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The Stigma of Being a Network Marketer

Jun 29, 2020

Is the stigma of being a network marketer really worse than the stigma of having genital herpes?

Apparently so, for me anyways. 

I've been single for a very long time. Every couple years I decide it's time to "get out there" and post “I am here” to my lover, who I have yet to meet. This time I tried Bumble, a new online dating app for me. It has been a good experience as the girl has to make the first move and if you match with a guy, the girl has 24 hours to send a message. Once a message is sent, the guy now has 24 hours to respond. If you both make your moves, then the time constraint is off and you are free to correspond as you wish.  

Josh was an attractive, articulate, happy introvert, in my decade, looking for a monogamous, long-term relationship. These elements were all a good fit and he had my attention. We were advancing our conversation. I'm not a very private person, so I sent him my business website as I figured it would tell him more about me than a few text strings. Or at least I thought I did. To my horror, my business website was pointing to Raindrop Incorporated. I thought I made a mistake so sent it again. O-M-G...the same thing. I could feel the flush of embarrassment and the oncoming of a hot flash. I immediately reached out to Kristin, because she's the IT/domain guru of the team. But she was traveling and had no service to "save me".  So I sent a very apologetic message, saying THAT is not what I meant to send him and I didn't know why my business website was pointing to Raindrop Incorporated. Like it was an icky thing, even though I am EXTREMELY proud of our website and all that we are creating. I got relief when he suggested it was just a domain issue.

Seriously?! I was astonished at my reaction. I acted as if I didn't even have any ownership to Raindrop, as if my business website had been hijacked or something. 

Awareness is a gift. But it is not always comfortable. After a closer look, it is clear that Josh and I are not a fit. There’s nothing to learn or fix as it is easy to accept. But I do have work to do around the belief of what it means to me to be labeled a "network marketer" when it causes such a visceral reaction in my body and in my actions. 

Why is it I don't hide my label of having herpes? I unapologetically and creatively built this revealing and personal tidbit of information into my Bumble profile. Like I mentioned in my oil story post, I don't like claiming or identifying with an ailment or attracting people who do. The last time I mustered the courage to "get out there" and find my potential lover was about four years ago. Since it was shortly after I contracted HSV-2 and I felt much like "damaged goods", I turned to finding someone on Positive Singles [cute play on words] and restricted my search to guys that were already positive for HSV. I found that many men were attached and victimized by the virus on one hand, and on the other hand it gave them the right to hook up with a woman who matched them in their search criteria. I clearly wasn't a match for that site because I do not allow THAT label to define me nor am I into hooking up without a significant energetic connection.

Because I do not like to set myself up for an awkward conversation, I creatively let all my potential Bumble matches know through "2 Truths and a Lie". SPOILER ALERT: 

  1. I like to climb over walls - TRUE
  2. I love to swim in open water, AROO! -- REALLY, REALLY FALSE
  3. I test positive for genital herpes - TRUE

So how is it that I can be so comfortable in my skin around having a contagious sexually transmitted infection with such a stigma that it is so great it is not even in the standard panel of tests for sexually transmitted infections? Doctors talk patients out of being tested because the psychological impact has a much more negative impact than the actual clinical symptoms. I had the courage to navigate this psychological impact, yet the thought of being labeled a network marketer makes me want to hide under a rock!

What was I afraid of? What was my subconscious belief? I was afraid that he would think that:

  • I was only dating to find people to enroll in my network marketing company. I was afraid that he would think I was that person. You know the one who invites you to lunch or dinner making you feel like they are interested in getting to know you and then proceeds to blindside your naive and fragile self-confidence by trying to solicit you to their pyramid so they can meet their next enrollment target. 
  • I was stupid because everyone knows that network marketing is bad and sleazy. I must be stupid if I "drank the Kool-Aid" and invested in a multi-level marketing company!
  • I was financially irresponsible. Because the only people who get in network marketing are those who think they can get rich by gambling...I probably spend the rest of my money on lottery tickets. Odds of getting a payout are about the same.
  • I was wasting my education? I have a MS in Agronomy, and over 30 years experience in the agribusiness industry, shouldn't I use it? 

But what if it was possible to shift the stigma of being a network marketer? At least for me by shifting my own belief?

What if being a network marketer implied: 

  • I do not compromise my values. 
  • I have a heart for philanthropy.
  • I stand for equanimity.
  • I am a woman of integrity.
  • I am a fearless and conscious leader.
  • I achieve prosperity by claiming abundance for all.
  • I make decisions out of love, not fear.
  • I am compassionately connecting humanity through the way we work, think and live.
  • I am love.

I have reclaimed the way I see myself as a network marketer much like how I transmuted the deep shame of being positive for HSV-2. I honored what I was feeling, got educated and did what I needed to do to take care of myself - body, mind and spirit. Dr. Watson sums it up nicely: “Herpes doesn’t shorten or end your life. It doesn’t cause cancer. It is a bothersome viral infection, that is manageable. It doesn’t need to end your relationship or sex life. You are a whole person who has lots of fantastic talents. You are not defined by a virus. Be honest. Practice the golden rule. Seek out those who support your genuine authentic self.” And I would add: learn what you need to learn by living with it -- allow it to help you face your fears and acknowledge your under-educated judgments that you once held prior to being infected and allow it to help you shed old stories, unexamined rule books and outdated agreements. Allow it to serve you as a “herp-o-meter” to monitor and keep you committed to your selfcare. My experience reinforces research that shows that fatigue, poor diet, and emotional or physical stress can trigger an outbreak.

I will not give my power away to a misunderstood label and a stigma borne out of fear and judgement. May we make shift happen as we show up powerfully as who we are for this industry. 

My new belief: Being a network marketer in dōTERRA supports me to do things differently so that I can truly make decisions from a place of love and freedom and create a sustainable living doing what I love. The Raindrop Incorporated community will compassionately connect humanity through the way we work, think and live. Our actions will elevate the vibration of the planet through full expression of one's true self, and ripple joy and echo love to all peoples.


Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash


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