Wednesday, February 18, 2015

{the best ice-breaker}

Over coffee with Karlie this morning, I had that conversation about girls again.


First impressions.

Intimidation and judgement and what to do about it. 

It's one of those topics I think about a lot because I'm a girl. I've been in cliques and I've been out of cliques; I've been overly, uncomfortably aware of the first impressions I've made and I've been intimidated and insecure and I've been judged and I've judged others (that's no fun to admit on the Internet, but there it is) and I don't know what to do about it. 

It's one of those topics that I turn over in my head like a rubik's cube. I feel like other people have been able to work through it and solve it, but when I get close there's that one red square that is on the opposite side of where it's supposed to be and I'm stumped and frustrated and I give up and set it down. Or, you know, throw it across the room and through the window and cringe at the sound of shattering glass and the angry screech from the neighbour's cat as the stupid thing hits it in the head. 

Like, I know the right answer in theory. You should not be in a clique, you should not judge others, you should be friendly and happy and you should not let jealousy or insecurity affect your opinion of other women. You should love everybody. Easy.

For nobody that I know of.

Even the girls that you look at and assume to be super confident and entirely happy with themselves are most likely twisting the puzzle in their minds at least some of the time. 

Anyway, we were having this conversation and discussing that thing that girls do when they first meet each other - you know what I'm talking about? Where we size each other up and, gulp, dare I say judge each other (Oh, don't worry, I know you don't do that, it's probably just us) and, based on that split-second assessment of their 'character', either feel comfortable enough to be friendly and make a connection or decide that the other person is 'snotty' or 'unrelatable' (aka intimidating/makes me feel less-than) or whatever and that we'll probably never be tight? And if that person does fall into category B, we even might (more extremely awkward admissions ahead) even look for something to dislike about that person to 'make up' for the parts of them that appear to be better than us? And then I think we keep doing this even after the first meeting. Even with our friends. 

It's so gross when you actually get introspective about it and realize what you're doing. I watch mean girls in movies do this type of thing and I can see that it's horrible and wrong, and yet, this past week when I met a girl for the first time it didn't stop me from deciding who she was and how close we could be within the first two minutes of meeting her. Based entirely on superficial things like her hair. HER HAIR, YOU GUYS. 

There are a billion layers to this behaviour that involve both understanding where your self-worth comes from and understanding the value and worth of the women around you. It's heart-level stuff and I feel like I might be working on it until I'm 112 and almost everyone I know is dead. (I'm nothing if not insanely encouraging.)

But for today, for right now, Karlie shared with me a really cool tip that she'd learned at a seminar or something a few years back. One of those things that made me want to run out to the grocery store and meet somebody so I could test it. And one of those things that I felt like I should pass on to you, since the majority of people who read here are women who might, maybe, I don't know, sometimes struggle with cliques or first impressions or insecurity or judging or feeling judged. It's short, and sweet, and a little commen-sensical, but sometimes those are the kinds of things that I miss, because I'm looking for something less obvious. 

And sometimes, when it comes to stuff like this, when there are enormous, hard changes to be made, it feels nice to have a little, easy change to make in the meantime. Like when you're planning and saving up to renovate your kitchen, but in the meantime you put some flowers on the counter. Like that.  

I'm going to type it in bolded letters so that it's burned into your brain:

The best ice-breaker is a compliment.

Not an insincere compliment, not a compliment for the sake of complimenting. Like, when you meet another girl for the first time, look for something about her that you genuinely like (hair? Shoes?) and lead with that. 

I love it. It makes so much sense to me. Not only does it distract your brain from judging her and force you to think nice things about her, it probably helps to put her at ease too, in case she's struggling with meeting you. 

(What? You think she doesn't have a hard time with this too?)