Thursday, January 29, 2015

Patience

I recently started writing a song about patience, and it got me thinking. 

I am not a patient person. I have improved over the years, but I will most likely never say “I’m patient” with 100% confidence. And that's okay, but I think it's important to know when you should really try to be patient.

Throughout these last six months I have discovered things about myself that I never knew simply because I never took the time to be patient. With everyone around me graduating, getting married, having kids it really started to get to me. I felt like my life wasn't moving as quickly as everyone else's. But now that I have taken a step back, I realize that my life doesn't have to move that fast. I can be patient and wait for the right person, the right opportunities, and the right time to do things for myself. I don't have to rush just because everyone else might have it figured out already. 

We have to learn how to be patient. If we spend all our time trying to rush through life, we miss out on important opportunities to learn more about ourselves. What's the point of finding "the one" if we aren't even ready for them because we never took the time to figure out who we are or what we really need? That's pretty unfair to the other person if you seem like you have it all put together when in reality it's only because you never challenged yourself to grow. 

So take your time. Be patient with life and what it has to offer. It's not about how fast you reach the destination, but about all of the things you experience along the way. What kind of conversation can you have with someone when they ask "Who are you?" and the only thing you have to say is "I don't know, I ran so fast that I forgot to figure that out along the way."

Enough is Enough

When you start seeing someone new, start investing time and energy into your "relationship," and devote yourself to them, it can be a little upsetting when you come to find out that it was all for nothing. After all of the effort you put in, you realize it never meant half as much to the other person as it did to you. It's unfortunate, it's painful, but it happens. 

I spent the fall semester trying to convince myself that I just wanted something simple, something casual. I eventually found myself in a "relationship" with someone who was constantly tossing me back and forth. One minute they were supposedly thinking about dating, the next they wanted nothing to do with it. Eventually I just couldn't take it anymore and a big "fuck-off" was in order. 

As it turns out, casual really isn't all that simple after all. Once you start realizing you have feelings for them you have to come to terms with the fact that it's about to get a lot more complicated. You also have to consider the fact that the feelings might not be mutual. Or if you're as unlucky as I am you find yourself in a situation where the feelings are mutual, but your priorities aren't. And once your feelings are known and your relationship leaves the realm of "casual" there really is no going back. 

I speak from experience (no surprise there) when I say that no matter how many times outside observers tell you that you're wasting your time or that you'll only end up hurt - 9 times out of 10 you still won't listen. I am a firm believer in the "enough is enough" rule. But the key to the rule is realizing that everyone's versions of "enough" are different. Some people can keep themselves on an emotional roller-coaster for months, others can't survive days. In my opinion, I'd much rather deal with the pain that comes along with "enough" rather than moving on too soon and meeting enough's best friend "what if." It is up to you to decide which you'd rather live with. 

But eventually you owe it to yourself to say I'm done, I deserve better. You have to be willing to wake up from your fantasy and realize that someone who can’t give you what you’re willing to give them is not worth your time. And this is easier said than done in almost all circumstances, but eventually you'll find your threshold, draw your line in the sand, and learn how to keep your standards where they belong.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' Self-esteem

After spending 20 years as someone's child I've learned a thing or two about how much a parent can impact your life far beyond year 18. And I'm not talking about financially. I'm talking about the way their behavior and treatment can impact your transition into adulthood.

I can honestly say that although my mother and I have our differences, I thank God every day for the way she raised me. She taught me to have thick skin, to be kind and courteous, and to speak my mind. My mom pretty much nailed the parenting thing (not flawlessly, but who does?).

Over the course of my first few years of college I have learned that not all people have been so lucky. Sadly, I've heard stories of parents belittling their children, having high expectations of perfection, and constantly hovering over every decision they make. 

In life we are all faced with some pretty tough choices and unfortunate circumstances. We struggle through loss, growth, and change. But if we are constantly controlled by our parents we will never learn how to stand on our own two feet and face problems with courage and the proper coping mechanisms. And we sure as hell aren't going to learn self-confidence by hearing the people who are supposed to love us most tell us all the things that are wrong with us.

