198//365 — Home is Where Growth Happens

It’s nice to have friends who think on the same wavelengths we do. That is what friends are for after all. They’re versions of ourselves that we enjoy being around before going home to what you really need, to be with someone very different from us.

Because that is where the real growth happens, not with people who think like you but with people who don’t. It happens at home where it might not always feel nice. It might look more like arguing than compromise, or more like sulking, resentment, and defensiveness. Home is where you work out who you are with someone who’s working out who they are too. It’s messy, it’s beautiful, it’s life, and it just can’t happen when two people are too much alike.

To the woman I love, thank you for having the same life goals as me and very different ideas about how to get there. Thank you for your almost alien perspective. Thank you for your outside interests. Thank you for your baggage and your bias. If not for you, sure, I might still be able to think and sympathize outside of my own experience but I would never have been capable of taking the leap to living outside of my comfort zone.

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I’m doing something new here. In addition to my regular blog post, I’m adding these journal entries. The goal is to post one every day hence the title of each will be the current day number out of 365. I was inspired to try this by Thord D. Hedengren.

Oh, and, as always, thank you for reading. If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

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Relationships Take Two, and That Includes You

“It always takes two. For relationships to work, for them to break apart, for them to be fixed.”

— Emily Giffin, Heart of the Matter: A Novel

I’m a terrible friend.

I don’t text back. I don’t answer calls. I don’t send snaps or reply to Facebook comments. I don’t call to check in, and I don’t know what to say when my loved ones are going through hard times, so I say nothing. I’m a terrible friend. But not because I don’t care, but because I’m scared. I’m afraid I have nothing to offer, and I’m sure no one wants to be bothered with me. It’s selfish, even if I tell myself it isn’t and it’s wrong even if I tell myself it isn’t malicious. The truth is I’m not doing the work, and it isn’t fair.

The truth is I’m not doing the work, and it isn’t fair.

I’m lucky to have friends that understand, but lately, I’ve started to feel guilty. I shouldn’t let them pick up the slack just because I’m too afraid to try. We all deserve to have people reach out toward us everyone in a while to remind that they care and that we are too important to lose.

We all want to feel like we matter. We all want to be wanted. We all want the people we love to let us know with their actions not just with their words that we are important, liked, and desired. When our friends call us or send us funny videos to cheer us up, we feel good. When someone we love cooks our favorite dinner, buys us flowers or offers a back rub at the end of a hard day, we feel good. When family, co-workers, and spouses forgive us for our outbursts or let us know it’s okay after having made a mistake, we feel good.

We do deserve those things, but I’ve seen too many people who demand to be loved, understood, appreciated but make no effort to show anyone else the same. They see themselves as worthy of near worship and see humbling themselves and giving of themselves as degrading.

Relationships, whether they are romantic or not, familial or not, new or old, platonic, professional, or passionate, no matter what they are, they all take two people to make them work and grow. If just one gets forgets the boundaries, loses interest, or puts themselves at the center the whole thing fails. I’ve seen it, and lived it myself, time and time again.

This week I celebrate 15 years with my girlfriend, and people are always asking me how we got this far. They want to know the secret, and I tell them it all boils down to seeing another person as worthy of all the same caring and effort you know that you deserve and then setting your pride aside to do it.

We see ourselves as the main character of a story in which everyone around us only serves to move our own plot forward, but the truth is we are also playing the supporting role in everyone else’s story too. In this world, there is no center. We are all connected to one another and we all push and pull one another in all directions all at once.

If enough people decide to take more than they give all connections weaken and the world becomes a place where loneliness, struggling, and suffering becomes unnecessarily prevalent.

I’ve watched people let their relationships fall apart saying “Well if so-and-so wanted to talk to me they would” or “If so-and-so wanted to see me they’d make the time”, all the while they never reach out or make the time either. They say these things and never see how much they expect and how little their effort is in return. I’ve watched them condemn others for the exact same ways they are failing too.

