My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘Life Lessons’

Confessions from the Friend Zone

The Friend Zone.

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It’s a place we’ve all been at one point or another in our lives. Some of us (*cough ME *cough) have been there so long, we might as well take up a sublet and get a parking permit. If you’re one of the lucky few who don’t know what it is, the Friend Zone is a kind of relationship purgatory where one party is in deep like/love with the other party, but the other is only putting off friendly vibes. Basically, it’s the saddest party on the block. Or at least it feels like it at the time.

Let me preface this by saying that I am ALL about being somebody’s BFF. I place a lot of value on friendships and am always up for the opportunity to add another pal to my posse. But when you start to develop feelings for said other person, real feelings, and not have those feelings reciprocated, it can definitely be a blow to the heart. In fact, it sucks. Because no matter what you say or do, this other person will only ever see you as their friend.

The Friend Zone is a place I know all too well. I’m the Norm of the Friend Zone, the Mayor  McCheese of the Friend Zone, that “one pesky zit on your face that will never leave” of the Friend Zone. Most of my relationships have started and ended the same way: I meet a great guy, stomach is filled with butterfliespterodactyls, sparks are a flyin’ (at least in my mind), texts are exchanged, amazing dates are had and I begin to think, “Damnit. I really like Bob/Joe/Jim/Moe.”

Annnnd then it happens.

The dreaded “I think you’re a really cool girl, but…”, “You’re really great, but…”, “You’resosweetandIovedhangingoutwithyou, but…”

But…

But…

But…I just don’t like you like that.

Ugh. Friend Zoned.

I’m not sure why I’ve had the pleasure of frequenting this place so often. I mean, on the one hand, I’m flattered that guys think so highly of my mad friendship skills, but on the other hand, sometimes a girl just wants to be looked at as more than that. Be it the optimistic romantic in me, I like to think that this will happen. And I know it will. One day. And it will for you too. But that doesn’t mean that in the moment, it doesn’t suck like a vacuum any less.

While being given the “Friend card” isn’t exactly the most ideal of situations, it’s also not the end of the world. Take it from me, your [self-proclaimed] Friend-Zoned love guru, it can actually present itself as a somewhat positive thing, albeit a somewhat positive thing dressed in some pretty impressive camouflage. But a positive thing nonetheless.

Here are just some things to remember in order to help you get off of that dating bench and back into the game.

  1. It’s not you; it’s them.

Yes, it’s the cliché to beat all clichés. But it’s a cliché for a reason. The toughest thing you will face when put into the Friend Zone is the how and why’s. You will more often than not spend an embarrassingly amount of time wracking your brain wondering what you did, what you didn’t do. At what point did I go from this person’s potential SO to just their “pal”? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! The truth is, you may never know. As much as you would like to change how someone sees and feels about you, you can’t. The only thing you can change is how you see and feel about yourself. If the other person in question doesn’t look at you the way you look at a burrito, then it’s time to walk away and find someone who does. Because burritos are delicious.

  1. Take this opportunity to actually be just friends.

Just because the opportunity for any kind of romantic relationship is out the car window doesn’t mean that you can’t get a pretty amazing friend out of the deal. After all, you liked this person for a reason, and them you. You began as friends and if you’re lucky, you can still retain that after all of the awkward dust settles. Some of my most meaningful friendships stemmed from the dreaded (but really not-so dreaded) Friend Zone.

  1. Recognize how much of a kick-ass friend you really are.

When the other person tells you how “great” and “cool” and “awesome” you are, listen to them! In the moment, of course these compliments of true authenticity go in one ear and out the next. And understandably so; you just had your heart broken. All you can think of are the things that you aren’t. But when the dust settles a bit, realize that these things that this person is saying are true. You are funny and caring and smart and funny and witty and one heck of a great person! Never, ever forget that!

