March 2, 2010

The trouble with life experience

Posted in Advice I have no business giving, Darth Vaguer, Present, The Just a Little Sad, The Small and Petty, The Who, The Why, The WTF at 9:05 am by Dagny Taggart

is that it makes me so MAD at myself.

Let’s say that I had two friends, both of whom I’d gone shopping with at various points in time.  One friend, who knew that I was generous with lending wardrobe items, would tell me things were worth buying when they were maybe not the best choice I could have made.  Granted, I would leave the store feeling good about having found cute things to wear, but the friend would leave knowing that the clothes I’d purchased were much more flattering on her, and that even though I owned them, she’d have the benefit of borrowing from time to time.

And let’s say that the other friend would never let me walk out of a store with something that wasn’t right for me.  Ever.  But that friend would be really open about why things weren’t right.  She’d point out that I didn’t fill it out, or that I filled it out too much.  She might even point out that I’d put on a few extra pounds in some places, or that when I wore orange I looked consumptive, or that my lack of sleep was clearly aging me.  And when I left the store, I didn’t feel great about myself.

Now clearly, neither of these friends are people I need to be shopping with.  But if I had to choose one to tell off, one to be furious with, one with whom I’d no longer be friends, who would it be?

Years ago, I might have said that the second person was the one to go.  That it was obvious that those comments would hurt someone’s feelings, that things could be said more gently, that it was really hard to believe that someone wouldn’t say things like that unless they intended to hurt my feelings.

All of which might be true, to a degree – at least to the extent that the person may have understood that hurt feelings would be a necessary consequence of her words, but either didn’t know how to say things differently, or thought that the knowledge outweighed the hurt.

But now, I feel like it’s the first person who’s got to go.  I just don’t have time or patience for people who are willing to lay their integrity on the altar of “things people want to hear” – especially if they’re doing it with personal gain in mind.  And yes, they may actually choose their words more carefully, and they may be genuinely concerned about not hurting someone’s feelings, but … true friends aren’t afraid to risk hurt feelings, if it means helping you be a better version of you – whether it’s finding an outfit that accentuates your best features, or a career that showcases your strengths, or just keeping you from achieving your dreams as quickly as possible, in general.



  1. vvk said,

    The first person is cheating you for their own self interest. The second person may lack tact, but they’re doing what you asked of them (trying to help you find clothing that works for you) as best they can.

    Life is crazy. You learn things sometimes that make you look back on things and wonder how you could have though / behaved so differently. It’s related to the feeling I get when I watch kids* now-a-days. I think, “was I ever that stupid?” The answer of course is probably yes, but really? Kid’s these days…


    * kids = people younger than me. Yes, I’m a crotchety old man.

  2. Alias Faux said,

    Good post.

  3. Brian said,

    Tell you what: take the second friend shopping with you, and I will send you a recording of me saying, “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaammnnn, that looks hot,” (or a variation on that theme, perhaps inquiring as to whether a side of pomme frites is included in my order) which you can play whenever the feedback you get needs a little, shall we say, balance.

    The first friend will be perfectly welcome to your clothes. At the consignment shop.

    See? Everybody wins. 😉

  4. lemongloria said,

    Yah, the first friend sounds incredibly self-serving. The second is simply tactless. I think eventually I’d stop shopping with either, however. My skin is not that thick.

  5. vvk: I agree that the second person is still a better person to keep in one’s life, but I have to wonder about people who are that careless with other people’s feelings, you know?

    Alias Faux: Thanks!

    Biran: I like the way you think. 😉

    lemongloria: Yeah, finding a new shopping friend would probably have to happen. And I guess what I’m wondering is how bad is it, in the grand scheme of things, to be that continuously oblivious to someone’s feelings?

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