One of the things I learned from wedding planning is that you have to be your own judge of success. I learned this the hard way because wedding planning is a really wonderful profession for people pleasers and, as a younger woman, I was a Blue Ribbon people pleaser. But, you live by the sword, you die by the sword. I only vaguely remember the details of the location or the couple, but I remember one particular wedding. Everyone was absolutely ecstatic that we’d given them the night of their lives. A few days later, though, we received an email with a retraction: Their disgruntled aunt had called to complain; the whole event had been a “disaster.” By the time, a few years later, one of our grooms told his bride that she looked like a fat princess right before they went down the aisle, I knew better than to hang around waiting for compliments on a job well done. It was a great night—I know; I was there—but there was also no recovering from that.
If one were to lay me down on a sofa and analyze why I was such a people pleaser (and, believe me, someone has), it likely goes back to my grandparents. My grandfather Pop was a perfectionist who would make me study the dictionary and then walk around the apartment with it balanced on my head. (So that I didn’t get bad posture from hunching over and studying all the time, obviously.) If you were looking for someone to be unimpressed by your milestones, my grandmother Bobbie was the person to turn to. (Indeed, my friends still swap stories of times they shared an accomplishment with Bobbie just to be met with her famous “What do you want, a medal?”)
On the rare occasions when she was impressed—and I mean genuinely impressed (this almost always had to do with an academic achievement)—praise would quickly be followed by a warning: “Now don’t go around bragging about it” or “Nobody likes a show-off.” You get the gist.