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Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

The Art of Adulting

Adult“Adulting is tough,” a lot of twenty-somethings tell me. Constantly. On repeat. Like a broken record. Not that they would know what an actual record is, or if they would get the funny nature of using a non-word to describe something. Maybe if they use it enough it will become part of the common lexicon. With enough usage it could eventually make its way into the dictionary. Apparently, it’s hard.

They tell me this because they don’t think I get it. After all, when I became an official adult Bill Clinton was still in office, Kanye West was just another black dude, and Taylor Swift was in kindergarten. They tell me this because “adulting” has apparently gotten tougher since I came up, and I don’t get that the #struggleisreal. For them it’s harder these days to navigate the rough waters of new adulthood, so they had to create a term to show their pain.

I get it. I do. It’s hard when you’re finally liberated from “the nest,” when you have to take care of your own bills, when you have to feed yourself, clothe yourself, do THINGS for yourself. It’s that point in your life when you finally realize what mom and/or dad have been telling you all along, that life is tough, that they’ve been doing everything for you, and “wait until you grow up.” Well, now you’re all grown up, and you’re longing for the good ol days. That’s what it means to me when those twenty-somethings tell me that adulting is tough.

So when the going gets tough, the tough do what, twenty-somethings? Whine to everyone about it on Twitter? Post Instagram pics of you holding an empty wallet? Ramble on using the limitless nature of the Facebook post? They don’t generally get a job, or if they do they whine about that too. They don’t usually go ask mom and/or dad for advice, because what would their parents possibly know about the big wide world? What they’ve been taught is if they complain enough about it other twenty-somethings will commiserate, using the same hashtags, and that shows some solidarity. That’s exactly what they need in order to succeed in the big, bad world.

I agree, by the way. Being an adult is tough. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been one for over 22 years. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been an adult for far longer than I ever was a child. It doesn’t get any easier, because there are still some things you have to do, even if you don’t want to do them. That gets exponentially harder when you begin to own STUFF, and when you have children. Tying yourself to someone who is dependent on you for their own well being is a huge commitment, and it’s another part of adulthood that can be challenging, and overwhelming at times.

Being an adult isn’t easy, and this feeling is not just limited to twenty-somethings. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the responsibility of being an adult is an awesome one. The struggle is definitely real, but the key is to deal with it by organizing your life, by figuring out not just how you’re going to get by, but how you’re going to thrive with what you’ve been given in life. It’s okay to admit the difficulty, but whining about it at every opportunity is simply counterproductive.

Sam

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relationship-problemsAfter 14 years together I suppose it’s easy to get into the routine, to forget about the small things, and for the little resentments to fester because we’ve gotten into a routine, because we’ve forgotten about the small things, and because we know life isn’t what we expected it to be. And then I blame myself while she blames herself, each of us certain that we’re the reason we’ve fallen into a rut. It would be so easy from there to just throw up our hands, to call ‘FOUL,’ and give up on ever thinking things will be better.

But we haven’t done that. Instead we’ve begun looking inward, but also communicating those thoughts and feelings to each other. You see, that’s the one thing that can doom any relationship, the lack of communication, and we realized we weren’t talking, really talking to each other. It’s still hard to admit now because I always prided myself on communicating, but those things that are hardest to do are usually the most fulfilling precisely because of that difficulty. Every relationship goes through ups and downs, but we should never forget about the show.

What’s the show? Well, it’s alive and well at the beginning of the relationship. You know the butterflies you got when she called and you heard her voice? Remember the first time you held her hand, the electricity that flowed through both of you at that smallest of contacts? At the start it’s easy to remember the show, to do the small things because everything’s brand new and inherently fascinating. If the love is what brought you together, then the show is the glue that holds you there with each other, and helps you grow.

communication-problems-relationshipToo many people say that love is enough, that you don’t need those actions, but the actions — the show — is what translates the love into something you can truly see and appreciate. I’m not saying that the things she gets or does for you are more important than the love she feels for you. On the contrary, they’re just the outward display of that inward affection. A simple kiss when you come home from work, or her just asking how your day was, a surprise date night when you least expect it, or that book you wanted but never asked her for, that’s the show. And too often as relationships progress the show gets left behind.

