This is the first in a series of things that have been depressing me, even to the point where sometimes I'm not sure I want to live. Yeah, I hate that question, "What are you so depressed about?" Depression is an illness. You don't always have to be depressed "about" something, anymore than I am diabetic "about" something. But, maybe there are things more specific than I thought. I'm 47 years old. “But that's still so young!” Yes, apparently it is. At least, it's young enough so that I am not worthy of being shown respect, and have no right to ask for it. How do I know? Growing up I constantly heard: Don't argue with your elders. It's disrespectful. Don't you dare talk to your (whoever) in that tone of voice! Show some respect! I don't care if he isn't your father, he's an adult, so you respect him. If your friend's mother tells you to call her K--, you smile, say “yes ma'am,” and continue to call her Mrs. G--. You're going to show respect anyway, even if other people don't enforce the rules. If an adult says it's Tuesday, you keep your mouth shut even if you can prove it's Wednesday. It's disrespectful for a child to correct an adult. Why? Because I said so. Now, respect me and do it. At the same time, from the same people, I heard: Respect is something you earn. You can't just demand it. Obviously THEY can, but I can't. When I was in my early 20's, a man in his mid-40's told me, “Of course people don't respect you. You're still young. If you get to be my age, and you're still not being respected, then you'll have the right to complain.” Well... here I am, in fact even older than he was. Am I being respected? Here is the evidence: Teenagers and young adults are more likely to call me “sweetie” than “ma'am.” Only my husband calls me Mrs., and that's as a term of endearment. Strangers, even children, address me by my first name, which the vast majority of the time they mispronounce, even after I correct it. Half of the people I've been going to church with for the past five years still aren't getting it right. My name has only four letters; how hard can it be? I am not entitled to an opinion. People still find it acceptable not to merely disagree, but also to fling hateful personal remarks at me while doing so. Just look in the comments section of almost any internet site. “Shut up, you stupid fat ugly old cow,” is among the tamest of the likely reactions. If someone makes a joke and it offends me, it is not that the joke was rude or disgusting, it is that I don't have a sense of humor. If people hurt me, I am not entitled to an apology. As a matter of fact, it's my fault, because I shouldn't be so sensitive. If I say I don't like being treated a certain way, I don't get what I prefer. I only get a lecture on how I shouldn't try to control others. They are allowed to stand up for themselves. I am not. I am now older than anyone was who ever preached respect to me, at the time they said it. So what do I hear now, when it's long supposed to have been my turn to receive the respect? Of course I still hear that it has to be earned, not demanded, but also: Respect doesn't necessarily come with age, nor should it. Respect gets respect. You have to respect ME first, and then I'll respect you. You teach a child respect by respecting the child. Not that I am ever deliberately disrespectful, but that second bullet point sets up a possibility for an endless Zax situation. “You have to respect me first.” “No, YOU have to respect ME first.” “Well, I'm not going to respect you until you respect me.” And on it goes. I certainly wish someone had told the adults bringing me up that you teach a child respect by respecting the child. Of course, they probably would have laughed and called it the most ridiculous thing they've ever heard. Children are supposed to respect adults, not the other way around. Ever play a game with a child who, like Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes, calls “do over” when he misses, wants extra head-start points when it's his turn, and keeps wanting to invent new rules designed to make it impossible for him to lose? Life has Calvined me. It changed the rules, just when I got to the point where it was my turn to benefit from them.