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What makes you happy? Are you getting enough of it? If you’re not, why aren’t you?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the choices we make and the reasons we make them. What I’ve discovered is that a lot—and I do mean a lot—of the decisions we make are because we are trying to make other people happy. It makes sense. We focus on families and loved ones because, in order to be seen as kind and selfless people, we must put their happiness above our own. We justify it by saying things like “if they’re happy, I’m happy” or “their happiness is more important than my own.” But is that always right?
The simple answer is no.
If we always put the needs of others before our own, we lose sight of what we need as individuals and can turn bitter and resentful. There have been a great many times when I have witnessed or experienced the anger that comes when one’s own needs are forsaken for someone else’s. The seed of resentment is a slow-growing emotion that once realized, is far stronger than you thought possible and incredibly hard to get rid of. And let me tell you, it’s not pretty.
When it comes to generating ideas for posts, a lot of times I just pull something out of thin air. Usually it will be related to something that I’ve experienced in my recent days or something I’ve wondered about, but most of the time, ideas just hit me for no clear reason and I run with them.
This particular post was brought to you all by the universe. Yes, that’s right. The universe. You see, for the last week, I have been inundated with the same topic time and time again. Badgered over the head, if you will. In no less than three different ways has this issue been made the focus of my life at separate times. Clearly, I am meant to write about it. However, as I sit here, I feel like I cannot truly do the topic justice because I feel that the message is clear enough and why should I further elaborate on an already defined subject.
But I will because, let’s face it, this is what I do here.
What is this mysterious topic that I write about so enigmatically? Asking for what you want.
Simple enough, right? You see something you desire, you ask for it. A raise, a dance, a shiny new pair of shoes. Children do it all the time. “Mommy, I want ice cream!” “Daddy, I want a teddy bear!” “Auntie, pick me up!” But is it really that simple?
I’m sure many of you out there have heard the term “freak flag” and wondered about what the heck it could possibly mean. Is it an insult? Is it a compliment? It is anything special? Is it worthy of a blog post?
The short answer is yes.
Urban Dictionary defines freak flag—its Urban Word of the Day on March 21, 2008—as “a characteristic, mannerism, or appearance of a person, either subtle or overt, which implies unique, eccentric, creative, adventurous or unconventional thinking.”
Ok, so what does that mean?
In simplest terms, a freak flag is something that sets you apart from everyone else. Now, I’m not saying that it involves a person swinging from a chandelier or down on all fours, barking like a dog in the middle of a staff meeting. In the right context, that might work, but for the most part, those types of behaviors might land you a trip to a padded room with a jacket you can’t get out of. Rather, waving one’s freak flag might be a gesture learned from your father or an accent that you only use with your best friend. What sets these quirky acts apart is that they would not be defined as freaky if performed in private. However, once you let loose in front of other people, consider your freak flag flown.
With so many forks in the road and decisions to make, how does one ever know if they are taking the right path? Making the right choice?
Unfortunately, life is not as simple as the Choose Your Own Adventure book series popular in the 80′s and 90′s. If you reached the end of the story, you could always go back and make a different decision to see where that would lead you. As a kid, I read one of the stories—I’m pretty sure it was #52 Ghost Hunter—and I got to the point where the character fell to his death. I remember being frustrated and confused. How could I have chosen the course that had resulted in such horror? Weren’t all stories supposed to have a happy ending? Since I didn’t like that particular conclusion, I decided to retrace my steps and change the story. Ironically, I didn’t like that ending either and the first one became the one that stuck with me for decades.
How many times have you felt like the life you lead wasn’t the life you wanted? How many times have you let an opportunity pass because you didn’t feel good enough about yourself to take it? How sick and tired are you of making excuses as to why your life isn’t consumed with the sparkle and shine of a thousand disco balls?
I’ve got three words for you: embrace the fabulous. You heard me. Embrace. The. Fabulous.
