Me Too

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I have been overwhelmed and saddened by the amount of “me too” posts that I have seen in my social media feed over the past couple of days.

Not that I didn’t know that girls all over the place experienced the catcalls, unwanted brushes of the hand (or other parts), and suggestive looks and comments, but because these things are so commonplace that I have simply looked at them as a integral part of life.

I almost didn’t post a ‘me too’ status because I thought “I haven’t actually been brutally raped…I’ve never experienced violent sexual harassment…I’ve never felt like I was in imminent danger of sexual violation.”

But then I stopped myself.  I have experienced whistles and comments from men on the streets on a regular basis.  I have been asked multiple times by random men at bars if they could “just” see or squeeze my ass.  I have ignored whistles and “damnnnnn” comments from STUDENTS at my school because I wasn’t sure how to handle such disrespectful behavior and I thought if I ignored it it would just go away.  I felt a man rub his genitals on me in a crowded subway and try to take a picture of my face.

I have experienced all of these things and more, yet I still hesitated when posting a status to join the ranks of women who have been sexually harassed because I wasn’t sure if I had been hassled “enough” to stand with them.

How absolutely sad is that?

Women have become so used to feeling judged by their bodies that a certain level of discomfort has become normal.

That needs to stop.

Right the fuck now.

Women are not commodities.  Women are not eye candy.  Women are not tits and ass and a pretty face.

So why we are branded as such?

Simply put, humans are a creature of habit and learn almost everything by example.  If I were a man and grew up seeing the men around me talk about women in a disrespectful manner, calling out dirty remarks for a laugh, and generally basing their value of a woman off of how good she looks in a pair of skinny jeans, I would quite honestly do the same.  It would be normal.  And heartrendingly, that’s how most of the men in America are raised.

However, this is not the norm across the entire range of male humanity.  I have never once seen my dad make a disrespectful comment about a woman.  I can’t even remember him commenting on a woman’s body in a complimentary and non-sexual way.  It simply was never a part of the rhetoric that he used.

Not surprisingly, my brother is the exact. same. way.

Never once have I heard my brother comment about any girls in a sexual way.  There have been zero instances where I saw him oogle a woman.  No dirty jokes.  No inappropriate comments.  Not even with his wife, where it would be more acceptable.  It has been nothing but consideration and respect.

How much more amazing would every female’s experience be if every male had an example like my dad or brother to emulate?  I can’t even imagine how it would feel to step out into the world and not wonder who is checking out my ass or tossing a glance at my silhouette.

BUT WAIT, you say.  Sexuality is part of human nature!  Surely you cannot be suggesting that we move to a mindset where sex is not somewhere in the forefront?  That’s impossible.

I agree.  Sex IS part of our nature.  Sex, in fact, is freaking awesome.  And it’s doubly awesome when you feel sexy and confident and you know you look good and the person you are having sex with makes sure you know how attractive you are to them.

But a large part of that feeling is immediately doused in ice-cold water when you feel disrespected.  I have gone from feeling awesome and self-assured to feeling insecure and small in a matter of seconds all because of a moment of unwanted attention that crossed the line.

And no, this doesn’t only happen when I’m wearing a sexy dress or short shorts.  I have dealt with this feeling in every different type of clothing imaginable.

The bottom line is, I want to take my body back.  I want to be able to feel comfortable in anything.  I want to be able to wear something that makes me feel like a million dollars without worrying that someone is going to assume that I want to hear their two cents.

Comments on my body make me feel amazing when they come from people that I give a shit about.  Nothing makes me smile wider than a well-placed “damnnn” from the person that I’m dating.  But when it comes to words pouring from the mouths of strangers, it gets old really fucking fast.

So men, please, please listen:

Woman love to feel sexy.  We love to feel special.  We love to feel like we are on top of the world.  But that outcome is not achieved by catcalls, “flattering” compliments, or forcing yourself upon us.  That result is not realized by staring at us from the corner and raking your eyes constantly across our frames so hard we can feel it even when we uneasily turn away.  That effect is not attained by focusing solely on our physical attributes that you find pleasing.

We want to be seen.  Really, truly seen.  Move past the old rhetoric that has been passed down from generation to generation and be the man that takes a step forward to take a hand, not grope a curve.

