On Becoming A Woman Chapter 11

Chapter 11

How To Be Friendly

 

During childhood you may not have cared very much what other people thought of you. You felt secure in the affection of your parents and in the esteem of your teachers. Beyond this you gave very little attention to those around you.

Um, what? I’m pretty sure that children of all ages desire friends outside the family.

Now that you have reached your teens, your circle of friends needs to enlarge….you do not expect to remain dependent upon your parents forever. So you have begun to realize that the making of friends and the keeping of friends depend upon you.

Not necessarily. It takes at least two people to form a friendship. I told my mom in desperation once that I couldn’t make the other children like me. I think she read this book though, because she seemed to believe that I could.

The first manifestation of your broadening interest in friendships outside the family was your desire to be well received by girls of our own age. Your childhood rivalries with other girls in your own class at school gave way to warm friendships.

My childhood rivalries gave way to what? This never happened. Like, ever.

As you reached your teens your girl chums seemed to mean almost as much to you as members of your own family.

Well, yes. That’s kind of how friendship works. But these things do not begin in the teens. They begin when you’re like, 5.

As you progress to your middle and later teens your social interests begin to include boys as well as girls.

I must have missed the memo. As a child, I had an easier time making friends with boys than with girls. This interest in platonic friendships with boys began way earlier than my mid to late teens.

When you attend college you will discover that success there depends not only on passing your examinations but also on establishing congenial relationships with your teachers and advisors.

In a lot of classes yes. Especially when you get more into the classes pertaining to your major, being able to talk to your professors is an asset.

Maybe you will choose to enter one of the professions such as teaching or nursing.

Teaching and Nursing. In the male version, he talks about starting your own business. Females don’t get to do that, they have to be shoved into these tiny little boxes.

In teaching, you must be able to get along well with your pupils, with their parents, and with the members of the school board, and with other influential persons in the community.

I have met a lot of teachers that couldn’t get along well with the students. As long as they could charm the adults, no one cared.

In nursing your success requires that you be cheerful with your patients and that you establish congenial relations with other nurses with the relatives of our patients, and with the doctors in charge of your cases.

Huh. Maybe Nursing is a bad major for me after all.

It may be that you do not plan to attend college. Then you will doubtless desire to accept employment for a time before you establish a home of your own.

Women only accept employment instead of college as a way to pass the time till they can snag a man. Of course they don’t want to start their own business or have a career outside of marriage!

The author goes on to say that friendliness is a requirement for every single job out there. He says that even in minimum wage jobs a person will call around to a young woman’s friends, and if they say that she is mean, they won’t hire her.

Most minimum wage jobs do not bother to call your references. I’m not sure how it was back in 1968, but where I work, no one bothers.

Whether or not you would choose to have it so, most human relations involve a considerable amount of salesmanship.

Grim way to look at it, but I see where he’s coming from.

He basically says that in order to make friends, you have to sell yourself as a desirable person. In order to do well in school, you have to sell your teacher on the idea that you have learned the material. Well yes, but in school you can often get good grades without talking to anyone at all. There is also a certain amount of salesmanship that must be done in the most important event of a woman’s life: the snagging of a man.

…we must admit that a young man is attracted to a young woman because she succeeds in “Selling” herself as one having desirable traits of personality and being worthy of confidence and continued esteem.

The author then tells a story about a young woman who succeeded because of her ability to be friendly. She was basically the Shryock’s nanny, then she decided to go to college. Someone’s wife died, and in her honor he wanted to help a young lady through college, so Shryock suggested the woman who had been his children’s babysitter. He did this because the young woman in question had the ability to be friendly with just about anyone. If she had not been so friendly, it’s unlikely she would have had any help. So remember ladies, be friendly to older people. You never know when you might need a leg up!

And so it was that this young woman, even though handicapped by insufficient family finances, was able to obtain a college education and marry a young man who was fully worthy of her.

Jee, if only someone had told me not to take out all those student loans! All I gotta do is find a rich old sugar daddy and be friendly to him. That’s how you get through college if you’re poor.

As a teenage youth, you may rest assured that if you set out with proper motives and methods to win friends, you will be abundantly rewarded.

Look, people are complicated. What works with one person won’t always work for another. Sometimes you can follow the advice in this chapter and  still wind up alone and friendless.

The author then goes on to talk about how important it is and how to make friends with older people. And there is something to be said for bridging the generation gap, so, let’s see how his advice sounds.

Older people are fundamentally fond of teenagers. They enjoy their alertness and enthusiasm.

I’m almost 30. I don’t qualify as a teenager but I’m quite sure I also don’t qualify as an old person. Hey readers over the age of…. um… hey readers who identify as “old people,” are you fundamentally fond of teenagers?

