Monday, August 23, 2010

Game of Life

It has been awhile since I've written, which is ironic, considering all the fun new things going on in my life as of late. There have been many times that I have thought to write about an event or incident, but was so busy I never got to it, and then moved on to wanting to write about something else.

Therefore the next few entries will probably be a smattering of random thoughts and events that I have had since I started school again. But before I get into that, I want to share a story of something that happened right before I started my new program. An event that, I believe, was both symbolic as well as indicative of not only my past, but of things to come.

It started with a board game.

Yes. A board game. The board came called Life. You remember that one, right? You start off as a tiny pink or blue peg in a little car, you spin the wheel, and hope to end up at "millionaire acres". You can make choices about college, career etc but truth be told, most of the game is left up to chance and the spin of the wheel and/or draw of the cards. There are stops to get married, places you land to have children, and buy a house, etc. You can land on drawing "life tiles" which you keep face down. When you turn them over, there are various accomplishments on the back and an accompanying dollar amount. They range from things like the winning the Nobel Prize, to reading to your child. At the end of the game you get to turn them over and see all the many cool things you accomplished in your life, and collect the associated dollar amounts.

This past August I had gone home to my parent's house and we decided to play said game together. It turns out...that I am a disaster at Life. ( please avoid taking the easy shot. I'm about to say it for you anyways...) I kept landing on things that made me lose my turn like flat tires and car accidents ( how ironic....) and I was spinning more ones and twos than were statistically conceivable. By the time I finished school, both of my parents were easily half way through the game, and when I finally got to the "Get married" square, my parents were 3/4 of the way to the end. ( Again. Resist. Don't worry. It's comin'.) I lost my job twice, lived in the cheapest house that I could get, and had to take about a billion turns to finish off the game once my parents reached the end. I thought for sure I was in dead last place for the game.

However, when we finally added everything up, I had actually won the game. And not just by little...I had slaughtered them both. I was completely shocked. It might sounds stupid and corny, but I immediately thought of several analogies to the real game of life ( at least...MY game of life....)

Yes. Sometimes I am a disaster at REAL life, too. Did I say sometimes?...I meant...something else... like kinda always. ( phew. said it. you can now exhale.) Sometimes I feel like a total "mess in a dress". And I'm sure that that viewpoint is shared by many. I am STILL in school. I'm getting a SECOND masters. In order to accommodate an internship and an honors program, undergrad took me five years. ( Ironically, I did everything for the honors program except the final it only made my coursework take longer because I had to do things like take an advanced math AND an advanced language...AND I voluntarily sold my soul to the HFAC by singing for BYU choir which was one credit but took the time of 5 or 6....) I have been engaged ( and not only once...but a little bit twice...) and I am still not married. To this point I've had very few good relationships, and no good relationships that lasted any considerable length of time... ( anyone getting depressed yet besides me? )

I metaphorically "stumble and fall" a lot. But my reaction when I was such a mess at the game was important...

I laughed.

I mean, come's funny!! Of course there was a little pinch of "ouch. this is hitting a little too close to home..." and then I decided to shrug it off and to laugh. That decision was CRUCIAL to me enjoying the game- just like life. ( as in real life.) Now, I'm not going to pretend that throughout all the disasters of my life that I have always been able to laugh at my situation, but I think that my sense of humor helped me more than I can express, and that a general positive and optimistic attitude is vital to being happy. I might be a disaster...but at least I'm a disaster with a smile on my face who is laughing at herself. ( ALMOST as hard as everyone else....)

I also found it ironic that I was doing a lot better than I thought I was. This was partially due to the life tiles, but I think I also was being hard on myself and only recognizing when something bad happened, and only noticing the good things my parents were "doing".

Why are we so hard on ourselves? When I'm being honest I have to admit that I focus primarily on all the wonderful things that other people do- their talents, their accomplishments, their strengths, and then look at everything that I do wrong. I think that is in part because I don't KNOW what they do wrong, because I'm not always with them whereas I can't get rid of myself, but I also think that bottom line I'm hard on myself. I think we're ALL way too hard on ourselves. And at the end of the day...we're doing better than we think we are.