And for the record, I can't really speak for kids who have parents who pay for their education. I don't know what that pressure is like, but I do know that it isn't fair to use that to control your children into adulthood just because you like the taste of power. Because I will tell you one thing for sure, if you are constantly pushing your kids down and holding things over their heads then you aren't a parent at all - you're a bully. Parents are supposed to be providers of unconditional love above all else. They are supposed to support their children, even when it might be difficult. 

And if all of this doesn't say enough, just remember who picks your nursing home. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Soon

He was like that prince on the white horse that rushes in to save the princess from the fire-breathing dragon. He was the most intelligent man I'd ever met and he could make me feel like I was the most beautiful girl with just one look. He could warm my heart with his honesty, chill my spine with his touch, and free my smile with his words. He could make me feel like no one has ever wanted me more... and then he could take it all away without a word.

It took me one week, just one week, to believe that I had met one of the greatest guys to ever walk into my life. But over the course of two months things changed. Pushing myself into his busy schedule to no avail, setting aside my worries as days would pass and I wouldn't hear from him, and justifying to myself one hundred different reasons why it was okay that my texts and calls went unanswered or that I went unacknowledged.

When will I see you next? "Soon."
When can we talk? "Soon."
I just want to be in your arms. "Soon."
I just want to be yours. "Soon."

Eventually I got sick of hearing the word so much I'd get angry every time I heard it. And eventually, I didn't hear anything at all. He stopped responding, and I assumed he stopped caring.

I decided that I needed to do a reasonable person test: Would a reasonable person find this treatment unfair, unwarranted, and downright as painful as I did? I knew I wasn't just overreacting and I knew I deserved better, but I was holding out for the man I thought he could be not the man he was being.

After returning from winter break I decided to move on and leave him in the past since he pretty much stopped being a part of my present. But I still wonder what it would have been like to reach "soon." I still wonder if he would go back to being the man I thought he was when we first met. And maybe he will, but I'm not strong enough to have a relationship founded on convenience, a love defined, limited, and continuously invaded by the word "soon."

Monday, January 26, 2015

No Means No

It's not an invitation to try harder. It's not a test of your ability to convince me. It's not a shot at your ego. It's not me just being a tease. It's not a challenge. It's nothing. It's two letters, combined to make a word, that means "not any"; a negative expression to represent the opposite of "yes". So whatever idea that was presented in the question that proceeded it, you can assume at this point that you can't do it. That's kind of the point of the word "no", after all.

So when you come over to my house and I say "I don't want to have sex with you." It does not mean I want to do everything except for sex. It doesn't even mean I want to kiss you. It doesn't mean I want you to list the reasons why I should. It literally means I don't want to have sex, so if you ask I will say no, and if I say no then I mean it (which also means don't ask again - which does not mean to proceed to do it anyways). 

I guess I just don't really understand why this is such a hard concept. The word "no" is even shorter than the word "yes" and should therefore be even easier to comprehend. Hell, if I had said "maybe" I might be able to justify some confusion, but "no"? There's no excuse.

And you can save yourself the trouble of "Oh, come on you know you'd like it" because odds are that won't stop me from kicking you straight into the fetal position. There really is no recovering from blatantly disregarding a woman's "no." You really can't come back from that in my opinion.

Even if a girl brought you back to her house or went back with you to yours, even if she mentioned sex on the walk home or in the text conversation (because we don't booty call anymore - we booty text - even hookups have become lazier). It doesn't matter. I don't care if she screamed yes right up until the moment you tried to touch her. As soon as the word "no" leaves her mouth, she means it. Once the sound of those two letters is ringing in the air, hands off. No means no. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

How Could Anyone Cheat? Let Me Tell You…

When I was fifteen I met who I thought was the love of my life. We did everything together. We loved, laughed, fought, kissed, etc. It was everything you could hope for from a high school love and I wouldn't change anything about it. Except maybe the way it ended. And I’m not saying I’m not glad now that it’s over or that we would have been better off together, but it should not have ended the way it did.

