Embracing the Single Life.

*snaps*

I’ve got a confession to make-I’ve never ever ever been comfortable with being single.

I’ve been single for my entire life, but I have always hated it. (Well, hate’s a strong word I guess…regardless). I’ve always wanted to be in a relationship, wanted someone to share this life with. I’ve been so impatient, believing that someone’s going to come around the corner one day and then I’ll be able to say Oh, there you are.  Here’s the thing: I’m afraid of being alone for the rest of my life. Not many people have really shown an interest in being with me, and that has contributed to my fear. I can honestly say it is the thing that worries me the most…because I’ve done the single thing for my entire life and I’ve never been satisfied by it. To face an entire lifetime of it FREAKS ME OUT. I know that there’s more. I know that I have so much love to give. I just don’t know why no one wants it.

This fear started very young. Every single place I’ve ever gone, I think “Oh, maybe I’ll meet someone there.” It doesn’t matter where it was-the mall, the grocery store, even church camp-I found myself fantasizing that I would meet someone and I’d live happily ever after. What a crock. Not the fact that that happens, but the fact that I literally would fantasize about it every. single. time.

Name the dating site, and I’ve tried it. I’ve gotten NOTHING. NADA. Well, I actually shouldn’t say “nothing”. I got one date with someone who I was not very attracted to, but wanted to give a shot because hey, he was willing and he seemed nice. The most recent try has frustrated me to no end. I feel like most of the people I come into contact want one thing and one thing only…and that’s not something that I am going to give them right away. I want romance. I want to be wooed, for God’s sake. Are there no men who want that as well?!

Do I have too high of standards? No, I don’t think so. I think the man that I want and need in my life is out there…just not anywhere around me apparently. I used to be afraid that no one would want me because of the way that I look, and sometimes I still think it turns some guys away, but I think that everyone has their “thing” that they’re not attracted to, and I can’t fault people for that. I can fault them for not being open-minded enough, but anyway.  Am I too independent? I mean, here’s the thing: when I show interest in someone, it’s not because I need them, it’s because I WANT them. I haven’t necessarily said that aloud to anyone, but do I give off the vibe of not needing anyone? Is that turning people away? I’m not sure.

So why does this all matter? I mean, I know that I can be happy being single. I am the happiest I’ve ever been right now. I’ve done so much growing over the past three years. I’m more confident, more sure of myself, and I’ve done things I never thought I could do. I’ve been able to travel a lot, and discovered I love it. Living by myself has been a really great experience, and I’ve learned to depend on me. I freaking packed up and moved my life to Virginia for two years, for goodness sake. I would have never been able to do that had I been in a relationship-or it would have made my relationship ten times harder if I had been. Actually, it was one of the reasons why I decided to go to Virginia: besides family and friends I had nothing holding me back, so why not take the opportunity?

Even though I’m so grateful for everything I have in my life right now, and I know that I am so incredibly lucky to be where I am, something still feels like it’s missing. I don’t feel right, and I don’t feel whole. I’m not satisfied. I don’t want to believe it’s a relationship. I don’t want to think that I need a relationship in my life to feel complete. I know that in order for any relationship to work I need to be complete and whole first. But something feels just off-kilter for me right now. I want to fill the hole…I just don’t know what will fill it.

Therefore, I have decided to stop disliking my single-ness and just embrace it. I don’t think I’ve ever really done that before-as much as I want to believe I have, I know it’s not true. I’ve constantly looked for a relationship, or I’ve thought about being in a relationship, or planned for what I want my future relationship to look like, or thought about why I’m not in a relationship yet. I will say that I have adjusted to being single-moving to a new place with no one else I knew around me forced me to get used to doing things alone. I’m now comfortable shopping, eating in restaurants, and even taking mini-vacations by myself-and I know not many people can say that.  But I don’t think I ever fully enjoyed it-I always wished I didn’t have to be or wondered what other people thought about me while doing those things.  I just need to become more comfortable with my single-ness and truly enjoy it, and not worry about being single. I tell people all the time-“You’re still so young! You’ll find someone!” But I have never told that to myself-partially because I never believed I would. But I know that someone is out there who will be everything that I want…yet perhaps I’m not quite ready for it yet. It could have to do with this discomfort I’m feeling. I may think I’m ready for a relationship, but maybe I still have more work to do. Maybe that’s what Life is trying to tell me. So you know what, Life? I’m going to listen.