Also, I think there's something to be said for the fact that you don't get to see what you accomplished until the end of the game. I believe strongly that we are unaware of much of the good that we do, or at least the degree to which it impacts those around us, and that at the end of our life we will be blown away by all the good we accomplished and those we helped.

So yes. In many very real ways I am a total screw up. But overall? I think I'm winning :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My unpopular decision

Alright, this might take some background:

It's not a secret that I was engaged until this past February.

And yes. I am still very much okay with that. Beyond okay, really. What was ironic was that everyone's concern for me started when I was coming out of the woods instead of during the year and a half PREVIOUS to the break up. It took me about two weeks, of what I will admit was crazy insane emotional pain. And then, what felt like almost instantly, my blinders came off and I became incredibly grateful for things turning out the way they should. I have been very, very happy ever since. But I digress.

What might be less known is that I started dating someone pretty quickly after my engagement break- a guy in my Boston ward named Mark Bean. We had a great relationship. Mark treated me incredibly well, we communicated very effectively, and we were great friends in addition to dating. We split amicably and with absolutely no drama because he was moving away for two years, and I had gotten into my program that will be keeping me here for at least two years. Our relationship was exactly what I needed to help heal, process, and to have a good taste in my mouth concerning relationships in general. I am so grateful tor the interaction and time we were afforded, and for the chance I had to get to know Mark as a person.

Then came: My unpopular decision.

I decided that for the summer I would not date. I mean, not that I wouldn't go on a date, but barring a piano falling on my head, I refused to get into anything even remotely resembling a relationship. At least for the summer. And even then...we'll see. Like...we'll take the summer and then it'll be up for review.

This decision elicited quite a reaction. Some were just extremely surprised while others considered it quite an irrational, rather irresponsible and/or self destructive choice. Others thought it just plain stupid. After all, I'm not getting any younger, and why would I take myself out of the running for a relationship when I'm sooo clearly running out of time....( don't get me started).

On a slightly more serious note, not only am I not 19, but I love being in a relationship. I am really intensely loyal, fiercely monogamous, and I get a sick amount of pleasure out of doing things for a boyfriend or whomever. Meaningful personal relationships, romantic or otherwise, are where I get my joy and where I find purpose. Most people that know me well know that about me- that I love relationships in every form. I don't want fifty thousand acquaintances- I seek to build relationships. This is why, I think, a lot of people were surprised by this decision. While it doesn't seem like a huge deal, it did feel like an odd thing to do. Moving the opposite direction on the spectrum, almost growing younger is not something I generally would want, or consider it smart, or even natural, to do.

So I thought the reasons for disapproval for my choice, varied put it bluntly, asinine and kind of insulting, to understandable. And I got it. I mean, it made sense, knowing me. But I felt strongly that this was the best decision for me at that time. So, I ignored everyone. Shocking, I know. (As a side note- believe it or not, I DO listen. And legitimately consider. I simply reserve the right to utterly ignore.)

But moving on: This decision? Best decision of my life. I absolutely needed this time. I feel it was incredibly vital for me to reestablish my independence.I realized after a few weeks that I truly felt SINGLE. The reason I could tell? It was a BRAND new feeling! I suddenly became aware that I had not been, what I would consider truly single in a long time- arguably since I REALLY started dating. For the last six or seven years of my life, I honestly feel like I have 1. Been in a relationship 2. Been getting out of a relationship 3. Been "complicated" with someone 4. Been getting into a relationship 5. Majorly hung up on someone and therefore unable to really feel like I was "free" or 6. Any numerous combination of the above. I was tired. And I needed a break. It was an amazing feeling to feel obligated to NO ONE.

I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for knowing me better than I know myself- to know exactly what I need, and for guiding my life and decisions. It is times such as this that I realize how much I trust Him. The experiences I've had and the people I've been blessed to know could only have been so perfectly crafted by a loving Father in Heaven.

So. I'm single. And lovin' it.

This does not mean I'm going to become addicted to being single. All it means is that I'm really enjoyin' it. So if something or someone is going to drag me away? It's going to have to be good. Dang good :) :):)