Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Not That Big of a Deal

One of my best friends just enlightened me today that when he first met me, he really didn't like me.  To me, it seems completely rational that it would upset me.  It's not as if I am mad at him; he is entitled to his opinion.  I only wonder why he did not like me initially and if I give off a certain impression that maybe others feel as well. 

My freshman year in college, I roomed with a girl I had known my entire life, we were raised as infants together, and though I had never been close to her as we got older, I found that rooming with her was a better option than expanding my horizons and living with a random stranger.  I basically only went to the dining hall with her and my other high school friends for the first month or so.  I found out later, that my entire hall thought I was extremely stuck up, until I started opening up and hanging out with them.  I've never thought to classify myself as shy, but for some reason, I have a hard time introducing myself to new people. 

After being in college for six years, and staying in relatively the same place, I have opened up and have a wide variety of friends, all who mostly know each other or have no problem interacting with each other when introduced in a situation.  I wonder though, with all of my issues of opening myself up to new people, how did I end up with such an amazing group of friends, and after all of this time, do people still initially find my bashfulness as me being stuck up?

I have great anxiety when it comes to introducing myself to new situations.  I go to the same bar, I hang out with the same friends, I only go to events when I know the majority of the people that will be there, and I get very uncomfortable when the unexpected happens.  If I am presented with an awkward situation, my response is fifty/fifty.  Half the time I will hide or flee from the situation, and the other half, if a decent amount of alcohol has been introduced, I can become this fiesty individual who will say exactly what's on my mind and be, well, rude.  If a guy is hitting on me at the bar I have no problem blatantly telling him that I am not interested, and if he continues to bother me, tell him he has no reason to even be trying to speak with me because he is not at my level.  So why, when faced with these situations do I have the strength to speak up, yet I find trouble walking into a place alone, even when my friends are there?

I think, in part, my previous situations with guys have lead me to be very strong on speaking my mind of what is, and what is not okay for me to handle.  I am not willing to put myself in a situation where a guy may think I am interested and end up doing something I am not comfortable with.  Perhaps I always have this instinct to avoid what I am uncomfortable with, and sometimes I am more open to expressing it than others.  Or, perhaps, I am completely aware that my awkwardness with going to a party with new people, or walking into a bar alone and meeting up with friends there, is completely irrational and that is why I feel more hesitation towards expressing how uncomfortable I am. 

This constant anxiety can, at times, completely control and dictate my life.  I avoid certain situations, I am always fearful of what other people think of me, I gauge people's reactions and act in accordance with how I think they want me to.  There are only certain few people that I really allow myself to be myself and even then my behavior can bother them and I crumble and enclose myself in a invisible ball and try not to let them see how much it really cuts me to the core.  I am always seeking approval.  The odd thing is, when I reflect upon who I am as a person, I really am quite content.  I know that for the most part, I am a kind, caring, compassionate, and mostly selfless person.  I always try to see how my friends may be feeling, and help them when they are down and need help.  I do not push my beliefs or attitudes among others, I usually try and see their side and most times, apologize even when I feel I am right in an argument because I can understand why they feel the way they do.  I care too much, but I prefer to be that way because of how many times I have been cut down or taken advantage of by people who do not care what other people think.  My first real relationship was with a guy who acted like he didn't care what other people thought of him, and as a result he often did whatever he wanted, and hurt me a lot, without a care because that was just who he was.  Since that moment, I have always vowed that I would rather care too much than not enough.  All in all, the person that I am, while may be seen as weak, is someone that I am quite proud of, and I hold myself in quite high confidence.  So, why is it then, that something as small as a friend telling me that once, a year and a half ago, he didn't really like me, can really disturb me and make me so insecure?

Maybe I always have the doubt deep down, that I am wrong about myself.  Even though I am confident about who I am as a person, others may not like me and that seems very hard for me to understand.  What kind of person would not like a kind, caring individual?  Why do people always seem drawn to those people who don't care about anything or anyone, and as a result, constantly get trampled on them?  Is it out of respect, or fear? And is fear a way really to make friends?  I find it disgusting to think about having my friends be afraid of me.  But yet, I know several people who stay close to certain people because they are afraid of what would happen if they stood up to them.  I guess the insecurity comes from me not really understanding why people wouldn't like me.  I know that I have certain flaws, I am not claiming to be perfect, but I find myself a faithful devoted friend.  So what is it about me in the beginning that can give off a negative impression?  Is it my defenses?  Because of being so uncomfortable around new people, and new, uncertain situations, do I present myself as seemingly better than others and give off a negative impression?  Because if so, I feel like that is something that I can work on, to better myself as a person.

Ultimately, why do we even care what other people think about us?  Most people have friends, and most of those friends accept us for who we are.  So why is it that if someone doesn't like us, some people become as insecure as I do, and worry and try to please that person to find acceptance?  I have no problem if I do something I believe in, and someone has a problem with it and doesn't like me.  That actually doesn't bother me.  But when I have done nothing to someone, or when it is unknown exactly what I did to someone has caused them not to like me, this is when I find myself disturbed.  I don't find this to be a negative thing.  Some people say that we shouldn't care what others think of us.  Let it go, they say.  But for me, that is nearly impossible.  I seek out an answer of what it is I did, so I can have the closure of knowing whether their dislike is justified or not.  When there is nothing else I can do, I accept it.  But why am I one of the people who is bothered by this?

