Recently I’ve given this advice to some younger people in my life, my hope is that it helps someone avoid relationship potholes. During my college years, I dated the same girl on and off for almost three years. We ran on a six month cycle. Almost every six months we would have some big issue and it would end with us breaking up. Inevitably we would get back together a few weeks or a month later. That would start a new six month cycle.
With each breakup came a few friends or family members that would say “she was a b____!” or something like that. I never felt comfortable with that kind of 180 degree turn. After spending months of being “in love” with this person, how could I forget all of the positive that quickly and focus on the negative. It just didn’t sit well with me because although obviously not a perfect fit, she did have many of the characteristics I wanted. The problem was that I had not diagnosed my “allergies” before we started.
People with acute peanut allergies have to be extremely cautious. Their life depends on avoiding certain substances. People with seasonal allergies are often inconvenienced by the amount of pollen in the air. In both cases, it is intelligent to take necessary steps to diagnose and use preventative measures. This mode of thinking can be used very effectively for relationships as well.
I did not have a “peanut allergy” to my college girlfriend. It was seasonal and only became pronounced in certain circumstances. The problem was not her but the combination of us and environmental factors. I selected someone that was going to continually provoke my “allergic” symptoms. We very rarely get into relationships with people who cause major “allergic” reactions because like a peanut allergy, the reaction is immediate and pronounced. So the key is to go in with a plan.
Write down a description of your perfect partner. Take as much time and paper as you need. Go into detail on all levels: physically, mentally and emotionally. List all of your MUST HAVES but list your MUST NOT HAVES as well. These are your violent allergic reactions. SHOULD NOTS will be your seasonal allergies that may crop up from time to time. With this list, you are more likely to diagnose problems early and make an informed decision on how to proceed.
Too often we start a relationship and “love, lust, attraction” all take hold and we no longer diagnose anything. We go on autopilot taking in all of the good and ignoring the bad that could eventually cause major problems. If you’re still in high school, you don’t need to do this yet. You need some failed experiments to figure out what it is that you want in the first place. Once you understand your “allergies” (both severe and seasonal), you’ll be able to have a better chance of finding someone for the long term.
Click HERE to tell me about your experiments and findings.
Good luck in your search.
High school is a tough time for many reasons. It is a time when young people are looking to solidify their independence from their parents. At the same time they create new relationships that tend to define those years in so many ways. It is extremely cliche but generally you are the company that you keep. That is why cliques and labels become so widespread in high school because it is easier to lump people in with a group rather than take each person as an individual. With everyone looking to discover who they are, they are not all that interested in finding out who everyone else is.
Perhaps I was fortunate that I had absolutely no idea who I was in high school and became quite comfortable with that fact. I played soccer and ran track, so despite being athletic I wasn’t considered a “jock”. My best friends smoked and listened to punk, so they would be considered “burnouts”. Fortunately I liked the music but didn’t wear the uniform or pick up the bad habits. My other circle of friends included at least four guys in the top ten of our class. I got decent grades and loved learning things but refused to join the National Honor Society. The adjective “normal” was used to describe me once and I took major offense. At the time, I was just hoping for a better label.
In the end I’m not sure who the labels help more. Does the label give the outside world a quick grouping system that allows them to dismiss the different? Or does it give the individual a sense of self because they at least know their classification within the social class structure?
No matter who it helps more, it definitely has more possibility to hurt the individual. This may not be in the “bullying” sense but rather a surrendering of self. At this vulnerable time of life and in a society of pre-scripted paths, young people are capable of following to the point of almost non-existence. They become the persona rather than a person. None of this is particularly new nor likely to change quickly but in a world of almost infinite choices shouldn’t we be getting closer to being able to choose ourselves?
Let me know what you think. Click here.
Be you today people!
I recently watched a movie from my childhood called “The Goonies”. If you’ve never watched it, it’s worth a look. It’s the story of a group of misfit friends who are thrown into an amazing adventure. Like so many of the movies from my childhood, it is something that is timeless to me for a variety of reasons. Although it’s been almost thirty years since I first saw it, I know what attracted me to the movie at the time. It was foul mouthed kids that weren’t too different from me that fell into adventure on their own.
In my early teen years, my friends and I were always getting into low level Goonie adventures. We never found a pirate ship or fought off criminals but we did a lot without supervision. I’m not sure if the movie inspired us to test the limits or if we would have done that anyway. Our boundaries slowly but surely expanded from our backyard to as far as our bikes would carry us. It was a slow and steady process of discovery over years. These years gave us a sense of confidence that we could handle things on our own and avoid getting into trouble at the same time.
