Saturday, June 16, 2012

Real Thoughts

People think differently.  We are all unique.  Everyone looks different, feels different, and thinks differently.  Some people think in a straight line, an event happens and they make a conclusion.  Others think like a tree branch, when an event happens, it becomes the catalyst for several different thoughts, upon with we draw several different conclusions, and we have to trust.  We trust people for their honesty to tell us which is the right conclusion, we trust our own instincts to tell us which is the right deduction, or we trust that even if we do not know the answer, that we will make the right decision.  One single instant becomes the catalyst, the turning point, for all following occurrences.  Each moment defines us.  Often those who see things in many different lights, become very careful with what we say.  We learn early on that it is rare for people to think this way.  We find ourselves observing all other humans, and rationalizing their actions, not judging them right away because surely at some point, something occurred in their life that resulted in them making this particular choice.  We forgive almost everyone, for almost everything.  We talk about our feelings and our thoughts, only when we find a kindred spirit, or we feel it is necessary.  We are misunderstood, constantly.  We are lonely.  We are desperate for anyone who understands how we feel because we are so absolutely empathetic towards everyone we know.  We cry when you cry.  We smile when you smile.  We feel what you feel.  It becomes quite exhausting.  To always have at least a basic understanding of how others feel, but to never have others understand how we feel. 

We are unique.  We are empathetic.  We are thoughtful, compassionate, charismatic, understanding and strong.

We are alone with our thoughts.  We are alone.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


We work hard, because it makes us feel proud.  Sometimes we do things to make others proud of us.  We try to work hard in school, so our parents will be proud, and do what society expects of us so that others will be proud of us.  We try to do the right thing, so that others will be proud of who we are.  Some people don't seem to do things to make people proud, but usually deep down, you find it is because they had someone in their life who was never satisfied with what they did.

So what happens if you do something, and you work hard at it, and someone is not proud of what you've done?  Do you become the type of person who never does anything expected of them? Or do you continue trying and trying to find new ways to make them proud until you become so broken?  You fall into numbness and just go through the motions, not knowing why anymore  You get excited by the slightest hope of pride in their eyes, and then fall apart when it's nothing more than their own pride in themselves.  You'd do anything, absolutely anything just to have them say the words...and you become so consumed you completely lose yourself.

Can we live without pride in ourselves, or pride from others?

I don't think we can.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Two Birds, One Stone.

She is your addiction, your disease
But you'd die to please
Constrain yourself, restrain her self,
Masochism that makes you someone else.
Your heart burns for her,
you breathe in the smoke and steam,
You pump your veins; it enters your bloodstream
with her ignorance and distaste it seems.
Get high off of her anger,
smother her and she smiles,
getting higher off her
feminine wiles.
There is no good to come from this
yet it's all you know
Shoot up some more, pop the pills
embrace the pain that makes you ill,
but how much further can you go?
You're so caught up being vain,
with a drug that's doesn't numb your pain.
Time to trip, go to another world
where the people don't torture and torment
but they convey, converse, protect
each other
they smile and apologize
they do not tell each other lies
A world like that seems so far away
but one can dream it up, can't they?
But a place so foreign, seems to be fiction
breaks your trip, you feel the friction
Start convulsing, shudder, shake
The truth of the world, has become fake
the relief gives you no satisfaction,
it's too much to take
Overdose on reality, run and hide
But don't you see the brighter side?
Wake up from your coma, open your eyes
Her drugs have taken you to a world of lies,
the truth is the world isn't so twisted all the time
Give up your addiction, and watch your new world shine.

I don't want anyone to misinterpret this poem.  All I'll say is it is about two different friends of mine, each dealing with their own addictions.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do of tomorrow, after I wake up, I will be attempting to quit smoking, cold turkey, yet again. Last time I attempted, I was successful for about 3 months.  I came to the harsh realization a few weeks ago, that I have been smoking for about 5 years now, at about a pack a day for those 5 years.  That is just....too long.

See I have tried to quit smoking before.  Quite frankly, everytime I have decided to quit, my significant other at the time would get annoyed with me and end up buying me a pack of cigarettes.  You see, my withdrawal is pretty bad.  When I finally had a boyfriend who was willing to endure my withdrawal, I spent the weekend alternating between laying in bed miserable, or with my head over the toilet vomiting.  That weekend, sad to say, was easier to get through than the next three months.  Because I had someone with me the entire weekend, letting me snack on junk food and watch whatever movies I wanted, the annoyance of getting sick and feeling miserable, wasn't as bad.  The three months after, when he couldn't be there to watch my every move, where I had to leave my bed, and venture out to the places where I had come attached to smoking, that's where it got harder.

My mother smoked when she was younger.  She quit probably, actually around my age.  Me and my brother were pretty young, but I still remember knocking on the bedroom door and having her respond by saying she wasn't there.  I asked where mommy was, and she said "Australia".  Several years later, I found out that we had a blizzard and my mom had run out of cigarettes, and realized how ridiculously addicted she was.  So one day, my mom's best friend took her out for the day, and my dad cleaned the entire house, got rid of every pack of cigarettes, lighter, ashtray, as well as all of the smoke smell in the house. Then, he went out and rented movies, got her books, hard candy, snacks, etc, and prepared for her to be locked away to go through withdrawal.  She hasn't smoked in about 20 some years now.

Even while dating the guy who had helped me quit, I couldn't handle it.  I was still in college, and there was the simple pleasure of smoking a cigarette on your way to class, or after a long class, or standing outside of the building with your friends who are smokers as well, and talking.  I'm sure he knew that I hadn't truly quit smoking, he caught me on occasion, but I don't think he had any idea of how often I really smoked, and how many of his friends knew that I smoked.  It wasn't really a shocker to him when we broke up that I was smoking again,
so I'm sure he had some idea.  Then I started working in the restaurant, and having a smoke break felt right.  My mom even knew that as soon as I started working there I was going to pick right up with it.  But now, after almost two years of working there, I worked my last day (except for perhaps the occasional shift here or there if they need me).  So now, seemed like the most appropriate time to quit.  No more excuses.  I moved into a new place, so I don't have as many smoking rituals here.  I've started running.  I'm not around my smoking friends as often.  Why not, right?

Mind over matter.  Quitting smoking is like a break-up.  You have to get used to something completely different.  You're cutting something out of your life that played a constant role.  Something is missing.  Places you go, and rituals you did, you can't do anymore, because it doesn't feel the same.  You feel sick, all you want to do is eat and sleep and hide.  You're grumpy, irritable, and part of you wants to crumble and give up.  You need a support system to help you stay strong.  Those of you who have never smoked, will probably never understand this comparison, but it's how I feel, and it's how I have felt everytime I've tried to quit.

I have a support system.  I know my family will be very supportive of me.  My mom, my mom's boyfriend, my dad, brother, and sister-in-law have been trying to get me to quit since they found out I've started smoking in the first place.  Sure, my mother has been understanding, but that doesn't mean she doesn't nag me to quit.  Unfortunately for me, my boyfriend hasn't been very supportive.  I'm not saying that he doesn't want me to quit.  I'm sure he does.  It would save money, I would smell better, he wouldn't be affected by his asthma.  He has helped me get into the running.  But everytime I mention the fact that I'm going to quit, his response is usually, "Oh great, you're going to be so much fun to be around."  To be honest, I wish I could get a bit more support on his end considering he'll be the one I'm going to be around the most, and I don't want to give in this time.  But, I know deep down that the only person I can rely on to help myself quit, is myself.  So...tomorrow starts that adventure.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Addicted to You

Everyone has that relationship at some point in their life where they are so ridiculously in love and attached to the person, even though it is obviously an unhealthy relationship.  Are we blind to it at the time? Or are we completely aware but our heart won't listen to our brain?  Why do we stay? And after it's finally over (for those of us who are lucky enough to escape) why do the thoughts of that person still haunt us?

Now, I'm not talking about solely women, it's men too.  I'm 25 years old and pretty much everyone I have a deep conversation with and get to know has that one person in their life that still drifts into their thoughts from time to time, and more often than not, the memories recalled of that relationship are usually unhealthy ones, with a melancholy disposition because as aware they are of the negative aspects, they still desire to idealize the relationship because for some reason they cannot let go.

I often wonder if the reason we put so much stake in these relationships is because we get conditioned from movies, television, and books.  When you hear a love story, there is always some sort of conflict.  The couple does not merely meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after.  There is always some grand fight, some mistake, and then the one character proves their love in some grand gesture and then the end.  We see a couple fighting, on the brink of killing each other and then they start making off, knock everything off the table and start going at it.  We associate the fighting, the conflict, the gestures with passion.  So we have become conditioned to believe that when we're in a relationship with a lot of fighting, it is passionate and that it means we love each other more.  We think that we fight because we believe the relationship is worth fighting for.  But are we naive? 

I know that I would probably get bored in a seemingly perfect relationship.  If we never disagreed, if we were always happy and satisfied and never fought, then we would be like robots, I suppose.  I like fighting because it shows that I have my own identity, beliefs, wants, needs, etc. 

