It's NaBloPoMo Sunday and you know what that means.
Advice Day - where The Ugly Sisters - wizened oracles that we are - sit upon our cyberspace hill dolling out instructions to the soon-to-be misguided.
I have no idea how many questions ended up in the mailbag, but this is the one my sister sent to me.
dear ugly sisters,
i have two friends whom i believe to be on a bit of a self destructive path. i'm worried they may not be able to live up to all of their personal goals and expectations, and their possible failure may adversely affect their relationship, or some innocent person who doesn't know that this month is not a normal everymonth-month. i hope you can advise me as to how to stop these friends from hurting themselves or someone they may love, before november is over.
signed: concerned in schuylkill county
Hmmm...a conundrum indeed.
I am going on somewhat limited information here, but I will do the best I can.
There seem to be several issues on the table; the self destructive path, personal goals and expectations, and the relationship they have with each other. I will address each one forthwith.
The Self Destructive Path
Oh, that old thing.
Most of us have been on it at one time or another. The funny thing about self destructive paths is that we can easily see when someone else is traipsing along one but seldom notice the “You Are Now Entering Self Destructive Boulevard” sign as we drive under it ourselves.
But what of the whole idea of self destruction to begin with? I think it can be paralleled with the notion of success. Who is to say what success is or isn’t? Who is to say what self destruction is or isn’t? Who is the Holder of The Magic Yardstick of Life? For instance, a career woman might pity the woman who marries young and starts a family. The young mother might look askance at the woman devoting her life to following Phish. She, in turn, might look down on the woman “trapped” by her career. And so on goes the merry-go-round. That’s the beautiful thing about life: we can look at everyone else and think about how badly they are screwing up, and say to ourselves “Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
And really, this applies to pretty much any type of self destruction, whether it is mental, physical, financial or whatever. As long as someone’s behavior doesn’t conform to what we think is “the way it should be”, it’s obviously wrong. Each and every one of us is trying to make the big ol’ world fit into the crazy personal baggage we carry around. It doesn’t. At some point you’re going to have to realize that your little Vera Bradley bag just doesn’t have enough organizational pockets to make sense of everything.
So, in conclusion, self destruction – unless it is your own – is nothing you can stop. That’s why it is SELF destruction.
Personal Goals and Expectations
Yes, yes. Personal goals. Expectations.
Here is my take on personal goals and expectations: Hope for the best, but make the best of what happens. Because, really, the ONLY thing we have control over in this life is how we choose to deal with what’s thrown at us.
You can try your damnedest for this or that but, guess what? You may not get it. So now what? What if, just what if I don’t get what I want? Well, I can boo-hoo-hoo like so many “victims” of this cruel world.
Or I can take what is given to me and deal. And try, try again.
Face it, sometimes life just craps on you. But, ultimately, it’s the only life you’ve got so you can either cry through it, laugh through it, or maybe a little of both.
It is just as hard to watch someone you care about not reach their goals or meet their expectations. But, again, you don’t have much control over it. Not unless you are directly responsible for choosing to give them the First Place ribbon or hire them for the job or whatever. Really, all you can do is give your support when you can, your advice when it might help, and a shoulder to cry on if things don’t work out and they want to cry a little bit. But not too much. Because nobody likes a crybaby.
The Relationship They Have With Each Other
How do you feel about walking into ring with two boxers? Or, probably more appropriately, joining two partners in their high wire act?
With any relationship between two people, you have a pair of folks who have an agreed upon set way – no matter how kooky it may seem to you – of handling the world. It is like an intricate dance involving love, fear, anger, joy, frustration, bewilderment, compromise and quite often, the Fox Trot.
Trying to change the relationship that two people have with each other would be akin to handing the high wire people a Border collie and taking away the net. Maybe, just maybe, they are used to Border collies and will be able to incorporate it into the act, making it even better.
Or perhaps not.
Again, you are on the outside looking in and things aren’t always what they seem. By the same token, you might have a strikingly clear view of what they aren’t even aware is going on. But be careful - a third party may be a wedge that drives them apart or the threat that rallies the troops together.
They make just take that Border collie and teach it to recite poetry in a German accent and slip it into your tent the next time you are camping. And I’m sure we call all agree that that is a pretty scary thing.
So, relationships? Don’t meddle. It rarely ever pays unless, of course, you are a counselor. But make sure you get paid up front.
In conclusion, Concerned, you sound like a lovely, caring person. And I know I’ve been throwing some blunt commentary out there. But I don't want to send you away with nothing. So, this is what I suggest. Just sit your friends down for an honest chat. Tell them what you perceive to be going on and why you are concerned. Ask if there is any way you can help them reach their goals and let them know you will be there for them if they don’t.
For instance, I’ll give you a little hypothetical monologue, pretending The Ugly Sisters are the two friends in question:
“Hi, Ugly Sisters.
You both look awesome today!
The reason I asked you over for a delicious dinner of garlic pasta is because I also wanted to talk to you about something that has me concerned.
You see, I realize you are both making your best effort to post on your blogs every day this month, what with it being NaBloPoMo and everything. I…I’m just worried that you might be putting too much pressure on yourselves. I mean, Ugly Sister 1, you have young children and…oh, let me get you another glass of wine… And Ugly Sister 2, I know how busy your farm keeps you… more grated cheese?
And you are both SUCH talented writers! Every single post shows how much you strive for perfection…
Can I rub your feet?
The thing is…what if you get sick and miss a day? I mean, I’m not trying to push you…it’s really quite the opposite. I want you to know that it’s ok if you don’t post every single day. Scalp massage?
I know you are working together on this project, trying to keep each other going…here’s the fresh bread I made…and, consequently turning it into a bit of…oh, of course, here’s the other bottle of wine…into a bit of competition…
Your shoulders? Sure, I’ll rub your shoulders.
I’m just afraid if one of you misses…oh, your back too? Ok..
I just don’t want to see you hurt if it doesn't work out. You know, if there is anything I can do...
What? More wine? Well, sure I have more wine...but...but that's not what I meant. What I mean is, if there is anything I can do, you know, to help out during November so you can concentrate on your writing...
Twice a day?
See? It's simple.
Good luck and good luck. Now go get 'em!
Ugly Sister 2
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