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The Looking Glass

Bitter "Take care my love – that savors strongly of bitterness." -- Pride & Prejudice, 2005

I was out with someone last night who, at one point in our conversation, told me I was "too pretty and talented to be bitter".  He then quickly changed the word "bitter" to "jaded" when I balked (perhaps bitterly).  But still… point taken.

I've worked very hard over the past few years to dig myself out of the pit of despair which developed through the natural, chronological erosion of youth and naivety.  Working in this business and living this life is rough, rough, rough on anyone's psyche.  So I don't blame myself for acquiring that mindset in the first place. But then, after so much effort, to learn last night that on this man's palette I still smacked of bitterness… I was crushed.  What had I been doing all these years?  I had been so proud of my efforts but now I feel like a fool because clearly they hadn't worked. 

Am I out-of-touch and ineffective on top of being bitter/jaded? 

I'll definitely accept jaded since it's an adjective that seems to work in tandem with the term "New Yorker".  And maybe that's the biggest influence on this person's and my views of one another – perhaps it's just the natural gap that can occur between a man infused with sunshiny, gentle-as-a-lamb California optimism and a reality-bitten, street-wise-as-the-serpent New Yorker.  (No stereotypes here, folks ;)

So maybe I'm not particularly jaded (or bitter) and it only seems magnified to him.  Maybe it is all just a matter of perspective.

Of course, I did point out that his apparent beliefs on looks and talent had nothing to do with assuaging the bitterness (though I do get that bitterness can spoil those gifts), but perhaps everything to do with developing it.  If you spend your life having people tell you that you're pretty and talented and that you should go far because of those things, but through your own experience you know that that is not necessarily the case – then doesn't it stand to reason that you'd want to throttle every person who says or believes it should be "easy" for you because of whatever attributes they feel you may possess?

Or am I just being difficult?

Regardless, I do not want to taste of bitterness (or jadedness – is that a word?), and I don't believe that being so would help me in any arena.  So, perhaps a reassessment is in order.  Or… 

Do I maybe like being a little snappy?  Hmmm…  I know on the inside that I'm smooshy and warm, like a molten caramel center…  but do I need to show that on the outside, too?  To lure people closer with something sweet?  Or do I need to wear something more altogether neutral?  Unassuming and seasoned-to-taste, like a cracker?  Or is that just too bland?

I suddenly crave a salad bar!

Ahhh, life…  I have no idea what to think at this point.

--Susan Atwood

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