Friendly Perspectives

Over the years I have honed my selective listening and memory skills. To be more kind to myself in this description, I have fine tuned my information filters throughout my lifetime.

In my seemingly never ending quest to figure out, “Now What?“, I have turned to career books to help point me in the right direction.

Career Books

All of these types of books say I should be the jobs I’ve already had and hated in the past. That bad advice made me filter out the other things they mentioned, such as asking friends what they think I would be good at.

Part of my electing not to this is not wanting to be a bother to my friends. I would want my friends to take time to think about it and not give a flippant response. Well, maybe a flippant response first, but then the real thing. And therein lies the rub: if I asked for the truth, I would get it. Of course, Jack Nicholson’s voice is now in my head”.

You Can't Handle the Truth

What if these people who know me best, who have seen me through being young and stupid, or newly divorced and stupid, or (insert other phase of life) and stupid .. what if their perceptions of me were so dramatically different than how I see myself that I wouldn’t recognize myself in them?

That was/is my true fear. But so what if they see me differently? Why do I automatically assume it would be in a negative light? Reality check: Are my friends so stupid that they would hang around with someone they don’t respect? Oh, that. There I go using logic again!

Recently I had two friends voluntarily give me some direction in the career arena. They don’t know one another, and it happened organically in our conversations. One pointed out a commonalities in the things that interest me, a connection I had never made and an excellent way of spinning things. The other took the time to brainstorm ideas with me as we took an extended walk around my neighborhood. Most of the ideas she came up with are ones that I’d already considered. I was afraid she would feel like I was shooting down all her ideas, which is why I hadn’t been asking friends for their help in the first place, and I told her that. Her response both startled me and made me feel good: No, I’m not upset. This simply shows that I’m thinking along the right lines.

Thanks to my conversation with her, I realized that some of the reasons I’d used for rejecting a few avenues were a bit sketchy, and I’ve started re-exploring those areas.

This whole exercise has warmed my heart at the thoughtfulness of my friends and made me think those career books aren’t completely full of poo.

Have you ever picked your friends’ brains to learn more about yourself? or Why was I so afraid that my friends secretly thought poorly of me? I’d really like to know the answer to that last one!

4 thoughts on “Friendly Perspectives”

  1. Yeah, I’ve asked my friends for advice before…on life and love. I got some good advice and a lot of bad advice. It depends on who you ask. Just make sure they are thoughtful people who would actually take time to think through their answer. That’s what I’ve learned.

    I think it’s hard to heard what friends think of you because they might tell you the opposite of what you think is going on. Maybe we’re afraid that how we see life is an illusion and they’ll break that. It’s especially hard when you go seeking out advice because that’s usually when you’re already feeling down about how things are. If they smash through your last good thoughts about your life, you’re left with nothing. It could be that we’re just trying to protect ourselves from what they say.


    1. I agree that it is definitely about protecting our self-perceptions. I’ve been really lucky so far that the insight has been very helpful. Even if I don’t agree, I can see how they could see me that way, which is intriguing.


  2. Just the brainstorming would be so helpful. Someone to bounce things off. So, I’m curious, what were some of the “avenues” you were enlightened toward on that walk, Tammy?


    1. The brainstorming was really helpful. On that walk, it was pointed out to me that I am really good at listening to what is between the lines and proposing solutions that respond more to that than the spoken words. Also, I hadn’t been paying attention to the obvious. I’d been undervaluing my writing and had never thought of being a rule follower as being a plus, but someone who can both clearly write AND strictly follow the rules opens up so many avenues in law, technical writing, grants, etc.


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