You will still have your animal needs sated, don’t worry about that.  But maybe, just maybe, you will realized that treating women as civilized creatures rather than prey to be hunted will yield a far richer feast than the outdated methods of pursuit with bow and poisoned arrow.

Be the change.

Please.

What you Need > What you Want

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Lately I’ve been feeling out of sorts and kind of lost in my life.  Rather than moving through my life with purpose, I have felt pulled around by whatever whim takes me at each moment, and it has started to become a real mental sticking point for me, with many minutes spent spiraling into different avenues of negative thoughts.

I thought it was simply the fact that I am still single at 28 years old, and therefore have wasted many a long hour wishing that a decent man would magically appear from the crowds of douchebags, fuckboys, and idiots that seem to make up the male population here in California.  Then, I imagined, I could finally feel fulfilled.

Yet last night, I indulged in the ultimate single girl pleasures: I sat around in pajamas with my girlfriends, drank wine, watched movies, and played amazingly hilarious rounds of Cranium and Trivia.  It was the best night of my life in recent memory.

You see, what I thought I wanted was what I saw other people in my life doing, and therefore I allowed my soul to become bereft and focused on all that I have lacking in my life.  In reality, what I need was just a simple human bond created from laughter and shenanigans, and right now that need is being filled by my amazing girlfriends.

If you focus on how your needs are being filled rather than how your wants are left lacking, you can find a whole other level of peace and contentment that will permeate your life and eventually lead to your wants becoming subtly sated.  So many times we fixate on how our wants are being supposedly ignored, and we can allow ourselves to totally torpedo how our needs are being amazingly fulfilled.

This can also go the other way.  There are times when we find our wants being granted with fervor.  You want a boyfriend?  Boom, exciting new man pops up.  You want a flashy looking job?  Boom, high-end salesman.  You want a active social life?  Boom, instant party every weekend.

Yet when all the dust from our want tornado settles, we find ourselves starving from lack of need fulfillment.  Perhaps that boyfriend doesn’t truly provide the love, support, and laughter we had imagined.  Maybe that flashy job is actually pretty thankless, and leads to long hours and stress-induced ulcers.  And that active social life could literally be the only thing that’s preventing you from finding out what you really enjoy doing in life as well as keeping you from getting to know yourself on a deeper level during times of solitude.

This concept can be seen even in the most basic necessities of life.  We can stuff our face with all our dietary wants yet leave our body nutritionally starving and yearning for more.  Our life needs to be balanced between the things that we want and the things that we need, yet so often we don’t see that if we satisfy our needs, those needs become our wants.

It is such a common concept, but our mind really does magnify what we focus on, and our momentum can carry us further than we ever thought possible in both a positive way and a negative way.  Like begats like, and if we are focusing on how our life is a pile of poo, the poo will expand and block the view of any other color but brown.  It’s something that we inherently know, but it is so easy to forget.

So instead of bemoaning how your wants are not being met, think about how your needs are being satisfied (or not).  Bring it back to the basics.  What foods do I eat that are good for me, leave me feeling awesome, and I actually enjoy?  Do I really actually enjoy the sick, over-sugared feeling after stuffing my face with a donut or do I love the crunch of roasted brussel sprouts AND feel amazing afterwords?  Do I leave moments with my friends feeling fulfilled and happy or am I fixated on the romantic relationship that I don’t have the entire time?  Do I leave my job every day feeling satisfied or do I race out of there like a bat out of hell every single day?

Really, it all boils down to authenticity and actually, legitimately, 100% knowing ourselves.  If we take the time to sit quietly in true solitude for a while and really ponder what we like, when we feel good, and where we want to go, we would have a greater understanding of when something is a true need versus when something is a simple want.

We spend so much of our time focused outward that our external wants become the focus.  Bring it back.  Look inside.  Get in tune with the fluctuations of yourself and what really, truly, brings you joy.  Those springs of true happiness are what need to be nurtured, not chasing after the gushing waterfalls of other people’s lives that seem so much more enchanting than your tiny trickle.

Because here’s the thing…if that tiny spring is nurtured, eventually it picks up steam and those looking from the outside will only see the roaring waters of self-satisfaction.  Everyone has the capabilities of creating their own wondrous, rainbow-inducing, awe-inspiring waterfall.  And it starts with those legitimate needs becoming our focus and main source of fulfillment.

