Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On Gossip


When I was twenty I took a job at Hallmark in Missoula, MT. Glamorous I know. It was there that I first made a conscious effort to opt out of gossip. I just didn't want to have any part of gossip. Unfortunately I did not realize that there would be negative repurcussions to my choice. When my co-workers would try and share gossip with me I would basically just run away saying things like,"I have to dust the ceramic bunnies." I took on weird solo jobs, like organizing off site storage or cataloging the Christmas ornaments in the attic. I had no tools to deal with the seemingly endless mean talk. I was soon taken aside and told that I was doing a great job (hello color coded beanie baby system), but my co-workers felt that I was aloof. 

I realized then that many of us like to bond over shared concerns, problems, negatives. I get it, this forces a certain intimacy, an illusion of closeness. I, however, was at a loss. I didn't know how to tell people that I did not want to hear their gossip without sounding high and mighty. Also, I understood, I too needed to occasionally vent about my co-workers, but I reserved that venting for my husband, parents, and sometimes my closest confidants.  Many of my co-workers did not have any other outlet, they were alone and work was their life. My choice to step back sent them a message that I didn't care or thought that I was better in some way. I will admit that it was painful to realize that in my attempt to say nothing bad about others that I became the subject of their angry whispering.

I spent the first two years we lived in Missoula without making any friends. I mean that I worked to not make new friends. Basically this is torture for extroverts. I was very depressed, but I just did not know how to navigate my way to the positive friendships I so desired. I forced myself to take time and set my own parameters about what I wanted from friendships and what was unacceptable. 

Since I took that time I have made the best friendships of my life. I feel like I am a better friend too. I don't want to imply that I do not vent about my problems, but really I only do so with my husband, parents, and bestie----and this is because I know that they understand where I am coming from. I don't want to put down anyone, but sometimes I just need to share.

How do you handle gossip? 


2 comments:

Sarah Purdy said...

What's that quote from Steel Magnolias? "If you don't have anything nice to say, come sit by me." Haha. I like my fair share of well intentioned gossip (Oooh Girrrrll...she's been workin' out!) but I can't stand when things get snarky and bitchy. Most of the time, I think it says a lot more about the person dishing it than the person at the center. Teacher's lounges are like hornet's nests for that sort of thing, and since I often don't know who they're talking about (#travelingteacherlife), I'm usually good at steering the convo away to something in the news or some o' dat self deprecating humor that I pride myself on. I am, however, a fan of the band Gossip, simply because Beth Ditto is a total riot grrrl.

Your Proud Mother said...

You make me so very proud of you!

I try to remember Martin Luther's words about explaining our neighbor's actions in the kindest way possible. Sometimes it is very difficult and sometimes I fail dreadfully. It is so much easier to try to explain someone's weaknesses or mistakes in the least kind way, amplifying it for the sake of making a better story.

Again, you make me very proud.

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