Tag Archive | relationships

30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

By 30, you should know…
28. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.

Remember when The List covered such fluffy topics as umbrellas and makeup? Trust is far and away one of the most difficult topics for me to discuss on this blog — isn’t it ironic, Alanis?

I’ve been through all sorts of ups and downs in personal and professional relationships. I’ve trusted too much and been burned. I’ve been given too much trust and done the burning in a moment of anger. I’ve trusted too little and burned myself. Trusting and burning, trusting and burning, rinse and repeat.

Courtesy of JeremyChin.com

What does legendary gossip columnist Liz Smith say about trust? Well, she’s got more than 50 years of experience in the business, pissed off many — from Sinatra to Trump — and she’s lived to tell the tale.

Smith’s tips are as follows, with (you guessed it!) my own take below each:

You can usually trust a gal who says it like it is.
This may come in many forms, but I’ve personally tried to live by Maya Angelou’s words: “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” This opens up a debate of show versus tell, but I think the point is the same: Most people aren’t living double lives. How they treat a customer service agent, hired help, someone in need… it’s pretty telling of who they are as a human being.

When it comes to romance, heed these words: Trust and verify.
In today’s dating world, we have the ability to research a potential match before we even meet them. There’s the episode of “How I Met Your Mother” which explores the battle of mystery vs. history, i.e.,  wanting to know you’re not meeting up (or already dating) a psychopath, but wanting to keep some mystery alive. My take? It doesn’t hurt to know some basics, like their name, their age (range, at least), what industry they work in… and of course, their app bio says a lot about how much they value words and/or the English language. But some things can also be discovered on a real, live date — and make for a hell of a story after.

Never trust your instincts when you’re angry.
Remember how I said people show you who they are? This might be the one exception. Who hasn’t been frustrated with Comcast after 90 minutes on the phone with them? If you can recognize it in the moment, at least, you can mitigate any major faux pas and save yourself the embarrassment of feeling like a total A-hole. Same goes for traffic temper tantrums, though I think we’re all thankful I haven’t driven regularly in nearly five years.

Assume you can’t trust anyone who’s just handed you a contract.
I don’t have a mountain of personal experience with contractual obligations, aside from rental leases and a million Terms & Conditions I’ve toootally read through. But Smith’s point is 100% valid: Get legal advice before you sign anything! I’ve asked for second opinions on work contracts, and I’ve learned the hard way to get freelance agreements well-documented in writing. Feeling the burn? All right.

Life’s just too short to take every little betrayal personally.
This one may be the hardest of all, because it’s natural to feel like certain behaviors or responses are directed toward you. And with social media, Lord knows some of those are directed at you. Instead of getting into a Twitter feud or FB debate, I’ve learned to not engage. If it really irks me, I might privately message or call the person to try and talk it out. Yes, the trolls are real. But holding onto hatred for them only hurts you.

There are no real secrets, so you might as well tell the truth about things.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Public Relations 101. Only you can manage your story. If you’re not up front about certain things — whether it’s being a single mom on the dating scene or messing up at work — the truth will come out. Maybe not right away, and maybe not even with the person you’ve offended. But it will, so why not manage the message and take ownership from the start?

Truthfully, this entire post made me sweat 😅 But being open and vulnerable with you all is kind of the whole point of this series, right?

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30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

By 30, you should know…
20. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.

OK, editors of Glamour. I wanted to hear you out, because my initial reaction to this must-know was not a positive one.

My mind raced with a stream of feminist fury: Why would a kiss dictate what we want and don’t want to happen next? Shouldn’t our words do the talking? Shouldn’t the person receiving said kisses and communication be understanding of whatever we want to happen (or not)?

Maybe I was so upset because I just finished the deeply moving Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” (more on that in tomorrow’s WO). Maybe it’s because I spent my college career flying under the dating radar, for fear of being labeled a “slut,” “whore,” or anything other than a young woman exploring her sexuality. Maybe it’s because I have nieces, whose safety I worry about constantly from 3,000 miles away. Maybe it’s because for the first time in a long time, I was pissed at Glamour editors for writing the exact kind of fluff expected from a women’s magazine.

