Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Okay Fine, I'll Pick On Someone My Own Size

I’m not a big fan of the word “regret”. It carries with it a negative association and I believe that when we live in regret, we lower our body’s energetic vibrations, making it more difficult to attract the positive things in life that we wish to receive. 

With that said, it’s still easy to wish that we had made some different decisions in our past. 

I am quite happy with the person that I’ve become. And, of course, I wouldn’t be who I am without every decision I’ve made up to this point. I do sometimes wonder, however, if I had made just a few different choices in the past, how different my life would be now. 

It must be so frustrating to be a parent. I imagine it’s especially difficult when you are the parent of a know-it-all (see teenager). I was convinced that my parents had no idea what the best choice for me was at any given time. After all, I was a different person than they were. I knew myself better than anyone else so how could someone think that my opinion on what was best could be wrong?? 

(insert uncomfortable laugh here...) 

I work with an 18 year old hostess at work who is getting ready to go off to college. She is sweet, cute and, knowingly, a bit on the naive side. She’s getting ready to leave all that she is used to in pursuit of what she hopes to be a step in the right direction. She’s handling it all quite well... she reminds me a little of me when I was that age. 

So, for fun, I thought maybe my 31 year old self would write my 18 year old self a letter with just a few things that I wish I would’ve done differently if I were able to step back in time. Perhaps an 18 year old out there might come across this and see things more diversely. After all, what the hell do our parents know? 

Dear 18 Year Old Tina, 

See? High school wasn’t THAT bad... I agree, it had a rocky start. But you did very well putting yourself out there, making some friends, getting good grades and taking a few fashion risks now and then... just enough to get people to notice without completely alienating yourself. Well done. 

Now that all that is over, I have to tell you - high school is a joke. It does not, in any way, get you prepared for the real world. It doesn’t even really prepare you for college. In retrospect, all high school really did was give you a very general idea of how idiotic people can be. Hmm... maybe there is some real-life prep work in there after all... 

My point is, your life begins now. You are no longer “required” to attend school, wear the right kind of jeans, have an “in” hairstyle and try desperately to hang with the popular people. Graduation puts us on equal ground again. It’s what you choose to do from this point on that is really going to make a difference in your life. 

First and foremost, you didn’t do too bad. You had a lot of great adventures and saw many amazing things. You met some incredible people and in this moment, your life is not too bad. However, there are three things that I think if I could, I would ask you to please do differently, in the hopes that maybe our life now wouldn’t require quite so much “hustle”. Take this advice as you will and just know that no matter what you choose to do, I love you and always will. 

1. Go to a University. 

You did well at the Fashion Institute. You graduated with a 3.9 GPA and an impressive portfolio of work. However, you did not need to spend two years and $36,000 for someone to tell you that you are a great artist. You already knew that. Yes, there is no doubt at all that your skills were fine tuned and, believe me, your art now is as exceptional as it’s ever been. But you still don’t want to be an artist - and that whole “coordinating fashion shows” thing was something you were never serious about to begin with. 

I remember what you were thinking at 18. You hated math, social studies (which blows my mind now given how fascinated I am with that subject these days) and history. You didn’t want to struggle in college with these General Education courses. Unfortunately, taking the easy way out didn’t benefit you in the long run. Art doesn’t pay the bills... at least not when you aren’t passionate about it. 

You had no idea how much you would get into sports later on in life. You know how much you love the NFL? College football is even MORE intense! No, seriously!! Think of homecoming week on the strongest steroids you can possibly imagine. And this is even if your team sucks! There is this amazing camaraderie that comes along with college sports that I don’t think you can find anywhere - not even a Raiders game. And while I don’t see cheerleading or softball as potential sports for you to participate in, you might have excelled well in enough in Cross Country or something to keep you involved in the sports program and out of the house parties. Just something to consider... 

Oh, and I still think you can major in Communications - just make sure it’s heavy on the Journalism/Creative Writing side of everything. You could land a dinky, minimum wage job working for some magazine or editor and have already established quite a name for yourself in the writing world by now. 

