A few months ago, I was having an online conversation with a friend. We were laughing, kind of ridiculously loudly, about something one of us had said. It went on for a while and before I knew it, I’d spent 30 minutes on this particular topic. Woops, gotta get up and start dinner! I looked down at the conversation to say bye, and my heart sank to my stomach as I saw some of our words. (If you’ve already read this post, I’ve added a “who knew” update at the bottom!)
I’d spent the better part of 30 minutes in a conversation that I wouldn’t have had in person. It was mean. It was making fun of something, and even in an offhand, impersonal kind of way, I was embarrassed. Ashamed.
Then it hit me. Who am I? This is NOT me. I don’t normally do this.
I’m always the nice person. I’m the one that likes to make people happy. I offer my home to those in need. I celebrate with people and try to lift them up through difficult times. I gift more than I need to. This means I am often taken advantage of, and frequently, people think the fact that I don’t react negatively, or at all, means I’m stupid. (Never underestimate the quiet people. They are observing while you are busy thinking that you’re smarter or sneakier.) I instead choose to not waste my time trying to change someone and to focus on better things, quietly moving back into my own lane. Dodging a bullet. Focusing on the positive. Backing away quietly.
So why was I suddenly involved in a conversation that wasn’t nice? And, if I really admitted it to myself, more than one?
The saying “birds of a feather flock together” has some truth to it. There’s also the fact that if you hang around someone long enough, you start to rub off on them and vice versa. You may not agree in a lot of areas, but you will have increased commonalities. You can hang around people without absorbing their habits and traits — or without even being their friend — but you have to pay attention, and I hadn’t.
I’d let this happen to me. It was my fault, as I’m in control of myself. I’d let emotions and circumstances and moods change me. I became something I’m normally not, and I’m sad about it. To make it worse, did I come off that way to others now, too?
I’m really glad that I noticed it though, because being self-aware makes me realize that I’m really not that person. I’m still a nice person. I’m still the person who will do too much, trust too much, offer too much. But I’d rather be too nice than the opposite.
Don’t let the world change you. Don’t get sucked into bad situations or conversations that make you uncomfortable. If your gut says something is wrong, listen to it. Stick to your true self, even if it means losing some friends. And they may not even be your friends anyway. They may just like that you pander to their narcissistic and negative discussions. You don’t have to do anything that makes you someone you’re not. Just maybe learn when to start saying no and how to avoid circumstances where you’re being used. Trust that gut feeling.
Stay nice. Stay true to who you are. That’s better than any joke or temporary conversation out there.
Update: apparently when you write about your own experiences, some people infer that you may be writing about them. The reality is that it was not directed at anyone that even knows about my blog. Why would I write about someone that could read it? I wouldn’t. I’ve been blogging since 2007; I know better. If the real person who I had “the” conversation with happens upon it, that’s an entirely random thing as they are not even a known blog reader and while I love to think my SEO is fabulous, it’s still unlikely they’ll find it unless they are searching for a post about this topic…which just adds to the unlikelihood (word?) that they’ll see this. So, this isn’t about you, because I do have other friends, along with co-workers, acquaintances and more….but thank you for proving my point.