The poetic, playful and prophetic musings of quintessential voices trying to keep up with life

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

I was talking to a friend recently and I asked her if she ever compares herself to other people to determine her own success and she said, “Yeah, when I look at Facebook.”

Maybe it’s because my Facebook feed is filled with people getting engaged, married, pregnant, or worse, looking like they have life figured out, that I’ve come to fear that I’m doing nothing and going nowhere. Or maybe the cards are stacked against us. Maybe Facebook is the embodiment of the common human experience of fearing that the grass is greener on the other side. Maybe the people who really have it figured out are the people who don’t have the time or desire to compare themselves to other people on Facebook or elsewhere.

Typically, we don’t post things to social media that explain what a hard time we’re having or that we just had a fight with our partner, our mom, our boss, or our friend. No, we use it to show other people how much we have figured out and how far we’ve come in life. We got the job, the degree, the ring, the baby – we got everything we ever wanted.

Those who know me outside of social media know that I have an honesty complex. I have never figured out how to answer the question, “How’s it going?” with anything but a thoughtful response about how it’s actually going. “Good” just does not do it for me because it doesn’t feel authentic. Honesty is one of my core values, sometimes to a fault. I struggle to even tell white lies because I value the truth so much.

So that I would create a social media image of myself as anything other than my entire complete self, struggles included, is ridiculous. And yet I do it. I do it because I want to pretend my life is perfect just like everyone else. I want to prove that I’m successful, too. That I cracked life's code. 

So here is my admission. Here is my truth.

Sometimes I have bad days.

Sometimes I feel like I’m going nowhere and doing nothing.

Sometimes I get mad at one person when I’m actually pissed at someone or something else.

Sometimes I get cranky when I’m hungry, tired, in traffic, or because it’s Tuesday.

Sometimes I’m incredibly lazy.

I start books I don’t finish, but I’m much better at watching TV shows.

I want things in life I have no idea how to get.

I’m terrified of being wrong.

I want to be liked.

I’m convinced that everyone else has it figured out and that I’m behind and will never catch up.

Maybe the 20s are just a time when you constantly look around and wonder, “Is this who I want to be?” “Is this what I want to do?” “Is this how I want to spend my life?” And with Facebook, we have an all access pass to other people’s successes. We watch other people get exactly what they want.

Including the perfect relationship.

Over the weekend someone told my girlfriend, Lisa, and I that we were super cute together and asked if we ever fight. This got me thinking about the way we look at other people’s lives. [Now let me just say that Lisa and I have a loving, fun, sturdy relationship, complete with our fair share of disagreements. Especially in the kitchen.] We look at other people who we assume to have what we want and believe it’s perfect. It must be perfect! Just look at them smile lovingly into each other’s eyes.

And then we look at ourselves, our relationships, our jobs, our decisions. We see our own truth: that our lives are not perfect. We see our struggles and our frustrations and we believe on some deep level that other people have things we don’t have because we see glimpses of their seemingly perfect lives but we have to live in our own.

Or maybe it’s just me.

So the way I see it, I have two options: quit social media or change the game. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


P.S. I’m just gunna leave this here:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Being Unapolgetically Me

