Thursday, November 20, 2014

If You Lead, I will Follow: On Befriending Your Mother

Back in 2007, when I thought that TV reflected real life and that I would traipse into high school with a football boyfriend and straight hair, I watched Gilmore Girls religiously. For the most part, I was happy to be taken out of my own acne-ridden life and placed into Stars Hallow, but there was that wistful part of me that saw Rory and Lorelai's friendship and thought oh I want that. Wouldn't it be great to live with your best friend, to be able to have a shoulder to cry on 24/7, to have someone who will not only judge you for eating excessive amounts of Chinese food, but who will join in? 

Seven years later, after binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, I look at their relationship and realize, oh I have that. 
 Minus the part where we look like movie stars and throw pop-culture references at each other, my mother and I could be the Gilmore Girls. And while the lines got a little blurred when I was a kid and we had to work out the differences between friend and parent, we can focus on the friendship part of our mother/daughter pair. I get weird looks from my friends when I tell them that I literally tell my mother everything, or that we go to each other for advice--it may be a little weird, but it's not that complicated as people may be lead to believe.

There's a certain level of brutal honesty a mother can give that's hard to find anywhere else. I mean, I encourage my friends not to hold back when they think I'm being ridiculous, but my mother has years of perspective on, well, me. If I tell her a stupid thing I did, or a pattern that I've noticed about myself for the past year, my mother will very blatantly go "yeah, you did that thing since you were three years old. You should probably stop."

Okay, maybe that's not how our conversations exactly play out, but you get the idea.

Once I got past the point where my mother had to enforce rules and tell me how to, y'know, be a person, I found it fascinating to learn that she was (gasp!) a person before me. It was a little eerie that much of what happened to my mother also happened to me, but it's a comfortingly bizarre moment when you and your mother learn from your mistakes at the exact same time. Plus, it's just amusing to hear stories of her marrying a French guy and living with a bunch of strangers in France.

Even just a couple years ago, I believed that I was doomed to become my mother--that would've been the worst punishment in the world! But now I'm happy to embrace my Judy-esque qualities, as it gives me 1) hope that one day I'll become as cool as my mother, and 2) a built-in best friend, cheesy as it sounds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Thoughts on Marriage, Part II: Experimenting with Normalcy

It's sometimes difficult to distinguish between nature and nurture, but being the product of a divorced family, as a kid I vowed to never get divorced and to be sure that I could find a guy I could settle down with. While I've always been a bit plan-obsessed, I realize that part of my desperation to settle into the suburban, white-picket-fence, minivan routine was due to the fact that I didn't grow up with that life.

That's not to say that my parents didn't give me a blissed out childhood--they went above and beyond to ensure that my brother and I never got caught in the middle of their divorce and that we had easy access to both houses. But there was something about one house, one family, and the normalcy of it all that appealed to me, and I wanted to rush into that as soon as possible.

The biggest paradox in my last relationship was the fact that I could have easily fallen into married life. While I knew that being pressured into marriage at age 21 was the worst mistake I could possibly make--there was no way that I was ready to handle that kind of responsibility--it was so enticing to have that kind of stability. And while everyone craves stability to a certain extent, coming from a divorced family, my need to "experiment with normalcy" seemed to overpower my gut that was screaming "are you kidding me, you're 21! You don't know what it means to be married! Explore the world before you trap yourself!"

Besides my irritation that my gut used so many exclamation points, I knew that my instincts were right. I was torn between wanting so desperately to claim the title of wife and mother and knowing that I had to process what marriage meant to me, and that I'd have to be sure that the man that I marry is the one I could spend the rest of my life with.

Upon reflection, I've realized that it's a dangerous mindset to believe that you have to get married--that if you see yourself potentially being happy with someone, you should hold onto them and never let go. Because my last boyfriend came from a one-home family with happily married parents, it was clear that he thought of marriage as the next step, the logical explanation. But I only recently realized that the pitfall is when you marry because you can or should--it's only when you cannot see yourself spending the rest of your life without this person that you should even consider marriage.