I think everyone secretly enjoys or craves that kind of passion we see in the movies (yes men, I'm talking to you too).  I think that every girl wants to be swept off her feet, or even do the sweeping if you will.  And I think every guy longs to know a girl so well that he can do some big romantic gesture (that he can afford) to show her how much he loves her.  I think when you're fighting in a relationship, you do secretly wish that you could just start making out with the person and let the problems go.  I think we all look back to those relationships because they were so seemingly passionate and wish that we could have the happy ending.  I think the reason those stick out in our heads is because we wish that we would've been able to fix things.  We want to fix things, we want to fix people.  But the truth is, real love, healthy love, isn't about "fixing" the person.  It's about loving the person for exactly who they are.  Sure, they may disagree with you, sure you may fight, but at the end of the day, it's about compromise.  And compromise can't happen with two people wanting two completely different things and there isn't common ground.  A healthy relationship is when you don't want someone to change because you find the things that might irritate someone else, endearing.  You love that they chew extremely loud.  It makes you smile that they can't ever make a decision.  You fell in love with them because of those so-called "flaws".  You don't want to "fix" someone that you love.  You can help them with their problems yes, but only because they want help, or need help.   When I say "need" help I mean it's not something that you think they would be better without, I mean cases where it is pretty clear they need help, like if the person had cancer and needed help getting through chemotherapy. 

 I think we become addicted to the perceptions of how a relationship should be.  We think that a relationship should be like in the movies.  Personally, I look to my brother and sister-in-law.  Yes, they fight, but it's never a huge public blowout.  You usually only hear about it when they joke about it with the family.  But they love each other, and they are completely themselves, and they enjoy spending time with each other, as well as with other people.  They have a healthy relationship.  Sad to say, healthy relationships aren't normal anymore. 

But I have what I consider to be a healthy relationship.  And I've done the screaming battles in the past.  And I prefer where I'm at now.  When I look back on the fights, and the tears, and even yes, the make-ups, I don't see passion.  I see passion when my boyfriend has a hard day and I do something to cheer him up and he gives me a big hug and kiss to thank me.  I see passion in the eyes of couples who have been together for fifty years and still look at each other like it's the first time they kissed.  I see passion in the embrace a military spouse gives his wife or her husband when they return home.  And those relationships weren't built on frequent screaming matches, controlling, paranoia, cheating, abuse, insecurities, or any of the other elements in unhealthy relationships.  It was built on trust, honesty, compromise, communication, and faith.

Addiction isn't a good thing, so why let yourself be addicted to a memory, or a person?  Let it go.  Let them go.  Move on with your life and don't be afraid to be alone, because at least then you're with someone worth loving....yourself.

Okay, that ending sounded pretty lame.  But it's the truth.

The end.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Company You Keep

I've been thinking a lot lately about friendships and how they fade in and fade out of our lives so easily it seems.  There have been several moments where I'm with a new friend of mine, and I recall thinking, "This is a person who is going to be in my life forever," but truth is, most of them are no longer present in my life.

Sometimes friends move on, move away, or your friendships fall apart.  Sometimes you simply don't nurture the friendship and it just fizzles out.  But the truth is, we all evolve and sometimes the original purpose of a friendship is no longer the case and things change.  It doesn't make it easier to lose a friend, but its somewhat comforting to know that it may not be completely your fault. 

Friendship is a two way street.  If the friendship falls apart, it is both parties to blame.  A lot of times it's simply miscommunication or a total lack of communication.  Some friends assume that when they're upset by another friend, that the friend should simply know what they did wrong and apologize.  But sometimes, the person has no idea, or maybe the person didn't actually do what it is thought they did, or they didn't realize it would upset their friend.  It's all a disaster.  The world is chaotic, there are so many influences on people every day, an infinite possibility of events exists, and friendships often can't stand the wear and tear.

I remember five years ago, I had a roommate and I would expect her to know that certain things she did drove me insane.  My boyfriend at the time would always tell me to talk to her about it, and I always told him, "She should just know".  But the truth is, she may not have known it drove me nuts.  And that doesn't necessarily make her a bad friend or roommate, it just means she didn't know because I never talked to her about it.  It also doesn't make her stupid either because of all those infinite possibilities.  In her house, where she was raised, that may have been completely acceptable behavior and she was never taught that it was kind of icky.  My point is, that not talking to her about the issues, damaged the friendship.  Instead, she heard from other people how much it drove me crazy, and it hurt her that I never spoke to her directly, and she felt like I had been talking about her behind her back.  (Which in all fairness, I had).  Perhaps, it had been to avoid confrontation, but sometimes confrontation is best.  Sometimes being direct tells a person what they've done wrong, and they fix it immediately.  Sometimes there isn't a big fight or blow out.  And most of the time, the friendship can be saved just by simple words, "It hurt my feelings when you _____".  But people are petty creatures, and they like to be mad at others, and they like to blame others for their bad moods, their own insecurities, and their problems.  But they don't want to tell that person how they feel because the person may be able to shed light on the situation and solve it, and then they no longer have a person to be mad at except for themselves.

Friendships can also tell you a lot about someone.  The pretty girls who hang out with seemingly uglier girls, usually have self-esteem issues.  The girls who hang out with mostly guys usually like to avoid big drama blow-outs, or get reassurance of their worth by guys instead of spending time with girls and feeling inferior.  People hang out with people like them or people they want to be like.  I've thought a lot lately about the types of people I hang out with.  I have four friends I would consider close friends, maybe even best friends.  They are all men.  They are the people that I go to when I have a problem, and they are the people that I expect will understand me and give me good guidance.  I guess the reason they are guys is because I don't necessarily want someone who understands me so well they will tell me what I really should do even when it's not necessarily what I want to do.  I also think that guys help me get over a lot of the petty drama stuff.  They ask me what the big deal is, and I realize it's not so big of a deal and let it go.  They also assure me of my worth, where as a lot of the time other girls can cut you down to make themselves feel better. A lot of my guy friends also spend a lot of time thinking about life, in a deeper level, like myself.  It makes for some fascinating conversations and makes me feel like I'm always chasing after new knowledge and new perspectives on life.  You can't always tell exactly who a person is by their friends on the surface, a person may hang out with total tools and that doesn't mean that they are.  But if you look at it closely, that person may hang out with those type of people because they envy those people because they speak their mind and do what they want, etc. 

I've lost a lot of friends as of late, and I know that I am in part to blame for the situation, but I know the blame doesn't fall solely on myself.  It still makes me sad.  But in the same sense, I have gained new friends, and gotten reacquainted with others.  I'm moving on, growing up, and as it always goes, some people get left behind.  With those I find of value, and worth keeping, I have tried to salvage it the best that I can.  Now it is left to them, to see if the friendship will be saved.  But I'm happy.  I'm happy with myself and for myself.  I'm happy with this new chapter in my life and the new possibilities it brings.  All I can hope is that my current friends, my future friends, and my past friends, can be happy for me as well.

Friday, May 18, 2012

All Things Change

These past two weeks have been such a ball of emotions.  I've been anxious, nervous, terrified, sad, frustrated, happy, excited, enthralled, satisfied, content, ecstatic, and fifty other feelings, all twisted into one great big ball of craziness.  I apologize for not writing often, but I'm sure nobody is truly heartbroken.  Let me update those of my faithful readers of what is going on with me.  In the past two weeks, not only have we found a new apartment, but we're moving on Saturday, I am finishing up the last few weeks of my job as manager, and starting a whole new adventure of trying to find a job that actually fits my major.  I have a couple of prospects.  My boyfriend is soon-to-be promoted, and the major portion of our nerves is that us signing this lease together, and moving into our first "big-kid" apartment, away from the college town, and a lot of friends, moving in solely together, without a roommate. 

I have been absurdly busy because we had essentially a week to pack, and my boyfriend works 6 days a week, so most of the packing and cleaning fell on my shoulders.  It has been a bit frustrating, but last night I got a major portion of the final touches done, and tonight has been more about cleaning and relaxing for me.  I am really overwhelmed at all the new changes coming my way, and excited for the possibilities.  I'm glad that most of my friends who live in the area I'm moving to, are happy that I'll be closer, especially since I'll be closer to my brother. 

I guess the one thing that actually is bothering me the most, is the reaction of the people here.  There are a fair amount of people who have expressed to me how much they're going to miss me.  It's more, hurtful to me I guess that there are going to be people who are celebrating the fact that I'm leaving.  It makes me feel really misunderstood.  I've always been a person to talk things out, if a problem is brought to my attention, then I try to deal with it through a conversation.  Lately I feel like people are misinterpreting my words, or hearing a different interpretation from another person, and the game of telephone is making me look bad.  I do try to look inward, and see if perhaps I am doing something wrong, but every time somebody says something to me about what has happened and I think about it, people really are taking it in a different way than I meant it.  It hurts that there are important people in my life that I would like to stay in touch with, who see me in such a negative light.  And unfortunately, because they haven't tried to talk to me about the problems, I have had no way to try and fix the situation, or apologize if something I said made them feel a certain way.  I also feel like there are instigators in the situation who are past the point of reconciliation who are breeding this hate towards me.  I wanted to be remembered when I left for the hard work I've put in and the good things I've done, but sad to say that point has passed.

