Invariably, when I write down a list of how I’d like others to treat me, I make it to #3, and then I start over-thinking it, and never write the rest. It’s partly because it makes me feel vulnerable to write it down for myself, let alone a blog audience, and like so many of us, vulnerability is scary to me. It’s also intertwined with my entrepreneurial journey- if you ever want to start the process of going within, of being vulnerable, to introspect, to plumb the depths of who you are and to find out what you are capable of, I suggest becoming an entrepreneur. I am getting ahead of myself, so let me start again. As I wrote about for the ‘woman of substance‘ series and of which this is a continuation, I’d like to list 4 things/ways/ ideals that are most important to me in how I am treated by others. This is not an endorsement of the ‘golden rule’ – treat others the way you want to be treated- apparently, that line of thinking may have flaws. I can’t speak to that so instead, I just want to list the 4 things that are important to me personally in how I am treated.
- I’d like to be treated with courtesy. Courtesy that is not dependent on my age, gender, appearance, academic degrees, my financial and social status, my accomplishments or lack thereof – I am sure there are other labels, just add them here. No matter what, I’d like to be treated with courtesy. I promise to do the same.
- I’d like to not be ‘slotted’- probably all of us, in varying degrees, do this. But I would love if someone would actually wait to get to know me before they put me in a box and labeled me. Can any of us ever be labeled? It seems so one-dimensional! This is not my area of expertise but from a personal point of view, surely we are not just one label or another- it’s but a facet of so much more. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother and I try my best at all those roles. I was bullied in school and as an adult, and have learnt to stand up for myself. I can make a really good chocolate milkshake. I have multiple graduate degrees. I fail, succeed and try dozens of times every day. I don’t like to quit. I secretly believe in Bingley’s excuse for sloppy handwriting (“My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them…”) because mine is quite illegible. I am scared of vulnerability but am learning how it can be the road to expressing my most authentic self. And on and on. I don’t want a box with a label to get in the way of getting to know someone and hope you will do the same for me.
- I am also requesting that condescension be left out.
- I’d like for people to respect my dreams and I make a firm promise that I will treat yours with the reverence all dreams deserve. This one was the toughest one for me to write here. You may say respect has to be earned or it takes time before you get the measure of a person and you award them respect. I want to humbly suggest the reverse, that like many online customer feedback or store ratings, we start with 100% for everyone. Let me tell you a little story. I founded Collectivitea last November. It’s an independent marketplace for artisans, creatives, designers, makers, treasure hunters and organizations working on many causes. We are growing, and it thrills me no end! When I started it, I got, and continue to receive fantastic support from my family, friends and so many of you here. I also got lots of ‘what are you trying to do, there are other marketplaces, is it going to go anywhere’ questions from people trying to understand if this was a good choice for me. They offered advice, and helped mitigate many rookie mistakes. I cherish their honest feedback and couldn’t have gotten this far without them. But I also got eye rolls, subtle and not-so-subtle digs, and general put-downs. I tried to ignore them, but some did get under my skin, and they hurt. Why do we need to do that to each other? That may seem ridiculously naive to ask, but why do we need to undermine others to feel better about ourselves? Why are we afraid and react quickly to squash them or as someone I know is fond of saying, ‘put them in their place’? It’s like we are in a jungle and we constantly need to remind each other who is higher or lower on the food chain. I will be forever grateful to all those who offered support, advice, constructive feedback, ideas on how to grow and where to cut back. I don’t know how far I can take the marketplace- if I already knew all the answers, I wouldn’t have to try. 🙂 From my perspective, I’ve already dared greatly (and believe me, having seen how much behind-the-scenes effort is involved in getting everything to work + we are also bootstrapping the project, I am really proud of us). I wanted to do something. I was terrified but I tried anyway and we will see how it grows. I’ve already accomplished what I set out to do- to believe in myself, to have to courage to dream, to turn it into reality. And most importantly, to embrace my vulnerability. So next time someone does you the honor of sharing their dreams, no matter how wild it is, listen, advice and give support that is in your capacity. This doesn’t mean you blind yourself to reality- somethings are doable, others aren’t- be honest, always respect their right to dream and know that to them, it’s their heart out there. I promise you will always find in me a willing ear and a helping hand. I know social media encourages us to show only an impossible and endlessly cheerful reel of life, but there is beauty in dreams, in struggle, in working hard, in courage, in effort and in being honest.
I initially struggled to put the words down but it is very liberating to actually have written this. I feel amazingly light and free and ready for the next step. If you aren’t familiar with the words ‘daring greatly’, please visit Dr. Brené Brown’s page to read her book. I’ve found it to be inspiring and very accessible. If you are wondering what started all this, we did a series of posts on what the phrase ‘a woman of substance’ means to different people and then we got talking about how we’d like to be treated. Stay tuned for part 3 later today. If you’d like to share your list on the things that matter most to you in how you are treated, we would love to hear from you in the comments section. Thank you!
Image credits: Studio OUATT