Because I care.

I do not see it as weakness to worry about what others think.  It is simply because I do not want to hurt anyone.  I do not want to offend anyone.  I do not want to hinder the chance at friendship with someone unless it is necessary.  So when someone does not like me for no apparent reason, yes, it bothers me.  There is nothing wrong with it.  It is simply because I care.  I have a heart, I have a soul, and I use it.  I am okay with that.  For those friends out there, who do not understand why I care so much, I say to you, what if I didn't care so much?  What if when you came to me with a problem, I said, "Get over it," or "I don't care."  What if when you needed me most I walked away?  Then would it matter to you that I don't care what other people think about me?  I care.  At times, too much, but never, NEVER too little.  There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that.  So yes, friend, it bothers me that you didn't like me at first.  But if you cannot remember why, then I will get over it.  As long as you like me now. Just because, I care.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Love's Existence

A very close friend of mine has a death wish.  When he was 19 years old, an accident on a motorcycle caused him to be paralyzed for five days.  He was run off the road and thrown off his bike.  He was in the ICU for a week, and went to a rehab hospital for a month.  Eventually he was able to walk.  Now 23, he goes to school, has a job, and still rides motorcycles.  He spends his days working, tinkering with his bike, and drinking himself into quite the stupor.  He has never had a serious relationship.  He lives an extremely reckless life, and wishes to die young, before he is 45, because of his back pain, and fear of it deteriorating further as he gets older.  He does not believe in love.  When I asked him if he loved his friends, he said some, and I told him I had hope that someday he will find a more intimate love.  He disagrees.  I tell him that love will find him because it always finds us when we are not looking for it.  He still disagrees. 

This fills me with such a great sadness because he truly is one of my best friends.  I love him very much because he is someone I have gone to in some of my darker moments, and I do not like seeing him in his.  I makes me fear for him when he drinks himself silly every night because he is so sad about how alone he is.  I want him to see that he isn't alone.  I want him to see that he has friends, and at very least I am there if he needs me, and that someday when he is ready he will find a girl who will appreciate him for all the great things he is.  I hope for him that he will find someone to love him, and that she will fill him with such strength that he will want to grow old with her.  That she will take care of him if his back does get worse, and she will stand by him through anything. I really do wish these dreams for him, but then I always get awoken by the sad fact that perhaps he will not.  There are people, sometimes great people, who spend their lives alone.  There are people out there that will never realize how truly brilliant their soul shines, and how much they affect those around them.  It makes me want to tell every single person I come in contact with everyday how truly special they are, and that they are loved, at least by me.  That is simply all that I can do.

How can people want to die?  I have felt the feeling of hopelessness, thinking that all is lost and that death must be better than the pain I am feeling, but the moment is always fleeting.  I have lost close ones to suicide, and the idea boggles my mind.  I am so fearful of death, I am so scared of what comes after, that I cannot imagine taking my own life.  The idea of someone willingly welcoming death is so foreign to me.  Life has so much to offer, and while yes, it is at times painful, there can be so much good.  The rewards that life has to offer has to outweigh the cost of pain, doesn't it?  Life has the sweetest, simplest rewards, like the feel of clean bedsheets, the steam and heat of a long shower, the sweet taste of your favorite food, and yes, the rush of flying down the road atop a motorcycle.  The delight in discovering new knowledge, in making someone smile, in creating something on your own.  Traveling to a new place, getting lost and not caring, having a good hair day (well maybe that one is just for girls).  To me, there are so many good feelings to be discovered that aren't even dependent on having someone else to share them with.

It makes me sad that he feels so alone, and it makes me sad that even though he is an incredible friend and an amazing person, that he may be alone as he feels he is destined to be. But...isn't there more to life than just being in love?

Everyone says how great love is, and it really is....but can we really ever fall in love with someone else if we don't learn to love life and ourselves first?

Is life worth it without love?

Because until this moment, I have always felt that life is all about love.  Finding the person who shares these grand moments with you, and enjoys the simple times with you, and helps you when you're down.  But, if I'm saying that love is what makes life worth living....then I'm saying that anyone who never knows love, never lived.  Are we all so jaded?  Are we chasing after something, and making it seem bigger than it really is? Or is it really that big and some people are cursed by God never to know it?  That just seems unfair.