I’m making a commitment to not focus on relationships or dating, and just focus on me and myself. I will probably still feel lonely sometimes. I will probably still wish that I had someone next to me. But I’m not going to hone in on those feelings. I’m going to feel them and let them pass-because I have a different focus right now. And who knows-a lot of people say love happens when you’re not looking. Well, I won’t be looking-but it’s not the reason why I’m not looking. I need to figure out what will satisfy me, and become my own person without wondering who I’d be in a relationship. And maybe in embracing my singleness I’ll find I’m truly and finally ready to enter into a relationship-but at the end of all this if I’m not, I also need to know that I’ll be okay.

To Make You Feel My Love: This Generation, Love, and Marriage

Let me just start this blog post by stating two things:

1- I am an eternal optimist. I can’t help it. It seems to be engrained in me…I always look on the bright side.

2-I believe in love. Even though I’ve never been in love myself, I have seen others in love. I have seen it work, I’ve seen the magic. I’ve got a taste of it, and I want it for myself.

So I’ve been pretty disappointed by some of the articles I’ve seen floating around the interwebs lately that state that this generation, my generation, is incapable of being in love and being happily married. These articles claim that this generation is too focused on bettering themselves, and that we prefer instant gratification due to the technological age. These articles claim that the “dating” culture has ruined us, and we’re far too selfish. One article that I read outright says “Most of us are really bad at loving”, as a reason.

I’m sorry, but that’s RIDICULOUS.

I guess I’m lucky in that I get to see love in action every day. It’s not romantic love (most of the time), but it leads me to believe that this generation is as capable as every other generation of loving each other.

I see students hold doors open for one another.

I see people pull together to contribute to their community and to give back to others.

I see Resident Assistants help a staff member in need.

I see community, students hanging out in lounges, laughing and talking with one another.

I’ve seen organizations reach out to a member who is hurting and offer their support.

I see relationships and bonds form every day, without the use of technology (or sometimes using it to add to the relationship).

I think that these things that I am able to witness prove that this generation will be just fine when it comes to love and marrige.

Do we as a generation sometimes get caught up in our technology? Sure, we do. Nothing makes me feel worse than when I see a group of individuals out together…on their phones. And yes, we have become accustomed to instant gratification. And I will be the first to admit that dating with the technology we have today is…interesting. But is this generation incapable of love and marriage? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

We’re not the first generation to be considered “selfish”. We’re not the first generation to be admonished for “dating around.” And we are certainly not the first generation to encounter drugs and alcohol or money problems. I think the issue today is that these problems are magnified for us. Technology makes it capable to see things that happen around the world. These issues that we face are NOT new…they’re just different for us and broadcasted in a different way. There are certain obstacles that we have to face that are different from what generations before us had to deal with…but hasn’t that happened with every other generation?

And PS…who says that we NEED to be in love or married to be fulfilled? The tone of the articles that I’ve read have stated something along the lines of “It’s great that we’re all independent, but it means nothing without someone to love.” I think that is ridiculous as well. I may have never been “in love”, but I have known more love in my life than I deserve. I have family and friends who show me grace and kindness every single day. I have students, staff, coworkers, and colleagues that I know I will never forget and never stop caring about. Even if I never get married or fall in love (even though I want to), I’m more than okay because I have love in my life and a career that is fulfilling and I know that I make a difference.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that those articles don’t give our generation enough credit. Love exists in many forms…it’s just up to us to recognize it and appreciate it for what it is. And if we do fall in love and get married, it’s on us to cultivate that love and care for it. It’s definitely hard, scary, and not easy. But I think we can do it, because I see it happen every day, and I haven’t written off our generation just yet.

Fat is not an insult-it’s who I am. And I am worthy.

Today I came across an article called My Boyfriend Loves Fat Women. It really struck a chord with me. I have felt so many of the feelings that the author has felt. One of the quotes really got to me:

 As a fat woman, I have been taught that there is an order of operations for love: First, you get thin; then, you can date who you want. Until you do the first thing, the second thing is impossible.

Until recently, as in, like, two years ago, I was truly unaware that people could be attracted to fat people. Really. I have heard for my entire life that fat people are not deserving of love, that I would never find love unless I became less fat, and that no one could ever be attracted to a fat person. Therefore, I have walked around for 23 years on this Earth thinking that I needed to be something different because no one would ever want me. Jeez. No wonder I’ve struggled with my self-confidence.

In this article, the author describes a similar situation. She thinks that by winning the affections of someone who is, shall we say, NOT fat, that she has beaten the system. She has overcome. She even states, “In my mind, I had done the impossible.” Suddenly I realized: it’s not just me. Other fat people have felt the exact same way that I have: that we are not capable of finding love because that is the message that we have always been told.