I don’t think anyone means to be hurtful. It’s just the society we live in now. There is so much bad advice floating around about how we should treat each other and how to stay together or strengthen our bonds.

Everyone says that people who love you will just come to you. They say that anyone who wants to be a part of your life should have to earn it first. You shouldn’t have to chase anyone, you have already done enough. You shouldn’t have to do anything more. If people want you they will do whatever it takes. You aren’t being mean. You are only protecting yourself, respecting yourself, getting what you deserve.

But all that is only half the story. They never tell you how much you have to give of yourself and they never tell you that you should! We should be vulnerable, giving, and forgiving. We should be doing so much more to earn the love of the people we want in our lives. We should be giving second chances and calling even when we didn’t get a callback and inviting them again even when they didn’t show up last time. We should say good morning even if they didn’t say it back and we should do something nice even though they snapped at us yesterday. We should reach out even if they didn’t reply last time and we should let them know we still want to be friends.

You have to let go of your own needs and just be there for someone else for a while. Not all of the time, but, yes, some of the time. You have to take turns being the center of the universe.

Do it because we are all people and we all make mistakes. Do it because none of us come out of our childhood knowing how to have healthy relationships or how to keep those relationships together.

Do it because you care and because you know deep down that every relationship takes work from both parties. It requires vulnerability and a willingness to humble yourself. It requires that you occasionally stop thinking about yourself, give up, and give a little more than you might be getting in return. It requires leading by example and making room for our flaws and forgetfulness. If enough of us make compassion, humility, and understanding part of our relationships we can change the narrative and make giving the goal of every relationship rather than receiving.

Do it so that when it’s you not doing enough because you were busy, too stressed out, or too self-centered, the understanding and love will be there when you return.

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Thank you for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for more inspiring reads + some small existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee. Thank you!

Featured image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Earn Your Friends

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed and escaping the world.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s imagine that Mondays are the days when we get to start all over again. Let’s imagine all the bad things that happened last week don’t matter anymore and that we’ve been given a second chance to do it all again, and this time, we might even get it right.

From now on Monday’s are for making the changes we want to see in ourselves, and for thinking about the changes we want to see in the world. Monday’s are our new favorite days!

As for me, this Monday is an easy one. I am grateful for it too since I’m exhausted from all the birthday festivities this weekend. Luckily, my route isn’t running, and I have nothing to do. I plan to spend the day catching up on comments and emails I’ve had to ignore and all the writing I didn’t have time for over the last couple of days.

“I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.”

— Walt Whitman

I don’t have many enemies, not many I know if any way, but the ones I have I am sure I’ve earned. I try every day to be the best person I can be, some days I can do it, other days I fail. On those days I’m bossy, negative, condescending, and indifferent. I don’t like that version of me very much, and I can’t blame anyone else for not liking her either. I apologize when I can and hope I hurt will give me a second chance, but they owe me nothing. I accept that.

What I want to focus on now is earning my friends. I haven’t been doing that lately. I tell myself I’ve been busy, and that maybe they’ve been busy too. I tell myself I’ll see them later and assure myself they will understand. I take them for granted and keep them perpetually at the bottom of my priority list.

I don’t do this on purpose. I don’t do this because I want to be cruel to my friends. I don’t do it because I don’t care about them. I do it because I am careless, which is, of course, no excuse.

My friends don’t seem mad about it, but they do accuse me of not caring enough. They assume I don’t need them at all. They think I am only friends with them because it is convenient and I am sometimes bored. They don’t know that I miss them when they aren’t around, or that I haven’t quite been myself since all of our schedules have changed. I feel cut off from the world, I feel lonely, and I worry that the thing they accused me of is how they feel about me.

I have gotten a taste of my own medicine and it definitely stings a little bit.

I want to earn my friends again. I want them to know that I do need them and that they do matter very much to me. I want them to know that when we don’t talk it affects me. I want them to know that I will try harder and I hope they want to try harder too.

