Put down your devices or be ruined by them. This is the message preached by various videos gone viral over the last couple of months. At first I went along with what you might call the “technological backlash,” having spent a lot of time in therapy working toward a healthy balance in regards to using my phone and computer. It wasn’t until I watched a particular TED Talk near the end of the semester that my perspective started to shift. Profound and thought provoking, I had to choke back tears as we discussed it for my career and leadership class. I related to it on such a deep level, and realized that perhaps being so connected isn’t as cut and dry as people think.
There’s no arguing that (rapidly advancing) technology has a dark, even ugly side. I’ve witnessed the internet bring out the worst in some, and I’ve had relationships that were built on a false sense of security because we communicated almost entirely online or via texting. Yet when it comes to addressing this unsettling reality as a whole, attitude really does make a difference.
The problem is way bigger than being glued to Candy Crush or sharing ridiculous cat videos on Facebook. That being said, the solution is much more than demanding less time on social media and pointing out why we’re supposedly better off without it.
Electronic communication and the internet is not the heart of the issue. Rather, fear and loneliness is.
Like Sherri, I’m convinced that we are the way we are because we don’t know how to be comfortable with being alone.
And I say that because for nearly a decade, I was one of those people.
From the time I was twelve, the mere idea of physically being by myself was absolutely terrifying. Part of it may have very well been pre-conditioned; at the age of ten I can recall being told by a school counselor that I needed to be actively playing with other kids instead of just watching or walking around on my own. By the time I reached junior high, I genuinely believed that weekends without a packed social schedule indicated that something was wrong with me. High school and college were a little bit different because it was more about experiences and not wanting to miss out on them. But age and maturity didn’t make me immune to the sting of rejection; the build up to the weekend made me anxious and desperate to plan things in advance to avoid being left out. And when a lot of those weekends were spent watching movies instead of going to parties or night clubs (at least for the first two years as a college student), my overactive imagination went into overdrive.
In that time, online communication and texting was less about hiding and more about just personal preference. I’ve always said that writing is like a second voice because it gives me the ability to articulate thoughts that are difficult to talk about in person. Back then, it was easier to discuss a subject in a text or a Facebook message first because I could choose my words carefully and not run the risk of being misinterpreted. I admit that I initially started blogging because I didn’t know how to contribute my own opinions in a face-to-face discussion. And even though I’m older, there’s still some truth in that for me today, but it really depends on the topic.
But I still found myself over-analyzing, second-guessing, and ultimately working myself up to where I just didn’t know what to do anymore. I tried limiting my time on social media to twice a day, and when that didn’t work, I would try to only check it when I saw notifications on my phone. Yet it wasn’t long before I started to feel the way that some do when they go on certain diets; they mess up or “cheat” and experience instant shame or frustration.
I struggled very much with anxiety for most of my senior year of college, particularly as graduation neared. At one point I even sat down with my therapist and discussed on the possibility of going on medication, as I’ve noticed that my mind tends to shut down and leave me unable to think about anything whenever I become seriously overwhelmed. (I initially thought this was due to texting, but it also happens when I’m in public places that are extremely crowded). The combination of that and having a creative mind that goes in all different directions can be a ridiculous recipe for a breakdown, which did happen once or twice.
“It’s not just about your habits,” she explained. “It’s also about the story you keep telling yourself whenever this kind of thing comes up.”
It was a story in which a lack of response meant that they didn’t want to talk to me or see me. It meant that they didn’t care and I didn’t matter. Is this story true? For some, perhaps so, but a lot of it can be chalked up to simply being lazy or being forgetful. We all do it to some extent.
On the other side, a lot of people experience those feelings and wonder if they could have said or done something different. It’s so hard not to take it personally, and in some respects after a certain point it does become personal. But the bottom line is that you can’t control what other people think or do because of it. What is said or done in love and kindness should not result in guilt or shame.
Yet I wonder if this kind of mindset would exist if generation after generation wasn’t raised to believe in vulnerability as a bad thing. If people were comfortable enough with not only telling, but showing a loved one that they cared, would the person on the other side of the screen be driving themselves crazy?
How would it be if people believed that all emotions are valid, and that they have every right to express them out loud?
