Sunday, February 12, 2017

Action

In high school, juniors and seniors had an opportunity to attend the local community college with all books, tuition, and fees paid for by the state under the Post Secondary Education Option. This program was something that I knew I wanted to be a part of long before I even entered high school. It was a part of my master plan to attend BYU; something I had also determined at an early age was the only option for me.

I knew paying for college, especially one that was out of state, was going to be incredibly difficult. My parents were not wealthy and neither of them had earned a bachelors degree. So this was new territory for my family and one that made all of us nervous. But the promise of having an associates degree by the time I graduated high school seemed like an answer to a prayer that hadn't yet been given, and an opportunity that could not be wasted.

The PSEO program wasn't something that was highly encouraged by high school staff. I remember sitting in the meeting with our guidance counselor explaining how everything worked and feeling as though they were trying to dissuade us from even attempting. I had friends who wouldn't even consider going because the appeal and allure of high school--the 10 Things I Hate About You version, not the real-life experience--was too much to consider giving it up. But that didn't deter me. This was what I wanted and this is what I had to do.

Imagine my disappointment when I was told that I hadn't passed the entrance exam into the program.

It wasn't just disappointment. It was full rage and upset. Upset to my plans. My future. Everything that I was counting on hinged on this test, and I had failed. By one lousy point. I kicked a hole in the wall of our kitchen because I was so angry.

The test was pass or fail, so it didn't matter that it was by one point. A fail was a fail. And I had to face the idea of attending high school for my junior year. Something I did not want to do. Something that I knew would interfere with my plans for going to BYU.

I could not accept this outcome.

I did not accept it.

I found out that the only way for me to be accepted into the PSEO program was to take an 0900 level class during the summer. I had to pay for it out of pocket, and I had to pass it. If I did that, I could attend Edison as though I had passed the test.

So I found a way. I'm sure my parents helped pay for that class. I also assume that many of my Bob Evan's paychecks went toward the $350 or whatever tuition was at the time. I took the class that summer, and I was admitted into the program. And by the time I was ready to apply for BYU, I was on track to have my AA. I was accepted and my plans were back on track.

The experience taught me that I did not have to accept the terms that were being presented to me. That there are multiple ways to solve a problem, if you are just willing to ask and act.

I fought for my degree at BYU. And in the end (after too many years) I graduated.

Again, my plans were on track. But I had accomplished the thing that I had set out to do, and now my goals were a lot less concrete. There isn't a course that you can map out for "get married and have babies." It isn't like college. In order to be accepted into college, you know you need 1) good grades, 2) decent recommendations, 3) a show of responsibility in either clubs, service organizations, or jobs. You know what you have to do to get in. And you know what you have to do to stay in. And if you do A, B, and C, you get the Degree.

But marriage and babies are a different story. The goal line remains elusive while the clock continues to count down. No amount of asking and acting has yielded any results. In the meantime, you fill your life with distractions. Some more meaningful than others. But on days when the distractions fail to work, and you feel as though you are just being handed one consolation prize over the next, it is frustrating. It is unacceptable.

We're told to live "productive, faithful, and grateful lives." But none of those feel like real actions toward accomplishing the things you want the most. They feel so passive, as though you are just sitting, waiting for the thing to happen to you, instead of making it happen for yourself.

I don't know how to not feel that way. I don't know how to make faith an action instead of it feeling like the equivalent of wishing on a star or throwing a penny in a well. All of it seems to give the same results. We are supposed to have faith in the Lord's timing. But that feels like a copout. Or contrary to the belief that "God helps those who help themselves." I believe in making things happen for myself. I also believe that God supports me when I do. We are grateful when we find the person we are supposed to be with, and credit God and His goodness. But we aren't to feel bitter and resentful while we are still waiting, as if He is somehow withholding blessings from us.

But agency plays into all of it too. And when you are involving the agency of another person, how do we know if it is timing, your actions, or the actions of the other person that is keeping it all from happening? I don't know that it is any of the above. Sometimes I think you just need luck and happenstance.

When I was applying to go to college, I didn't apply to a single other college than BYU. It was the only school I had considered. It was the only school I wanted to attend. When I hadn't received my acceptance letter after some weeks, I began to wonder if I should consider another alternative. If I should pick another option. I couldn't imagine what life at another school would look like. It made me sick to think of it and incredibly sad. If I didn't get into BYU, what was I really going to do with my life? Utah was my destiny.

I waited for weeks and began to think that I really needed to have a backup plan. I started my application to OSU. To Liberty University. I tried  to consider BYU-I or SUU. I did my research. I tried not to cry at the thought of having to abandon the thing that I had been working toward since I was in fourth grade.

When I got my acceptance letter, finally, and was able to abandon all  the other applications before paying application fees and writing too many essays I cried with relief.

I'm at the point in my life where I'm starting to wonder if I need to consider alternative plans. And it makes me sick and exhausted and panicked. I keep going back to the end of my high school career and feeling that same worry that things are not actually going to work out. That for all my preparation and hope and work, I was not going to make it.

