Things you’re not supposed to do in church.

Sunday morning. There’s a 30-60% chance of whose house I will wake up in. Though, every once in a while there is a curve ball morning and I find myself in foreign territory.

This week followed the norm as I woke up on my friends couch and I was confronted with a common dilemma. I want to go to church, but it’s obvious I’m still rocking an outfit from the night before.

Do I not go simply because I’m not fulfilling the “Sunday’s best” outfit expectation? Or, do I go because church is important to me, regardless of my knee-high boots covered in dried dirt, jeans that at one point had as little as one full cup of beer spilled on them, Nebraska jacket, ponytail and whatever makeup is still clinging on. I rarely even leave the house this sloppy.

I went for it. She gave me a ride back downtown and dropped me off at the church, I had two minutes to spare. I sat in the back, I walked quickly to and from communion.

We talked about lasting positive impacts when someone remembers us, and leaving the places we go with a lasting “good thoughts”. This is also why I’m deciding I will go on the road trip in a couple weeks. I hope we can figure out how to get to New York.

The main reason I decided to go to church was because my philosophy on what a church is for. Churches are like hospitals. Being free of sin is being “healthy”, healthy people don’t need to go to a hospital. Sinners go to church to get better. Churches heal.

However, there are other expectations in church, some of which I feel cause people to not go at all. If you want to go, there should be no reason you don’t. It’s people that drive us away. Here are a few examples of expectations:

1. Never show up late. My family struggled with this growing up. Showing up late is like saying, “I don’t care enough about God to leave my house on time.” Obviously false. Sometimes things come up. Some people just have different struggles.

2. Dress your best. I understand that wearing nice clothes implies respect. However, when it comes to religion I believe in “come as you are.” Spirituality isn’t something you do once a week that forces to put on a show and act out of your norm. Churches shouldn’t expect this either.

3. Never bring food. I live on coffee during the week. Nothing would make me happier than sitting in a beautiful building, thinking about theories of how to make myself a better person, and drinking a hot latte. But I won’t.

4. Don’t sit in the front row.I think there is a false precedent that sitting in front must imply you think you are ‘in front’ of everyone else, because no one ever sits up there. Maybe it’s because we don’t like to make eye contact with the pastor. Maybe it’s because we don’t like a hundred people staring at the back of our head for an hour.

5. Put your tithe in an envelope. That way no one can see how much you are giving. I’m not a member. I usually put in whatever small bills I have left in my purse from the night before.

6. Use the buddy system. The first couple years of college, I often wouldn’t go because I would have to go alone. People don’t like doing things without someone, though most outsiders probably don’t even notice. I don’t mind it any more, it’s just exactly who I am: A young, single female making mistakes, learning, and doing what I want to do.

Single female troubles

Thought Catalog is a great blog. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it (along with Hyperbole and a Half). TC posts blogs from a variety of bloggers in their 20 and 30s, mostly the same style as my blog.

Earlier this week, they posted a list of the top 20 reasons why being single is great. I agreed with most of them, and a lot revolved around being able to do whatever you want when you want, no questions, second-guessing, or considering others feelings.

While often it is nice to stop at whatever restaurant or pick whatever music on a whim, I’ve found that I do miss not having to make plans. It can be exhausting having to consider and decide every part of a day. Sometimes the thing that makes me happiest is coming home and having the trash taken out, because it’s just one less thing I have to think about.

A couple weeks ago was the first time I had ever mowed the yard at my house. I couldn’t figure out how to start it. No matter how hard I pulled, where I moved the lever, it wouldn’t go. All I could think about, was imagining my neighbors looking out their windows and taking pity on the poor young girl who couldn’t even turn on a simple engine.

Luckily, the issue was resolved before it was noticed and some ‘hero’ had to step in.

Being a single female homeowner has been a lot tougher than I imagined. With my busy schedule, I have gone months without going to areas in my yard, or places in my basement. My parents had to come help me revitalize by plants because I forgot they were there and didn’t water them. It sounds odd to think I just forget about the things I own, but as long as they’ve stayed out of sight, they’ve been put of mind.

I’m grateful I have a male roommate. I’ve lived by myself for several years, and have learned the ‘tricks’ to protect myself (in addition to taking a self defense class). Keeping men’s shoes by the front door. Never going to where I store checks unless I really know the person in the room. If I’m ever followed, don’t go to your door/car, just keep going. If a cop tried to pull you over between cities, never stop until you make it to the next town. Bras are the best place for important items because I am immediately aware of any hands going near that area. Always have a cab number handy. Never answer the door if I’m alone.