How would it be if our culture stopped focusing on the meaning of life based on age or gender, but based on what it means to be human?
In my personal experience, it’s all about awareness. Despite that I use my phone and computer a lot, I do have instinctive limits. I can’t explain what it is exactly, but I get this feeling whenever I sense that I’m using one or both too much. It’s like a combination of anxiety and annoyance, and when that happens, then I know it’s time to take a break. Of course, I still do things to help increase that awareness: I rarely use headphones anymore and choose not to take my phone with me when I go for walks or work out. Paying attention to the triggers helps me moderate how I use it without having to avoid it altogether.
Finding comfort (and even contentment) in actually being alone is something that I’m still working at as well. It took a long time for that little voice in my head to quiet down; the one that constantly asked what are they all doing without me? One of the concepts pointed out in the video is that spending time alone teaches us how to relate better to others, and to better understand ourselves. When I genuinely reflected on it, I realized just how much growth took place when I was completely by myself. Some of those times were incredibly lonely, where I often wept like a baby and had to grit my teeth in order not to slip into a deep depression. But when I re-read various journals and just allowed myself to be still, I was filled with an indescribable amount of peace. Once I found true joy in that, I discovered that my faith grew deeper, I became a better writer, among other things. I actually find myself craving it when I’m around people for long periods of time, although I’m learning how to cope when I can’t.
Once I learned to be comfortable with admitting that I was lonely, it seemed like the stigma fell away. When that happens now, I see it as a natural reaction that is temporary and will eventually pass.
Yet that doesn’t change the fact that cyberspace now resembles that of an addiction, and electronics are the ones that feed it.
But it’s not just what we do that exemplifies this culture. It’s the way we view it.
In other words, we romanticize the past and villify the present. There needs to be a balance that’s healthy but understanding of the world we live in.
I don’t think kids under the age of thirteen should have a smartphone or a tablet, but I’m also not a parent. Technological overload doesn’t mess with the human mind, but a lack of boundaries and moderation does.
The internet can destroy, but it can also unite. I never discovered that so many others had the same questions and doubts (regarding the current state of Christianity) until I got into blogging. There’s no verbal communication, but the stories did and still do speak to me. And I’m grateful.
Texting is terrible for planning and having important conversations, but I love the fact that I started a prayer circle because of it.
Social networking has its hangups; it does cause jealousy and insecurity, but it’s not right to blame those who are simply trying to share their happiness with others. There are certain types of posts that I would rather not see on Facebook or Twitter, but it’s not my place to go running interference. The only thing that gets under my skin is when I find out about the death of a friend or family member through someone else’s Facebook post, rather than get a phone call or even just a text beforehand. While I get that those affected don’t want to openly talk about it, it’s still disrespectful to others that knew the deceased person, even if they didn’t have the closest relationship. Pardon going off topic, but it’s a serious matter and one that I feel very strongly about.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t get the hype over a supposed “golden age” where everybody talked to each other all the time. If I didn’t want to socialize, I read books in the middle of class, and I can imagine those of previous decades hiding behind newspapers or just flat out ignoring those around them. Would they talk more if they didn’t have distractions in front of them? Probably. But sometimes it’s more a matter of someone simply wanting there own space. In circumstances such as public transportation or crowded areas, most likely they’re doing what they feel is necessary to keep themselves safe.
And though traditional means of communication are changing, there are other avenues opening up alongside that, particularly in terms of careers. I love being creative with various platforms, from coming up with catchy slogans that will fit one hundred forty characters or discovering various means to promote an upcoming story collection. Technology is providing certain kinds of jobs that didn’t exist a decade or so ago, and being able to network has mind finding a job so much easier. Also, why bash a tool that has helped me stretched my creativity and help reach more audiences with my writing?
That’s the underlying issue in all of this; people spending all this energy arguing and fighting against things that they don’t use or aspects that they’re not even part of. No one’s saying that you have to be involved with social media or own a smartphone, and not doing so doesn’t make you better than anyone else. Technology would be less overwhelming (and concerning) if there weren’t crusade-like arguments that perpetuate all of it.