How TERRIBLE. Shame on us. And I say “us” because I do fall into that category myself. I have told myself that. I have had thoughts about fat people myself. I have judged before I have known what was going on. I am a contributor to this problem.

I have begun to surround myself with more body-positive and fat-positive images. I have recently begun following EffYourBeautyStandards on Instagram and have become an admirerer of Tess Munster. Tess runs the site, and, as you may have heard, has become the first plus-sized model to be signed to a major agency. One of the things that Tess has to clarify over and over again is that she is healthy. She works out with a trainer and eats healthily. She just so happens to be plus-sized. And she has SO much confidence. She’s gotten a lot of backlash because people believe that having plus-sized role models “glorify obesity.” Newsflash: FAT PEOPLE CAN BE HEALTHY. Shocking, I know. But one of the lies that society spreads is that fat people are always unhealthy and that it is not good to be fat. In fact, a lot of people believe it is the WORST thing to be fat. Everyone is always afraid of it. I can’t tell you how many times a day I hear “I ate this today. I am gonna be so fat.” or “Ew, gross. I feel so fat today.” or “I’m gonna be fat and eat all of this!”

I always struggle with what to say to these comments. First of all, many people who say this are not fat. Second of all, it’s like people are subtly saying “Fat is bad and I don’t want to be it, but I’ll continue to act this way because I know I’m not actually fat.” How insulting to people who actually are fat. Because let me tell you from experience: I can do all the right things, eat right and exercise and blah blah blah, and at the end of the day I will STILL be fat. It’s just me. Could I work to become more healthy in my daily habits? Absolutely. And I know I do need to work on it. But I know I won’t ever be a “skinny” person. And that doesn’t mean that I won’t be healthy. Nothing is guarunteed when it comes to health. Someone who could be considered healthy just by their appearance can suffer from heart attacks. Like so many other things, you cannot base how someone is just by how they look. And yet, we continue to do that with fat people AND tell them that they’re disgusting, lazy, and worthless. This is not okay.

It’s made me think a lot about my work in student affairs and how I’ve let this affect my life. I’ve spent far too many years thinking I’m not good enough. This has definitely translated into my work. I’m always afraid that people don’t like me, that my words and ideas don’t matter. On my worst days, I think I’m going to be fired over nothing. Part of that is because I really want to do my best, but part of that is also because I’ve always believed my best is not okay. Sometimes I think people don’t think I’m capable, that I can’t handle certain things. I fear that my colleagues think I’m not a good role model for students. I wonder if students whom I discipline or who don’t like me call me “fat” behind my back because to them, it’s an insult with a capital I. And I feel for the students who are overweight, and I wonder what they go through on a day-to-day basis and if it’s anything like what I’ve gone through.

So many of us in this field have made a commitment to being healthy. And that is wonderful. But with that, we also need to make a commitment to destroy the stigmas of health and fitness-one of them being that fat people absolutely cannot be healthy. If people want to lose weight, they should do it because they want to, not because they feel they have to in order to be able to fit in or be considered worth something. And we should also be open to considering the fact that fat people could potentially actually be healthy despite their size. We should make health more personal. It is a person’s own business of whether or not they are healthy-we shouldn’t be telling other people they need to do this or that in order to be healthier. You can say and share what you’re doing, sure. But no one should be shaming anyone into being what they consider to be healthy. And for the LOVE of ALL that is good-please stop using “fat” as an insult, even towards yourself. By doing this, you are telling people who are fat that they are themselves an insult. You therefore cannot fully help your students that are fat, because you believe that they have something wrong with them. They may have NOTHING wrong with them. It’s not for you to judge.

As for me, I will no longer continue to believe that I am not worthy of love, and that no one will ever be attracted to me. I know this is not true. I will continue to work on my confidence. I love my job, and I’m good at it. And I will work towards achieving justice and equality for my students of every shape, size, and color, because we all deserve to believe we have a place in this world.

 

“The Power of Vulnerability”-A guide to “Wholehearted Living”, and Confidence

Almost as soon as I published my last post…I began to struggle with my one word: confidence. Ironically I began to feel less confident. We were going through professional staff training and some of the sessions were really hard for me. I began to question whether I was good enough to be doing my job. I was frustrated and wondered why it was so hard for me to let my guard down. I thought about how I could be more confident. But still the thought of “I’m not good enough” kept running through my mind.

Surprisingly it ended up being a theme within our staff, and so our supervisors decided to show us the video above. Everything began to make sense.