I’m currently in the process of accumulating all my personal information in a safe, in case of emergency. One of my best friends has a survival bag, in case of a disaster. In it she has a copy of her passport, legal docs, food, water, tennis shoes, and other emergency items.

As part of my homeowner experience, I had a repair man in my house to work on one of my bathrooms. I was so grateful Zach happened to leave his stuff out for the man to see. I felt a lot more comfortable knowing he knew a man lived with me.

Growing up, I lived on a circle and my bedroom was on the second floor. I now live on a mildly busy street, in a ranch. My bedroom sits about 200 feet from the sidewalk. I love sleeping with my windows open, but often look twice to make sure no one is standing outside my window. I don’t have a reason for doing this, but it’s just something I have grown accustomed to.

Which sucks. I feel like I can defend myself as well if not more than anyone else. Is it just because I’m female that I have such worries? Has media sensationalized that females are attacked more often?

While in Columbus, I was mildly “harassed” a couple times for being from Nebraska. It wasn’t anything bad, but I really don’t know if me specifically has ever been the target of traveling team obscenities. I can only assume that is because I’m female that it never happened before.

So, all things considered, I’m now debating how this roles into my passion for traveling. I have taken several big trips with only one other females, but what if I want to go alone? And what if it’s not just a trip to another state, but to another part of the country, or even the world?

Can I do it alone? Is it foolish to think something bad won’t happen?

I’m naive about cancer.

Back on a TBT kick!

If you live in Nebraska you either love autumn, or love spring. No one loves winter or summer here. The fall brings excitement: football, sweaters, holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

I enjoyed my first handful of candy corn last week. While extremely addictive, in my mind I can’t help compare candy corn to eating plastic. There is absolutely no health benefit, it is an unpleasant color, and the texture isn’t really like anything else.

I believe that so many of our new and undiagnosable sicknesses come from synthetics that we come in contact with and digest. BPA is an obvious one, but I include things that are created for preservatives, medicines, and cleaners. I have absolutely no explanation or reason why I feel so strongly about this, other than it’s “unnatural”.

So then, it is reasonable to say that every time I eat something like candy corn, I feel .0001% more likely to get cancer.

For a period when I was much younger, I thought for some reason that people shouldn’t be treated if they developed some sort of major sickness. I won’t go into more details, mostly because I don’t remember what I was thinking, but I will say I thought that way because I had never faced anyone with a long-term sickness. In my mind, if people who reproduced were sick, they would produce sick kids… And eventually lead to a deterioration of our society.

Seriously, what kool-aid was I drinking?

Anyway, I feel like right now I still have that lack of awareness and in ability to comprehend the entire picture when it comes to cancer. I don’t know anyone who has had to “fight” it in the way you see on TV, or had a serious conversation with a loved one of a person who had it.

My mom had skin cancer (which is a huge reason why I don’t try to tan more than 5 days per year. I blame it on being largely Irish). But it wasn’t the full-blown, crisis control, shave-my-head cancer.

I feel like I’m missing out on a large part of society because I don’t participate in walks or support causes. I know cancer is a terrible thing to happen, and would never take it or a person fighting it lightly. However, forgive my phrasing of the following, but what makes cancer so “special”?

My dad had heart heart surgery two or three years ago, and had to fight an extremely hard and challenging battle to get his body back to where it was. Is there a group for people who love people who have had heart surgery? Was his battle less important in society? Less scary? Less impacting on his family and work?

Again, I know I probably sound like an ass, but I’m just naive. There are so many illnesses that require fights and support for those recovering. Sickness happens, and so much of it is beyond our control. What am I missing?

Destroy or be destroyed

It’s been an extremely busy week/month/season. As of yesterday, we’ve already surpassed the most e-mails we’ve sent in an entire month, and we still have a week and a half to go in September. I went into my usual Tuesday morning meeting, and confessed to one of my coworkers/friends, “I am so crabby today.” Instead of throwing me a pity party, she immediately started giving me shit about things from the weekend until I was laughing so hard I couldn’t respond. It’s really good to have good friends at work.

Midway through that afternoon, I decided I needed to do something fun midweek as opposed to the housework I’ve been committing myself to. I decided to see The Words. This is only the second movie I’ve restlessly attempted to sit through since movie night back in May. I was warned that it would make me think, though my biggest problem was that I couldn’t get my mind to shut up.