Selling for a hotel? You never wanted to do that... there went five years where you could’ve been running coffee or fixing typos for someone you actually aspired to be like and respected. Shit.. with everything you know about sports NOW, you could’ve broken ground as a reputable female writer for Sports Illustrated. Think about THAT! 

Because I’ll tell you something right now; you are a good writer and people actually read what you write. With the proper contacts and guidance, you could’ve made much quicker ground than I am making right now. Plus, you may not realize the extent to which you love writing but I’ll tell you with conviction: nothing makes you happier. 

2. Get braces 

This one may shock you a bit and I’m not trying to hurt your feelings. I know that at 18, you never thought about your teeth needing any kind of cosmetic assistance. You thought your overbite was cute and no one ever made you feel any different. And those few small chips in your front teeth? Those add character and remind you of your fun, youthful days of being a tom boy, right? 

Well, four wisdom teeth fighting for space and one too many harsh critics about your grill and you have become one insecure bitch when it comes to flashing an “award-winning” smile. 

Yeah, yeah... I know. Who wants to spend their college years with a mouthful of metal? I’ll tell you who: YOU. At 31 years old, I’m thinking I might still suck it up and get braces and, believe me, it’s going to be a lot harder on my self-esteem now then it will be for you. 

Don’t give me that “who gives a fuck about my teeth” thing, either. Ever since I realized that my teeth are less than attractive, all I do is stare at other peoples’ mouths in envy as they exude these big, boisterous laughs with their pearly whites flashing proudly. And it may sound stupid and superficial to you, but image is important if you want to get ahead quicker. I’ve landed a few jobs based on the fact that I am not too hard on the eyes but being given a chance as a new server at Chili’s because my rack looked nice in the sweater I wore is not that same as getting noticed for your confident and radiating smile. 

I don’t care how much it costs. Do it. 

3. Learn to say no. 

While I am mostly talking about men, this is still something in general that I want you to get used to doing. You tell yourself that you say yes to everything because you don’t want to miss out on any opportunities. You may have actually believed that at the time, but let me correct this: all you were doing was seeking approval. 

For years you have been held captive by approval. You dated certain men because you wanted them to like you, not because you liked them. You took jobs because you were afraid if you didn’t, something else wouldn’t come along and you were excited that those particular employers “wanted” you, even though you didn’t want them. 

You stayed involved with toxic friendships and relationships for so long because you didn’t want others to get mad at you for leaving or see you as imperfect if you spoke your mind and they didn’t agree with you. You started smoking because people in college made “coffee and cigarettes” for breakfast sound cool. You started smoking weed because it made you accepted with the cool and righteous crowd that “has it all figured out”. You drank too much because people dared you to “keep up” and you didn’t want to let them down. 

You cheated on the man that loved you more than anything because you didn’t want the hot guy at the office to think you were a prude. 

Well, let me tell you this before you start rolling your eyes... 

It took you twelve years to quit smoking cigarettes. In the meantime, you looked trashy, smelled disgusting and was slowly destroying your health in an effort to “look cool”. 

It took you ten years to quit smoking weed. Now that you don’t smoke it anymore, all of your “cool and righteous” friends have nothing to do with you. You see how their lives are going nowhere and realize that by not being able to pass a drug test, you kept yourself in mediocre and low paying jobs so that you could toke on your stupid little pipe every day, all the while saying “fuck the man”. Yeah, it’s HIS fault you aren’t further ahead... 

You’ve cheated death driving while drunk more than once. You’ve made terribly mistakes while being under the influence and even today, you don’t always know when to stop and have emotional bouts of unworthiness after a night of bingeing. I’m still trying to figure out what it is that makes you feel like you need to get drunk so often... so in retrospect, I am asking that you take it easy from the start. 

As far as all the men in your life, you have steamrolled over the sensitive side of some very caring men due to your careless words and actions. The universe had paid you back with a disease that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Every few months or so, you get a reminder of your irresponsible behavior. You are lucky that you have met a man that is sympathetic to your condition. But your breakouts are a constant voice of how saying no could’ve saved you a lot of heartache. 

