I was still living in France at the time, and I showed up to the café with my loot, super happy with everything I’d found at the flea. I almost felt like skipping coffee and going straight home to see how my new tea kettle, my new coffee set, and most of all, my new gorgeous painting were going to transform my [microscopic] living room into the front page of The World of Interiors.
So I sat down, and suddenly I hear:
“What is this eyesore?”
Someone had just called the painting I’d bought after lots of negotiation, an “eyesore”. I ordered a coffee and didn’t say anything, but my throat was in knots.
As if by chance, the eyesore in question never made its way onto my walls. I left it in a corner, and a few months later, it was collecting dust in my staircase. Then I turned it to face the wall. A year later, I got rid of it, relieved that I wouldn’t have to see it anymore each time I went up to my room.
So, two questions:
1) Why would anyone feel comfortable throwing their opinions around for everyone to hear like that?
2) Since when am I that easily influenced???
1) Well, my friends!!! They’re often like that—very frank, and I love them exactly for that reason, even if sometimes the truth (or like, their truth) feels kind of like taking a cold shower.
2) Since always, actually! And I didn’t know it at the time, but I was going to drag that yucky flaw around with me for yeeeearrrsss.
Yes, I’m terribly easy to influence.
To the point where I need a state council meeting to make an important purchase. The advice of at least twelve friends, not counting my family. By the way, yesterday I almost bought a car. And then after reading lots of comments, and speaking to twelve people, including the barista at Starbucks, I decided not to buy it. Is that reason or passion? Ahah. When it comes to fashion, I do okay (I’d better, right?) but even so, one remark spoken at the right time can totally ruin a pair of shoes I thought were great. And my friends are the queens of cutting remarks. The other day, I sent a friend a link to a bag I’ve been drooling over for weeks on Net-A-Porter, and this was her response:
“No, not that bag! It will make you look poor!”
Hahaha, of course I immediately jumped all over her (I might be easily influenced, but I still have a personality). What do you mean, “it makes you look poor?” Are there still people who think like that? Bahahhaa!!! I’d never heard that in my life!”
The answer of course, was that in her opinion, the brand of the bag was displayed too prominently so it made it seem like you wanted people to see that the bag was expensive, which I can understand, but as HIGH PRIESTESS OF FASHION (easily influenced, but no less high priestess) I understood the irony of the bag. Like, the brand was so obvious it kind of cancels itself out? Anyone who doesn’t get it, raise your hand, and I’ll write you a mini-post on the subject: basically I saw a sort of chic irony in it.
And I didn’t buy it anyway.
Usually if I’ve already made a purchase (yes, sometimes I buy things on a whim without sending the prerequisite 50 text messages over 5 different time zones) it’s insidious – there are six phases, like with these shoes I bought a few months ago, for example.
Phase 1: Honeymoon.
I love my shoes, they’re kind of different from my normal style, but hey! That’s the whole point! Change things up a little!
Phase 2: Remark.
A friend looks like she feels sorry for me (what’s worse than that look, right?) when she sees my shoes; or maybe she goes so far as to say “oh no, those don’t look good at all, you can’t wear those, no, no, no” (ahhaha my friends, I could write a whole novel)
Phase 3: Rationalization.
No, she’s totally wrong, my shoes are great, my friend doesn’t understand anything—her jacket is awful, so why would I listen to her? She has no style!
Phase 4: Despair.
But Beyoncé has the same ones! (Any savior will do, even if my style, you’ll agree, is nothing at all like Beyoncé’s)
Phase 5: Subtle abandonment.
When the shoes find themselves a bit neglected, lost under the bed or in the back of the closet without me even thinking about it, and the times when I bring them out are more and more rare, like to take the dog out at 7am, with dust collection level at 70%.
Phase 6: Total abandonment.
When The Real Real comes to my house to take the shameful purchasing mistake far away from me.
And I’m not even getting into work decisions, since I have no background in business. The number of experts I need to consult and the number of days it takes for me to make a decision.
Okay, fortunately (OR NOT) I usually make choices that please everyone.
(Which is terribly depressing, actually. Who wants to say they make mainstream choices? UGH.)
I’d really love not to be, but eventually I had to face the facts: I am, TERRIBLY influenceable.
And sometimes my influenceability has mixed results. At work, where it’s often better to stick to your instincts. With style, where if you listen to others too much, you end up having the same style as everyone else. And in life, where if you’re not a little independent, you end up living someone else’s (your mom’s, your friend’s, the person you follow on Instagram’s) life.
And actually, it was in my um…personal development that I realized, during my recent in-depth searching (I’ll have to tell you about that, I did an amazing therapy that totally changed my life!) that I had a really hard time connecting with myself on certain subjects. There’s a side of me that doesn’t want to hurt anyone, and wants to make everyone happy all the time. That often left me feeling exhausted and not at all sure of myself, which is probably what caused my burnout a few months ago.
Sometimes, I have no idea what I like or what is good for me . And more importantly, sometimes I don’t know how to say “Okay, 99% of people won’t understand this choice (in shoes, style, work, life) but it’s what makes sense for ME.”
All right, you know me: usually I’m pretty sure about my taste, I know instinctively what I like and what I don’t like. I even have pretty clear physical reactions to situations that aren’t right for me. Which actually makes it even more difficult to identify my little problem — you can be totally sure of yourself in some areas, and not at all in others.
There are places in me where I am not confident about my choices at all. Except when that happens now, I try to take a little moment and connect with myself.
It’s a lot harder than it seems, but it’s very exciting, and it adds a new dimension to my life. I reset all my counters to zero. I try to find my instinct in moments where it seems to be lacking. That doesn’t mean I never ask for advice—but first I try to figure out what really makes me light up.
It’s an extremely profound change of perspective, it’s very personal and feels really good, I have to say – especially now that the influences in our lives come not only from close friends, but also from social media, which, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, has a tendency to make our lives look a little bit uniform – our tastes and our thinking.
So there you go. I’m influenceable, but I’m getting better and it’s making me deeply happy. And I’m so happy to talk about it with you. What do you think? Do you feel like you are easily influenced?
Translated by Andrea Perdue