Courtesy of ContentedTraveller.com

To say I struggled with this List item is an understatement. I understood the message the editors tried to convey: A woman’s ability to communicate via kiss can be powerful. It can be empowering. It can be a lot of positive things, indeed.

The rabbit hole I fell down, instead, was thinking about how much time I spent in my teens and 20s convincing myself I was OK with casual dating. Exploring my preferences carefully, because I didn’t want people to get the wrong idea about me. Being scared to have my reputation tarnished by one awful frog I’d mistaken for a prince. Finally letting go of it all when I moved to New York, where I learned very quickly it’s the smallest world of 9 million people you can imagine.

Thankfully, very few of my experiences shook me to my core. I wasn’t taken advantage of or abused or any of the negative things that can happen after something as simple as a kiss. I know not everyone is as lucky.

And while I understand the power a kiss can hold — it’s the gateway to intimacy and often still heralded as the first test of a potential partner — I don’t agree with this item on The List.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments! I’m eager to hear your perspective.

Courtesy of SickChirpse.com

30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columthe nist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

Courtesy of MemeGenerator.net

By 30, you should know…
19. When to try harder and when to walk away.

Similar to last week’s task, this challenge made me think a lot about what it means to quit.

Often seen as a pejorative term, quitting is frowned upon — usually without taking into consideration our human and humble needs. It doesn’t have to mean you’ve given up, or you haven’t tried hard enough or some other iteration of being a whiny baby.

To be clear, it’s understandable why “winners never quit and quitters never win” was drilled into our heads as kids. The point is about learning resiliency, and how there will often be things in life you have to do — whether or not you want to.

I was on a cycle for years of starting the year strong with Girl Scouts. We’d come off an amazing summer trip; I’d be pumped for the year ahead; and then around the time we had to sell cookies or calendars, I wanted out. Girl Scouts was dorky, or I was frenemies with a troop member or camping was gross. My parents wouldn’t let me quit mid-year, though — I was to see myself through the end of the year and then I could choose to not sign up for the following year. And what would always happen at the end of each year? Another amazing summer trip, and we’d start the routine all over again.

What if my parents had let me quit any of those times I cried dramatically about hating it? I wouldn’t have completed thousands of hours of volunteer work; nor earned my Silver Award, my Gold Award (the highest honor in Girl Scouts) nor my college scholarship for scouting service. I wouldn’t have continued what have become some of my longest-lasting friendships. I wouldn’t have cried at the thought of my former camp suffering from a massive brush fire last weekend.

Instead, I would have learned it’s OK to give up when things get tough.

I went through similar lessons in my years of athletic competition. Whether it was a practice, scrimmage, game or tournament, I’d want to give up when I just wasn’t feeling it. But I’d learn at the end of each season how perseverance paid off and hard workers were often rewarded. Setting records, learning leadership, forging friendships — these are just a few of the perks of sticking a tough situation out. And earning those after you’ve been ready to give up is all that much sweeter.

Now, what’s equally important, is knowing when to walk away.

This is one I clearly haven’t mastered, as evidenced in last week’s essay. Comedienne Kathy Griffin writes this week’s response to The List, and she provides the classic example of leaving an unhealthy relationship.

The problem for many of us, though, is not seeing how unhealthy a relationship is until we’re out of it. Hindsight is often 20/20… so how do we bump it up into foresight?

Objectively, you can look at the data. See what patterns emerge from past relationships (or jobs, or friendships… you get the idea). Do you leave feeling used or bad about yourself or some other negative way? Is it really possible for the situation to change, or are you giving it your all without ever receiving anything back?

Griffin points out how stereotypically easy it is for men to move on from relationships. They leave without looking back. But women, often, are “more analytical and accommodating. We tend to hang in there and try harder.” That’s not necessarily wrong of us, but it can explain why we can feel like it’s our fault if/when things don’t work out.

The point this week, I think, is finding the balance and trusting your instinct. If you feel you should try harder, then set a timeline to check in with yourself again and see if things have improved. Don’t give up, per se, but reevaluate what’s worth your precious time, effort and energy. And if you feel it’s time to walk away — or all of your friends are saying so because they’re acknowledging what you won’t — then know that you will be OK and aren’t a failure for doing so.

