What I Learned From Ugly People

Luckily I haven’t known that many truly ugly people. Some people have become very special in my life for various amounts of time. Others have passed through but been relatively unremarkable. But there have been some that I have worked for, worked with, befriended or dated (and even married), that either were or became ugly.

I don’t mean superficially ugly – I mean ugly on the inside ugly. The kind of ugliness transforms attractive people into repulsive ones physically, but often gives us the the best learning with the most character sticking points.

That phrase that you should thank the people that mistreat you because they show you who you don’t want to be? It’s true. As long as you don’t soak in the victim tub.

People will do you wrong. They will treat you badly. Why would you expect that they wouldn’t? 

Don’t go around expecting everyone to treat you with kindness and respect – that’s for those that are special and earn a higher place of influence in your life. You want those ones to be rare and sacred.

When it comes to ugly people – you will meet them and they won’t always look ugly right away. Some uglies wear pretty clothes and add layers of “stuff” that can make them chameleons… but only for a time. The ugly always comes out. Don’t be surprised, just learn from them.

When I was young I had a few female employers that initially hired me because they thought I was great, but then started treating me poorly. I was confused. What was I doing wrong? I was doing a good job. I was respectful, professional, competent.

I didn’t understand and took it personally.

I had one that was so condescending that she would pat me on the head as she called me her “little helper”. She continuously diminished me often in front of high profile clients. I ended up losing my job when I tried to talk to her about it.

I moved on – determined to never make anyone feel small that ever worked with or for me.

Another high profile job with an international company became awkward when one of the male executives that would travel in from Colorado who was 30+ years older than me kept asking me out. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. He had a wife and grown children and was relentless.

I was young and felt so uncomfortable and disempowered. I reported him to HR and they told me I should have been clearer and firmer with him but that he had agreed to stop.

I moved on, determined to not just continue being firm, but to stand up for myself against this kind of sexism or any other kind of ism and not to stand for victim blaming and shaming. 

I quit a job with a national weight loss chain because I wouldn’t bully women into buying their food programs and took more time with them than I was supposed to in their assembly line fashion business plan. I had the most loyal clients but they didn’t spend consistently the most money and it was all about sales.  They were emotionally supported but corporately abused. I couldn’t stand it. I was ridiculed in staff meetings for my empathy.

I moved on, determined to not compromise my personal values for a paycheque.

In my late 20s I had a friend that I was really close to. Except that she would often criticize physical features and make jokes about them. I became self conscious about my chin, my ears, my nose, as she would pick them apart and make fun of them. Without even realizing it, I felt insecure about how I looked – particularly these features – every time I looked in the mirror. I left that friendship but it took a long time to get over the damage of those “jokes” that I had allowed.

I moved on and vowed to never joke about or criticize someone’s physical appearance and to be aware of how words can impact someone on deeper levels. 

In my dating life. (oh lord). Well I really only have been in relationships with 3 ugly people in my 25 years of adult dating life. I don’t think they wanted to be ugly, I don’t think they knew they were ugly, I think they tried to cover up whatever ugliness that they were aware of. But ugly always comes through.

These three amigos separately made up a collective of various degrees of disease. Mental illnesses, substance abuse, infidelility, anger issues, manipulation, and ultimately endings where they each tried to hurt me or my future in some way.  Intentional cruelty – regardless of what excuse we look for our woundedness to make sense of it – is a different brand of ugly. It’s an ugly that sticks with you because it’s sadistic and intimate.

I moved on – and vowed to continue to live in integrity and always treat people well – with grace and class.

These were my areas of greatest personal growth and many “vows”.  I vowed to dig in and communicate even when it’s uncomfortable. I vowed to never ever… ever shrink myself or my voice or my vision to make someone else more comfortable. I vowed to not date people that weren’t emotionally intelligent and hadn’t done their work to create psychological wellness. I vowed to eliminate all victims, emotional cripples, and toxic patterns from my friend and dating pool completely.

Every one of them made me stronger because of ugly they were to me. Each one of them made real love that I found in others that much sweeter. I appreciated good men so much more, I valued integrity and intelligence in other men so much more. I stopped being fooled by image and vacant words and started noticing how sexy it is when a man respects you, communicates with you, and when you don’t have to ever question his loyalty or honesty. The three amigos gave me the biggest gifts out of the biggest shocks and pains. I couldn’t be more grateful for those experiences actually.

Ugly employers made me a better manager and supervisor and teammate.

Ugly friends made me a gentler, kinder, more aware person. 

Ugly partners made me even more loving, even more lovable.

Ugly people reinforced the character foundation that I built my adult life on, reminding me how shitty it is to be mistreated and how important to remember that when you work with and are in relationships with others.

Their ugliness showed me my own beauty and how important it is to own that and trust that makes you more beautiful no matter what you look like on the outside. 

People matter. Their feelings matter. Not more than yours, but it matters how you treat everyone. It’s what they remember of you. It’s a part of your legacy.

Don’t be the one that gouges someone but expect that others will gouge you.

Disengage from the losers and bullies in your life as soon as they start to show their ugliness. Know that you deserve better and make room for better by having that confidence to move on from those who are ugly and mean. Don’t stoop to the level of ugly but don’t allow yourself to be bullied. Their absence in your life is a breath of fresh air.

Stand up for yourself. Move on. Look at the part your played in some of those experiences.

Do you need more confidence? Do you need to set better boundaries? Take responsibility and make changes to be wiser, sooner next time.

And as my dad likes to say…don’t let the bastards get you down. Although he says it proudly in Latin or some other language. Be lots of things, just not ugly.

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