 Perhaps, in a few months, or years, people will reflect upon this time and regret their actions or feelings, but unfortunately for me, I'll be stuck feeling unwanted, unappreciated, and undervalued.  The drama, I'd like to say I'm past.  I'd like to say that when a friend tells me what someone has said about me, a negative comment of sorts, that I have gotten over the whole situation and no longer care, but it still really digs at me.  It's something I feel will linger with me for a long time.  This job, has really been a turning point in my life.  And I'd like to say that it was the people or the place that did it, but really it was the responsibility.  Having so much responsibility placed in my hand really made me a stronger individual.  So, having people comment about me being terrible at my job really hurts because of how far I feel I have come.  I feel like I'm going to walk away with all this negativity and feel like the past two years of my life were a complete and total waste, and that maybe I'm seeing something that's not really there.  It breaks my heart to be completely honest.

I can only count my blessings right now that I do have a few truly amazing friends who have helped me through the past month at work, because it has gotten to the point that I just....don't want to be there.  I go in, and I do my work, and I talk to the negative people as little as possible, and I hide in my head with thoughts of how I wish I could change things.  But I'm not one to force myself on people, if they have a problem with me, they should come to me.  The funny thing is, that a lot of the hatred stems from people accusing me of talking about people behind others backs, and yet they are all doing the same to me.  I'm not going to cause a confrontation, not going to start a scene by calling someone out for what they've said, instead I do my work, cling to the good things I have to look forward to, and embrace the fact that in a few weeks, it will be another chapter in my book of life that is closed.  I just never thought that I would be so relieved for it to be over.  I thought I would be scared to leave the job behind, scared to move away, but thanks to these people, I couldn't get away from them fast enough. 

It sucks that I've spent so much time there, I've worked so hard, I've changed so much, and I don't even get to say a blissful goodbye.  I'm sure they've already bought the streamers for their party to celebrate me going away.

So as I'm already so terrified about moving away, moving in with my boyfriend, starting a new chapter, a new job, leaving the place I've been for the past 8 years, not knowing anything that's coming next, who I'll spend time with, how we'll get by....I don't even have certain friends to lean on and help me through.

I don't hate them, I feel sad.  It's hard to lose friends, especially over petty things that could've easily been fixed.  But now I guess it is too late to try, so instead it's time to say goodbye.

Goodbye.  Nice to Know You.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Case of The Mondays

Every Monday morning I wake up at 4:00 am, get dressed and walk into work.  At 5 am I walk into a dark and empty restaurant, turn everything on, count the money, start the coffee, and eat a bagel.  Then I sit in the silence and wait for thoughts to come into my head.  Usually every Monday morning the customers I get are my regular customers, I know what they're going to drink without asking, and know what they're going to order without asking.  They know about my life and I know about theirs, and we will pass the time with idle conversation.  But, every once in awhile, on a Monday morning I get a new customer, who really makes me think.  I get goosebumps and wonder if they even begin to understand how they have altered my life in that simple moment where I was getting their coffee and making their food.  Almost a year ago, I had an older gentleman come in and ask me about my life and what I was doing, and the conversation that followed was so insightful at the time, that I stated later that I wished that I had gotten his information, because I probably would invite him to my wedding someday.  Today, three lovely gentlemen walk into the restaurant, order coffee, and then as I bring the food to their table, they join hands and pray.  The youngest man, I was told, had served two tours in Afghanistan I believe.  I don't know what it was about this small table that has me thinking so much, but it really has rejuvenated me.  This young man has gone and fought for our country, not once but twice, seen horrors untold, and yet he will never know the deep appreciation I actually feel for him.  Some of my closest guy friends have served in the military and I have seen what it has done for them, and yet here he sits, and he prays, with his family, before he eats breakfast.

How deep this man's faith must be.

When we are young we worry about little to nothing.  What is for lunch, what am I going to play for recess?
When we get a little older we begin to worry about a bit more.  What clothes we were, are our friends going to like us?  Our worries begin to become more based on other people, what they think of us.
By the time we are teenagers, it seems to be the end of the world.  We are concerned about homework, parties, our friends, being accepted, our parents need to be cool, and if anything does not go the way we want it to go, it is seemingly the end of the world.  We have no idea that the world is not going to stop if we get grounded and miss the party.
Late teens and early twenties, most are in college, and our worries are intensified.  We start to think of our future, we are on our own, we have to wake ourselves up, we have to pay for things, we have to work hard, and balance that with the carefree nature of being able to do the things we wanted to do when we were under our parents roof but weren't allowed.

Now I am 25.  I have been out of college for a few years, and I am faced with working crazy hours, losing friends, not being able to have fun when I want to.  I make tons of sacrifices.  I lose sleep, I pay bills, I work hard, I don't see my friends often, I rarely even get to go out to the bar and enjoy a beer.  And what do I worry about?  Finally, it seems that I have hit the age where I worry about the future.  Now that it is right here in front of me, I worry about using my degree, I worry about when I will get married, I worry about how I'm going to pay my bills, I worry about how I will afford to buy a house and start a family, I worry about how my actions effect everyone around me, I worry about being respected and admired.   How foolish it seems to me that when I was younger I felt like it was the end of the world, and now I'm still panicking.

I have seen terrors and horrors, but nothing near compared to what I'm sure this man has seen, and he still has enough faith to thank the Lord for what he has.

I worry all the time, I'm pretty sure everyone who knows me on a personal level knows this.  Don't get me wrong, I definitely go in spurts where I am very thankful for what I have and where I am in the world.  But I think it's time for me to stop only being thankful when good things happen.  I have to learn to be thankful even when I feel like I am losing my mind.  Because there are far worse things out there.  There are people out there who do not have anything near what I have.  I am incredibly lucky and blessed, I should be thankful.

I don't necessarily dislike my Monday morning shift, in fact, I requested it.  I quite enjoy the quiet of a Monday morning and trying to make a delicious breakfast to help someone get through the beginning of their week.  So when I say I have a case of the Mondays, it's not really in the same negative connotation as most people see it.  Monday is usually the day I am feeling most insightful, most reflective, most inspired.  And as for this Monday, I am thankful that I woke up at all.

So I guess my message today is for everyone to take a little differently.  If you are not religious, that's okay, you don't have to take this as a lesson about being religious and having faith.

My message is for people to be thankful for what you have.  No matter what your age is, in five years chances are the things you were upset about will not matter as much to you.  You'll have new worries and new problems and they'll probably be much bigger than you ever imagined.  So be thankful, worry less, and enjoy life. Try to have my version of a Case of the Mondays.

Happy Monday!

Monday, April 16, 2012


I've been thinking a lot lately about the qualities needed for one to leader other people or to be in an authority position.  This mostly comes from the fact that I'm the manager at my place of work, and lately it seems that people have been having issues with the things I do without necessarily having an understanding of why.  My insecurities on this topic also come from the fact that years ago, I was vice president of my sorority and had an intense desire to become president, but had a competitor who succeeded and got the position over me.  While years have passed from that election and several people have told me that if they could go back they would change the outcome, I really wonder about what it takes to be an effective leader.  I think I have some ideas but wanted to elaborate in my blog as a sort of conversation with myself and my readers to see if perhaps I can stumble upon some sort of resolution, and then the next time I find myself in a leadership position, I will feel a bit more secure and confident about the decisions that I make.  First, I would like to go back to the past.

When I was vice president of the sorority, the sorority was comprised of two leading boards who made the majority of the decisions for the sorority.  There was an Executive Council, who was responsible for duties such as organizing philanthropies, social events, community service, etc.  The Executive Board was a higher reigning council who dealt with nationals and making decisions of whether or not we were going to do certain events, turning in reports about the events we did, and met with other organizations on campus.  As Vice President I was on the Executive Board, and was also in charge of the Executive Council, making sure to meet with them several times a month and ensure they were doing their duties and responsibilities in a timely and effective manner.  The President position was more of overseeing everyone, and at that time, our president was relatively new, hadn't had a lot of time to train for the position because our previous president had left abruptly.  It is my opinion that because of the chaos that ensued from the current president not necessarily being trained, the sorority chose my opponent over me because she was more outspoken and they translated that into the fact that she would get stuff done more efficiently to me.  My issue with my opponent winning over me was not who she was as a person.  It was more the manner in which she approached things, and how in my opinion that was not necessarily what I expected in a leader.  To me, a leader is not the type of person who is so outspoken that they make decisions and tell others that decision is final.  A leader is a person who has the best interests of the group in mind, who uses a democracy to come up with the best solution, and if everyone is in agreement with it, then the decision is made.  As vice president, I would pitch my own ideas of how to improve the organization, but if the majority of the people were unsure, I accepted it, and asked for more ideas.  I allowed the organization to make their own decisions about who they wanted to elect into positions, instead of stating my own opinion, and swaying everyone to agree with me.  When you are dealing with a group of people, you have to understand everyone else's opinion, and make a decision that will not necessarily please everyone.  You have to determine what is best for the group, and sometimes the group may not know what is best for them.  However, I feel that it is then your duty as a leader to find the right way to demonstrate to them that your method will be effective, and if they still do not agree, then I believe being a good leader means going with what they request, and dealing with the consequences after.  Back then I feel my weakness in others eyes was that they did not think that I was willing to make decisions and see them through.  I disagree with it, but because I was not able to effectively prove to them that I would be able to, I just had to deal with the consequences.