At the end of the day, it isn’t selfish to prioritize your needs and learn these lessons. It’s self-care.

30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

By 30, you should know…
16. How to fall in love without losing yourself.

Author Melissa de la Cruz kicks off the second half of The List, which focuses on what you should know by 30, rather than what you should have.

Once again, we start in the relationship arena. Le sigh.

She tells a fictional, purely hypothetical tale of a young woman named Jess, who is interesting and carries herself with grace and confidence. Who wouldn’t want to be — or be with — Jess?

Unfortunately, Jess falls victim to that head-over-heels love where your life becomes all but consumed with your partner’s interests. Through a string of alliterative aliases, boyfriends range from Baseball Billy to Hipster Harry. I think we can all see where this fairy tale is headed.

With each one, Jess invests herself into the relationships so fully, she loses her identity. She goes from buying World Series tickets to dressing in sci-fi costumes to cutting her hair; and as each relationship ends, she’s left as a shell of the woman she used to be… and without many friends who’ve stuck around.

The point of this fable is, quite obviously, to remain confident in who you are — not change your core values for someone else. Can you like the music a partner introduced you to? Of course. Can you genuinely enjoy sports if you’ve never been into them before? I think so. The point is, rather, to not sacrifice what you already are passionate about for your partner’s interests… especially if you already know you don’t share those interests.

Some of the couples I envy most are those which can enjoy separate passions, and allow each other the space to do so. It’s something I’ve strived for in my own relationships, and have seen varying levels of success.

Courtesy of ExplodingDog.com

“I hate how you’ve changed.”

While I don’t take falling in love lightly, the relationship I found most meaningful grew from a shared love of some things: reading, sarcasm and baseball, for example. We introduced each other to new books and enjoyed watching games together, but we also allowed — nay, expected — one another to have separate passions.

Sure, he introduced me to new music and I showed him new restaurants. But we didn’t spend all of our time together, and there wasn’t any resentment for wanting to have our own “thing.”

I saw markedly more success in that relationship than in the one before it, where I tried to enjoy video games in an effort to spend more time together. Turns out, my love for them remains at about a Mario Kart level.

And while I didn’t resent him for being passionate about something different, I think it was challenging for him to understand how I couldn’t be so excited about this thing he loved. I encouraged him to still participate in game nights and tournaments, because he enjoyed it, but I wasn’t going to sit and watch for hours on end without having the slightest interest.

All this is to say, we each have our own passions… and non-negotiables. For some couples, it works very well to work in the same industry (or at the same company), to have the same hobbies, to share all of the same friends. For others, myself included, it works to have some sense of independence and social circles.

I’m clearly no expert, but I think approach it however it will make you happy — without sacrificing who you are at your core.

Courtesy of Pinterest

30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

By 30, you should have…
15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

Legendary anchor and journalist Katie Couric writes us into our halfway point this week. She begins by telling us she spent her 20s focused on her career, allowing work to take priority over her love life.

Sound familiar?

I don’t know if it’s because women are becoming more vocal, or because we have social platforms to have more public discussion, or because I’m nearing the end of my 20s myself, or some combination of the above… or none of those things at all.

I do know it’s a constant conversation among my circles for women to feel like they must choose one over the other: career or love?

Courtesy of MyStyleProject.com

Part of this is, unquestionably, biology. If we meet a partner at 25 and marry by 27, we still have some “good years” left in us to have children. Men, on the other hand, can possess none of Mick Jagger’s millions and have children well into their 70s.

Putting that aside, there’s also an expectation for most, if not all, women: We should want to have children. If we don’t, there must be something wrong with us. Or we just don’t know it yet. Or we haven’t found the right person (because who would ever choose to be a single mother?). As I once heard from a wise mother of two, “Any fool can have a baby.” Yet there’s still this need from society for all women to become mothers.

I’m getting deeper than Couric’s message was, but I felt it a necessary piece of the Career vs. Love debate: So much of this boils down to a woman’s choices and her desire to put herself first.

