Single File: The Greens
DEAR SUSAN: My friend is so jealous; she tries to outdo me in every way. But we like each other and would be BFF (we've known each other since ninth grade) if it weren't for her envy. What to do?
DEAR BLOGGER: (Sigh.) Our gender is forever being brainwashed in a zillion ways to believe that looking better and being more clever than the next woman (in this case, you) will win you the prize -- which is, you guessed it, Mr. Wonderful. By seeing you as competitor, your erstwhile friend is perpetuating old ways of relating that do nothing but keep her (and all women) frazzled and less than excited about woman-to-woman relating. She's turned her life into a race, forgetting that she (and all of us) is one-of-a-kind and desirable. Comparing herself to you -- or any other woman -- is an exercise in futility, and that's one exercise I don't recommend! One day, when you're feeling sorry for her, you might tell her that boosting her personal strength and building on them will bring much more gratification than envying yours. And since self-development has no finish line, a life lived true to its credo won't have time to worry about rivals. There are none; it's between you and your goals. Period. Still, if she thrives on competition, suggest she compete with herself, hold an inner Olympics and be gentle with the runner-up. Or, you could suggest that she learn from the things about you she envies. But most of all, she should keep on piling up life experiences, because interesting people are rarities!
Dear Susan: I like being on my own, so I'm single and glad of it. I know you say there can be too much aloneness in your life. I wonder if there's too much of it in mine.
Dear Blogger: Let's see. Your routine may be go to work, come home, feed the cat and go to bed. Frankly, you have little need for anyone else in your life. But while you're reveling in your self-sufficiency, you're losing your resilience. Sure, no one comments when you miss aerobics class three weeks in a row, but no one cares about your flab either. You've become so proud of doing everything yourself that you don't feel the need to include anyone. For you, independence has become a mission; give-and-take is no longer part of your vocabulary. (Sigh.) So, just where has your resilience gone? It's melting away and hardening into a hermit's life. If you agree that's not for you, start thinking of ways to get some healthy doses of interdependence. Take it from me: They're actually regenerative. (Read that again, friend.) The trick, of course, is to strike a balance between independence and interdependence by sharing some of your life on a regular basis. (Ahem.)
This might work for you: Ask a friend over for the weekend. Try to smile bravely at the messy bathroom and dirty dishes in the sink, reminding yourself that disorder is a sign of life. Or take a trip with a friend, maybe just overnight, not far away. The preparation and chatter will feel better than being alone with your cat. And ask for help when you need it -- for your cat's bath or the storm windows. People like to do favors for each other. Don't you feel good when you're asked to pitch in? Being self-sufficient doesn't mean you're an island, you know. I bet you never thought I'd say it, but you can be too independent! Life needs alone time, for sure, but it also needs the warmth of good company. Make your singleness a mixture of both.
We've uncovered another treasure trove of "Single File" paperbacks -- in perfect condition, signed by Susan, ready to enjoy. Send $15 and your address: Susan Deitz, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.