Stage One: Find Man, Stage Two: Live Happily Ever After

As a woman who is constantly thinking about her future and planning ahead, some people are surprised when I tell them that stories and moments from my past tend to replay themselves over and over again in my mind. For example, the other day, I started to think about what the topic of this blog post would be, and then proceeded to strike up a one hour conversation with myself, replaying my relationships from the past ten years and remembering what went wrong. Looking back, it’s weird to say, but I’m happy that I’ve aged. I enjoy remembering the good times of the last decade, but I definitely wouldn’t want to live them out again.

However, I can’t help but think about the relationship that I have with my boyfriend Matt and how it’s evolved. Matt and I met ten years ago, and were good friends for two years before we started dating. We broke up after our first three years together, and then reconciled after 18 months. We’ve been back together for over three years, and I’ve noticed a lot of changes over the course of our time together. Thus, prompting me to write about the different stages of a relationship. What you had, what you wanted, what you might miss, what you have now, and what you hope is in store for the future. Take the journey with me!

  1. The strong, emotional bond of young love: Depending on your age, this stage can be a bit different for everyone, however, there is one, common denominator: passion. This can be physical, emotional, you name it. I remember when we first started dating, we would be together all day, then go to our separate homes, and call each other three hours later. Looking back, I wonder, what the hell was there to talk about? We had just spent 8 plus hours together? Then, I remembered, we were just beginning to figure each other out, digging deeper into one another’s likes, dislikes, etc. There was also a stronger, romantic, emotional connection. There were a lot of “I love you’s” exchanged, talk of how wonderful the other person was, planning the future together, etc. To me, the best way to describe it was being in a Disney princess movie. You’re Ariel, he’s Prince Eric. He’s ready to hurdle himself into the ocean for you, and your mind is clouded with thoughts of the other person. You never want to let go of their warm embrace, and then some.
  2. The Intellectual Stage: Next, comes the intellectual, deeper meaning stage. You’ve already figured each other out (for the most part), so there’s not a lot left to talk about on that front. So, you start discussing ideas, world news, politics, the hard stuff. It’s your time to really gage what the other person believes in, and if you can see your relationship going all the way. You’ve come to realize that looks won’t last for forever, so, you have to see if the conversation will. This is also the time when you figure out how the other person responds to shit that life throws their way. Do they come up with solutions? Do they get mad?
  3. The Mature/Grown Up Phase: Shit. Gets. Serious. You start talking about living together, and you essentially are working towards compromising all of your assets. Sometimes, this phase can make or break couples. Unfortunately, you have to put on your big girl/boy pants and deal with real life problems. Will we have enough to feed ourselves this month if we buy that new television? Finances are never a fun thing to talk about. But, it’s important to try and keep the mood light and realize this person is your best friend. You should be able to bring open and honest communication to the table. And, when all else fails, laugh.

Through all of these stages, I have learned that as people grow older and change, so do relationships. The two biggest issues with couples are expectations and communication. For example, say that during the beginning of your relationship, your significant other called you every night before bed just to say, “I love you.” But, now that you’re living together, your partner doesn’t even say, “I love you” before bed at all. You miss this, and start to wonder why he/she doesn’t do it anymore. Every night you go to bed, wishing the other person a “goodnight,” and hoping, silently expecting them to say, “I love you.” I mean, it would be nice to throw in there every once in awhile. But, it never happens. Months go by; you sit at night with this silent frustration. You may even start becoming passive aggressive, etc.

Some people hold on to that anger, and over time, little things that have changed start to piss you off. As you grow together, you may take out your frustrations on the other person instead of simply stating, “why don’t you tell me you love me before bed every night?” Your relationship becomes the question, “Why don’t you?” You forget about all of the things that he/she does for you, and you only focus on what’s slipped through the cracks.

Some of you might be like me. You might be too nervous to bring up your questions or concerns. If you’re like me, you always feel that people have enough on their minds, and you really need to pick and choose your battles. Sometimes, when I get frustrated, I ask myself, Am I going to turn this into one of those battles? I’m trying so hard to “let it go” that I’m sacrificing my opinion.

I’ve made a promise to myself over the past few weeks to start becoming more honest with Matt. If I’m upset about something, it’s time to raise my voice. If I wonder why he hasn’t done something, it’s time for me to say, “you used to do xyz for me. I miss that. I would really appreciate it if every once in awhile, we could make xyz a thing again.” It’s doesn’t pay to get mad at the other person for not meeting your “silent expectations.” If you want something, ask politely, and go after it. Men and women cannot read each other’s minds. It’s hard enough to figure out the language of the opposite sex as it is, and now we have to silently figure it out? I don’t think so.

