Just because we take a lot of pictures and are in communication with hundreds (if not billions) of people instantly, doesn’t mean that our language is narcissism, and we should be given more credit for the conversations we have before a stranger eavesdrop and decide that they know our life stories.
My friends had the idea to find a patio while the weather was still nice, and even though it was humid and rainy (and the winter heat lamps were on under the bar making it even hotter) we went outside. We do this thing in which we try and fix our hair in the bathroom, maybe so it won’t engulf our faces for a few more minutes outside. My hair will get twisted in a ball on the top of my head when it gets too hot, no cares given.
I say, “I didn’t realize it was so humid,” out loud, backing away from the mirror.
“Even with my frizzy hair and acne those guys still wanted to take a picture,” says a friend, talking about a bachelor party group who were posing in front of a large beach chair with us strangers.
We are about to leave the bathroom, and abruptly, a class of ’96 reunion goer from the room reserved above the bar says:
“There is so much negativity in here. ‘My hair looks bad,’ that girl’s a slut’. Listen to us. Where did we learn it?”
We? To which one of my friends issues, “magazines.”
I’m convinced this woman is after Leslie Mann’s next movie role.
Then, she with the nametag, stuck upstairs in the party room in a weird vortex of a class reunion , tells us that we should like who we are, and compliments our various body parts and clothing before walking out. And I quote, “look at those boobs.”
One of my friends comments how she wants to go back and dance now.
I don’t think simple observations to our closest friends about humidity and a stress zit make us hate who we are. If we didn’t want to be out, we wouldn’t be out on the patio in the rain. We’re clearly comfortable despite the hot weather. I think we’re comfortable when we speak with our friends, and if we wanted a motivational speech we would have gone to see a speaker, not a DJ.
Thirty-eight year old stranger seems to think that being self-indulging narcissists will help with the “negativity” of the world, and that we can validate ourselves based on shallow appearances. To her, we’ve adapted to a culture of selfies and phrases like “Look at those boobs”, take the place of “I like the top you’re wearing, that’s a great color on you”. Thirty-eight year old stranger thinks she’s talking our language to reach out and mentor us, but in reality, we’re kind of confused. When we first met up that night, my three friends and I exchanged compliments about our outfits and jewelry, but the class of ’96 seemed to miss it, because it wasn’t exactly their conversation. We are about 10 years younger than the woman who accosted us, and she’s not giving us enough credit for liking who we are, and many people our age probably get a bad rap. Taking pictures of ourselves to remember events or just the day doesn’t mean we are egocentric and only respond to narcissistic statements.
I also don’t think that complimenting our appearances to make up for accusing us of calling other girls “sluts” (in which I didn’t, I don’t.) in conversations that aren’t our own is an acceptable trade off. It was the strangest conversation I’ve ever had with a stranger if Jessica from French class doesn’t count.
It’s a great reminder that there are many things that happen in a conversation before you get there. You shouldn’t feel entitled to teach someone else a life-lesson if they aren’t asking for it.
“I like your shoes,” though, that can brighten someone’s day.
I hope to remember both things when I turn thirty-eight.