One of my earliest memories associated with feminism was a TV commercial that admonished parents to not buy their daughters tea sets but to buy them chemistry sets instead. It was an attempt at shaking up the status quo, to introduce science to little girls who otherwise wouldn’t have thought to ask for it because it had never been modeled for them, and to broaden the career horizons of many young women. That commercial infuriated my mother.
Facebook is a great tool for connecting with far-away friends and acquaintances. It can also lend itself quite easily to superficiality:
- voyeurism without connectivity,
- exhibitionism, and
- a facade of the “newsworthy” things
The latter is usually comprised of the highlights and occasionally a life-altering lowlight that we are essentially asking prayer (or warm thoughts) for, but not much of the mundane in-between. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because
a) most of us don’t want to be inundated with the minutest details of our friends’ lives, and
b) most of us don’t like our “dirty laundry” or that of others to be constantly aired out online.
The issue is, because Facebook is mostly a conglomeration of good times and best moments of hundreds if not thousands of friends on the newsfeed, it can be very easy to believe that one’s own life pales in comparison to everybody else’s.
Rarely does the wrong usage of the words “there”, “their”, and “they’re” pass my eye unnoticed. I learned the proper spellings of these homophones (among others) in middle school, and I prided myself on being able to use them correctly. I was genuinely confused that others couldn’t get them straight, and I found camaraderie with other Grammar Nazis who shared my passion for the proper spelling of such commonly used and confused words.
From the end of Part 3 (Healing the Angst): I thoroughly believe that my healing journey is meant to help others along in their own journeys, and that as I do, my own healing moves forward, too. So, whether you are a foster kid (former or current) or you love one, I invite you to read and reflect on the following letter (written to my 6-year old self and the 30-something old self that sometimes still needs assurance). I pray if it is relevant, that this letter may serve to help you in your next step forward.
A friend of mine once told me that thousands of years ago in Israel, newlywed couples would retreat for a year to get acquainted with one another. They’d be isolated from the people they knew, leaving behind the former ties and making new ones with their spouse, before re-emerging in their society as a couple united in mind and purpose.
I don’t know where she got her information, and whether it was historically true or not, and generally I thought something like that was kinda unnecessary in the day and age (and the type of society) where couples actually do know each other very well before getting hitched. But something about it drew me to the idea because I was in the kind of long-distance relationship that didn’t allow for us to be around each other very much in normal everyday experiences. We talked a lot on Skype, and I was sure that he was the right guy for me, but I knew that sharing a home and a life would be a hard transition for a couple who couldn’t act like a couple most of the time and who essentially turned back into independent people as soon as the computer screens closed or as soon as one of them got back on a plane to go home.
Several months ago I put my car up for sale on Craigslist. I’m on the cautious side when it comes to posting my contact information online, so when I created the listing I decided not to include my name, phone number, or personal email address. Craigslist has a “reply” button which forwards messages to the seller’s personal email account. That would work just fine for me.
Apparently not for my first potential customer. I received an angry email accusing me of leaving out my personal contact information from the ad itself because I was just trying to scam people, that I was not actually planning on selling the car, and that I would not even do him the courtesy of replying to his inquiry. He must have been burned by Craigslist scammers in the past.
I love personality profiles. Something about categories helps me feel like less of an anomaly, that there are other people out there who are like me, that I can embrace aspects of myself that are valid personality traits rather than flaws to overcome.
The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator is my go-to. I know social scientists give it mixed reviews of its science-iness, but I don’t even care, it’s so useful! Since I learned about the MBTI, it has helped me understand myself as well as embrace the differences of my friends, colleagues, roommates, and the guy I married. When bewildered by their ways of thinking, communicating, and decision-making, instead of demonizing them I recognize that it’s just a personality difference. And that is much easier to navigate than a situation in which one or both parties unnecessarily think of the other as the scum of the earth.
If you like snarky writing, short chapters, and information about the daily life of a typical introvert, this may be the book for you. I have a handful of books about introversion on my shelf, and this is the one I have the most fun reading. This sounds cliche, but I literally laughed, cried, and/or nodded along in agreement on every page.
The only part of my body I’ve ever been ashamed of are my thighs. Family members occasionally teased me during adolescence (a very sensitive time of life) about my “thunder thighs,” but even if they never had, I knew that swimsuit ads never featured girls like me. So my thighs became a liability in my attractiveness, and I learned to hide that liability as best I could.
Long ago a friend of mine reflected on a friend of his, and his reflection has stuck with me over the years. He had observed that his friend, who used to be quite bubbly and energetic, became much more reserved and mellow since getting into a serious relationship with a very conservative guy. My friend was worried that his friend was changing who she was to accommodate her boyfriend’s expectations of what a good, proper, and (in their conservative Christian perspective) submissive woman was supposed to be.
I was never quite as bubbly as my friend’s friend. However, I was an introvert who often faked being an extrovert when I was trying to win people’s affection. And I worried that when I started intentionally choosing to act more introvertedly with people, that they would worry that I was changing myself for my boyfriend, too.