I personally find teenagers to be a mixed bag. There are teenagers I want to find the auto-mature button on (there’s got to be one somewhere for god’s sakes) and there are mature teenagers who I enjoy working with.

Now that I think about it, this is true of every single age group on the planet. There are some adults who’s automature buttons I would like to find.

 

When a teenager gives evidence of friendliness and other traits that promise her success, older people are willing to assist her, as best they can, in her efforts toward reaching her goal.

Sometimes things work this way. Sometimes they don’t. Not every old person is interested in helping teenagers, and not every old person is even in a position to help a particular teenager at a given moment. Friendliness may help them be willing… or it may not.

And too, what is our definition of friendliness? Different cultures define these things differently. We’ll assume for now that the author is talking to Americans, since that’s where this book was published. But even within cultures in America, people define these things differently. One American might look at a talkative person and think, “how friendly.” Another American might look at the same person and think, “she talks too much.”

The author doesn’t bother to tell us about this, so I won’t get too much into it, but people are complicated. You can’t expect friendliness to automatically equal help when you need it. That’s also not the reason you should be friendly but set that aside for now.

The average teenager is optimistic–more so than an older person.

I…. think it depends on the person. I’m not sure the average teenager is optimistic, especially today’s teenager, who knows she has tons of student debt or crushing poverty to look forward to.

As a young person setting out to make friends with older people (and again, the author does not define exactly what he means by “older people.” For all I know, he really does mean 30 year olds.), there are some things you need to watch out for. Older people have “pet peeves” about teens, you see, so you need to work on your behavior.

In the first place, older people do not like a “know it all” attitude. They have had a wealth of experience, and as a result, their judgement is usually quite mature.

Does anyone of any age anywhere like a “know it all” attitude? I don’t think this is specific to old people.

The author goes on to talk about how an older person’s thinking is slow compared to a young person’s.

From this viewpoint I do not blame you for sometimes being impatient with an older person who seems to be a bit dull.

I do not think slow thinking is the problem. My particular problems with old people is that they often refuse to believe that the way things work has changed. My mom, for example, expected me to get through school the same way she did. Mom moved in with her grandma, got a job, and was able to declare herself independent. The way financial aid works now, you are not allowed to declare yourself independent, at least for financial aid purposes, until you are 23, even if you are self supporting. Until 23, you must provide your parents’ information to the government and school, who then decide that of course your parents make enough to give you 20 grand a year for school and what do you need financial aid for?

I tried explaining this to my mother, politely of course. She refused to listen, insisting that I could do things the way she did. That is no longer the way financial aid works.

It is not that older people’s brains, according to the author, work slower than a teen’s. It is that older people refuse to listen.

In any case, older persons don’t like it when teenagers correct them, because that seems disrespectful. In some cases I can see this. If, for example, a teenager interrupts someone to inform them that “hanged” is the term for a person and “hung” is the term used for an object, and therefore their uncle was “hanged” not “hung,” that is kind of nitpicky and annoying and I could see an older person being rather upset about it.

However, sometimes when a teenager corrects them, older people need to stfu and listen. Of course the teenager should do so in a manner that is courteous, but sometimes an older person is in the wrong. “Sir, you say you have a stomach ache in the lower right abdominal quadrant as well as a fever. I do not believe you have food poisoning, and I do believe that you quite need a trip to the hospital.”

You have more to gain by being tolerant of older persons than by trying to display your better information. An older person may someday be in a position to lend you needed assistance.

Wait, what? Being a know-it-all isn’t wrong because it’s rude, it’s wrong because someday someone might not give you the help you need? What the fuck, that is not how morality works.

The author talks about a know-it-all-teenager, who placed a high value on her own opinions, whatever exactly that means.

One one particular occasion our family had been visiting this family and the time came for us all to go to church. The girl’s mother had chosen to wear a dress of which the daughter did not approve. Even after all of us were ready to leave for church the daughter said to her mother, “you should know better than to wear that old dress to church. You don’t look well in it, and it isn’t appropriate for church.” We thought the dress was a perfectly proper one to wear to church, but the daughter set her opinion up against the rest of us as being the final word.

Did the mother go and change her outfit to please her daughter? Did she tell her daughter that she was entitled to her opinion but that she was wearing the dress anyway? I hope you weren’t curious, because we don’t get to know if the mother has a backbone or not. If the mother went and changed her dress, that would suggest a serious problem. Otherwise, this is just a story about a teenager who hasn’t quite learned when to enable the brain to mouth filter.

In any case, the daughter went off to academy and began to speak like this to the girls’ dean. As you may imagine, this went over like a led balloon. The school counselor had a few talks with the teenager.

The counselor finally helped her to see that getting along well with others involves a great deal of give and take –often more give than take.

In principle yes. In reality this often works out to “give everything of yourself to the point that you become a doormat.”

