Exceptionally Blessed

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I always feel exceptionally blessed when I meet a person I don't want to "grow up into". These people are probably what most people would term good people and contributors to society, not the scourge in any manner. Yet, they usually have a sense of unhappiness and malcontent which upon a bit of conversation reveals itself and makes me think on the drive home, "I feel exceptionally blessed with my great family and friends. I refuse to grow into that person." In a way, recognizing the undesirable serves as a caution sign with a big arrow pointing to specific character traits I'd like to avoid (along with the unhappiness).

Today, the big arrow was pointed at one-upmanship and I am reminded that I dislike one-upmanship in an 18 year old snot and also dislike it in someone a great deal older. In fact, I felt dissapointed that this person didn't grow out of, or somehow fell into, such icky behavior. Yet, being able to see this is such a good thing because I can prevent myself from going down that path. Also, it makes me think of how wonderful my family and friends (and their families) are. Surrounded by those I admire, I usually forget about those I could really live without. One of my relatives really surprised me with her insight today when she said she's trying to talk about current events and such instead about people (as conversation topics) because talking about people only leads to gossip. This was surprising because I always thought she loved a bit of gossip, but somewhere along the line she learned that gossip hurts people and wants to change her ways. Maybe someone important to her told her that gossip was hurtful or she discovered it for herself, but I really admired her for listening/observing and trying to change for the better. Also, it makes me think about my real life role models- they always ask about you and show interest in what you say... or at least delicately turn conversation to a neutral subject which all parties may converse about (hint: it isn't a full regaling of your glory days. Should you find yourself talking about your glory days 30 years later without being asked for the full blow-by-blow, look in the mirror to see if your head is swollen and if your insecurity is showing). Perhaps some will say that showing interest in what others have to say is merely good manners, but cultivating genuine interest and concern tells me that you care about me and my ideas.

This year, I'm going to be an executor and listen to people (much like How to Win Friends and Influence People ) I will remind myself to share my experiences and not to one-up. Yes, I will still talk about myself because hey, I'm not vanilla pudding and I like to share my quirky vivaciousness ;). But thanks to my friends, I also know that while they love me, All Freecia All the Time isn't really as interesting as I think it is. Even if 10 people occasionally tune into what I have to say. So please, leave a comment on what you think and if you ever meet people you don't admire but can't bring yourself to say that they're a horrid person.

3 Comments

Amen, Freecia!

I've had that "Boy, am I glad to be me/I'm glad I'm not That Person" moments myself - and I am always interested in figuring out exactly what it is about the other person that turns me off. One-Upsmanship or a sense of entitlement make me crazy. I've also learned, at the ripe old age of 31, that other people really do have interesting things to say, and so if I don't share my own anecdote RIGHT NOW, probably the other people in the room will still be able to lead productive and fulfulled lives. ;)

Have a great 2006, Freecia! Oh - also, I was wondering if you'd send me your snail mail addy - I can't find it. :(

Heya! First time posting to a blog (is this considered a blog? I have no idea what is the difference between blogs or bulletin boards or forums... blugh). Wow, deep conversation going... well, let me play devil's advocate for a second... well, maybe not even that - while I understand perfectly the annoyance of one-upmanship, people do want to be recognized as being unique individuals, they want acknowledgement of what they have accomplished, and they want to relate to people; ergo (is that how you spell "ergo"?), they talk about themselves and their experiences. Is that bad? If people do it to an excess, yes, that would be bad... so what's the middle ground? How can people strike the balance of listening yet also sharing their experiences?

Another thing is that a person relating a personal story might feel that she's relating a lesson to be learned, whereas the person listening might think she's trying to draw attention to herself. A lot of it is frame of mind... one person could think a person's an arrogant jerk for talking about himself so much, another person might feel sorry for the braggart for being so insecure, yet another person might think that the so-called braggart is just enterataining everyone with amusing personal stories. What is the right frame of mind? I think I think too much... maybe I shouldn't post on blogs...

I think there's a difference in sharing and oneupmanship. Oneupmanship usually involves mentioning your own skill, intelligence, or monetary value. Repeatedly in response to something the other person has said, probably in a conversational way like "we're going skiing" or "I like apples". Like, they manage to work "more" into the conversations every 4 minutes. It is noticeable when the Asian biddy is driving you up the wall because her husband/child/grandchild/dentist/hairdresser/mechanic did/said/bought something clearly sooooo wonderful that she must tell you about it. Now. Then she clucks at you. Sometimes people always begin their sentences with "Oooooh? Well I..." which I feel precludes oneupmanship sometimes. Sharing probably starts with "Hey, that's funny, I did that too! " or "That's interesting because I was doing some research about buying/doing that myself. Could you share you reasoning with me?"

There's also the unprompted "Good Old Days" speeches from people that should have had a life since then. If one finds oneself giving an unasked for "Good Old Days" speech to a distant acquaintance, then one should consider getting a life. Yes, of your own.

Sharing, while it can mention skill, and toot your own horn, doesn't really involve the words "better" or "more" or "Oh yeah, I did something like that but with a famous/luxury/best ..." every few minutes. You give other people a chance to join in on the conversation and you listen to what they say and respond in kind. That, is probably sharing and conversation... you know, versus oration.

Of course, sharing in an interview means something totally different, where you're trying to come off as aggressive and show your own merits. But, interviews often give you a chance to ask questions to focus on them and questions which show that you're in sync. It's an Us thing instead of a Me thing, which makes sense because they hire "you" to work with "Us".

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