Recently, a friend of mine overheard a few people talking about my attitude. What terrible thing did I do? I said that I wasn't going to participate in a bunch of pitch competitions and hackathons coming up because I could make more money doing work on the contracts I already have, so it wasn't worth my time.
One of the haters fumed,
"Just who the fuck does AnnMaria think she is?"
Another awful thing I had done, according to them, was turn down three opportunities to speak at events. The fact is, I'm running a company, hiring people, meeting with customers, reviewing contracts, and yes, speaking at a lot of events. Hater number 2, chimed in with,
"Can you believe it? She said she gets asked to speak at 2 or 3 events a week? If people are still asking her to talk at her age, she should be grateful! Seriously, who does she think she is?"
My friend was appalled, but when I heard about this, and more, I found it highly amusing. First of all, I haven't met any of these people more than a couple of times and hadn't thought about them for a combined total of 30 minutes in my life. Second, everything they were complaining that I had said was true and in response to questions I had been asked. If you don't want me to give you a true answer, don't ask me. It's not like I'm on Reddit or on a street corner with a sign that says "Ask me anything."
The thing that makes it worth discussing, to me, is the apparent confusion between entitlement, gratitude and appreciation.
For example, if you are putting on a hackathon or a conference, if you run a start-up accelerator or anything else that is very hard work, I can appreciate that, defined by Webster as "to grasp the nature, worth, quality, or significance of". Good for you, not spending all your money on cheap hookers and expensive whiskey.
If someone is GRATEFUL on the other hand, they are "appreciative of benefits received". Let me be clear, if I see your conference/ hackathon / accelerator / coffee-hair salon- ad agency or whatever it is as having exactly jackshit in terms of benefits to me, then, again, according to Webster, I don't need to be grateful for it.
Yes, it's good you're not wasting your life, but if you want gratitude, to quote a friend of mine,
"Call your mama, she probably still loves you."
I get offers all of the time from people who want me to fly to East Nowhere and think I should be grateful they are offering to let me attend the Lemon Festival for free, "and we can't afford to pay your plane fare but we'll put you up in a Motel 6".
You're not entitled to other people's timeEntitlement: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges
Yes, I do get invited to speak at a lot of events. Sometimes, I'm grateful, because I know I will learn a lot, or it's in a lovely place I want to go or I expect to spend time with fascinating people, or all of the above.
However, every two weeks, I need to make a payroll so that our artists, developers and administrators at 7 Generation Games keep coming to work. That means that I need to consider the schools and customers who are giving us money first, reaching them and providing services to them.
That's not the point, though. Even if I am not doing anything productive, if I'm just laying in bed drinking coffee and reading a book, that's perfectly fine. You're not entitled to other people's time.
I am, however, entitled to my own opinion and preferences. I'll be sixty next week. I've worked full-time for 45 years and taught judo as a volunteer for 47 years. I think I've done my fair share of contributing to society. If you don't agree, oh well. If you get angry because you think I'm not appreciative enough of your event / program/ whatever to participate, oh well.
One thing I have learned for damn sure after all of these years is that time is not infinite. I have to make decisions and set priorities, and they will be my priorities, not yours, because I'll have to live with the consequences.
Here's why I think I really piss some people offI have a sense of my own value and what I have earned, defined as "to receive as return for effort and especially for work done or services rendered". So, if you want me to come to your event, I'm not staying in a motel without heat and having ramen for breakfast because I don't want to do that any more and I have options to work with other people who don't expect me to do that.
I know that I am very good at a lot of things - software design, statistics, programming - and people will pay me well to do those things because there is a value to them, so I don't feel bad at all about refusing to do things that pay less.
This, however, is the one thing that I think really, really makes people angry, and I find that very funny because I think it is one of the major keys to a happier life: