Respect is earned, not given

Know your worth and know who’s worth your respect

By Kelsey Nevius
@kelnevs

We’ve been taught since a young age that we should respect everyone, especially those who are different from us. We’ve been taught in school to respect our teachers, our peers, and our elders. We’ve been taught by our family to do the same, in all aspects: respect everyone around you. No questions asked, simply treat everyone with kindness and respect and everyone will treat you with the same.

I’m assuming that everyone tries to stick to the morals they were taught when they were young: don’t talk back to your parents, respect your elders, don’t have a dirty mouth especially if you are a lady, and raise your hand so you can be called on to speak. These social norms are enforced at a young age. We all know them, and we’ve all lived by them. We did this when we were young because if you did not comply, a punishment would be issued and you would learn, sooner or later, to follow the crowd and follow the rules. As I grew up, I too followed these rules. I still have a difficult time speaking out in class if I don’t raise my hand to be called on first. And that seems so silly. I am a grown adult, yet I still feel the need to raise my hand to say what I want to say.

And as I’ve grown up, I’ve come to realize that sometimes trying to treat everyone with the same respect and kindness that you would like to receive doesn’t always work out in your favor. So, my question is simple: why is respect simply given, and not earned?

I am a fairly outspoken person on the subject. Ask me if I respect someone more than they respect me, and I would most likely answer no. To me, respect is a two-way street. If you treat me with kindness and respect, I will do the same to you. If someone continuously has no respect for me, then I see no reason why I should, in turn, respect them. If someone continuously disrespects my time, emotions, lifestyle, anything of that nature, I see no reason why I should respect theirs. I would much rather part ways with the person who does not respect me in a civil manner than continue to be disrespected. And I guess what I’m trying to say here is, you shouldn’t either.

You are no lesser or greater than any other human being on this planet. Respect should be shared equally with your peers, to your boss, to your parents, with one exception: you deserve to be respected as much as they do, and if you are not, you should not feel as if your respect is simply given. No matter if someone is older, wealthier, or wiser, no one should feel the compulsion to give respect to someone who is disrespectful of them. Respect should always be earned. Those who have no respect for you should be treated civilly and with kindness, but should not have the gift of your respect.

I have grown into a breaker of these social norms. I talk back to my parents if I have a different perspective on something being discussed, mainly because I was also raised to have my own opinions and clearly state them. I highly respect my elders because I realize they have so much to teach me, but at the same time, my respect is not given if they do not give theirs to me. If someone continuously disrespects me, I do not respect them. Don’t get me wrong – I am civil and kind, but I feel no compulsion to respect them and you shouldn’t either.

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