Confused? Let me explain myself. (more…)
By its very definition, motivation is the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
We all have something that drives us to achieve. For the woman who spends hours at the gym and counts every calorie, it’s fitting into a pair of jeans that was worn in high school and has since resided in the far recesses of a closet. Others slave away at the office in order to buy a dream house or a lavish vacation for their family or even to stay afloat in the current economic state. A father pitches ball after ball to his son in preparation for the one day he hits a home run.
Motivation is wonderful when it comes to giving you just what you need to move forward, to reach a goal, to take a risk. It lifts you up and makes you believe that you will hit your target.
Unfortunately, motivation can sometimes be a neglectful character in our lives.
I started this blog as a New Year’s resolution and vowed to write something at least once a week. When I began, it was incredibly easy. I had a ton of topics I could dive into and I was eager to share my thoughts with whoever would bother to read them. The novelty was like a bright and shiny new present in my life and I couldn’t get enough.
And then I hit a slump.
Yes, dear reader, you may have noticed the infrequency of my postings. I have yet to break my New Year’s resolution, but I have begun to regard this blog as homework, something to be pushed off until the last-minute and then half-assed just to get it done.
It’s like that episode in Sex and the City where Carrie is going through a dating dry spell and resorts to writing about her sock drawer. Yeah, that’s about how I’m feeling these days. My blog has become my sock drawer. My muse has gone and has left no trace of the sparkle she once bestowed upon me.
Should I cease this silly little blog or should I press on hoping that something will propel me into interesting thoughts once again?
I choose to keep going.
I find that I have been drawn to the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress and the plethora of new blogs I have been introduced to. There are so many people out there who question life the way that I do, travel to places I long to see, and cook food that I would love to eat. Plus, it is inspiring to see that others also struggle with writer’s block and the motivation to keep their posts coming.
Therein have I found my new motivation.
It’s not about what is not moving you along, it’s about what is.
The key to motivation is to keep going no matter what. Maybe motivation camped out on the bleachers when you were running laps around the track. Maybe motivation grabbed a tub of Ben & Jerry’s after that last horrible first date. Maybe motivation was out sick the day you couldn’t finish the report at work.
The wonderful thing about motivation when it’s gone: it always comes back. And it usually returns like a power surge. All of a sudden, words flow again. Ideas that once seemed completely lame appear to be relevant.
I found this to be true when I started spinning.
The first several classes were brutal. The exercise was intense and I felt like the bottom of my pelvis would never fully recover from those brutally uncomfortable seats. Months later, I am still spinning two days a week and everything has changed. My endurance has increased, my speed is faster, my legs can push through tougher resistance, and my bottom is no longer bothered by the seat. Plus, I burn at least 600 calories in each hour. Not too shabby.
I guess what is important to remember is this: there are times when you will not find the motivation that you need to reach a particular goal, but pushing through those rough times will bring it back in full force. You can hate the entire workout or day at the office or the time spent struggling to teach someone a new concept. You’ve just got to keep going to reach that goal.
As Nike’s slogan says, “Just do it!”
I have always enjoyed research, even more so of the non-academic type. My friends have marvelled at how easily and quickly I can discover information about any given subject, especially when it comes to people. With little more than a first name and location, I can usually uncover more about a person in a few hours than most people can in a year. The internet makes it incredibly easy to find anything you’re looking for and even what you’re not.
That’s how I found out that Ares was cheating on me.
During one lonely night in college, I was browsing though the photos of a club I knew that he went to. Never having been to a club since I wasn’t 21 at the time, I was curious to see what they were like. To my surprise and complete horror, I found a familiar face with a very unfamiliar face—and body—wrapped all around him. My heart raced, my breath quickened, and my palms began to sweat. I tried to ignore what was right in front of me and I did until a friend finally decided to be honest with me. I eventually confronted him and our relationship was never the same.
Needless to say, my unfortunate stumble has resulted in private investigator-like levels of information gathering. It’s complete second nature to me to scope out any and all information and as the years go by, my skills are only getting better. Or the internet is making things that much easier to find.
Like many others, I have exhibited my fair share of stalker-esque behavior—no, I’m not physically following people and scoping out where they live and hang out because that would be weird, even for me—that usually results in a humorous story. Eventually, that is.