If none of what I’ve said has made sense, or you think you’ve just wasted your precious time reading this article, I’m going to sum it up right here. “If you never ask for doggy style, all you’ll get is missionary.”

Granny Smith – over and out

I’m Poor

“I’m poor” is a phrase that I’ve been hearing a lot lately from friends, especially when I’m trying to plan a nice evening for us outside of our apartments. Every time I hear that phrase, I cringe and hold my tongue. For many individuals my age, it can seem like we have no money. Student loans, renting our first apartment, car insurance, renters insurance, pets, cell phone bills; it all escalates quickly. But, are we really “poor?”

Different images can pop into our minds when we think of the word “poor” or “rich.” When I think of “poor,” I think about a homeless person sitting on the side of the street, or a single parent who only works a few hours a week and is about to lose his or her house…and possibly their child(ren). When I think of poor, I don’t think of people in their early-mid twenties. Sure, we don’t have a lot, and we haven’t even started thinking about saving for retirement, but most of us have an amazing support system, like friends or family, or other financial resources (financial counselors) that can help push us in the right direction.

When I think of poor, I think of individuals whose family members left them to fend for themselves, put them into foster care, went to jail, died without saving a single penny to give to their children (who are already homeless with nothing), the list goes on. When I think of rich, sure I think about individuals that have mansions in California, nice cars, wear Gucci, etc. However, I also think of people who have enough money to pay for their own car, provide food for themselves (and possibly another family member), have a pet or multiple, go out to eat with friends, but most importantly, I think about myself. When I thought I had nothing, whenever I’ve felt like the world is falling apart around me, I have my family, friends, significant other, and my dog. I have a plan B; I have a backup system. This helps me know that even if I don’t have much in the end, everything will work out.

I used to be the type of person who took on everything, who thought she could figure it out on her own, who was afraid to ask for help, and who was used to having other adults “taking care of” it for her when it was physically apparent that she was struggling. Now, I’ve learned to say “no.” I’ve learned to ask for help directly and from multiple resources. I ask for help because I am rich. I am rich because I have a strong support system. I have a strong support system because I’m attracted to people who know what it means to care. I am not poor. I am the opposite of poor.

Granny Smith – over and out

Can We Change The Subject?

Recently, I went over to my boyfriend’s parent’s house for dinner. I don’t normally spend time with them, but every now and again I’m subject to a visit and an awkward conversation. During the dinner, they asked me a simple question, “how’s work?” My heart froze. I didn’t want to answer. I would’ve given almost anything to talk about something else. Wouldn’t you rather ask me about my trip to the gynecologist? Can we talk about the last time your son and I engaged in sexual intercourse? Anything was better than talking about my job.

And, that’s when it hit me. Even though I’ve known it all along, when you’re an adult and enter the workforce, you’re immediately defined by your job. What do you do? That’s the first question we ask a stranger when we’re at a social gathering, right? If you’re a doctor, you must love helping people and have a high level of intelligence. If you’re a bartender, you must be an alcoholic or have breast implants.

For my job, I’m a board operator for a radio station. I barely work 15 hours a week, and I do the same thing just about every day. Nine times out of ten, I get paid to read a book and make sure nothing goes wrong. This position is really destined for someone in high school or college. Someone who wants to learn the ropes, get their experience, and get out. I lost my job almost a full year ago, and this plus an internship and a few volunteer opportunities has been all I can find. And, I know what you’re thinking. Why has it taken her a whole year? Why doesn’t she take the first thing she can find? Oh, so she’s living at home. Why is she mooching off her parents? Doesn’t she feel terrible? What could she possibly be doing all day? Why doesn’t she try harder?

I know some of you are asking these questions because these are the questions my own friends and family members have asked. Every time I see them, they ask me how the job hunt is going. And every time, I try to give them short, yet informed, answers. I don’t want them to keep asking me questions. Because, no matter how sympathetic their tone of voice is, their eyes tell me a different story. And please, it’s embarrassing enough that I was making $48,000 a year, full-time, full benefits, right out of school, and now I’m barely part-time, making $8 an hour, no benefits, nothing.

I know that this is not an uncommon situation. With the crazy economy the last couple of years, many people lost their jobs, took a job they didn’t like just to pay rent, got a pay cut, etc. But, the last thing we all want is to have the people that we love most in our life think of us unfavorably. There have been times when I’ve asked myself, do my boyfriend’s parents think little of me? Do they think I’m using their son? Do they think I’m good enough for their son? Do my aunts and uncles think I’m a spoiled brat? Are they embarrassed for me?

