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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Listen!... Bruised But Not Broken

Though sometimes it seems that friends, family, society-at-large might -intentionally or otherwise- lead one to think otherwise. Most of the time? I think when people tell you to do something completely different than you've been going at it? It's done with the best intentions; but the net result for me lately has been wondering "What's wrong with me? Why didn't I see it that way?"

The answer? Is nothing. I'm just ME... not them.

I got to thinking about this after I blogged & subsequently deleted a post talking about how I wasn't ready to date. I had asked a friend to make sure it wasn't too 'poor me' because that wasn't how I was trying to come off; and her response was to delete it because [he] shouldn't get the satisfaction of seeing I was hurt. So, I did.

That was dumb.

As a quick aside? I don't see him getting satisfaction from that, for starters. But mainly? I -AM- hurt; I am a little broken-hearted because it's just sad when it doesn't work out with someone you loved. And it's OK. It's also okay to not be able to instantaneously be over something that ended up being an significant part of your life... and is then just gone. Even if you understand the whys & wherefors; even if it is a long time coming; even if you realize that it was the right thing to do. Why pretend to be all cool if you're not yet? Now, there's a balance, of course! If you were running around clothed in sack-cloth and ashes? That'd be a problem. If I were pathetically not functioning? Also a problem. But that's not the case. (1) I'm getting out, seeing friends, doing things, working out, cooking & writing... the normal stuff. I'm just not dating - by choice - but it really hasn't been that long? I don't think that makes me a spinster-sister just yet. ;) I also think it's respectful to the relationship I just got out of & the men I'll date in the future to take time before I just jump back in there while still one of the walking wounded. Plus, I've never been broken up with before; this is a first for me and I gotta say? I kinda prefer the other side, LOL. I am bruised; but saying so doesn't make me broken.

Anyway, it got me thinking: how many things have I done, or stopped doing, or never did to begin with at someone/something else's dictation? The answer is? A little more than I'm comfortable with lately. But, I'm not alone. As a society, we tend to stave off making all kinds of decisions until we've been given direction on which way to go. In fashion, we let the 'fashion elite' (2) tell us what colors are 'in' & what to wear- and that's ok, unless you ditch your wardrobe to comply (3) when you don't even like the colors. In relationships, we let "experts" who've written best-sellers tell us how to behave in order for our relationship to be a success. While I DO like "He's Just Not That Into You" enough that I had copies for friends (4) -that's really more common-sense stuff. But there's fewer of those and more "Why Men Marry B*tches.. & why you should be one, too" that are really just total crap. But many of us do it - because... well, why do we?

Is it because it's easier than thinking for ourselves or are we just so clueless as to what to do when things don't go as expected that we're willing to do ANYTHING - even if it's the wrong thing - in an effort to improve whatever we feel is lacking in life? Is it lack of confidence? Is it that we feel more comfortable doing something if we have the reassurance of others that we're vindicated or justified in our actions through their assent? I've been doing a lot of thinking on this for myself lately. For me, the 'not thinking' option? Definitely not it. I'm an over-analyzer by nature. So, sometimes I seek the counsel of others to make sure I haven't twisted my thought processes into a pretzel that no longer makes sense. I'm not alone in this - a LOT of people (5) hash their life issues out with people they trust. And that's cool, as long as the fact that you're seeking OPINIONS isn't lost. Ultimately, you still have to make a decision that works for you. Or in my case, ME.

I really was pretty good at this for most of my life. And still am, when I allow myself to be. It may not always look like what everyone else thinks it should & I will probably embarrass myself as often as I will not.. but it'll be authentic. Which is why I think most of the people that like me, do... I'm real. Goofy as all get-out & a total klutz... but I'm real. And I'm okay with that. :) When I was doing things the way I was told was 'the way to be' and trying to force myself to act a certain way because "that's how it's done?" (6) It didn't work for me. When I stepped back and rectified that? Not only did it feel better; but I got some valuable insight that showed me that was maybe SOOOO not the direction I wanted to go, anyway! Score!