I hate being vulnerable. I feel like because I am a woman, because I am young, and because I have a different body type, I already feel like I’m more suseptible to vulnerability. As mentioned in previous posts, I have never felt very confident. I think because of this, I have a hard time initially making connections with people. It’s funny because I’m an extrovert and I love people, but it is the hardest thing for me to let new people in and for me to trust them. In addition, I cannot stand crying in public. Even though it’s a natural thing, I feel like I’m showing others that I’m weak, that I can’t be strong, and that I am not capable of handling myself.

Brene Brown talks about how people who were living “wholeheartedly” embraced their vulnerability. They saw it as something that is necessary in life, “the way to live is with vulnerability”. And after viewing this, I understand now that vulnerability and confidence are connected.

I can’t have “confidence” as my one word unless I embrace my vulnerability, until I realize that I am worthy, that I am capable, and that I need to show others who I really am. This means showing my feelings. This means telling people about who I really am. This means that I need to let my guard down and let people in.

Now, as a supervisor and working in Residence Life, I’ll need to be a different kind of vulnerable. Some things are not appropriate to share with staff members or with residents. However, if I make a mistake I need to own it. If I’m struggling with something that affects my work life, I need to make others aware. I need to role model how to properly and healthily deal with emotions, and not make myself numb in order to look strong or capable. I need to ask for help and input. But I also need to believe that I was hired for a reason and that I am capable of doing this job and that I am worthy of everything I’m achieving. I need to put myself out there.

So now, the “One Word” movement has another, additional step for me-but that’s okay. I believe everything happens for a reason, and so I needed to see this video in order to fully be able to be and think confidence. And if I can both embrace vulnerability and be confident, I think I will be a better individual, professional, and citizen of the world.

One word: Confidence

I want to feel brave enough to do anything I put my mind to!

Recently I came upon the “One Word” Movement. I was reading through some old documents and saw that the building I’m currently running had decided to do this as a staff. Essentially people who choose to do this will pick one word that they want to live up to for the entire year…kind of like a New Year’s resolution, only more manageable. I found this a profound idea, and from the documents I was reading it seemed like the students and staff really took to it. Not only that, but they said it helped them set goals and they actually saw a real improvement in themselves.
Then, yesterday, I read this article that essentially stated the same thing, with a twist-a man decided to change his password to something he wanted to accomplish-forgiving his ex-wife. He found it very healing, very cathartic, and over time he began to set goals for himself by changing his password. It was a reminder every day to do the things he wanted to do-and he found these one word phrases to be very powerful in his life. To anyone who says words can’t hurt or do nothing, I beg to differ. But anywho…
I’ve decided to join the movement. What better time than my first professional job than to come up with a “New Year’s Resolution” of sorts? And so, for me, my word is going to be one of the things I find to be the hardest: confidence.
It’s hard to say when my struggle with self-acceptance began, but I think it started when I was young. I’d always been chubby, and my family has always been very body-conscious. I’ve struggled with that my whole life. Then to top that off, my brother and I are 14 months apart, with me being the elder. He did well in school while I struggled. He was athletic while I was more creative and musically inclined. Even though it was unintentional (or at least I hope it was), there was definitely some competition and rivalry between us. I think it’s these factors that made me self-conscious. I just wanted to be accepted and loved by everyone…and I still do. It was a hard thing for me to realize that no matter how nice I am, no matter how well I sing, no matter how I look, no matter how much I try to make other people happy, not everyone is going to like me. However, that didn’t stop me from trying. It got to this really unhealthy point where I realized I was only doing things because other people told me to, not because I truly enjoyed them. That’s when I started doing things for me.
It has been a rocky road. I almost didn’t go to grad school. I had trouble finding an assistantship, and then when I did I was lonely. But I grew. I grew so much that I was honored as the Graduate Assistant of the Year. Then the job search struggles happened. I learned to just be myself and that it wasn’t always about me, it was about fit. That was hard, wondering if I fit somewhere that I really liked. But eventually I’ve found my new job, and like my last post mentioned, I’m unbelievably happy. But I still struggle with confidence, and wondering if other people like me.
The thing is, I know that they loved me here and that’s why they hired me. They believed I would fit in with the other people and that I would make a great addition to the team. I am going to try my best and my hardest to make sure that I am a great addition, but I also need to believe that I already am. I have what it takes. I’ve got skills. I’m competent. I can do this. As for other people liking me…well, if they don’t, at least they respect me. Again, not everyone is going to like you. People naturally bond with other people. But I’m here to do a job, and as long as I have my colleague’s trust and respect, that’s all I need.
So my word for this year is “confidence”. Every time I feel unworthy, I’m going to think this word. Every time I question a decision, I’ll remember to trust myself and my abilities. Every time I feel like I’m feeling vulnerable, I’m going to remember to be confident. And in the end, I hope I really will feel confidence in myself without having to try. I want it to come naturally. I believe in the power of one word, and I welcome the changes this word will bring.

