Tag Archives: advice columns

My friend and Agony Aunt colleague Robin “Miss Conduct” Abrahams has written an excellent piece that combines two of my favorite things: Better Caul Saul and boundaries. Kim Wexler, a character on the show, is a master of boundaries and you don’t have to watch to appreciate the piece.

Piny linked me to this great piece from Heather Havrilesky, “Can I trust my judgment around men?” It’s very relevant to our discussions of the
Darth Vader partner and how they come on so strong and magically at the beginning (bolding mine):

When you meet someone who’s charming and very intense and he immediately starts talking about long-term goals for love and marriage and kids, that’s a seductive thing. In my experience, that kind of intense talk can actually be a sign of trouble, a sign that the guy is trying to quickly correct all the mistakes of the past and award himself a “happily ever after” without knowing much about the person in front of him. The one time I met someone who talked this way, it was hard not to get caught up in it. So this is how it feels to finally meet The One! I thought. You both just know, immediately, that you’re meant for each other! After years of encountering caution and hesitation from dates and even boyfriends, I was thrilled to find someone who could recognize in an instant HOW GREAT I WAS.

Even once I discovered that he was newly separated and still reeling from his wife’s sudden exit, I didn’t give up. I didn’t recognize that he was handling his sadness by escaping into something new, something that HAD to lead to marriage to make up for what he’d just lost. Looking back, I can’t believe I could be so dumb. But at that point, I had never experienced that kind of confident intensity from a man. He was also older than me. After years of dating one man-child after another, I thought I was meeting a mature adult male for the first time.

Hello, 31-year-old me staying up all night on the phone with some guy who talked really big. Hello younger versions some of you, too. Jedi Hugs to our younger selves, and to our older, wiser selves.

There is a Washington, D.C. Meetup in the works for April 26. Details:

Washington, DC Meetup

Rubymendez and Flightless have arranged an event in DC.

Time/place: Sunday, 5pm April 26th at Dupont Circle’s THE BOARD ROOM (

They serve happy-hour-priced drinks from 5-7pm on Sundays, with board games for rent — EVERY board game you can think of! They don’t serve food, but they allow you to bring in food, or get it delivered, so hopefully all dietary needs can be accommodated. For instance, you could grab empanadas from Julia’s down the street and bring them over (we will have some bites to share!)

To find us: rubymendez will be wearing a rainbow winter hat; flightless has blue hair and will be wearing a railway conductor’s hat. Feel free to rock your own hats, rainbows, or zany garb! We’ll also have stickers or blank nametags you can customize as desired.

You can post on our DC Meetup thread in the forums if you have questions.

FEELINGSNOTE: I MISS D.C. IN SPRINGTIME AND JULIA’S EMPANADAS. Have the best time. If you’re in Chicago and you did your taxes already stop by the Awkward Meet & Geek tomorrow at Geek Bar anytime between 6 and 10 pm and say hello. I’m also reading at That’s All She Wrote on Sunday night, April 19, Great Lakes Tattoo, 8 pm, BYOB/Free admission.

Finally, we have traced the creator of the Riding-The-Nopetepus gif if you wish to marvel at its glory:

Animated gif of a girl riding an octopus and saying "nope!"

Oh Captain, My Captain,

How do you handle being fired and the aftermath of said sacking? I’m not talking about a blameless “strategic redirection” layoff, where the grounds were purely organizational and budgetary, but a full-blown, “We know you did the best you knew how to do, but this clearly isn’t working out” firing.

Nobody talks about this sort of thing, so I’d like to know any insight you’d have.

Man, I’m sorry, that has to be a blow to the ego and the wallet.  Fortunately for both of us, Penelope Trunk talks about this sort of thing.  I suggest you read her whole post, but the part I’m most drawn to is this:

“Make a quick and essential mental shift. Tell yourself that you  weren’t forced out, you left. You must believe this in order to create a cogent, believable story about your life. And, it’s true. Because it doesn’t matter who decided first that you’re a bad fit. Just because you decide second that it’s time to move on doesn’t mean you didn’t decide it. So, you have control of your life. You have vision for your life. And you decided that it’s time to move on. The stories you tell yourself about your life are essential to your self-image.

I especially suggest you read the link within that quote, “Manage your image by telling good stories.”

“The way you talk about yourself is very powerful. Whether or not you are conscious of it, the way you tell stories of your life frames how people see you, and how you see yourself. So you may as well do this consciously, and also be conscious that people get the most tripped up in their storytelling when they are talking about uncertain moments in their career.”

So, make a mental shift and then tell a good story about what happened.

Part of the mental shift is owning your own mistakes or incompetence or whatever got you fired.  Even if you had a bad boss.  Even if you had bad coworkers.  Even if other people handled things badly.  If you can critique your own performance and own your own shortcomings in relation to doing that job, then you empower yourself to make changes.

By critiquing your performance, I don’t mean giving into the inner-depressive cycle.  “Oh god, what’s wrong with me that I can’t even do ( your job)?”  I mean listening to the feedback that you got from your company and applying the truthful parts of it to yourself honestly. Admit the ways that you messed up.  Admit the ways you contributed to whatever made it a bad fit. This can help you figure out what changes you need to make about how you perform (stuff like being more organized, being more proactive, being on time, dressing better, projecting more confidence, meeting deadlines).  It can help you give yourself permission to not beat yourself up for the things that weren’t your fault.   And it can  help you make the changes you need to make about what you do. Because probably you will end up doing something else entirely, and getting fired will turn out to be just an event that leads you to where you need to be. If the story you tell is about how you were perfect and it was everyone else’s fault, it’s going to take you longer to make those changes because you’ll be holding on to a job and a conflict that doesn’t exist anymore.

Read More