Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Least you think I'm nice

I think I am giving everyone the wrong impression of me. From my recent posts I seem to be a really nice, thoughtful person. Most people who know me don't describe me that way. How do I know? Because I asked. And I kind-of wish I hadn't.

About a year ago I got one of those e-mail chains. I usually ignore these but I did this one. I used one word to describe the sender of the e-mail I also forwarded the e-mail to a few people I know to see what they would say about me. I guess I was assuming that people would only send positive words. Wrong assumption.

Here are the responses:


Let's dissect:

Grumpy: Ok that was my little brother who is a smart-ass. Oh but isn't it the "fool" who always tell the truth. And BTW, I'm sure everyone who is not high must seem grumpy to you, little Bro. Perhaps I should get stoned. No. Seriously. Pass the bong.

Opinionated: What? You couldn't have said passionate, uncompromising, enthusiastic? Next time try consulting a god-darned thesaurus, Office Mate. and BTW, Look whoe's talking, Kettle.

Intense: My other little brother. Perhaps I'm intense because you ask my opinion 20 times and then go do the exact opposite. Repeating myself into a near-perfect vacuum of common sense makes me intensely eager to get you to listen hence my INTENSITY

Tough: From the same little brother that said intense. I guess one thinly- veiled insult is not enough for you. And yes, compared to you I am tough...you big fat girl.

Tenacious: Again, can someone please consult a thesaurus? There are far more complimentary ways to put this. Resolute, steadfast, persistent. I guess tenacious is not so bad but in combination with the other words it takes on the less attractive quality. It's just a girls way of saying intense, opinionated, grumpy.

Chic: Thanks. I like it.

Successful: OK, I like this one too. My friend wanted an word that acknowledged how hard I have worked at things.

And the worst part is that these are all totally accurate! I can't even argue with them.

And the best part is that instead of using this as an opportunity for self-reflection/growth my first reaction is just to bag on the responders. Oh, classic me. Good thing I started a blog so I can get all my bitchiness out anonymously. Now I'm be free to show people my softer side. But between you and me I'm seriously wondering if I have one.

I always thought of myself as a "Crusty on the outside, Squishy on the inside" kind-of gal. I always though the people who knew me...really knew me...could see that. Apparently, I'm pretty crusty inside as well.. But I'm not crusty all the way to the core am I? I'm actually very sensitive and empathetic. But I'm also the kind of person who will tell you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear. I'll tell you to "suck it up" and I'll help you do it after an acceptable amount of wallowing.

I always thought that was being a good friend. But I guess it just comes across as mean. Thin line: Honest/Mean. Well, not for most but it's a thin one for me seeing as how I'm so opinionated, grumpy, and intense.

It was a bit of a wake-up call. If the people I am closest to think I'm mean then what the heck do other people (who I AM actually mean to) think of me?

I do have a manner of being plain- spoken, transparent, shooting from the hip. You'll never wonder where you stand with me but I guess it comes across as more meanness than anything. I need to find a way to be myself but also not step on others.

Compassion has been the buzzword for me lately. Considering the effect of my words...not just making my point. It requires thinking before I speak. It requires considering the emotional aspects of someone's life and not just the logistical ones.

Ten years ago I wanted to be all those things. Tough, intense, tenacious. I needed to be all those things and I was. I could "suck it up" like nobody's business. Those attributes have served me well over the years. But now I'm in another phase of life. I'm a mom. I'm in a leadership position at in my career. I have few friends.

How do I want co-workers to describe me?

How do I want my daughter to describe me?

Maybe I should make my own list of words. The words I want to be.

A linguistic before an after.

I don't want to change who I am...just make some improvements. I don't want to be the same person I was 10 years ago. Not that there was anything wrong with that but I think growth is important.

Here is the hard part...the friend who wrote "successful" sent me a long e-mail explaining how she arrived at that. It was a true gift.

I have not called or e-mail her in months. She's pregnant with her second child and due any day now. He oldest child just turned 2. She's sub-fertile; it took longer than she wanted to conceive but she has has two natural and-closely spaced pregnancies so by my standards she's had is easy. She has no idea about what I'm going through but thinks she knows which is harder to take than someone who is 100% clueless. She just says so many of the wrong things, goes on and on about her pregnancy.

She's just moved into her "dream house" which her parents bought for her. I have no such parental gifts. We are scrapping and saving to pay for yet another IVF. It's hard for me to talk to her right now. Hard to see her with all the things that I want...that I am working my butt off for and she has them handed to her. In a word I am: resentful. I desperately don't want to add that to my list of words.

She's want to share the "happiest time in her life" with me because we are friends and I guess that's what friends do.

Perhaps I need to just "suck it up". If there's one thing I'm good at ...it's that. Plus, it will give me a chance to practice that "compassion" thing I've heard about.


RenovationGirl said...

Well, I'm not going to tell you to suck it up. Sometimes, we need to protect ourselves. Sometimes, I detach so as not to slap the living daylights out of those whose lives I envy and resent. So, see, you're actually being very kind by not talking to her. Who knows what could happen if you did share in the "happiest time in her life." Sigh...

luna said...

I definitely would not be sending that email to people asking them to describe me. I can already envision it now...

it's hard not to be resentful sometimes, even while I'm struggling to feel compassion. some people DO just have it easier, it seems. I for one am not of the suck-it-up variety though. I've had to put some space between myself and a lot of people because I'm simply unable to share their joy. so I send my good wishes from a distance.

Baby Step said...

I don't think you should suck it up. I have STOPPED sucking it up lately. I am slowly turning into t sniveling idiot. Okay, that much isn't true -- I do suck it up as a facade and then bitch or cry behind everyones' backs on my blog, to my DH, etc. People always tell me I am brutally honest, to a fault. Which is a thinly veiled way of calling me one, big BEE-ATCH.

Lori said...

Let me find out for myself. Come to the BlogHer hotel and hang out with us.

Drop me an email to coordinate. bestlightlori at the gmail place.

Nic said...

You could be describing me. Your blog echoed so much of what I am thinking now about myself. I would say people would describe me in exactly the same way - I think I am being objectively honest, people interpret it as 'sharp, thoughtless, opinionated'...blah. Do you gt times when you just don't want to say anything, just for fear of inadvertently offending someone, just for saying what you think? Thanks for a blog that matches my mood perfectly. Hugs, I think you're lovely. Open, honest, integrity is WONDERFUL.

Anonymous said...

I get the same exact words when people describe me... intense, opinionated... mean... I'm not mean, I'm HONEST... The problem is, while people often say they want honesty in their lives, no one really wants to face the harsh reality of the truth... no one really wants to LIVE it. The truth sucks and it hurts. I don't think I'm a mean person. I don't try to be. I know I have a lot of love and goodness in my heart. I lack a lot of compassion though... mostly because people are stupid. ;)