01 October 2011

How to hurt a friend

How many of those little phrases do we say without thinking? Without thinking that we don't know everything about the others' lives, even the close ones, yes even our friends. And some of these sentences can hurt. A lot. 

I've been looking for a job for a while now and some people might wonder what the heck I do all day since I still don't have one. "How is it going with your jobhunting?" is a question I get regularly. From people I meet here and there, friends, acquaintances, people from various networks... I often wonder what kind of answer they are expecting. Or what I am supposed to answer to that. 
Let me tell you how it goes: I've been studying at one of the business school in France, around 10 years ago when all was fine and there were many jobs. When I entered the school in 1999, one of the first thing they told us was that I now belonged to the elite of the nation, France's elite, no less than that. Impressive, uh? After that I got two masters degrees, learn several languages so that I now speak 4 fluently and understand 2 other (Italian and Norwegian). I have worked for five years and I am good at what I do. I got to work with things I knew nothing about and turned out to be good at that too. I don't know everything yet (far from it) but I learn fast and I know I can do anything. 
And still, I don't have a job. I've applied for many jobs and got as an answer (when I got one since it's not always the case...) that I lack this and that, that I don't have enough experience in this, that other candidates were stronger than me... all these different ways of saying that I am not good enough. How is it possible for someone who's supposed to be France's elite? Well not good, let me tell you. It's not easy to be rejected like that all the time. It's a daily struggle to remind yourself you are good enough, that you need to be patient, remain strong and it will come.  And people asking all the time is not helping... How is it going with your jobhunting? Well obviously not well, if it was going well, I would have a job by now. So please stop asking. Or what answer am I supposed to give, what are these people expecting me to answer?

"When are you getting a boyfriend?" sometimes followed by the question "but why won't you try online dating?". Since when being single makes you less worthy that people having a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Why are you seen as a hopeless case? Because I'm over 30 now? Because it's now or never? But what if it is never... will my life be worse that my friends' one who had the chance to find their soulmates or husband or wifes or boyfriend or girlfriend when they were in their mid 20's then?  What if people are happy to be single and satisfied with their lives? Now in my case, I would like to meet someone but I also want it to be natural. I don't want to provoke it, to "evaluate" every possible single man on a website. I know some friends who met online and they are great peopkle individually and a great couple together but that's just not for me. End of story. It will come when it will come and I am not desperate until then, I have a great life and I enjoy it until then. But of course if I wish I had someone in my life sometimes. So reminding me of my being single is just not nice. That's just a silly and hurtful question. 

Which leads me to the even meaner and more hurtful question. "why don't you get a baby yourself?". Question asked by a friend a couple of days ago when talking about her own baby. Sorry but WTF??? I am single, how is the baby question even relevant? To me a baby is the fruit of love between two people and I cannot see myself having a baby alone. If I had that this friend is also one of those who pushed to try online dating, that might show you the level of "not thinking". But I have of course thought of babies, I don't have much of a choice since everyone around me is getting one. And of course I want kids but until I find the daddy, I won't have any myself. And of course I long for it, I'm 32, not 22 anymore... And this "biological clock" thing IS stressful. Meet someone, realize he's the one, move in, get engaged, get married, live your life... all this takes time before you can get to the baby step of your life and it is stressful so please stop reminding me of what I am missing. And stop making me feel I am less worthy that you, that "I cannot understand", that "I will see when it's my turn" or that life only starts to be relevant and worthy when you get babies. How about all these years before? Was your life shit then? Studip, annoying and once again hurtful.

I am far from the only one to get the baby-question although my friends, always when they are newly wed get the "WHEN" version. Now that you are married, when is the baby coming? There's not even an option there, it has to come. And fast. As a friend said, marriage is committing to each other, not promising to a baby. And how about couples trying to have babies but do not manage for some reason? I can only imagine the pain they are going through. There's a TV program starting next week in Sweden, a documentary following couples who are trying to have babies and don't manage. I hope it opens the eyes of some people, that it makes them think, that they can see this as an alternative answer to why some couples don't have babies. So that they stop being pushy and asking that stupid question.
Another friend (married this summer) told me the other day that when she gets the question, she answers "we're still practising". I thought that was genius! She says people get embarrassed and change the subject directly.

And in the same style we have the "when are you getting married?" question that some people living together for some years get. A friend of mine loves her boyfriend, loves her life but doesn't want to have kids and doesn't want to get married either. That's her choice and it shouldn't be seen as negative. I know many friends who live together, who buy flats or houses together, who move abroad together... aren't all those signs of committment not strong enough? Do they need a paper from the cityhall or the church and a church on their fingers? As of today I would like to get married (if/when I meet the right one) but that's my personal opinion and it doesn't mean everyone has to share it. 

What it means is that we are all different, we are all living our lives they way we can, you don't always choose in life, you just try to do the best of what's thrown at you. But one thing we all can do is repect the others and their decision and try to keep in mind we only see the floating part of the iceberg and that there are many things we don't know about so we should be careful about some questions. I know I have thought about it and I try to avoid asking those silly questions now. 

Edit: I hate to criticize just for the sake of it, I believe if you're gonna critique something, you should try to give an alternative, an option, something... so here's an alternative. I know some people mean well when they ask about the job hunting. Most of them, I am aware of that, it's the formulation that's awkward... Another way of asking is "how was your week?". It's easier to focus on the last few days than a longer period (since it's the "long" part that's the problem). What's more, it's the kind of question you could ask someone working, so it makes the unemployed one less different that the ones working... "Do you find any interesting job to apply to these days?" this kind of things is also fine since it's a positive and constructive question. Easier to answer to.


  1. Amour, for me, you have the best job in the world and you are the BEST-est: the best sister one can ever have. I hope your "salary" is the reward of knowing all the love and strength and support and laughter and hope you are giving me every single day in my life, even at 7425.50 kms away. I love you so, you are so worthy, you are MY elite

  2. On est (et on sera) toujours les meilleures ma Lolo ;-) Bisous.

  3. Tu es une personne pour moi tout simplement impressionnante justement car tu es bien plus intelligente et clairvoyante que bon nombre d'entre nous. Je dis d'ailleurs très souvent que si j'étais un mec, je serais trop heureux d'arriver à sortir avec une fille aussi extra que toi! ;)
    Maintenant s'il y a sur cette terre des milliards d'aveugles et des cons de patrons, bien mal leur fasse. S'ils n'ont pas réalisé leur perte, c'est qu'ils ne te méritaient pas.
    J'espère ne pas t'avoir blessée par mes questions, si c'est le cas, pardon! Et surtout, j'adore ta franchise. Aucune remise en question n'est nécessaire, c'est l'offre qui déconne, aussi bien côté job que côté mec!
    Love you my Lilou! <3 <3 <3

  4. Ben t'es deja bloggeuse professionnelle, c'est deja un boulot en soi ca non? Pour le reste...les gens sont des cons, mais ca on le savait deja non?