I was having lunch the other day with a good friend, M. We have been friends for over 20 years, having bonded in the trenches of corporate America. We had always seen one another across the sea of desks, but became friends in the bathroom one day when she had a wardrobe mishap and she needed help pinning up an errant hem. After that, we realized we shared a love of the ballet, 19th century art, and using the gym as stress relief. She can be really uptight sometimes and says annoying things, but she has an amazing heart and would walk over fire for people she cares about.
So we finished lunch. She went to use the rest room because she had to get back from Manhattan to the northern suburbs. I waited outside because I had a 7 block walk back to my house and could use the facilities in private. When she came out of the restaurant, she was ashen. I thought she was going to cry. She handed me her phone. Of course, I feared that something had happened to her family.
“Look at the story and then look at who it is” she said.
I began to read the text forwarded to her by someone else we used to work with. He sent a link to an article with horrible allegations against someone else we had once worked with. Horrible, despicable vial things. Things I don’t even want to say out loud. Now, this is an article, and it’s still alleged, and there are all sorts of innocent till proven guilty stuff. I get that. But at this moment, none of these things mattered. The tabloid article was all the proof my friend needed to get herself, I can’t even think of the right word- horrified and sad and crazed.
Back in the day, my friend looked up to this person. Thought this person was pretty close to perfect. Brilliant, and I mean, one of most blazingly intelligent people I’ve ever met- true genius, not a fake pretentious genius. Humble- and in the industry we worked in, this was rare. Patient- if you didn’t fully understand something- they never talked down to you or made you feel inferior- just figured out a better way of explaining their way of thinking- which was new and different from anything before. You could say the ideas that this person came up with were groundbreaking- most of what they did had never been done before. This person treated everyone fairly, was non judgmental, was courteous and kind. This person also helped my friend get promoted and recognized because they saw all that my friend had to offer our company. This person was almost her mentor.
Now, that image was shattered. That image was broken. Along with the image of this person, my friend M began to doubt her internal radar, the piece of her that allowed her to judge someone’s character. Before my eyes I saw M start to crumble, as she began to think about all the other people she may have misjudged in her life. How many people had she trusted that she shouldn’t have?
So here’s the thing: how good are our internal barometers? How often can we discern good from bad? Is there really anyway to know that someone has internal flaws? Flaws that are so against everything that you value?
We all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. But sometimes, you meet someone, and you get that inkling that something is off? How much attention should you pay to that little inkling? Is that little voice in your head really a warning that there might be chapters in the book that you don’t want to read?
I like the idea of meeting new people and assuming that they have character traits that are generally strong- they don’t steal, they don’t harm others, they have a sense of morals. But….what’s the phrase- still waters run deep? How can you know which strangers are not danger?
I’m not a trusting person by nature. (the biggest complaint I’ve ever had from ex boyfriends is that I never let anyone in- that’s my fatal flaw) That’s just me. But my friend M is a trusting person. She walks around with her heart on her sleeve. Which way is better? Is there a good way we should face the world?
So, my friends…here’s the thoughts for the day:
- when you meet someone new, in any capacity, are you open or withdrawn?
- have you ever known someone and been completely fooled by who they actually were (exes are included in this)?
- do you listen to the little voice in your head that says something if off?