These interview topics were developed from Faris’s own biography to get at some of the interesting stories that might not be shared otherwise. Faris was asked to share stories about herself as they relate to the topics below. You can follow her by clicking here.
Please share a story about yourself as it relates to each of the three words. If you do think of something that relates specifically to your new book, 30 Days of No Gossip, please share.
Does Maddie embody any insecurities you’ve had to wrestle with?
I was surprised to learn that gossip doesn’t end after high school. Even in adulthood, I’ve found myself gossiping to fit in and be liked. I think it’s human nature. I truly admire those like Vi, who hear gossip and refuse to be a part of it because, honestly, there should be more positive things to talk about. But instead of being the bigger person and refusing to participate, I jump right in and even add a few zingers myself. I think that desire to fit in rather than be my own person is definitely an insecurity.
When I was in high school, I’d written a particularly gossipy note to my best friend and she accidentally dropped it during gym class. It ended up in the hands of the girls who were mentioned in the letter and they, of course, made a big deal about it. I can’t even remember what I said, but to his day I remember how angry they were about that note. I think there were even a couple of their friends who never spoke to me again. It was something many of us have had to learn in the internet age. One text or email sent to the wrong person can ruin friendships and even careers. Gossip is bad–putting gossip in writing is very, very dangerous, as I learned!
What is the most important lesson you’ve ever had to learn?
Once when I worked at a department store, my co-workers included a young, attractive woman and a group of older women who didn’t approve of her. She was pretty, energetic, and she wore clothes that were perhaps a little too skimpy. I usually knew what she was wearing before I even saw her because I’d hear other women talking about her. She was a friend of mine, so I was always tempted to ask them why they were so mean to her but I never got the nerve. The interesting thing was, the young girl was absolutely oblivious to their gossip because she was too busy with her own life. I don’t think she ever knew what they were saying but I had a feeling she wasn’t really worried about what all those women thought of her. At 20 years old, she was insecure, but she cared more what people her own age thought of her, I guess. She eventually moved on and they were happy again because everyone working in the department store with them now fit their idea of how someone who worked there should look.
I’ve tried to keep that image in my head all these years–to remember that if you focus on being the best person you can be, you don’t really have time to talk about what everyone else is wearing or saying or doing. In other words, deep down, gossipers just need to “get a life.” My young friend certainly wasn’t paying attention to what the gossipers were doing. She seemed to not even notice much about them. They may as well have been invisible.
How does the central message of your book relate to your own life experiences?
One thing that really struck me as I was writing 30 Days of No Gossip was that friendship is a tough issue. You have two very different personalities who disagree on an issue, but they don’t want to lose their friendship over it. I have had many friends over the years and in almost every case, our personalities were so dramatically different, eventually we drifted apart. If you can fight through those differences, as Maddie and Vi do in the book, and come out on the other side, you’ll have a friendship that can endure.
With Vi and Maddie, I tried to show that even though Maddie makes Vi mad early on, she’s willing to work hard to win her friendship back. I once worked with a woman like Vi. She was a deeply religious woman who believed we should love each other, not judge each other. People would bring gossip to her and she’d say, “Is that really any concern of yours?” Eventually, the office gossipers stayed away from her, but she was able to surround herself with positive people who were inspired by the good example she set. I was one of those people. I think I’ll probably always strive to be a little more like that co-worker was. Interestingly, though, I recently ran into her and told her I always admired that she refused to gossip and she told me that she hadn’t been so good about staying away from gossip lately. She said talking to me reminded her how far she’d gotten away from her original values. So maybe, in a way, I inspired her.