In third grade the most popular girl in school invited me to go to Disneyland with her.
We got to take off school. We were in heaven.
I wore a pair of flowered pants that I thought were pretty. My friend wore spandex pants that looked really good on her legs. A long slouchyT-shirt came over the top, tied at her hip.
Then entire day she kept looking at me and saying things like, “Can you pull your pants up, they’re so baggy.”
I tried, but seriously, baggy pants are hard to find.
I couldn’t tell her my mom wouldn’t let me out of the house in spandex.
I couldn’t very well defend my choice as the best pair of pants for the occasion.
I just sort of slunk around in my bagginess.
On the way home I felt pretty ambivalent toward my friend. Why did she invite me if she was going to spend the whole day telling me how embarrassing I looked to her?
I guess she didn’t realize my behind-the-times wardrobe since we, mercifully, wore uniforms to school.
Disneyland wasn’t as fun as I had hoped it would be. And our friendship sort of fizzled after that.
She took someone else with her to Disneyland the next year.
I never convinced my mom to buy spandex.
Thank goodness for the uniforms.
The times a friend has corrected me live eternal in my memory.
There were my closest friends who once all told me to stop being so bossy.
They were right.
There was my third grade friend who wanted me to get with the spandex fashion.
She was wrong.
There was my husband, yesterday, who told me he felt like my voice was too stern for the situation.
He was right.
How to give your opinion?
A few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Do not . . .
- offer advice or correction when you’re not invested in the friendship long-term.
- ask your friend to change something she cannot currently change whether because of finances, family upbringing or personal courage.
- require your friend to take your advice after offering it.
- assume you know what it’s like for her before speaking into her life. For example take time to investigate the feelings of a stay-at-home-mother before critiquing or broadly summarizing their lives in public or in private.
- share if an outfit looks unflattering with your friends who are safe and long-term, with whom you have both received and given suggestions and advice on fashion. This is especially true if they ask you for your honest opinion about their clothes.
- explain the thing that bothers you about a friend when it personally tramples you. For instance, if a friend has hurt you it is appropriate to share this with them, most particularly if they have indicated their openness and safety to listen.
- pray about the things that bother you to determine if it’s your issue or theirs. Consider using these phrases to share if you’re not certain, “I have a problem, I feel confused, left out, etc. . . ” or “I’m not sure what to do right now, I feel (fill in emotion word here). . .”
Overall, it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid fixer-uper friendships.
I do not feel flattered or loved when I find out my friends have taken me under their wing to fix my fashion or my habits or my career choice.
I want friends who see me and say, “Oooh, I like that girl” (Thanks, Molly Aley) because of someone I already am.
When I’m believed in and loved, and know it, I can hear almost any correction.
Do you agree?