And that’s it. Everything else you are going to experience is grist to the mill. Of course you are going to make mistakes - there are a few that I would really like to tell you to avoid... but like I said, it wouldn’t make you the person you are today. As I mentioned before, it’s only the hustle I wish I could avoid these days, not my thoughts, beliefs and actions as a human. 

Don’t stress out too much, either... you turn out to be pretty cool. Not everyone thinks so and you have to learn how to be okay with that. Stay clear with your intentions. That way, if others question your motives, you never need to defend yourself. 

Most importantly, love yourself always. Fat, thin, blond, brunette, whatever. Eat healthy and exercise regularly (you start doing this in your 20s and it makes all the difference in the world... but the earlier, the better). 

Love your family and cherish your friends. They are there for you even when you are convinced no one is. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I wish you all the best in your journey. It is an exciting one. 

Love Always, 
31 Year Old Tina 

P.S. Oh yeah... and don’t buy that Scion tC when you are 25. It was a terrible impulse buy. You got it to match the color of your eyes? Really??

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Warning: This Is A Positive Post

I subscribe to quite a few other blogs. Unfortunately, the ones I enjoy reading the most rarely or never post anymore... however there are some that still post fairly regularly that I definitely look forward to reading. 

I’m not really too particular on grammatical errors and minor misspells. Entire words being left out as a result of poor reviewing and editing kind of gets under my skin... but I’m pretty forgiving if the content is still solid. 

I like all different kinds of content, as long as feel like I am getting a genuine piece of the writer. For example, I’m not a Christian. However, I subscribe to a couple of Christian blogs that my friends write because they are written from a place of pure authenticity and mostly without judgment. Even when I feel like there is some judgmental qualities to the writing, it still comes across as honest. Therefore, when I read them, I feel like I understand where the author is coming from, even if I don’t necessarily agree. 

Naturally, I do some comparison when I am blog surfing. I look for ways to improve my writing by both acknowledging what I like and what I don’t like about whatever it is I’m reading. I love reading blogs that are satirical and humorous, however it seems like when I attempt this type of writing, it just comes off as mean. Purely speaking my mind seems to work best for me. 

I’ve been wanting to blog for about a week now but whenever I open my computer to do so, there’s nothing there. I made a commitment to only write when I felt compelled to and not just for the sake of writing for fear that I would put together a well-written piece of crap with no real substance to it’s content. I’ve heard from successful writers that this kind of “bad” writing is just as important as “good” writing because at least you don’t get rusty. Then again, others have said that once you put out a garbage blog, even your best pieces of writing immediately lose their value. 

It’s hard to know what to believe. 

I do know one thing. The blogs that I write that discuss my most miserable, confusing, frustrating and sad moments are, without a doubt, my most popular posts. I try and tell myself that it’s because people can relate the most to these ones and that it helps to keep them from feeling alone in their own struggles. However, sometimes I feel like people just like dirt. And the dirtier... the better. 

Maybe that’s why I haven’t written much lately. In general, things are going pretty well in my world. My job is starting to pay fairly well, I have tons of free time to work on my secondary blog (which has been very satisfying), map an outline for my book, draw some pet portraits, and spend time really getting to know and love Tim. I’ve started a day-planner project with Jeremy to help keep him organized with his promotions and free play, learned how to cook some pretty amazing dishes and my bowling has even started to improve. 

But who the hell wants to read about how great everything is going? 

Then again, the other morning I woke up and a friend of mine had posted a blog. I am a new follower and have only been through a couple of her posts, but generally speaking, I like the angle in which she takes. It’s a bit on the “emo” side for my taste... but again, it’s content seems very pure and is relatively well written. 

This particular blog, however, was basically just paragraph after paragraph of a ranting bitch-fest that didn’t really leave the reader (speaking only for me, of course) feeling like anything was gained. It was superficial, condescending and, very sadly, a paradox to all of her other blogs I had read up to that point. 