With my current job, I have found a lot of new issues that I feel came easily to me before.  Because we are such a small group of employees, and most of us know each other from outside of work, it is hard for my employees to separate the person they know outside of work from their boss in work.  I think sometimes they take offense to my criticism because outside of work I am their friend.  With some employees I have managed to juggle this pretty well, sometimes even preceding the conversation by saying, "This is Jenn your boss talking."  With others, it appears that they will take what I say outside of work, into work, and vice versa. This causes a lot of hurt feelings, some ruined friendships and work relationships, and a lot of talk which makes me appear to be a less than worthy manager.

It's frustrating to me.  Over the two years that I have worked here, I feel that my management skills have improved increasingly.  I feel that in the beginning, I wanted everyone to like me, and so I would grant favors to those who asked, sometimes frustrating others.  Eventually, I overcame that, and now I like to think that I subject everyone to the same scrutiny.  If you do your job, and you do it well, then we have no problems.  If you are having problems, first I reach out and try to address it with you to find improvement.  If there is no improvement and I begin to get concerned that there will be no improvement, I go to my boss with it, and we discuss how to get through to the employee.  My problem is that sometimes, I go to my boss, and I think he is going to deal with it, and then he doesn't, and I am left frustrated, or other employees are left frustrated because something is not getting done.  This generates a lot of talking and complaining, and then because I am at the root of the issue, I get blamed. 

Another problem is that I am expected to keep an eye on every single employee.  However, certain weeks, I don't see an employee, because they are working at different times.  The issue with this is that if another employee comes to me saying that someone is not doing something, and I know I'm not going to see them, then what am I expected to do? Is it fair to contact an employee outside of work and request they come in so that I can address the issue with them?  I don't necessarily think so.  But, if I tell the original employee that I'm going to speak to them and then I don't see them, they may hear it from the original employee and then again, I get frustrations thrown at me.  If I don't think I am going to see the employee, depending on the severity of the action, I decide who I am going to speak to.  If it is a severe problem, I go to my boss because if I am not going to see them, my boss will (we work opposite schedules).  If it is a minor problem, I usually go to the server supervisor, or the person that is going to work with them next and ask them to say something to them about it.  This way, the problem is addressed.  But again, there comes hurt feelings.  People don't understand why I am not personally addressing the issue with them.  (Again, I state, the only reason is because I am not going to see them).  But then, if I address an issue with someone because they happen to stop in to work on their off day, they get angry with me for that.  This is something that I just can't seem to win with.  I am actually content with it.  Not happy, content.  I've accepted a long time ago that I'm not going to please everyone.  Sometimes, I'm not even going to please my boss.  But at the end of the day, I know that I am doing my job, I have reasons behind everything that I do, and I think they are justified.  If someone needs to make me a villian and blame me for them not necessarily doing a good job, then fine.  I go to bed at night and most of the time, I know that I did a good job at work, and on the days that I feel like I may not have, I go into work the next time with the mentality that I am going to do even better to make up for it.  Honestly, my opinion is that people want to look for someone to blame for their frustration or their insecurity of whether or not they do a good job.  They look to me to blame, and think that the way that I approach things is wrong.  But in my opinion, it is not necessarily right to always be seeking out someone to blame for a problem, you should be seeking out the person who is going to fix it.  If something is wrong, I don't necessarily go seeking out who did it wrong.  Actually, usually I address it with all the employees that could have done it wrong, and when they reply to me with a chorus of "It wasn't me" I reply with "I don't know who it was but now you know so you don't do it as well."  Even when I do this, which I feel like is a fair way, people get mad because now everyone is aware of the mistake they made. To me, I don't care if they get mad, because I have fixed the problem.

A leader cannot just put the needs of each individual over the business.  I have been getting a lot of negative comments lately because of my recent decision not to hire someone.  I decided not to hire an extra person because of the fact that we have people available for all of our necessary shifts.  The issue is not that we need someone, because honestly if we had hired someone when they wanted to, eventually everyone would have complained about losing hours.  What they wanted was to be able to request off and they felt they couldn't request off when they wanted because certain days we need basically every employee.  The ironic thing I find is that realistically what they want is someone to work when they don't want to.  We can't necessarily hire an employee and say, "We're not going to give you hours every week, unless someone requests off and we need you."  You may not think this is ironic but it is because we have someone who no longer works here, who was a good employee and she is willing to come back and help us out whenever we need it.  The ironic part is that the same people who are saying we need to hire somebody, do not think it's right to ask someone who doesn't work here to cover the shifts they wish to request off.  But essentially, that is what they want.  The employees are not going to want to sacrifice their own hours unless they have something they'd rather be doing.  They're going to complain because they have a lower paycheck, or because someone is getting to work the better shifts than them.  I didn't feel it was right to hire an employee at the time because there are employees that work here that are willing to work often, without requesting off, and will work late one night and early the next morning because they recognize this is a job.  Now it just so happens that we are going to have to hire someone for the summer, and people are replying with a lot of comments, see we needed to hire someone.  At that point, no we did not.  The only reason we need to hire someone for the summer is because several of the employees have requested off the same ten days and we know we are going to need the coverage.   Me and my two bosses are actually still conflicted because realistically, once school ends there are a few weeks where we don't need someone at all.  But, we cannot hire someone and tell them we don't need them until the middle of June.  So now we are going to have to hire this person, and deal with the backlash of people complaining that now that it is summer they want more hours, but we hired someone who is going to be taking those hours from them, because they have requested off several times during the summer.  A leader cannot please everyone. At the time it was in our best interest not to hire someone because we had ample coverage and did not really have the money to be paying someone to train.  But again, I get the blame for employees being unhappy.

I guess what being a good leader means to me, might be different than what people expect.  I think a leader is someone who is fair.  Someone who had an order for how they go about dealing with a situation.  The first time I notice a problem, I mention it casually to the person, in a way to let them know that I have noticed but that they are not necessarily in trouble if they can change the behavior.  If I notice the problem is not improving, I let the other management know of the issue, and then speak to the person giving them advice on how to improve upon the situation.  If after a decent amount of time the behavior still hasn't improved, I will talk to them in a stern manner, and then finally address it to my boss saying that something must be done.  I try to avoid getting my boss to talk to the person, because I understand that at times he can be seen as more threatening than me.  Usually, if I have intervened and my boss is going to handle the situation, I try to let the employee know that there is going to be a discussion, to try and alleviate some of the pressure.  I know that I personally have never enjoyed being blindsided with my boss being unhappy with my work, it upsets me.  So I try to let the employee know that a discussion is going to occur so that they can either fix the behavior to avoid the discussion, or they can prepare themselves for what they are going to say.  I find a leader has to be willing to be a scapegoat for the employees and their problems, but they also must be able to separate what actually is their fault and what is not, so that they can improve where the need be.  I feel a good leader is someone who is always looking to improve upon themselves, and be open to new ways of doing things.  With every new group of employees, what might have worked before might need to be adjusted.  I feel like a good leader must be a good listener.  I feel like a good leader must be proactive instead of passive.  I feel like a good leader knows that they do a lot of stuff behind the scenes that might not get noticed or appreciated.  A good leader is someone who will fix the problem anyway they can, instead of blaming everyone.  A good leader will work hard, long hours, will little compensation and appreciation.  A good leader will be talked about, good and bad.  A good leader delegates responsibility.  A good leader leaves their outside problems outside of work.  A good leader works efficiently.  A good leader is a good person, who knows when to break their own rules.  A good leader is selfless. 

I don't know if I'm a good leader.  I doubt myself quite frequently.  But at the end of the day, I can only hope that I'm good enough.  And that when I leave this place next month, people will remember the good things that I did, instead of the mistakes I've made.  If they do that, then these past two years won't have been a waste.

Everyone wants to be remembered for the good they've done.  I hope I am.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We're All Doomed. Well, Most of Us.

If you would like to know more about what I'm going to talk about, I suggest you read the article above because reading it is what spurred the blog I'm about to write. 

Basically for those of you who don't wish to read the article, it speaks about how a lot of people are shelling out tons of money, or taking out tons in student loans only to go to college for a major that will not provide them enough money to pay off said loans in the long run.  The author of the article talks about how engineering is pretty much the only major that pays off anymore, and that students need to be more selective before choosing their potential career and taking out student loans.  There are certain things that I agree with in this article and other things that conflict me.  I do think that students today need to be careful with taking out student loans.  It is so easy for kids to think that taking out loans will solve all their problems and they don't need to worry about how much they take out because paying them off is years away.  I know a lot of people today, myself included that wish they had been a bit more careful about how much they had taken out in loans, and I know I had tried to work a bit more during college to help pay them off. 

