It hit me like a dart. Unexpected. Sudden. Without a fair warning.
“You look the same.”
I knew she didn’t mean anything bad. I mean, we were close buds in college, struggling through Chinese class together and cooking good ol’ instant noodles at her tiny apartment, using mixing bowls as real kitchen pots. We even spent hours talking on the phone about what we wished our boyfriends would do.
Before I knew it, we drifted apart towards our separate paths. For 11 years.
While she happily settled down with a 9–5 career that gave her 50k+/year, I bounced between China and US, choosing love over my own life.
While she buried her face in Cosmopolitan and Bon Appétit magazines and took weekly trips to the mall, I studied makeup gurus and bodybuilders from Youtube.
While she got to travel every year to someplace cool, I stayed at home — trying to figure out how I could save even more money.
All the time she had invested in, I had spent it on making myself better. And I knew if I kept grinding my way towards my ultimate self, I’d lead a life I (and everyone else) would respect.
So when she uttered these 4 “harmless” words (you look the same) within the first few minutes of our 11-year reunion, I was deeply bruised.
Did I even improve? My hair, my skin, my body….nothing?!? So I guess all those times I sweated myself out at the gym, all those hours I spent on Youtube, really boiled down to nothing.
Wow. Does life SUCK.
I guess I’m just a failure, where I can’t do anything right. I might as well just live the same way like everyone else and enjoy life more. Try less hard. After all, I’ll still be the same right?
You see, when you tell someone “you look the same,” you downplay all of their accomplishments, their qualities. You skimp over the struggles they had to grind through to become who they are today. It’s the same as telling them, “you did absolutely nothing with your life.”
And that HURTS, even when you never meant to be mean.
So next time if you meet someone you haven’t seen for years, or maybe a couple months, don’t say “you look the same.”
Ask if they go to the gym more often now. Or if they did something different to their hair. Question them on what you think they’ve changed, regardless of the answer.
The reason is because you can always play off their answer in a more positive light.
“Oh, you look a lot more fit than how you were before. What do you actually do?”
“Oh, I thought you changed your hairstyle because it looks really nice today. Wished mine could look like that.”
This way, they won’t feel bad about your question, because they’ll genuinely take it as a compliment and proceed to tell you what they’ve actually changed.
It’s a technique I’ve used over and over again whenever I come across old faces. And it works 1000x better for rebuilding what-used-to-be a strong relationship.