You don't have much control over whether or not romantic love and pairing off is in your future. You can put yourself in the awkward situations that arise from trying to date; make sure that you remain social and open to new people, and hope that something works out.

It may never happen.

It doesn't matter how much you fill your life with productivity, faith, and gratitude. It still may never happen. And no matter how much I know that, I still find the whole thing intolerable. Unacceptable. But clueless as to how to change the cards. Where is the extra class I need to take? What is the extra steps? It's not so simple, because there are no guarantees.

I want to be fine with that. But accepting it opens up a lot of other things that I have to accept. And I'm not ready to do that. I'm not ready to start filling out the "other applications." But I'm feeling the pressure of the shot clock. And I'm nowhere closer to the basket.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tips for Online Dating/Tindering

If you have been online it is possible that you have stumbled upon a site or two or twelve that show the hazards of online dating. Guys are made out to be complete idiots in varying levels of objectifying man whores, who are often disrespectful and crude.

While I've certainly had a few interesting propositions, for the most part, the guys that I have interacted with have been decent humans with varying degrees of intelligence and intrigue. I have mentioned in a dating profile that I like double entendres. Recently, a guy messaged me and said that I was brave for putting that in my profile, as it was like "opening Pandora's box." Which is true. Certainly anyone could use that as an excuse to start a conversation out with something entirely inappropriate.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I must have mastered the algorithm for avoiding what the internet has dubbed as "f*&k boys" and gotten a much nicer experience (if a little more boring) than other women.

I can only speak from a woman's point of view. So, while I am sure there are plenty of girls out there making total cakes of themselves, I have to stick with what I know.

Here are my tips to avoiding massive douches when online dating/Tindering.

Swipe left on douchey pictures. These include:
    • Shirtless photos (of any kind)
    • Pictures that highlight any specific part of the body--abs, biceps, hips, and penises are out--save that stuff for later conversation.
    • Gym pictures
    • Bathroom pictures
    • Pictures posing next to a (likely drugged) exotic animal
    • Pictures of said dude posing with other females--especially large groups of women
      • Unless they are nieces, daughters, or otherwise identified as a relative
      • Swipe faster to the left if the girls were paid to take the picture with the guy--often indicated by the fact that their boobs are on full display and their smiles look extra forced and fake
    • Pictures where the guys is flipping off the camera. (Why--WHY--do guys post pictures where they are flipping me off?) Also included in this, any photo that has a suggestive or offensive gesture documented.
    • Someone blowing smoke in your face
The way the profile has been filled out is also an indicator. Some guys will tell you flat out what they are looking for. If you aren't looking for the same, then get out of there! Others are more subtle about what they really want. I have found that the moment I let my standards for good grammar and full sentences fall, I wind up regretting it almost instantly.

There are plenty of decent folk out there looking for love, or companionship, or to make a good friend. But there are also a lot of idiots looking to test the boundaries and ignore the good sense we were all given. Don't let those guys (or girls) get away with it! The less matches they find, the more likely they'll start to realize that they need to change their approach.

If someone does cross the line, feel free to unmatch immediately. Or, better still, call them out on it! And then unmatch them. You don't have time for their nonsense.

When I see the articles or examples that float around, I wonder, "Who is out there letting them get away with this?" I hope it isn't any one of my single friends. It certainly isn't me.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Hourglass

The sand in the hourglass isn't moving too quickly, but the levels on the top dips lower as each grain passes through. 

The room where the hourglass sits on the small side table in the corner is ornately furnished. The type of room where one would never lament a few hours spent in its company. 

The sand continues to fall in its inconspicuous and nearly silent way, but one doesn't mind its steady slowness. 

The room has several windows. Providing light and a lovely view. When the window is open, birds can be heard; wind, waves, and the whisper of a bigger, brighter world. 

The door is locked. But the sand in the hourglass isn't moving too quickly. And there are so many things in the room to do.

The library is vast and wonderful. Filled with books on every topic. There's beautiful artwork too. Stirring and emotional. Easy to spend time studying and learning. All for the sake of edification. Turn on the record player, listen to the melodies of whatever you wish.

Drown out the quiet fall of the sand. The sand isn't moving too quickly. But the door is locked. The view out the window unchanged.

You've read the library a hundred times through. You've stared at the paintings again and again. Memorized each record track by track. The room is beautiful. But you can only rearrange the furniture in so many ways. 

The view is lovely. But the sunshine beckons to you. It's no longer enough to hear the wind--you want to feel it. Feel it before the sand drains completely. 

The sand in the hourglass doesn't fall too quickly, but now there is plenty on the bottom piling up. The room is stifling. No longer is it enough to keep the window open. The room feels smaller. Each hour is spent in the same way. 

What's beyond the locked door?

These books are too familiar. There are permanent indentations in the frequently sat upon furniture. The sand in the hourglass isn't falling too quickly, but dammit, it's still falling.

