Sunday, November 10, 2013

100 Things I Want to Tell My Children and Grandchildren: #5

If you want to have friends, you have to be a friend.
(High school friends, Acey Mullins, Betty Word, and LaNelle Stokes)

This is something I didn’t learn until I was older. Maybe I didn’t have to learn it because I always had plenty of friends, or maybe I always had good friends because I was a friend.

When I was young, I wasn’t the smartest or prettiest girl, so I had to be a good friend. I couldn’t depend on my looks or grades to garner me the worship often heaped on kids for doing nothing more than being handsome or pretty or uncannily smart. I always related very personally to the old Avis motto, “We try harder because we're number 2". I always felt like I had to try harder. (More high school friends - slumber party at my house, L-R Eileen Stuart, Rhonda Badgett, Suzanne Heath, Claudia Walters, Sherry Chalfant, Suzie Smithson, Dee Dee Wright in front.)

In his new book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Malcolm Gladwell, who also authored Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw, claims that people who aren’t naturally endowed with assets valued in our world are sometimes more successful. This is because they spend their whole life trying harder and being more creative about how to achieve the desired results in spite of their perceived lesser assets. In fact, as only Gladwell can, he demonstrates through real-life characters, like Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, and Brian Glazer, all of whom are dyslexic, how disadvantages are often advantages, and vice versa. His bottom line being, “use what you got.”

That’s the story of my life. I use what I got. I’m not naturally gregarious, but I can present a very convincing act that I am, and gain the advantages that come with being gregarious. People never believe me when I say that I am not a natural networker or social. “But you do it so well, SueAnn,” they say. Yes, I do, and I enjoy the benefits.

Same thing goes with being a friend. I’m not all that likable. I don’t have people lining up to be my friend. So I compensate for that by remembering birthdays, showing up, buying lunch, and making the call. The irony is this - although I have to make myself do those things, when I do, I feel really great.

So be a friend, so you can have friends, because whether you know it or not, you need friends, and they need you.

1 comment:

  1. Gladwell is great. And I so relate to your comments. Charlena