Courtesy of ClipArtKid.com

As I’ve often discussed on this very blog, and IRL ad nauseam, I’ve put my career ahead of most other things. In my seven-point-five years since undergrad, I’ve sacrificed some friendships, ended some romantic relationships, often worked tirelessly without need of recognition — and as long as I could get to a certain career milestone before 30, it’d all be worth it.

I’ll hit that career milestone on Thursday, as my role in my current company shifts. And you know what? I don’t know yet that it was worth it. Sure, I’m thrilled to hit this arbitrary goal I set so long ago. But I still question my career choices often and wonder where my next years will take me after this hurdle is overcome.

Part of that may be my inability to be completely satisfied. And while I should save that for a therapy session, I do question if accomplishing this career goal means I can finally ease my foot off the go-getter gas a little and refocus on romantic relationships. If I can allow myself to be loved, to be taken care of, to let my walls down and be vulnerable again.

Couric even briefly touches on losing her first husband to cancer, and how “the ability to accept and adapt gracefully to life’s twist and turns is one of the greatest skills you’ll learn.”

I know the ride’s not over yet, but I’m certainly going to buckle up for the journey ahead.

Courtesy of PinkSkySerendipity.com

30 Before 30

Image Courtesy of BrightSoLight on EtsyIn honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many. Let’s begin!

By 30, you should have…
1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.

Wow, way to start us off with a doozy. I instantly cringed when I saw this was my FIRST item on The List to “obtain.” My relationship history is bumpy and painful, full of letdowns and lessons. But that’s exactly what this first essay, by Genevieve Field, is about: learning.

Field mentions the Buddhist teaching that “every relationship we have in our lives, whether it lasts five hours with a stranger on a plane or fifty years with our soulmate, is meant to teach us something.”

As painful as it can be to think about love lost, I’m also able to look back and see how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come…

The man I can imagine going back to is my most recent ex — not because of the recency, but because I truly felt we were a great match with poor timing. Our relationship ended, obviously, and in a not-so-great way. Had he not let me go, though, I don’t think I’d have ever ended it. I was in love and believed he was worth working through our challenges, as resentful as I (didn’t realize I) was growing. We haven’t had any contact in a few months, but I wish him well and hope he’s working through his needs, just as I’ve been working through mine.

The man who reminds me how far I’ve come was not a boyfriend, per se, but a romantic relationship all the same. I’ve never been one to fake interest or depend on others, but I threw all that aside to “be” with him. I let myself be second fiddle to whatever else he had going on; I tried really hard to care about video games; I depended on him to be my social calendar and support system and lost myself in the process. Our few months together were the best — I thought — until I ended it after another dead-end conversation about our future, and 20/20 hindsight helped me see that I didn’t even like myself anymore.

There’s nothing wrong with me, or these two men, for these failed relationships. We’re each on our own journey, and there’s no telling where those roads will lead us. In the meantime, I can be grateful for the lessons I’ve gained from each of them (and that the tears have subsided since each breakup).

Looking back on your relationships, do you have someone you can imagine going back to, and someone who reminds you how far you’ve come? Let me know in the comments!

WO: Weekly Obsessions

It’s been a weird week, getting back into the swing of things at work and trying to get the last of my movers’ boxes unpacked. Weird, I thought staring at the boxes for hours on end would prompt them to unpack themselves. Hmph.

Image Credits Listed Below

  1. National Singles’ Day: You guys hear about this? Apparently November 11 is China’s National Singles’ Day. The most impressive feat of all? Alibaba (similar to Amazon in the US) took full advantage to have more than $9 BILLION in sales. Dayummm, girl.
  2. Straw: This carnival-themed restaurant in Hayes Valley serves up delicious food and whimsical decor at a decent price. We didn’t get to sit in the Tilt-O-Whirl booth this time … all the more reason to go back soon!
  3. OKCupid: I recently joined this dating site in an attempt to take my relationships more seriously (had nothing to do with Singles’ Day, I swear). So far, it’s a better experience than my first few days on Tinder. We’ll see how long this lasts.
  4. “Secrets” – Mary Lambert: This soulful singer is well-known after last year’s “Same Love” with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis — and now her upbeat and honest follow-up is sure to be another smash. In the words of my mother: You go girl!

 

Images courtesy of: Time, Yelp, OKCupid, Wikipedia