And PS? I love this song. It's not exactly related; but not totally unrelated, either. Mainly Beyonce just has a fantastic voice & it was on Glee so I had to look it up. 'Nuff Said. :) (7)

(1) Ok, so yes, I had my moments of hurt, wounded pride & feelings of failure the first couple of days; but no sack-cloth & ashes. :p
(2) And who are they, anyway?
(3) I sooo wish I had this picture of a HIDEOUS looking dress I bought because "yellow" was in. Not on me it's not. Just makes me look like I have diphtheria or something.
(4) Yes, I do see the irony MB; & is this one time I can lovingly say, "Shut it!"? :p
(5) read: most
(6) My guy friends (& some girl friends) said I just needed to "Get back on the horse" & go out with someone. After much protestation & having friends mention they saw he's dating (even though I know he's not doing anything WRONG? Still sucks to hear - you'd like to think people would pine over you forever because you're so darn awesome.. :p)? This one guy that asked? Got a 'sure, why not'... but, I KNOW why not. So, fixed that today to get the reply of something along the lines of "... the best way to get over one girl is to get under another one. IDK. Never been one for serial monogamy so take a couple of weeks & then reach out to me. I'm sure I'll be around." My thought? Yeah, if that's the case I'm sure you probably will but if you mean what I think you mean? Then no, I probably won't. ;) Seriously, chivalry.. don't talk about sex with people you haven't met yet, guys!
(7) No, I don't watch Glee normally; Lindsey had it on before the game.

I Enjoy Being a Girl...

So, they're talking about me on the news right now... well, so not ME specifically, but people like me. There's a name for us "Shoppinghaulers." We're the people that take our fashion finds online & share them with the masses. I actually used to do this quite a lot (as those that are connected to me via FB could attest to); but have less so over the last several months as my wardrobe really rounded out and there wasn't the NEED to go buy a bunch of clothes/shoes/jewelry all the time.

Love doing it, though; and as I just discovered that I now fit WELL into my nightie from last spring's pajama fashion show? I'm soooo likely to start doing a little more 'fashion flaunting' on FB & my blog... sharing some of the new trends/bargains that I come across this year. If you can ever get me out of my pjs, that is (1).

Speaking of clothes, after my closet reorganization, I found that there were a few fashion casualties after my recent relationship demise. The bra that goes along with aforementioned nightie (from Soma, which is awesome)? Missing. Black sheer robe and coordinating nightgown? Missing. Where is it? Who knows... Reason to go shopping? Yes... Yes, I think so! :)

My friend Lalli wrote in HER blog (2) about getting more comfortable with oneself as we age. I like this. It's healthy & life is just more fun when we are comfortable in our own skin. I'm not going to lie, I'm still hyper-critical of my body - I know every flaw & there are plenty, lol - but, I'm more accepting of that which I cannot change these days. Besides, as a girl, the one thing we have going for us above men is that there ARE fashion finds to fix practically any flaw... as long as we're clothed. There are bras that can transform your cleavage into whatever you want it to through lifting, sculpting, adding, reducing; 'scuba suit' spanx that suck/slenderize, built-in toning clothes, pants that add bootay if you don't have it (3), enough make-up to completely transform your face... men don't have this. And they're ok with it. I applaud them for their comfort or resignation to their own body-images; but for me? I'll continue to invest in good bras, a couple smoothing scuba-suits, my Mystic spray-tans, & leave the rest up to my gym membership. And that works for me; so, I guess that's what counts.

Fashion Find to Check Out: White House Black Market (of course) - Beaded Halter Dress Style No. 570020525. It's now on sale for $59.99! I have this and LOVE what it does for the cleavage! Pair it with a 'privacy panel' from Impeccable Pig - or Target if you don't have one of those nearby - & the Very Sexy Halter Bra from Victoria's Secret & you are good to go for a great night on the town!

