Naivete of Youth

My first job as a barista, I used to add extra syrup when people ordered flavored lattes thinking they would be happier for it being sweeter. It wasn’t part of my purview that a person could prefer something less sweet, bitter, or even find something too sweet.  I grew out of acting as if my preferences were a universal truth as my understanding of other people grew. I think some people never find that though. At least some don’t understand the possibility that other people’s brains could potentially be composed in a way where their preferences flow with far less pleasure through that person’s synapses.

Are You a Good Friend? (Self-Evaluation)

FinnJake

Have you ever asked yourself: am I a good friend? If you have, you are already a better friend than those who only hold the bar for others.

Score yourself on the “Good Friend” checklist below and find your results at the bottom of this post:

1. You make an effort.

You make an effort to initiate communication, set up time to hangout or talk, travel to them, or you at least send a text/chat.  You continually remind yourself to “water your friendship flowers”.

2. You are trustworthy.

You speak the truth.  What you say to your friends can be relied upon as accurate and not exaggerated.  You can be trusted with secrets and private information.

3. You assess yourself as a friend more than you assess how good your friends are.

You think more often “am I calling my friends enough” versus “my friend isn’t calling me enough”.  You think “I need to say I’m sorry for messing up” more often than you think “they should really apologize for what they did”.  You generally think of how to be better as opposed to criticizing what others are doing.

4. You make and meet commitments.

If you commit to an event, to meet, to talk, to do something for a person, barring reasonable unforeseen circumstances, you follow through on that commitment.  You have a clear understanding with your friends on what condones a more casual, less concrete commitments, and you don’t just assume how they will think or feel about breaking your commitment.

5. You are supportive.

When your friend needs to vent, you listen.  You don’t criticize or harp on the negative when a friend is vulnerable, down, and not themselves.  If you disagree with a friend’s choices, you express concern when warranted, but you support their right to make their own choices, even if you think that choice is a mistake.

6. You are loyal.

You stay your friend’s advocate no matter what.  You don’t say things about your friends to others that they haven’t already heard from you in some way.   In a public forum, you have your friend’s back, and discuss any disagreements later and in private.

7. You provide your perspective when asked.

If you are asked for your opinion on something, you take the time, consideration, and thought to give a thorough, honest answer on what you were asked.  You are honest, even if you feel it’s difficult to say, or for your friend to hear.

8. You apologize.

Nobody is a perfect friend all the time.  You have messed up, and you have fessed up as quickly and as thoroughly as you can once you come to your senses.

9. You communicate your feelings.

If your friend has done something to hurt your feelings, you communicate it in private and with the benefit of the doubt that it was not their intention to hurt you.

10. You listen.

You don’t think about what you are going to say as your friend is talking.  You listen and absorb what they say to you.

11. You respect your friends’ time.

You have an understanding of what each friend thinks this means, as it is different depending on the type of person.  If timeliness matters, then you text or call if you are going to be late.  You are not known for dishonest about how far away you are, or what you are currently doing.  You don’t make your friends wait excessively without cause.

12. You respect your friends’ property.

If you visit their home, if you share a vacation home or hotel room, if you borrow a piece of clothing, you show respect.  You clean up after yourself, and you return things in the way that they were provided to you.

13. You care about your friends’ state of mind and well-being.

If you sense your friend is going through a difficult time, you either reach out or give them space, based on your understanding of that friend.  Some friends like help, some friends like to figure it out themselves.  Either way, you make an effort to understand what makes your friend feel better and you make the effort to do so.  You also show care and concern for their physical and mental health and well-being.

14. You forgive.

Your friends are not perfect.  If they mess up, and they apologize, then you forgive them.  In times of high stress, major life changes, and hardship – if you realize your friends are not themselves, you let mistakes go without an apology.

15. You are not petty.

If a friend made a minor mistake, likely without intention or thought to it being rude, inconsiderate, or unwelcome, you don’t discuss it if it is in isolation.  You recognize occasional mindlessness is a human characteristic and minor things need to be let go and you don’t harbor them.

16. You do not act entitled.

You do not expect your friends to do you any favors.  You do not expect your friends to give you a ride, to help you move, to take you to the airport, spot you money, to wait with you at the doctor’s office, help you clean up after yourself, or to generally make overt personal sacrifices for you.