So take a step back from the whirlwind of thoughts and outside influences and take some time to get to know your truth.  Focus on meeting your needs, and in true domino effect, those stalwart needs will quench your wavering wants; eventually, you’ll wonder why you even yearned for some things in the first place when all along they were right in front of you.

Friendship: Life’s Greatest Gift

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The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.

-Hubert H. Humphrey

Yesterday was a terrible day at work.  Not only have I found myself panicking slightly over keeping up with three different grade levels, but I was publicly (via e-mail) chastised for reaching out to the staff (via e-mail) at my new school in order to introduce myself and hopefully establish some tentative connections.

If there is one thing that I cannot stand, it is illogical actions and reactions.  If I see the logic in something, even if I don’t like it, I have no problem acquiescing to that request.  However, to have my friendly gesture immediately squashed and frowned upon seemed to be the epitome of injustice, and I found myself in tears, huddled over my desk like a 12 year old who just got rejected by her first crush. (Note: Yes, I am aware I cry very easily-thanks Mom-something that I hate about myself but have come to accept).

Of course, being that I am at a new school with little to no shoulders to (literally) cry on, I contented myself with texting the whole saga to my friends from my other school, and was gratified by their responses brimming with outrage, support, and love.

There was no judgement for my hasty tears (even though there was plenty from myself).  There was no “Well maybe you should have thought about it first”.  There was no trite responses and quick changes of subject.  There was simply friendship.  And what put the cherry on top of the cake was the fact that one of my friends stopped by my school during Back to School Night that night simply to give me a hug and chit chat for a few minutes before jetting off to her date that night.

Reflecting on the whole shebang, I am still irked at what transpired (although I actually received more introductions and support because of that negative response than I believe I would have if none had been sent, so there was a silver lining).  However, I am so incredibly grateful to have made such amazing friends in my time here in California, and it made me appreciate anew how incredibly important real, true, deep friendship is.

We all have those friends that we see from time to time, and every encounter is filled with laughter and fun memories.  However, those aren’t the moments when friendships are made strong.  I have people that I could hang out with thousands of times who I would feel as close to day 40 as I did day 1.  Epic memories are great, but it’s those small, fleeting moments of interaction where your guard begins to fall where true friendship is forged.

True friendship is listening to your friend cry over anything that is upsetting her and offering not only an ear and a tissue but but advice, support, and a gentle outside perspective.

True friendship is going to your friend’s Mary Kay launch party even though you have no interest in their products and but plan to buy one anyways.

True friendship is grabbing your friend’s dry cleaning because he overslept and delivering it to her at work because you always give yourself extra time in the mornings and today, he needs that suit for his big presentation.

True friendship is telling your friend exactly what you think about those jeans and her butt (and helping find a new outfit if it’s bad).

Overall, true friendship is really about true love.  To borrow a phrase from the Bible, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

True love is simply operating at our highest capacity.  When we are with the people that are the ones we’ve chosen as our family, we WANT to be at our best, even when they accept us at our worst.  True friends bring out the amazing parts of us that we may not even know existed.

If you have real, pure support behind you, you can do anything.  Simple words of encouragement can do wonders when we are bogged down on our journey, and knowing someone is within shouting distance on their own trek through the jungle truly invigorates the soul on the nights that the journey gets rough.

If you are lucky enough to have such friends, take a moment to pause and give thanks.  Treat your friends well, and show them the love and support that they always show you.

If you have yet to find such friends, take a moment and dissect what you offer as a person.  Are you willing to inconvenience yourself for friendship?  Are you ok with giving in order to receive?  Are you ever in a place where you let your authentic self shine?

Life is hard enough without having to go through it alone.  Thank god that we have the ability to create a network tight enough to withstand any storm.  Friendships are life’s emergency plan, and even though we will hopefully find our best friend and romantic partner all wrapped up into one, there is something pure about those solid friendships that don’t venture into the romantic territory yet are every bit as loving and committed as those we pledge our life to.

Friendship is the world’s greatest gift.  Treasure it.  Take care of it.  Give your own.  And always, always remember that a simple token given in love is worth more than all the riches in the world.