I should have told him that I couldn't do the distance. I should have told him that I didn't feel the same way anymore. That he wasn't calling enough. That he wasn't giving me what I needed. But instead of doing any of that, I simply looked elsewhere. I found what I wanted from him in someone else and took it, without telling him first.

Now I know what you're thinking: “HOW COULD YOU? He loved you. He cared about you. He didn't deserve that.” And I know that. No one “deserves” to be cheated on. No matter how unhappy I was I still owed it to him to tell him that I couldn't be with him anymore. But the reality is I didn't. I can’t do it over, I can't rewind, and I sure as hell can’t fix it with an apology.

I have never considered myself a bad person, but I have made some pretty bad mistakes. I am not ashamed of them and I take full responsibility because no matter how horrible they may have been, I made them in an effort to make myself happier. No, I don't think cheating is excusable, but I don't think that having cheated on someone is reason enough for me not to be able to find happiness in my life.

At some point you have to forgive yourself. At some point you have to say that you can’t take it back and you have to move forward. Keeping yourself in a place with constant self-hate and blame isn't going to stop you from cheating again; it's going to keep you from realizing that you should respect both the people you've hurt and yourself enough not to do it again. If you look at the past long enough, you’ll forget how precious the present is. The present allows us to grow and learn from our mistakes. Use the present to redeem yourself; use the present to be a better version of you instead of simply hating who you used to be.

Friday, January 23, 2015

An Open Thank You Letter to IATG & Shannon

When wrote my admissions essay for Ohio State, I wrote all about how I wanted to go to a college that I could get involved in. I wanted to find an organization or two to really sink my teeth into. I wanted to get involved to make up for the fact that I didn't in high school. But I will be honest, I never thought I would be in the group I'm in today.

I was always the girl you’d hear saying, “I'd rather hang with the guys – less drama.” I was the girl you'd see hanging out at the neighboring guys suite instead of having girl-talk in my own. The one you'd catch watching football, drinking beer, and swearing at the television. Being in a room full of girls sounded more like torture than fun. Don't get me wrong, I had my girls, but when it came to making new friends in college I steered clear of females for the most part.

But then my sophomore year something changed. No matter how much fun I had hanging with the guys, I needed to branch out and start making more of an effort to connect with women my age. And that's when I met Shannon. Shannon was one of my suite-mates that year, and to be honest I knew I loved her from the moment she called me on my home phone that summer (who does that anymore??) to introduce herself before we got back to school. I had ever met someone my age who was so in-tune with her femininity, so proud of her womanhood. Shannon was my saving grace, and I didn't even realize it.

As the school year got rolling, Shannon dove right into Ohio State. Even as a transfer she did not hesitate taking her new journey and making it worthwhile. One night Shannon found herself listening to a guest speaker, Alexis Jones – founder of I AM THAT GIRL. When she went to hear her speak, I don't think Shannon knew it was going to light a fire in her the way it did. She knew that she had to bring I AM THAT GIRL right here to Ohio State. With the help of a couple girls who felt the same spark, they created a local chapter right here at OSU.

I was hesitant at first, but once I mustered up the courage to attend meetings and get involved. I could not be happier with the way it has changed my life. IATG has helped me realize what womanhood is all about. I have realized that I can still hang with the guys, but I can also embrace being a woman. It made me face the fact that I had been hiding from building relationships with other women, and it needed to stop.

IATG is an amazing organization. It emphasizes the importance of self-love over self-doubt and collaboration over competition. It is a group of women who are passionate about making changes in this world for the benefit of both men and women. It is a community that consistently builds one another up without ever fearing that someone will tear them down for doing so.

Through IATG I have met some of the most inspiring people, had the most thought provoking conversations, and I have become the most confident version of myself that I think I've ever known. I have realized that being friends with more women doesn't have to change me; I can still be the same person I am, but I can love myself even more with the support of all these girls. I don't know where I'd be today without each and every one of them, and I especially don't know where I'd be without Shannon. 