The world is a different place and I feel as though the ability/desire to find and handle those Goonie adventures is being lost. The process of creating adventures and responsibility for the consequences is an exclusively adult job these days. Kids have little ability to make minor mistakes much less big ones. At some point they will be faced with the world and I wonder if they will recoil due to a lack of experience or rise to the challenge. The self-reliance that we gained is something that I cherish. Where would I be without it? I really don’t want to know.
Go and have an adventure today. Also tell me about one of your Goonie adventures by clicking here.
This post will be short because the concept is simple. Lifeguards, seat belts and fire extinguishers are all put into place because they are intended to save your life in times of peril. None of these safety measures is infallible. There is no guarantee that you’ll be saved.
However there is something that these and other devices cannot ever save you from: your self. These devices cannot protect the person who is completely self-destructive. Fire extinguishers can put out fires not stop a pyromaniac.
This is so simple when it’s fires, accidents and drowning. It’s much tougher to identify when it is a habit that we don’t realize is tearing us apart. We think that the world keeps setting fires in front of us to be put out. Unfortunately we take no notice of the matches that we casually flick into the brush as we stroll through life. Take a deep look at your actions and see if you need to decide not to light some of the matches you have in your pocket.
Light a fire that propels you upward but doesn’t burn you up.
For my first Halloween, I was dressed up like a girl by my older brother. I’ve not been able to retrieve a copy of the photo but when I do, I’ll put it up. That costume was not my choice nor my design but I wore it anyway. As I grew older, some years I was able to choose my costume. Others my mother, economics or indifference influenced my decisions. Regardless every year, I was dressed up in some kind of disguise to go in search of the “treats” that the world had to offer.
The thing about Halloween is that the disguise is expected. You’re supposed to act like someone or something else. The other 364 days of the year, you’re supposed to be yourself. However that’s not always as easy as it might seem. Much like the rosy-cheeked little girl that I was that first Halloween, sometimes our disguises are thrust upon us. Or we’ve forgotten why we chose them in the first place and they feel uncomfortable and small. The key factor is that we are conscious that we are making a choice about the disguises we were each day. Some will be close to our truest self and others further away. Regardless of what disguise you are wearing, it’s important to remember that you chose it.
Halloween is 365 days per year. Sometimes I’m a teacher, an author, a father, a friend or kind stranger. These are just some of the “disguises” that I wear. It’s not that I am ever faking any of this. I believe in all of these “disguises”. However by never settling on any of them being the only me, it puts no limits on who I can be. I was only the little girl once. It didn’t fit and I didn’t like it. I’ve been “the father” for over nine years. I love that role and I’ll keep playing it for years to come. It gets tweaked daily and eventually will look nothing like it does today. This might not be for everyone but I see Halloween every day.
Wear your best combination of masks to get the best “treats” you can from life.
At this point there is large portion of people who own a “smartphone”. Other smart items exist or are being developed. I own a TV that says it’s “smart” but I’d like for you to imagine a specific type of smart TV. What if your TV learned your viewing habits and changed the channels for you at different times of the day? At 6 pm Seinfeld would come onto your screen because that was the show that your TV learned that you watch at 6 pm. Your viewing schedule might look like this:
At this point you realize that your TV life is now automatic. This might be a great thing. Automation can make things much more simple and less stressful. The problem arises when the TV dictates a schedule that you no longer want. Obviously when it is TV programs, it is easy to see that if you no longer like Seinfeld or the particular episode that you can change the channel. The problem is when it is something inside of us, we have greater trouble “changing channels”.
Are your emotions on auto-pilot? Does school or work put you into a stressed state? Do you live your daily life with emotions that you want on the screen or are you a victim of your own “programming”?
Human beings are not immune to automation. We have so many things to think about that our mind automates many things. This can be a great thing but it can also be terrible if we are not deliberate about our automation. Fear, jealousy, envy, anger and depression may be programs that have been automated into your system. Do you want them there? Or would you prefer to replace them with joy, hope, love and pride? It is not as easy as changing the channel but it is way more important.
I’ll admit openly that I’m a big Star Wars fan. Although I’ve never dressed up as a Stormtrooper or been to a convention, the movies run rather deep with me. I find the Jedi especially intriguing due to their disciplined study of their art and the use of their powers to hold up their ideals. It is almost contradictory that my favorite character in the Star Wars universe is Han Solo.