 

 

Why Tinder has Ruined Dating

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Last week I downloaded Tinder.  Last week I also deleted Tinder.

To be fair, the only reason I downloaded it in the first place was because I was fairly bored (aka being lazy) and all of my friends were merrily swiping away all around me.  It was a moment of weakness in which I was like “wellllllll ok, I’ll play”.

Just to be clear, I am not looking for men to sleep with; notches on a bedpost do NOT appeal to me.  I want to find a quality man that I am attracted to and who obviously shares those feelings in return and eventually build an amazing life with that person.  (But Hannah, why are you on Tinder then?  Yeah, Yeah, I know).  While I do not want to meet my future husband off Tinder, I also was curious to see what was out there because frankly, the dating pool in California majorly sucks.

With this goal in mind, the only thing I put in my profile was my height and the tagline “if you’re not ready to take me out on a legit date, don’t even bother.”   This, I thought to myself, should weed out any potential booty solicitations.

What I didn’t take into consideration, however, was the fact that I was supremely busy and didn’t actually have time to go on many dates.  And every message I got asked me when we were going to meet up for drinks, or coffee, or dinner.  It was overwhelming!  Yet also exciting-so many men who wanted to meet me?  Really?? Oh the possibilities!

The same sword that slays the dragon can also cut the hero, however.  The fact that there are so many options at your literal fingertips seems glorious at first, until you find yourself discarding this one or that one due to minor issues that you wouldn’t even have known about yet had you met them in real life.

The seemingly endless options that we have available at any moment has made us picky to the point of ridiculousness.  Why would I settle for THIS guy/girl who has 9/10 of my wants in a mate when I could just swipe a couple hours more and possible get a guy/girl with 10/10?

Choices are not the enemy, but they definitely make commitment harder and loyalty a treasure more precious than diamonds.  The endless option atmosphere that permeates almost every aspect of our lives, while amazing, is making us fickle and SO much more shallow.

This was made incredibly real to me when I went to fair by myself.  I had spent the day intermittently working and swiping, and had had several different conversations with eligible Tinderinians who fit my initial attractiveness criteria for swiping right (which means they were HOT…I have high standards.  #sorrynotsorry.).  At the fair, I ran into one of the guys running a booth and we struck up a conversation.

This guy was not my usual type.  Scrawny, blonde, a smoker, not unattractive but definitely not movie star status, and just over my height.  Yet for some reason, I found myself attracted to him more and more as we talked.  Our vibes just clicked.

We kept in contact, and each time I get a text, I am always excited.  Which completely weirds me out.  He is NOT someone I would have EVER pictured myself with, and I’m pretty sure that this won’t actually go anywhere, but just the fact that I wouldn’t be opposed to being taken on a date by someone I would have never, ever swiped right on is indicator enough that it’s time to take dating back offline.

Online dating has made us hyper critical of everyone else while simultaneously complaining that we can’t find a man or woman who loves us for who we really are.  We are quick to dismiss people we may actually be quite compatible with simply because they don’t fit what we have envisioned for ourselves or because we fear what other people might think or say.

Online dating has also made us scared to actually start something in real life.  I have been in so many situations where I had a great conversation with a dude only to have it end with a “see ya around!” rather than a “hey, let me get your number.”  Granted, some of those men might have just been friendly and/or already taken, but I get the feeling that the vast majority find it a lot easier to miss a match than to get shot down in person.

Additionally, online dating has made open sexuality permissible.  If the initial messages aren’t sexual from the start, its becoming more and more acceptable to introduce sex as a topic on the first date.  I went out for drink with one guy, my age, from Tinder last week, and by the end of the first cocktail he mentioned that (R rating alert) he wished I was sitting on his face.  I had known him for less than 12 hours and he felt that this was an acceptable addition to the conversation.

This is contrasted to a date that I had on Saturday night with a guy who was older than me by 7+ years.  He checked about my dietary restrictions, made reservations at a vegan friendly restaurant, and bought tickets to a show that I’ve wanted to see for forever.  There may have only been 7 or 8 years between those two men (and I met them both on Tinder), but there was a world of difference in how I felt about how I was treated.

So what’s the solution?  How can we balance all the amazing things this new generation has to offer with all of the pitfalls that come along with it?