Being the product of divorce (and anxiety probably isn't doing me any favors either), I've romanticized stability. Instead of growing up with the notion that "love conquers all," I thought why would you ever want to leave when you have one home, when your family is together? And when the option to have said stability is right in front of your face, it's difficult to consider the other aspects of marriage: the compatibility, the differing views on raising children, the chemistry between two people.

Leaving the option to have a content relationship/marriage was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Just as some people have need to experiment with travel or dangerous relationships, I had a taste for the "all-American family." But, in the end, stability does not conquer all, even if it seems to beat the paralyzing fear that you will never be married. That fear ultimately trumps complacency.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Junioritis: Tales from a Clueless College Student

So there's tons of articles and blogs about the dreaded senioritis, how freshmen are clueless, and how sophomores are the awkward middle children of college, but I feel like, for the most part, juniors have been ignored. They're like that person that you kind of know, and they show up randomly with your friend group and they're just sort of there.

As a junior, I've somehow leaped from "what do you want to be when you grow up?" to "what jobs are you looking for now?" I realize that the security blanket of the rest of college is pulling away fast, and a year is like a second in college student world. A few years ago, I was applauded for not falling flat on my face during classes. Now I not only have to, y'know, not fail class, but I have to excel enough to make my professors recommend me, find an internship or two, and decide where the hell I'm going post-graduation.

Somehow the answer "I'm gonna be a hippie in an ashram for a few years" doesn't seem to suffice. I have to figure out the mystery wrapped enigma that is grad school, but I can't start applying, so I'm in this awkward phase where I have to plan my future, but I still can't definitively answer the dreaded question "so what are your plans after graduation?"

If there was a "year of the person in limbo," this would be it.

Suddenly, I realize that I have no idea how to apply for normal adult jobs. I can fill out food service applications with my eyes closed, but get me close to a resumé and cover letter, and I'm all "hey, what do I do with this thing?" Like, how do you even find careers? People have advised me to get a career since middle school, and now I'm supposed to get one, and the only way I can picture getting one is standing outside with a megaphone going "hey, listen up! I need a career; anyone got one?" The idea that I have to have this all figured out one year from today is just a tad terrifying.

Junioritis gives me this odd feeling that I'm so sick of classes and never want to see a textbook again, but I want to go to school forever because I have no idea how to be like, a person in society. Especially if that requires me to stop wearing Grumpy Cat tee-shirts and to take my coffee without cinnabon creamer.
People with careers don't wear clothing with furry animals

Basically, I'm freaking out for the time when I freak out next year and realize, still, that I have no idea what I'm doing. I at least take comfort in the idea that there are thousands of students in the same boat.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Emotional Dumper


So this is probably the most emotional blog post I will write, and that's saying a lot, as I am already "the queen of emotions." I don't like to spew my personal life on the internet, but having gained a support system from similar-minded people online, I feel like I should give something on my end, whether it just be advice, or life experience, or just letting other women know that there's someone else in the world who hasn't quite figured it out yet. I wanted to offer a piece of the "relationship conversation," even if said piece is still a little jumbled and hurt and raw.

I am the emotional dumper. I'm the one who ended things. I'm the one who can't move on, who has to watch my ex (how strange and cold to call him that) move on and be okay.

It's a strange feeling, being the one who caused the pain, yet who ended up feeling the most. I envy his ability to turn off his emotions, like a switch on the radio. I feel relieved that I haven't shattered him for life, and secretly mad that he hasn't exhibited just a little, teeny bit of misery over the loss. I feel like a horrible person for secretly wishing that the person I've loved be miserable over something he had no control over.

As the one who is in the business of Feeling Heavily, I'm desperate to talk, as though words will bandage my wounds and regrets. I will be torn between the strange paradox of needing to talk, to define every inch of our relationship, and needing not to talk, because I know that then I will realize it's over, there's nothing left but "hello"s and meaningless "how are you"s.

