Recently I was having an all too common conversation with some friends where we were sorting each other into categories of TV characters. “Who is the Carrie?” “I’m definitely the most like Tino” “You’re the Ron Weasley” You know? Those kinds of conversations. We’ve all had them and mostly they’re pretty harmless.
When I was young I was always the brainy girl character or the redhead. That was fine with me, I took pride in both my red hair and my intelligence. But in high school I was friends with a lot of other very intelligent people so I was no longer the brainy one – I was the redhead or the writer. Again these were fine with me, they were characteristics I associated with myself as well.
But then I went to university for Journalism and suddenly I’m surrounded by other young women who are also intelligent writers. So what does that leave me? As the redhead. We’re all unique in our own ways right? So that must leave me with some interesting personality trait that would still be there even I went wild and dyed my hair blonde or blue.
Then I started to notice a different narrative rise up. Slowly toward the end of university as I got a job, and then another job, had a steady partner and stabilized my living situation people started referring to me as the “put together one”. The most likely to achieve expected milestones first.
When we played games like “most likely to” or picking who was each character I noticed that over and over again the same refrain existed. I was the most put together or “perfect”, which sounded a lot like an insult to me.
I know that when my friends or outsiders were saying it they didn’t mean it as an insult. But I hear someone tell me or anyone that we’re so put together or perfect I hear “boring” or “lacking in personality”. Having a job and partner at 23 do not mean are not a personality traits or characters, they’re just facts. I have so many characteristics beyond these two simple facts about me.
This also creates an impossible standard. So what happens when I don’t meet these expectations anymore? Am I no longer a person? Do I cease to exist?
I don’t even associate these characteristics with myself. I’m all over the place. Constantly worried about who I am and what I’m going to do next, the same as most people my age, the same as all of my friends.
I imagine I’ll switch jobs and change my mind about everything at least a thousand times over my life. Things will go up and down, I’ll have highs and lows. Being the perfect one doesn’t allow a lot of room for growth. It adds to pressure to continue on a single course and remain who I already am forever while only deviating to achieve certain pre-determined acceptable milestones at the right time.
I’ve never imagine myself as the type of person to get married in my mid-to-late twenties, have a child 2-3 years later followed be another 2-3 years later. All while working an acceptable job that means I have time to be the primary caregiver for my hypothetical children but is nonthreatening to any man. Maintaining acceptably trendy hobbies like spin class and baking for school bake sales. No one’s life actually works out this well. Things are messy, and if your life is like this you are MORE than this. You are MORE than these small facts.
You don’t really know what’s going on in someone’s life. And telling them their strongest most predominant quality is one predicated on maintaining the status quo can be crippling. They’ll make sure to keep more facts about their life from you in the future.
So it’s really time to stop telling your friends that they are so perfect and well put together.
What’s the so-called compliment you get often that annoys you? Why?
I’ve got some more posts queued up so make sure you’re following on bloglovin’ so you don’t miss a thing.