An episode of Sex and the City (I feel slightly ashamed to be quoting), Carrie asks "How many great loves do you think you get in a lifetime?" and a man replies, "great loves....well maybe one if you're lucky"  Until now, I have considered this a good quote, thinking that yes, people are blessed to have one great love of their life.  But now, I'm rethinking the quote and realizing that some people don't get a love of their lifetime.  It makes me want to scream.  How can someone live, how can someone exist, and not experience love?  Maybe it is like prom, and it's a pivotal moment of one's life, but yet some choose not to partake, or some don't have the opportunity.  But love just cannot be compared to prom, can it?  Is it really something that people don't have to experience?  Am I really that extremely blessed to have love?  Is this just a foreign concept to me because I'm female, and females are taught from an early age that finding love is a way to complete themselves?  Does he feel this way because he's a man?  Should I just give up? Because I feel like I will pray for him to find love everyday until he finds it or until his reckless lifestyle brings about his end.  I feel like even after he passes, if he had never found love I will be haunted by the thought.  But what can I do?  What can any of us do, except love the ones we love and make sure that no one ever feels unloved.  Make people feel like life, however, painful it is, is worth living until its end.  This issue is not resolved, but...what else can I say?

Saying Goodbye

So this is my first blog post so I feel obligated to start off by saying a few things about myself.  My name is Jennifer Wert, I preferred to be called Jenn.  I am 24 years old, almost 25.  I work as a manager for a small cafe, which consumes most of my life.  I got my degree at Shippensburg University, for English with a Writing Concentration.  I live in a small town, where the majority of the people I know, know each other, and therefore am blessed and cursed in knowing what is going on in each and everyone's lives.  I feel. Too much. I am a studier of people.  Therefore, my blog will probably be about the feelings of others, or potential writing exercises I have given myself in order to feel like I am still using my degree and not simply wasting away my dreams.

To begin.  I have been listening to someone speak for several weeks about their issues with a specific person of the opposite sex.  This girl has been discussing how this guy knows so much about her, and yet because of several problems they have discontinued their relationship with one another.  She still reaches out to him because of these problems, and he mistakes it for her babying him or caring for him.  She says, that it is hard for her, because she no longer has someone to go to who knows her so well that he can depict why she is feeling the way she is feeling about a certain situation and what to do to make her feel better.  Because the majority of the people she has gotten close to in the three years I have known her, have always ended up abandoning her in some way, she is closed off to opening up to another person, whether it be friend or potential relationship. Even though she does not crave a relationship with this person anymore, she cares about his life and grieves for yet another severed relationship.  It is so hard to say goodbye.

I am in a similar situation as of late.  Several months ago, I found myself speaking to an ex boyfriend of mine.  When we dated we were very young, and it could barely be considered a relationship because we spent relatively little time together, and never even kissed.  We simply held the title of boyfriend and girlfriend until trivial girl issues led me to break up with him.  Ten years later, we began speaking again, and it really led me to revel on how completely changed and yet still the same I really was.  In ten years, I had gone from brain-washed Christian fundamentalist who tried to "save" my friends and help them find Jesus to the girl who would dance on tables and sleep with fraternity boys as I got wasted and luckily ended up home at the end of each night.  I am long gone seemingly from the days of the drinking and dancing on table-tops, as this job has consumed my life and the responsibility I have been given allowed me to mature and become a new person as well, but being in the same town as I was in those immature days, I still find my way back to those viral habits from time to time.  As I began talking to this ex on a daily basis, I enlightened him on my new life and everything that has passed in between and found myself returning to a bit of my old self.  Not the bible-banging higher than mighty self, but the more innocent and naive person I used to be, not tainted by the reckless lifestyle.  I found myself finding a bit more light in my life, and not being so bogged down by all the darkness that had closed in.  It was nice to have someone to share my day with, who seemed interested and fascinated by all the stories I had to tell.  But this friendship became something more, and it was something I no longer wanted, because of the relationship I have with my boyfriend, who with everyday reminds me that I am meant to marry him.  So I cut off the friendship.  Mostly because I found out that the ex's words were so very contrary to his actions, and as he had spent months getting to know every detail about me, he had cleverly kept himself disguised, pretending to be something that he was not.  But still I find myself wondering, and missing that feeling of having someone to share your day with, and who knows why you feel the very way you feel. 

Why does the passing of time make everything so muddy?  Why does it have to change everything you do not wish to be changed, but sustain everything you wish could change?  Why has a year passed in my life and I feel like I have done nothing yet know I have done so much?  I admit that in the past year I have evolved and matured when it comes to my job, and I know I do it well (even if my boss refuses to admit it).  I know that I have developed relationships with people that I have longed to, and thank the Lord that I have finally known them and can call them my friends.  I know that I have become more financially independent and support myself well, and sometimes support my boyfriend when he needs it as well.  But these things seem so boring.  What worries me is how neglected I have been to my relationship this past year.  What worries me is how neglected I have been to life this past year.  I have done nothing but work and sleep.  The relationships I hold are with work acquaintances or friends that come into work to visit me.  I have my occasional trip to the bar and usually end up having a couple of drinks and a few conversations and then want to come home and return to my zombie state.  I know that this is not the life for myself, but it is hard to say goodbye.  When you say goodbye to something, or someone, it seems so uncertain.  You have no idea what will come, or how you will feel about it later.  But, it is time to make a change, and this blog is the start of mine.

I don't particularly care if anyone reads this, or finds it entertaining.  Perhaps someone will find it comforting to know there is someone in the world that feels what they are feeling.  Regardless, this blog is for me.  So, I will hopefully find my own comfort in writing.  Happy New Years to everyone. Make this year count.