When you find people who have gotten to know you and still choose to put up with your crap, you should hold on to them. I don’t think many of us do enough to show our friends how much they matter. They may feel like family, but they might not always be there for you the way your family might. You have to earn them day after day, even if you never truly can, you have to try.

This week, tell your friends what they mean to you. Sit down with them over coffee, find out how they are doing, or buy them something nice. Lead by example and maybe everyone will feel a little more connected and appreciated.

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Featured image via Unsplash

Girl Gang Wanted!

I admit, there was once a time when I was one of those girls. You know the type I’m talking about, the special snowflake girls who hate other girlsI have recognized the error of my ways in the past few years though I swear! I thoroughly ashamed of ever having hated or bad mouthed other women. In hindsight I see that I was caught up in a struggle to get out of my feminism and I thought proclaiming my differentness from those other women I would not suffer the fate of being seen as less than in a mans world.

Then I discovered feminism. I now understand that what I was doing was leaving behind other women and helping perpetuate stereotypes. I was doing this to other women who were hurting just as much as me. I was ignorant but I have seen the light and the enemy is not other women, the enemy is the patriarchy.

During that time I also met Mary, the best female friend I have ever had. Mary worked with me and we would spend a good portion of everyday just talking. We talked about everything and nothing. We talked about things we had in common and things we didn’t. We talked about men, and women, and life. We talked about trying to do better and be happier. We talked about how hard life was and slowly we started talking about how hard life was because we were women.

The feminism talks started because we were hanging out so much our cycles started to sync up. We would talk about cramps and bloating and our guy friends would get grossed out. This was highly offensive to us. They talked about their balls all day, why couldn’t we talk about our periods? So we talked about our periods and how it sucked that we weren’t supposed to talk about our periods. Then we talked about the prices of pads and tampons. Then we talked about how bad pads and tampons are for you. We still talked about other things too but the talk about women things was new to me and I enjoyed it very much.

Then Mary had to leave our job due to personal issues. We haven’t talked much since then. Life has just gotten in the way and I’m not used to having friends so making the effort to stay in touch is something I am still learning. I am not good at calling first or inviting someone out for drinks. I’m not good at texting and telling someone how I am doing or keeping a conversation going. Today I made the effort though. Today I text Mary and told her that I miss her face and that I am in need of friendship. She responded by saying she has been feeling the same and misses our talks very much. I am going to bug her about hanging out more. She has kids so it’s not easy for her to get away, but we both need it.

Missing her has also made me realize that female friendship is something I need in my life now. Since Mary left, and the other girl I worked with, Brittney, joined the Air Force, I work with only men and I am kinda miserable. It’s not their fault. They joke with me and pick on me and call me names and I do it back and sometimes it’s fun but sometimes not so much. These are guy things though and I miss the girl talk. They may talk about their feelings and hopes and dreams but they never do with me. With other girls those kinds of talks not only happen but are encouraged. Plus my guy friends just don’t understand some things. They don’t get mad about the crappy selection and price of bras.

I didn’t fully realize that this was what was bothering me about work but today it hit me pretty hard. The feeling of being alone and not having a girl around to understand and cheer me up hit me so hard I almost cried. So while I am making the effort to stay close with Mary, I am also on the look out for more girls to hang out with. I need the understanding and support. I need the encouragement and the openness. I need to feel like I am normal and guy friends just can’t always do that for me. I still like hanging out with guys but there needs to be a balance.

A lot of this post was inspired by The Lazy Feminist. There are two posts there related to girl gangs. One, How and Why a Female Friendship is the Most Important Relationship You’ll Ever Be In, and two, Girl Gangs. These posts really helped me understand what it was I was missing. I encourage you to check them out. And for all you ladies, do you have a girl gang? Got any advice on how I can find one of my own? Let me know in the comments :)