  1. Use this experience as a learning opportunity.

I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. Like just this morning for example, I woke up late and didn’t have time to eat breakfast so I stopped by Starbucks for a quick bite. Turns out they were giving away free bagels with any purchase of a coffee. Being given free food is the ultimate reason to believe in serendipity in my opinion. The same rules apply to relationships. Use this opportunity to learn from your experience. With each relationship you have, you grow. You find out what it is in another person you like and what you don’t. You become more confident and self-assured. Ironically, you’ll on occasion, if lucky, be given free food. Full circle.

  1. Get back on the horse!

It’s natural and completely normal to be sad, to wallow a bit, drown your sorrows in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and an endless loop of Nicholas Sparks movies. Let it out, have a good cry, contemplate becoming a crazy cat lady/man. But then put your big girl/boy panties on and get back out there! This particular relationship may not have worked out, but that just means that there is one even better out there that will! Don’t lose hope. Focus on having the best life possible, spend some quality you-doing-you time, and just at the exact moment when you’re not looking for it, it’ll happen. Another cliché, but it really works. Or so I’m told; I’m still busy not looking for love in order to prove this point.

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Moments

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Our lives are made up of a series of moments.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get to have thousands,

even millions of them.

There will be funny moments, sad moments,

moments you’ll want to forget.

Moments of anger, moments of passion,

moments spent deeply rooted in love.

There will be moments that alter you,

completely dwarf you,

moments that show you just how beautiful it is to exist.

You’ll even have default moments.

Moments that fall through the cracks.

Moments where you’re doing something so mundane,

you don’t even realize it is one.

Then there are the big moments.

Your goosebumps moments.

The moments that leave a blue hickey on your life’s neck.

These are the moments that crack you open and leave you wanting more.

These are the moments you’ll want to keep safe.

Hold on to.

This right here, this is a moment.

A tiny pinprick in eternity that is only yours to create.

Here’s to the magic you create.

Here’s to your moment.

Why you should laugh in the face of fear (and do the damn thing!)

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Fear is a funny thing, guys. A funny thing, but also very necessary. If you go back in history, fear was what enabled the cavemen (and cavewomen because I’m pretty sure they were out there kicking some serious mammoth ass along with their male counterparts) to identify a dangerous situation. Fear heightens your senses, pumps adrenaline into your system, and it helps you survive whatever it is that’s scaring you.

And since we no longer have mammoths IRL–our lives are a lot less difficult and fewer stakes are raised–our fears tend to be the things we manifest inside ourselves. They’re the things we let fester, the dreams we never pursue, the chances we don’t take, the places we never visit, the people we never admit to loving, and the jobs we never apply for. There are so many things to be afraid of, but most of these things reside inside our own head. Because what if we fail? What if we never recover? What if, what if, what if?

But what it we don’t?

What if we do the scariest thing of all–what if we actually get everything we ever wanted?

I had a former track coach who would always tell me that you should get uncomfortable, because being uncomfortable is where you begin to see changes. (If only I had a dollar for every time he lovingly barked this sentiment as I sweated through 200 meter suicides, my snazzy new Nike Frees would pay for themselves.) And it’s true–not just in the biological sense that your body responds to harder work by adapting and becoming stronger, but because your mind becomes stronger, too. You begin to withstand the scary things, the things you never thought you were capable of. And in this, you become more resilient.

Because being scared is uncomfortable. Being afraid is supposed to be uncomfortable–it lights that metaphorical fire under your ass in order to tell you to work towards being more comfortable. But there are two ways that you can do this: either retreating, and avoiding the thing in the first place, or working through it to the other side. Riding out the uncomfortable and the scary until you’re stronger and things aren’t as scary anymore. Fight or flight. Do or die.

Laughing in the face of fear and doing the damned thing anyway.

And of course, in order to really understand how to withstand the scary things life throws at us (relationships, jobs, failure, spiders and a serious Chik-fil-a craving on a Sunday afternoon), you have to get to the bottom of why you think it’s scary. Why it gets under your skin, why it terrifies you, why it dregs up memories of all the other times you faced scary things and didn’t come out stronger on the other side. There’s a whole host of reasons, really, and each will vary from person to person. But I think one of the things that connects this fear we all experience isn’t all that unique.