The thing that bothers me is the person endorsing the idea of being careful about picking your major because you won't be able to pay off your loans.  What happened to America being the land of dreams, and people being able to do what they love?  What happened to encouraging kids to go to school for something they are passionate about so that when they graduate they end up enjoying their job and it feels less like work?  I understand that the economy is bad, I understand that unemployment rates are terrible, but I don't necessarily think that students need to be changing their majors to engineering at the drop of the hat.  I'm not saying that the article is necessarily saying this, I do believe that it is attempting to show kids the importance of being aware of how much your annual income is going to be with the career you would like to have, when you are going to need loans to cover your tuition fees.

My point is that I find it sad that times have gotten so hard now.  In my own case, I have a degree and was told all throughout high school to go to college because those with degrees earn higher incomes.  Two years after graduating college, I am not technically using my degree.  I work as a manager of a restaurant, because in suburban areas like Shippensburg, there aren't an abundance of writing or editorial jobs for English majors.  Let me also stop you quite short by informing everyone that English majors can't necessarily find jobs at newspapers, that would be Communication/Journalism majors, it is a different style of writing.  But back to my point, even now that I am moving away from Shippensburg, and moving to the Harrisburg area, which is a more populous city, it will still be near impossible for me to find a job in my field.  Was I aware of this when I chose my major? Actually yes.  My original plan was that I would get my teaching certificate and teach to earn my main income, while writing and submitting work to be published on the side.  Why did I not go into teaching?  Well, teaching jobs, are pretty slim right about now as well.  I have several friends who have graduated in the past four years with education degrees who are having trouble finding jobs just about anywhere.  It is not for a lack of internships either.  Most of my friends had several internships while in school, moved to different areas of the state and some even to different states.  What are they doing now?  Most of them are working smaller jobs like waitressing on the side while waiting to be called up for substitute teaching.  Some of my friends are subbing for several districts and working at restaurants to pay their rent because they don't get called that often.  One of my friends was lucky enough to get a full time teaching job, because he had graduated from that high school, knew the teachers well, and knew the teacher who was retiring.  It's sad.  Someone's first thought might be that a lot of elementary or high school teachers teach until they are at quite an old age, some of my high school teachers were in their sixties and even seventies, and had taught my parents as well.  So, someone might think that perhaps these teachers need to retire earlier to create jobs for all the graduates looking.  The problem with that is that teachers make roughly 30,000 dollars a year, and so a lot of them have to work until they are older to even save enough for their own retirement. 

It's a hard world out there right now.  Most college students are graduating and are terrified that they don't have a job lined up yet.  Even more graduates are fretting because years have passed since graduation and they aren't yet working in their major.  What is there to be done? I have no idea.  I can't really give anyone any advice on this matter.  The only thing that I would suggest is for students to take advantage of all the opportunities they have when still in school.  Take on internships, join clubs, work while in school, and save save save.  Do anything that you possibly can so that when you do graduate, you at least have these items on your resume that will make you more interesting to those who are hiring.  Again, you still might not be hired.  It's tough out there.  Honestly, we're all doomed.  Just doomed. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

When Giving Is Enough, Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

I am a giving person.  Almost always have been.  When I'm in a relationship, I give up all my personal information, and as long as they are listening, the person I am in this relationship with, knows me and knows me well.  My likes, my dislikes, are all laid out for the other person to see.  At times, it has made it easy for the other person to take advantage of me.  Because I am giving 100%, they can get away with giving very little, and yet the relationship can stay afloat for a decent amount of time, because I am so into giving that I don't necessarily notice what I am not receiving.  Relationships are supposed to be give and receive.  I say give and receive not give and take, because "taking" to me implies that the person does not want to give this to you, and instead you are removing it from their possession.  I prefer to say give and receive because it has a better connotation.  But when does giving become too much?  Why is that we can give our all and it is still not enough?  Why do people continue to give when the relationship is not balanced and obviously not working?  I feel like it has to do with a sense of security.  People who are "givers" can sometimes give their all without asking for much because they feel insecure and want some sort of validation from the other person that they are worthy.  So, a person could give up their life, their friends, their likes, for another person, in hopes that the person will give them the tiniest smile, or compliment to validate their worth.  It kind of goes without saying that this isn't the healthiest relationship, yet, people emulate this behavior every single day.  I read an article recently that said that the best givers are the ones with high self esteem.  They have no problem giving because they are aware of their self worth and know they have a lot to offer.  I like to think that in my current relationship, I am this type of giver.  The article stated that to become one of these people you needed to know when to say no, know when you're taking on too much and stop, do little things that make you smile, and not stress yourself out over things beyond your control.  I think that I am mostly good with those sorts of things and know I have a lot to offer to my  significant other, and that is why I give.  I am lucky enough to receive pretty equally in this relationship.

My real question is, when it comes to the future, how much giving and receiving is appropriate?  Some people are willing to drop all of their plans and go to the same college as their significant other, move across the state or even country for that person, quit their job and relocate, drop their lease and move in, sacrifice their own wants and needs for the other person.  Sometimes this behavior astounds me.  First off, I understand that sometimes people have to make tough decisions like this.  But I think that the smartest thing to do when faced with these kinds of decisions is for both parties to sit down and debate their possibilities and decide on the one that benefits both parties the most.  Often it seems that one person will do all of the sacrificing, give up their dreams, begin to resent the other person, and it can do real damage to the relationship.

When is giving too much?  I don't think that anyone should completely give up on their dreams.  I believe there are certain dealbreakers that everyone has, and no matter how much you love someone, if they don't respect your dreams, the relationship is doomed to fail.  So, as I am faced with this impending move, I begin to question myself.  Is my significant other thinking of me when making these decisions.  For the past nine months, I have known that eventually he would be promoted and with that promotion he would be relocating.  When I was approached with this notion, I replied that I would not relocate across the country, unless there was a ring on my finger.  It seemed irrational for me to move away from my friends, my family, and my comfort zone to be with a boy if he wasn't ready to make a lasting commitment to me.  Now the talk of relocating has become more local, and I gave up the idea of being engaged beforehand.  We have discussed our price range, and decided to get an apartment with two bedrooms even though we'd obviously be staying in the same bedroom, so that if something would happen and we broke up, one of us could move into the other bedroom until better arrangements could be made.  I believe that moving in with him, away from our friends, is a commitment enough.  But when it comes to the location, this is something of importance to me.  I am not in the position to move anywhere and have jobs readily available to me.  There was the option of moving to Southern New York, that I was quite excited about because of the available publishing companies and editorial jobs available.  But New York is not a definite yet, and I find myself wondering if my significant other considers what difficulties I will face moving somewhere else to find a job.  I have a job ready for me regardless of where we move, but it is not something that I want to do forever.  It is more of a safety net, until I find something better and more appropriate.  So am I giving too much?  Should I move wherever he desires and figure out the rest when I get there?  Or will I become that person that resents him for giving up my own dreams?  Ever since he got this job, I have been patiently waiting for his promotion, putting off decisions of getting a different job, or moving somewhere else, knowing that when he gets promoted all will be decided.  But am I being too giving, putting aside what I might want or dream of, for him?  I don't think so.  But every once in awhile I begin to wonder if he even accounts for me in his future plans.  Does he think about our future?  Does he even see me in his?  We have talked about marriage before, but it stopped because he was saying that if I kept talking about it I would take all of the surprise out of it.  I push him to figure things out with his boss so we can begin to make plans, but he's just as lost as I am about when things are going to happen exactly and where we're going.  I know I'm going with him, he knows I'm going with him, and I believe that's what he wants because we both know we're going to spend the rest of our lives together, but I wonder if because I'm so available, and willing to do whatever, if he doesn't consider my thoughts or feelings or future when he thinks of his own.  And it makes me wonder if I'm giving too much.  But he is quite the silent type when it comes to his feelings, so perhaps he has considered all of these things and hasn't mentioned it to me.  I am unsure.

I'm just lost at the moment.  On one side I think this move could be the best step that I've ever taken, moving forward with him and starting our life together without the distractions of this crazy college town.  On the other hand, there is so much unknown that I worry about failing.  Not being able to get a good job, not liking where we go, not being able to make new friends, and when it becomes just me and him, not being able to make him happy.  Either way, I cannot predict the future.  But I just hope that whatever comes my way, I can make the best of it.