For real though.
For the past couple of months, I’ve been doing the online dating thing.  I’ve had mostly mixed feelings so far, and am thinking of taking a break from it for a little while once March is over.  It’s not that I have anything against online dating.  I have several friends and family members who met their significant others that way, and are very happy.  I’ve just never been good at non-face-to-face interactions, so this whole experience has been way out of my comfort zone, and quite frankly exhausting.
My lack of game and smoothness online is not the point of this post, though.  As uncomfortable as this process has made me, it has also made me very aware of a few things about myself.  Today in particular, I had a very major epiphany moment.  I realized that when interacting with potential romantic partners, there were some things about myself that I hesitated to tell them.  One of these things, notably, was my career.  I would intentionally put off telling the guys I talked to that I was a campus minister.  Why?  In all honesty, it’s because I didn’t want them to jump to any conclusions or draw on any stereotypes they might have for that type of job and apply them to me.  I was scared of being judged for doing something I love.  And I do LOVE my ministry.  I love it and I am proud of it.  I worked hard to get my degree and find my job, and I was lucky enough to find a position that was exactly what I wanted to do in the area I wanted to be in.  In summary: my career rocks, and anyone who wants to try and judge me for it can suck it.
That’s easy to say now, after my epiphany moment earlier today.  It wasn’t just my job, though.  There were other, more personal things and choices I’ve made that I was scared I would be judged for.  I was scared if a guy learned some of these things, he would bolt and I’d never find love.  I’d end up alone, with twelve cats, living in a cabin in the woods and wearing floral nightgowns everyday (yeah…I’ve thought pretty carefully about this).  So, to avoid this fate, I hid things about myself and hoped I could get a guy to fall for me before he needed to know any of my “secrets.”
That was stupid.  I was being so incredibly stupid, and worse yet, I was chipping away at my self-esteem bit by tiny bit.  Self-esteem I’d spent years building up, but that was still fairly delicate.  It wasn’t until one particular conversation, where I was dodging questions out of fear of revealing one of my “secrets” that I realized how totally idiotic I was being.  I have nothing to be ashamed of, about any of the choices I’ve made, and what’s more, I’m not sorry for any of them.  So why should I be afraid to be totally honest with the guys I was talking to?  Didn’t I want to be with someone who accepted me for who I was, what I did, and what I valued?  Did I really want to be with someone who didn’t accept me for who I really was?  Someone I had to change myself to be with?
No.  Hell no.  I’d rather be single.
That’s when the epiphany really hit.  I have no reason to hide anything about myself from anyone.  I’m not ashamed of myself, I’m not embarrassed by what I do.  I’m good at what I do, and I’m proud of who I am.  If a guy is scared off by anything that I bring to the table, that’s his problem, not mine.  Dating in the adult world is hard enough without pretending to be someone I’m not, or wasting time with people who don’t actually like me.  So, I’m going to keep at it, but I’m not going to play games.  I’m going to be honest.  I’m going to be myself.  Maybe I’ll find someone, maybe I won’t.  However I end up, though, I’m going to be me, and I’m not going to apologize for it.
Have you ever held part of yourself back in a relationship because you were afraid of rejection?  Are you lucky enough to have someone who does accept everything about you?  Tell me about it in the comment section below.  The good, the bad…we all have stories to tell.
Until next time,
Erin B.
Because I like to end on a laugh.  P.S. if anyone throws any of these your way, online or in person, RUN!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

50 Shades of No

I saw "50 Shades of Grey" with a few law school friends on Thursday night. We were originally supposed to go last Saturday, but one of (it seems like) a zillion winter storms cancelled those plans for us.

I have not read the books. I thought about reading them for about a millisecond before I heard they were even worse writing than Twilight, which I previously considered the worst books I'd ever read. So I went into the theater with no idea what to expect beyond the basic plot. I had seen articles claiming it promoted abuse, so I was aware of that potential issue, but I decided to go in thinking of the movie as entertainment - that it was probably going to be terrible, but with the intention of giving it a fair shot. After all, many things I love dearly are terrible, like "Say Yes to the Dress" or "Toddlers & Tiaras." I'm only human.