So, this holiday season, let’s cut everyone some slack. At the gatherings you have with your family and friends, how about we ask the question, “what’s new in your life” or “how are you?” instead of, “how’s the job/job search/the unemployed life?”

Granny Smith – over and out

Taking the ‘Thanks’ out of Thanksgiving

So, now that Thanksgiving has been out of our minds for two weeks and Christmas is two weeks away, let’s take a step back, shall we? Black Friday. It’s a topic that many of us think about every year during the Thanksgiving season, and it always sparks a great debate. Around this time, I’ll see posts from my Facebook friends about how “if you camp outside for a deal on a cell phone, it’s called being a good consumer. But, if you camp outside for your rights, you’re a dirty hippy.” I also see posts that say, “I won’t shop on Thanksgiving! Share if you won’t either!” These days, I see fewer and fewer people posting about their Black Friday shopping experience and more and more people in the opposition.

Personally, I hate Black Friday. Hell, I hate the fact that stores, restaurants, gas stations, ect. are open on Sundays! We don’t give people a break anymore. Years and years ago, everything was closed on Sundays to give people at least one day to catch up on life. Now, if you’re not open for at least 12 hours a day seven days a week, consumers start to bitch and they think there is something wrong with you. “Don’t they want to make money?” “Why are they closed when their competition is open?”

Our society has become more concerned with getting the next best thing and making more money than we know what to do with rather than spending time with our family members, reading a book, playing a card game, and taking things back to a “simpler time.”

However, in some ways, it makes sense. Take it from me; I was fired from my full-time job almost a full year ago. I was making $48,000 a year. I had health insurance, too many vacation days to know what to do with, dental, vision; everything I ever wanted! Fast forward to today and I work 15 hours a week (if I’m lucky) at a job where I make $8 an hour. I have no benefits, no vacation days, no insurance, nothing. For me, finding the best deals, and saving what money I make is essential. I had hopes and dreams before I lost my job of moving out of my parent’s house, getting my own place, adopting a dog, helping my significant other pay for every day expenses. Now, I look forward to that check so that I can pay for gas and a meal at a restaurant.

So, as consumers, in an economy where things might not be looking up just yet, is Black Friday really a bad idea? Is being open on Sundays to make more business essential? Can we ever go back to just saying what we’re thankful for on Thanksgiving instead of hitting the mall? Only time will tell.

Granny Smith – over and out

Wanna Play 20 Questions?…Sort of…

Image

So, in spirit of the holiday season, I like to get nostalgic, think about what I really want out of life, etc.  A few days ago, I stumbled across a list of thought-provoking questions that my friend posted on her facebook page.

I thought it would be cool to share them with all of you! Who knows, maybe you guys will find these questions as interesting as I do and use them as conversation starters at your next holiday gathering.

Also, I love reading the comments that you all post on my blog! For this specific post, if you would like to share your answers to one (or more) of these questions, please do so in the comments section.

Without further ado, the questions are:
1. If you could make a 30 second speech to the entire world, what would you say?
2. If you were going to die at midnight, what would you be doing at 11:45 p.m.?
3. How do you really KNOW anything for sure?
4. If you had all the money in the world but still had to have some kind of job, what would you choose to do?
5. When you’re 90 years old, what will matter most to you?
6. What do you regret most so far in life?
7. How can you apply the lesson you learned from that regret to your life TODAY?
8. What would you change if you were told with 100% certainty that God does not exist? Or, if you don’t believe in God, that he does exist?
9. If you lost everything tomorrow, whose arms would you run to? Does that person know how much they mean to you?
10. Do you fear death? If so do you have a good reason?
11. What would you change if you knew you were NEVER going to die?
12. If you were at heaven’s gate and God asked you, “why should I let you in?,” what would you say?
13. When will you be good enough for you? Is there some breaking point where you will accept everything about yourself?
14. Is the country you live in really the best fit for you?
15. What would people say about you at your funeral?
16. What small thing could you do to make someone’s day better?
17. If you believe in God, would your relationship with God change at all if you were told with 100% certainty that he was actually a she?
18. What do you believe stands between you and complete happiness?

Granny Smith – over and out

Mom..Dad..I’m Home!

After college, I did what 45% of college graduates do and moved back home with my parents.  Now, did I really NEED to move back home? No. But I did because they were more than willing to take me in, and, like millions of other college graduates, I have to pay back my student loans.