(1) Seriously, I think I woke up the kids squealing with excitement - it's fab when something that used to fit perfectly but then didn't? Once again fits EXACTLY like it's supposed to!!! :)

(2) Which I love & you should check out ("This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things")

(3) a problem I'll NEVER have

(4) in a size FOUR, thank you very much!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Social Network Fatigue #SociallyStrangled

Somewhere around 5 years ago, I joined in on the Social Network Revolution. While I came in a little later in the game on Facebok; for most sites I joined when they were still in their 'early adopter' phases... I cruised around, figured out where I fit and went.to.town. And I definitely wasn't alone. Facebook on it's own boasts 153 MILLION unique visitors and as of January of this year? Is still growing at a rate of a million more every month. That's a LOT of potential 'friends.' On average, my fellow Facebook friends, we spend around 6.5 hours a month updating our pals on our comings, goings, & innermost thoughts/feelings... and begging for farmville crops, of course (1). To put some perspective on this number? According to Neilson, that's over 3 times the amount of time Americans cruise around on YAHOO. For me specifically? I was pretty sure 6.5 hours would be a LOW estimate.

I kept track of the amount of time I was actively on FB for the last 60 days and tried hard not to modify it since I knew I was tracking it... I logged about 18 hours engaged. No wonder I'm tired.

You see, I'm what's "affectionately" (2) known as a "Super-User." My friends say I "Live Out Loud" and that's definitely true. I've always been one to say what's on my mind and had very little concern for whether or not it'd end up being embarrassing (3). The way I've seen it is that we all have our less-than-stellar moments; so, laughingly 'fessing up to mine might make it easier for someone else to laugh through theirs. Furthermore, people relate to people who are real. And in my line of business? That's a good thing. I'll tell you a lot of my posts are done to build relationships - frequent touches build recognition, which leads to interaction, which leads to network equity. That's priceless for me. Plus, I happen to actually LIKE my friends - every one of them, personal & professional... I can tell you how I know them, why we connected, what they do and something I like about them. So, all that about relationship-building is true... but, it's also because I get a kick out of sharing my thoughts and happenings.


Lately though, I've been feeling over connected. It's probably why I started keeping track of my FB time to begin with. While I was able to maintain and build on 'relationships' with people I wouldn't honestly have time to spend much/if any time with outside of the Internet; I was losing valuable interaction with those closest to me in my life. Because, what's the point of talking about that which I read about 30 minutes ago? I started noticing this about six months' ago when I realized about every 3rd or 4th conversation my boyfriend and I had revolved around something someone had posted on Facebook or something he or I had noted on our own pages. Since we were connected to a decent number of mutual friends; quite often we had both already read it prior it coming up. Out of politeness, we'd listen to one another rehash it; but I'd be kidding us all if I didn't admit it made for trite conversation 9 times out of 10. Because really, how deep and interesting could 'Guys shouldn't wear skinny jeans' be, anyway? (4) Bottom line, Facebook made it uncessary to pick up the phone or go over and see our friends 'Offline.'

And that's where our problems began, my FB friends - our relationships were taken to the 'online' level.

While it was a great day when I connected to some of my favorite people from when I was eight (Suzanne, Susan, Genelle, among others); and I was downright GRATEFUL for FB the day I was able to read about my Maid-of-Honor's major car accident so I could pray for her ... I was also annoyed. It bugged me when someone would tell me they didn't have time to call or spend quality time with me but had answered endless quizzes, commented on 50 different items on their newsfeed, and uploaded more photos of their car/kid/whatever in a day than I had over the last month. Hypocritical? Slightly. I recognized it; but it didn't change the way I felt. And then there was the narcissistic issue: we all have the friends who either have absolutely NOTHING to say but they can't just say that so they do the "I ate a lollipop" or "'sup?" status update; or found their own status so immensely entertaining that THAT is when they call you?! To tell you to go look at their FB page to check out the brilliant beyond brilliant thing they just wrote. I seriously knew someone who would go back and read their statuses over and over again like they had penned something at the same level as the witticisms of Mark Twain or Walt Whitman. Every.Day.

I realized I had begun to miss hearing about someone's day over dinner instead reading it on the FB app of my mobile phone.