I will never stop giving.  I just hope it's enough.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I think everyone is driven by appearance.  For girls especially, if you wake up, look in the mirror and hate how you look, you tend to have an off day.  Whereas, those lucky days where you wake up and you look in the mirror and are happy with what you see, you tend to smile everywhere you go, and it seems like nothing can touch you.  How you perceive yourself effects your mood, I am still unsure of whether or not this occurs with men, but it most definitely effects a woman.  The days when I take time to pamper myself, I take a long shower, paint my nails, put on make-up and a new perfect outfit, those are the days I feel most impenetrable when I venture out into the world.  For a few months at work, I was feeling quite like a zombie.  I woke up, pulled my hair back in a ponytail, put on my work clothes, and went off to work, make-up free.  Then I worked my long shift, came home, and collapsed back into bed.  I gave up on my appearance, and at the same time, gave up all ties to happiness it seems.  I made the commitment that I would try and wake up before work and at least put on a little bit of make-up.  A little mascara works wonders.  Before I knew it, I was smiling at work again, socializing with my co-workers and the customers, making plans outside of work, etc.  So why is it that appearance can effect me so much?  Why does it effect us all?

I always attributed my own insecurities to my experience in high school.  When I look back at my yearbook pictures, it is with pure dismay.  I was not popular, and in most cases, with the exception of my small group of friends, I was pretty much invisible.  Let me explain.  My graduating class was one of the largest in 20 years at my high school.  It was about 187, if I remember.  I could pretty much name every single person, probably in alphabetical order, especially those in my home room.  Granted, I have a pretty exceptional memory, but I feel like most of the people from my high school would agree that they could do the same.  So, a few years ago, imagine my surprise as a kid from my high school who I hadn't seen in probably 4-6 years walked into my favorite bar in my college town.  I smiled at him in acknowledgement, and noticed he kept looking at me.  I have changed a good bit since high school, especially changing my hair constantly, so I figured he was probably trying to figure out how he knew me.  After an hour of him looking at me, and me simply smiling in return, he approached me.  He commented that he couldn't help but notice my smile, and I replied by saying that it had been awhile.  He looked confused, and I proceeded to say his name, to confirm it was him and he appeared even more confused.  Then I mentioned that I had gone to high school with him and he asked me when I graduated.  I told him the same year as him, told him my brothers name, my cousins name, etc.  When I told him my name, he didn't even recall.  He asked who I hung out with in high school, and as I proceeded to name every single one of my friends, as well as a couple of boyfriends from high school, he knew every single one of them, including what they were currently up to.  Yet, he did not know me.  At all.  Not my name, not my face, nothing.  That's how invisible I was.  There were a good bit of people, popular or not, who I was not invisible to, but I was often the punch line to their jokes, them mocking me for my lack of fashion sense, or my crooked bangs, or my long-term boyfriend in high school.  When I looked in the mirror, I actually was content with what I saw, but to the world around me, it was nothing short of pathetic.  Around my junior year, I started to grow out my bangs, joined cheerleading, and it seemed like the teasing slowed a bit, I really started to grow into myself.  By my freshman year in college, I had put on a bit of weight so I was no longer a stick figure, I grew boobs, and as a result grew more friends.  Before I went to college, my brother sat me down and explained to me that at college, boys would pursue girls, more adamantly than in high school and that they would bend over backwards for a hot girl.  I took this knowledge to my advantage.  My looks became my secret weapon.  I'm not saying I find myself to be a spectacular beauty or whatever, but looking good became the way for me to get what I wanted, notes for class, free drinks, and that oh so satisfying acceptance I had always craved.  Ever since, my mood is influenced by how I look.  If I think my hair, make-up, and clothes look okay, it is as if I could conquer the world.  However, sweats, a pale face, and messy hair to me mean that I need to hide in my apartment and avoid the world. 

It is no new idea that the media reinforces such ideals and beliefs.  Even post-college, people still judge harshly by appearance, and actually, I get stereotyped more now.  When I feel my best, I often get put down for being unintelligent (I am far from stupid, trust me), or fragile (I can throw a mean punch when needed), or overdramatic (okay, perhaps I'll give you that one).  But it's so sad to me that this is the way the world works.  I'm not saying I don't participate in it.  I mean, I am the girl who judges her day by how she looks.  I do rank other people in their appearance.  But it makes me sad that sometimes someone's appearance is worth more than their work ethic, intelligence, or any other personal characteristic.  This is just how the world works, and there's not really any way to change it to be honest.  It's just....sad. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Who I Am Hates Who I've Been.

Recent events have led me to be caught up in my mind a little too much for my liking about how far I've come in the past few years.  First, an incident of speaking with a previous ex boyfriend who had previously deemed me not marriage material.  Then there was my attending a formal of a fraternity, where I got to see alumni that I have been friends with a long time, and meet new underclassmen of the fraternity.  Finally, there is the impending move and future ahead of me with my significant other.

Basically, when I was in college, as any young adult trying to find their way, I sought my identity through countless nights of drinking and flirting.  I have made several groups of friends, and several grand stories of adventures along the way.  Sad to say, I am the joke and punchline to most of those stories now.  Tales of my ridiculous antics of getting drunk and flashing a boy, or dancing on table tops, or letting my beer tears get the best of me and crying in the middle of a basement party are just a few instances.  In a sense, some of these stories give me pride, because I have come so far, and at least I know that I lived my college years to the fullest.  But I am quite ashamed at times and basically over it.  We have designated that person as "Candy" the flirtatious blonde who was quite the lush and binge drinker.  Now, I have really found my true identity, a hard-working mature individual who is ambitious, mostly balanced, in a healthy and satisfying life-long relationship.  I have the occasional drink, but when I do, it is often assumed that "Candy" is going to come out.  This is the conflict.

I get torn in half when I am around these people of my past.  Always torn with wanting to find approval.  When I am around these people I find myself trying to balance the past with the present, being a bit of who I was, but maintaining who I am.  However, the constant ridicule of people recalling past stories of me, humiliates me, and then there are guys who make assumptions of who I am and try to start things that make me feel uncomfortable, and I just end up wanting to flee from the entire situation.  I can see how much I've changed, I guess I don't understand why nobody else can.  And it actually makes me sick that I care so much about people not knowing.  When talking to the ex, I ended up expressing my immense hatred for him for making me feel so insecure and pathetic the entire time we were together.  At the formal, I ended up getting drunk and trying to balance dancing on the stage with my sisters, while standing around and talking about how far I've come, and then ended up at home wishing I could've erased the entire night because of how contradictory it felt and how not myself I was.  Things got better when my boyfriend finally came home after a month of being away.  Him being at my side reaffirmed to me that I really have changed, and I'm completely content with it.  Yes, I tell stories about my past, and I'm sure they put me in a negative light, and I'd be a liar to try and state that I don't think of my past in a negative light.  But I've learned from all of those mistakes.  And if I hadn't made them, I probably would not be the successful, happy person I am today.  So I do hate who I used to be, but I had a lot of laughs, a lot of tears, a lot of friends, a lot of memories, and that makes me happy.  People tell me all the time to stop living in the past.  What I ask, is that you stop living in my past.  Stop assuming I am a certain way because of how I used to be.  Stop bringing up those ridiculous stories and painting me to be something I no longer am.  It's not fun.  It's not just a joke.  It hurts.  I don't want to go back to then, I don't ever want to be that way again.  I just want to be me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Age vs. Maturity

I have talked about age before, but there's a lot going on in my life that has led me to start thinking about maturity.  Lately it seems like there is a lot of potential change occurring in my life.  In a few months, I may be moving to a new state, far away from my family and friends, to pursue a completely new life with my boyfriend, have a completely new job, new lifestyle, new culture, and it will be the first time I've technically lived with a significant other without a roommate.  I guess I have lived with significant others before, but I have slowly progressed.  First I lived in my own apartment, my only name being on the lease, and my boyfriend at the time practically moved his stuff in and stayed at my place all the time.  Then I had my own apartment with my lease signed, but stayed at my current boyfriends place most of the time, with him and his roommate.  Then I moved in with my boyfriend and his roommate, but my name is not on the lease.  Now, I move into an apartment, where our names will be on the lease, and far away from the comforts of family and friends I have lived with for the majority of my life.  It is a big step, and I've often debated how ready I really am for it.  It makes me anxious to think of moving so far away, taking such a risk, but I hope that me and my boyfriends relationship will flourish, instead of wither, with this new step.  I also worry about starting a new job, possibly my dream job, and leaving behind my current job which I love, (it is the longest job I have ever kept), but yet drives me insane. 

But doubting myself, and overthinking things has always been a weakness of mine.  In the past, my overthinking has been more of a negative thing.  Instead of planning ahead, I would simply sit and think about everything that could possibly go wrong, and then hide from the situation in fear.  A few months ago, I realized how debilitating this method was, and made a vow to myself that when it comes to overthinking, something I feel like I may never overcome, I would turn it into a positive thing, instead of negative.  So, with this move, instead of freaking out and crying, I have channeled my thoughts into planning.  I have looked online for apartments in our price range, I have researched the area, the job market in the area, started cover letters and resumes for potential jobs, I even know the gas prices in the area.  I feel that it is a much more productive way to spend my time.

There have been other hindrances, that lately I'm ashamed to have been weakened to.  For the past several months, I have barely consumed a drop of alcohol, except for the occasional event of celebration, and just like always, when I do indulge, I find myself regretting it the next day.  Not even because of the hangover, because I don't necessarily get hangovers each time, but more because of the lack of clarity in my judgment.  I look at other people who savour each precious moment that they can get wasted and say rude things or shed their censorship and speak openly, or do things they wouldn't normally do, and know that I am probably the same way whenever I am drunk.  It makes me feel ashamed.  I do not feel like there is anything really to be gained from getting drunk anymore, and would prefer to go on with my life having the occasional drink to relax and unwind. 