We need to show us each other how we feel, and often, because we are all only human. We have doubts and insecurities, even with those who have been there for us and with us. It’s the nature of being human, but too many of us won’t admit to it, instead letting those insecurities pile up until we don’t trust our partners or ourselves. There’s that communication piece again, and one part of communicating is showing that you still love and appreciate the other person you’ve chosen to share your life with.

A friend asked me what she should do for her husband’s birthday, and I told her to think about what truly makes him happy and give him that. She said he didn’t have enough time with her, that he often complained about her being too busy for him, so she set up her schedule so it was free the entire day, and they spent it being lazy, just basking in each others’ company. He said afterwards that it was the best day of his entire life. That’s the show, the ability to understand the other person’s needs and give that to them, knowing that they will do the same for you. It’s the give and take, the outward shining of that inner glow.

And it’s beautiful.

Sam

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73ff39026d9278fafdb4a1b1745ebbd5“We raise up idols specifically so that we can tear them down when they inevitably fail us.” ~Theodicus

When I was young it was all about the father figures. You know, those guys on TV who were sometimes silly, sometimes firm, but always dispensed knowledge. There was Jason Seaver, who somehow handled being a psychiatrist and a father of three rambunctious kids, not to mention a man with a high maintenance wife. And who could forget Stephen Keaton, the former hippie dealing with three kids of his own (one of whom was a staunch republican) and fighting off the constant midlife crisis? He was a man among men. But the best of those surrogate dads was Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, who came into my home every Thursday night and taught me valuable life lessons that I have never forgotten non matter how old I’ve gotten. Yes, Dr. Huxtable was my idol, and he still is. Too many people, though, shackled him with leg irons to a man named Bill Cosby, and therein made their mistake.

Everyone has idols, and understandably so, because we all have that need to look up to others for those traits we wish we had. For some of us they are our parents, for better or for worse, and for others they are an older family friend, but for the vast majority, sadly enough, it is those characters on television who are larger than life, like superheroes who we can aspire to be. We follow their every move like a shadow, putting them on pedestals that have no sound bases, just puffs of air that change like the wind. It’s what keeps tabloid magazines alive and well, but it’s also what crushes us when those heroes inevitably fail us. Because they’re human.

You heard that right. Humans aren’t perfect, no matter how much we say it and how many of us convince ourselves that it must be true. Time and again we are devastated when they topple because we believed they were impervious to kryptonite. Lance Armstrong, Bill Clinton, Robin Williams, Jimmy Swaggert, Tiger Woods, and yes, even the formerly unimpeachable Bill Cosby himself, they weren’t what we thought they were. They weren’t invincible at all. They have issues and problems just like we do. Like Charles Barkley so aptly put it, “I am not a role model.” But they become even more than mere role models. They become larger than life idols with shaky bases that stand for a while before crashing to the ground.

That’s why I still look to Dr. Huxtable for advice but I don’t put the man behind the portrayal of the good doctor on that pedestal, because I know he’s only human. Just like me. That way he can never let me down, because I never knew him, and I never will.

Sam

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A Little Resolve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the time of year when people all over the world come up with their own personal resolutions, well-meaning as they are, meant to help them change things in their lives that are unsatisfactory to them for whatever reasons. Some of the most popular resolutions deal with body image, with emotional issues, and with organization, which all make sense because those are the same issues that a majority of human beings struggle with. But too many people take too much time focusing on the resolutions, on creating their list and making sure it’s numbered properly, that they lose sight of the other half of the equation: implementation of the plan.

Resolution: A decision or determination.

Implementation: The act of putting into effect.

It’s ironic that so many people resolve to be more organized, and implementing those resolutions is one of the biggest organizational tasks that can be undertaken. That’s precisely why usually even with such big hopes most people crash and burn when it comes to carrying out those gargantuan tasks they’ve set forth for themselves. Think about the resolutions you yourself have made over the years, and let me know how many of them were successful. Even thinking about my own, it’s difficult to pinpoint the ones that haven’t fizzled after a few days of fervent resolve. And that’s because life often gets in the way.

