The 10 Truths

The 10 Truths

Since I stumbled upon this link this morning, I haven’t been able to resist sharing it on every social networking site I have.  I think that this blog post reminds couples of something that is often easily forgotten when things get hard: a great relationship doesn’t just magically happen.

I’ll admit, GOOD relationships happen.  You meet someone and you keep in touch, you become friends, and you share a couple things.  GREAT relationships require work like this link says.  And that’s true not only of romantic relationships but also of friendships.  In some ways it seems counterintuitive that you should need to work on a relationship, but really it makes perfect sense because if you stop feeding it, it’s gonna die just like anything else that’s living.  That’s the truth.

In fact, I enjoyed just about everything on this list.  It’s simply an amazingly comprehensive list from taking care of yourself to building the other person up instead of tearing them down.  Some of us may thrive on snarky relationships built on cutting comments, but in my experience those aren’t the ones that last.  The friendships and relationships that stick around are the ones where people feel secure enough in themselves to build th other up.

I especially like the line that ANGER IS A WASTE OF TIME.  I have never read a truer statement in my life.  Anger is perhaps one of the least productive emotions on the face of the planet in my opinion.  Sure, it can spur you on to take care of something that needed to be taken care of, but more often than not, it’s simply going to ruin your day.  However, unfortunately for the human race, hormonal women, and rational alien invaders, anger is an irrational part of human nature.  Even if it is irrational though, we have to deal with it.  So, finding ways to channel and diffuse anger can be one of the best skills around because you can use it to calm both yourself and others down.  “Righteous anger” is a pretty popular phrase, but most of the time when people use it, what they really mean is is they refuse to see the other side of the issue.  Only they can be right.  Thus, anger has now gone beyond productive and into the stalled stage of self-centered agony.  It feels good for about a minute when you’re ranting, but afterward….well, let’s just say I speak from experience.

Finally, I love the line about getting regular tune-ups.  Especially important in romantic relationships, they are also vital to platonic friendships.  Taking a weekend to have time with a friend you don’t see all that often and actually talk about stuff will do wonders for a friendship you might be looking to keep.  I think that admitting to needing a “tune-up” as this blog post so eloquently puts it is a very self-aware and brave thing to admit to.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to admit I need a personal fixer-upper much less one for a relationship.

The list of ten truths is something to take to heart in regard to every sort of relationship we might be cultivating….but especially a relationship you want to last a long long time.

Advertisements

Feeling Good for Me

While my boyfriend was out of town for a couple days, I read quite a few books of the chic-lit genre and even succumbed to Drew Barrymore’s Never Been Kissed.  I also noticed how the majority of what I read was about girls who thought that they just weren’t pretty and drastically changed to get the attention of the perfect guy.  If the guy in question really was perfect then he would take notice and quickly assure the girl he liked her the way she was before.  It’s a very sweet plot sequence, but after reading three stories in short succession with that same basic story I started to feel bad and I just couldn’t figure out why.  Why was I drawn to these books and movies when I felt guilty afterward?

Cover of "Never Been Kissed"

I actually really like this movie! She becomes more confident and then gets the guy.

Once I got to thinking, I realized that quite a few popular books for women center around the trials of an insecure woman seeking validation in her life via a significant other.  Let me begin with the Twilight books.  I’ll be honest: I read them when they came out.  I had no shame at the time, because they were, dare I say it, entertaining.  After the phase had passed and I’d relegated the books to a dusty corner shelf, I wondered what it was about these books that left a strange aftertaste.  Then I read a particularly clever blog post from The Oatmeal (found here: http://theoatmeal.com/story/twilight) about the reason Twilight is so addictive.  The main character is severely under described and laden down with an extreme number of self-image issues.  Why is this non-image appealing to so many women?  Why should women, particularly young women, be drawn to a heroine with absolutely no self-esteem and no self-worth unless  she has a man (excuse me, vampire/werewolf) validate her existence?  Sure, it’s something that any awkward preteen can relate to, but I don’t want to stay an awkward preteen and I certainly wouldn’t consider one to be my personal hero.

