I have always had a job where I worked with a lot of women. For the most part, this has been a very positive experience…me being a woman and all. However, a lot of women gossip, A LOT. I have always atempted to not be a gossiper; I never wanted to be thought of as the girl who can’t keep her mouth shut, or as someone that cannot be trusted. To be honest though, these attempts have always been pretty half-assed, and I’ve always found myself on a bench at recess gossiping about someone’s divorce, date, dinner, or duds cause really, that’s how us girls bond.
After years of getting burnt by the fire that gossip starts, I decided it was time to quit, for real this time. Starting my new job in NYC last year was the perfect time to turn over a new leaf. For the last 15 months I have tried my absolute hardest to not gossip at work. Now, giving up all gossiping is just too hard and I’ve slipped a few times, but I still consider this past year a success.
I knew that no gossiping would be tough because sometimes it feels necessary. For example, did you know that it is near impossible to make new friends when you do not gossip??? Yeah, it’s true, Google it!
I knew no one when I moved to NY, and assumed I’d make tons of new best friends at work. Wrong. First of all, even as an adult, people have their cliques. Breaking into a new group is hard enough, but imagine eating lunch with a group of girls talking all about our boss, their men, and the other co-workers, and having just sworn a gossiping vow of abstinence. What do I say? How do I join in the conversation? What witty comment can I throw out there to start a new convo? Should I just sit quietly? IT’S MIDDLE SCHOOL ALL OVER AGAIN!
Eventually, I made a couple friends. Friends I can trust. Friends who do not gossip (too much). Still, I find myself wanting to be a part of the Gossip Girls at lunch. As of now, I’m known as “the girl you can trust.” When I walk into a room during a huge gossip session, everyone stops, looks up, sees me, and they say, “Oh, it just Hilarie, she won’t say anything.” Which is true! I won’t say anything…until I’m home. (Husband knows EVERYONE secrets. I can’t hold in everything I hear all day everyday! I’ve got to let it out eventually!!)
Lately, I’ve felt disconnected. I have considered joining in on the gossip to bond with more people. I just want to be part of the group! I’m glad people can trust me, but I want to be in on the joke, not just the person hearing the words. Just as I as was about to give up and release a year’s worth of gossip, something kind of great (and kind of sad) happened.
Remember that post about my panic attack at work? The one where I got stuck in a conversation about a sick person? WEEELLLLLLLLLL, it turns out that the person in that conversation needed me. Needed me to just listen to her. She needed someone to listen, then give her a hug, and then listen some more. NO gossiping whatsoever. Turns out that she had been very sad for a very long time and she had NO ONE to sit and listen to her.
THEN, it got even better. Three other co-workers confided in me and said they were scared to be there for our other sick friend, and thanked me for being there for her. They said that I am BRAVE. They said that whenever something is wrong that everyone knows, “Hilarie is the best person to talk to!” and “She give the best hugs!”
Seriously, if they only knew how not brave I am…and how terrified I was to “be there” for our sick friend.
I am still in shock because I have just been trying my best to not gossip or have a panic attack. I don’t ever know what to say, and I don’t want to be negative, so I’ve just been hugging everyone: Your boyfriend sucks? You get a hug! You just ended a 3-year relationship? Hug for you! Your dogs are fighting? Hug! Your mom is crazy? Your best friend lied? Got a bad haircut? Hug! Hug! Hug!
All this time that I have felt left out and struggled to keep from gossiping has been worth it! Turns out, I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing without ever knowing it. I love when life turns out this way.
Let this be a reminder to all of us…hugs are stronger than gossip. Also, doing the right thing sucks for a while, but in the end you’ll be a better person for it. Now, at my current job, I may not be known for my gossiping skills (and let me tell you…they are superb), but I am so glad to be known as a friend…a friend who gives the best hugs.