This morning I took the dog for a walk like I do most days except today, I left my phone on the kitchen counter. I normally always have it with me, but this time I craved peace and quiet. I wanted to pause the noise, the constant influx of information, the immediate gratification of meeting someone’s need should they send a text or email. 

I didn’t think leaving my phone behind had any implications about my thoughts and feelings about respect until I was halfway up the road.

Usually, when I walk Gunner, I have my headphones in listening to a book or podcast or I’m on the phone with my mom. If it’s morning, I’m listening to something that I can learn from, but as my day continues, I switch over to something more entertaining or, at the very least, something that doesn’t feel like work.

I rarely let myself walk and think. That’s dangerous, isn’t it? 

As I continued down the road in relative silence, I started feeling uncomfortable. Drilling down a bit deeper, I felt left out or like I was missing the boat on something. Even more specifically, I thought, “But this person I respect and admire recommended that podcast to me, I could listen to it right now.”

Then the weirdest question bubbled up: What does respect mean to me? 

I started rolling that question around in my mind looking at it from all angles as I walked because I didn’t bring anything to distract me from it. 

  • When you respect someone, are you giving them influence over you?
  • When is it respect and when is it complacency?
  • Can respect just turn into a routine?
  • When is it respect and when is it an obsession?
  • When does respect turn into manipulation?

I was taught to respect my elders, but I don’t live in the community I grew up in. I’m nearly 30 and want to be taken seriously, so I can’t just let anything someone else says go around here just because they’re older than me. Plus, what if my elders are disrespectful themselves? We’ve all seen that grandma constantly posting on social media about deeply rooted prejudices and political beliefs. 

I was taught to show respect by listening to my friends, but I barely even talk to them on the phone now. We just text each other and send memes back and forth throughout the workday. 

I strive to respect my husband every day, but every time I see a pair of underwear left behind on the bathroom floor, my soul dies a little bit for the cozy, inviting home I work hard to maintain. 

I take recommendations from strangers on the internet very seriously. Books, podcasts, skincare routines, recipes. Does that count as respect? And if it does, do they respect the people they have influence over?

Do you see what I mean? The waters are muddy around this respect thing. 

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it means to me. As an Enneagram Type 2 and a recovering people pleaser, I lean on the side of doing things for others in the name of respect and admiration, but really I just want the gratitude. I’m a work in progress, as most of us are. 

So tell me, what does respect mean to you?

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