There are several things that I have been reflecting upon about myself lately.  I find this mostly comes to me because my boyfriend and roommate are on the road a lot for their job and I spend a lot of time by myself, and actually prefer it that way most of the time.  Being alone gives me time to be myself, instead of who I think that person may want me to be.  In the quiet hours at my house I think about who I want to be, who I define myself as, and what others think about me versus what I want them to think about me.  I find myself dwelling more now, on who I want to be instead of worrying about what others think about me.  I still care, if I hurt a friend, but not if it is something I truly care about or feel I stand for.  Even then, I find I care a bit, because I do not want to upset anyone, but I still believe in what I have said or done.  The biggest conflict has been my job.  When I am at work, I try to be social with the employees and joke around and have a good time, but the past year I have really started to take my job more seriously, and my position more seriously.  I try very hard to separate myself as friend vs. boss.  Often I say things to people and they think that I am saying something about their character and take offense to it, but really I am saying this as their manager, concern for their performance, not who they are as a person.  There are a lot of things I guess I will forever be working on. 

The point is, I find that someone acknowledging their flaws, and wanting to improve upon them, is a benefit, and a sign of maturity.  I never claim to know everything, I know I am always going to lack knowledge in some sense, but I'm on a quest to learn everything I possibly can.  I want to improve upon myself.  I would love to grow and expand myself so that someday I am a great worker, a great friend, a great girlfriend or wife or mother, a great sister, a great daughter, a great boss, a great writer.....I want to be great, excellent, brilliant, phenomenal.  I have wondrous plans for myself, and know that none of them can be achieved by staying who I am at this given moment.  I find that is maturity.  Willingness to accept that improvement is the only option.  Those who want to stand still, and be the same, aren't going to grow.  I know I'm far from perfect, everyone makes mistakes.  I just want to fix the mistakes I've made, or learn from them and move forward.  I think that's part of growing up.  And if someone thinks I'm wrong, that's their opinion, they're entitled to it, no hard feelings.  But those I care about, I want to help them fulfill their highest potential, not change them, but help them focus whatever their energy is towards, into perhaps a more productive manner.  I don't know if this makes any sense. Even if it doesn't, that's okay, because to me it does, and right now my whole quest to find my own maturity, is a long one full of obstacle courses and riddles and dead ends, and I'm simply trying to find my way through my own maze.  So I guess that is all I have to say. 

Goodnight all.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Real Men.

Today is Valentine's Day, yes, but I am not blogging about love.  I'm actually choosing to write about a certain post I recently saw that has got me frustrated and I felt the need to comment on.

"Real men don't beat women, they beat the men that do."

Let me take a moment to breathe deep  before I continue.

The first half of this statement, I have absolutely no problem with. I mean, come on, I'm a girl, of course I'm not going to say that men should beat me.  The second half is the portion that I have an issue with, as well as the overall message.

First I will address the second half of the statement.  I highly disagree.  I understand that as men, it is wired into their head that showing aggression is manly.  I think most women would agree with me that they don't want a seemingly sissy boy who cannot defend himself.  Girls want a protector, a defender, someone who will keep them safe.  But I feel like this image is where guys get confused.  Let me start by saying that as a girl who used to be physically abused by significant others, the last thing that I like in a guy is one who uses violence to deal with situations.  I feel that when a guys first instinct is to throw a punch to deal with a situation, how am I supposed to believe that if he got angry at me that would not be his first instinct with dealing with it?  Also, I think that guys are mislead because when they hear the words defender and protector, they feel like fighting is part of the deal.  I disagree again.  When a girl feels she wants a defender and a protector, I think it tends to conjure images of a guy that if his friends are mocking her, he will step up and say something (not throwing punches), and a guy who will comfort a girl when something is wrong.  I personally find that a guy who is a defender and protector will do these types of things: Someone who when I'm in an uncomfortable or awkward situation will put his arm around me, or hold my hand to put me at ease. Someone who will stand up for me when people talk poorly about me.  Someone who will hold me when I've woken up from a nightmare.  Someone who will help aid me when I have problems.  That to me is a defender and protector.  I feel like a guy who starts fights with guys at a bar or on the street, actually puts me in more harm, because there is a chance that a punch will get thrown and accidentally hit me (this has actually happened to me), or angry words will be said that hurt me, etc.  I understand that at times, physical fights are unavoidable, but I feel that a lot of guys will throw them in the situation because their testosterone starts pumping and I don't admire that quality.

Let me next move onto the statement as a whole.  I feel like guys who live by this statement are obviously the ones who were raised that hitting a girl is wrong.  I don't think they necessarily understand why it is wrong.  Personally I feel that the whole idea behind hitting a girl being wrong is that most girls are weaker and have no way of appropriately defending themselves when the situation occurs.  It also reinforces typical archetypes of in older times when the men was dominant and the woman was submissive and did whatever the man requested of her.  Times have changed, women are becoming stronger mentally and are taking control of their lives, and slowly gaining momentum to stop being considered the weaker sex and finding more equal grounds.  However, because of our size and stature, especially how society expects us to look, it is still hard for us to stand up and defend ourselves against a man when he is getting physical.  So I feel like the idea that hitting a woman is wrong comes from the fact that it is not a fair fight.  But there is also more to it.  When a guy hits a girl, it comes as a shock to most of them.  Because society frowns upon it, the girl wonders what has occurred to make the man violate such an iron-clad idea.  Often the girl begins to blame herself, feeling that she has done something so wrong that she deserved it.  It also comes as quite a shock because girls are not used to dealing with their emotions in physical ways.  I'll admit, at times, I go into my room and punch a pillow or throw things, exerting my anger in a physical manner, but most of the time that is not a girls go-to response.  Girls deal with anger by talking, or crying, or thinking the situation through, which are not really physical acts.  So when a guy approaches a girl and is dealing with his anger in a physical manner, it is hard for the girl to really understand where it is coming from, or how to deal with it.  Does she hit the guy back, and possibly encourage even more vicious physical violence? Even when a girl tries to deal with the situation by talking, which is something she's more comfortable with, the guy does not respond.  Finally, most girls, once the violence happens, shut down, and assume the submissive role automatically, doing whatever they can to make the man happy in defense and trying to ensure that the violence doesn't happen again.

So, now that I've broken down in sense, why I feel like the entire idea has been created, I want to say a little about my opinions about guys with this apparent value system that hitting a girl is wrong.  First off let me say that the majority of the guys I've been in relationships with who have openly told me, "I was raised that hitting girls is wrong" has ended up using physical violence against me, and I am not the type of girl that thinks that it was my fault.  Yes, perhaps in some situations, I said something that triggered their anger, but I still do not feel it was right of the guy to resort to physical violence, and therefore, I was not wrong in the situation.
Now let me move on to the type of guys who feel the need to broadcast that they think hitting a girl is wrong.  No offense guys, but I don't particularly like you.  I feel that people should live their value systems and yes while I think it is important to show pride in it, I don't think that any guy should feel the need to advertise that is his value system because I feel that is something that every guy should value.  I feel like every guy in the world, especially America, should believe that it is wrong to hit a girl, so if a guy feels the need to advertisement it's almost like he's saying that not all guys are like that (yes, I agree that not all guys are like that, and yes, I agree that it's unfortunate).  But it should be standard, and therefore I'm not going to proud of you because you have this viewpoint.  I'm not going to be proud of a guy because he's breathing, because well, I certainly hope you're breathing.  This is just where I stand.

Now here's where I'm going to get some blood pumping and some testosterone flowing for my male readers.  Let me just tell you that yes, I have been physically abused, and in fact, I still talk to some of the guys that physically abused me in the past.  This seems to be entirely controversial to people, especially those who advertise that they are against it.  Let me explain.  When these people consistently became physically violent with me, I removed myself from the relationship.  Continuing friendships with them is always based on the fact that, I do not put myself in compromising positions with them where they would possibly get angry enough to do so again. But I do believe in second chances.  I actually firmly believe that the first boyfriend I dated who was physically violent with me has actually grown from the experience, and it helps that I was friends with him after.  Because he got to see the effects that his behavior towards me and how it has effected every relationship I have had since as well as my self esteem.  Since he has seen these results, he has openly told me that because he saw what it did to me he does not want to do it again.  Now, he is in a healthy relationship and I do not feel like he would resort to violence when encountering a problem with her.

