like the left, and that is the last thing I want to be. If you want to beat the left, be the better person, and handle backlash with grace, you have to be obnoxiously nice to those you seek to knock you down. Nothing makes the left look worse than attacking someone who responds with nothing but sunshine. It will become blatantly clear who the bully is. Kill them with kindness. Not only will you teach me a valuable lesson, but you’ll also save yourself the darkness that comes from holding hate in your heart. I’m not saying you have to befriend your hates, but you shouldn’t respond in the same manner they have attacked you. Don’t sink to their level. Keep a smile on your face, a sparkle on your eye, and you’ll come out on top.
Realization 3: Liberal Weenies Don’t Exist Off the Internet
Of all the horrible things I’ve been called by my “tolerant” liberal peers, I’ve never actually been called any of them to my face. Rather, they’ve come through Facebook comments, instant messages, and tweets. The people that feel the need to attack conservatives like us on the Internet don’t exist in real life. People with similar names and faces may inhabit our classes or our dorms, but the biting comments rarely make it off the Internet and into reality. The Left loves to attack you when they have the safety of a firewall and a Facebook profile picture to protect them. Even when their name is attached to the comment or message, they feel a sense of anonymity that gives them the confidence to name-call and shame you for being who you are. I remember when my classmates on the Internet were calling me a thousand different dirty words, and a family member expressed fear for my physical safety. I simply told them, “I’m fine. They don’t exist off the Internet.” I was right. No one has ever once confronted me to my face about disagreeing with my ideas, and no one has ever dared called me a bigot, racist, or ingrate to my face. I really wish they would, so that I could give them a smile and tell them why they are wrong, but liberal weenies hate confrontation.
Realization 4: Keep Your Friends Close
The final key to handling backlash is surrounding yourself with people who will build you up, not tear you down. This doesn’t mean you should surround yourself solely with fellow conservatives. Homogeny rarely builds character. If I selected my friends solely on their conservative values, I’d have very few friends in college. Rather, I’ve found friends that value ME for my conservatism. Though we disagree on many political issues, we know better than to argue. We have learned to make jokes at our own party’s expense and laugh at each other’s flaws. The support my right to be a proud conservative on a liberal campus, and they are the first to offer their support, and fists, when a stranger attacks me on the Internet.
Backlash will come knocking if you dare speak out as conservative on campus. Don’t let that deter you from being a proud, outspoken conservative. They may call you names, and they may not want to be your friend, but that doesn’t make you any less of a person worthy of love and friendship from the kind of people that actually matter. Don’t let the haters get you down.
As Coco Chanel once said, “I don’t care what you think of me. I don’t think of you at all”