I get that some, if not most networks are often a breeding ground for negativity, and it can get really old after a while. But why try to convince somebody who probably isn’t going to listen, and instead just change a few settings so you don’t have to see that stuff? (de-friending or blocking seems a little bit drastic). The fact that anyone spends time and energy trying to dictate what others do online says more about them than it does about those being criticized. It says “I refuse to take responsibility for my own actions,” which is the kind of attitude that contributes to more problems than just what goes on in cyberspace.
If you are seriously concerned with what someone else is doing on the other side of a computer screen, then be an adult and talk to them about it. Otherwise if it’s just something like seeing too many selfies or pointless articles, maybe it would be a good idea to just stop scrolling and get off of the computer for a little bit. Again, no one is forcing you to do anything. Everyone should be able to express themselves freely and not feel like they have to cater to their friend/follower list. I’m very conciancious of what I share and the fact that not all will appreciate it, and that’s OK. I’m doing it because I came across something that made me happy or made me think, and I want to do my best to create a positive environment online. I’m not going to apologize for that.
It’s not bad to occasionally reminisce about “back in the day”; who doesn’t like talking about their extensive CD collection, along with everything that came before that? But fighting against (inevitable) change and always longing for what used to be seems like a battle that will ultimately go nowhere.
Like loneliness, technology is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just part of life. You can either embrace it and roll with it, or waste your days being cynical over something that you can’t control.
Trust me when I say that once you do, it definitely gets easier to deal with.
photo credit: Anne Worner via photopin cc
I wanted to blog about this particular topic on here, but since I’m required to contribute one or more articles per week for my internship, I thought it would be best to post it on there first and then provide a link for others to read. I’ve been thinking a lot about being “good enough” and how validation, particularly from online communities, has become so magnified in our culture. Unfortunately, it’s starting to destroy people who take it too personally, ultimately keeping them from real connection.
You can find the link to the article here, and if you like what you read, feel free to like College Social Magazine on Facebook!
What are you looking forward to in the upcoming year?
If you had asked me this question in years past, I could easily rattle off a list of things that I wanted to happen, but had no way of guaranteeing that they could happen. Yet I’ve learned the hard way that depending on circumstances and leaning on this perfect yet uncontrollable vision only leads to disappointment. Instead, I want to focus on what I can control.
And rather than make a long list of cliche New Years Resolutions that I’m more than likely to give up on at one point or another, I’m going to choose one thing to primarily put my emotional time and energy into. In my first entry for December, I declared that 2013 would be the year of freedom, and discussed the particular freedoms that I would like to embrace. But those freedoms can be summed up in one simple sentence: living with authenticity as well as intimacy.
Despite sounding incredibly similar, I’ve come to the conclusion that these two words are not the same thing. While authenticity involves a person’s self-awareness of who they are, it tends to frequently come off as defensive and lacking the will/motivation to improve or become better at something. It’s individualistic and involves only that one person taking responsibility for how they present themselves.
Intimacy is where two or more people genuinely present themselves to one another exactly as they are and make a point to actively connect and relate to each other. It’s raw and without pretense. It takes time and involves an equal amount of sharing and listening; telling the truth and being able to hear it and recognize it. It’s not a state of codependency, but acknowledging the fact that one can’t survive or succeed on their own.
And I say that because there was an insane imbalance of the two in my life this year. I knew who I was and how I felt, but scared stiff of how some of my friends and family would react if I peeled back those layers. I was not only careful about who I talked to, but how I talked to them; I didn’t want to risk being looked down upon for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or just oversharing in general.
What my insecurities prevented me from discussing in person, I wrote it on my blog and had other people read it. It may have kept me from enduring rejection (at least verbally) but it left me isolated from those that I desperately wanted to know, and for them to know me.
So if there’s one thing that I really want out of the New Year, it’s to have relationships with very little insecurities or inhibitions. To have that closeness and vulnerability that I once did seven years ago. It’s just too exhausting to try so hard to keep my guard up, as opposed to risking a kind of pain that can eventually be healed.
It won’t, nor is it possible for everyone that I interact with, because sometimes personalities just don’t mesh well. On the other side of it, I can also tell when we don’t have a lot in common and when I’m the one holding back. I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve been told that it’s the gift of discernment.
Whether it be feeling confident in our own skin, or being vulnerable with another person, I think it’s something that is hard for everyone in one way or another. It’s hard because we’re given this mixed message that our self-worth should be based on being likable rather than being human. If we don’t meet specific standards, then we’re not good enough.
