I am going to start by telling you a story.
When I was in college, I had a friend who wasn't very nice. She would make fun of people when they weren't around and expect the rest of us to laugh. She would also make fun of you when you were there. At first they seemed like the typical sarcastic comments people make to their friends in jest, but eventually her comments began to take on a sting to them. They were the type of comments that made you feel worse about yourself after spending time with her, rather than better. However, despite this, it was really important to me to maintain this friendship, so I tried to overlook it and make things work. My college program was primarily male dominated, and there weren't a lot of other women to hang out with. She was also part of a larger group of friends that I actually enjoyed spending time with, some of whom are my nearest and dearest now. And finally, she was in my study group, and if you've ever taken a class that challenged you to your core in terms of what you were able to do, you know how valuable a study group can be. So for many reasons I worked hard on to get along with this woman.
We had one day before a very, very difficult midterm when we were all suppose to meet at the library. We had been working our behinds off trying to prepare for this exam and planned to get one last cram session in before the test started. We were going to pump each other up, help each other with last minute questions, and walk over to the classroom together. I gathered all my things, packed my books and snacks, and waited. And then I waited some more. And no one ever called me.
Okay, so maybe they decided not to meet? I decided studying by myself was better than nothing and started my walk to the library. We always studied on the second floor, and had a location where magically a table would be available. Tables can be hard to come by, so out of habit I walked that way. Well when I got there, everyone was there, and no one had called me. I couldn't understand what was going on. At first I was shocked, and then I was mad. They had promised to call me. What in the world was going on? I needed to study too. I walked over to them to grab a seat so I could join the cram session. But no one would look at me. When I finally asked what was going on, this woman looked at me and said something along the lines of 'oh we must have forgotten to call you'. But she was using her tone. The one I knew indicated she was 1) lying, and 2) making a joke with the others. They hadn't forgotten to call me. They had purposely not called me. And she was the instigator.
I tried to ignore it, gather what little pride I had, and pull up a seat anyway. But no one would make room for me to fit, and she made a big deal of ignoring me and engaging everyone (except me) in working on the next problem. I had become an outcast, exactly one hour before one of our largest midterms. I stared at them for a while in disbelief and finally gathered my things to leave. I walked to the testing room alone and took my seat. No one else was there, so I sat alone and cried. I was embarrassed. I was hurt. I was stressed. And I was freaking mad they did this to me RIGHT BEFORE A HUGE TEST! HAVE YOU NO HEART!
I sat for my exam and I rocked it anyway. I got a really great grade. I found out later the reason she was so mean to me was because I had been having a hard time in the class before our group started studying, and her and the others had helped me. I had then proceeded to score much higher on a previous exam than her, and she was upset. She felt that she deserved the higher score and no longer wanted to help me. She was competitive and she was mean.
Several weeks passed. I found a new group of extremely nice people who didn't bat an eye when 3/4 of the way into the year I showed up and asked to join their group. They were genuinely nice people. They never said mean things about each other or others. They welcomed me with open arms. And years later this group introduced me to my husband. So in summary, this girl being mean to me actually ended up working out for the best.
After several weeks had gone by, this girl approached me and said "We aren't ever going to fix our friendship if we don't talk about what happened". I looked at her for a few moments, took a deep breath, and said the most freeing words ever. "Actually, I don't want to be your friend anymore. I'm not mad at you, but you aren't very nice. And I don't need a friend like that". And then I walked away.
This is a long winded way for me to explain the approach I take to my life now. I only have time of nice people. With so much stress and negativity in the world, I choose to surround myself with people who will support and build me up. And my life has been so much better ever since. And it is with this perspective that when I read the viral Scary Mommy article when it first hit my Facebook newsfeed a few weeks back that I was appalled. Having surrounded myself with such supportive friendships over the past decade, I had forgotten how mean people can be.
I find this article nothing more than a way for a group of individuals (the woman who wrote it and those who shared it in support) to tear down other women. For me, there are two distinct components of this article. The first, is that this woman feels that people who participate in direct sales, or multilevel marketing, expect to profit off their friends. Those of us in this industry have varying approaches, just like there are different types of people in any industry, but for me, personally, I have never once expected someone to buy something just because they are my friend. If I am being completely honest, I was actually nervous when I first started that a friend would buy something only because they felt they had to. In truth, I only want them to make a purchase if its for something they truly want. I'm not in the "business" of collecting charitable sales. I am a business woman. I make my income by providing a service. I help people find great jewelry to complete their outfits. If you need my help, great! If not, no problem. Just like if I were a hair dresser or a nail artist or whatever. We can still be friends even if you don't need a hair cut. Or even if you have someone else cut your hair. That's cool too. I think her overall premise that her friends expect to profit off her is misguided. And to be honest, if she really does feel that way, she would be much better served talking to her friends in an open and honest fashion in private to explain how their approach makes her feel. I am sure they would be horrified if she expressed she felt used. And if you truly are friends with someone, you should have the type of relationship where you can talk to them about these things.
Second, and why this reminded me of my own frienemy experience, is the way in which she goes about expressing her discontent. She uses a sarcastic and hurtful tone. She bashes their product. She belittles the friendships and experiences these woman have had from their business. Everything about what she says is aimed to tear them down, make them feel that the world hates them, and to bully. And this is the type of individual I have no time in my life for.
Being in direct sales is both exciting, rewarding, and hard. It takes making yourself vulnerable the same way it does when anyone opens their own business. You put yourself out there and stand behind a product you believe in; something that has improved your life, and you think will improve the lives of others. I am truly proud of what I do and the way my company has bettered the lives of many woman who have joined. However when I first started, it was difficult to be that vulnerable. Every time you post something, every time you offer your service to someone, you are opening yourself up to rejection. Instead of tearing women down who are putting themselves out there and working hard to create a better life for themselves and their families, we should be lifting them up. Does this mean you have to buy their product? Absolutely not. You should only buy something or host a show if its something you are excited to have in your life too. And I'm confident if you asked any other direct sales individual who has respect for themselves and others, that they would say the same thing.
I wish we could exist in a world where we worked harder on being nice to one another than making catty, "funny" remarks at others expense. It's easy to watch someone else pounding the pavement and laugh every time they fall, but its much harder to get out there and do it yourself. We should all work hard at creating a more loving world, where we treat each other with kindness and respect and don't tear each other down.