Here's a play-by-play of my reactions during the movie (SPOILER ALERTS):
  • Wait, she's supposed to be 21?
  • Never in the history of time has anyone found parking in a major city right outside their destination. I believe that less than a millionaire playboy dominant falling in love with this awkward, faux-mousy, nervous 26-year old pretending to be 21.
  • I heard "50 Shades" was originally a Twilight fan fiction, and it was never more obvious than when Anastasia trips and falls the minute she opens the door to his office. I guess being clumsy is supposed to be an endearing and universally female quality, which I have never understood.
  • Dakota Johnson is actually pretty funny and her timing is really good. I am pleasantly surprised.
  • She bites her lip a lot. I can feel this is going to be reoccurring plot point because they keep zooming in on her lips dramatically.
  • OF COURSE HE'S ADOPTED. PROBABLY HAS A TRAGIC HISTORY WHICH HAS SCARRED HIM FOR LIFE. SHOCKER. It's like there was a contest for the least subtle plot point imaginable and E.L. James won.
  • Jamie Dornan has beautiful cartoon eyes but he was better in "The Fall." Also, I can hear his Irish accent at times, which I really don't mind. What I do mind is his lack of facial scruff.
  • The first third of this movie has actually been very sexy and kind of... nice to watch. I am delighted.
  • He shows up at her work and asks for serial killer things. I am laughing inside, because I just finished season 2 of "The Fall" where he is an actual serial killer and I'm wishing the plot would twist and this movie was actually a story about Paul Spector moving to America, getting really rich, and continuing to secretly murder brunettes until Gillian Anderson puts a stop to it.
  • My law friends and I are judging the non-disclosure agreement. Anastasia probably should have read it more thoroughly or consulted with a lawyer first. Please don't sign those things willy-nilly.
  • "I don't make love. I fuck. Hard." My friends in the theater audibly laughed at this line and they loved the books. I truly believe Jamie Dornan is doing his best given this terrible writing.
  • I am extremely grossed out by how excited he gets that she's a virgin. It's this incredibly patriarchal idea that women's worth to men comes from being her sexual "teacher," and if she knows what she's doing, or how to please herself, or what she likes, or what you might even like, then it's not exciting anymore. Ew, dude. You're being an asshole.
  • So is she basically a whore??? Like, they're not dating, and she gives him sex, and he gives her stuff in exchange for the sex???
  • Anastasia does not seem fond of the rods and whips and whatnot. I'm sure other people are really into that but some of those things looked really fucking painful and I'm just not sure that's my thing. Or hers. Which is a perfectly ok feeling to have, Anastasia. *pats her on the back gently*
  • It doesn't seem to me like they're looking for the same thing in a relationship. In fact, their expectations are both waaaay off. I BET THAT'S NOT A CONFLICT IN THE MOVIE AT ALL.
  • Ok, that's a lot of butt. They both have very fit bodies. And we see about 96% of them.
  • That's a looong shot of her nipple. Like, I'm not shocked by breasts or anything, but I just watched a close up of her nipple for about 15 seconds and I'm a little uncomfortable by that.
  • I guess they live in a world where losing one's virginity is a pleasant and not-at-all-painful experience.
  • I'm bored now. I guess she's not into the whole submissive sex thing, which again, is a perfect okay feeling to have. There's about 20 minutes of her being like, "IDK" and him being like, "PLS???" I do like that she's sassy about her "IDKs." They have sex at her house and there's ice and more gratuitous nipple shots. It's a little rougher than I was comfortable with, but we all have our limits.
  • The best part of the movie, in my opinion, was their negotiation of the sex contract. My law school friends and I were very interested in this part, haha. I thought she could have gotten a better deal out of it, but again, she didn't consult a lawyer.
  • I feel like for the first half of this movie, she's really been the one in control and she seems to like that she has power over Christian.. So why on earth would she give that up and suddenly be a submissive if that's not something she's actively seeking?
  • I clearly don't know enough about BDSM, because I am very confused at how he was a submissive for years and years and years but now he's totally a dominant? And I have heard those same arguments for being a submissive about submissive Christian women in marriages ("It's freeing not having to worry about decisions") and I am no more convinced in this situation that someone who is not excited about being submissive should be so to please another person.
  • I'm bored again. I think it's at this point in the movie when I determined that Christian Grey was a total asshole and any lingering sexiness just disappeared for me.
  • He keeps making statements like, "I just want all of you," and "You can't do things without my permission" and "I want to control you" and I guess it's supposed to be sexy but it's having the complete opposite effect on me right now. I am sitting there with a stink-look on my face while he's being "romantic."
  • All I can think of while he's upset at her going on a trip without telling him and bitching about how he wants to control her is that, when I was 16, I would have thought this was sooo sexy. But I have learned, through college and life and growing up, that those behaviors are really the least sexy things a person can say or do. It's about power and control and distrust and those are all things I want to avoid at all costs in a partner. I don't care if Christian Grey bangs like a god - if he's gonna act this way, I'm leaving his well-sculpted ass in a heartbeat.
  • She's crying all the time about what an asshole he is but she's still with him. I'm sad for her.
  • He's hitting her stomach with a crop and she's acting like it's bringing her to ecstasy. I fundamentally do not understand.
  • "I'm 50 shades of fucked up." COMPLETELY lost it in the theater and couldn't stop laughing. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one. But seriously, COME ON.
  • The last few minutes are just ripe with consent issues. She absolutely told him to hurt her in the way that he wanted to, but she did it so that he could see the effect it had on her. So she's crying on this table, getting whipped on the butt by the guy she loves, and can leave at any time... but doesn't, so he can see how much it's hurting her. I still don't get why she thought this was necessary to teach him something in the first place. I'm just very confused.
  • Oh, I guess it's done?

