Why A Support System Is So Important
I was talking to a friend of mine earlier this week and we somehow landed on a tangent about “The Devil Wears Prada,” which led to a discussion about how Andy’s friends and boyfriend (aka, her support system) were the worst. [Side bar: Aditi is a badass Cyber Security Engineer who also writes on Medium about her career and technology. Some of my favorite posts are here, here, and here.]
I recently shared on Instagram that I’ve been going through some struggles related to anxiety and feeling depressed. I signed up for Talkspace and have found that it’s been helpful! I grew up in a family that didn’t really touch upon the topic of mental health. And while I’ve opened up to my dad recently about my struggles and that I’ve sought help, I tread lightly around this topic.
I have an amazing circle of friends and my husband, who have been supportive, even when they don’t completely understand what exactly it is I’m going through. And that has made all the difference in making lots of personal and professional decisions, including the final push to invest in ME and take the step to seek help via Talkspace. That said, I think one of the things lots of young women my age do is stay in relationships and friendships that aren’t the best examples of support systems.
The best way I could actually think to illustrate this is using some scenes from “The Devil Wears Prada.” This is one of my favorite movies and I recognize there are bits of it that are problematic and we can come at it from many angles—is Andy a sellout or was she just trying to climb the corporate ladder? Was Miranda really the “devil” or do we feel a bit of sympathy for her situation?—but I’m focusing specifically on Andy, Andy’s boyfriend, and her friends as an example of “What you probably shouldn’t do when your friend is having a rough time.”
I don’t think anyone is perfect and we all make mistakes or say things we later regret, but in the 1 hour and 50 minutes runtime of “The Devil Wears Prada,” I think there are three scenes that really illustrate what it means to have a poor support system. Let’s dig in!
Dragon Lady is calling
This is the first opportunity that I feel like Andy’s boyfriend and friends could have been more supportive and understanding of her situation. They’re so excited to get all these expensive things but then decide to play hot potato with her phone when Miranda calls.
How could this have gone differently?
Well, for starters, let her answer the call. Sure—Andy complains about her boss and everyone knows how miserable Andy’s existence at work is—but why make things more difficult for her? Why give her more anxiety and make her fight you for her phone?
And, sure, it’s a harmless prank and maybe Andy may be a bit “uptight” for their liking but if it’s all for laughs, rather than Andy (or rather Andy’s career) being the butt of the joke, why not make things lighthearted and give Andy some levity from what is obviously a stressful job?
What my husband, my friends, and my family do well when I’m stressed (or having a difficult time at work) is allow me the time and space to decompress and suggest activities that we can all enjoy together. And sometimes, letting someone just vent or avoiding the topic that’s causing stress are great solutions too.
Lesson? Be considerate and respectful of your friend—even if maybe you don’t completely understand.
Listen, we all know Andy is frustrated that this happened—from the moment Andy gets plucked to be Emily Light because Emily has the flu all the way to when she’s in the car and asks if there’s anyway the driver can go faster—she’s not exactly happy that she has to miss Nate’s birthday.
I think the part that really gets me here is, if I were Nate, yes I would be upset too, but Andy comes home with a birthday cupcake and is so apologetic. And I have a hard time believing that she didn’t give him a heads up to let him know this was happening.
The lack of communication, and I mean real communication, here is what really drives these two apart. How could this have gone differently? If, rather than give Andy the cold shoulder, and give her a half-assed “You look really pretty,” he could have said something like “I’m really disappointed you missed my birthday but I see that you’ve had a really tough day at work and I know you didn’t want to be there. Let’s unwind a bit.”
“Have fun in Paris.”
So, let me start by saying, I don’t support Andy’s weird relationship with Christian Thompson. He’s super manipulative, sleazy, and knows exactly what he’s doing when he begins pursuing Andy.
That said, the conversation that starts 2:05 is an example of how not to give your friend advice on a situation you’re maybe not a huge fan of.
In the “Dragon Lady is calling” scene, Lily is so happy to accept the free goodies—exclaiming “Oh my God! This is the new Marc Jacobs. This is, like, sold out everywhere. Where did you get this?”—which are obviously a nice perk of Andy’s job. But here, her tone changes. She calls Andy a “glamazon” who “skulks round corners” and that she doesn’t “get her.”
Sure, her behavior since she’s started this job is something Lily doesn’t agree with and maybe this was the final straw. But rather than guilt trip Andy (who, again, is already having an AWFUL time at her job,) why not position it so that it’s constructive and rooted in fact? Driving Andy away from the only friends she has in New York is only driving Andy to do more things that are unlike herself (see: her dinner and date in Paris with Christian Thompson.) I’ll leave this one for you all to tell me… how could this have gone differently?
Phew — this wasn’t my usual type of blog post but as I move along in my own career and there’s lessons that I learn, this place really is my outlet for sharing these things. I’ve always shied away from the topic of how difficult life can get sometimes and what I do or have done to make things better and I’m looking to change that.
If you ever need a cheerleader, an ear to listen, or just someone to vent to… call me, beep me, if you want to reach me.