Before going to the movie, I’ve been thinking a lot about who I am now, versus who I had thought I wold be in my mid-twenties. Part of that movie involved this same evaluation, and questioning what you would do get there.

At age 5, I wanted to be a farmer. 10 – an artist. 14 I was exploring modeling potential. 17 – married with kids, being an athletic trainer. 21 – married with kids, and balancing a career as a graphic designer. 24 – just married, no kids, still building my career in advertising. Now at age 25, I haven’t fulfilled a damn thing except land a job.

I also planned on spending extended periods of time outside the country. I wanted to have lived in a tiny apartment in the heart of a big city. There is still time, it just moves so much faster now. Changes now have bigger consequences than they did when I was 10.

So again, who am I? I’m so quick to define myself based on my job, or my friends, or the places I’ve been. I think of the scene in Anger Management – “I don’t want you to tell us what you do, I want you to tell us who you are.”

Parts of the movie tonight centered around why we make the choices we do. (spoiler alert) “love for the words over-powered love for the person who caused them to happen.” What do I love? What drives me? According to my TalentMine evaluation last year, my top driving force professionally is achievement, followed by team, problem solver, then responsibility. I think Gallup hit it closer: empathy, relator, achiever, consistency, ideation.

I like to succeed, and I like to build close relationships.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve noticed being referred to as having a ‘commitment problem’ more frequently. The first time someone jokingly said that, my first response was too brush it off. For every reference to having a commitment problem, I’ve probably proclaimed that I love to love.

Although I’ve been trying to expend ways for myself to, “be better,” so many of my posts still fall back to relationships. Men. I love the quote, “It takes a mighty good man to be better than no man at all.” So how does a person who loves loving, deal with the fact she avoids getting close to anyone?

Then I started realizing my sabotaging the last few men (my apologies if you read this and you are one of these. I’ve kind of been an ass):

  • Ditched him at a bar. From out of town, didn’t leave with his friends so he could stay out with me. Direct quote from me – “You can’t come with us.”
  • Perfecting abrupt exit strategies to leave before they he can ask for my number.
  • Being in communications with men who are ‘unavailable.’ No commitment will ever be requested.
  • The guy I casually dated before kicking him out of my house and have been actively avoiding places where we might run into each other.
  • The guy I had a random two hour conversation with, but then I specifically told him multiple times I wouldn’t respond to texts the next day, just because “I won’t want to.”
  • Kansas city.
  • Avoiding any situation the requires spending more than two hours together.
  • The second date I showed up drunk to.
  • The unfortunate souls who happened to be the first to ask me out, and responded by ignoring any communication for weeks.

Do I have problems, or am I just being extremely picky? Am I giving anyone a real chance for me to get to know them?

How does someone who is driven by loving, but terrified of committing survive? Maybe I keep looking to better myself in other areas but failing is because no one can pick another area that drives you, and expect it to satisfy you in the same way. It’s a temporary fix.

Bad people vs. bad decisions

I had my first Czech Days outing this weekend. Overall, the weekend was a lot of fun. I got to spend time with friends, got some sun, and got to experience somethings outside of my normal routine.

One of my favorite parts of going to these types of outings is the openness and friendliness of people. It reminds me of Husker games days – everyone is happy to see anyone, and the spirit of love for people is evident.

Every once in a while, I run into a person who genuinely connects with my personality. It’s hard to describe, but it as just an instant and honest compassion and trust. Maybe I am just odd and this doesn’t happen to everyone, but it is very comforting to know that there are strangers who can care for other people in an instant. It’s a a driving force, and reminds me that not all people are “clean slates”. God adds tiny bits of himself in people before we meet them, to help us all support each other.

I spent probably two hours talking to an individual. He told me a lot of things he had been struggling with over the last couple years. Ways his family had been torn apart. I honestly do think that I was one of the few people that he had been so open about it with. We ended the conversation by me reassuring him “you are a good person,” he responded, “I really don’t think I am.”

So, what is the difference between a bad person, and a good person that makes bad choices? And why do many people think they are less than they really are? I had a conversation with another person, who I can say is probably the most composed 30-something I know. He made comment about “I have to make something of myself someday.” In an article I read comparing cultural differences, American females are the most timid and hardest to accept compliments.

I will say again, that I honestly believe that the majority of people are good, and when given the opportunity, will do what is best in the situation.