To The Man Who Was Braver Than I Was

Over the course of the last five months I have made my transition into the single world. And I’m going to be honest here, it has not been pretty. Single for a 20 year old thus far has meant mingling on awkward dating apps, reconnecting with old high school crushes, and dealing with dramatic thoughts that I will be alone forever followed by uncontrollable panic.  

But one conversation can change everything. One completely unexpected conversation with practically a stranger can change everything. Instead of a night of taking clothes off, I did something else – I took my walls down. Instead of being physically naked, I got emotionally naked – something I think people don’t do often enough.

Believe it or not, this guy telling me he couldn't hang out with me because he didn't want to hook-up as he had said he did the previous night was exactly what I needed to hear. Hearing him say “I’m not being myself” was enough for me to realize that I really wasn't either – and I haven’t been for a long time. It was like a wake-up call I didn't request, but one that was essential for my well-being.

Just because the world around you may seem like a sex-crazed hormone fest without a drop of innocence left at the bottom of the red solo cup in your hand, doesn't mean you have to be. Just because you’re physically attracted to someone it doesn't mean you have to throw self-control and what you truly want for yourself away. Compromising my own feelings for the sake of settling for something less than desirable has only left me feeling lonelier than I did in the first place.

So I’m writing this as kind of a thank you to that guy. I’m writing this to tell him that without him being brave enough to admit that he wanted more for himself, I wouldn't have been able to do so either. I know I can’t change overnight, and I know it will take time for me to really accept the choices I've made these last few months and decide what I really do want. But I think it’s possible. With a little time and perseverance I can set aside my irrational fears and find someone who is actually interested in me and not just my body – all in due time.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Mother Thinks She's Not a Feminist - That's Funny

I find it quite silly at times that my mom won’t admit to being a feminist. She’s actually the woman I first learned it from, and she doesn't even realize that she is one.

A few months ago I posted on Facebook in an effort to hush everyone’s anti-feminist agendas for a moment and get them to really consider what feminism is about. My mother didn't really say much, but all she commented was, “The ONE thing that you did NOT get from your mother.”

My mom has always been and continues to be the strongest presence of feminism that I have in my daily life, which is precisely why I found her comment so ironic. Since I was little, my mom has always worked; whether it was being a full time mom, babysitting, cleaning, or even now as she has completed technical school and works as a pharmacy technician. My mom has always been financially independent and always strives to take care of herself rather than let it come from the hands of someone else. She has always put what is best for her family above everything else, and she never relies on someone else to make that decision for her. She has been strong when most would have been weak, she has spoken up when most would have kept quiet, and she has fought back when most would have simply accepted defeat. However, we are all human and we make mistakes, even my mother. And when she does, she recovers with such charisma and just the right amount of grace. She never stays down for long and she never pulls others down with her just to help her get back up.

This is what feminism is all about. Feminism is not about pulling men down to help women stand taller. Feminism is about asking everyone to realize that neither sex should be down in the first place. We should all be standing tall, together. We should all be making decisions, living our lives, and letting our voices be heard at equal levels of importance, with the same opportunities, and with equal volume.

My mother has taught me that when the going gets tough, you get tougher. She never made me feel like being a girl set me behind, and she never let me use being a woman as an excuse. My mother did not just teach me how to be a good woman; she taught me how to be a good person. That is what this world needs: parents who talk to their kids all the same, rather than having higher or lower expectations based on their gender. Parents who let their sons play with Barbie’s and their daughters play with Hot Wheels. Parents who care more about the choices their children are making based on how it will affect their futures, rather than how it will change the way the world perceives them based on their gender. Parents who let their children dream and reach for things far beyond what they may have expected. Maybe through all of these things my mom didn't realize that she was actually teaching me about feminism, but I believe she was.

I am proud to call myself a feminist because of the one who has always been standing next to me, supporting me, and cheering me on. My mother is a feminist, whether she knows it or not, and she should be proud to be one too.