The wind howls and beckons; the sun shines and like a siren it calls. If only you could feel the elements just once on your own skin. 

Every shelf has been dusted and cleaned. It's all been organized and reorganized. There's a well-worn favorite path about the room, but no square inch is unfamiliar. 

What's beyond the locked door?

Perhaps just another room. Perhaps just a little more access? Not a full egress to the outdoors. The unknown is tantalizing. 

The sand moves--not too quickly. But it is draining. Are these the only walls you'll ever see? The only books you'll ever read? It's a glorious room, but is this all there is ever going to be? 

How long can you enjoy the comforts and pleasantries of the only thing you'll ever experience before it becomes a cage? A cell. A sentence. Unbearable.

The sand isn't falling too quickly, but you resent it falling at all. Before you're ready. Before there is a chance at change.

The view remains the same. The walls still your prison. The weather is untouchable. Would that you could escape! The beyond is just out that window and heartbreakingly unreachable.

The door is still locked and the sand is still falling. What joy then from the delights of the room? This room is no more capable of providing happiness. Escape is the only solution.

The door must be unlocked. The key must be found! There has to be an exit. The sand will still fall, but at least behind the scenes.

It's isn't falling too quickly. But you'll be damned if you have to sit and watch it.



Friday, April 08, 2016

Catalog Dating

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single person, who no longer wants to be single, will be asked, "Have you tried online dating/Tinder?" I remember when online dating became a thing. I was still in high school, but it was a scary practice whereupon you had to wade through profile after profile wondering if the person on the other side of the monitor was telling the truth about what they looked like, where they worked, and their criminal background. Everywhere you looked, people were counseling against it. Those that were the pioneers of this new technology were ridiculed or mocked. They came up with creative backstories because meeting online was not something to be proud of. Now, things are different. No one knows how to approach a stranger unless they have already swiped right, exchanged horrible back and forth meaningless text messages, and provided, at least, a headshot as a means of being able to recognize them at a lunch date. It's almost nothing to be propositioned by a complete stranger, just because there really is no risk for the person making the proposition. What's the worst you can do besides saying no? And while I'm sure there are scores of reasons to try online dating and/or Tinder (the first and foremost being that it really is the ONLY way to meet new people), it's created this phenomenon of Catalog Dating. The problem with Catalog Dating is that it doesn't really allow for human flaws and character. It's like flipping through a furniture website or a store catalog looking for a couch or a side table. If you were to see a couch in a catalog that was a little banged up-- maybe the legs were scratched or the upholstery torn, maybe you just didn't think one of the colors would tie into your table lamp--you would continue scrolling. You would never order something from a catalog that wasn't 100% in perfect condition. Why would you? You can't sit on the couch, or really visualize how it will fit into your space, complement your other furnishings. And if you can't do that, then it's best to keep looking until you find the one that you can visualize working out. And sometimes that is great. There are plenty of people that get some really amazing things off of online shopping. But other times, we find out that we didn't measure the size correctly or the color wasn't represented correctly on the screen. Sometimes there is just a problem with shipping. Maybe the construction or material quality is lower than what was represented on the site. The point is, online shopping for men or dates generates these expectations of perfection. And if we don't see perfection, then we move on to the next thing, which means that all of us are missing out on some probably really good options. Remember when dating was more like walking through a consignment shop? You're walking through this placed housed with things that have stories and histories and character. No, not everything is great. But every once and a while, you stumble on a table with so much character that it makes your pulse quicken. You can see easily how it will sit just so across from your fireplace and against your window. Sure, there's a few nicks and chips in the wood. It could probably stand to be repainted, too. The handle might be a little worn, and if you had found this in the catalog, you would have certainly ignored it. Instead, you're giddy and excited. This is just the thing you need to complete your space. So you take it home, give it a little TLC, and its a match in heaven. You don't demand perfection, because you don't expect perfection. You got it from a consignment shop, where you lose all expectations of perfection and are just looking for the thing with the most character and the thing that will fit in your home perfectly. The answer is yes. If a single person, who no longer wants to be single, is asked "Have you tried online dating/Tinder," they are inevitably going to say yes. We've all looked through the catalogs. We've all seen what is being offered. But sometimes it is just a lot more interesting and fun to try a little more organic method.

Friday, December 18, 2015

#HeForShe Recipe

A photo posted by #HeForShe (@heforshe) on
Two of my coworkers were enlightening another of how our fathers empowered us as young girls so that we could grow to be confident, strong women. Growing up, I often heard how proud my dad was of me for being smart, getting good grades, and being a good big sister. He and my mom entrusted me at an early age to help care for my younger siblings and let me make all of my own decisions, supporting me each step of the way. I was blessed to grow up knowing that I was not limited because I was a girl. And that I could do whatever I set my mind to. It has made me the uncompromising, demanding (but only in the best of ways--I think) person I am today. With expectations that might be a little too high.

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