It was February 2013 and for the first time I discovered the on-line world of women entrepreneurs. I found Marie Forleo’s B-School and I signed up for it. Woosh! In a flash, I entered the world of on-line business women.
I had no idea. I’d spent so many years in a classroom, being a school teacher, without wifi, that I didn’t know that there was a movement of women creating blogs + businesses all around the world.
I was enthralled. Over-joyed. Over-whelmed and full of hope.
If they could do it…I could do it too, right?
Soon, I was reading blogs from women all over the world. I was taking notes. I was paying attention.
Then, like any good prodigy, I was giving it the good ‘ole freshman try.
Slowly, but surely, I was growing an email list, receiving hits + social media shares on my blog, and getting customers. I was on cloud nine.
On one particularly high day, after a weekend intensive called “The 5 Day” in Access Consciousness, where I had spent the weekend in a conversation about creating space, within + without, I was really inspired about clutter clearing and creating space inside of ourselves + outside.
I posted on Facebook about offering space clearing services. I got a lot of responses. Then, I got a facebook message from a woman “friend.”
She was someone I’d met personally through another friend. We’d spent a couple of evenings hanging out together. We both lived in Boulder, knew lots of the same people and shared some great friends.
She’d shown interest in me, invited me to hang out and get to know each other better and had offered me sisterly advice about growing my business. She had a thriving business of her own.
In turn, to show support + appreciation, I had liked her fanpage, followed her work, read her blog, bought her book and left her a positive review on Amazon.
So you can imagine my surprise when I opened a message in which this woman accused me of copying her site, her style, using her language and the kicker? She said, “Feng shui and clutter clearing, my ass!”
Then, she followed up with a note that said that other people were talking about it, too.
I was shocked. Stunned. Mad.
In her mind, I was copying her site. Her style. Her language.
My offerings are copying hers? Then, the kicker. I’m not aloud to talk about, share, or offer feng shui and clutter clearing? Like she owns that shit?!
The thing that I want you to know is that we both had done B-School at the same time. Then we both entered a women’s money group at the same time. We were studying under the same teachers, with similar people, in the same town.
And I’m copying her?
Let’s just say for one minute that I was. Let’s say that I used her style and language and offerings. Are they really hers? Did she invent them? Is she like the one true original artist? She invented a brand-new unique way of communicating and writing that had NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE????
It’s not even possible. Copying her isn’t even really possible either. When I write, I sit and type, alone, at my computer, distractions aside and I share from my heart, what I’ve read, what I see, what’s inspiring me.
I wasn’t copying her. That wasn’t my intention, or what I was up to.
And, I took her attack really personally. I felt really hurt and misunderstood. Mostly, it was a surprise that someone could be so accusatory out of the blue, with no warning, and just slam me, and then leave no room for communication, understanding, connection or completion.
This was not non-violent communication. This was full-on attack.
So I did what any new entrepreneur, who had just spread her wings and started to fly and be vulnerable and put herself out there and share her gifts would do…
I shut down. I got hurt. I felt sad. I blamed myself for wherever I had made it seem like I was trying to be like her, however un-intentional.
I stopped going out to events, unsure of what people in my town would think of me.
I wondered what people said or thought about me?
I felt shamed, shunned and banned from my own community- from the very women I was reaching out to engage with and receive support from.
I was done before I’d even started.
And now its been almost 3 years. And I completely shut myself out of many communities. I withdrew.
Here I was, coming out of my proverbial closet, claiming myself as an entrepreneur, a psychic, a writer, and sharing myself with the world, and I was quickly told by an older, supposedly wiser mentor and woman in my community, that I’m a copycat piece of shit and I have no ideas of my own and everybody’s talking about me.
I was right back in middle school, or high school. People I don’t even know are talking about me, judging me, making assumptions, and smearing my name.
Now that I’ve had many years to process this and grow, I’ve come to realize a few things. And I also share this with you today because I recently read a great book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert.
In it, she says:
It has all been done before. Guarutnee it has all been done. Even Shakespeare stole half of his stories, but he told them in a way that they hadn’t been told before. We’re all just borrowing from each other.
You’re allowed to add to the pile.
We’re allowed. We’re allowed to put our own spin on things, to put it in our own language, and share it. We’re allowed to add our interpretation to the pile!
Since I joined the on-line community, I’ve seen lots of women point their fingers at others and accuse them of “stealing” their work.
Maybe there are actual cases where someone did this. In that case, I’m sure it sucks and my heart goes out.
Yet, for all these accusations, how many are really founded? How many are women actually stealing from others and how many are really just each of us putting age old ideas into our own format?
There’s nothing new under the sun. None of us invented language, or Feng Shui, or healing, or coaching principles. And ya know what? We get to add our two cents, to throw ourselves into the ring, participate, and add our fuel to the fire.
We get to.
There’s a saying in Access Consciousness that has served me really well. It goes like this:
What someone is accusing you of, they, themselves, are actually doing.
After I heard that, I was so grateful. I’d seen that to be true in my own life, but had never put words to it so precisely.
Check it out and see. Anytime someone is accusing someone, they themselves are actually the ones being that way, or doing that thing.
I may have tried my own version or flavor of a style I’ve seen. And ya know what? We get to, loves.
As long as we know we’re acting with authenticity and integrity, doing our best, there’s really on one out there who invented any of this and we get to throw our version onto the pile.
So, feel free to create. To play. To notice what others do that you love and try your version. This is how we learn, grow, and imagine. It’s the natural way of things.
And, the next time someone accuses you of something, relish in recognizing that it is actually they who are doing that thing.
All my love,