Friday, June 26, 2015

The Friend Zone

I think we can all agree that we have claimed on an occasion (or two) that we have been sent to The Friend Zone. The friend zone is this horrible place that most would agree is some sort of awful purgatory for people who are denied relationships due to being "too good of a friend to lose." We can't ever seem to understand why the person who values our friendship couldn't want us to also be something more, right? WRONG. If you've never been to the friend zone - spoiler alert - it doesn't exist. It's just some made up name for some fictional place people created when they just couldn't stomach rejection and they needed something to call it so they could feel better.

Being a friend who is consistently denied the "next level" is a very real thing; however, the idea that this denial is wrong is, well, WRONG. If someone is your friend, it doesn't matter if you spend every waking moment of every day frolicking through flowers together, if you exchange compliments and sweet sentiments, or even if you're convinced they love you and are just in denial - that person is not obligated to give you the "chance" you apparently think you deserve.

Ask yourself, when you became friends did you do it purposely with the hope of dating them? If so, that's your own damn fault for feeding yourself some sort of false hope and allowing  yourself to have expectations that you shouldn't have ever had in the first place. And even if you just stumbled across your feelings after already having a pre-existing friendship, you still don't have a right to make them feel obligated to date you.

That "chance" you think you have a right to simply for being their friend and for caring about them is exactly the reason they shouldn't give you that chance (or even be your friend to be totally honest). Friendships are not some sort of bargaining chip. You don't just enter someone's life with an agenda. Now I am all about the argument that you can't help who you like, but you can help who you tell and you can help how you make them feel about it.

Telling a friend about the feelings you have for them, when done right, can be completely appropriate and even sometimes rewarding. The problems arise the moment they reject the idea and you feel like it makes them a bad friend. NEWSFLASH - they are not a bad friend. They are doing you a favor and keeping you from dating someone who isn't interested in you. They are literally being an ideal friend right now and you're pissed about it. Let that sink in.

Sure, caring about someone who looks you right in the eyes and tells you that you can't have them is literally the equivalent to getting the wind knocked out of you - times ten. But no matter how horrible that rejection makes you feel, you have to remember that you were never entitled to any sort of friendship with them, let alone a relationship. It is a privilege to be a part of their life and the moment you take that for granted or start to believe you deserve something more is the moment they deserve better.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Half There & Gone Day

People used to tell me I should feel lucky. I got to have two dads while a lot of my friends only had one, or worse, none. I spent my childhood constantly having to distinguish between which dad I was talking about. I didn't want to offend one dad if I called the other dad "dad" in front of that dad. It's just about as complicated as it sounds. I was envied and I could never understand why.

My step-dad was not a perfect person. He yelled on more than one occasion and he wasn't always the nicest guy. I used to hate how he'd play favorites with my brothers since they were biologically his kids. But I still don't think I ever appreciated him enough for all of the things he did right. Pete taught me how to throw a football. He was there when I fell behind the stands during cheerleading and cut my knee. He bought me the Britney Spears barbie I wanted (the one in the red leather suit from the Lucky music video). He took me to my softball games sometimes (for the whole one year that I played). And sure, maybe he never came to a choir concert and maybe he said "no" to a lot of things and it pissed me off, but my step-dad took care of me.

And then there's my biological dad, who spent the majority of my childhood in foreign countries in the Army. Phone call here, email there. Chad was the "cool" dad, always buying fancy gifts and sending foreign souvenirs. There are a lot of elements to our relationship that have created the wall between us, and I will take blame for the bitterness that still exists on my end, but there are many reasons why I'd still argue our relationship would have been better had he actually put being a father before money when I was growing up.

I never really had that "daddy" connection with either of my dads. I would get really uncomfortable when Chad would come visit because he seemed to have this bond with me that I just didn't have with him - I still feel this way sometimes. He'd just come back home on leave and expect to play dad for a week or two and then leave again. I got used to it as I got older, but I still feel like that's something a child should never have to "get used to." And Pete never really felt like "daddy" because I always knew that he wasn't my biological dad and I wasn't sure if I was even allowed to feel that way because my biological dad was still in my life.

And then Pete passed away, and my whole life flipped around. The two-dad lifestyle I had that everyone envied so much came to a screeching halt and became a nightmare no one wanted to live through. Chad missed out on my childhood and now Pete has to miss out on my adulthood and all the while I'm left here to figure out how I'm supposed to feel about it. People think it's great that I still have a dad left, but what they don't realize is I still lost one and that still hurts.

No matter what, I will always appreciate both of my dads for the things they do and did, but I would be lying if I said I appreciated them both the same or as much as anyone else appreciates their dads. It's hard to celebrate someone who is half-there and someone who isn't there anymore. And I refuse to only celebrate my biological dad more simply because he is alive. A simple "Happy Father's Day" text and a "Happy Father's Day" prayer will do.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stand Up & Brush Your Knees Off

Let's be real.We all have days that make us feel like life is one big joke. We feel like we are the newest zoo attraction on display and the whole world is just waiting for us to do something. We cry, we scream, we bury our faces in pillows and shove our spoons into ice cream. These strategies are just a temporary fix to the bigger problems in our lives that we either ignore or just haven't had a clear enough mind to uncover. Eventually you have to realize that nothing is going to change until your attitude does.