With the advent of internet dating and crazies like the Craigslist Killer, it has made it imperative to know who you are meeting up with and to do so in a well-lit, public place. With a limited amount of superficial data, I have discovered
- last names,
- workplace locations,
- ex-girlfriends/current girlfriends,
- family information, and
- many more trivial details that one usually learns within the first few dates long before I meet them in person.
And then comes the fun of having to pretend you don’t know that your date has two brothers and a sister, went on a great vacation to Costa Rica last summer, just bought a house, lied on their profile, or just broke up with someone. Do not under any circumstances act like you know anything that they haven’t already told you. If you are bad at separating what has been discussed from what you have learned in your research, I suggest you halt Googling until you can differentiate between the two. There is a reason why dating experts will tell you not to research your date beforehand, but I prefer to get as many cards out on the table as I can before I get my heart involved.
One of the keys to being a successful “investigator,” is to not allow your subject to know what you’ve been up to. Unfortunately, that’s getting harder and harder.
There is this one guy on Match that has literally looked at my profile at least once a day for the last month (as a paid subscriber, you can see who’s checking out your profile). He has never once made contact with me and I have stopped myself from sending him a “Why the hell do you keep looking at my profile if you’re not going to email me?” message. I am so curious to know what keeps him coming to my profile and not making strides to meet me, but since I’m not interested in him, it’s really not worth the effort to pursue an answer.
Then there is the friendly creeper. I received a text from Fez yesterday telling me that he saw me in my spinning class on Monday and that I was doing really well. I called him out immediately. If we’re “friends” like he and I try miserably to be, why not come up and say ”hi” or at least message me that night. What is the point of waiting five days to inform me that I was being watched at the gym? The last thing I need is to think that I’m being monitored while I’m working up a sweat. It would have been much better if he hadn’t said anything. Now, I’m going to be self-conscious when I should be focused on the building up the nerve to talk to the cute new guy in the class. And boy is he cute!
Yes, I know I sound like a lunatic, but the point to remember is this: do not tell your subject what you have been up to. It will make you look like a complete freak/weirdo/crazy person/psycho.
Say it with me now, “I will not confess to internet stalking. I will not confess to internet stalking. I will not confess to internet stalking.”
Ok, I know I talk about relationships a lot, but it’s because I am bombarded by them on a daily basis. I am the go-to-gal when it comes to doling out relationship advice with an unbiased and honest opinion. If people with relationships were Charlie Brown, I would be Lucy at her psychiatric help booth. Except I don’t charge 5¢ a session.
I happen to enjoy listening to people’s problems and helping them come up with solutions that will probably never be used because let’s face it, sometimes people just like to complain for complaining’s sake. And that’s alright with me. I am a great listener and because of my previously discussed analytical mind, I am fairly good at identifying a problem within someone else’s relationship.
When it comes to my own, I’m clueless.
Today, Popeye was grumbling about a situation with Olive that occurred last night. As he often does, he was looking for someone to take his side and declare her to be in wrong. One email turned into dozens, multiple people were involved, and many other issues were discussed. In the end, it was decided that the girls (myself and Wilma) are only looking out for our friends’ best interests and that our advice is on target most of the time.
So there you have it: women are more logical than men when it comes to relationships. At least, the two of us are.
In one of the many emails, I was called out for being “realistic” by a guy who is a self-proclaimed ”feeler.” I can accept that. I am a realist when it comes to relationships; my head is much more involved than I allow my heart to be. As much as I love a romantic comedy and happy ending, it doesn’t always work out that way and I will be the first one to tell you that. There is no sense in convincing someone they’re happy when they aren’t. You have to know your audience in order to give the best advice.
For example, Popeye is a very traditional-minded husband who wants his marriage to work. For him, my advice centered on communication, compromise, and counseling in order to find a way to make the marriage successful. Other people are more the love-them-and-leave-them type. I would tell them “there are more fish in the sea.” The same advice does not work for every person and every situation, which is why a non-biased party should be involved to offer solutions. I have nothing to lose if Popeye and Olive divorce. Any breakdown of their relationship would in no way affect me, but I still wish both of them happiness whether that means they stay together or part ways.