Although I don’t have an exact blueprint as to how I’m going to work my way out of isolation in terms of certain relationships, a lot of it is a matter of not depending on friends or family to help determine how I see myself. And that no matter what pain I have to go through, I will be OK.
I’ve assumed that the greatest pain is rejection. But it turns out the greatest pain is a life without knowing, and a life without love.
A couple of days ago I came across the Facebook page memorializing Amanda Todd, the Canadian teenager who committed suicide last week from enduring a living hell of online bullying and harassment.I wept for her and her loved ones, the way I have wept for so many other stories like this. It always hits close to home, given my own experiences relating to the subject. But when I began hearing about the malicious messages that were being posted about her through that page, I began to question the concept of its creation, and how this all seems to be going around in one gigantic, vicious circle.
Her death was tragic, and a situation like this should not be taken lightly. Amanda Dodd deserves to be remembered and mourned. At the same time, I too, find myself asking why certain people are glorified or are given attention on this subject, and others are not. A vast number of people kill themselves every single day due to some form of bullying, whether it be online or off. Why aren’t they specifically mentioned, as opposed to be lumped in to a group of statistics?
The other thing that puzzles me is the effectiveness of “liking” something on Facebook, particularly if it is a cause or some kind of outreach. It’s not just bullying; it’s the “like this [photo] so that this poor dog doesn’t get put to sleep” stuff. It’s “Like this picture to show that you care for kids with cancer.” What good does that do, exactly?
I understand the intentions behind things like that, particularly when someone takes their own life due to senseless cruelty. You want to make sure that their death is not in vain. You want to spread awareness and make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again. But just because you post something on the internet doesn’t mean that people become automatically informed, nor does it mean that they will care. In this specific case, it appears that cyber-bullying is more or less being enforced or inflamed; from what I’ve read, more people are posting messages that Amanda “deserved” what she got, given the circumstances preceding what happened, and a whole lot worse. It’s an awful cycle that has been going and going; at this point, Facebook can do very little to contain it.
Meanwhile, adults have gone about the usual tactics of pointing fingers and blaming people or social media. This is something I tend to slap my forehead over; because every time our country is dealt with some kind of tragedy, whether it be a mass murder, bullying/suicide, etc. all we do is cry foul, and nothing else. Sure, Facebook and Twitter, parents, peers, and a whole list of other stuff plays a role in such events. But is it really possible to pinpoint one or two as the sole cause?
It seems like the underbelly of all of this is hatred; pure, unrelenting, blinding, hatred. All other things help a person or group of people feed on that hatred, but that in itself is ultimately where it starts.
But hatred, bullying, and the like are not limited to students. It happens everywhere, with everyone. Politicians can be bullies. Business owners and leaders can be bullies. Parents/husbands/wives can be bullies. Even pastors and church congregations can be bullies. It all starts to when we fail to recognize those around us as human beings. What’s worse is when we ignore their human dignity.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of gray areas in these things, which I’m saving for another time. But instead of focusing energy on removing one thing or adding something else, why not make an effort to actually sit down and talk to each other? And if you don’t agree with or understand something, ask that person why that idea is important to them. There’s a chance that it might be more effective, rather than becoming dependent on technology or the justice system to do all the work.
I’m not against creating a page or a website, for whomever or whatever. But “liking” or “following” something/a person can only do so much. What I mean is, people should be doing more than just getting involved on the internet. Get off your butt and act. Volunteer for an organization relating to that particular cause. Speak out whenever you see someone being treated disrespectfully. Smile and say hello to your school mates, peers, coworkers, etc. In fact, why not invite them out to lunch or coffee and get to know them?
I have to be honest, I can’t say that there is a concrete solution to stopping or preventing any wrongdoing against humanity. But we’ll never know unless we turn off our computer screens and make an effort to try.
I’m currently at a loss of knowing what to write this week. Don’t get me wrong, my creative wheels are always cranking at full force; I have a boatload of ideas and topics in mind, and am always coming up with more. It’s just that there are times where I don’t feel like I have the emotional energy to publish those ideas right away; almost as if I have to work through my own thoughts and opinions before I can genuinely discuss it. And sharing fairly deep posts week after week seems mildly overwhelming, which I’m sure every serious blogger deals with or calls into question. Or I’m probably just not ready to talk about it, especially if it has to do with something personal.