I let my mind swirl around the word "over." It doesn't seem over while we're both still here, in the same town, both walking past the places that were ours, the place where he so nervously asked me out, the place where we dreamed of forevers.

As the emotional one, the one who lets feelings crawl onto my skin, I have to realize that he is trying so hard not to think about me, to move on, that he is not mourning as heavily, not concentrating on the loss. He is refusing to think at all. The indifference is essential to his sanity, but it doesn't make it sting any less. He is strong, and uninterested in fighting in a battle he's already lost. I marvel at his strength, and hate that we can't be impulsive and impractical together, that we can't have one more night of remembering, of denying loss.

I'm the one who took "let's be friends" to heart--not realizing that would just be stringing him along even more, down the path where I had the power, and he only had pure trust and loyalty. I want to care about his feelings, yet still be in control of how we are as a couple, as friends, as two people trying to figure out the meaning of over.

A friend recently told me that the dumper is the one who is happy, the one who gets closure. How backwards, I think, that I'm the one is deeply unhappy, and he is realizing that he can live without me, that he should live without me. I can't tell if I've made a mistake, or that something's wrong with me and I just can't handle goodbyes. Analyzing the relationship frontwards and backwards has made me anything but happy, but stopping the analysis will make me able to move on, and that's terrifying.

I should be glad that I gave him the power to move on. But in the end, I forced myself to feel so poignantly, to remember everything while he may blissfully forget.

I Can't Lie

I have a confession to make. No, I didn't crash into anyone's car (again), nor did I steal all your chocolate--my confession is on a larger scale, something that makes me unable to successfully live my life as an American citizen.

My name is Kira, I'm twenty-one years old, and I cannot for the life of me tell a lie.

It all started with an innocent game of "two truths and a lie." My roommates could successfully get through three facts about themselves, but by the time it was my turn to sandwich a lie between my two truths, I couldn't do it. I would start giggling or making weird sounds akin to a constipated moose. And while it's great to be an honest person and all, there's a such thing as being too honest.

You know how when you just want an evening to yourself, and your friends say hey guess what there's this great movie playing, you have to come watch it with us, and you reply gracefully, "no I can't, I have to work"?

Yeah, not me. I either have to sound like an asshole who doesn't care about her friends or I have to sacrifice my alone time at the expense of pleasing others. Because as soon as I say something like "I have to work," I cannot stop talking. I'll say something ridiculous like "my manager broke his leg, so I have to be in charge of cheese for the next month, plus my neighbor's cat died, so I have to look after her dog, who is heartbroken after the death."

And that's just soooo believable.

Seriously though! You'd think that as an English major, I would have mastered the art of stretching the truth. That's somewhat true. On paper, I can be all "yeah, I'm a totally proficient chess player; I actually played in a competition once." In person, I will promptly forget the word "chess," call myself a "player" instead, and get really weird looks from guys for the next forever.

The only good thing about this is that my friends and family never have to question if I'm truth-ing at them, since the only thing I fail at worse than driving is lying.

Someday, I'll learn to appreciate it. Probably around the time that I wear purple and eat a lot of butter or something.


In Defense of Water: Tales of an Excessive Water-Drinker

So the other night, my roommates were trying to convince me that water was the root of all evil and that surely I would drown in all the water I consumed. As the resident water-drinker, I usually consume about five bottles a day, more if I decide to brave the world of workouts. Having grown up in a strict "8 glasses a day" household, I didn't see anything particularly strange about staying hydrated, but having flocked from the nest of water enthusiasts, I've had to deal with the "why do you drink so much water?" comments. However, I've also learned to appreciate the perks of being an H2O addict.