17. You express gratitude.

However, if your friends do any of those things, you thank them and tell them how much you appreciate their friendship.  You express your gratitude in both words and actions by returning the favor.

18. You show interest in your friends.

You ask your friends questions about their life, their childhood, their hopes and fears.  You do not just expect your friends to divulge that information and be vulnerable to you without consideration for their boundaries, but you show interest in who they are whether they let you in or not.

19. “The love you take is equal to the love you make”

You have an awareness of when your friends give to you, bring positivity to your life, make sacrifices for you, and take interest in you, and you make an effort to return that wealth to them.

20. You don’t portray yourself as a good friend when you don’t consider that person a good friend.

You don’t give your friendship out to just anybody, you give friendship to people you consider friends. If you find that a particular person, time and time again, is not able to be a good friend to you and never makes amends for it or tries to be better, you do not continue to provide and falsely portray yourself as a friend to that person.  You are civil, but you reserve your friendship benefits for those who’ve earned it.

 

SCORE:

18 – 20: You are an amazing friend.  You likely inspire others to be good friends, and over time you’ve learned how to pick them too.  Whether your friend circle is large or small, you will have friends who love and support you until you’re old and grey.

16 – 17:  You are a great friend, but you can be a little mindless or inconsiderate sometimes.  You want to be a good friend all the time, but you have some personal growth to do that sometimes takes away from being an ideal friend.

14 – 15: You’re a good friend, but perhaps you are a bit too judgmental or self centered at times.  Most of your friends still consider you great to have around, but sometimes you can be a burden.  You likely focus more on how they are performing as a friend then how you are.

13 or lower: People either keep you around because you are a fun person, or because you have something they want (money? drugs? status?).  Your friends circle is likely superficial or just horrible.  If you find yourself complaining about them, perhaps it’s best to take a look in the mirror first.

Accidental Pregnancy

About 9 month ago I found out I was pregnant.  I suppose I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was, being that I wasn’t taking my birth control “as directed”, and both of us knew this.  Still, I felt very differently about becoming pregnant than I thought I was going to.  I somehow thought I would have the resolute disconnected logic to take the necessary measures to end the pregnancy, then choose to become pregnant at the time and on the terms of my choosing at some point in the future.

Of course, I cannot say definitively what the purpose of emotions are.  However, I can say that I felt entirely differently about becoming accidentally pregnant than I thought I was going to.  I’ve never been somebody that allows emotions to dictate my actions, but it’s seldom wise to dismiss or suppress emotions indiscriminately.   The most powerful feeling at that time was the feeling that I was responsible for life.  I hadn’t even felt the sense of responsibility for my life up until that point.  I know now that I would have felt that way under any circumstance. If I were to think of all the times I had been irresponsible, it was merely luck the circumstances of my current situation: I was in a steady long-term relationship, I was happy in that relationship, and we both agreed we wanted that relationship to stay together permanently and have children at some point.  Moreover, we had both certainly had our fun in our twenties, and especially so that past year, so I could hardly say that my youth had been squandered — that would be laughable to do so.

In fact, we had such an amazing time in our relationship up until that point, and we had both had so much freedom and independence before that, that I would say the secondary feeling was that I would have no just cause to shirk on this responsibility.  Yet, I still had a conflicting feeling of loss that the very freedom that granted me irresponsibility has now given me unexpected, irrevocable responsibility.  I suppose that’s the risk and beauty of freedom.

Most surprisingly, I felt individual responsibility – not joint responsibility, even though it was.  Although the circumstances were favorable, I knew had they not been, that I would have honored my responsibility all the same.  That responsibility to raise and teach this person was now a part of my character.  I knew that path would shape me just as much as my freedom did.  And suddenly, those preconceptions of responsibility were not at all unwanted, heavy or terrible, as I had once thought I would feel.  We do not decide the path to evolve in freedom and love.  If it finds you worthy, it will show you the way.

In coming to know that more and more every day, I see how this is an incredible gift.  It is a gift I wouldn’t have chosen for myself at this time, and aren’t those always the best gifts?  Every pain I face with my body, every prospect of unknown future rewards and challenges is a reminder of that gift.  The gift of an adventure containing feelings, challenges, and life-changing events that I could not seek on my own.

