One of my dearest friends has a terrible habit of dressing like she is still in high school. She loves ripped jeans – and not the fashionable ones – and seems happy with her hair in a messy bun at any angle she can manage. She also lives in hoodies that are three sizes too big because she plunders her husband’s side of the closet. Normally I wouldn’t care what someone wears, except for the fact that she is constantly complaining that she is not getting promoted at work, despite her many qualifications. The other day, in a bout of frustration over my friend’s whining, I asked if she dresses for work the way she dresses everywhere else. She looked shocked and then answered in the affirmative. Now she’s angry at me for judging her physical appearance and being shallow. She said no job should promote based on appearance and that I’m part of the problem. I admit I may be part of the problem, but I am also realistic about the way the world works and adjust accordingly. Was I wrong to say something to my friend?
Dear Practical Peggy,
You and your dearest friend have just demonstrated the two trains of thought that exist in this world. On one side, the realist. On the other side, the idealist. The fact that you two are such great friends is one of the greater mysteries of the universe.
It may also be the reason why you are such great friends.
You admit that in a bout of frustration, you lashed out at your friend. I imagine your tone of voice and choice of words was less than befitting the title of Dearest Friend. You need to apologize for that and do so without excuses. Your were wrong and the only way to get this friendship back on track is to own up to the hurt you caused. There is a time and a place to pop someone’s delusional balloon – you used a hand grenade instead of a needle to do it.
Friendship is about supporting one another, even when whining.
That’s not to say that you should have to listen to whine after whine, day after day, without a single break to laugh and be merry. The occasional whine is normal and your friend may have veered onto this loop without realizing how long she’s been doing it. Next time she brings up her work, ask her what her hopes are for the future. You may very well stumble on a solution that isn’t directed at your friend’s wardrobe. Perhaps her complaints stem from dissatisfaction with a specific manager, or it could be the company as a whole. Maybe she is tired of her profession and needs a friendly face to look at while she admits this out loud. Instead of shutting your friend down, help her brainstorm a solution.
A eureka moment may be just around the corner!
Then you can return to drinking and being merry and having a tasty snack along the way. Before you know it, you’ll be whining while your friend bites her tongue and listens sympathetically.
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