In my house there is a longstanding argument between my son and I about the virtues of our favorite characters. He is a Luke Skywalker fan who tries to sling mud at Solo as if the two were running for president. More than anything I find our debate an amusing way to underscore some character traits that made me gravitate toward Han Solo in the first place. Despite his semi-selfish appearance, he repeatedly proves his value as a friend and leader. Obviously I know that this is a fictitious character in a movie. It is the crossover into the real world through the actor, Harrison Ford, that brings the entire picture together.
Harrison Ford was interviewed around the time of the re-release of the original trilogy. He was asked whether or not he believed in “the force”. His comment was “force yourself”. I don’t recall him elaborating any further than that but it stuck with me. If you want to put your faith in mystical energy fields, you are absolutely welcome to do so. However in this world that I have created for myself, Ford’s advice is the perfect transition from the film to real life.
Force yourself to do those things that you think are impossible. Force yourself to be more than you thought you could. Force yourself to be a reliable friend and a good leader. Force yourself because almost no one else will.
May the Fourth Be With You!
We’ve all seen it before, the taped off section of new poured and form cement. For many young people the temptation is overwhelming and they just have to scratch their name, a smiley face or the ever popular “f–k” to last for all eternity. These alterations are intentional regardless of how annoying they may be to the cement artisans. Then there are also the unintentional imprints that happen due to a miscalculation on drying time or caution tape that blows away. Regardless, the “imperfections” sidewalks are numerous, widespread and relatively permanent.
As I was running today, I went slightly off route and encountered a sidewalk that felt like a choppy lake in a windstorm under my feet. It just so happened that I was walking at that moment because my fitness isn’t up to snuff yet. It instantly brought me to think of how I am much like that cement. My habits and thoughts are like moist cement. Some of them are seemingly permanent. Many are deliberate. Many more are due to carelessness and a lack of forethought. I’m not fully dried because that only happens at death. The truth is that I’ve got many things in my cement that make me say, “f–k!”
The best thing about my little sidewalk block is that I am the artisan and I’m the one standing guard. Anything that ends up there permanently is through my design or indifference. So as I look literally and figuratively into the mirror, I can be satisfied or dissatisfied with my work but it is up to me to decide to change it. I’m not dry yet.
Be an artisan of your life today.
I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from writing on the blog over the past week. There are plenty of reasons why but most of them are only half true. The most pertinent reasons are that I haven’t made a priority and I haven’t felt like I had something “big” to say. So tonight I’m taking care of both by committing to saying something little.
I am afraid. It is a posture that I have to deny in many ways as a father. I am supposed to act fearless at times for the sake of my children. That usually is not a problem because we are afraid of different things. My kids are afraid of the dark and an internet concoction called “Slender Man” which freaked my son out last night. Those aren’t the things that scare me.
I am afraid of what I am not. The things I’ll give up on or fall short on. I am afraid that for all of the words that I pound into this little keyboard that I will help no one. My fear is that I will give in to the worst versions of myself. I fear that the people that I love most will not see that I have tried to give them what they need instead of what they think they want. My fear is the same as everyone’s, that I’m not enough.
Tomorrow when I wake up, I’ll begin to dance with these fears again. Perhaps one day, like my fear of the dark, some of these fears will be gone. Until then, I will learn to dance with them so that they don’t step on my toes so often. They are of course the partners that I have chosen.
My daughter is an amazing person especially for a six year old. She is always coming up with entrepreneurial ventures and brilliantly off the wall ideas. Her imagination is amazing and she has created her own world in many ways. Most recently she has asked to have her room repainted to look like “Beezy World” (Beezy is my wife’s nickname for her). The clouds are lower in Beezy World and the blue sky is on top. She has also developed not just one but several languages for Beezy World including Beezy Spanish and Beezy Chinese. It is pretty obvious that she carries this world with her on a daily basis.
Although the creation of a personal world may seem like a childish thing to do, we all do it on some level. We all live in our own version of the world. There are some constants and overlapping but in many ways, we carry our own world along with us. In a very Obi-Wan sense, our world is dependent upon our point of view. For some of us we are semi-passive and the world happens to us. While for others of us, we are active. The world is not what happens to us but rather our influence on our surroundings. So the world is not as concrete as it may seem but is more the result of the ingredients that we add to it.
So the question becomes do you like the world that you carry around with you? Is your Beezy World the one that you want painted in your room? Or is it time to make a change? Since you are the creator of this world, make it what you want it to be!