Gloria Swanson, Lady Sylvia Ashley & Douglas Fairbanks at El Mocambo, 1930s
(WARNING: This posts contains extensive self-help quote-bombing)
“Your value does not decrease based on someone else’s inability to see your worth.”
I’ve been grappling lately with boundaries. It seems as though while I wasn’t paying attention, some of the people in my life have gotten sloppy with their love. I’ve been feeling unappreciated and disrespected lately.
An unintentional litmus test came to me in the form of some sad news. The agent that was interested in Silky and seemed so promising has passed on my manuscript. This has been particularly tough to bear–not just the rejection of it, but the journeying so far, only to start back at the beginning again after 15 years of effort.
People’s responses to this news have been eye-opening. Mostly I have received empathy, understanding and support. But many folks–who aren’t writers and are ignorant to the grueling process of submission and publication–simply don’t know what to say. And I get that. Some people aren’t artists and take my news as though I’ve experienced a minor speed bump in a nice little hobby. I get that too. But empathy and kind words go a along way. Not so, dismissal. Or even just not listening because this has nothing to do with them personally. Can you say narcissism?
“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”
I am reminded of the situation Sylvia faced when meeting her husband, Douglas Fairbanks’ ex-wife, Mary Pickford, for the first time. Gloria Swanson staged a comeback party for herself and invited the two women–without their prior knowledge as they both certainly would have declined–in the hopes of creating a Hollywood gossip sensation. It was fairly common practice at the time for hostesses to manipulate their guests and friends this way in order to have their party “talked about.” A kind of early form of P.R. Just plain catty and disrespectful to my mind. It was the end of Sylvia’s friendship with Miss Swanson.
“You can’t force a person to respect you, but you can refuse to be disrespected.”
And so I’ve been doing a little emotional housekeeping. Cutting away the fat. Separating the men from the boys. Maybe these so-called friends have always treated me this poorly and I’ve just woken up to it. Perhaps it has nothing to do with their behavior and more to do with realizing my own self-worth and what I require in a true friend. Or maybe I’m just getting older and don’t have the time or patience for this bullshit.
Take heed, readers! Self-respect precedes respect from the world around you.
I’ll leave you with one last quote:
“Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth and value, but because we finally realize our own.”