~Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cult Of Personality

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an e-mail to a girl I considered a close friend and told her that my feelings were hurt due to a series of events. As I hit "send" I thought about what a grown up I was being by acknowledging my feelings and letting the other person know how I was feeling.

Er, only it didn't go over very well. Whereas previously she was fine and happy and my feelings were hurt, my e-mail caused her to become angry with me and my feelings even more hurt. She said some really hurtful things to me, and I can't get past these statements. I feel like our relationship is irreparably damaged because, frankly, I'm now a little afraid of her temper.

The lesson I took away from this is to never discuss your feelings with someone who doesn't discuss her own feelings. If you have a friend who doesn't ever talk about her own feelings, she sure as hell isn't going to acknowledge yours.

I, on the other hand, am on the opposite end of the spectrum and am probably too in touch with my feelings, hence them getting hurt in the first place. I remember being called sensitive since I was 3 or 4 right up to that incident a couple of weeks ago. I am too sensitive. I feel too much. I care too much. I love too much.

I also feel like I caused a lot of drama by disclosing how I felt. If I had never said anything, then she wouldn't have gotten angry and she wouldn't have said those things to me. The end result was the same—I was hurt—so what was the point?

You know who isn't sensitive? Harvey. She rarely causes drama. People want to be around her. When anyone in the group tries to make plans, everyone hangs back until Harvey declares if she's going or not. People are drawn to her. And they certainly don't call her up and say horrible things to her.

So how can I be less like me and more like Harvey?

I made a mental list of Harvey's characteristics. Harvey is beautiful, but her looks isn't what makes her beautiful. It's her confidence. So I should probably work on that.

When the series of events happened a couple of weeks ago, Harvey was affected too. And she told me she was annoyed with the happenings. The difference? I made my feelings outward and she did not. Harvey publicly acts that she's going to be having a good time no matter where she is, no matter the circumstances. I really admire that about her. So, I should focus on having a good time no matter what I do (read: relax). Although it's tough pretending like my opinions and feelings don't count. I asked Harvey about this, and she admitted that she works on this too, but she's been doing this for years has this act down to 80/20. Eighty percent of the time she's truly happy and 20% she's faking it. She said, however, that it wasn't always this ratio.

Another reason people enjoy being around Harvey is that she is always on your side. To your face. I notice this behavior more with people she's acquaintances with. If you are a Red Sox fan, she'll be all "Woo! Red Sox!" Or on the phone she'll respond, "Of course, you're totally right. That person is a douchebag" and she'll look at the group in front of her, smile mischievously, and shake her head no. Now, if you are a close friend, she'll put you in your place. It is disingenuous, but it works for her. I tried to behave like this for Christopher's birthday, but we saw how that turned out.

And when I told Harvey I wish I could be more like her and relax and have a good time no matter where I'm at? She told me she wish she could tell people her feelings were hurt. I honestly don't know who that speaks more highly of, but it makes me smile.

Make people smile, I should probably add that to the list.


Curvy Jones said...

The reason you can't be like Harvey is because you aren't Harvey. I am sure people don't want a Harvey clone. They want Sarah in all her sensitive, real person glory. If people have issues with who Sarah is, they can simply not be around you.

Harvey is who Harvey is because that is how she is built and wired. You trying to be more like her is just Sarah with a Harvey suit on.

I think you should be Sarah, Improved. Sarah who is learning to relax. Who is trying to let go of some sensitivity. Sarah who is trying not to wear her feelings on her sleeve... so much.... because the people that love Sarah love her like she IS, not when she's a caricature of someone she knows. And deep down, the real Sarah will still be hurt and still be sensitive and still love too much and care too much but she'll be suffocated under the Harvey suit.

Be yourself, just better. And don't let anyone tell you that the ability to express yourself is a flaw or downfall. Fuck 'em if they can't handle your emotion. It's what makes Sarah SARAH.

treacle said...

Sarah, the only thing that made sense to me in your post is your note about confidence.

Be confident that you are amazing and that it is not okay for someone to hurt your feelings. Making a bad situation worse is not something you created, it was created by the other person reacting rather than responding to your admission that you were hurt.

Now this girl is going to lose you as a friend. Forever.

So forget about being like Harvey or whoever... be you. Cos you know what? You make lots of people smile.

Yes. You do.

Lpeg said...

I agree with both commentors. You are you for a very good reason. Yes, I agree on the confidence thing, but I think you have a ton of amazing things going for you, and you should focus on those, and not being 'Sarah with a Harvey suit on.'

Maybe start with a list of qualities you like about yourself, and the ones you don't.

Then you can start to work on the things you aren't too favorable for. That way, you make this all about you - how you can improve the already fabulous self that you are!

Anonymous said...

Harvey sounds great, she really does. But you also sound great, too.

Your post really resonated with me because I feel like I am similar to you: I talk very very openly about how I feel, and I can be overly sensitive. I'm not saying I'm happy with myself, but I do value those aspects of my personality. I like myself (sometimes).

