A Manners Manifesto

The pleasure of having done as one ought under difficult circumstances, of having lived up to personal expectations for your own behavior. I discovered that this is not something known to every woman. Many were raised to "just be nice" and find themselves unable to say "no" or deal effectively with rude people without feeling rude. Other have never been taught simple standards for social behavior and so a simple party is a next of anxiety where they have no idea what they should do or say but fear getting it wrong.

Having to live up to what everyone's expectations seems impossibly difficult. I could never do that. Instead I set my own expectations for my behavior and try my best to behave in a way that I can be proud of. That is what I mean when I talk about having manners. Manners are a simple set of internalized rules that you use in social situations. The actual rules, the protocol (such as what fork to use), have been widely discussed, but what is less understood is the reasons for manners.

When one has some basic manners you can enter a situation, even a complicated situation, knowing what you should do. You will know how to behave yourself when other people are acting in ways you did not expect, that offend you, or that are just plain weird. Having manners means being consistent and predictable, boring sounding virtues but ones that make for good friends and good fun.

Being a Lady means you can rise above drama, not because you can make others behave, but because even when faced with the offensive and unexpected you can behave yourself.

And this is what I hope to explain to girls who are growing up in a world where everyone tells them how they think they should behave: How you behave is your choice, and in the end how you behave is who you are to the world. You too can be a lady, all you have to do is act like one.