Moving back home has been an easier transition than I expected. When I was in college and would come home for a weekend or the holidays, my parents always wanted to know where I was, they bombarded me with questions, and felt the need to cling on to me every moment. I felt like I couldn’t get away from them…and of course, when I would leave to go back to school, my dad would shed a few tears.

But, now that I have a full-time job, I only see them for about four hours a day..and I guess that’s enough for the both of us. Moving back, I thought that my parents would purpose chores, curfews, etc., but they’ve actually backed away from those items. I certainly don’t feel like a guest in my own home, but I do feel like they’ve realized that I’m an adult with a grown up job who’s just trying to make it week-by-week.

However, I realize that my situation isn’t exactly the norm, and that many new college graduates, and even grown adults, struggle when they choose move back in with their parents. So, below, I’ve compiled a list that I’ve received from the lovely internet, with a few tips that should help you survive when you move back in with your parents.

1. Set reasonable expectations. True, you may have been able to come and go as you please, leave your room a disaster, and have a new guest over every night before, but this arrangement may not work for your folks. Set some reasonable expectations — for everyone involved — before you even step through the door.

2. Set some ground rules. Alright, you may have to have a curfew so your poor mother doesn’t think something terrible has happened to you if you’re not home by 4:00 in the morning — but your mom also needs to understand that she can’t just barge in to your room without any notice. Set some ground rules as soon as possible to make sure everyone is clear on how things will work.

3. Expect a combination of a roommate relationship and a parent/kid relationship. Yes, you’ve had roommates for the past several years, and you may view your parents similar to them. Your parents, however, will always view you as their child. Do your best to keep this in mind as you figure out how things will work once you move back in. Sure, it seems ridiculous for a roommate to want to know where you’re going every night. But your parents probably have a legitimate right to ask.

4. Set a time frame for how long you’re planning on living there. Do you just need someplace to crash between when you graduate from college and when you start graduate school in the fall? Or do you need somewhere to live until you can save enough money on your own to get your own place? Talk about how long you plan on staying — 3 months, 6 months, 1 year — and then check back in with your parents once that time frame is up.

5. Discuss money, no matter how awkward. No one really likes to talk about money. But addressing the topic with your parents — how much you’ll pay in rent, for food, to get back on their health insurance plan, or if the car you’ve been borrowing needs more gas — will help prevent a ton of problems later.

6. Have your own support networks ready to go. After living on your own, living with your parents can become very isolating. Do your best to have systems in place that provide you with an outlet and support network that is separate from your parents’.

7. Thing creatively about how the relationship is give and take — both ways. Yes, your parents are letting you stay at their place, and yes, you may pay rent to do so. But are there other ways you can help, especially if money is tight for everyone? Can you help around the house — with yard work, fix-it projects, or technical support for the computers they can never get to work right — in ways that will make your living relationship much more symbiotic?

8. Remember that the person who moves back in with your parents is not the same person who left. Your parents may have a very specific — and outdated — idea of “who” is moving back in with them. Take a deep breath and do your best to remind them that, while you left the house as an 18-year-old college freshman, you are now returning as a 22-year-old, college-educated adult.

9. Remember that time at your folks’ is still an opportunity to build your own life — not put it on pause. Just because you are at your parents’, waiting until you can move out on your own, doesn’t mean your life is on pause. Volunteer, date, explore new things, and do your best to continue learning and growing instead of just waiting for your first opportunity to move on to somewhere else.

10. Enjoy yourself! This may seem completely unthinkable if moving back in with your folks was the last thing you wanted to do. However, living at home can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to finally learn your mom’s secret fried chicken recipe and your dad’s amazing way with woodworking tools. Live it up and take in as much as you can.

Granny Smith – over and out

College Lies and Other Truths

As I’ve mentioned numerous times before in other blog posts…I’m new to this whole “being an adult” thing. And as I come across my four month anniversary in the working world…I’ve started to think about what I wish I would’ve know before entering the workforce. Now, there are many things. But, the number one thing that I wish I would’ve know is that there’s a very big difference between a “job” and a “career.” See below…

College lies to you, and internships lie to you. The real world isn’t anything like either one of them. When I was in college, I was told that maybe classes wouldn’t teach me about the real world, but that’s what internships were for. WRONG AGAIN! I had four internships while I was in college, and not one of them adequately prepared me for the shit storm called, “real life.” And let’s face it. When you’re an intern, companies don’t trust you. And that’s fair! You’re not an actual employee; you’re a temp; you’ll be gone within months. So, what do they do? They give all the “shit work” that they don’t have time to do on a regular basis.