Here is my rationale for having issues with these guys who proclaim to the world that they are against hitting women.  First of all, I feel like they want to get the reassurance and support from others that it is right.  Second, I don't always feel like they understand why they feel that way, except for the reason that they were taught to feel that way.  I once had an argument with a guy who kept proclaiming he was against it and I tried to tell him that he didn't need to tell me because I had an idea of how wrong it was.  He kept arguing saying, "but no, I really understand, it's really wrong, I was raised never to hit a woman."  I told him to shut up.  Honestly, as a girl who has been hit, I know the feelings it triggers, I understand the complexes it has given me, the low self esteem, the flinching when someone moves too fast, the flinching when someone goes to touch my face, it makes you distrusting, it makes you avoid any confrontation with your significant other and thereby, you don't always deal with your issues in the relationship for fear of a fight, and instead the relationship crumbles and falls apart for seemingly no reason.  I don't think it's right for any guy to try and tell me that he knows better than me how wrong it is, unless perhaps he has seen the result of physical violence on a woman he was close to, and even then, he cannot read her mind, he does not feel what he feels, so his interpretation still doesn't necessarily hit the mark.  So, I guess, my issue with guys like this is that most of them speak so mindlessly, and don't really think about their real reasons behind it.  I wish that instead of saying they would never hit a woman because they were raised not to, they investigated exactly why they wouldn't do so, why they personally think it is wrong.  I think if a guy came to the conclusion that dealing with his anger by fighting is wrong, he would be taking a step forward.  There are other physical manifestations of anger to value instead of starting a fight.

The last thing I would like to say is, I do not want anyone reading my blog to think that I am completely against every guy standing up and saying he is against hitting a woman.  I am all for those guys who stand up for a cause, fighting domestic abuse in certain events or just for their own liking.  My issue is with what the guy truly believes.  I feel like a lot of men mindlessly act like they are gentlemen because that's how they were taught to be and don't examine why they want to be that way.  They think, mom taught me to do this, girls like when I do this, so I'll do this.  They don't necessarily think about why their mom raised them that way, or why girls like it, or why they like to do it.  Things mean more when there is thought put behind them.  You can buy a girl flowers because you think it's expected, or you can buy her favorite flowers to show that you were listening to her when she said what they were, or because you want to make her smile because you think she has a beautiful smile, or because you know she's been having a bad day and you want to cheer her up and show you were thinking of her.  The thought behind your actions matters.  I'm not saying I hope that when a guy examines his reasons behind hitting a girl, he realizes that he doesn't have any and starts hitting women, I mean that would be silly.  I just hope that guys really think about the reason behind what they do, and I feel like if they resolve that hitting a girl is wrong, they should realize that dealing with most situations with physical violence is wrong in general.  It's not healthy, it doesn't particularly solve anything, it just makes the guy feel better for some bizarre reason.  You don't have to be a sissy, but I believe that Real Men, Real GENTLEMEN, don't hit anyone, unless in self-defense.  There is a reason why the word gentlemen starts with the word GENTLE.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Apologies to my readers

I wanted to extend an apology to my readers for the lack of writing these past few days.  I have been working on a book quite adamantly and have been putting a lot of my thoughts that I would usually post here, in it.  If anyone is interested in reading it and giving me some feedback, please let me know. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My take on Plan B

Shippensburg University, my Alma Mater, is getting a lot of press attention right now because of the revelation that there is a vending machine on campus that offers Plan B (a pill one can take after having unprotected sex, to avoid unwanted pregnancy).  The vending machine charges about 25$ which is the actual price of most Plan B pills that anyone can get at a pharmacy.  People are complaining about how it is inappropriate to offer this to students, acting as if Shippensburg is full of whores who use Plan B all the time, just by slipping a few bucks into a vending machine every day after slutting it up.  It's also gained a lot of attention because of people who do not approve of abortion, and Plan B can be easily described as an abortion pill.  Here is my take of the entire situation.

First off, I don't think there is anything wrong with having Plan B in vending machines on campus.  The vending machine in located in the health center on campus, the entire campus is not littered with vending machines containing this pill, so that a student can pick up a Twix bar and Plan B before their 8am class.  Students are required to sign in to the health center before even being allowed inside the facilities, and have to talk to the nurse and explain the situation before even being granted access to the vending machine. 

Second, I also feel there is nothing wrong with offering it to students.  Shippensburg is attempting to protect students, giving them the choice to help further their college careers if they have perhaps acted a little too hastily the night before.  These students are over eighteen and have the right to make their own decisions, and yes, they make mistakes.  But Shippensburg is giving students the chance to fix their mistakes.  *Note: I am not saying that conceiving is a mistake, just that perhaps a situation occurred that they are not proud of, or are not ready for, and giving students the option to take Plan B is helping them.*  Would Pennsylvania rather have a bunch of students dropping out of college because one foggy drunken night, they accidentally had sex without a condom and got knocked up, and end up going on welfare because they have to pay off their student loans, and can barely get a minimum wage job because of the current economy?  Not to mention, that it is not a big deal that they have them on campus, considering there are at least 4 pharmacies within a mile drive of Shippesburg University that offer Plan B as well.

The next thing I want to address is the fact that this vending machine has been in Etter for several years now, and yet suddenly is making headline news.  Why?  I'm really curious as to what events transpired to make this suddenly important enough to make Leno.  I wonder if it was some sort of lawsuit, or if maybe Shippensburg was just trying to improve their admission rates.

The point I want to make though is, everyone wants to hate on Shippensburg right now. (Actually a lot of alumni are stating they are proud of the university, but in the news we're getting only negative publicity).  Suddenly, now that people think we have done something wrong, we're making headline news.  But what about all the good that Shippensburg does.  Let's not talk about how Shippensburg has a pretty incredible education program, not to mention business, and other programs.  Let's not talk about how Shippensburg participates in Relay for Life every semester, and how the first year Shippensburg held Up Till Dawn (a philanthropy event that raises money for St. Judes Hospital) we raised over 19,000 dollars, and have improved from there.  I mean, I know that is nothing compared to the million dollars that Penn State raises with Thon, but still for how small our campus is, I was quite proud.  We have billboards around that promote the Mentorship, Internships, etc. that truly are the foundation of our campus, and yet our Plan B vending machine is what everyone wants to pay attention to?  It's ludicrous what people will do to get a good story, and to create shock and awe so that they get more noticed.  I am proud to be a Shippensburg University alumni, but sad that there are people in this world who cannot see the great things that the campus has to offer, and would rather concentrate on something that to me, isn't worth controversy.

To those people who wish to control everything about everyone, including their choice of what kind of future they want, well, perhaps your parents should've taken Plan B.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Butterfly Effect

I've been thinking a lot lately about how the tiniest little thing you do can effect someone for a lifetime.  I'm not sure if I've ever done something seemingly insignificant that has effected someone else profoundly, but I do know there have been a couple of instances that have occurred to me, that have changed my life.  Two examples:

My freshman year, fall semester, I was very quiet and kept to myself.  It wasn't until one day a boy with a guitar sang a song about me as I walked past his room, that I started opening up to my hall mates.  Most of us were extremely close, we went to parties together, hung out together, etc.  There were a few that I was still friendly with but not super close with.  After some extremely emotional occurrences in my life, I hit a real low where I was not really acting myself.  Getting drunk before class, if I was going to class at all, became part of my every day behavior.  I was thinking dark thoughts.  Then, one day, a guy in my hall that I had never been particularly close with, handed me a letter.  It was four pages, hand written, front and back, about how he had noticed that I was going through something and wanted to tell me how absolutely beautiful I was and how great of a person I was.  He talked about how strong he could tell I was and how he had faith that I would get through it in one piece.  That letter changed me.  The fact that someone I spent perhaps five minutes with each week, could tell me how I was as a person and give me hope that things were going to get better, amazed me. 

A similar situation happened to me a few weeks ago.  There was someone who I had, well, the easiest way to put it is, I cut them out of my life.  Because of some rumors they had spread about me years ago, I stopped talking to her, and any time she attempted to start a conversation with me afterwards, I was rude and abrupt with my dislike for her.  Then a web-page came up that shares a common factor between the two of us.  People began posting bits of information, pictures of the past, etc.  After posing a question, a friend of mine posted a comment about me being ridiculous whenever I took on something, that nobody had taken on back then.  The girl that I haven't talked to in years maybe, said something of the sort that I was the most driven back then.  It actually left me speechless.  I read it, and just stopped whatever I was doing at that point and stared at the screen for probably an hour.  I was driven.  It really made me wonder, am I still driven? Back then, yes, I took on whatever was asked of me, and even more.  I juggled tons of stuff and barely slept because I was always moving, always working harder.  Yes, my school work kinda took a back seat but I really did see myself as driven.  Just those words, from someone I no longer speak to, changed me.  Since then I have really started to look at my life and attempt to make myself driven again.  I've started really taking active steps to work on my novel, setting guidelines and spending almost every waking second and even some of my sleeping seconds, thinking about it.  I've tried to reorganize my life and maintain a sense of control to make things easier.  Any project that I've been working on, I've seemingly thrown myself into, trying to bring back that ambitious nature.  All because of the words someone I never speak to anymore.

It amazes me how small of an event can change someone.  So reach out and try and help someone in need.  Or if someone inspires you, tell them.  You never know how much it may make that person's day, or change their life.  I don't want to get super cliche right now so that's where I'll end this blog.