I think the driving force to someone making a bad choice is acting out of self interest. It happens, and we are humans. If bad decision is made while knowing they will hurt someone, that is nearing a bad person.

I can’t say this without considering my life the last year and acknowledging relationships are the exception. In no way should some one not act honestly if it isn’t what they want. Maybe that’s why some people stay away from relationships; they don’t want to hurt someone. Maybe they don’t like thinking there is any except to making decisions that otherwise reflect a bad person.

So, then do most relationships either result in someone feeling like a bad person, or being hurt? Yikes.

Things That Are Lost

In honor of the only CD we had in the car this weekend, which we did NOT listen to! One of my favorite Beatles songs.

I like to think of myself as someone who isn’t bound by worldly possessions. I think most people I associate with do.

We often fail to realize that money is only a big deal when you don’t have it, and I tend not to acknowledge that am pretty well set, even if I do drive Lincoln’s ugliest car. It’s pretty telling when I get emotional thinking about the day I will probably send Arnold to the scrap yard, and watch him be smashed into a little metal box. (This movie still haunts me from my childhood of what happens. I just watched it and it still made me cry – Brave Little Toaster.) It’s a realization that I am still bound to the things I own, and I’m not as much of a free spirit as I’d like to think.

These things we have ownership of are tools that we often use to define ourselves as people. I have a house which makes me feel like a responsible adult, a beater car which reminds me that I’m thrifty, old TVs to identify as someone who likes to stay active, a cat because I am a loving and caring person.

I went camping this weekend in the area that is currently being threatened by wildfires. It was hard for us to stray too far from our campsite, because if we were evacuated and not close to our tent, our possessions would probably be lost in the fire. For me, the cost to replace my things would be minimal, but the act of knowing they would never get them back is somewhat distressful. Those are MY things, and I don’t want to get rid of them until I’m ready.

However, it would have to be a very good argument for someone to convince me that the most valuable things people take ownership of are not our relationships with other people.

I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple months about how losing people affects the way someone identifies them self. People can be removed from lives through intentional means, through accident, or just by efforts running thin.

My first instinct is to say that losing the person in which you are romantically committed has to be the toughest type of loss a person can suffer. This is a person that you have sought out and made the choice to include into your personal life. A person you hope to commit to keeping until you die. You blend so much of yourselves, that you do start to change who you are. Not in a bad way, but you take on new interests, expand your movie tastes, get accustomed to family traditions and interactions that are foreign to you.

Society tells us that this person is your other half, therefor, losing them is like losing a part of yourself. Maybe some of the things you learned stay with you, more often than not, you revert back to enjoying only the things you brought to the table in the first place.

Family loss has to be immediately behind romantic relationships, if not in front. Often we grow distant from family and fail to include them in our day-to-day lives, but know they will be there to catch us when there is no one else, and will be in our lives until we die. Sometimes they are taken away sooner than we had hoped. I have never had to experience this type of devastation, but know from others that it is one of the most difficult and life-altering experiences. A friend of mine’s dad recently died. As I was talking it over with my mom, she gave me feedback from what she experienced when she lost her mom in college: She will be sad. You might be out somewhere and she will just start crying. It will always be in the back of her mind, and probably at the front of her mind for years.

People who lose close family to death tend to not talk about it. Another friend lost their brother. Once their sorority knew, she was defined as the girl whose brother died and was noticeably treated differently. My friend previously mentioned shared a similar experience.

This weekend I had an enlightening conversation with a friend, as we spent 12 hours driving through Nebraska together. Friendships are the most overlooked relationships, given the least amount of work, but often regarded as the most defining of a person. I realized that over the last couple years, I had lost her. It’s hard for me to settle on this, as I identify myself as someone who is loyal to the people I care about.

There is never a point where we are forced to examine our friendships and pick out the things that we don’t like. In romantic relationships, there is the obvious point in time where the couple must choose to commit or move on. For families, most holidays and life milestones bring any outstanding issues to the surface.

Friendships don’t have a “come-to-Jesus” moment. Maybe in those life milestones, friends endure or are lost, but are rarely openly evaluated.

Three years ago, this friend and I went on an overseas trip. We were both looking forward to it being a bonding experience. However, for me, it put an incredible strain on our friendship. The timing between things in her life, and my ability to manage everything going on in my life was disastrous. I think I was aware at that we were losing each other, but convinced myself it was a continuation of my sporadic relationship with friends; I can go months without talking to them, but remain close.