It's hard when people can hurt you easily, but irrespective of their reactions to your honesty, at least you have been true to yourself and honest with them. I don't think anyone can ask for more than that.

I hope you can repair your friendship with the girl, but at least you have acted in a strong, decisive way in your attempt to address the problems. People like you are rare and valuable, don't forget that.

Anonymous said...

I shall try this again, I'm having issues with getting my comment posted. I took 5 minutes to write one out then it wouldn't post...grr.

I agree with Curvy and Treacle. I know how it is when you look at someone and think they are so amazing and compare yourself to them and feel you don't measure up. But what a great thing it would be to live inside their head for one day, we'd find that they aren't as superhuman as we make them out to be.

I'm a firm believer in being comfortable and confident with you you really are. That is a huge uphill battle but the end result is worth it.

And if you happen upon someone who has a trait that you admire, try it on for size but if that trait doesn't truly fit with who you are, that's perfectly ok.

Take the adventure of learning who you are and embrace the wonderful, intelligent beautiful woman that has always been there.

Me said...

Also add to your list: Trust in who you are becoming ;)

Picking up a few traits of friends areound you that you admire (the traits that is) might work short-term, but if it's not in you, they might not stick around ;)

J said...

I think it is admirable that you were able to tell that friend that your feelings were hurt. It takes strength to be able to confront feelings. I don't think that you should change that about yourself.

franzi said...

here's my 2ct. i think it takes more guts to tell someone how you really felt about a situation (though i consider email slightly less "gut needing" than a phone conversation or a 1 on 1) than to pretend you're alright and make others think you're on their side even though you are not.

being able to understand who you are and what you think and to communicate that is certainly the harder way to go. everyone likes someone easygoing and nice to be around with. but that doesn't mean that that person is particularly happy. they are usually seen as the "always bubbly" "always smiling" ones. screech! i rather be called a character than "nice" ;-)

you are who you are. work on the aspects that you think you need to work on but don't strive to be someone else who is already around.

jo said...

i agree with the other commenters. you should just concentrate on being the best person you can be. there's always a good and "bad" side to every character trait and the good thing bout being sensitive is that you're naturally more aware of someone else's feelings. it takes strength and coverage to tell someone that your feelings were hurt. sure, the other person may not have reacted positively but that's her problem to deal with.

Klynne said...


I have really enjoyed your blog. I enjoy it because you tell the truth, and what you feel. A true friend would respect you. She did not. You told her your feelings were hurt, and she tried to make it your problem, when if fact, in reality, she was being an jerk. A true friend would bend over backwards and apologize,(even if they did not feel it was their fault, they would be mortified their actions made you feel that way) and try to make sure that they never hurt you again. That is what good friends do. I am just basing this statement on how she reacted to you. She almost sounds like a dumb ass douche bag boyfriend, that treated you like shit and told you, "Oh well, you are psycho." Fuck her. Sorry, just pmsing a bit. You do not need people in your life like this.

Bathwater said...

Sarah, son and I were watching Spongebob a few years ago and he asked me, "how come in cartoons there is always one smart character,one dumb character and mean character in the group?"

I told him, "because that is what life is like." We all can't be Harveys but it wouldn't make for a very good show if we were. The group needs a Sarah and a Harvey.

I think you are great the way you are. You make a good point too, I will remember not to discuss my feelings with people that don't discuss their own.

I think that is why I like blogging so much, the group of readers and people I read all discuss our feelings.

Syd said...

Ha, you know one day, Harvey will snap and stop being polite and start being real.

OH, I totally just quoted the Real World. But here's the thing. Like everyone else is saying - there's no need to be anyone else but you. Do we all have character flaws we can improve upon? Sure. But nobody should aim to change anything that makes them who they are. So, you're sensitive. So what? That probably makes you more aware of what people may need when they are going through things in their lives. You are probably a better friend for it.

And I don't know if it's just getting older, but I'm over stewing about something that bothers me. if I'm upset, I do tell the person. (although yeah, a phone conversation/in person conversation is probably better than an e-mail, given that tone can be taken the wrong way). But how will they ever know unless you do? And if she's upset, I bet she's defensive about her behavior because she suspects she was in the wrong and doesn't want to own it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing, it make my heart smile.

Seriously. I feel your pain... I am very sensitive. But the other day when I shook my head and said to my therapist "I know, I'm too sensitive." she corrected me: "No, you're sensitive."

You and me, we're sensitive. I'm trying to find all the reasons why I should celebrate this!

I have a friend who shares her feelings but never negative ones about me/us... well I was honest and I thought, it was really non-personal but she took it very personally and attacked me a little. We took a week or so of back and forth and reached a point of OK, and after a few weeks I feel better/back to normal.

I think the biggest difference with her and not my other friends who I've fought with - is that I truly really honestly want to let her be her, and me be me... I want it bad enough to not hold that hurt grudge.

Sorry I don't mean to sound preachy or anything, it was just a new/fresher experience for me and I hope it helps you, too.

You can email me about any kind of stuff and chat, if you want an outsider to vent to :)

- dont eat the t_ _ _ _


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