We’re most afraid of being happy. Of having a good life. A great life.

Not that we don’t want to–oh, of course we do. But we wonder if we deserve a good life, a great life. This doubt creeps in and we’re left second-guessing ourselves when we have to stand up to the thing that is in the way of our happiness. Of whatever it is we want. After all, what would happen if we wound up getting everything we wanted? What if it all got taken away?

But I guess that’s a risk with everything you do. So you might as well face the scary parts head on, because chances are, the outcome you want least to happen, might happen anyway. Whether you tried or not.

And if you don’t try, the what if–the magical, fantastical, best-case-scenario–will never happen at all.

Do the things that scare you. Get uncomfortable. Get really uncomfortable. Stand your ground. Speak up and go after the things you want, no matter how scary it is. Apply for that job, tell the person you’re crushing on that you like them, take that risk.

And if you do wind up with everything you ever wanted it’s because you did that work. You put in the effort, you found the grit within yourself, you realized that the scariest things in this world can sometimes be the most wonderful.

We’re scared of change, is all. But change is good for us. Great, even.

Change is how we learn, how we grow, how we overcome those mammoths.

And there’s nothing more fulfilling or badass than that, my friends.

Get Lost

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Fun fact about me: I am horrible at directions, y’all. Like, the absolute worst. My GPS is the end-all, be-all, and not a day goes by that I don’t end up spending eons searching for my car in the parking lot of Target, panic-sweating in the process.

My first ‘welcome to Colorado’ hiking experience–a hike that shouldn’t have been more more than 2 hours long–ended up being more like a 4 6 hour tour. Three wrong turns, two  loops around the same damn mountain and a few four-letter words thrown around and I finally did make it to the trail head. But not without a little a lot of that same panic-sweat.

Thank god for my weird habit of always having chocolate in nearly every pocket of everything I’m wearing at any given time. Except when that ‘given time’ happens to be a 90-degree day in the middle of July. The scar from having my fellow hikers be privy to the melted Snickers on my ass pocket still hasn’t quite worn off yet. 

Sorry.

Back to the point of this sweet, hot mess.

Getting lost. Not knowing the way. Trying, and falling flat on your chocolate-covered ass.

I used to think that it was bad thing.

But now? Now I think getting lost is necessary, needed, vital for each and everyone one of us to learn, to grow to experience new and incredible things. After all, some of the best moments I’ve had in my almost 30 years thus far have been a direct result of veering off course, taking the path less traveled so to speak.

It seems like we spend most of our lives trying to define ourselves. Every choice we make seems to say something about who we are and how we fit into the world. Then there’s this idea, that after you go on some life-changing trip or have some realization that you can truly “find yourself.” That you’ll just wake up one day and say, “Ohhhhhh, so this is who I am. Huh. Guess I don’t have to look anymore!”

Well kids, I’m here to say that idea is a load of bull funky.

My advice: Never, ever stop looking for yourself. Keep digging and discovering new things about who you are. Surprise yourself with things you didn’t know you were capable of. Push yourself to be better and try new things just for the hell of it. You might hate it, but you also might really, really love it.

Get lost.

Stop trying to fit yourself into some category or box just to make yourself more understandable to other people. You don’t have to explain who you are to anyone if you don’t want to. Live life on your terms.

And just because you haven’t “found yourself” yet (whatever that means) doesn’t mean you never will, or that you’re any less complete because of it. In fact, I will go as far to say as it’s almost better if you haven’t. Declining to define yourself for the convenience of others is freeing.

Keep discovering things you love and things you hate.

Figure out what you want and don’t want.

Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

You should never get comfortable in being stagnant, in the sameness, in the never-changing and familiar.

Always keep looking, and just remember that the day you find yourself is the day you stop growing as a person.

Bridges of Change

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Change.

I’ve always been a little resistant, to be honest. I take confront in the known, the expected, the easy. The last few weeks however have shown me that change isn’t something to be afraid of, but embraced. With anything in life, there is that chance that you will get hurt, fail, experience some sort of loss. Before, I had always associated that risk to be greater when you went against the status quo, made waves, broke away from the norm and illicit that change.

