"Mean girls" are kind of a high school thing, right? That's what I thought! Until I encountered a friend being unkind and critical in business. It's funny because even though it's been years since the "mean girls" of high school, this kind of competitive, critical behavior still caught me off guard.
After both observing and experiencing some catty put-downs, exclusion, and gossip from business professionals, I felt really weighed down. And while that may seem like a small experience, it wasn't the first. Sometimes business can be tough and people can get all "Mean Girls" on others. I was struggling with this behavior but I'm learning some things that I'd love to share with you:
God never wastes experience
I am coming to realize that unkind treatment wasn't a mistake in the tapestry of my life. Instead of living like "God?? Do you SEE this? How did you let this slip??" (sorry, I'm being REAL in this post!) I'm noticing that it was allowed on purpose as a learning experience. When I started viewing it that way, I stopped feeling like I should expose injustice. I began to realize that each one was a gift. I could either become like the person, or I could learn and grow.
And I'm choosing the latter. With each experience, I'm moving forward with new insights and an expanded vision for our life and business. Every unsavory conflict or unkind word has strengthened me in some way and given me a fresh perspective when I photograph. You can't get that kind of inspiration without the difficult times and I am learning to acknowledge that gift.
Learning to Limit Myself
I'm learning that I can take action to protect myself, but not by being guarded or cynical. Sometimes I'm startled by how ugly or overly inflated people become when they're veiled behind a computer screen! So in order to curb that exposure, I'm working to be more careful of what I fill my mind with on social media. It means editing my time on social media (what?? I have to be on it ALL the time!) my list of friends/followees, and my posts on social media. But it's also prompted me to reach out to others intentionally and with care.
Unfollow and Be Intentional
Are you following or interacting with people online who give you bad juju? You know what I mean: angsty-ness, jealousy, confusion, defensiveness, etc? Why are you following them? You'd be surprised at how healthy your relationships could become if you saw less online. Of course, unfollow wisely, but giving yourself space could be just the remedy you need.
Learning to Shut Up
Along with limiting my social media interactions a bit, I've also been learning that the best remedy for not getting caught up in the race of this competitive world is to shut up and do good work. So, as we proceed into what looks like it's going to be a supremely beautiful and full year, I'm going to put my head down, do the best work I can and let that speak for itself.
Focus on your Goals
people don't believe in you? people think they can get the better of you? Put blinders on, focus and remember your goals. If you're planning a wedding, don't listen to every voice.
Learning to Lead with Kindness and Love
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Cor 13:1
The words of kindness are more healing to a drooping heart than balm or honey.Sarah Fielding
I'm realizing that accolades and achievements come and go. If I'm living caught up in a competitions to know the most, be the ultimate, and "win," (especially to the point of being ugly like we've experienced) I'll feel empty at some point. But if my hard work is led with a legacy of care and kindness? I can be proud of that no matter what comes and goes.
Choose your battles wisely
if you're that bride encountering relational conflict as you're planning your wedding, at work, or just in your social circles (differing priorities, someone having their own agenda, people saying or doing hurtful things) ask: "is this worth it to me?" Is it worth it to stand my ground or would it promote a healthy relationship to cede and say "you know what? the napkin decision is yours. You win." Is it worth it to let another person push me around or would it promote a healthy relationship to establish boundaries and say "no. I understand your perspective, but we won't be having a drink luge at our wedding."
You've got this. This wedding planning thing? Yeah, it's totally stressful. But don't waste that learning experience-you could build your strongest relationships through that stress!
Many thanks to Brumley & Wells for these treasured photos of us.