The Importance of Being Happy

As previously mentioned in this blog, I had a really hard time adjusting to my last institution. It took me a long time before I felt comfortable there. But, also like I mentioned, I learned a lot. I grew. I now understand what I do and do not want in an institution where I work.

Recently, I was hired at a new institution. I was anticipating a similar transition. However, to my surprise and delight, it has been smoother and better than I could have imagined. I feel at home here. I’m excited to be here. I am looking forward to all of the different possibilities this institution has to offer. And, I have good work life balance for the first time in what feels like a very long time.

I’m so happy.

It could be because I have been so stressed out for so long. Trying to graduate on top of completing my assistantship, my internship, and job searching was absolutely exhausting. To finally be settled into a professional position where just a few months ago I was wondering if I would even have one is a relief. But, truly, it doesn’t matter why I’m happy. It’s just great to know that I am and feel it.

Ever since I’ve arrived here, I have felt confident, self-assured, and feel like I belong. I have noticed that I am more productive, more willing to go out of my way to do different things, more willing to jump into different aspects of the position. I have already begun to see the benefits of doing so, and I feel like it’s because I’m truly and utterly happy.

Imagine what we could all do if we were happy most of the time. It’s unrealistic to think that I’m always going to feel this way-there will be hard times, and I will face challenges. However, I feel like if we capitalize on the times that we are happy, we will be able to navigate the difficult times easily. I don’t need to be happy 24/7 but when I’m in a good mood, watch out world! I feel as though a lot of times in this field, we capitalize on the things we are doing wrong, and the things that are going badly. We are a very reactive field. My top Strength from StrengthsQuest is Positivity which means that even when bad things are going on or something happens, I try to look for the positive angle and see what needs to be improved from there. I think I need to learn how to better use this strength so that I can channel my “happy energy” like I’ve been doing this week!

Learning how to “Be OK”

I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok...

The lyrics of Ingrid Michaelson poured through my ears as I sat in my apartment, alone yet again on another Saturday night. My friends back at home were all going out to the bars and having fun together, and I was stuck 600 miles away at my new position. I was trying to not feel jealous, because I missed them all terribly, and I did not have anyone to go out with myself. I felt alone and ignored. I was miserable…and if I truly admitted it to myself, I was homesick.

When I moved to my graduate institution, I naively thought that I would not have a long or difficult adjustment period. I thought I would settle in and be busy right away. I wouldn’t have time to miss anyone or anything! I’d make friends right away! My staff would instantly love me! The truth of the matter is…none of that was true.

Change is a constant thing, and I had been going through a lot of it lately. I thought that I would be able to navigate ANY change with grace and ease. Would I miss my friends? Sure, but I’d get over it! I don’t talk to my parents every day anyway. What’s the harm in moving a ten-hour drive distance? Well…it was way more difficult than I thought, partially because I thought I was adept at making changes. But here’s the thing that I learned: no matter how many changes you face, each one has their own challenges and outcomes, and they’re all different. Just because I adjusted well to one change does not mean I’m going to adjust well to all of them. And that was a hard thing for me to understand.

As my graduate experience comes to a close, I know now the key to adjusting to change is to anticipate it. Welcome it. Embrace it. “Be ok” with it. I wish now that I had been more proactive in getting to know those around me. I could have reached out more to my fellow colleagues. I could have gone out into the community and found new and different things to do. I could have jumped into new friendships and relationships with both feet. But instead, I wallowed. I grieved. I felt sorry for myself. And yes, to a degree I should have let myself feel those emotions…but also thought about where they were coming from. These emotions blindsided me, because I somehow thought I wouldn’t feel them, and I think they were magnified because of that. I simply didn’t think I would be feeling those emotions and, therefore, let them take over. I foolishly thought the move was not going to affect me…when it turned out to be the hardest thing I have ever done to date.

Now that I am job searching and preparing to move back home, I know now to anticipate different emotions. I’m going to be excited. I’m going to be happy. But I might also be sad. I may miss the people that I’ve made connections with. I may have another transition period. But…that’s okay. It’s completely normal. I need to know that it may happen and I need to let myself acknowledge it and feel it. I can’t just think that I’ll be fine right away. It may take some time…but eventually, I know that I will adjust and “be ok.”