Cover of "Twilight (Twilight, Book 1)"

Twilight: Epic Saga of Self-hate in the Face of Inhuman Boy Drama

Now, the morals of all these stories (with the exception of Twilight) are generally good.  The female discovers that she doesn’t need make-up to be pretty, or she really is pretty already without even trying, or her dream guy actually does already like her when she’s being normal.  The problem is that the characters never seem to figure this out until the end when the (perfect) man tells them how it really is.Then I read a short story where the teenager in question started wearing make-up because her boyfriend asked her to–so as to amplify her beauty.  In the end, of course, said boyfriend was a bad influence.  I have no issues with a little make-up. I don’t even have issues with a few tips and tricks from the bf.  In fact, mine is a helpful source of feedback from plucking eyebrows to the new haircut; and I appreciate it.  What I don’t like is the idea of protagonists who are women with no sense of self-worth until someone tells them otherwise.

Insert: my confession.  I used to be that girl, which is probably why I enjoyed Twilight so much.  I didn’t grow up being confident in who I was or what I looked like.  In fact, I’d say I was raised to be modest to the point of being down on myself.  That said, part of my insecurities are just genetic.  It’s a fact of life, there are just some things you can’t help inheriting.  Having made strides to overcome insecurity and self-doubt, I find it disturbing that the books that sell are the ones featuring women with the problems I have sought to overcome.  The problem that I have with these books is that even if the right man assures the protagonist that she’s beautiful, if he ever leaves any time in the future she’s going to be a complete wreck.  She won’t be broken up inside because the man she loves is gone (scratch that…maybe she will) but she’ll inevitably question: was I pretty enough?  What did I do wrong?  So in the end, they didn’t learn the right lesson.  What they learned: He said I was perfect.  What they should have learned: I am beautiful and I don’t need him to tell me so, but the compliment’s nice all the same.

I can’t very well write to the publishers or editors and ask them to remove all the books about insecure women from the shelves, because that’s actually what sells.  And they sell because there are insecure women in the world.  I can say that as a woman in the proverbial “Insecure Women Anonymous” group.  My resolution to stop the cycle?  To not read books that foster the ideal of a woman who is worthless until told otherwise.  Perhaps I should clarify that reading books like this doesn’t make women insecure.  If you’re confident, they aren’t going to bring you down.  And if you are insecure then you immediately identify with them.  However, I do think that they promote a cycle.  I want to be a woman who understands my own beauty and worth without needing someone else to tell me.  And I want that for everyone, no matter who you are.

How Time Flies

People always say time flies when you’re having fun.  It’s a bit cliche, but I’ve realized it’s definitely true.  I was sitting in my apartment today renewing my apartment lease for next year when I realized that this time next year…I wouldn’t be a senior in college anymore.  Now, I’m not entirely sure about what I’ll be doing, but I know that I’ll be right here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, because it’s not just where I’ve been going to school for four years.  To me, Chapel Hill is home.  I’m not entirely sure when I felt the change because if I had been asked last year where I was from, I would say: the western half of NC, as in where I grew up with my parents.  Now, when people ask me where I’m from, I tell them Chapel Hill.

My bff from New Hampshire, Jane, at the Old Well on UNC Chapel Hill's iconic campus.

Even though this is one of my favorite pictures, this really isn’t what I think of as my home in Chapel Hill.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have spent most of my time in Chapel Hill on this very campus.  Most of that time has been rather phenomenal, but unlike some of my classmates, I’ve put down some roots in the area apart from my GPA.  It’s probably helped that I lived off campus after my freshman year, but I have to say that I’ve been through a lot in this town and I’m definitely not on a mission to leave it any time soon.  I’ve heard a lot of grads-to-be say that they can’t wait to explore the world or just get out of North Carolina.  Now, I do want to explore the world, but I’ve reached the point where my desire isn’t to get OUT of Chapel Hill; it’s to find a way to stay here permanently.

First off, I got my first real job in Chapel Hill.  After taking a class on the Southern Historical Collection, I made sure to apply for a job there the next summer.  And what do you know, I’ve been there ever since.  It’s a job I really do love.  I’ve enjoyed the people I work with, the people I meet, the things I do, and the things I’ve learned.  Now it’s definitely a job, I don’t want to romanticize it into impossibility, but it’s been a pretty darn fantastic run, and I can’t regret spending three years on the fourth floor of Wilson Library for anything.