In all honesty, I kind of let it ruin my morning. 

But then, it did make me think about my blog and the posts that I share... it helped me make a decision on what I mentioned earlier: to write or not to write. It made me ask myself... when I write a post, who am I writing it for? Is it to please an audience or is it simply to get out these swirling thoughts that fill my head and threaten to drive me mad? 

Every once in a while, a new comment will pop up on my blogs. I received this one recently: 

"Hi, Found your site by accident and as you seem very genuine about wanting a career as a writer, can I offer a bit of constructive feedback? Write briefer, people are busy, they want to stick with you, but this was just too long. Your style is accessible, people will like it, make it easy for them to commit. Enjoy the journey:) Sara"

I’ve always known that I write long form blogs. It actually is something that I’ve been focusing on adjusting. This particular comment was posted on an older blog that probably was a bit long... but then again, I remember this great comment that Penn Gillette made at that blogging conference I went to last year. Some people were talking about how short-form is the way to go if you want a successful blog. Just when I was convinced that I was heading in the wrong direction with my verbose ramblings, Penn piped up and said “I’m reading Moby Dick on my kindle right now. Short form, long form, whatever. It doesn’t matter if the content is good.” 

So again, I ask myself... why am I writing and who am I writing for? 

Same with my book... the outline is overwhelming and there’s not an end in sight at the moment. I find myself wondering, am I writing this book because it’s truly what I want to do? Or am I writing it because some asshole commented on my blog to shut up about wanting to do it and just do it already. 

When can I stop worrying so much about what other people think? 

Admittedly, it is getting easier with each “constructive” comment. Especially this one from Sara. She seemed genuinely concerned with helping me reach my goal and she has no idea who I am. Yes, I still jump at the opportunity to defend myself... but the message is landing a lot quicker than it used to. 

No real answer to all of this... except that when I feel like writing, I’m going to write. It may not always be the best piece of work and people may not like it as much as the more “struggle-heavy” posts, but I think as long as I continue coming from a place of authenticity, things will be fine. 

Besides, life always has a way of throwing curve balls at you... I’m sure there will be some form of dirt to catch everyone’s attention again soon. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy all that is sparkling.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Sorry I Keep Asking... But Where Do I Start Again?

Me: I really want Tim to move in with me. How bad of an idea is that?


Becca: I don’t think it’s a bad idea. You guys obviously get along well. 

Me: Yeah, that’s true. But three months? Seems silly to be thinking about it already. 

Becca: Have you two talked about it? 

Me: Yes, we have. I think we both see it as the next step. 

Becca: Well, do the two of you ever fight? 

Pause. 

Me: Yeah... yeah, we do. 

In discussing my last post, Whitney asked me to elaborate further on what I meant when talking about this “we” that I kept mentioning. At first, I thought she wanted me to give her my idea of what it looked like as it related to my life. However, as we talked about it, I could see something in her face that was all too familiar to me. It was almost as if she didn’t really understand the concept of what “we” was, generally speaking. I mean... sure, it’s nice to have someone to be with, but ultimately, each of us is still on our own to figure all of this out, right? 

For someone who has always asked for a partner, I don’t seem to do a very good job of holding on to one once I have it. It’s almost as if I want someone around to engage with, be socially active with, sleep with, laugh with and sit comfortably in silence with while we simply enjoy the other’s company. But when it comes to sharing my stress, analyzing my insecurities, expressing my doubts or frustrations or simply being sad... these are things I choose to do on my own. After all, I don’t want to bring the other person down or, God forbid, show them my imperfections. That would be tragic. 

Tim and I both have very strong personalities. Our ability to communicate our thoughts and opinions in deliberate and passionate ways are what many people like about us. However, this combined energy and unwillingness to back down from our beliefs in the heat of the moment causes some friction that I haven’t quite figured out how to handle. 