That affects your relationship; you can't help but let it. Right? In many cases, I know I couldn't. A slow-build resentment would set in - especially after the 100th message I had to send of "seriously, the Farmville posts; could you stop posting those on my wall??" I'd find myself ducking their calls or neglecting to invite them out. Fortunately, this was a very small group of people; but still.. how many does it take for it to be TOO many? And then there was the more... unhealthy? ... insecurities Facebook unearths for many. I found I wasn't immune to those, either. February of last year, I was dating what I thought was a very nice guy. He'd asked for our relationship status to change to be 'Facebook official' (5) - to which I declined, laughing as my 'ultimate' single/divorced status hadn't changed and I thought it'd be confusing for my kids. A few weeks later, I noticed he was untagging himself from our photos - I've always been big on photo documentation of events - and shortly after that, I realized he'd stopped interacting on my page entirely. Oops. I thought he was crazy at the time; but I have to admit when the shoe was on the other foot? It made me darn near paranoid.. and that was something that was hard to admit to.
Who on earth ties their value to someone else based on FACEBOOK?? Oh, and let me not fail to mention the massive argument that cropped up as a result of the 'fashion album' I have on Facebook with my children's father about whether or not his child support was going to fund my shoe stores. (6)

I didn't realize I had allowed social networking to actually play a part in causing damage to some of my closest personal relationships; but once I did? It was something I could no longer ignore.

So I did some digging... As it turns out? That's something else I wasn't alone on, either. As of January 2011, 40% of Facebook Users have reported that the social networking site had negatively impacted relationships in their life. Their "relationship status updates" seem to be a popular instigator - as FB kindly heralds the news of your changing status as quickly as you click 'save.' This wreaked havoc on one couple whose relationship ended on FB due to a glitch of all things. Petty arguments took place over who forgot to take out the trash and well... you get the idea. It's not been all kittens and roses for the FB community... and I had found myself among the walking wounded. I had to do something... but what? I started by 'band-aiding' the situation; I'd hide offenders from my news feeds and gave people freedom to hide mine without restraint nor condemnation. I've never been a massive 'stalker;' so, that helped. But, that didn't really fix the problem, did it? The underlying aggravation was still there.

After a little bit of thought and self-realization? The solution was clear... if the damage came from putting the relationship 'online;' the healing came from taking it back 'offline.' My dating relationship(s) didn't need to happen online - it's not like I went on virtual dates... so, why spend my days virtually interacting?? I don't (7) - and won't from now on. In the future, it's quite possible I won't even BE connected to the guy I share my time with. I didn't ask for 'friend approval' when I decided to go out with someone - so why does my relationship status need to be broadcast, exactly? Because FB says so?? I don't think so. I really think my original decision to "change my status when I need to explain a new name" was the right one. At least for me. My girl friends and I (For the most part) don't get together via webcast; so, why not call them instead of posting on their walls? Ladies, start expecting a text or a call. When I want to talk to my Mom, I certainly don't post "Call Me, Chicka!" So, why do that with candidates, clients, and/or Friends?? So, what does this mean? Am I going to deactivate my profile?? Nope. Does that mean you'll see a little less of me? Probably. I'm feeling a little socially strangled; and I'm pretty sure that I've been strangling others, too. So, I'm opting to add some oxygen back into the room and attend to both my sanity & relationships. In 3-D; where the only smiley-faces? Are attached to people.

(1) I will admit to having kicked this game's butt when I was highly medicated after surgeries (can't remember which one). It's dumb, but darn right - my farm was SO better than yours. Just sayin'
(2) read= lamely The official psychological term, from what I've discovered, is 'HYPER-USER' and I think that's probably more accurate.
(3) Once you've had to admit that you've broken your ankle simply walking down a level driveway, your toe on a laptop, and a Dr's note to excuse you from dating? Seriously, what's left to get embarrassed over?
(4) Just kidding, J - I actually liked that status update. :p
(5) Since when did Facebook become the authority on relationships?
(6) Which, of course, it wasn't. Not even close.
(7) go on virtual dates, that is