A friend recently relayed to me the GPS analogy; that you’re never given directions way ahead of time, you’re only told where to go and when about a mile before you get there.
Perhaps that’s why life has seemed to slow down, almost to the point of stopping. It’s not because I’m not going anywhere, but because I haven’t gotten close enough yet.
Until then, I’m choosing to be patient instead of testy. To pray instead of trying to figure it all out myself. And ultimately, to do my best to make the most of where I’m at, instead of desperately wishing and waiting for when I can be someplace else.
The bridges and gaps of social groups have appeared to create this great divide; it seems simple enough to say that if a kid (or group) took the time to get to know and understand another, then perhaps this wouldn’t be as big of a problem. However, one has to be willing to do so, and sometimes the need a little bit of help when it comes to talking openly about themselves or a set of circumstances. Not all lesson plans need to strictly adhere to a textbook.
Find a support group to get involved in, whether it is a church group or a student organization at your school. Ultimately, surround yourself with people who lift you up, not bring you down.
Most importantly, you need to learn how to forgive and let go. That’s not to say that you should completely forget about what happened or try to block it out. For years, I had this notion that if I didn’t talk about it, maybe it would all go away. Yet, I’ve realized that it’s perfectly all right to discuss it, because it is a part of your history. At the same time, you cannot allow it to become your life or define who you are. That was something in particular that I struggled with for several years afterward.
Day 4-One Belief
It may a bit uncommon, unconventional and not quite the smartest belief to hold dear. To some, I might as well be jumping off a cliff and not bring a parachute with me to ensure a safe landing. On a more literal level, I might very well be opening a door to allow my heart to be battered, bruised and eventually smashed to pieces.
Regardless of what anyone says, I wholly believe in taking the time to invest in people; to talk to them and get to know them, no matter what kind of relationship it is or what the future may bring.
From what I read on Facebook, Twitter, etc. it seems like the main idea in terms of how we relate to others is this: That it’s better to be lonely than to be hurt, and in order not to get hurt, we must keep them at arms length. And if we do end up becoming close to someone, the only way it can be deemed successful is if that particular is free from any sort of pain, betrayal, etc. If not, it becomes an unspoken regret, as well as a waste of time.
To put it plainly, the only way to not regret forming a particular relationship is if it works out exactly the way we want it to.
But I don’t think that’s true; at least, I don’t think that should be true. I have had some relationships (or if you really want to get technical, I’ll just call them friendships) that have started quickly and ended quickly. Some that have lasted for a long time and are still going strong. Some where we’re really close, but just aren’t talking right now because life has kept us both extremely busy. But no matter the situation, I do not regret the time that I’ve spent with them. Ultimately, I do not regret having the be a part of my life.
There have definitely been a lot of people that have let me down; friends, family…oh heck, there have been times where I feel as if God has let me down. But that does not mean that I don’t care about them or that I’m not willing to forgive them; there are people, especially friends, who will always have a special place in my heart. We may have endured a tough road together, but I still have wonderful memories as well as wonderful things that I’ve learned from them.
My Mother sent me an e-mail a couple of weeks ago that was titled “To the under-forty crowd” about how lucky my generation has been in regards to technology and how easy it has made our lives. There’s a lot of truth to it; for instance, we can pretty much communicate with anyone we want at any time. We can control what we watch and what we listen to, and for how long and for how much. We can basically have everything we want packed into one little microchip.
I remember the various stages of technology; when I was about eight, my Dad set up my first e-mail account, we still had dial-up, I owned both a regular CD player as well as the portable version. To answer the phone, we had to say “Hello, (last name) residence!” because you couldn’t see who was calling.
When I was eleven I got The Sims Deluxe Edition for my birthday, which I was once spent about seven hours per day playing. Virtually being able to control other people’s lives was the easiest cure for boredom, but would become the cause for boredom when it began having problems and eventually crashed the computer (Mom, suffice to say, was not very happy about that). She threatened to crack the discs in half many times over.