Our freedom can bring us so many kinds of gifts.  I’m sure a million twenty-somethings have back-packed in unfamiliar countries.  And countless women have been through this beautiful experience of childbirth and raising a child.  However, it is who we are that brings us the most out of every experience.  And the amazing gift that is this experience is that who I choose to be from now on will bring just as much to me as it will to another.

As this pregnancy comes to its last final weeks before labor and birth, I reflect on all the unexpected beauty that my free choice has given me.  I only hope that I can pass on that constant sense of fulfillment with experience and outcome, the passion to evolve, and the feeling of wealth in happiness with the profit to spread it.  And when she’s smarter, wiser, and better than me, that will be the best gift of all.

A Collection of Things I’ve Learned

  • To be fulfilled in a relationship, you must have a clear understanding of what you want.  If you are suffering in a relationship, part of the reason for this will always be because you do not clearly understand what you want and are unable to clearly communicate your expectations.  If you did, then you would either communicate expectations and A) have them met or B) feel like there is progress being made towards meeting them, or C) feel that they are not being met and end the relationship.  This is most difficult at the beginning of a relationship, because what you want from a person can only be clearly realized after you have a strong understanding of who that person is.  Also, we over-estimate our ability to throttle what we innately desire, which may be different than what we would like to desire.  Sometimes we pressure ourselves to accept less than what we innately desire, because we see the lower threshold as still something more, thus better, than if we accept nothing at all.  This is an illusion.  If we are not honest about what we innately desire from that person as we come to understand who that person is, then we will lie to ourselves and dissociate from who we really are, and we will suffer.  In that light, when we feel we understand our own emotions, thoughts, and hold ourselves to honesty with them to ourselves and others, we feel greater confidence and hold healthier relationships.  We feel we have a stronger sense of self, we feel confident, and we feel self empowered.  It’s okay to have needs, to have wants, and to know that some people are unable to meet them.
  • Life is a journey to understand ourselves.  We struggle with understanding what our preferences are, what we desire, what motivates us, and what thoughts and choices empower us to overcome adversity.  Everybody else will have an opinion on what all of those things should be.  Some will, whether intentional or not, make you feel an idiot, an outcast, a loser, or lesser for not agreeing with their preferences, desires, and thoughts.  This is an act of insecurity on their part, as they are seeking to pressure others to agree with their ideas and actions so they can feel greater confidence in theirs and their identity.  There is merit in listening to others opinions, but only if you see merit in them in a space of open-mindedness.  There is merit in allowing others opinions to help formulate your own if you truly identify with them, not because they have made you feel bad about your own thoughts and actions.  When we are younger, it’s hard to tell the difference between choosing preferences, opinions, and actions because it avoids having others make you feel bad about your own, or if it’s because you actually prefer and think those things.  Sometimes it’s easier to be accepted and praised for holding somebody else’s opinions and preferences than seeking to find your own, especially in the face of that type of adversity.  However, by conforming to others, you lose yourself, and your happiness will always be contingent on the opinions of others, and nobody should own your happiness except you.  And people who truly have similar preferences, ideas, and desires will naturally gravitate to you, and you will find yourself later in life with a wealth of good people in your network.
  • With that idea of not letting somebody else control what makes you feel good, one type of highly criticized action lies within sexual behavior: how we dress, who we have sex with, how we have sex, how often we have sex, and other sexual preferences.  If we act always for the purpose of doing something because it is what we truly prefer, what we desire, and what makes us feel good, than we are in control of our sexual satisfaction and personal fulfillment.  If we act, speak, or dress in a way with the idea that this will make somebody else praise our behavior and make us feel accepted, if we act for monetary or material gain, or if we act in revenge or to distract ourselves from pain caused by somebody else, than somebody else owns our fulfillment and thus happiness.  Coversely, if we fear action or fear behavior because we fear what others will think about us, than still somebody else owns our fulfillment and happiness.  To have confidence that we are not owned by somebody else in this way, we must truly understand who we are, what we think, and what we desire and empower ourselves to be that.  If we feel we are unclear about any of those things, then we cannot correctly communicate that to somebody else, and if you cannot communicate that, than you leave yourself incredibly vulnerable, as your insecurities will be open and out for ridicule and subject to suffering.  While suffering can at times help us learn, it is important to be cautious regarding the permanence that this can hold.  These types of things can be very public and that ridicule can be forever attached to your identity, which then makes the task of overcoming adversity and understanding yourself so much more difficult.  You also don’t want to look back on your life realizing that you missed out on so much action and fulfillment just because you worried about what somebody else thought about your desires.  Understand yourself and your desires, and create your own fulfillment and happiness.
