Will Y’All Please Stop Yammering About Resilience?

This summer, I lost a great job, and my boyfriend dumped me. These events weren’t linked, though the job loss may have hurried my boyfriend out the door. I’ve been crawling out of the ditch ever since. I started working again, not at the level I was at, but it’s a start. And I’m sort of open to dating. But I’m clearly not 100 percent. My mother keeps sending me these annoying articles about resilience. I feel like she’s telling me I’m not bouncing back fast enough. Thoughts?

SARA

When I was a kid, I had this inflatable, pint-size Bozo the Clown. You could knock that baby down, and it would bounce right back up again. That’s what I thought resilience was: scrambling to our feet and pretending that everything is fine. Wrong! Standing up again is important, of course, but resilience also involves working through hurt and shame (and a palette of un-pretty emotions) and finding some compassion for ourselves, as well as optimism.

If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably had some nutty thoughts lately: “I didn’t deserve that good job,” or “I’ll never land another boyfriend.” Don’t buy it. You know why? History. Your past accomplishments didn’t happen by accident, and I suspect you’ll have plenty more. Sit with those unkind feelings about yourself until you can muster up some generosity. And when you do, that’s resilience: knocked down, but getting up stronger and kinder.

As for your mom, she may not be your ideal companion right now. The thought of you down in the dumps may make her anxious. But you can’t rush this process to please her. And you don’t sound like a moper to me. So, thank her for the articles and read them — or don’t. But you’ve got this, Sara, in your own good time.

My oldest friend and I are 17. We’ve known each other since preschool. Over the last year, I’ve watched her Instagram become pretty much dedicated to pictures of herself in push-up bras with blonder and blonder hair. It’s gross! As a guy, I’d like to tell her that her Instas make her look stupid. But my sister told me it’s none of my business. What do you think?

ANONYMOUS

Well, I don’t agree with your sister. But I also don’t think you should speak with your friend until we tinker with your attitude. I get that it’s disconcerting to watch your smart, multidimensional friend turn herself into a selfie sex objects. But have you considered that she may feel pressure (from boys and other girls) to present herself as a Barbie doll? She may also be enjoying her newfound sexiness. So, if you speak with her, do it to learn what she’s thinking, not to render judgment. As a woman, she already gets plenty of that. Suggested soundtrack (from your birth year): Madonna’s “What It Feels Like For A Girl.”

A month ago, a guy I work with (and like) asked me if I would write a college recommendation for his son, who is applying to my alma mater. I said I would be happy to. I’ve never met the boy, so I asked my co-worker to have him call me so we could meet for lunch. (I’m not willing to recommend someone I’ve never met). My colleague said he would, but the son never called. The deadline for the letter is approaching. Should I say something?

JON

As a one-time teen myself, the likely explanation here is that Sonny let your generous offer slip between the cracks (probably after several reminders from his dad). And the likely outcome, when your co-worker learns of his son’s lost opportunity, will be conflict between them.

You aren’t obliged to say anything, but as a peacemaker, it would be kind of you to mention this to your colleague: “Just checking that Jack’s all set with recommendations. I never heard from him.” Hopefully, there’s still time for a quick bite after his father hits the roof.

My niece was supposed to be married in a lavish wedding hosted and paid for by my sister. Several months beforehand, my niece called off the engagement. But my sister decided to go forward with the party — at the same venue with nearly the same guest list. I find this incredibly disrespectful to my niece. My relationship with my sister is already strained. Would it be wrong to skip the party?

C.C.

Since your question is based on a giant assumption — that your sister didn’t ask her daughter about the party — let me throw a few more onto the pile. Maybe she did ask, and your niece said, “Go for it, Mom!” As a thrifty New Englander with a passing familiarity with weddings, I bet your sister paid out some hefty nonrefundable deposits to wedding vendors. Maybe she (and the Runaway Bride) decided not to waste them by canceling the party. Ask your niece if you’re concerned. But don’t be judgy without the facts.

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