Blogtember: Dear Facebook Friends

Friday, September 27: An anonymous letter to your Facebook friends. Be as snarky as you'd like (but don't include people's real names). Dear Facebook Friends,

FB Friends

First, know that if you're in my Facebook community, that means we are actually friends and would say hello to one another in real life. That's pretty much my basic criteria after I realized how many "friends" I had acquired via college days of friending anyone and everyone.

I like Facebook, for the most part. I like sharing photo albums. I like being able to get a condensed update on someone's life once in a while. I like reading about successes and happy days and new beginnings and celebrated milestones (so I guess all the rose-colored items shared via social media that contribute to potential narcissism and FOMO). And I like the convenience of getting in touch and participating in mini group chats and conversations. Facebook easily helps me strengthen ties with new friends and stay relatively connected to loved ones who live far away.

But there are a few core things I don't like, things that make me feel a little icky and annoyed, such as:

changing your profile picture every day -- Who has time for this? That's what I want to know. I equate this action to the 18-year-old mindset of omg, new profile pic!!!! every time you use your camera. Take a breather. Nobody needs a new selfie on the regular.

the elusively negative status update -- Any version of "I guess it just wasn't meant to be" or "What a joke" or "Some people aren't worth it" or "The worst day. . ." Just. Stop. Go find a real, physical journal to write in or a real, physical friend to talk to. What amazes me is that there is ALWAYS a response to these vague updates, like, "Are you ok?!?!" And then the person will respond with, "I will be" or "I hope so" or something equally frustrating. People, not only is Facebook an awkward place to talk about personal stuff, this kind of exchange is not even a conversation.

political rants minus any sort of article link -- You want to share thoughts on something you read? Go for it; I don't mind, even if I don't agree. But the "THANKS OBAMA, THIS COUNTRY IS GOING TO SHIT" rhetoric will immediately get you blocked or defriended. Unfortunately, I really do see those sorts of posts from Republican/conservative friends much more than Liberal/democratic friends. If you want to share your educated opinion, proceed by all means, but that requires thoughtfulness and sources.

one million baby/wedding/honeymoon pictures and/or accompanying statuses -- Yes, I see that your baby is cute, and your husband is just the best ever for making you pancakes in bed, and you are finally Mr./Mrs. So-and-So and you went to an island for a week. Awesome! I don't need to read about it every day. Stop telling the Facebook world all those things, and just go enjoy your life . . . like, BE on your honeymoon instead of posting pictures, you know?

With love,

Me

Blogtember

Blogtember: Coffee Dates

Thursday, September 26: Go to a coffee shop. Order a favorite drink. Write about what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Or write about anything you'd like! Bonus points for including a photo from the coffee shop.  I actually DID go for coffee this morning with a new work acquaintance and friend, but it seemed odd to take a photo (and non-photogenic, since it was in a to-go cup) so this is recycled from this past Monday morning.

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My sister travels constantly for work and unfortunately for her/fortunately for me, had a delayed flight Sunday evening. So we had a sleepover, complete with tacos, margaritas and a DIY dessert bar.* And then we headed to my favorite coffee place, Zanzibar's, very early the next morning for one cappuccino and one latte and two egg sandwiches. The place had just opened, so it was warm, dimly lit, empty and quiet, save the sounds of clinking dishes and staff moving around. Though we only had 20 minutes before she had to catch her flight, we delighted over the raspberry jam, sipped our espresso, browsed the newspaper, laughed and enjoyed each other's company. I was so happy to have her there with me, even briefly, and sad to know I wouldn't see her again for a few weeks. Such is the emotional ebb and flow of living far away from loved ones.

Coffee dates are the best. So are sisters.

*What is a DIY dessert bar, you may ask? It's when you go to the grocery store, pick out 3-5 indulgent items, return home, change into pjs, settle into the couch and proceed to tackle all the deliciousness in front of you. Really, more people should do this. We demolished cookies and creme ice cream, chocolate covered raisins and a dark chocolate, caramel and sea salt candy bar. And we weren't a bit sorry about that fact.