  • There is a variable of permanence in risk that should always be heavily lamented, but never allow it to imprison you from self fulfillment.
  • Water your friendship flowers in accordance with your perception of their character and merits, not your perception of their forthcoming entertainment value.
  • Communicate your needs.  Nobody will guess what they are.  It’s okay to ask for things.
  • Give to somebody only in understanding who a person is and wanting to show that you value that person, that is the only true gift.  Giving to shock somebody with your generosity, to make a person like you more, to make yourself feel good about how kind you are, or what you would like as a gift is not a real gift to that person, that is a gift to you.  Over spending, demanding, or expectation of gratitude are all warning signs that it may not be a true gift.
  • It’s okay to have boundaries or withhold things that make you vulnerable such as trust or admiration if you haven’t known somebody long enough to do so yet.  Conversely, you cannot expect others to give those things to you, or have their boundaries or walls lowered to you inherently.  All of those allowances involve an element of risk, and while  we are free to assume risk at our own comfort level, we cannot have that expectation of others.  Though if you feel another person is not giving you those allowances in a reasonable amount of time, perhaps they are still consumed with figuring out themselves, thus they have no room to understand you, and you will need to expect this to create a major difference in the time it takes to establish trust and comfort with a person.
  • Do not confuse lofty self idealistic values with expected standards for others.
  • If somebody is complaining about their personal life or work, they are seeking the friendship service of listening and sympathizing. Do not assume your solutions or opinions could possibly provide value given the small biased window they are giving you.  That would be arrogant, in some cases irresponsible, and most likely unwanted.
  • If you can’t sit in the passenger’s seat of somebody’s car and keep your opinion about their driving to yourself, you are a control freak.  You chose to take the ride, it is now out of your hands.  You can always close your eyes.  The person drives fine every day without you.  If they don’t, then you can look to criticize yourself for choosing to sit in the passenger’s seat with them.
  • If people seem to exclude or not like you, it’s usually preemptive to you realizing you don’t really like them either.
  • There is a difference between secure and insecure relationships.  You can decide to be monogamous and committed to somebody without that relationship being a secure relationship.  This does not imply that the trust and loyalty of that relationship is not secure, rather that your understanding of yourself and relationships is not fully secure.  For example, sharing your arguments with friends and family is a sign of insecurity in your own relationship knowledge and experience.  You do not have the confidence that you have the information necessary to make the best decision.  Taking this measure is understandable, as long as you understand the implication.  In this example, your friends and family who love and care about you will gravitate to your perspective from bias and cause bad blood between your friends, family, and your mate.   This is a worthwhile risk in the pursuit of attaining better experience and confidence in yourself in a relationship, if you are unable to overcome your suffering alone. You should only consider a relationship to be a secure relationship if you have total confidence in that personal relationship knowledge and experience to resolve problems and progress your relationship.  This means you are able to resolve arguments successfully between the two of you, or you have established a rapport with an unbiased party (i.e. a therapist); until then, you are in an insecure relationship.   These types of relationships are still positive to participate in, so as long as you do not progress the relationship in risk beyond yourself (i.e. finances –> shared bank accounts or shared residence, legality –> marriage, other lives –>procreation).  These relationships are typically marked by heavy periods of suffering and frustration, feeling that you are helpless and vulnerable–unable to progress past unresolved issues.  If this feeling never resolves, or outweighs the positivity you receive from being in the relationship, then the relationship should end.

Avoiding Argument Exhaustion

Unless you have no insecurities, never get offended, annoyed, or need other people in a team environment to participate, chances are you’ve had arguments in past relationships. Even if you are extremely passive aggressive, not addressing issues will build up and eventually end in some sort of confrontation, even if the argument isn’t entirely direct or verbal.

