insurgent.

“But it is difficult to persuade [him] to do something he doesn’t want to do, and even more difficult to justify my feelings with no evidence except my intuition.  So I agree.  But I do not change my mind.”

How do you fight for something you’re convinced is right when someone else stands up against you, convinced you’re wrong?  When their assuredness makes your assuredness feel questionable?  When you start to go back on your logic and figure out how two opinions could diverge so suddenly, when, and where?

I’ve been feeling that way about a lot of things lately.  Little things as well as huge life things.  From small opinions to huge topics.  It makes me uncomfortable trying to understand why there can be such disparages in vantage points.  How can people have such varying opinions?  I’m definitely more favorable of fact-based arguments.  But if they’re based on facts, then shouldn’t the interpretation be the same?

I think the worst disparages have to do with people and relationships, whether it’s what rights someone should have or if it’s about whether or not someone is “meant” for someone else.  What defines those lines?  Morals?  Factual evidence?  Grey lines whose only definitions exist in the mind, through opinions, and by defining a set law of ethics and sticking to them.

My quote comes from Tris in the book Insurgent, second to Divergent.  And it’s basically how I feel about a lot of things right now: Concede but don’t relent.  In fact, don’t really concede.  And, at the same time, question yourself thoroughly.  Am I crazy?

What is crazy?

I’m just confused.

cheaper by the dozen.

You know, good friends are hard to find.


I’ve been trying to tackle the bad habit of comparison for quite some time, and one of the things I always seem to trip over is friends.


I don’t have a huge group of super close friends that I hang out with every other night.  This became more and more evident this year when I spent some sizeable time with a new friend.  He hangs out with so many people that he has known for such a long time.  It made my life seem bleak in comparison.  Because not only did he have that group, but each friend seemed to have his or her own group too, and so it was one huge friend family.


It was so much like a family that, as I spent more time with him, I began to realize it was too much like family.  They had familiarity on their side, but even my friend told me I’ve been his closest friend since I moved here at the end of summer.  And we just met.


How is it he could say that?  Well, maybe because it’s his situation that has become the bleak one, should any comparison be made.  Maybe mine is small, but mine is rich.  Rich in character.  Diverse.  United by qualities, not by quantity of time together (which still has its perks).


I think it’s easy to keep an old group of friends, but how can you expect to grow and still be as close by the time you’re in your 30s?  My opinion is that you rarely can, unless you stunt your growth or your friend’s growth.  I feel like growing apart is natural as you grow up and become you.


And meeting new friends can be hard.  We have developed and we know more what we want, what we need.  It’s less about sandboxes and more about support.  If his friends haven’t been providing him over the last several months in the way I have already, his friends aren’t very good friends.  It stings to realize that.  But really, what are friends for?


You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends.


This became all so clear to me yesterday on my birthday.  My real friends were the friends that took genuine care to remember my birthday without a Facebook reminder (which I removed), the ones who took a minute of their day to share with me how much I mean to them.  Even if some forgot, my real friends were also the ones inviting me or accepting invitations willingly to meet up with me, no matter how much of an inconvenience it may be at times.  My real friends are the ones giving me rides when my car breaks down and I have to be at work by 8am on the other side of the city.


And so I realized, wow, my friends are great.  The company you keep, right?


I may not have a family of friends, but I have more than I realized.  And my “family” is a Cheaper By the Dozen ordeal made up of a wide range of adopted children.  I pluck a good one like an apple from every tree I can reach.  They’re all good apples and they all have their best qualities.  And even if they’re from far apart, I can throw them in the same basket and it’s comparing apples to apples.


I will be testing that theory tonight at my party.


Finally, I am grateful that I am so meaningful to my friend because I am so grateful of him and all that he does for me.  Out of all the ones I’ve got, he is probably the cream of the crop.  Sure, he drives me crazy sometimes, but I have so much more patience because I see a little bit of me in the things he does.  He always takes the time for me and he always has me in his thoughts.


My friends are witty, smart, driven, caring, compassionate, active, and they’ll go the extra yard.  Thank you, friends; I love you.


the least expected.

I really like things that are the least expected.

I’ve gotten accustomed to always expecting the least out of anyone.  I figure if I don’t have any faith in them, I don’t have to worry about ever being disappointed.  But what kind of life is it to have no faith in your friends?  To never have any expectations?  Admittedly, anticipation  keeps me moving forward.  Expectation must be a part of that anticipation.

But what about when the least expected isn’t a good expectation at all.  Like when I am in the most exciting moments of my life and the people who I want to actively partake just trudge on with their ordinary lives and think they’re making up for it by occasionally asking me how I am.  Like when I’m at Nationals for hockey and you don’t need to text me because there is online streaming, results, and a half dozen free apps that could keep you updated without asking.  And asking just proves to me that you’re not paying a damn bit of attention to something that’s important to me.

Yet what I didn’t expect was the numerous people who have texted me, messaged me, whatever-ed me and proved to me that they are up to date, that they are paying attention.  People who are so far away, too!  There is no one in my office at work who is paying much attention to my tournament, the people who see me the most and – in some cases – are the closest to me, yet I’m getting text messages from Colorado, SnapChats from Hawai’i, messages from Germany,… so many other people going out of their way to care about me.

I didn’t expect that.  And I know that part of being a long distant friend is taking a little extra effort to maintain that friendship, but when someone is close and takes advantage of that…thinking that means they don’t need to try as much, even if it’s subconscious,…well, forget that.  Just FORGET that.  You don’t mean anything.  Not in the long run.  And that’s the only run that matters.

chains.

