Today is the birthday of dancer, editor, singer, and megababe Jennie Worden.
If I didn’t know Jennie, I honestly feel like I would be a different person. Here is a list of things of five things I have learned (or am trying to learn!) from Jennie.
1. Don’t try to read your friends’ minds. Jennie always asks people — when they are talking about problems — if they are looking for advice, a place to vent, or commiseration. SO SMART! This helps the people I’m talking to do a bit of a check in with themselves if they need to, and eliminates the frustration of coming at a conversation from two different ways. I don’t do this as much as I could, but I’m trying to get in the habit. It really helps people feel listened to and supported.
2. Be fair-minded and honest. One of our mutual friends recently said to me “YAY JENNIE CLICKED TO LIKE MY FACEBOOK COMMENT!”, and we talked about how great it feels to get positive feedback from Jennie. And it’s not because she’s stingy with her kind words (more on that in a moment), but because she is careful with them. She doesn’t say things she doesn’t mean, and she’s great at making sure her own context isn’t skewing her reaction (or if it is, she says so).
3. Give/get friendly praise out of the blue. In Scattered Minds, Dr. Gabor Maté talks about parenting techniques in a way that I think apply to all relationships. This, especially, stood out to me: Being wanted and enjoyed is the greatest gift the child can receive. It is the basis of self-acceptance. Attention given at the request of the child is never satisfactory, it leaves the uncertainty that the parent is only responding to demands. The demands only escalate, without the emotional need underlying them ever being filled. And, like, that is pretty heavy to put in a friend’s birthday blog post maybe, but Jennie is really wonderful at giving this type of love and affection to people without them having to ask for it first.
4. (Figure out if you can) Meet people where they are. It’s not only her own perspective and context that Jennie keeps in mind, it’s everyone’s. Jennie is not a cookie cutter friend; you never feel like she needs you to be someone else. At the same time, Jennie is a really big proponent and practicer of boundaries. She insulates herself well from people who are toxic or are currently unwilling or unable to behave like adults. That ability to resist fruitless engagement is a thing of wonder to see.
5. Who you are is great. I was talking to another friend about how fantastic Jennie is (seriously, this is a common occurrence). She said: “Can you talk about how unafraid she is to be herself? That is one of the things I love about Jennie. She doesn’t give a shit what other people think about her being polyamorous or loving contra dancing or music not many of her friends are into. She isn’t shy about who she is, and that makes it easier to open up with her about who YOU are.” This is exactly right. Jennie is always herself with her friends, so we can be ourselves with her. Lovely!
I LOVE YOU JENNIE I HOPE YOUR DAY IS AS DELIGHTFUL AS YOU ARE!!