Sometimes you just get dealt a really shitty hand of cards, but complaining endlessly about them isn't going to put them in the hands of someone else. And as far as social media goes - posting for support is one thing, posting for pity is another. It's not right to expect the world to absorb your problems, especially if you aren't doing all that you can to combat them - attitude adjustments included.
You have to be willing to put your best foot forward and approach tough situations positively, and you can't do that if you're constantly focusing on the negative.

Learn to live by the motto: "Control what you can. Accept what you can't." Don't let something that you have no influence over regularly influence your life and your attitude. The more you sit around moping about what is going wrong, the less you will be appreciative of what is going right. You have to ask yourself if you're doing everything you can to make this situation better or if you're choosing to complain instead of taking action.

It's also important not to let your current situation keep you from doing the things that make you happy. Ask yourself, "When is the last time I *insert thing you love here*?" If you struggle to find the answer, maybe it's time you allow yourself space from the things that are causing you anxiety and give yourself the opportunity to embrace something you love. I know you want to make the excuse that you won't be able to enjoy it because of your other worries, but instead of simply refusing - do yourself a favor and try. You might be pleasantly surprised by your ability to put it out of mind and you might actually enjoy yourself for the first time in a long time.

Life is never going to be perfect. Not even the richest, the happiest, or the smartest people have it together 100% of the time. We always want to think our problems are the worst problems and that we don't deserve them, but you just have to remember that you are capable of overcoming them. In the end of it all you will most likely be a better person as a result of the difficulties you've faced, but for the time being just stand up and brush your knees off - it will all work out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

She's Caitlyn - Get The Hell Over It

If your son or daughter or any other loved one told you they're meant to be a different gender, they have feelings for people of the same gender, they don't have feelings for either gender, or any other possible feeling they might have that doesn't fit the category of "normal" - would you still love them? Would you still care for them the same way even though you have to define them differently than you did just moments before that conversation? What if you found out they never even had the courage to tell you and lived their whole life feeling uncomfortable in their own skin - or worse, what if they choose they can't live anymore as a result of the discomfort?

I spent my afternoon reading post after post trying to figure out why people really hate Caitlyn Jenner's transformation, her story, or the publicity surrounding it. I came across a few thoughts that simply just don't add up in my mind and I thought they would be worthwhile to address. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, which is why I'm sharing theirs and then giving my two cents.

1. "She's not a hero. Members of the armed forces - now those are heroes."
Hero (n.): a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. So you're trying to tell me that a person who stands up for gender equality and acceptance by sharing their transformation story after 65 years of feeling like they were stuck in the wrong body and their new-found comfort and confidence in the process is not heroic? I understand that there are men and women who fight every day to protect this nation - my own father risked his life too. But that doesn't make me unable to observe when others are being heroes as well. They don't only wear uniforms and carry weapons - they walk among you and I. They are activists, they are mothers, they are fathers, they are doctors and nurses. Heroes are everywhere. Just because you don't identify someone as your personal hero doesn't mean that they aren't still heroes to someone else. Anyone is capable of doing something great in this world and being a hero, you don't have to fight in a war to contribute to the progress of our society. She's a hero. 

2. "Due to excessive photo-shopping of the Vogue cover she is going to make transgender people feel as though they need to look a certain way."
NEWSFLASH. Society already has high expectations of what men and women should look like. It doesn't matter what gender you are or if you identify with one at all - everyone faces these expectations daily. Her choosing to pose on that cover isn't so she can prove she's the hottest transgender woman, it's simply to say "Look at me world. I'm finally who I was meant to be all along and I am feeling great about it." Instead of commenting on what she's wearing or how much make-up she has on, look at that amazing smile on her face (even if it was touched up) and admire how genuine it is. Admire how happy this woman is to finally feel like she is who she is meant to be and allow it to inspire people. Don't try to drag it down just because it's been enhanced just like every other goddamn photo. She's beautiful inside and out, we all are.

3. "Another rich, famous person buying their way to look how they want. Another publicity stunt."
Oh, because if you were rich and didn't feel comfortable in your own skin you wouldn't choose to use money to help you feel better? Oh wait you wouldn't know unless you're her that's right. Let's be real, even if you are 100% complacent with your looks, if you had the opportunity to enhance them (or in this case completely transform them) let's not assume that you would automatically say no. You never know what you would do in someone's situation because you aren't them - plain and simple. God creates everyone in His image, but that doesn't mean by changing our looks we are defying God. We are simply becoming who we feel God intended for us to be. If that means getting a pair of boobs, then so be it. And as far as this being a publicity stunt you can just sit back down. The reality is, even if Caitlyn isn't doing this with a pure heart with the hope of helping society, she doesn't have to be. She is still creating a wave of inspiration that can't be denied. Just because actions don't always come from a place of selflessness does not mean they cannot still benefit others.

At the end of the day Caitlyn can now rest a little easier knowing she isn't a woman trapped in a man's body anymore. She is free to be herself, express herself as she pleases, and identify with the gender to which she truly belongs. Who are you to tell her who she should be? She's Caitlyn. So get the hell over it already.