Frank on Depression: The MLM Adventures (Part 1)

Hey, Beautiful Blossoms!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading an interesting (and occasionally funny) blog called “The Not Quite Fairy-Tales of Elle Beau,” courtesy of a makeup Discord group I participate in. It was mentioned in the group at a good time for me because I needed something to calm me down but never really did after a hectic weekend involving moving, a car, sticker shock, and ego.

Admittedly, the blog entries detailing Elle’s experience with Younique was surprisingly interesting – I’m no stranger to MLM (yes, I used to do it too and no, I wasn’t keen on the whole aggresive sales tactics that are fondly used by companies), yet I kept on reading Elle’s entries about how she went through the roller coaster of being a Younique salesperson until the ride finally came to a stop when, obviously, she quit the company.

The way she described her experiences was one that was all too familiar – the only difference being that her main upline (MLM lingo for the person who’s ranked above you but in reality, piggybacking on your sales) went rogue, then the person above that went rogue too, and the whole shitstorm that followed was kinda funny but fascinating like watching a train wreck. Elle just happened to have gone deeper into the rabbit hole than I ever did: what it’s like being on Facebook these days…

The reason why I wrote that description is because Elle had been reeled in via Facebook and that seems to be the preferred avenue for MLM companies these days.

Reading through her blog posts sent me on a spiral of TRIGGERED and flashback moments and in between them were melancholy and pain. I was fully involved in one MLM alone, but subsequently never got out of that arena because my ex was reeled in by his intent to support his friends, who took the baits that were cast out into their views, and partially by his own desire to become a self-employed worker.

My ventures in MLM were, arguably, one of the better moments that I shared with my ex because we both had a mutual disdain for them in general. But in this day and age, when starting your own business requires a shit-ton of capital from investors and a lot of expenses, MLM’s appeal for having a low startup is practically a godsend for the desperate, the dreamers, the ego-wounded, and the frustrated underpaid employee.

In my case, I went for it, partly wanting to support my own parents who jumped into it as a means of easing their pain financially (a well-intended but disastrously practiced move), and because I was close to finishing college for the first time but the job outlook was not looking good, and I had student loans hanging around my neck like a weight.

I figured that at that point, I had to make an attempt and try. I owed myself that.

Memories aside, what prompted me to sneak a blog post at work today was a recurring theme that I noticed in Elle’s blog post / Younique experience: the whole “work grind” culture, where you bust your ass / work hard to achieve your dreams, no matter what the naysayers (or “haters,” as the preferred term goes nowadays) say. Now, by itself, it’s actually a motivating concept – one that’s been deeply ingrained in psyches over the years.

MLMs have taken up that concept to hype up their recruits / downlines, dismissing criticism by family members / friends who can spot the bullshit a mile away. No doubt that a quick search on MLM groups you will find profiles inundated with an inspiring quote about how people can either hate, block, join, or mock them or they’re their own boss with a hashtag for their group theme.

My mind just completely shut down to the point that if you were inside, you could hear a pin drop. The “work grind” is a mantra that I hung on to when I felt the sting of being out of the MLM scene (someone write a Psychology paper on this), in part because the Uplines that tried to use their sales tactics realized I was not taking their bait. Thankfully, I was not on the receiving end of the spiel of going for the “shitty, 9-5 paycheck crap job” (not verbatim, but this is often what’s used to describe a regular job. Sure, it sucks but at least I don’t suffer from constant guilt-trips by my boss).

But to see that mantra get warped and twisted int a dangerous psychological conditioning that fits one of the criteria for domestic abuse is hella scary. Aw hell, now I can’t look at the popular YouTube beauty channels that claim to be on that mantra without feeling TRIGGERED (and not in a funny meme way either).

I’m all for the “work grind” mantra – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson lives and breathes it and so does Daymond John, “The Peoples Shark.” Sure, I may not seemingly practice that because I update the blog once in a while (switching jobs is not as easy as it looks – a lesson I’ll take to heart, while moving (as in I’m FINALLY bringing some belongings over to the new place) and dealing with transportation for the new job), but I really am trying – right now, my main concern is keeping my head above the water.

Here’s to Part 2!

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