When I had my internships, I thought I received extreme value from them. The companies that I worked for really let me “take the wheel” and provided great mentorship. But the fact of the matter is, when you’re an intern, you don’t have that “weight of the world on your shoulders” feeling like you do when you’re out in the workforce. As an intern, you step in for a bit, arrive early, do whatever they ask you to, and after a few months, you leave. So, if a problem comes up that you feel can’t be solved, you take it to your internship supervisor, and they deal with it.

And, of course, that’s not how the real world works. In the real world, the main reason your boss hired you is because they have a problem that they can’t fix, and they want YOU to solve it. So, if you’re constantly going to your boss saying “I don’t know…” they may let you go.

And that’s the unfortunate thing about internships, college students are never truly on the other side of the table. When I was at my internships, I remember thinking, Yeesh! I wouldn’t want my boss’s job. All I would ever do is worry.” I never actually experienced the kind of stress that any of them had to deal with on a regular basis.

I think that another part of the reason I never fully understood what it was like to have a “real job” before I actually got one, was because of the word, “job.”

In a lot of the career courses that you take in college, and even in regular courses, when you talk about the “job” that you’ll have after you graduate, that’s what it’s always referenced as, “a job.”  When I went to school, it was rarely referred to as a “career.” And when you hear the word “job,” what do you think of? For me, I thought: you work from 9-5, go home, eat dinner, exercise, watch some TV, go to sleep, wake up, do it again. And then the weekend would come, and you get to spend it however you wanted. You’re freer than a bird.

WRONG AGAIN! What they don’t tell you in college is that the definition that I just described is the definition of a “job.” And a job is probably a place that you won’t stay at for awhile. An example of a job is working as a cashier at a department store. When you graduate from college and start working at a “bachelor’s degree level”…you don’t have a job, you have a career. In a career, you wake up early, you arrive an hour before you’re supposed to, you work through lunch, you leave an hour after you should have, you take your work home with you, and on weekends, you’re checking your work email and working on work related projects..BIG DIFFERENCE.

When you have a career, you need to be devoted to the company that you’re working for. Kind of like when you’re in a relationship. You can’t just be in a relationship from 9-5, Monday-Friday. You’re in that relationship 24/7, 365. And this is for every higher level position that you have after college, even if you start out as an entry-level individual. You’re going to need to be there for your company like you would for your significant other.

So, after all this negative talk, what’s my advice for someone approaching their college graduation and looking for their first position?

DO NOT settle! Just don’t! Before I graduated, I was applying for anything and everything under the sun. I wanted to start working right after I finished school because I wanted money and at least some form of experience. WRONG! Don’t just take any job off of the street. So you’re unemployed for awhile, or you have to resort to picking up some hours at a department store. Take some time to really look through positions and make sure that you are going after what YOU WANT.

Take me for example. Now, I like my position, and I’m getting used to it more and more every day, but do I wish that I had calmed down after graduation and taken more time to look at other opportunities? I’ll admit it, yes. When I was interviewing for my current position, I had my final interview with my current supervisor and the head of HR. My supervisor made me feel like an idiot during the interview. Now, she was being harsh because she was testing me to make sure that I would be able to stand working in their type of environment, and under pressure; which is understandable. But after the interview was over, I ran to my car and balled like a baby. I felt like I just been slapped across the face and screamed at. And when they called me a week later and offered me the position, I was in shock. But, I accepted it anyway because all I saw were the dollar signs attached to the job description. I didn’t know what the company culture was like, and I didn’t know my benefits. All I knew was who my supervisor was going to be, a rough idea of what my duties were, and how much I was going to be making.

Looking back, I feel like a complete idiot, and since then there have been other opportunities that have popped up that I almost wish I could take advantage of. Although, on the brighter side, I am learning a whole lot, and the people that I work with are too good to be true! 

And, there are going to be ups and downs in every position. But before you accept an offer, ask about the company culture, even ask them to take you on a tour of the facilities and meet people that you’re directly going to be working with. Ask what a typical day looks like for someone in the position that you’re applying for, and ask the company what a successful candidate would look like and bring to the table. ASK TONS OF QUESTIONS and don’t be afraid of asking those questions. Because if it’s a good fit, you’ll wake up every morning satisfied and your “work” won’t feel so labor intensive.

So, to my college grads, happy job hunting!

Granny Smith- over and out