But now? Now I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t.

If I don’t stand up for what I believe in.

If I don’t take action against the wrong-doings in this world.

If I keep my voice silenced and my actions mute.

I have never been one to be accusatory or negative or hateful. I get hives just thinking about confrontation and have avoided it like the plague for as long as I can remember.

And in a lot of ways, I still very much am that person.

But now? Now I’m not afraid anymore.

I’m not afraid to do, think, feel.

I welcome the opportunity to do anything and everything I possibly can to show my support, to fight for the good that I believe is still very much left in the world, to make all of the damn waves.

To not only see the change and welcome it with open arms, but to be a part of its strength.

The road to transformation isn’t meant to be easy.

But it also isn’t meant to be traveled alone. We need each other. Through the thick, the thin, the in-betweens. In the ups, the downs, the unpredictable joys and hardships and messes that life sometimes brings.

When we don’t create space for hard conversations to happen and instead, turn away and become silent about the things that matter most–that’s the moment we have chosen to stop learning about the world we live in, and the people we share it with.

Come and meet me on the bridge. Let’s celebrate our differences.

The Heart of the Matter

 

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I was recently asked by someone if I had ever been in love. When I was forced to admit my honest answer, no, it made me think.

Granted this conversation was after one three glasses of wine, and Moscato has a sneaky way of making me get just all of the philosophical. I once had a two-hour conversation about the deeper meaning and lessons behind the Monty Python films. Hint: it involved a lot of me talking in a terrible British accent and Spam. I wish I was joking.

I’ve been on this beautiful Earth for almost 30 years now, and I’ve had many incredible life experiences, but what this particular person made me realize was that I’ve never really experienced the feeling of “being in love.”

Sure there was Kody Kremsreiter, my first “love.” We were both five, lived across the street from one another and both had the same obsession with Saturday morning cartoons, The Berenstain Bears and chicken nuggets. In 5th grade, it was Jason Kopp. He shared his War Heads with me on the playground and always picked me first when playing kickball in gym class. Guys, if that isn’t the making of true love, I don’t know what is.

I’d like to say that my dating style improved as I got older, but that was not the case.  My middle name is awkward (actually, it’s Joe, but potato poe-tah-toe) and I never aced the whole flirting thing. I still haven’t tbh. I never really had a steady boyfriend. Sure, there were guys who I dated in high school and college and even within the last few years, guys who definitely gave me the butterflies, who I would stay up late talking to on the phone eliciting all the nervous laughs and palm sweats, guys who I thought were “the one.”

But the truth is, I’ve never had that deep down, feel-it-in-your-toes, over the moon, head-over-heels, soul-gripping and down right amazing love feeling. This isn’t to say that these guys weren’t wonderful people. They were incredible! Funny, kind, smart and big-hearted. This also is in no way a rumination seeking sympathy, and it isn’t to reflect on some kind of deprivation. My life has been anything but deprived. In fact, this is just the opposite. It’s the appreciation of how full of love my life has been.

I think what my friend was asking was if I had ever experienced that stereotypical romantic love, the kind of love that makes you reminisce over who said “I love you” first, the kind of love you hear about from grandparents who’ve sustained their relationship for over 50 years, the kind of love that makes you cross continents just to be with someone. No, I’ve never personally been in this kind of love…yet. But just because I’ve never been in love, doesn’t mean I haven’t been surrounded by it.

And when I say I’m surrounded by love, I’m not necessarily referring to seeing friends getting engaged, or sending my parents an anniversary card every year (HI MOM AND DAD!!!). I’m referring to the non-stereotypical, unromantic, and yet completely unconditional love that has helped to make my life complete. I’ve never said those three magic words, “I love you” to an SO, but I have said them to people who I do in fact love, and I think those three words hold just as much meaning whether they’re said romantically or not.

