PQ 5.8 — Who are my mirrors? Whom do I rely on to call me on my mistakes?
It was the world’s tackiest wedding RSVP.
She’d RSVP’ed no of course. And that was no big deal. But it was what she wrote next to it that took things over the top: I do not feel it’s appropriate to publicly witness, show support of, and imply I approve of a relationship I see as inherently toxic both to the couple and to those they once considered close friends.
Well alrighty then.
It was also the first indication I’d gotten from her that she was upset with me. I’d seen her just a few days prior as she came to help a friend move. She’d chatted with me pleasantly enough. Not chilly, not distant. I’d been impressed by it, the maturity. It was out of character for her. I’d recently had a falling out with a close friend of hers. Something that had nothing to do with her.
But Crock was known for picking sides. Scorching earth. And a kind of loyalty to her friends so fierce and irrational that it might well be called something other than “loyalty.” A super-loyalty. Yes, Crock was the kind of woman who would jump off a cliff if everyone else was doing it. Especially people she admired.
So it was a case of surprised-not surprised as I held that RSVP in my hand.
And the first thing I thought, once the laughter had subsided (because it was so silly it made me laugh)?
I’m so glad I don’t have a best friend like her.
Yes Men? No Thanks!
As I wrote before in Customer Qualification and Having the Right Haters:
“You shouldn’t care what people think of you,” a close friend used to say to me.
I didn’t agree then, and I still don’t.
While being a people pleaser can be the road to ruin, I also think it’s possible to take things too far in the other direction. The hands-down most despicable people I know don’t care what anyone thinks of them. Furthermore, social referencing is an integral part of healthy interdependence.
However, it’s important to be selective. Just like you wouldn’t judge your beauty in a cracked mirror, you shouldn’t let just any old jackass determine whether what you’re doing is right or wrong.
The friend who always has your back? Who tells you that you’re right even when you’re wrong?
It may feel good in the short term, but long term, it’s terrible for you.
Because an honest mirror is key to realistic self-evaluation. And a throng of sycophants and panderers have a way of turning even the best of us into monsters.
The people I turn to for advice all have a few crucial things in common: They’re reasonable. They have good judgement. And they’ll tell me when I’m on the wrong path.
This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.