„You should acknowledge that you are pleasant company and that I actually enjoy hanging out with you.“
If I can’t help, I have nothing to offer. Then there is nothing special about me, nothing I would have to offer to my friends (and potential new friends).
But this is wrong. Actually, I have a few things to offer. I am pretty good with directions and reading maps. So just take me along on your holiday and you won’t get lost. I can answer all your questions about Emma Watson and Lord of the Rings. And I can sing along most of the Disney songs. However, only the old Disney movies – the cartoon ones! I can be funny – sometimes. I can tell pretty bad jokes. For example, what is in the middle of Paris? And…no, it is not the Eiffel Tower; it is the “r”. I have told you before I tell bad jokes! People also tell me that I can tell stories in a funny, sarcastic way. However, only if I am in the mood for it. If anyone reading this who actually knows me feels that I have missed a major point, you are welcome to complete this “I can”-list. And you are also invited to fill up my “I can’t”-list. For example, I am simply not spontaneous. Believe me, I am just not! Also, I can’t do yoga and pilates. And yes, I have tried pilates. So this is a legitimate and valid conclusion: I failed at my pilates course…Relaxing? – NO! Feeling good afterwards? – No! Feeling good about it at all? – NO! So there is no need to even try yoga…
And still, even if some of you (probably the ones who love Disney, Lord of the Rings and who always look at maps upside down without realizing it) might think: wow, she sounds like an awesome person, it is hard for me to actually believe that people really, really care about me as much as I care about them. Just as someone I like had to point out that we could consider one another as friends while I was certain I was getting on his nerves. Or as a very good friend of mine had to assure me that I wasn’t forcing her to go on that trip with me, but that she wanted to see Amsterdam herself and also wanted to spend time with me.
So here we are – making ourselves smaller and less valuable than we actually are. (I deliberately use the plural, because I am sure you could add your own “I-feel-inferior-and-stupid”-story to my list.) and the crazy thing about it is that this happens without anyone actually being mean to us or implying we are less important – no, this happens with people we wish to be friends with (not realizing we actually are). Of course, there are also those cases when there is real bullying or heavy boasting involved, but I am not talking about these cases.
We tend to be so impressed by the other person’s CV, overseas travels, knitting skills, lifestyle, dance moves,…that we came to believe that we have nothing to offer. We admire – and that is not necessarily a bad thing, because it helps to have role models and visions of what we want to do and how we want to live. It just becomes a problem if we idealize that person and, in extreme cases, feel like “he/she can surf – I can’t surf – therefore, I am nothing” (do you get the Descartes-hint? 😉 )
It is not bad to compare oneself to other people – not that we could actually control this anyway! But the comparison should be on an equal level:
Comparing sport skills: he/she can surf – I can do Zumba
NOT: comparing surfing skills: he/she can surf – I can’t
Of course, you will always “loose” this comparison if you pick those bits and pieces you haven’t done so far.
What I come to realize is that the admiration for a person – if out of control – can hurt a friendship. Because I tend to think about what to say or what to do to please or even impress this idealized superstar. Not helpful…and this is not friendship.
It is okay if people impress us and many people deserve admiration for what they have done. And certainly, the conclusion cannot be to boast with your own experiences. You can try and take and learn from the others’ experiences that impress us that much. Yet, there is one thing you should never forget: you are who you are and where you are at this stage in life for different reasons – background you were born into, decision taken, sometimes hard ones, fate – and no one really has lived exactly your life and will live it the same way. No one has had and will have the same feelings and thoughts even if you live in the same country, city or have the same job. And that makes everyone a unique and pretty special person. So if looking and listening closely, everyone has an impressive and admirable story to share. You are awesome!