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This past weekend was St. Patrick’s Day and if you follow me on my stories on Instagram you know that I spent my Saturday morning at a St. Patrick’s Day party at Trump Tower here in Chicago. River dyeing parties on St. Patrick’s Day are events that a lot of hotels with ballrooms or rooftops that look out of over the river have to generate revenue. Usually, they sell tickets and you have access to an open bar and buffet and views of the river being dyed green and this one also had Irish step dancers and bagpipers attending.
I had never been to one before. In fact, I had never seen the river dyed green (I’ve seen it literally the color green, but never seen the boats dye it green!). I was so excited at the invite, and the opportunity, to hang out with some of my blogger friends I hadn’t seen in a while and I accepted the invitation to attend the Trump Tower river dyeing party.
I put up my stories. Tagged Trump Tower. And immediately got a lot of responses. Some were very negative, some were disappointed, some were confused, some were ashamed of me.
As soon as I started getting the very negative responses, I got defensive of myself.
“It’s just a location. That doesn’t mean I believe in his policies.”
“He doesn’t even own it anymore, does he?”
“Well, I know myself and I know what I believe in so who cares what other people think.”
In reality, I didn’t even think about the fact that people would think I was a hypocrite because I identify as a Democrat. All I was thinking was the river is being dyed green and I want to go see it. My mind was hyper-focused on the experience and just having a good time. A few days earlier my plans had just been to go to some bars near my house and now I got to have this fun experience for free – how fun! That was what I was truly thinking. The fact that it was associated with President Trump didn’t even cross my mind.
As I was getting defensive and annoyed that anyone could take my actions as anything other than wanting to enjoy a festive day, my friend Mindy reached out via DM and simply asked me why I went. Her non-threatening way of asking me my intentions led to a really nice open dialogue that helped let down my defenses and realize why people would be upset to see that I had set foot in Trump Tower.
For one, he still makes money off of Trump Tower Chicago so spending money to attend that event does, in fact, put money in his pocket. Second, having young, pretty bloggers/grammers go to his event and talk about his brand and name in a positive light only helps him and makes him look good, which obviously was not my intention but I know that’s what it looked like from the outside by my attending the event.
If you follow Mindy on Instagram, you know she is someone who thinks about social injustice frequently. She always has the ability to see the perspective that others might not be able to and that’s why I love being her friend and I’m glad she has the patience to talk through things with me instead of judge immediately. What I learned from yesterday and attending this event was that we need to be more like her. Instead of seeing things you don’t approve of and immediately throwing jabs and insults and anger at the problem, think of a way you can have a conversation about it instead. When people were hurling insults, it just made my defenses go up. When I was allowed to explain my side, I opened up and I was able to discuss it openly. I learned from their side or perspective instead of curling up into a ball and not taking anything away from the day other than hurt feelings.
I wrote a post once about how my Dad supports Donald Trump and voted for him the last election which you can read here. In it, I talk about having soft conversations so people can hear your side of the argument. Sure, in theory, that’s great, right? But had I really practiced what I preached? Had I really learned from all those screaming matches with my father? No, not really. Sure, we’d had some good conversations but did I really get how he has felt through this political turmoil? Did I walk in his shoes?
I think having this experience let me understand how he, or any of my Republican friends, feel a lot of the time when dealing with anything related to politics – attacked. Instead of being able to have a dialogue with him, I hurl insults. His defenses go up. Mine go up. And we get nowhere fast. Being on the receiving end of the insults made me feel differently about how I will go about talking to these topics in the future. If nothing else, I think that’s a pretty lucky lesson to have learned on St. Patrick’s Day.
Other things I’ve learned: I’m human. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I’m going to react and not think before I do something. I’m going to go to places without thinking about the repercussions. I’m going to do things people don’t like and support brands people aren’t a fan of. Even posting about this is going to probably ruffle feathers. But the important thing is to learn from that decision and the repercussions and I walked away with a lot of lessons and I can live with that.
*I did not get paid by Trump Tower to attend the event but I did receive my ticket for free.