After I left the theater, two things were especially clear to me:

First, these two people had wildly different expectations and desires. Anastasia wanted a romantic, sweet boyfriend, and she was crushed that Christian Grey was not that kind of guy. And Christian wanted a lady friend to have lots of sex with and be his submissive and have total control over. Anastasia did not want to be that for Christian, and Christian did not want to be that for Anastasia.

The analogy I used right afterwards was that if you have a green painting and wish it was blue, maybe you should go out and exchange it for a blue painting instead. Sitting there wishing it was something different is not going to change it. It's still green. And maybe you just don't like green. Maybe you really like blue. So stop whining and being sad, and find something blue that will make you happy.

These were two people who are not what each other wanted and needed. And while I understand the struggle of wanting to be someone your partner desires and failing utterly to do so, I also saw her crying in every other scene. It's sad. And I wish she had respected herself enough to get the hell out of there.

Second, Christian Grey was controlling and basically the worst. The more controlling he got, the grosser I felt about the whole situation. Emotionally, he was like a petulant man-child, stuck at age 10, wanting to be the center of her world 24/7 and not handling it like an adult when he wasn't. I'm trying to think of someone I would want to be around less, let alone be in a relationship with less. Being good-looking, rich, and passionate does not excuse him being shallow, emotionally-immature and -uninvolved, and controlling.

Now, if that kind of guy appeals to you, feel free. I'm not here to stop you or to tell you not to like what you like. But you deserve to be with someone who loves you, who respects you, and who is emotionally mature enough to be in a real relationship.


All-in-all, I've described the movie as both better and worse than I expected. The first part was actually really entertaining and fun to watch, but then second part was painful to get through (ha). I tried really hard to go in with an open mind and judge it for what it was, which I feel like I did. My favorite part was seeing it with my friends, who did not judge me for warning them that I might laugh at parts and not to be upset with me. There was this elevator scene near the beginning of the movie where he kisses her and it's undoubtedly the hottest part of the movie in my mind. It was full of sexual tension and touching and passion, but it was fully consensual and there was no question that it's what they both wanted... which is the hottest (and only???) kind of passion in my opinion, haha.

Would I watch the second one? Probably not. I'm positive the plot from here on out is that *gasp* he suddenly changes and she gets through to him emotionally and he doesn't want to hurt her anymore and he lets her touch him and they're happy. Which is bullshit and not what happens in real life, so I think I'll pass... Unless my girlfriends ask me to go again. Then I probably will, because I'm really not in a position to pass up a girl's night out.

I'm still torn about the consent issues at the end of the movie. Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

xo Madie

Monday, January 12, 2015

On Being In Love

Hello loyal Her/Story readers!  It’s been a long time, I know, but life has been crazy the past few months with new job, new city, and new adult life.  But I’m back, and today, I want to talk about love.  Yes, I’ve posted about it before, several times in fact, in several of its many forms.  I’ve talked about how we should love each other as Jesus did, what real love feels like (glorious, painful, terrifying, and exciting), and that there are all types of love.  Let’s face it, love is a favorite subject of mine.  I’ve always been fascinated by the concept.  I read about it, write about it, talk about it, and try to understand it.  I’ve written all my past posts, specifically in regards to romantic love, mostly from an observatory standpoint because I’ve never been in love.  At least…I don’t think I have.  Recently, the question of whether or not I’ve ever been in love has been on my mind a lot.  Before we get to into that, however, a little bit of background first.  In an attempt to branch out and break out of my comfort zone as a part of my new adult life, I’ve started the online dating thing.  It took a lot of convincing from friends and family, but I finally got myself a profile and have started to intentionally look for someone to fall in love with.  I’ve never done this kind of thing before (intentionally seek out a relationship), and it’s made me really wonder what it’s like to fall in love.  It’s also made me really wonder if maybe I’ve already been in love, but didn’t recognize what I was feeling.  I never thought so before, but now I’m not so sure.  I’ve never been in a relationship before, but that doesn’t mean I’ve never had feelings for anyone.  Could some of those feeling have ever been love?  How do you know if you’re in love?  Can you fall in love with someone you’re not in a relationship with?  How do you know if you’re falling in love with someone you are in a relationship with?  These, and different variations of these questions have been racing through my head for the past few weeks.  So, ever the inquiring mind, I took to the streets to try and find some answers.  And by streets, I mean mostly Facebook and some texting.  I asked several people who I knew to be in love, or to have ever been in love before, how it was they knew what they were feeling.  The answers I received were thoughtful and honest, and there were a few similarities among almost all of them that I was able to pick out.  Put together, I think they offer very helpful insight into how people fall in love, and how you can tell if you might be on your way to jumping off the deep end yourself.