Today, we had a human chain tossing bags in a line when a worker shouted out a quote that I often forget exists:

“A chain’s only as strong as its weakest link!”

What a great saying. But really. It’s succinct and it got me thinking.

Chains don’t have to be human links passing things from one to another. Chains can also be teams or even connections with people. Getting very one on the same page, up to speed, working together.

Relationships work like this too, both of friendships and of togetherness. A relationship only holds up if everyone is on the same level, or else it will bend if not collapse when the weaker link is being pressured over capacity.

My friend is still heartbroken today that a friend hasn’t acknowledged her “happy birthday” wishes. She’s questioning the strength of their friendship, what she has done wrong. But the way I see it, she shouldn’t be so self-conscious because her friend is the weak link in the chain. Their friendship is only as strong as the less willing person is willing to upkeep it.

But I think it’s important to differentiate between a weak link and just plain old differences.

Sometimes things don’t always go over smoothly between people because they pick out flaws that aren’t flaws but instead differences. Just because someone wants to stay close to his brother his whole life doesn’t mean he’s not adventurous or is too attached – he could also just be loving and find family too strong of a bond to abandon. Just because someone doesn’t text or call back doesn’t mean she’s a poor friend, maybe she’s just distracted…or not wanting to be distracted by technology.

I think I’m going to use my chain theory from now on to identify weak links and to differentiate the flaws from the differences. To embrace the differences and to help my peers get up to par where we struggle as a whole. And to do so with understanding because I know there are times when I lag behind.

I guess weak links in the chain are just an opportunity for learning and testing love and patience for one another.

“he’s just so nice”.

I have heard that so many times.  “He’s just so nice”.  Someone who’s just so selfless and does things for people all of the time, someone who goes out of his way for no reason.  Someone who’s just so nice.

Well, I used to think that.

I used to see all of the favors done, all of the thoughts thought of me or the prayers prayed to keep me safe.  I used to think the food handouts, spare change, and bought meals were just part of that perfect niceness.  But it’s not.  He’s not so nice, really.

What is it to be a good person?  Is it doing favors here and there, smiling, asking about someone’s day, and making materialistic contributions to others?  No, it’s not.  Not at all.  Being a good person is doing things for someone that often never get acknowledged.  And it’s NOT about donating money and things but more about donating time and making sacrifices.

It’s about staying behind after work – even if you have somewhere to be – to make sure someone makes it to the car store for oil, not about asking if they’re okay and handing them cash then going home.

It’s about telling someone else “no” to something you wanted to do, like sub in a volleyball game, so you can say “yes” to do something you know means way more to your friend, like be the only fan she’s ever had at one of her games and sitting the whole way through.

It’s about volunteering or going to church to better yourself, but it’s NOT about telling someone else what you’re doing in hopes that you can win them over in some way.

But most importantly, it’s about treating those closest to you the best.  It’s great that your mommy thinks you’re just an excellent, attractive good-doer.  (Part of that is she has to, she’s your biased mom.)  But does mom see how you treat those who are emotionally the closest to you?  Who rely on you to feel better about themselves?  Who invested trust in you and then you broke it fifty times along the way?  Mom only sees what you let her see, and you’re not letting her see that.

Why do people give money anyway?  Well, honestly, it’s a selfish act.  Donations make people feel good without having to really do anything.  Seriously, look it up.  Why we do things for others.  It’s actually centered around ourselves more than the people we’re helping.  So when he’s being so nice, isn’t he really just boosting his ego?

And when you give out money, ever considered how it hurts?  To feel so incapable of taking care of yourself that someone with a similar job has to be giving you handouts?  So there we go.  You boost yourself up, I bring myself down.  Who’s it really helping?

I don’t care how much money you give someone or how good you make your life look on a resume.  If you can’t make real sacrifices from your own life to be a true, supportive friend… If you can’t stop thinking about yourself long enough to keep from breaking trust and wounding someone… well then you’re really not such a nice person after all, now are you?

Think about it.

people pleaser.

There’s nothing I hate more than feeling useless.  Uselessness garners worthlessness.  Worthlessness fosters a slew of depressing images of yourself.  It’s all of those things that make me work overtime to avoid them.  My fear of feeling normal, ego-checking emotions imprisons me in the position of the perpetual people pleaser.

I never noticed my tendency to try to please others until someone pointed it out a couple of years ago, then I resented it.  I resented what it was and I resented having a label.  I didn’t want to admit to needing people, to being caught in an ugly egg-and-chicken cycle of needing to be around others and then needing to please them enough to make them stay.  Yet…

Learning to embrace my faults only strengthens my qualities.  Yeah, life loves throwing in catches like that.  To get better, you’ve first got to get worse, etc.  But how?

I’m still constantly crippled by the possibility (or consequences) of not pleasing someone:
-I dread the criticism.
-I picture the worst and live it in my head.
-I take every affliction personally.
-I believe every word someone says about me, even when they’re not thinking clearly.
-I just feel like I’m NEVER GOOD ENOUGH.

But how to embrace that??

It’s not easy, but there are some benefits from being a people pleaser if you’re able to keep a few things in mind.  For example, it’s okay to say no.  It’s okay to be too busy, too tired, or just disinterested.  You can turn things down as a way to keep control over how other perceive you.  If you drop everything for someone else too often, you’re giving them all of the power over you and showing it.  Only listening to the opinion of those whom you value will also save you from hurt when those who are cruel and meaningless to you inflict useless pain.

On the bright side, being a people pleaser means you’re also a dedicated and caring person at heart, and not just anyone can have qualities like that.  The problem is, taming yourself.  And that’s something I definitely still need to work on…