I know, it’s funny to hear that. After all, these resolutions ARE the epitome of the new life we’re trying to create for ourselves. How can life possibly get in the way of our heaven sent plans? The answer is so easy it might just astound you. We spend so much time those first few days focusing so much on our “new” life that we forget we have one that is waiting in the shadows for us to falter, and then swoops back in to reclaim us as its own. It’s really subtle at first, too. For example, one of my resolutions last year was to exercise more, and to that end I began a custom-made regimen on Wii Fit. It lasted all of two weeks (my personal record). Then life intervened. (more…)

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thNever ask questions if you aren’t prepared to deal with the answers.

I don’t even remember where I first heard that, probably on some lame, cliche-filled TV show or right after a pregnant pause in a dramatic film. But isn’t it true that some of the most poignant turns of phrase show up in the oddest places? With great power comes great responsibility anyone? Luckily for me, I honestly don’t care where it comes from, if Alvin and the Chipmunks said it, or if it came from Al Gore, or even if it’s a catch phrase for Joey from Friends. I take every single one that interests me and I analyze it to see how it could be applied to my life, then I share what I’ve learned with others.

Question #1: Where is this relationship going?

This may surprise you, but before I got married the first time the longest relationship I had been in was a year in length, and three months of that time were spent estranged. So the question was indeed very valid for me. Was I ready at that point to analyze a relationship and see if it could be long term? Or was I just in it for the fun and excitement that came from being with someone new, and then with someone else new, et al. Honestly, my answer to that question back then was always, “This relationship is status quo, which is good enough for me.” It’s no wonder my relationships lasted such a short amount of time.

Question #2: Where do you plan to be in five years?

It’s not as easy a question as you would think. So much happens in the course of life that five years can be an eternity made up of a series of shifts and changes that define and redefine who we are. If you had asked me the question five years ago I highly doubt I would have said I would be here, doing what I’m doing, thinking the thoughts I’m thinking. I know I wouldn’t have said I’d be here writing a blog right now. In fact, back then it was all about writing for myself, and not sharing with others. And the big problem with plans is that we have a tendency to try and fit our lives into those plans and then to judge ourselves on whether or not we hit our objectives. (more…)

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The Fugly Duckling

Who is that guy?

I grew up thinking I was ugly, or “fugly,” as the teenagers called it in the early ’90s. Don’t worry, I won’t explain the combination of words it takes to come up with the word fugly, but suffice it to say it wasn’t a very nice word to call others. From an early age I remember looking in the mirror and not liking what I saw, though. Sure, I knew I was smart, and I knew my family loved me (at least most of the time), and I knew someone would always be there for me, but I realized even then that I wasn’t what you would call classically handsome. It took me ages, however, to comprehend that none of that mattered anyway.

Take a look at the number one culprit of eating disorders everywhere, the mass media. The magazine shows a woman with a ridiculously slim waist, practically nonexistent breasts, and “an ass that just won’t quit.” On the television you can see a woman with a normal-sized waist, enormous breasts, and “an ass that won’t quit.” This second type is known as the “hourglass” figure. It seems like the only prerequisite for being famous is to have a posterior that refuses to stop. (more…)

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From the time we are born, we hear advice everywhere, from our parents, to our siblings, to other adults, and everyone in-between. Eventually our peers also give us advice, and we tend to call that peer pressure. Funny how when it’s people our age it’s “pressure,” but when it’s from older folks, it’s “wise,” and “sage” advice. Even if they say the exact same thing.

But the point is that everyone has an opinion of how we should live our lives, but the only opinion that should matter is our own. We listen to those others, though, because we trust that somehow they know what they’re talking about; however, we need to filter what will work for us, what we subscribe to, and what won’t, what we don’t. Here are my top 5 tidbits of advice I’ve gleaned throughout the years and made my own: (more…)

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