I’ve kept a diary since I was in the second grade. While I’ve changed a lot during those years, something that hasn’t changed is a feeling I have a hard time describing. It’s almost as if I push simultaneously pulled in two different directions. The best way I could describe it is, when I was in high school, we had an assignment to describe what we wanted to be when we were adults and how we thought our lives would go. I ended up doing the assignment twice. In one scenario I was a career woman, with one or two kids, constantly busy and wearing suits. (Sound familiar, Garrett?) In the other scenario, I was a stay-at-home mom, living in a modest home with four kids. The common factor in both? I was equally as happy in one as I was in the other. I blame my constant back and forth on being a Gemini (I kid….partly 😉 ).
Anyhow, for a while I erroneously thought that etiquette belonged only in the first world I described. What can I say? I was young and naive. What I found, though, is what I try my best on a daily basis to say on this blog. Etiquette is for everyone. Whether or not etiquette applies to you have absolutely NOTHING to do with how much money you make, if you’re around “important” people, if you have a life that is constantly being scrutinized by others, etc. It, simply, has everything to do with respect for others and for yourself. I don’t know many people who want people to think of them as entitled, selfish people. In general, no one wants to be around those people. Instead, we want to develop caring, real relationships. What I struggled with the most with etiquette was losing the realness. Mind you, this struggle was years ago, but I still remember how it felt, and I think it may be something many of you can empathize with. I also hope that by sharing my personal struggle, you can see that etiquette isn’t about being fake.
I struggled with thinking I was putting on a fascade with I invited people over and had the best dishes I had at the time on the table for them. Instead I should have viewed it as an opportunity to show how much someone meant to me.
I struggled with being afraid people wouldn’t share their real emotions and fears because etiquette seemed formal to me at the time. Instead I should have learned more about etiquette to know that there is an etiquette for everything. Etiquette helps us to reduce the misinterpretations of people’s intentions.
I struggled with wondering if etiquette wasn’t needed if you weren’t rich. Instead, I should have realized that kindness costs nothing and that kindness is the bulk of etiquette.
Etiquette is NOT about living a fancy life, full of social events. You can absolutely live slowly and purposefully while utilizing etiquette.
Etiquette is about others. It’s about not being entitled and always thinking you’re the most important person in the room, even if you happen to be at that particular point in time.
Most people you meet are struggling with something. Defenses can easily be put up, and etiquette helps us take them back down. I think there’s a lot of room for grace in etiquette, which is why I focus heavily on traditions. Some parts I even tend to only talk about in a historical way, as they are no longer relevant to our lives today. Overall, though, while I think formal dinners truly are fun and a great change of pace, I realize there are SO many other parts of etiquette that are easily overlooked and are missing in today’s society. That is the are of etiquette I hope to most share with you.
Thank you for reading!