Arguments become exhausting pretty quickly. Few people have natural tolerance or endurance for feeling bad emotionally, which arguments inevitably make you feel. If you are going to make this work, and you have to want to make it work, you are going to need to build some endurance for your bad feelies and make a team strategy to address the root of your arguments.

What does a team strategy look like?  You should write down your arguments.  Not so that you can recount them later, which I will talk about in a moment, but as research for your strategy.  After you have collected a few, you can start to identify the following for both of you:

  1. Life goals and priorities
  2. Relationship/dating goals and priorities
  3. Needs
  4. Insecurities
  5. Pet peeves
  6. Triggers
  7. Reaction time and type
  8. Cool down time and type

1 & 2: Mismatched goals and priorities in both life and relationships/dating can cause unresolvable arguments.  Your relationship may not work out if you have severely mismatched priorities and goals.  It can work, but both people need to discuss the differences and their dedication to overcome the discrepancies.

3:  This item is tricky, because depending on the person, the level of needs can vary.  However, it’s important to agree on what needs are reasonable expectations, and what needs should be taken care of on your own, and under which conditions those needs can be negotiated.  Your needs should be minimized as much as possible while maintaining your humanity and identity.  For example, while it would be ideal to evolve above all insecurities so you have no social, romantic, or sexual needs, we are human, so that is not possible.  It is reasonable to ask your partner to help you feel appreciated, loved, and sexually satisfied, it is not their job or responsibility.  A healthy relationship is one where you ask your partner to help you feel accepted and satisfied, and your partner cares about you enough to provide you that help, which is the care and love that sustains it.  An unhealthy relationship is one where you demand (or need to demand) that your partner do these things, and blame, attack, and scold your partner when they fail to meet your expectations.

4, 5, & 6: Identifying insecurities, triggers, and pet peeves is especially important.  In an ideal relationship, we are constantly evolving and reducing insecurities, triggers, and pet peeves but again, we are human, so this is unrealistic to expect another person to be void of these.  Identifying these allows us to better navigate our partner, as we can avoid stepping on emotional land mines unnecessarily.

6: If the items mentioned so far are not discussed, any of these can be the trigger for an argument.  Once somebody is unintentionally triggered, the typical method of communication is to put the responsibility of resolution on the other person.  This can come across as attacking, blaming, or otherwise making your partner feel inadequate in their character or in the relationship.  Putting the burden of resolution on a person implies that the issue is their fault.  The only natural human reaction in this case is to react and defend.  Since the person triggered is seeking resolution, this just throws fuel on the fire and again fails to meet expectations.

7 & 8: After understanding all the elements that create an argument, further understanding how your partner reacts and cools down is also very important.  Knowing what to expect allows you to think with a more rational mindset, because we are empathetic creatures.  If you truly care about your partner, if your partner is hurting from a mistake you made or from a general miscommunication that hasn’t been resolved, you will be hurting too.  Don’t let yourself burn because you will make concessions when you shouldn’t or say things you don’t mean, and that won’t help the situation.  By recognizing how your partner reacts, how long your partner reacts, you can recognize when your partner is upset and formulate a resolution strategy.  And by recognizing how your partner cools down, and how long it takes for them to cool down, you can decide how involved you need to be or when you should or should not step in.  Sometimes people get upset for reasons unrelated to you, and they may take it out on you, and need some time to cool down.  Then, after they have cooled down, you can clearly and logically discuss how that made you feel.  Then they can work on making it up to you in whatever way will be appreciated most.

Know that having these arguments does not mean you are not compatible.  It is very normal to have insecurities, annoyances, triggers, pet peeves, to react, to defend yourself, and to feel defeated if you argue a lot.  However, if you are mostly compatible, you will be able to isolate, identify, and navigate these things and decrease the arguments you have over time.  Though, if you are actually talking about your issues (as you should), you will still continue to have them.  At some point, you need to tell yourself to suck it up and deal with the occasional bad feelies (as long as the good outweighs the bad!!).  If you don’t overcome feeling bad on occasion, you will never be able to build the tremendous asset that is the investment in a lifetime, long-term relationship.  New people will have new problems that take years to uncover.  However, some people in the end would rather deal with the pain of loneliness than the pain of integrating with another person and building argument endurance.  If that’s you, I really hope you communicate that to anybody you are involved with.