Honestly, it comes down to you, the individual.  You decide how you will view the world, and you decide what you’re going to accept and what you’re going to reject.  It may take more work and more time, but you WILL find someone who has decided on the same values.

When you find someone who gets you, truly gets you, it doesn’t matter how many matches you made or how many right swipes you may be losing out on.  All that matters, truly, is how THEY make you feel and how much you elevate each other to become your best selves.  And that, friends, is the best match you could ever make.

 

 

 

Why Friendship is so Important

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I am a very relationship oriented person.  I love the connections that I make on any level, and I am very dedicated to seeing my closest relationships grow and flourish.  However, I haven’t really realized how important true friends are until lately.

Today, I was telling my best friend about some heart-wrenching revelations that were made apparent to me by certain circumstances this morning.  Without skipping a beat, she said “ya need me to kill him?  I’ll be right over.”  We laughed and moved on, but the sentiment was clear: she has my back.

Beyond hypothetical murder, my best friend has been there through it all.  We live an entire country apart and she’s seen me through a mistaken marriage, a much-needed divorce, a sketchy re-establishment of my single self, and several other relationships that ended with heartbreak.  Not to mention several moves across state lines, job hunts, and just recently being laid off.

Not once have I felt like she wanted to get rid of the friendship.  Not once has it crossed my mind that it would be easier to just let our relationship fade into yearly Facebook greetings and random “how are you?” texts.

We are solid.  And in a world of uncertainty, there is nothing more important than knowing 100% for sure that someone, somewhere out in the wildly rolling waves of life, is keeping the lighthouse lit just for you.

Friendship, real, true friendship, is a priceless gift that cannot be sold for any price.  So, what is real friendship and why is it so important?

Real friendship is honesty.  Honesty in all of its forms.  I once asked my friend “do you think my shorts are too tight?”  She answered to the affirmative in record time.  They have also made their feelings quite clear on how I was treated in various relationships while still allowing me the freedom of making my own decision.

Honesty is giving the gift of our pure, unadulterated thoughts.  Having honesty in our lives is incredibly important because it is only when we see our surroundings clearly that we change or enhance them.  This quality in a friendship is necessary in our daily lives because when we are able to completely open up to someone else, we can completely accept ourselves.

Real friendship is trust.  One of my friends has reason to mistrust her man, but the thought of having to watch him with me has never once crossed her mind.  She knows without a doubt that I would never in a million years do something to betray her trust in that matter.  I share an Amazon Prime account with one of my friends, and never once has the thought occurred to me that she would use my card or do anything underhanded with the information.

If you have trust with someone precious to you, that covenant needs to be protected at all costs.  So many times we focus on having certainty in romantic relationships, but having a relationship unfettered by romance yet still safely anchored in utmost confidence is priceless.

Real friendship is support.  God knows how many times my friends have heard me rant and rave about how this or that isn’t fair, or about how this coworker hurt my feelings, or about how he lost the best thing that ever happened to him.  Never once have they made me feel like they aren’t 100% on my side.  Sometimes, being on my side means reeling me back in and making me realize that I’m being a bit ridiculous, but they always bring me down with love.

Having a support system in your life is so. completely. necessary.  We love to think that we can do it all, but the hard truth of the matter is we cannot.  Or, rather, we cannot if we wish to stay sane.  People who are there for you in your darkest, most pathetic hour are the individuals who make up the foundation of your life.  If that stone isn’t pure, the whole thing crumbles.

Real friendship is laughter.  I cannot tell you how many times I have laughed until tears ran down my face and my abs nearly cracked from being contracted for so long.  I have sat with my friends and burst into giggles over the stupidest memes and the most relatable stories, and inserted hilarity in the place of tears on so many occasions.

Laughter is such an amazing release, and if you cannot truly laugh until your air supply runs dangerously low with another person, you are not completely living.  In order to completely experience life, we need to share all emotions with another person, and gaiety is the best emotion to share.

If you do it right, your true friends are going to be with you for life.  No matter the status of any other relationship in your life, friends are the pilings on which our pier is tied.  No wave, no matter how wild, can knock down something solid.  And no pier, no matter how beautifully fit together, can last without a sturdy steadiness beneath it.

