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Monday, March 12, 2012

The gift of friendship... and imperfection

I read a surprising - yet not so surprising - result in a recent study.

(I had already learned that when given the choice, a significant amount of women will chose eating chocolate or horseback riding over sex.)


This time, I learned that women's favourite way to use their free time is...

... chatting with friends.

Yes, just that: chatting with friends. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated or expensive. No frills. Just getting together to talk.

Which makes total sense. After all, when we meet for an activity, be it shopping, a drink, a meal, a hike, it's just a pretext, right? Our main goal is to chat, isn't it?

But why do women love to chat together so much?

One of the benefits of friendship is the sense of connexion and belonging it provides. The great feeling that comes with discovering that you have something in common. Among those common things you'll discover you share, like interests, values and background, something is particularly exciting to share: the common imperfections. For some reason, we need to be reassured that other people are as imperfect as we are. It makes us feel better about ourselves.

Girl before a mirror, by Pablo Picasso

My friend M used to mention this "perfect frigging bi**" she works with, who apparently has everything going for her: great career, great family, great personality, great smile, great body, you name it. One day, M mentioned this "Miss Perfect" yet again, but for once, with a grin. Instead of grumbling about this colleague's mighty perfection, M suddenly seemed enchanted by something she had discovered about Miss Perfect. What was it, you wonder? Well, on this warm summer day, Miss Perfect was showing her legs by wearing a short skirt. BUT... when she sat and crossed her legs, my friend discovered that Miss Perfect was in fact not 100% perfect: she had.... CELLULITE!!! Judging from my friend's reaction, this was the best news in months! Yes, it was reassuring to discover that even Miss Perfect had cellulite, just like the rest of us.

(If someone in your surroundings looks like she's perfect, reassure yourself: she's not. She's probably just a better actress, better at pretending she's perfect. We all have our own secret demons, be it cellulite or something else!)

Chatting with friends make us feel good because we rediscover, over and over again, that we're not the only one who's far from being perfect. This has tremendous "feel good" power. Realizing we're not the only one.

We're not the only one who is probably not putting enough money in her RSPs. We're not the only one to wonder if her kids are the most mischievous beings humanity has ever known (and to wonder if she's just the most deranged mom on Earth, for that matter). We're not the only one to have such stretchmarks that it looks like a train has derailed on our belly (Thanks to my friend C for this wonderful metaphor!)

After a good conversation with friends, there's still not enough money put aside, the kids still behave like rang-a-tangs, the stretch marks are still obnoxious... but we magically feel happy. Isn't that amazing?

My friend K and I feel so much better about ourselves since we've discovered that we both binge (and when I say binge, I mean BINGE!) on junk food. We realized that our "cycles" are synchronized, and that the binge eating days coincide with a certain time of the month, which is the same for both of us. Since then, instead of self-loathing about those excesses, we do much better: we call each other... and lengthily describe to each other what we've eaten. It's become like a contest. It makes us laugh. "You ate half of  the apple pie and the whole bag of chips to yourself? How about 10 chocolate cookies in a row, followed by 2 huge bowls of chocolate ice cream?" In the end, we still eat way too much on those days, but at least we know we're not alone in the insanity.

I hope this post made you feel a little bit better about yourself! And you're more than welcome to share your own excesses with us!

1 comment:

  1. All true Julie :) Another "m"- your neighbour one