This is an edited version of a blog post I wrote in 2005 about a self-centered woman who thought it was all about her. I just came across it in my files, and was once again, moved by it. Maybe you will be, too. -Alison Blackman, Editor in Chief, advicesisters.com
Last year I “met” a young woman, online. She told me she was an aspiring writer and flattered me a great deal. She said she loved my books and my websits. She asked me for help with a book proposal. I spent quite a great deal of time with her, helping her to shape the proposal so that an agent might be interested in it. She asked if she could write for my advicesisters.com so I also gave her an opportunity to write a few stories, along with a valuable bag of products to review. The understanding being that she needed samples to write the kind of reviews we post on advicesisters.com. It was also made clear that she could keep these products after she tested them. She would also get a byline and perhaps, new contacts and credentials for a blog she wanted to create.
I was taken in. Her motive was the lure of parties and free products and what was in it for her. Apparently, it never crossed her self-centered little mind that I put time and effort into my online publications and I have reputation to uphold.
This woman would have gotten everything she wanted, had she done anything to deserve it. But she never wrote a single review, forcing me (for the first time and last time ever) to tell the people who sent me the products in good faith for a review, that they were in fact, stolen from me. *editor’s note, I have never allowed this to happen again.
Having to tell people who trusted me with their products that they’d been stolen, was embarrassing enough. Fortunately, all respected me and the situation, and were incredibly understanding, even though I cringed through each phone call bearing the bad news that an unscupulous reviewer had stolen products so there wouldn’t be any reviews of them unless they could send more. It also put me way behind on my editorial calendar. But what really bothered me just as much was that I believed that she was actually interested in what I did professionally, and that she was grateful for the helping hand I extended to her. I feel in a word: “foolish.”
My mailing list wasn’t as automated as it is today, and when this woman asked to be on it, early in our conversations, I was happy to add her. But to my utter surprise, a few weeks after I finally finished damage control from her theft, I got a request to remove her from my mailing list. I was happy to do it, but I was curious why (since I was the wronged party). She emailed me back that she was upset that I hadn’t asked her to review more products. Naturally, I emailed back and said” what happened to the reviews you said you would do? You never wrote them up so why would I give you more?” I got a reply that can’t forget. She said: “You don’t get it, do you?’ and the note went on to threaten me in various ways.
When I read this blog post, edited again for 1995, I began to wonder how this woman justified herself. Was she just an early adapter of self-centered behavior that is so obvious today? In her mind, this was all about her. When you use a selfie stick or update your social media with photos of only yourself, every hour, you know you are focusing just on you. But I wonder: was this woman so into herself she that she really thought she deserved all the free advice. effort and products I gave her and now wanted more without giving back in return?
I all but forgot about her until today, but perhaps she is successful today in large part to those who extended a hand, simply because they could. To the unnamed woman (you know who you are) I offer this advice: Be wary of biting the generous hands that have reached out to you. You will meet the same people on the way up as on the way down. You will meet me. I won’t forget.
I’d love your comments about this!