Every year I walk through isles of Target browsing the seasonal changes. And every year the excitement builds with each passing day for the Valentine’s Day displays to go up. It starts with the slashed prices of Cordial Cherry Hershey Kisses. I usually pick up a few bags to hold me over a few months. And it ends with Conversation Hearts being available at every turn. For me, this excitement doesn’t end with candy. Valentine’s Day is simply a celebration of LOVE. I have never thought of it as a holiday exclusively for coupled people. In fact, some of my favorite Valentine’s Day memories don’t even include a significant other.
I won’t lie, I’m a taker on Valentine’s Day. My normal celebratory preparation begins with me alerting a close friend (or my mom) that Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. I also impress upon them that Valentine’s Day is of extreme significance for me. In all honesty, it is a chance for me to be as dramatic as I can possibly be and guilt someone into getting me a cute card. Now I know what you must be thinking, “just buy the card yourself…” but that would take away all the fun. I get the most enjoyment out of this holiday during the days leading up to it. By February 13 I have made at least five people uncomfortable by simply dropping hints about my love for Valentine’s Day. I don’t know what it is for some people, even hearing the word “Valentine” sends them right off the edge. Complaint after complaint about a holiday meant to express and celebrate all things love.
While some complain that Valentine’s Day is too commercialized and how you should be loving the special people in your life all the time, I’m of the opinion that if there were 10 more holidays celebrating love there shouldn’t be an issue. That’s a little dramatic but you know what I mean. Valentine’s Day is a holiday meant to be celebrated however you’d like. And if you don’t like it, please spare us all your complaints and pretend it’s just another day. If you love Valentine’s Day as much as I do, please go on making a huge deal about it. Not because we need another made up holiday, but because it’s fun to make a big deal about things that don’t matter.
It is no mystery to anyone who knows me well, that I have often struggled with perceived perfection. I make the distinction by inserting “perceived” because I do not actually function as a perfectionist in my daily life. I would only consider myself fairly organized, and my thoughts are scattered frequently. Really, my motivation has only been to be perceived as perfect, knowing full well that I could never live up to such an unrealistic standard.
Perception of perfection is significantly easier. You only have to keep up the mask in increments. Maybe only for a few hours at work, or during a dinner with some acquaintances. What gets difficult, is trying to justify this lifestyle to yourself. It’s odd. I ask myself frequently why I even care to put up the front that everything is perfect. I have surrounded myself with people that truly would accept me either way and have seen me in my least perfect state. But for some reason, I can’t quite shake the internal dialogue that is telling me to keep the mask up. It’s becoming exhausting. I think I may be easier to just pick a side. Go all in with the perfectionism or just leave it alone all together.
I have found that I normally don’t leave any room for gray. I’m either all in or all out. My life is a reflection of that narrative thus far. I’ve chosen a career that deals primarily in the realm of fact and I make all of my personal decisions independent of others input. For some reason I can’t quite commit to being a full blow perfectionist though. And I can’t shake the thought that it will be unfulfilling at best. It’s as if I like the small bursts of drama that come when the mask slips off. It brings a little bit of unpredictability to my life that ultimately builds endurance for the days ahead. Someone with a true perfectionists heart would leave no room for unpredictability, so I guess I should just end that discussion.
Fortunately, my quest for perceived perfection has fooled basically no one in my inner circle and to be honest, I glad it hasn’t. In my mind, as scattered as it may be, my circle is the reason I haven’t truly felt the pressure to be perfect. A good friend is meant to come along side you in difficult times to help navigate and better each other. Not only that, a good friend will also recognize when you aren’t yourself and pursue it like it’s their issue. My greatest hope is that I can see through their own perceived perfection as they have seen through mine and continue to grow in ways I never thought possible.
Having a sister is truly one of the biggest blessings you could experience in life. Whether you have a large age gap or are only a few months a part, there is an unspeakable bond that is born when you have a sister. Someone that understands the inner workings of the family, or even just someone to laugh about old memories with. I have found that relationship challenges come with the aging process in with sisters. Around the age of 20, you may begin to realize that your sister is just another person on an independent journey. A journey to find herself and enjoy her own life. She, just like you, is trying desperately to navigate life and be taken seriously. When you lived under the same roof, you watched your parents lovingly correct her and when she pushed the limits, you watch the hammer come down. The growth that you experienced outside of the family home may have been seen as pushback from the status quo. The love you have for your sister never leaves, it just evolves. The complexity of the changing relationship is something that can become overwhelming if you let it.
A sister is, at times, a mirror. When you fight you immediately go back to your childhood roles. After a while though, you don’t want to be seen as that person anymore. You are now an adult with new tools to settle petty disputes. You also quickly realize that your sister is just girl trying to figure things out. She is a person that you can no longer try to influence. You have to leave her to make her own decisions. Your old methods of communicating with your sister may need to be reevaluated. At this point in your life you are able to choose if you even want to continue a relationship with her. I may be the only one, but over the past few years I’ve found myself thinking, “would I even be friends with this girl if we weren’t sisters?” I want the answer to be yes so desperately. I mean who doesn’t want a best friend that shares the same childhood as you? Unfortunately, that may be a little bit unrealistic. You have to now switch your perspective. Ask yourself the same questions you would if this was a girl you met while out shopping or at a local brewery. Does she value this friendship? Do we have common interests? Does she respect me? Can we make time for each other?