Our relationships in life are our only lasting legacy.  While we are alive, our true friends are our main source of sanity, issue reality checks, hand over tissues, contribute to late night musings, and overall make our lives enjoyable.  If you’re smart enough to make these relationships a priority, they will give you back tenfold on your investment.

So relish in your wine nights.  Share secrets.  Listen.  Be there when the universe is crumbling at their feet and beside them when they conquer the world.  Love them.  Appreciate them.  Keep their confidences and let them keep yours.  Support them.  Don’t be afraid to need them.  Together, the world will unfold before you.  And when it does?  Hand in hand, go kick some ass.

 

It Takes a Village

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Yesterday I chaperoned our end-of-the-year 8th grade dance.  Well, merely chaperoned is an understatement.  I’m in charge of our 8th grade end of the year activities, and thusly I’ve been prepping for this event for months.  In addition to making sure that the students ‘left room for Jesus’ during the dance, I also spent several hours setting up the event and an hour afterwards tearing it down (AFTER, of course, a full day of teaching).

What made an impression on me, however, was how many people stepped up to help me out.  I’m used to doing things on my own, and while I vaguely knew that people had volunteered to help, it was overwhelming HOW MUCH they helped; it was truly awesome to be able to trust the people around me to step up and help me get the job done.

All of this reminded me of the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”.  As teachers, we have thousands of children to raise, and I am lucky to have an amazing village of teachers around me to help shape the children in our care.  However, I feel that this saying applies to more than just raising a child; it also takes a village to provide the catalyst for success, motivation, and fulfillment.

This is not a very popular idea.  In America, there is a glorified image of the Lone Ranger taking on the world all alone and rising to the top.  Yet in reality, this type of win could only be achieved by stepping on the people below you in the fight to get the top, and you are limited by an unsavory reputation and the smell of burning bridges behind you.  However, if you truly cultivate a village around you, your potential is unlimited, and you and your village will progress together.

The original village mentality was built around survival.  If one person was out of line or there was a rife in a relationship, that threatened the very existence of the village.  It all came down to trust, and if that trust was lost, your membership in that community was called into question.  This guaranteed that the village members toed the line-their survival depended on it.

Today, we don’t need a village to survive.  But I would argue that we do need a village to thrive.  And while social media has done us a disservice by bringing to life the paradox of ‘the more you share the lonelier you feel’, it has opened up the possibility of being able to hand pick our village.

This is an amazing opportunity, so I’m going to repeat it: we live in a time where we are able to individually choose our village.  We are able to actively search out people who will add value to our lives.  This includes people who expose us to new information, pick us up when we stumble, and help us discover the tools we need to keep growing.

This, of course, comes with a flip side of the coin.  In order to choose these individuals as your village, you need to bring something to the table.  Gone are the days where you might happen to be born into the village where the best cloth-weaver resides, and where you can pick up on her skills by exposure.  Now, in order to take advantage of someone else’s years of practice, you have to be able to contribute to their lives in some way.

It is a harsh reality, but it is true: if you do not bring value to anyone, no one is going to chose you to be in their village unless it is by happenstance.  I believe that this is why so many people stay by their hometowns and have the same friend circle throughout their entire lives.  People have a need to belong no matter what level they are on, but if you want to belong to more than the Friday night local bar club, you have to infuse your being with value.

Just as the top villages of old worked their ass off to make sure there was food, water, and shelter, the successful villages of today work just as hard to make sure that their minds are in tip top shape.  And the concept of striving for full potential is just the same as scrambling for survival; every single person has to be at the top of their game or the whole network suffers.

The ability to choose your village is a privilege that many forgo, simply due to the lack of effort or lack of preparation.  Actively seeking like-minded people is a foolproof way to light your own personal fire while getting the benefits of helping other people light theirs.

Take the time to think about who you admire, who you can see is creating your type of success, and who you want to be as a person.  You cannot simply run up to these people and create a shortcut to prosperity-achieving ANY kind of personal goal is always through hard work.  If you put in the arduous work, it will show.  And once it starts showing, the people you seek out will be attracted to you because YOU can help them, too.

It truly takes a village to become the best version of yourself.  Don’t shun the idea that you need help to get to where you want to be.  While you’re waiting, strive to become the best version of you on your own, and when that is achieved, there will be people who come into your life to skyrocket you to heights you could have never even seen if you stayed in your own bubble.  Strive for more than survival–seize the chance to thrive!