We kept in touch the following years, mostly just enjoying large group outings together and a lunch here and there to catch up on life.

Talking through specifics this weekend helped us vocalize the frustrations of our friendship after that trip, the anxiety of talking bringing up those frustrations, and the reality of the condition of our friendship now. Not only this, but we both were exposed to the shortcomings we have in other relationships, and how they are played out in our friendships.

I know I struggle with communicating and even expressing my feelings of anger and frustration. But I’ve never had to realize the impact it has on other people I’m not close to. My past romantic relationships became accustomed to the minimal signs and body language I would exhibit. For someone who doesn’t have that high level of experience with me, she was completely kept in the dark and had no idea what was happening in my mind.

I failed. I failed to communicate with her during, and up until this point. We have a game plan now, not only to maintain our friendship, but to understand that we can help each other improve ourselves.

That’s what friendships should be – an open and honest relationship that helps you improve yourself as a person.

Things I’m trying to master at 25.

  1. Having Flaws.
    Our society demands very high expectations of people, in response we hide our real selves by directing attention to the things that make us look good. We approach life like our Facebook page, only letting the best photos and comments through so we are viewed in the best possible light. I have two theories about Facebook: 1. It makes us feel really good to look at our page because it is all the best things about us. 2. It makes us feel bad because all we see are the best things about everyone else. With friend lists soaring over 500 people, there is always someone on a better vacation, with more exciting news, better jokes and posting prettier pictures. Facebook is no longer sincere, and I fear our culture is headed that way too. Imperfections = sincerity.
  2. Balancing work with rest.
    I read an article once that dug deep into the mind of young females that work in communications but get burnt out by 30 {read it}. There was a quote that stood out to me – “These women worked like crazy in school, and in college, and then they get into the workforce and they are exhausted.” Sometimes I feel like young people work too much, but it’s also putting in our dues. You have to work hard to stand out above the other hundreds of grads in your field, especially living in a college town. That’s the country we live in – freedom to work as hard as we want. My top strength via the Gallup Strength Finder was Achievement. I like to be able pull off the impossible. I love feeling ownership. True effort and passion means exhaustion. This week is the epitome of work over rest. I need to remember to take a break… in a couple weeks. Maybe.
  3. Accepting help.
    “You want to do this alone, don’t you?’ My dad asked me as he gave me a check in a rather large sum. “We want you to be able to put this behind you so you can move on.” My parents have savings for each of their kids, probably for weddings, but in my case, bailing me out. I didn’t take everything, in fact I asked them to wait to give me the second half of what they offered. All I could feel was shame and failure. Failure to be prepared. Failure for my mistakes. Failure for getting into such big messes. As expected, I cut as many costly corners as I could and ended up not accepting the second half.
  4. Allowing friends to love me.
    I have a lot of insecurities with trusting females, as so many of them have turned on me throughout my life. This being the case, so much of my past has revolved around finding “the one” person to love me, as media has told me to do. Finally, I’ve found several friends that truly care about me. I can trust them with the same quality of honesty, respect, and sincerity as I have with men I have loved. Honestly, maybe even a little more.
  5. Admitting I’m not rich.
    Yes, I have a big-girl job and a house, but own a beater car most 16-year-olds would be embarrassed of. I occasionally buy designer clothes (and by designer I mean they have their own store at the mall), but still wear things I bought in high school. I have credit card bills that are boarder-line out of control, eat Raman noodles, and don’t have cable. But, I it forces me to set goals to get my physical surroundings the way I’d like them to be. I think so many people in my generation are leery of owning things. We like to barrow and give back. We don’t like to take care of our cars, clothes, or apartments (I can probably count on one hand the number of times I actually cleaned a shower in college). Does owning vs. “barrowing” pay off? I’m not sure, but it fulfills my need for accomplishment and ownership.
  6. Learning to say ‘no’.
    Life has so many pleasures, but being an adult means I need to know when to draw the line. No – I can’t go to the bars, I’m broke (see #5). No – I’d love to go, but I haven’t spent more than three waking hours at home and my house is a mess. No – I love Raising Cane’s, but between the latte and Brugger’s Bagels I’ve already eaten too many calories today.
  7. Confessing there some things I will always be bad at.
    Driving, remembershing history, taking shots, public speaking, knowing where I’m going before I leave, returning library books on time. How do I learn to compensate for them?
  8. Being Tall.
    It makes me uncomfortable when short guys give me compliments on my height. Listening is okay. Accepting them is best.