How to respond to friends and family telling you that you're just fine


It got old a long time ago, right? That frustrating dismissal of our life experiences couched as a compliment. We know how irritating it is to be lied to and told we have a chance at romance. It’s the worst, right? Yeah, totally the worst. Unfortunately, there will be those times when it happens and we have to know how to respond. There’s the easy way, of course, which is to just express whatever feeling you’re having in the moment as viscerally as possible: yelling, crying, eye-rolling, creative and excessive cussing, etc.

Garbage cat sitting on the porch in the cold by Serg Semin
Garbage cat sitting on the porch in the cold by Serg Semin [x]

That’s not productive, though, and usually ends up in a whole other slew of interpersonal problems that you, as an ugly person who has very little social conditioning, just won’t be able to properly deal with. So, how to we respond to these suggestions that we change the entirety of our lives and experience with the mere application of makeup or a dating site login or the incredibly insulting and annoying, “opening up to the possibility of love?”

Well, it’s going to depend on where the “help” is coming from.

There are two types of people who will try to tell you you’re wrong about being an eagerly-dismissed sack of ogre hair: optimistic idiots and assholes who are trying not to be assholes.

The former are generally good people, if clueless and somewhat closed-minded. In their world, everything has a silver-lining and everyone has a chance at greatness. They honestly believe that you, a misshapen clot of unfortunate DNA, has a chance at love. To them, you truly are being too hard on yourself. After all, they’ve been on countless dates and been told they’re pretty without having to first fish for begrudgingly-given compliments. They need only comb their hair and wash their faces to be noticed by their preferred gender. These clueless dipshits are basically birds who don’t understand you are a fish. An ugly fish who’s missing several scales and probably got damaged gills.

Birds honestly believe everyone can fly if they just flap hard enough. Birds will tuck their heads beneath the water and try to encourage us fish to just flap, flap, flap, and lift off to soar happily among the clouds and the other beautiful birds. They are honestly ignorant to the fact that every time us fish try to fly, we just suffocate and end up flopping sideways, regretting our every decision. Their optimism is admirable, if endlessly frustrating and just a little fucking terrible.

The other person who likes to suggest we flap our flippers and fly understands that we’re fish. They see the gills, the missing scales, the fact that every time we try to join a school we’re ignored and left behind. These guys are also aware that they are not fish. It’s a toss-up if they’re birds or some sort of land animal like a crocodile, but they know what’s up. They recognize their ability to fly or to scare small dogs in Florida, and are aware of the fact that we will never actually live in the same world as them. That doesn’t, sadly for us, make them stop telling us we should just try to fly. They’re doing more for themselves than for us, though.

Telling someone they’re not garbage is the right thing to do as far as society is concerned. Sure, there are a million internet trolls who like to tell people who are actually beautiful that they’re ugly, but those people are probably mostly fish as well. Granted, they might be attractive fish who have just enough scales to pull in other fish and fondle their fins, but they’ll never soar among the clouds and really appreciate the beauty of the world below.

The crocodiles who are trying not to be assholes are not these people. They see us struggling with our fishness and they don’t know how to handle it. Us being sad makes them sad, so they feel like they need to fix that problem. So, they do what politeness tells them they should do: they lie.

Crocodiles see our disfigured faces and bulge-laden bodies and know we’ll never find romance, but they can’t just sit idly by while we talk about our shortcomings. So, they lie. It’s meant to be helpful, even if they only mean it to be helpful to themselves.

So, how do we respond to these well-meaning but ultimately fallacious words of praise? We lie and change the subject as soon as possible.

If you’re dealing with a naive bird, your response will soothe them and keep in line with their happy worldview. It’s the kind thing to do, after all. Wouldn’t you rather live in ignorance? If you had the chance to experience life as these fools do, wouldn’t you? Life would be a lot easier if we were ignorant to nasty truths we can do nothing to change.

The flip-side of this strategy is to not bring up your ugliness in the first place. As tempting as it is to respond to gushing declarations of glee with revelations about how you will never know the touch of another and only understand love as it is described in books and movies, it doesn’t do anyone any good. Either you’ll be dealing with a crocodile who will get uncomfortable, placate you with blatantly selfish lies about what your future holds, and maybe stop hanging out with you in order to avoid further discomfort, or you’re dealing with a bird. Birds will never understand that fish even exist, let alone know how to deal with fish being sad about being fish.

So, we lie.

Let’s check out some sample conversations and how one ugly person might respond to handle this touchy subject.

Avoidance

Grandma Eunice: Deary, it’s been so long since I’ve seen you. How have you been? Are you dating anyone yet?
You: Sorry I haven’t called, I’ve been so busy with work and my pet dog. Do you want to see pictures of Corporal Little-Bottom? I bought her a sailor’s uniform!

Distraction

Aunt Frida: Hey! It’s my favorite of my brother’s kids! I saw on facebook that you went to the store recently and bought some chocolates. Were they for a special someone?
You: I’m pretty special, so yeah. I saw on facebook recently that you liked a page about puppies. Are you thinking of getting a puppy? Did you see the story about how awful puppy mills are?

Ignorance

Your goddamned mother: Sweetie, are you ever going to give me grandchildren?
You: I thought you wanted new shoes for your birthday. If I misheard you, I’m going to have to fight with Amazon because they do NOT like it when you return clothes.

Faking your Own Death

Your supposed best friend: Let’s go out tonight! I feel like you never want to go out anymore
You: *blood-curdling scream + spurt of fake blood from a spontaneous “chest wound”*

Easy enough, right? Maybe not that last one, but who knows? Some ugly people could be special effects artists who need to put their skills to good use. You don't know. Because you, like me, can't get people to hang around long enough to tell you things about themselves. I get it.

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