 

Appreciation is a Powerful Drug

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Last weekend, all of my friends got together and had an amazingly fun girls night-without me.  Whomp Whomp. I had prior obligations, and while I was sad that I couldn’t be there, I know it’s only a matter of time before it happens again.

What made this event stick out to me, however, wasn’t the fact that I was missed out, but the fact that they all took the time to tell me that they wished I was with them and to make sure I knew that they would have rather had me join in the fun.

Now, having a group of girlfriends is probably old hat to most women my age, but I haven’t yet had this experience: I grew up fast, working all the time, and I was married throughout college, the time when most people are forming solid friend groups for life.  This show of appreciation for, well, just being me made me feel amazing.

This got me thinking: how often do we take the time to let people know that they are appreciated simply just for existing in our lives?  When do we take the time out of our day to write a text, drop a note, take advantage of a pause in conversation just to say hey…you’re awesome.  Thanks for being in my life.

Polite habits are ingrained (or should be ingrained) in us from childhood.  Say please and thank you.  Write a thank you letter when you receive a gift.  Make sure that if someone does you a favor you pay them back somehow, someway.

Yet we rarely take the time to appreciate people just for being them.  And let me tell you from one who has received an abundance of ‘just because’ recognition lately: it feels damn good.

When it comes down to it, appreciation is simply showing that you notice and you are grateful.  Writing a thank you note for that brand-new wedding crock pot is a formalized way of saying Hey!  I liked this thing you picked out for me.  I am really happy that I don’t have to go get one myself.  Thank you!

When you tell someone ‘thank you’, or ‘miss you’, or ‘wish you were here’, it’s saying that you notice them and you’re grateful for what they bring into your life.  You observe what they do when you’re around, and you care when they are not around.

There are so many people in your world that deserve appreciation.  

That barista that makes you coffee every morning?  It would make her day to hear a heartfelt greeting and sincere words of acknowledgment on how much she kicks ass every morning.

That office lady who always greets you with a smile, no matter what?  It would mean the world to hear even the smallest affirmation of  how well she does her job.

That coworker who keeps his head down and just does his job-but does it well?  He would love to hear that people notice his dedication.

No matter how much we tell ourselves that we can give ourselves our own props and it doesn’t matter how other people notice, when push comes to shove, this is complete and total bullshit.  While we can, of course, keep going without cheerleaders and can accomplish anything we want sans pats on the back, the truth is, receiving that acknowledgment and recognition from others around us can act as high-octane gas in our fuel tank.

Sometimes, our encouragement just serves as as a touchstone for others on their journey, a sign that they are doing what they need to do.  Other times, our confirmation can be the push that sends them soaring beyond anything they dreamed they were capable of, that little rev on the engine that sent them shooting beyond the mark they made for themselves.

We never know where anyone is in their life journey.  So seek out opportunities to appreciate others.  These opportunities can be as big as letting someone know that you think they’re doing such a great job that you’re going to recommend them for a promotion, or as small as saying thank you to the random stranger who holds open the door for you.

There are so many situations that we fail to take advantage of; appreciation opportunities are actually quite frequent; you simply have to pay attention:

Tell your friend that you miss them when they aren’t there.

Tell your spouse that you feel lucky to be married to them, just because.

Tell your coworker that they are doing amazing, especially when you can see they’re having a tough day.

Tell your boss that you appreciate his communication.

Tell your mailman that you appreciate his service.

Many times we tend to think “well, it’s just so-and-so’s JOB to do that.  I don’t need to acknowledge anything”.  Who the hell cares?  It’s MY job to teach, and guess what my favorite thing in the world is: hearing ‘thank you’ from a student.  People may be getting paid to do something, but money exchanging hands should not be a determining factor for with-holding gratitude.  Besides the light that you will bring to others, it also serves to make YOU feel amazing.

Take the time to reflect on who actually is a help to you, who makes you feel amazing, who is there for you when shit hits the fan, who makes you laugh, who knows you inside and out, and who is doggedly keeping your life running in the background.  After you’ve realized all the amazing people that you know and who is true gold in your life, take the time to sincerely tell them ‘thank you’.  And then, every once in a while, just so they don’t forget…tell them again.