Bragging vs. complaining

next: pride

How does this work? Each newsletter you’ll see one reader’s answer to the previous week’s question. Then you’ll see the question they have for the list, which you can respond to if you’d like. Or you can just read and enjoy.

Previous ask:

Would you rather be surrounded by people who brag all the time, or people who complain all the time?

Matt answers:

Brag!

Back when I was 14 in 2001, I was enrolled for a second summer trip to bike with other teens, this year we'd spend 3 weeks biking around Vermont. (This is a first world problem story, so bear with me.) A few weeks before starting, I got a letter in the mail from the couple who ran the program, the camp directors (paraphrasing):

"We know you're excited for your second bike trip, we would be too. But please, don't spend that much time with your new acquaintances this summer talking about and comparing this trip to your last bike trip. Things are always different the second time around, and it's not necessarily endearing to be the person who's always comparing experiences to a previous one."

Basically, it was a letter from an old couple to a teenage boy, saying, "Don't be that guy."

At the time I was more confused than impressed, though I think it affected me that summer more than I planned.

But more notably, this letter is one of those touchstone pieces of advice that replays in my head - when a coworker compares his current job unfavorably to his last job, when a friend compares a restaurant to the one they went to with a different friend - I'd much rather they be bragging than complaining.

If only they'd gotten that letter from Mr. and Mrs. Lefkowitz.

Matt asks:

What's something that made you proud as a child?

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Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing.