I get asked often what I’ve been up to. I share with people how I am reconnecting with true friends (the old acquaintances, I allowed to steer me down a completely dark road), how I am once again visited by my muse, and my plans to enter the culinary arts field. Two, and only two responses ever follow: ” That is wonderful. So excited for you”, or ” Okay but what about a job.” I would imagine many people entering uncharted territory in hopes of realizing their dreams have come up again these same comments. You want people to cheer-lead your daring but should they really be? Or should they snap you out of your Dream Haze?
I struggle back and forth with this one. I truly don’t need unsolicited advice, admiration, cheerleading, or anything. I’ve become pretty solid in my reasoning for conducting my life the way I currently am. When I choose to share what I am doing, it usually is in response to a direct question, and typically only requiring a simple okay to finish it off. We have all heard the saying referring to opinions ( I’m too classy to repeat it here, but check out this link to an old blog of mine). But a friend is a friend, and good friends know when it is appropriate to give that tough love, regardless of if your feelings will be demolished, and when to just step back and let things unfold. The latter tends to be used with the confidence the other friend in question isn’t in any real danger of life or homelessness, and hopefully with more confidence of success. At some point a pattern of no success has to be addressed.
I can also share when any information given to you by a friend, acquaintance, or bystander is shared, you aren’t ever (and I do mean EVER) getting the whole story. It’s completely natural to frame things in a certain way to elicit a particular response. Even then, your response is based on your experiences. A person often times draws parallels to a situation that may have happened to them or another friend and recycles advice based off of those similarities. But no one shares the same life experiences and no answer for another will fit. How many times have you been asked for advice and then been given more and more small facts after each of your replies until you simply give up and co-sign whatever they seem to be needing from you? So when does being supportive transition to enabling?
So what constituents an enabler? There are two definitions: a person or thing that makes something possible, and a person who encourages or enables negative or self-destructive behavior in another. What I love about the word is it actually allow for you to be a positive enabler, assisting your friend through connection and actions to be successful, or being the pusher over who stands idly by as your “friend” crashes and burns.
Life is a series of choices. You can choose to be a bridge to success for those around you , or a black hole that craps on the dreams of others. To think a friend is truly unaware of societies definition of success isn’t giving your friend the credit they deserve. To think a friend wants to be reminded of the long struggle they have reconciling their dreams with the perception of what a dreamer is, all the while from time to time wondering if they need to be “practical”, again, give them some credit. But hey, if your friend is truly oblivious to these realities, why are they your friend in the first place?