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Blogtember: A Mistaken Engagement

Wednesday, September 25: Write about a time you screwed up - a mistake you made. (Deep breath. Gettin' serious over here, folks.)

I dated a man for five years who was pretty much everything I thought I wanted on paper. Smart, hilarious, kind, family-oriented, athletic, thoughtful, adventurous, religious, and most of all, completely crazy about me. My friends and family adored him, and so when he proposed on a beach with a gorgeous ring, I said yes.

And then I spent the next two months feeling like I might throw up every moment.

Everybody in the world and in my life (and on Facebook): OMG YOUR RING IS SO PERFECT AREN'T YOU JUST SO EXCITED WHEN'S THE WEDDING YOU ARE SO LUCKY HE IS JUST THE BEST YOU MUST BE SO HAPPY!!!!!!!!! (cue even more exclamation points)

Me: "Yeah, it's beautiful . . .  sure, of course . . . I mean, well, probably not for a long time, I--I mean, we, aren't in a rush. . . I know, he's really great. . . Okay, so what's new with you?"

You see, I wasn't happy at all. I wanted to be happy; I was trying really hard to be happy; I could list out all kinds of reasons for being happy--but I wasn't actually happy. I had always dreamed of getting and being engaged someday, but all I could think was I should have said no. Shit, I should have said no. 

So, obvious question: why did I say yes? I didn't want to hurt his feelings.  I had no idea he was going to propose (in hindsight, I think he made comments here and there, but it literally wasn't on my emotional radar in a serious way), so when it happened, I felt shocked and confused. I quickly turned away from him, eyes filling up with tears, and ran away a few steps; in the moment, everyone thought I was just overwhelmed with joy. My entire family was there and it was the first day of our vacation. Was I really going to say no and ruin it for everybody? And break his heart? Hell no. It didn't occur to me in the moment that saying yes when I meant no would actually hurt him, and me, much more in the long run.

But I had no idea how to backtrack. Friends threw me an engagement shower that I fake-smiled through. I received wedding magazines and planners and bride-to-be tank tops and sweet cards of congratulations. I went wedding dress shopping (which was so awesome and fun, minus the whole getting married part). I listened to suggestions of venues, flowers, colors. My fiancé boasted about our lengthy love, made me wonderful dinners, and asked me a million questions about our happily-ever-after. Everyone else was so damn thrilled; who I was I to ruin it for them?

And maybe it would be fine. Maybe I was just overanalyzing. Maybe these were just pre-pre-pre-wedding jitters, right? I'd probably come around. The wedding was going to be so fun, and he was so great! God, it makes me wince and laugh to remember that despite my gut feeling of no no no, I naively thought everything might work itself out. I could hardly eat or sleep, and it felt like I was holding my breath underwater nonstop, but at least I wouldn't have to break anybody's heart or be the bad guy.

When I finally told him I didn't want to get married, I felt the most immense relief of my life. (And then I felt terrible for feeling so good, finally). He was a fantastic guy, but not the right guy for me, not for a lifetime, though we had a great deal of fun together and I cared for him very much. I had witnessed the immense joy and satisfaction of other engaged friends, and I knew that was the "should" to aim for. I wasn't ready to get married, even though I wanted to be eventually. I moved out of our apartment, and moved on with my life.

It had been a big mistake to say yes. Not only did I hurt someone I cared about, I wasn't honest with myself. I learned a big lesson that year: it's nice to want to make people happy, but pleasing others can come at your own expense. That experience has served as a yardstick in every relationship I've been in since then, and now I notice when I'm lying to myself a little bit or not staying true to my needs.

Saying no, then, also led me down a different path: exploring and learning from other relationships, spending time alone in Chicago, finishing graduate school on my own, living with my grandparents for a little bit, moving to the middle of Iowa, finding a deeper love, tackling another career path, making friends in a new place, and so on. I know what it feels like to make the mistake of should, and while I'm not perfect, I'm better about it. It was a valuable lesson that came at great cost, but one that has shaped me ever since, and led me to where I am and who I am today. I'm grateful for that.

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