It is difficult to ask these questions because a lot of us believe our family members get a pass for poor treatment. Just because they are your sibling doesn’t mean they get a pass for their behavior. Talk to them about it. Address the issues head on. And if you can’t resolve it, reevaluate their position in your life. Love yourself enough to set clear boundaries. It will be difficult be it can be done. You will always love your sibling, but remember to love yourself more.
That’s how I start every new conversation with a guy I have a crush on. Well, I also say it as an ice breaker. And a greeting. Also a closer. As you probably already know, it often times times catches people very off guard. It simultaneously loosens me up. Take last Monday for example. I met up with a new female friend for coffee. Upon initial meeting, it was clear that we both dressed for the occasion of finally getting out of the house. We hit it off BIG TIME. She was asking me all these deep questions about my goals and aspirations. I was flattered and thoroughly enjoying the conversation, but I felt like it was time for a break.
Now I want to warn you, this next part is all in the delivery. Know your audience, but for the best reactions, say it with a completely straight face or through text. You yourself though have to have the upmost self control. If you smile, laugh, cry, or come off as disingenuous while delivering this delicious morsel of information to a person you have deemed a new friend or potential romantic interest, things will get very weird very fast.
I breathed in slowly and on the exhale with all the gentleness I could muster said, “I’m pregnant.” I could tell she was trying her hardest to gauge if I was happy or sad about this information. After all we are basically strangers. This was only our first friendly meet up. She was also probably trying to put together the facts.
Her face was priceless. That’s what I live for in these moments. I know this isn’t the best way to let people know you like them but it’s my way. One day my communication skills will improve, but until then I wanna laugh. Anyway, she chose not to respond with anything but an ominous “ok” and I had to say “I’m kidding.” Boo. Not the interaction I was going for but oh well.
The responses I have received are wide ranging. They start at “congratulations” and have gone all the way to being ghosted. To be honest, sharing that I’m with child is better than what I was doing. I had a date a couple of months ago and my old line was “I have four kids.” The responses to that question were exclusively ghosting.
I thought it was funny. One day it won’t be a joke but until then, I’m pregnant.
Just last Saturday I was convinced I wouldn’t run out of things to watch. I am an expert at staying at home. On the one hand I truly thought a world where people just kept to themselves was ideal for me. I am introverted, enjoy silence, and and have access you YouTube. What the heck else could I possibly need.
Unfortunately, after I finished browsing the “sexopedia” on Cosmopolitan, I found myself with little to do. Just as your mind probably does during times like these, my mind has started to wander. What’s my next move? Should I get pregnant this weekend or in 5 years? Was the plant I bought really worth $16 in this economy? Who knows. I should be focusing on more important things, existential questions really. Is my whole life going to change because of a virus? Will I get to have the house, family, and career that my parents and grandparent got to have? Maybe.
Luckily, I don’t have to worry. I know how this all ends. Whether I get to have the life I thought or not. There has been a plan for my life before I was even born and it will come to fruition. This quiet time, without the background chatter of the TV is allowing me to fully realize that.
More than this post being a test block, I want to start fresh. I just finished reading this book, You Are The Girl For The Job. I have been off and on reading it since the beginning of January and finally completed it while on LOCK DOWN (aka: work from home, quarantine, social distancing)… Y’all just don’t understand. For someone who has always been a rule follower this is a challenging time. I am taking the rules of stay at home very seriously. I have been reminded on more than one occasion that this isn’t house arrest. I am allowed to walk in my own neighborhood. I do not have to look longingly outside at the beautiful blue sky and wish I could breath the fresh spring air. I can literally just walk out the door. Anyway, back to the book. This is my first step. Thank you Jess Connolly. You have become a friend in my head. You don’t know me but you are inching close to the inner circle of Meghan Markel and Usher.
Other than the clear Christ centered themes in the book, I couldn’t help but notice that you (Jess) have SO MANY FRIENDS. I (a perpetual loner) find this increasingly interesting. Sure, I have men and women I call friends. But what I do not have is hoards of people that I can call to pray with, or hit the shops with. Jess, honey, I do not even have a girl friend (A SINGLE GIRL FRIEND) that I can consistently call to go out and have lunch with. And let it be known, I love to go out to lunch. I get it from my mom. I would even be willing to pay for the two of us if this woman existed. On an occasion or two, (or 10, maybe after the hour of 9:30 PM, perfect emotional time) I have cried to my current boyfriend about a general lack of friends. He continues to tell me the normal things like.
” It takes time.”
“People are building their lives at our age.”
“I’ll eat lunch with you.”
Bless his dear sweet heart. If you are a woman reading this, you know as well as I do that it does not take this much time (almost 2 years in a new city), 24 year old women are more concerned about weekend plans then the oh so distant future, and eating with your boyfriend is much different than a spur of the moment lunch and chat with the girls.
Jess, while this is just my intro to the writing world, I don’t want you to think I am not trying in the friendship department. I have given it my best shot since birth. I could blame it on being from a military family, or genuinely enjoying my alone time, but the honest truth is I don’t put in the effort. I didn’t make this a goal at the beginning of 2020 but I would like to step out in faith now and say I will actually try to make friends in this new city I call home. There has got to be some girl/girls that are also thinking the same thing I am. Where are the other women that want to go to lunch?
If you have had or are having the same issue please allow me to be someone who wholeheartedly understands. We’re in this together.