It seems like many couples have an obvious dominant and submissive aspect to their relationship. However, having a dominant personality as a female, I often find myself in relationships with other dominants. I have also been in relationships with submissives and while that balance might make for smoother sailing overall, quite honestly, it bores the hell out of me. I don’t mind the challenge of dating other strong personalities, but when push comes to shove and the verbal punches start getting thrown, I am the first to quickly throw in the towel in pursuit of something less hostile. 

Wanting it all is a concept that will probably drive me mad if I don’t sort out who I need to be to truly have... all of it. 

I pick fights a lot. Not just with Tim... but with many people in my life. Not in the way a bully would (well, sometimes), but more as a challenge to see if they can stand up to me and be the biggest version of themselves. I’m certainly not condoning this kind of behavior... in fact, if I want to truly find happiness with “we” and with myself in general, it would probably be in my best interest to knock that shit off. 

I have this annoying desire to always want to know the “what’s next” in life. And whether or not you are up for it. Unfortunately, I spend so much time testing others for long term wear and tear that I fail to see that they have already chosen me - even with my imperfections (dammit... I knew I couldn’t hide them forever). So many times, I decide that they probably won’t like the person that I can be and I take off, glancing only briefly in the rear view as they stare helplessly at me with a “what the fuck was that” kind of expression on their face. 

And then I beg to the Universe to bring me another prospect... without first looking at what (or who, rather) the common denominator is in this vicious cycle. 

Tim and I go out, we have some drinks, some fun and then something happens that lights my fire and we start to argue. Sometimes it’s simply a miscommunication that gets blown out of proportion and other times, it’s a full on session of chest pounding and “I’m right”s with no end in sight. And then we sleep. And the next morning, we wake up and he looks at me, smiles and kisses me as if nothing happened and reminds me that he’s in this and there will be no getting rid of him. 

So why do I keep trying to do exactly that? Why am I so afraid to just close my eyes and jump into “we”. What is it about that abyss that is so inviting and so frightening all at the same time? 

What is it that paralyzes me so much? Didn’t I use to have balls? Like, big ones that took me from Buckley, Washington to Los Angeles at 18 years old? The ones that took me from a receptionist to a major market Sales Manager in under three years? The ones that had me chasing down dreams long before I convinced myself that they were unrealistic? 

Why am I a server in an unsuccessful restaurant making less than half of what I need on a weekly basis to simply maintain my lifestyle? Why am I sitting here in bed on a Monday morning, eating cake, reading Sports Illustrated and Twitter instead of writing my book, launching my next blog or, at the very least, out trying to get a job that would ensure I don’t have to move in with roommates and start taking the bus everywhere. 

When did I become an unmotivated underachiever? Maybe Anonymous was right, maybe I do need to grow a backbone. 

Everyone is having babies. It’s weird... I feel like the only person not invited to a huge party that I didn’t want to go to in the first place - but not being there makes me feel inadequate. I’m a little jealous that they will all feel a bigger purpose now that they have someone to take care of. If only I wanted children, then I could finally feel purposeful as well. Instead, the only things that excite me these days are getting a 500 series in bowling and anticipating NFL pre-season. Oh, and keeping my fingers crossed that I get an early pick in my Fantasy Draft. 

Shouldn’t I be updating my resume or something? Trying to figure out how to make enough money? Or... a lot of money? 

Should I stay in Vegas? Should I try out a new place? Should I just take off and not tell anyone where I’m going? See if I can find wherever it is I seemed to have lost my motivation for life? 

Shouldn’t I just tell Tim how much I love him, accept him for all that he is like he does for me and embrace this relationship in all it’s loveliness? Isn’t that at least a step in the right direction? 

Should’t I just get out of bed already? 

I know things will be alright. I know this because they always have been. I just wish my actions were as passionate as my thoughts, desires and dreams. I wish I wanted to be better. Instead, I just want to be. 

Perhaps I’ll start with “we”. Maybe if I put forth the energy and the effort to make this relationship all that I know it can be... maybe if I quit trying to prove that I’m right and just prove that I’m present... maybe then, everything else in my life will start falling into place. 

Worst case scenario, at least I’ll always have someone to ride the bus with.