The third book on my reading list this year is one that I have put off for a long time. My Grandma gave it to me I think when I graduated high school or maybe for my 18th birthday. I don’t remember exactly and it doesn’t really matter, but the story of why I didn’t read this book sooner does. The book is titled How to Win Friends and Influence People and was written by Dale Carnegie.
High school was a tough time for me. I know so many people say that and have horror stories about being bullied or ostracized or any of the number of terrible things that could happen in high school. My story isn’t the bad, but my high school experience marked me and has greatly impacted my life.
Going into freshman year, there was a group of about 9 of us girls, who were very close friends. Some of us had been together since Kindergarten, some joined in elementary and the last few rounded out the group in 8th grade. We were of all different backgrounds, but all worked hard in school to maintain grades. It was nice with a group that large, at least in my school, you never had a class that didn’t have at least 1 friend. It was a blast. If there was a sleep over, there was a herd of us laughing all night. And in sophomore year, when I said I didn’t want to got to homecoming, the whole crew got together and used their sway to vote me in as homecoming princess, so I had to go. It was amazing to have such a big group of wonderful friends.
We all had our ups and downs, there are bound to be fights and tensions occasionally with that many girls and there were some I was closer with than other, but overall I thought we would all be Myspace pals forever… or send family Christmas cards when we grew up. However, that all changed in my senior year when one of the girls, for reasons I still don’t know or understand, told a lie about my family and luckily enough of the adults at school knew me and my family well enough to not believe her. My friends however did or at least decided they’d rather be her friend than mine. All except 1 left me by the end of the week. When it was all said and done this girl and I were not supposed to interact, which when you share 4 out of 6 classes is kind of hard, and that awesome feeling of always having a friend in class went away, because the one that staid with me went to college part time and so we only saw each other at lunch time. The second half of my senior year was very lonely. While I knew everyone in my school and was accepted to eat lunch with another group, it wasn’t the same. I was hurt.
Then a book title How to Make Friends and Influence People was given to me and I know my Grandma gave it to me with all the love in the world and after reading it must say it is an enjoyable reference, but at that time I was angry. I wanted to say I know how to make friends… but don’t get too attached because you never know when they will leave. So this guide sat on my shelf.
A few years ago, I know I talked about picking it up because it sounded like it would go well with some of the other books I was reading at the time, but again the title got to me. In my adulthood, I have been told that I’m a master manipulator, who stops at nothing to be right, so reading How to… Influence People, I thought oh I better not read that, people will think I’m trying to be a tyrant again.
So it took about 15 years for me to finally so ok, lets see what this book is about. And it’s not about how to make friends that won’t be mean or about manipulating people to think that your way is the only way. Dale Carnegie wrote this in the 1930’s as a text book for courses he taught to businessmen to do better at work and in the home. While the principles he highlights are mostly common courtesy, they are also easily forgotten, especially in today’s highly offend-able society.
Part of me wishes I hadn’t waited so long to read this book as I think it could have helped be a better friend to some of the people I met in college, but I just wasn’t ready. Will I ever have friends that I completely trust again like in high school? I don’t know, but I think I have more tools know how to be there more for people in ways that they need. And I know not to judge a book by it’s title or it’s cover. 😉
Do you have any books on your shelf with strange reasons why you haven’t read them? Maybe now is the time to try!