The young teenager in our story built a completely new personality and by the end of the year in Academy she had friends.

Another pet peeve of older people is that teenagers are disrespectful. Again, the term disrespect needs some definition. It is different for each individual person, even within culture groups.

The author tells us that a teenager’s lack of respect is often because they don’t think.

He gives the example of the girl who made a promise to her teacher and classmates that she would use the family car for a school function. Apparently she forgot to discuss this with her father, so her father was upset with her when he wanted to use it. The girl insisted it was too late for her plans to be changed, and the parents would just have to forget the concert they wanted to attend.

I can understand being upset with that.Though I don’t see why the daughter couldn’t have just dropped off the parents at the concert and then gone to her school outing.

Another thing older people hate are practical jokes. Not because they’re old and stuffy, but because teenagers often don’t think of the harm these jokes can cause. An example he cites is of a girl who decided it would be a very fun idea to drive on the sidewalk bowling for hood ornaments. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but oh dear god, any child of mine who did that would very quickly lose her driving privileges.

As someone older, of course the first thing I think of is, “oh my god someone could get run over.” But the teenager’s first thought was, “oh, isn’t this funny?!”

The author says that this is an example of how older people think differently from younger ones. Lots of practical jokes that teens think are fun actually have the potential to cause harm.

I am not so much concerned over the possible unhappy consequences of practical jokes. Everyday experiences speak for themselves in this matter. I am more concerned over the disadvantages to the teenager in her attempt to cultivate the friendship and confidence of other persons.

What every day experiences? Most days go by without anyone in my circle playing a single practical joke on me or anybody else I know.

I can’t believe you’re more concerned about the teenager’s reputation than the fact that somebody could have been run over.  I can see being concerned with both, but not one over the other.

Those are the main pet peeves older people hate. There’s no reason older people and teenagers can’t get along together.

Another thing we’re going to discuss is conversation. People are often judged by conversation and it’s also a way for people to communicate.

The author talks about 2 women he’s observed on a train. One woman is telling the other of her experiences. The woman talking was excited, the woman she was talking to was obviously bored.

As I watched I thought, “how human this woman is who is telling the story I She is (sic) having a wonderful time simply because of this chance to tell one of her favorite experiences.”

Does that mean the bored woman is not human? I’m kidding, actually, I agree with the author. It’s fun to tell someone else about something you really are interested in and care about. However, it’s no fun when the other person is bored. I’m horrible at reading people so I’ve probably put a lot of you guys to sleep. Sorry about that.

Unfortunately many conversations take on the proportions of a contest, each participant trying to outdo the others in telling about the things that interest him. But the other parties are meanwhile not very much interested in what is being told. They are simply eagerly waiting an opportunity to break in and tell some of their own experiences.

Yeah, conversations like this happen.

In a conversation, you want to talk about your experiences to the other person. However, making friends is more important than you getting pleasure out of a conversation. The best way to make a friend is to listen to him when he talks.If you do this, his memory of the conversation will be pleasant, and he will associate that feeling with you, and come to think you are a pleasant person.

I feel like if someone other than a therapist just sat there and listened and said “uh huh” and “ok” and “I see,” in the right places to indicate they were listening, I would feel creeped out. That is not the way humans work.

Although this strategy is easy, you have to do a little more than merely keep quiet in order to make a favorable impression. The person with whom you are talking will not get “a kick” out of talking with you unless you are really interested in what he is saying.

What if I’m not interested?

It is possible to become genuinely interested in almost any type of conversation if you really discipline yourself to do it.

Sorry, no. Some topics I just can’t get interested in. Or if I do get interested in them, I’ll end up screaming at everybody which is definitely not good conversational skills. Example: If someone starts talking about how Trump would make an excellent president, I am not interested. I am not interested not because I find the topic boring, but because I am not interested in how our country needs to be more xenophobic, sexist, and racist. Beating people up isn’t going to win me any friends.

I also am unable to make myself interested in stuff I find truly boring. I have learned to pretend that I am interested, but in the long run that just turns most people off.

So we see that the making of friends is not difficult. It is actually one of the most pleasant of all human activities.

Making friends isn’t difficult, what’s wrong with you? What is wrong with me is a good question. I just don’t seem to find all this easy, nor do I find this advice helpful. I’m not going to pretend to be someone I’m not in order to try and make friends. Sorry, but I just can’t find Shakespeare interesting.

There are certain rules of the game that you will need to follow. But these are simple, and depend upon an understanding of human nature. And human nature is fascinating!

Um, what? It took me a while to get that the author is referring to friendship when he talks about the rules of the “game.”

The rules of the game being simple is laughable, because they do rely on an understanding of human nature. I may disagree with the author on how fascinating human nature is, but I do think that human nature is complicated. You can’t just do X Y and Z and have it all turn out well.

If you could, our world would be very very different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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