At thirteen I had my first cell phone, alas it was a trac-phone that you continually added minutes too. I had AIM installed, making in easier to communicate with friends. “Buddy Profiles”, as well as having Xanga blogs were pretty popular at the time.
At fourteen I had a flip-phone as well as the fastest computer in the house. And I made a myspace profile and kept in touch with people on there; this is turn started the “New Pictures! Please comment” craze among many girls my age at that time. I realize that I myself did this at that particular time, but talk about low self-esteem! Does one seriously need people to tell them how hot their pictures are in order to feel good? I strongly believe that quite a few of them did. And to look “hot” so to speak, there was no smiling, and a couple hours of photoshopping.
I was given an MP3 player at the end of eighth grade, which eventually led to receiving my brother’s old first generation ipod, I got a Nano at some point during freshman year, and after the sound became messed up I returned it (thank goodness for year-long warranty!) I currently own the second generation Nano.
Of all things, I was introduced to Facebook during the summer of my freshman year. Currently, I have skype, and I caved and made myself a twitter account. I’m debating as to whether or not I want to get an Ipod Touch for school, but am going to wait until I come home for the first time to see if I really need it. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the blu-ray player in the living room.
Now granted, having these kinds of things makes life ten times more easier, especially in terms of writing and communicating. But this technological frontier also has a dark side; it tends to suck you into a lifestyle that isn’t always very healthy.
Let’s take Facebook, for example. When I first started using it, I enjoyed being able to keep up with what was going on in my friend’s lives, especially the ones that I didn’t go to school with. I loved it when people posted on my wall, if only just for the sake of saying hello.
And really, who doesn’t love it when people take the time to talk to them? From my freshman through junior year of high school, I was logging on to this cyber network almost ten times per day. If my current crush at the time sent me a message or post on my wall, it pretty much made my day. But if they didn’t, or if any of my friends didn’t talk to me for a long time, the doubts would set in. Does this person truly like me? Did I do something to make them mad? What’s going on? When Facebook started up with the whole chat thing, I would either walk away feeling like I was on cloud nine, or completely pissed off. This was the case when it came to boys, in particular.
Oh and let’s not forget texting. During my junior year, I often lost sleep because I stayed up until midnight or later texting people. There was something about being able to have a deep and intelligent conversation with someone underneath the covers with only the light of a phone screen (as risque as that sounds, there’s some truth to it). Most nights I fell asleep a happy girl, but there were nights where I also cried to exhaustion as well.
And that’s why I call it technologism; because for millions of people, it’s addicting. Whether it be with the internet or some type of gadget, they just have to have it.
Since then I’ve begun to limit myself as to how often I use the internet, at times for how often I even go on the computer. For anything you do in life, balance is the key. It’s all right to social network and what not with others, just make sure you’re not constantly connected to it. That’s why I only go on Facebook, blogger, etc. twice a day and stay away from it while I’m on vacation.
I actually do have a challenge for anyone who reads this: One will claim that they can’t survive without television, the computer, and about a half a dozen other things. But previous generations lived without it for at least fifty years, so I do believe that it’s possible that my generation can as well.
- Instead of sitting in front of the TV and vegging, watching only one hour per day. The rest of the time, go outside, getting a couple of people together (or maybe even a whole group) and play some type of game. If you’re able to, go swimming! Go for a walk. Read a book.
- Heck, if you even want to go a bit further, try only watching the local cable channels; Don’t use a DVR or Tivo to record anything. If you miss it, well then you miss it. You’re life is not going to end just because you didn’t get to watch Pretty Little Liars.
- Forgo texting and the internet (for at least one day) to communicate. Keep the cell phone in your room unless you need it. Make an actual phone call. Or why not just walk over and talk to them if you’re able to?
- Start keeping an actual journal if you don’t have one. If you’re a blogger like myself, take a couple of days to write down your own personal thoughts. I have a journal of my own, but haven’t kept up with it very much. Write down personal thoughts and feelings that you wouldn’t dare share with anyone else.
- Maybe you could even take a break from those earbuds for a bit and crank up the radio. Granted you’re not in control of what song comes on, but that’s half the fun! You might even find yourself introduced to a new artist or genre because of it.