1) It saves calories.
The reason that I allow myself to inhale pints of ice cream and not swell up to 500 pounds is because I literally save all of my calories for food, minus the calories in my overly indulgent essential coffee creamer. Like, if I drank milk or juice, or especially any alcohol of sorts, I would never be able to eat. I mean, besides the fact that water keeps you full, it also allows 400-600 extra fun calories that you wouldn't have if you drank a glass or two of milk. The only way I could see one skirting around this rule is drinking so much alcohol that you, erm, don't keep it in your system, and, spoiler alert, that's so not as fun as it seems.

2) It gives you a reason to leave whatever boring/uncomfortable/obnoxious situation you're in.
Sure, you can use the bathroom excuse, but use it too much and people are going to start to wonder if you have a bladder problem. However, if you just keep chugging water, you can keep using the excuse that your bottle is empty, and may I refill please and thank you? In fifth grade, during every single lunch period, I would evade the daily "he said that she said"s by excusing myself to the water fountain. Being hydrated saves an awful lot of drama, remember that.

3) It's impressive.
Okay, so it may be a small bragging point, but people are always amazed by healthy habits, and since I'm not usually one to exhibit said healthy habits, I'll take what I can get. For instance, I'm always in awe of my roommate's gym-going, carrot-eating ways, and I think gosh if only I could be her! Well, beverage-wise, I am that person, and as an English major, I don't get many chances to be that person, so hah.

4) It gives you something to do with your hands.
As someone who can never sit still, I can either busy myself by constantly holding a water bottle, by obsessively checking Facebook, or by tearing at my nails so much that they start to bleed. As Facebook just makes me disappointed in the nature of humanity, and I'd rather not mutilate my body, water-holding/drinking seems to be the only practical alternative.

Plus, it keeps you alive and stuff. So there's that.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

INFP's: An Examination of Realism and Feeling

I've always taken an interest in personality types, specifically when I had to understand my interactions with other people. Quite a few INFPs describe themselves as feeling like aliens in society (an accurate description on my part), and for the longest time, my only way of dealing with this "alien" feeling was by lumping everyone into groups and researching how their differences made sense on a psychological level. I still remember the shock when I learned that not everyone wanted to discuss the meaning of life, and that most everyone got bored by constant updates on my emotional progress as a human being.

However, what really struck me is that throughout my life, I would get advice to "stop letting my emotions get in the way" and to "start being realistic." The two statements seemed to oppose the very core of my existence, that it took everything in my power not to laugh at these givers of advice and say what seemed so obvious: "but my feelings are real!" I couldn't just omit how I felt about a situation, or I would be left with nothing. Without feeling, I would have no need for writing, for friendships, for conversations past "lovely weather" and "what's for dinner?"

Feeling, is often perceived as something that gets in the way of reality, that we won't be able to take the correct course of action if we let our emotions come into play. But as someone who can't find an off switch to emotions, I find it useless to objectively view a situation, pick the best course of action, then realize it was the wrong decision once I'm back to my emotional, "feel-y" self.

Yes, to the outsider, heightened emotions may seem ridiculous when you look at the exterior course of events. But just because a majority of the "events" are going on in someone's head does not make them any more invalid. I wouldn't tell a depressed person they should get over it because their life doesn't actually suck; the same is true for an "F" dominant personality.

In high school, I liked a boy, the boy said he might like me and would let me know if he did in a few weeks, then the boy said he didn't like me and proceeded to date other girls. End of story. My brain, however, took that as the two year saga of "boy likes Kira and just doesn't want to admit it, Kira goes in endless rage about unfairness of romance." Yes, the added elements to the story were annoying, but I experienced it and had to deal with all the emotions that came with liking this boy--so the most irritating thing is hearing "that's not what happened."

My need to be in tune with emotions isn't an inherent flaw, which seems to be the most difficult thing for "T" (Thinking) personalities to understand. Having emotional understanding makes INFPs able to readily empathize with different personality types, and personally, it makes me want to connect with others. Cheesy as it sounds, having such a huge emotional capacity gives me a reason to interact with humans, since the heavy introversion isn't doing me any favors in that regard.

So, for the emotion-heavy personalities, sometimes what you see is not even half of what happened.