No. 154

You’ve Got…Hate Mail?

My first piece of hate mail arrived last week. And boy, was it fiery.

Here’s how it began: On Monday night, I posted the job description I had created for a developer on Stack Overflow. Business has been booming lately, and if I want to help more people, I need someone to help me with website development. I wrote up what I was looking for and a little bit about myself and my business. Résumés started to come in.

But in the middle of all the cool cover letters and crazy qualified applicants was a message from one developer who clearly hated me. He doesn’t know me at all, but that didn’t stop him from writing a really angry email to me. I won’t repeat anything he said, but I will tell you the gist of it was this: if you don’t have a degree in the field, you’re a fraud.

Now, while this may not be true of some fields (like medical professions, for instance), we live in an age where experience creates experts. In living through something, in experimenting daily, in immersing yourself in a field, you can gain a significant amount of knowledge and know-how that can be shared with the world. Am I the best developer in the world? No. I’m not the most knowledgeable either. But I do know much more than my clients, and I know how to create websites for them that are intuitive and easy for them to use, because I was once where they are.

The hate mail upset me for a moment. How could anyone be so cruel to another person? I found myself going to that place and nearly agreeing with him when I remembered: his reaction says everything about him and nothing about me. Thank you, Second Agreement! (If you haven’t read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, do. The Second Agreement is “Don’t take anything personally” and trust me, it’s a game changer. It pulled me right out the downward spiral the email brought on.)

I can’t speculate what his story is, but with that much negativity, I’ve no doubt it’s been filled with hardship. And so rather than cuss him out or get angry (or even worse, respond), I sent him loving energy and forgave him for his hurtful words.

I choose to live from a place a love, from a place of service to others and holding them to their highest selves. In my business. In my life.

So maybe hate mail means I’ve finally arrived, but more than anything, it’s shown me how far I’ve come. My past self would have wallowed for days in that negativity. My present self can see the situation for what it is.

(Consequently, I totally got some love mail the same day too, from a developer who wrote: “I commend you for having a great perspective on web development and coding in general. I know a lot of developers that would be much happier with that outlook.” Love.)

About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

6 thoughts on “You’ve Got…Hate Mail?

  1. I’ve encountered a lot of people who seem to believe that if you didn’t make your way in the manner they did, then you are lazy or a fraud or not truly successful or living in a fantasy world or something of the like. They’re often resentful and hateful, but I’ve learned that it often comes from a place of fear, vulnerability, and guilt–like they can only feel they deserve what they have if they believe no one else deserves it, or they’re losing what they had or they didn’t get what they desire, and they need someone to blame. It’s this weird space where they aren’t happy with themselves or their lives and need a place to vent their frustration.

    And who knows why that individual sent you that letter, but I think you’re exactly right: it says everything about him. It does say something about you, though: you’re doing well enough that people who can’t handle other people’s happiness and success are noticing.

    So nice work!

  2. So sorry that happened. Ick. I’m not a certified coach. In my experience, people don’t really care about that; they care about if you can get them results. Lady, you deliver!

    1. Laura, I completely agree with you! I know I deliver awesome results for the people who work with me. And I’m so looking forward to working with you!

  3. It’s very possible he was frustrated with the fact that he went through the trouble of school and possibly has student loans he needs to pay off and his business is not booming (otherwise where would this time to email you come in) and so he’s upset and took it out on you. Second agreement for the win!

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Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.