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Hey, Can You Do Me A Favor?? The Friend Conundrum

Monday, June 21, 2010 , Posted by JD at 8:41 PM

If only you knew how many texts, BBMs, emails, FB messages, and tweets I get that begin this way. Just in the past month I have looked over and edited countless resumes, proposals, speeches, and all manner of everything else written or communications related. 
Oh and I can't forget all the advice I've been asked to provide from how to promote an event to how to start a non profit. 
At this point, if I get a call from a friend I’m 89% positive it’s because they need me to do something. I’m all for helping friends with their projects, events, and other needs but sometimes it becomes overwhelming.
One thing that sucks about being asked to look over written materials is that often the people who are giving it to you either don’t write very well or don’t put a lot of thought into what they wrote because they know that you will fix it.
The other thing that bothers me is that people don’t seem to realize how long it takes it to look over something and assist them with it. So I constantly get things they people need edited or reviewed right away. I have enough deadlines at the office. I don’t need them at home.
I think it wouldn’t get so upset over being constantly asked to look over things if the there was reciprocation—but alas I’m perennially the giver not the taker. Quite frankly, I can’t blame it all on my friends because I’m really at a loss in terms of what I could even ask any of them to help me with.
It’s difficult to say no to people because I don’t want to be viewed as the friend who isn’t there for people. And I don’t want anyone to say that the one time they asked me to do something I didn’t do it—especially if that person hasn’t ever asked me to do anything for them.
But I have my own side projects going on with this blog, and my Media Analysis blog, plus the Youtube talk show that I’m trying to develop. And it’s kinda hard to focus on MY SHIT when everyone wants me focused on THEIR SHIT. I don’t even know why I wrote this because I’m probably not going to DO SHIT about it. I guess I’m just feeling a little used...and you know, misery loves company. 
This blog post is a special shout out to @ASmith86 (Diamond Dust),  I know she feels my pain!

Currently have 9 comments:

  1. This is my life. EXACTLY. I don't mind helping friends out with writing projects because that's my craft and I feel like sometimes, it can help me develop my skills. BUT, like you said, there's usually a deadline.

    Sometimes I think there is no consideration at all put into the request, and they don't understand how long it takes. Can't tell you how many personal statements I've written...did I mention that I've never applied to grad school?! LOL.

    I think sometimes you just have to say no, and explain why you're saying no. If the friend is a true friend, they will understand.

  1. A.Smith says:

    Girl. You want me to start to hollering and praising the Lord this morning? I can. I'ma try not to write a response longer than yours, but ::shrug::

    At this point, if I get a call from a friend I’m 89% positive it’s because they need me to do something

    I'ma resist the urge to copy and paste this entire post and then type "THIS!!!" and drop the mic, so go with me...

    Can a girl get a "hey, how you doing? Tell me about your life and what's happening..." phone call? HUH?! Can somebody see me for more than how EFFING AWESOME I am? I mean, have we no words to edify ME?!


    The deadlines... Excuse me, you need this back right now? Um -- and when did you know you were going to want me to read it and send it back? Oh. Last week? So you couldn't give a girl a heads up? Do you know I work er'day? Oh. Ok.

    I'm talkin' mofos who I can't get to pick up the phone UNLESS I got something they sent me to edit. Like, at some point did we agree that I would be your personal editor? I really do think they throw words on a paper and send it to me. Half the damn time I end up WRITING it. How do you get to be 25 and can't write a cover letter? I mean, really.

    Nah. I ain't happy about this sh*t AT.ALL. I always tell my friends the bill's in the mail, but the one time I did try to bill somebody, they got all butt hurt about it so I took it back.

    Like you said (cause you was all up in my mental mind space) I don’t even know why I wrote this because I’m probably not going to DO SHIT about it.

  1. All I could do while reading this post was shake my head like "yop, yopppp me too!" I feel like this is tripled when it comes to my family. Like you, I feel the guilt that comes w/ saying no. I hate feeling as if I'm letting them down in any way. Ugh.

  1. Courtney says:

    While reading this, I thought of a list of people I could send this too. I am to the point now that I watch my phone ring...and that's it. If they leave a detailed message, I call back. Usually they don't. I'm working on not feeling guilty about watching the phone ring (Twitter helps with this since I tweet from my phone lol).

    When friends send emails, I just delete it immediately from my phone. If I remember to check on my slow-running desktop, then I might respond.

    But I'm tired of being a personal editor to people. It came to a boiling point when I wanted people to look over my beautiful resume and offer feedback. I got "Oh, it looked nice so I didn't want to say anything" or "I didn't have time but if you'd do this for me" so much that I wanted to go fight a bull.

    So...I just look at the phone ring. Or delete emails.

    But I'm getting around this issue by playing on Twitter. *shrugs* One day, I'll be adult about it, but until then...


  1. JD says:

    I think writers especially have it it doesn't surprise me that everyone who has commented thus far has been asked for writing help.

    I think we need stronger writing education in this country. If not for the sake of America, for the sake of all of us.

    "how you get to 25 without being able to write a cover letter.?" -Asmith<< I'm saying! I wish I had the luxury

  1. Margaret says:

    I have the perfect way to stop being 'nice' without being the bad guy...announce, "I'm going to stop reading, assisting, doing, saying yes for 60 days". The secret is to NEVER announce the start or end date, allowing you to change the date based on how you feel. Eventually you'll stop getting requests. Also, some people write poorly because they know you'll add your expert touch to it, fixing their HORRIBLE writing. Or, once you know of their deadline, say you won't be able to complete it until 4 days later. Eventually they'll stop asking. If you ever need an excuse, let me know, I've got LOTS of excuses you can use.

  1. Talibah says:

    Just. Say. No. My take is this (as a reformed..oki'lldoit-er). It's about boundaries. I say give up not wanting to look like the friend who isn't there for people. Come up with a list of resources they can use to self-edit, pay for editing, learn how to write, etc. Let that be your gift to them, your gracious way of fulfilling requests, your way of always being there. Then, you take care of you.

    Now, I'm both self-therapizing and speaking from experience when I say this, but the truth is that we have to be responsible for ourselves. It's not their job. And, our failure to create boundaries and value ourselves enough to know and take action when we are giving more than we really want to is on us. My guess is that they will still see your brilliance, appreciate your generosity when you offer it happily and authentically, *and* be effectively and forever re-trained.

    I vote that you do an experiment for a week: just saying "I'd love to help you, but unfortunately I can't right now." No explanation, no apology, no guilt...and see what happens.

    My two cents.

  1. Anonymous says:

    OMG this is so me! I've been the go to computer support to family friends since I began classes for Info Systems and man I'm a burnt out geek squad at this point.

    Now what I do is really look at all I have to get done before I commit to anything and have another reference on hand to give to them if they need help ASAP

    I'm asked often to assist with resume' rewrites to help someone get a "good job" like I have ummmmmm...I need something to work with cause I can't perform magic tricks on a piss poor employment history. It's tiring.

    You've just gotta accept you can't cure all of the ills of your family\friends and limit your pro-bono work to 3 clients a month maybe. Pour into your dreams before you pour into someone else's.


  1. AndreaM says:

    I know how you feel. I think I will start sending folks my paypal info, stop answering till i get the payment notification. For real & for serious.