 

A few final notes on arguments:

  • An argument must be resolved in the window of the reaction and cool down period.  The discussion of the resolution needs to be tangible.  When both parties agree that the argument is resolved, do not bring it up at a later point in time even a new argument strongly relates to the old argument.  Do not say an argument is resolved if it isn’t, and if you say it is, you need to stick with it and get over it.
  • Do not be unrealistic about your needs.  If you need your partner to be physically present, then don’t agree to a long distance relationship or one where you only see them once a week if you need more than that.  Conversely, your partner should be able to have their own friends, hang out with those friends, and even go on trips with those friends.  If you don’t trust them enough to be without you, you shouldn’t be with them.
  • If you feel like your partner is trying to change who you are, do not get up in arms if they criticize something you do.  You are the only one who can actually change who you are.  If they do not like who you are, they can leave.
  • Team participation is important, but nitpicking is destructive.  Participation may not always be exactly even, but it should generally even out over time.  If you feel things are exceptionally uneven, you have to communicate that to your partner.
  • Never make a deal to enter a relationship with the expectation that the logistics will drastically improve or change after a certain time period.  If your needs can’t be met now, wait until they can meet those needs or find somebody who can meet your needs now.  Otherwise this will result in unresolvable arguments.
  • You need to discuss what you think is reasonable and unreasonable to ask for help on.  If you think your partner is being unreasonable, it is okay to let them know you care about them, but you think this is something they can resolve on their own without your help.

Mission Statement

I think it’s a valid criticism that comes from men, that what women want is far more elusive than what men want. What men want is pretty straight forward: somebody to have consistent sex with that they can trust and rely on, that doesn’t also make their life consistently unpleasant. Though, maybe what women want is simple, but more unique to each woman, thus they have a hard time defining it because they don’t have anyone else to simplify it for them. I think every woman should find their “mission statement”, if you will, before looking to find a life partner. I think most women don’t do that, and they try to find what they want through different men, myself included.

If you can’t define it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. My father once told me to make a list of fifty things to define what I wanted in a man, and I would know when I found him if the man met over 45 of those criteria. I think that was the worst thing to advise somebody, because it dilutes the precision of understanding yourself. And I do think you have to understand yourself to precisely define what you want.

The problem is, that our understanding of ourselves evolves over time. When can we say that we know ourselves well enough that what we want will stop changing? I feel like somebody could collect data on this and determine an age where this is true, because I feel like I stopped drastically changing when I was 25, but I never stopped to make my mission statement and instead, continued the poor behavior of dragging the definition of myself through others. But maybe I can stop, and think and do it now.

If I was going to implement a template for figuring this out, how would I go about it? How would I advise others going about it? I’d probably suggest to list the 3 – 5 principles that were most important, and take your time in doing so:

1. To be appreciative, uplifting, and warm to others in a directly reciprocal manner
2. To always continue exploring, learning, and growing in every facet of life
3. To find and project comfort in honesty

So now I should be able to simplify this further to refine my mission.

“To reciprocate positivity, to explore and evolve, with empathetic candor.”

I feel infinitely better. If I can define myself, I can have more confidence in what I seek. Each of these words are very important in who I am and what I want.

Also, in writing these, I see where others haven’t fit in the past, and also where some of my doubts originate from. However, this also forces me to stick by this mission – thus have accountability and aspirations for myself, which I think is infinitely important for building relationships.

Hooks

You have your hooks in me
don’t you boy
my heart strings pivot around your actions
like a leash
You know what you want
don’t you boy
you make decisions on what you want to do
but I’m symbiotic
And every time I get hurt I just remind myself that it’s only a product of
[insert justification]
[Self blame to control the situation]
Question:
Is it me or is it you?
Are you not that into me?
or am I too into you?
Am I even that into you?
What does it even mean to be into
the idea of you??
I suppose that was more than one question 🙂
What I mean is
There’s only a risk
If you’re building shit
So don’t build shit
Or just take the risk
Just tell me which one it is
Or just leave me here with my shit
And I’ll move into somebody else
the idea of somebody else