Whenever I’ve thought about relationships in my life, it was always a never-ending reel about how other people could love me; I would know my Mother loved me if she just listened to my point of view and tried to understand where I was coming from, rather then make assumptions and try to give me advice all the time. I would know my friends loved me if they came to me and were honest about what I did to hurt them, rather than be given the silent treatment and let things sit there until they boiled over. I would know that a boy loved me if he took the time to get to know me rather than just put me in a category right away.
There are a lot of times where I hear people complaining about how their friends mooch off of them and they don’t get anything in return, or the kinds of things they want their present or future significant others to do for them. It got me thinking about various kinds of relationships that people have in their lives; that regardless if it’s platonic or romantic, relationships have to involve some kind of giving as well as taking.
I also began to look at the people in my own life, and unfortunately began to feel as though a lot of my own relationships are one-sided. That it’s easy to recall the millions of times that people have been there to take care of me; they’ve allowed me to gush (and occasionally brag) about the good times, rant and rave about the bad, and have given me advice whenever I needed it. It left me with the realization that so many people have done so much for me, but I personally felt like I haven’t done very much for them. Granted, this is a very selfish example, but its like I always confide in certain people for advice, but then I get shut out whenever they’re dealing with their own issues.
In turn I questioned myself: Am I judgemental toward others without realizing it? Is it due to the fact that I’m an emotional person (and I have a bad habit of worrying too much)? Do they not trust me? Or maybe it’s just hard for them to trust anyone, regardless.
Yet in the midst of that kind of insecurity, there is an even bigger (and perhaps more uncomfortable) question to be answered: Does a person want to help others because they truly care for them? Or is it just so for the sake of making yourself feel good? For example, if you see someone trip and fall, are you going to help them up because you really want to, or is it just so you don’t go about the rest of your day feeling guilty about not helping them up.
Suffice to say, that “Wonder Woman” mindset that I frequently speak of tends to kick in to more than one gear; whenever I see people that I love suffering or going through a difficult time in their lives, I want to be able to do whatever I can to help.
However, I often forget the reasons as to why I personally don’t always talk to even my friends and family members about what goes on in my life; sometimes people are scared to talk about it. It could be that they want to figure it out for themselves before going to anyone else. Or maybe they’re just waiting for someone to come to them.
I worry about the fact that I’m not going to be around very much for my sister, who’s going into middle school, or my cousins that are both going into high school. I worry about not being able to be there to give advice, or offer words of support, encouragement, and/or comfort.
The harsh reality of it is that sometimes no matter what you do, people will still make there own choices. One can raise a child in a church, a good family, or both and often times they’ll still make mistakes or do things that they shouldn’t.
Even more, one cannot protect people they love from any kind of pain or hardship. They have to be able to face their own demons and fight their own battles, one way or the other.
Ironic how my name means “Protector of mankind”
When I’ve come to care about someone romantically, the hardest part is not being able to fully express how much I care about them; in regards to a relationship, I don’t think about what I’d like a guy to do for me. I think about how I would like to have the ability and the opportunity to love someone with my whole heart and soul and to take care of them. When it comes to being single, it’s not about the lack of what can be given to me. It’s what I can give to someone else.
Come to think of it, that’s the reason why I hug people so tightly; when I practically squeeze the life out of a friend or family member, it’s personal way of saying “I love you, I care about you, and I’m always here for you.” And if they don’t know that by my verbal words, I hope they will know by my actions.
I guess I just miss being able to connect with people as a whole; I can’t remember the last time I actually sat down and had a genuine heart to heart with anyone. It seems like whenever I talk to someone, it’s the standard “hello, how are you? I’m fine” type of conversation. There is a huge part of me that constantly wants to ask “no, how are you really doing?” In a way, I’d like to be able forgo superficiality for a little bit.
And I’m not saying that those kinds of things have to happen all the time. No one really wants to sit down day after day and talk about what’s going on in there lives; but I’m leaving for college in a few weeks, and I’d like to have the opportunity to let people to know that I care for them and that I’d like to stay in touch with them.
I remember when I wrote a college essay about a close friend of mine that has made a world of difference in my life. After he read it, he commented that he hadn’t realized just how much he had done for me.
With that, I’ve come to this: The greatest things we do in life, whether it be for others or for ourselves, will be often the things that tend to go unrecognized.