One of the reasons I think people repeatedly pull up a chair and vent to me is that I can take in their emotional burden and shed light on larger issues. For the most part, when a person bitches about a particular situation, they are almost always truly upset about something else.
In my relationship with Ares, I would constantly get upset whenever he called me “cute.” I took it as an insult because he said I was cute and not hot and he always defined his ex as hot, a chick I was convinced he was still in love with and was just waiting for another shot with her. I believed that given the chance, I would be dropped like yesterday’s garbage and he would pick up with her again because that was the one he really wanted. Who wants the “cute” chick when you can have the “hot” one? It didn’t help that he had cheated on me early on in our relationship (with a girl I considered “hot”) and I no longer trusted him. So whenever he called me “cute,” I took it as a put-down and that, in his eyes, I wasn’t good enough.
It’s like the old iceberg poster. You know the one, where it shows that the majority of the iceberg is underneath the part you can see. Same goes for relationship issues.
In the end, I may not be able to solve the problem, but I revel in the thought that I might have made some kind of a positive impact on someone’s life.
Now, if only I could write prescriptions.
Sometimes I feel that my life is just not going at the speed I want it to. I’m sure this is a familiar feeling for most people, but I find it entirely irritating, completely frustrating, and utterly annoying. I guess it all comes down to the fact that my life never goes at the speed I want it to.
You see, I am a planner. You may have gathered from my other posts that I am a fan of order and I like to know what’s what. To me, spontaneity is having 24-hours notice. I am known for staying true to my commitments—I recently had to back out of a snowboarding trip with Popeye when I found out I wouldn’t be able to make Hawkeye’s birthday festivities, an event I have never missed in the years of our friendship—no matter how much my inflexibility bothers my friends and family. I’ll stick to it. I am a Taurus born in the Year of the Ox. We’re talking extremely stubborn here.
As you can imagine, my current state of 20-something-ness is driving me crazy: I don’t know what direction my life is going and it scares the hell out of me. There are so many things that I want to do in the coming years and uncertainty does not make for easy planning.
Not that it stops other people.
I recently read an article in Marie Claire that boggled my mind. More and more women are planning their weddings without a proposal or, get this, even a man in their life. I’m sure if I was one of those chicks who dreamed of a big white wedding with every detail the epitome of perfection, I would probably be in this club. On second thought, probably not.
There are things in life that I just don’t feel ready for. At 26, I know that I am not where I would like to be to settle down and start a family. I have yet to see Greece or even owned a pet of my own. I have only been in my own place sans roommates or parents for a few years. Part of my life felt like it was put on hold as I studied in college and grad school leaving me behind in my life where so many of my peers are ahead of me in the family realm.
Of the friends that I casually keep in contact with from high school, I am the only one—the only one!—who is not in a relationship/engaged/married with/without children. Luckily for me, I am less of an abnormal statistic when it comes to my college friends. Only two of my friends from college are married, one is engaged, and none have children. Whew!
I got the fantastic news today that one of my dear friends is expecting a baby. I am completely thrilled for her because I have never known anyone who has longed to be a mother as much as she has and she’s going to be damn good at it. While telling me her glorious news, she said that she and her husband conceived after she stopped worrying about it and just let nature take its course. I only wish I could be comfortable with letting things happen that way.
People always tell me that you fall in love when you’re not expecting it. I have been single for over five years and it can be entirely unsettling to see those around you fall in love at the drop of a hat while you keep going on first date after first date hoping one of these will lead to something meaningful.
In the time that I have not been in a relationship, I have been to engagement parties, weddings, baby showers, and watched relationships buckle under life’s pressures. I’ve acted as therapist, baby-sitter, party planner, and secondary spouse and as happy as I am to celebrate in other people’s milestones, I often wonder: when will it be my turn?
And I can’t help feeling guilty about that.
I know I’m not ready to settle down in the traditional sense, but I would love to find someone who would at least want to with me and who I want to be with as well.
What can I say? It’s hard to be the last single girl.