The stacks of the Southern Historical Collection. Not my life....but a big part of it.

Living in Chapel Hill has opened my social sphere and I have so many friends here that have helped me grow into a better person.  Now, again, I don’t want to over-romanticize everything in this post.  I’m going to be truthful, and when I get sappy, you’ll just have to bear with me and trust that what I’m telling you is just the way it is!  First I’ll give a shout-out to Rachel (since you are reading this post if I know you): a person at work to let me know when I’m being stupid or careless while being nice about it.  Also the person to help make me feel at home in my new job.  Not to mention, your endless supply of trailmix has done wonders for my blood sugar.

Then there was my first ever roommate: Mary.  Mary and I had (read: have) very different personalities, and I don’t mean the kind that mesh well together on a daily basis.  So, needless to say, living together in a tiny room with a bright overhead light did absolutely horrible things to our friendship.  It’s funny how things like study habits and boy drama can get in between people.  So, Mary and I snarked it out.  Now, we’re pretty good friends because of our little trial by fire.  It certainly took us a while to get back to this point, but once we did, we were pretty tight.  Not like we’ll tell each other every little thing but we’re friends because we can look each other in the eye and say: living with you sucked.

While we’re on the subject of roommates, another great result of living in Chapel Hill was the best roommate ever: Anya.  I’ve come to the conclusion that’s it’s actually pretty hard to be friends and roommates with someone at the same time, but somehow Anya and I managed it.  Anya was one of those people who didn’t really hesitate to tell me when I was being stupid, excessive, or even over-talkative (which obviously happens a lot).  We became friends because she helped me get over myself and because we both liked the same quirky things: ie, British tv shows.  In short, we bonded over the simplest of experiences: being college roommates.

So all of these friends have helped me make great memories in Chapel Hill, but none of them necessarily tie me to this town.  What really means a lot to me are the friends I have here that are more like my family.  Those are part of the reason that I feel like Chapel Hill is really my home now.  Perhaps the most significant are Howard and Donya and their two kids, Katie and Max.  They’ve been a help in a lot of ways.  Donya especially has been super supportive.

Howard, Donya, Max, Katie in Belize

All of this said, Chapel Hill/Carrboro is now my home.  Now I’m just on the search for a job….oh joy!

Roller coaster

My boyfriend tells me that being with me is like riding the emotional roller coaster.  One minute it’s a high, the next it’s a low with a weird queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.  I’m ok with that because I know it’s true.  And hey, it’s not like it’s fun for me either.  So I’m working on it, but for right now….it’s a roller coaster. My point though is that despite the fact that being with me is like riding the tornado or the superman or whatever, he’s still around helping me out when I get off the roller coaster and  want to puke my brains out.  Yep, that’s right, I’m going to write a sappy post about my support system: my boyfriend.

Don’t get me wrong, there are other people out there that keep me afloat.  My best friend residing in New Hampshire is definitely one of them. In fact, I’d go so far as to say she’s the female version of the bf….just you know, she’s female and we don’t swing that way (no offense).  There are a couple other people that come to mind but these two are the most important.  They are the two that keep me sane when I think I’m about to sink and celebrate with me when I’m on top of the world.  And in between, they are both there to just hang out and listen to me chatter at them.  In short they’re both pretty much fantastic.  The NH best friend though escapes the worst of the roller coaster that my boyfriend deals with all the time (lucky him).

And I don’t want to get super in-depth, but let’s just say that the reason NH and I are friends and the reason bf and I are together is because of a much deeper spiritual connection than any of us could have managed on our own.  It’s the truth, and we wouldn’t be where we are without it.  There’s something to be said for knowing that you click with someone for a very good reason out of your control.  It’s also comforting to know that any advice they give you is coming from the right source.

The point of this post though isn’t to wax eloquent about how awesome either of them are (even though that’s true).  I just want to acknowledge how important a support system is.  It’s not something anyone should go without.  I appreciate the people that are there for me, and I definitely want to be better to them!