Among many of the people I spoke with, a common occurrence I found was that people had said the words “I love you” in previous relationships without really understanding what that meant.  A few maintained that they did feel some form of love in those situations, but it wasn't necessarily the type of love that you can build a life on.  It wasn't until they had actually fallen in love that they realized the times they had thought themselves in love before were really more diluted experiences of the emotion.  They loved, but weren't necessarily in love.  Love is a spectrum, and it takes many forms.  Oftentimes, we do not realize exactly where on the spectrum we fall, and this is especially true when we are young and not that experienced in love.  To those I talked to, many found that as they matured and were able to better understand who they were as an individual, it became much easier for them to understand when they were truly and deeply in love with someone, and what it was they needed from a steady and committed relationship.

A lot of people said that falling really in love was a slow build for them, and they didn't actually realize it was happening until it had already happened.  Some observed that when they finally said the words "I love you," it felt almost naturally because they'd had those feelings for so long, but hadn't fully understood what they'd meant.  Some resisted, some recognized what was happening, and some were surprised when they finally realized just how long they'd been falling in love.  Those who resisted did so mostly out of fear of being hurt, especially if they'd suffered similar pain in the past.  Yet in the end, though it may have taken them a little longer than most, when they finally admitted to being in love, it freed them to be even more open and genuine with their significant other.  Several people also answered me by saying that they realized they were in love because they missed the other person in a way they'd never missed anyone before, to the point of aching.  Some would come away from Skyping or talking on the phone with their significant other with huge smiles that they couldn't fight. 

One person's story in particular stood out to me, because she was reflecting on a love that she wasn't sure was actually returned (at least at the time).  She told me she’d had feelings for someone for a long time, but never realized that what she was feeling was love.  In fact, she adamantly denied that what she was in love, even when other people would point it out to her.  When she finally acknowledged what the emotion actually was, she described it as a full body reaction that she’d never had towards anyone else.  Just thinking of him would make her chest ache, her heart pound, and her legs go a little numb.  He was the only person she'd ever thought of having a future with, and also the only guy who'd ever held her attention for very long.  While she wasn't really sure she was all the way in love with him, she eventually realized that she was definitely on that path.  

Finally, the majority of the people I talked to reported back the same thing: they could be their genuine selves with the other person.  They didn't have to hide any part of who they were, or try to adjust themselves to fit the other person's ideals.  In a few instances, people realized they were in love with their significant other because they were put in a vulnerable situation, but it didn't bother or frighten them that that one person was present to witness it.  As one individual put it, "love is finding somebody who not only accepts, but who also understands the weird in you...Love is mutual weirdness."

So, put together, what can all this tell us about falling in love, and knowing when we are really in love?  It tells us that people recognize the feeling at different points in their relationship, for different reasons.  It doesn't always strike like a lightning bolt out of nowhere.  A lot of the time, it's a natural build up over time.  Being in love, like really, really in love, can be complicated, confusing, and scary.  It can be unlike anything you've ever experienced before, and it can be ever-changing, evolving as you grow and mature as an individual and as a couple.  There might not be one right way to fall in love and be in love, but it seems to really be one of those experiences that you know its happening when it finally happens.

Until next time,
Erin B.    

Mostly because the whole series is on Netflix and I'm binge-watching it, one of the best, most love-filled moments from Friends :)


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