Office small talk gone wrong.
There were left-over birthday cupcakes in the office. I walked over grab a couple and shared with ladies on my return to my desk that there were some goodies around the corner.
One co-worker vehemently protested the cupcakes. She went on and on about how she couldn’t possibly eat a cupcake (miniature or otherwise) because of all the flavorful bites of food she had last week which have since caused her belly to poke out a bit. She continued that she has a trip coming up in a month and half that she wants to look and feel good for.
I said that eating food has an effect on our bodies, but told her I was not trying to force a cupcake on her. I attempted to shift the conversation by mentioning that my personal fitness trainer had texted me the day before complaining about pancakes I had eaten last week and insisting that I not “cheat”. I was chuckling as I shared that I hadn’t responded because I didn’t want to sound cross when I text back that eating pancakes is not cheating when I didn’t agree not to eat pancakes; and point out that I didn’t agree to share my food log to be beaten up about my food choices.
To this, the co-worker responded: “LaShawnda, you will never get a man like that!”
I thought I misheard her. “I will never get a what?”
“You will never get a man. Everything is an argument with you.”
I was flabbergasted. What was I arguing about? I pointed out that there had been no agreement with my trainer regarding what I eat and my response would be about setting boundaries not arguing. She walked away laughing.
When she came back, she walked over to me and said the following while avoiding eye contact, “I didn’t mean to cause offense, but I’ve learned that you have to learn to appease men to keep them and the way you talk will not appease any man.”
“I am not interested in appeasing anyone at the expense of being who I am.”
“Well, maybe I’m projecting a bit. One of my friends just told me that and it sounded like you could benefit from the advice. From my experience, my relationships didn’t work because I didn’t put effort into appeasing them.”
“That’s not my issue.”
“I don’t need to appease “men.” I always say, I only need one man. My goal is to have a good partnership. If I can partner well with someone, everything else will fall into place. I am not interested in being miserable or changing who I am to appeal to anyone’s idea of who they think I should be. Having a man isn’t that important to me – not at the expense of myself.”
“Well, I have no response to that. I’m not arguing.”
Even having typed this out, I’m still a bit speechless. Perhaps she needed to talk. Perhaps she really wanted to attack me. Perhaps she’s feeling the pressure of being a people- and man-pleaser. Whatever the case, she’s not doing herself any favors. Nor is she doing any favors for women or men in general.
I may be a hopeless idealist, but I do believe there is value in being genuine. It’s not automatically antagonistic to state what you will and will not do or what you want, don’t want or what you will and will not accept. What I have learned through my interactions with people is that people who live honestly and fully as themselves will always incite resentment from people who practice hiding themselves as a way of getting people to like and accept them. Hiders will always be insecure, because they do not generally allow for opportunities for others to truly get to know who they are. They only allow for their social representative to be known: the good guy, the nice girl, the charmer and the sweetheart. In doing this, they become stuck and beholden to a false image they created to interact with and please a public they will never really know.