Are you sure you want to do that?

If you come to me with some incredibly stupid idea (like, say, agreeing to a terrible job or sleeping with the wrong person), I am not the friend who is going to grab you by the shoulders and shout, “What the hell are you thinking!” or “Get a grip!” No. I’m the friend who tilts her head to the side and asks casually, “Are you sure you want to do that?” And when you say yes and list all your poorly thought out reasons why you should take the job that will suck out your soul or sleep with the son of your married boyfriend, I will nod thoughtfully and say something like, “Well, if you’re sure you’ve thought this through…oh, and you’ve got my number, right? Remember, you can call me anytime. Wake me up if you need to.”

“Do you think I’m making a mistake?” you ask.

“Well, I don’t know if it’s a mistake exactly, because you’ve obviously put a lot of thought into it and everything.” I clear my throat and take a sip of my coffee. “But, you never know about these things, and I’m just sayin’–call me if you need to.”

And when you call, I will act surprised. “What? You mean he hasn’t called you back?”

At the end of the conversation I will say, “I’m sorry this happened to you.” And I will mean it.

Maybe this is enabling. I prefer supportive.

So anyway. Why is it when I say to myself, “Self, you shall write a novel and this novel will be about a girl who tells lies and who gets struck by lightning and she will fall in love with a guy with a sexual addiction who lives in a fantastic, crazy house in the woods, and this novel will be well-written, make sense, and people will want to read it!” I don’t follow that announcement with a kindly, “Are you sure you want to do that?” No. While waving my hands in the air, I shout, “Are you effing nuts? What’s wrong with you? You need therapy!”

I fail to understand why I can’t muster up the same show of support I would offer my most mentally imbalanced friends. I guess I’d feel kind of silly calling myself when it all crashes and burns–as if I don’t feel silly enough already.

What do you say when presented with a crazy idea? And does it make a difference if the idea is your own or your friend’s?

7 thoughts on “Are you sure you want to do that?

  1. What do I say when presented with a crazy idea? I say, “quit thinking about it and do it.”

    A crazy idea it not the same as a bad idea. A crazy idea is a cool plot; a bad idea is sleeping with the wrong person (unless he’s cute and you’re drunk…just kidding).

    If presented with a boring idea, I yawn, look at my watch, and announce it’s bedtime.

    Do it do it do it do it. If this weren’t a public forum, I’d give you my number so I could shout it in the phone at you.

  2. I go with it. Whether my friend or myself, I say, “Do what you need to do right now and you’ll learn something from it. When it’s time to stop, you’ll know.”

    (And please don’t stop! I’m in love with your novel!)

  3. I guess it would depend on how close I am to that person, but I would probably be supportive like you are. I have found that when someone is like that, they have usually already made up their mind, and they are going to do it no matter what I say. At this point, they just want validation. If I give it to them, then they’ll come to me when they fall. If I don’t give it to them, then they will avoid me after they fall.

    I suppose I’m the same way with myself. And when I fall, I get very depressed since I knew all along what I was in for.

    However, I’m not being supportive about your novel. I’m just being honest – it’s very good, and you need to keep working on it. You’ll know when it’s time to send it off and let it lie. (Pardon the pun.)

  4. I guess I see nothing wrong with doing something that’s a bad idea. It depends what you expect.

    For instance, you might take the soul-sucking job because it pays really well and you plan to spend a few months working intensively, then quit and do something else. Or you may sleep with the wrong person because it will be one evening of fun, with no anticipation that it’ll be anything more than that.

    And, all that aside, I don’t think that writing a book with an off-the-wall plot is in the same category as these things at all; loads of great stories have off-the-wall plots. Although I guess you should go into it with the expectation that you’ll have to wrestle with it a bit–but then, how is that different from writing a book with a more realistic plot? Writing always involves some wrestling and angst.

  5. Well, I suppose my issue is less with whether or not the idea is crazy, and more with being supportive of one’s own work. I’m endlessly supportive of my friends, but not nearly as supportive of myself. So, maybe my real question is why I (and probably many others) as nice to me as to my friends no matter what the idea.

  6. Perhaps we hold ourselves to a different standard (higher, lower doesn’t matter). We judge ourselves and we can be selfless with others. We have expectations for ourselves (success, failure doesn’t matter). We are driving toward a certain outcome in our lives (bestseller! self-destruction! doesn’t matter) and all those things hold us back, keep us from being free, true, brave.

  7. Sarah

    Maybe what’s needed, instead of support, is sheer enthusiasm. Instead of “well, it might work” said in a supportive way, how about MY Gosh! That’s so wonderfully crazy! I love it! Go for it!”

    My take on the kind of support you demonstrated in your post is that it’s benevolently neutral. You are willing to listen when/if they fail because bottom-line, they took the risk, not you. The risk in writing a novel however, requires, IMO, over-the-top cheerleading from your own self, to your own self. You Go Girl!!!!

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