When I was in high school I remember a boy who was a football player… and from a wealthy family… and really good looking… laughing with a popular girl in our class about my makeup. It had something to do with my blush being too dark and they thought it was HILARIOUS.
I remember all of my mistreatment in high school the way most of us do, I suppose. The guy who said my butt was “flat” (INSULT!), the girl who insinuated that we were poor because my dad was a minister… the person who said she wasn’t smart, she just “tries hard” (inferring that those of us who didn’t get the grades she did were just lazy). And definitely the tall lanky dude with a nasal voice who made fun of my Canadian accent any chance he got.
All minor offenses made by superficial, self-absorbed teenagers. i’m sure I contributed to my fair share as well. Funny how I don’t remember any of that though….
It’s the pain we feel that we remember. Not the pain we cause.
This is why you’ll often hear a girl talk about how she “was never part of the popular crowd” or she was “bullied in high school” or she “never really belonged” and well into her twenties, thirties, and forties she’ll reference mistreatment from those few short years so long ago as reason for her insecurity, lack of confidence, or general difficulty making and keeping friends.
The interesting thing about this, however, is that when we don’t heal the pain from our past with a thorough and loving house-cleaning, then we take it with us into the future and we perpetuate those actions with others. Many of the women I’ve met in my adulthood who have sad stories from their past that they love to retell are also people who are unkind to anyone who reminds them of their past. They become warriors for justice with new people who have never caused them pain. They gossip, avoid, and mistreat women they judge as “other” and feel it’s justified because, “Hey… we’re all adults and she seems to be okay.”
I’ve talked about his before, but I find it hilarious how many women love to talk about not liking Jenna Kutcher and Rachel Hollis. These two women (and many others) have contributed to a new culture of female entrepreneurship, education, and connection with their work but hey - “too advertisey”, “too upbeat”, “too something”… Think of how much free content Jenna Kutcher gives away (twice weekly podcasts, daily IG inspiration, so many freebies and links and tidbits…) yet it’s too salesy if she promotes a product or invites you to a course so she can, you know, make a living. So we roll our eyes. We unsubscribe. We are passive aggressive. We mute. We gossip. We feel superior behind closed doors.
It’s high school all over again. Except this time you’re the mean girl.
You are correct if you are thinking, “Clearly, people mistreat Meg and that’s where this blog post is coming from”. Of course they do! I’m sure they mistreat you too! People send nasty emails. People unsubscribe. People roll their eyes (I see you). People say, “Who does she think she is?” I have many friends who are entrepreneurs and the same thing happens to them. All the time. People ask for refunds on work that’s been done. People ask for refunds because they “changed their mind”. People don’t honor their contracts. People don’t do the work and then blame you for their lack of results.
Thus is life.
How do we deal with this mistreatment when we want to be up to big things and put ourselves out there and do what we love for a living? I’ll tell you how: we feel the feelings and then we let them go and we create boundaries where they’re needed.
Ouch. That hurt.
Days. Weeks. Months. Feel it.
Now create the boundary:
“No, you may not have your money back. Let’s come up with a compromise.”
“Yes, you do need to honor your contract.”
“No, you may not speak to me that way.”
“Yes, you have to pay what you said you would pay and keep communication open .”
“I’m sorry. That broke trust between us and I will not work with you any longer.”
“Thank you for telling me how you feel. Let’s find a plan that works for both of us.”
This is workkkkk. It’s not easy to feel and it’s not easy to set boundaries. Both of these things are hard work but you know what? We’re NOT in high school anymore. Now we’re adults. We have to own our pain-causing as much as our pain-receiving so we can break those childish cycles and be who we want to be: loving, loyal, generous, open, supportive, and committed. It’s our daily work.