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.