I don’t understand partying. I’m not like an alien asking (said in alien accent): “What is it to ‘party’?” What I don’t understand is why people think it’s so great: “This weekend we’re going to party! Yeah.” I will say I loved to party back before my age hit double digits; birthday parties were awesome. Any party that includes all the candy you can eat and ends with a goody bag is my kind of party. Now that I’m older any house party I’ve been to – as rare as they are – consist of a bunch of awkward, surface level conversations with people who wished they had cooler stories to share. One of the most popular conversations that happen at these kinds of parties is the classic: “I was sooo drunk…”. When a conversation begins with this statement I try to finish it: (person) “I was so drunk…” (me) “You donated a $1000 to save the whales foundation.” (person) “No.” (me) “You hit on a plant because you thought it was a person, and still got rejected.” (person) “No.” (me) “You thought you were a dragon and jumped off a four story building mangling your face to its current state.” (person) “How’d you know?” (me) “I’ve heard someone else with the same story.”
The one thing I do enjoy about parties is when people I know reach a point in their consumption of… how do you say ‘beverages containing nineteen plus juice, or twenty-one if you’re American’ that it leaves them happy to tell me how much they love me and how wonderful a person I am. They may be a little inebriated, but I believe there is truth to what they’re saying. I believe when a person is in a certain state they are more liberal to say what they truly feel whether positive or negative. This is of course a reason I’m glad I don’t drink: “You know how I said that those pants don’t make you look fat… it’s because it’s the shirt that does.” Although, sometimes I wish I had the excuse that I was drinking for when I say stupid things: “Sorry I said that honey; it’s not me it’s the booze talking.” Drinking would also help as an excuse for when I write stupid things. I’m drunk right now… oh right, I already said I don’t drink. Shoot. If only there was a way to erase what I wrote…
At some point over the years I realized if I enjoy being around people like this, maybe I should be more like them… I don’t mean drinking. I’m way too cheap for that. I won’t even pay for water. The tap is free? Ah, sweet nectar of the gods. The only tap water is in the bathroom? Not a problem… true story. What I mean when I say I should be more like these people is I should be more open and honest with people. I need to be telling them that I care about them… I can’t say the L word… freaks me out. Ultimately, I want to be the kind of person people want to be around because I’m so positive and encouraging. I won’t be telling strangers: “I love you man… or woman with facial hair,” but I want to be quicker to say: “You know, I’ve always liked you.” “I want you to know I really respect you.” “I feel really blessed to be your friend.” “Wow, I wish I could stare at your body without getting in trouble by you or my girlfriend.” Okay this last one I won’t say because, well, that’d be stupid… I learned that a long time ago.
The world would be a better place if we were all a little more like happy tipsy people. We need more praise and positive affirmations in our lives. Giving praise is especially important for people of authority. We need people whom we respect to be validating us. After finishing my first Masters Degree I was talking to my counseling teacher – such an awesome person – and after I asked him what I should do next he said to me: “Chad, you have to choose what you want to do because you’d make both an excellent teacher as well as an excellent counselor.” I was blown away. Really? You? This person I think is brilliant and amazing thinks I can do something well? This meant so much to me, and had a major impact on my life.
Unfortunately, many people in leadership (especially managers of restaurants and retail outlets) are too busy trying to prove themselves to offer praise to those who work for them. At the same time, employees can be too busy trying to earn praise to tell their bosses: “You’re really good at your job.” When I realized the importance of this, work and school became a whole lot easier. If I took the time to notice my teacher, he or she would notice me. If I took the time to compliment my boss, he or she would do the same for me.
Even at home you can have a major influence. If you have someone younger than you, you have the power to make a difference in his or her life. Too often siblings are too proud, insecure or vying for their parent’s approval to realize their younger brother or sister would do anything for a compliment from them. My sister was great at this. For the past fifteen years her constant encouragement as made a huge difference for me. It has been a major reason I’ve continued to work as hard as I have.
Ultimately, every one of us has a lot of power without even realizing it. We have the power to make someone’s day and all it takes is for us to say something nice to those around us. This week, may you have the courage of a slightly intoxicated person to tell others how much they mean to you and how good you think they are at doing whatever it is they’re doing.