A friend of mine who was aspiring to start a makeup line emailed a young CEO of a burgeoning company. Even after several attempts, he never heard back from her. Another friend sought the advice of a record label A&R (artists & repertoire) rep; no answer after multiple messages. Both friends concluded that the professionals didn’t help them because they view the aspiring as competition. The most disappointing example of a rudely ignored request was when a third friend of mine asked an older gay man that he personally knew and respected how he came to define his sexuality because he was questioning his own. The man ignored his message for a month. When sent a second message: “Hello?,” the man replied that he didn’t share personal details with others. My friend was fine with the man declining to share, but told him he would’ve appreciated it if the man had said that a month ago instead of disregarding the message. The man didn’t respond.
What agitates me the most about this type of behavior is that no one is born a butterfly. We all have to be caterpillars first. No one comes out of the womb walking. We all have to crawl before we walk. Most professionals and older adults are familiar with the challenges of being at a developmental career or life stage and needed guidance or help to succeed, so when they snub others, it infuriates me. I would expect them to be more understanding, sympathetic and helpful. Part of the reason why our society remains ignorant is because people aren’t willing to spread the wisdom and knowledge that they’ve acquired. Part of the reason why people feel so isolated in their struggles is because they don’t know of others that can relate. If someone seeks your counsel and they desire to follow in your footsteps or take a similar path, first, be flattered that they view you as a successful, viable source of information. Then humble yourself and offer assistance. Don’t view the aspiring as competition; those you help will have fond memories of your contribution and will often support you when needed. Make some type of impact on society and help someone come from crawling to walking.