I know without a doubt that this romantic love is indescribably fantastic–I’ve seen it in my grandparents, in my parents, in the relationships that my friends and other family members have.  I’m sure that there are others who are both younger and older than me who have never truly had it, but that doesn’t make their life any less complete than those who have. Don’t assume that the absence of romantic love makes the presence of loneliness that much more apparent. I don’t feel empty because I’ve never loved someone romantically, I feel grateful because I have been lucky enough to have loved and be loved in so many other ways.

When romantic love has let me down, unromantic love has been there to pick me up. When a friend understands you better than you understand yourself, that’s love. When a parent endlessly supports your passions even when you question them, that’s love. When your sibling consoles your broken heart even if theirs is hurting too, that’s love. When your dog or cat rushes over to you, tail wagging after a long day, knowing just how to cheer you up with a sloppy lick of the face, that’s love. Y’all, my life is full of love, and while it may not be romantic, it’s whole.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly excited to feel those feels one day. I think anyone would be. Being in love is an amazing thing, it’s one of the things that drives us all.

But until that happens, I will cherish the love I do have in all the different ways it presents itself. 🙂

Celebrating Four Incredible Years

At about exactly this time, exactly four years ago, I crossed the Colorado state line ready and just so damn excited to start a new adventure, to turn a new page in this already crazy and wonderful life I had been authoring up until this point. My VW Bug was stuffed to the brim with everything I owned (plus a few just all of the Twizzlers/Pringles/Milk Duds because what’s a cross country, life-changing road trip without some junk food amiright??) My heart was overflowing with pride, and my stomach was turning a constant rotation of cartwheels, excited yet a bundle of nerves.

What if this doesn’t work out? Am I making the right decision? BUT DO THEY EVEN HAVE A CULVER’S THERE?!

As I stepped out of my car, my legs stiff and my eyes heavy from driving over 22 hours, these questions–and so many more–were running through my head on the repeat.

I was terrified.

But I was also incredibly happy. Like, eating a giant ice cream cone on a sunny Friday afternoon in a park full of puppies, happy.

Taking in that first sight of majestic Rocky Mountain goodness in front of me, I was home.

When I decided a little over four years ago to take a giant leap of faith and make the big move, I really had no idea what was in store for me. I did something so very unWendi-like and jumped without looking. I stuck a giant middle finger up to any kind of plan, any premeditated form of action. I felt, and I did. I didn’t have a job lined up, I knew just a handful of people and wasn’t even sure if I would like living in the Mile High City. All I really knew for sure was that if I didn’t try, if I didn’t take this chance now, I might never get the opportunity to do so again. I also knew that if I fell back on that fear of things not working out, if I chose instead to remain forever in my comfort zone, there would be some serious regretage going on.

And if there is one thing I have learned in my almost 30 years thus far, it’s that regret is no friend of mine.

So I jumped.

I jumped hard.

And that by far has probably been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made to date.

For four years I have been lucky enough to call Denver my home. For four years, I have been able to call the mountains my playground, my weekend escape. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets imaginable, I’ve hiked some of the most challenging and breath-taking trails, explored the urban jungle that is downtown Denver and tasted some of the best food (And beer! Yes, I am now a beer fan! Well, getting there anyway) I’ve ever had.

Professionally I’ve had some very challenging and rewarding opportunities that have really helped to shape not only me as a librarian/social media/writer boss chic, but also have served as a reminder that I’m damn good at what I do, that I love what I do, and to never, ever never stop pursuing that dream of mine no matter what obstacles may get in my way. I’ve worked with some strong-willed and big-hearted people, have helped to inspire some incredibly talented and motivated students, and have learned and grown from each and every one of them.

Personally, I’ve broken out of this silly shell I’ve been hiding behind. Moving somewhere new by yourself kind of forces you to put your badass self out there and meet people, no matter how you end up doing that. I’ve met some incredible new friends, have reconnected with old ones and have made too many memories to count.

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The late-night conversations, the too-close-to-call softball games, the good first dates and the ones you wish you could Ctrl Alt Delete. The summer baseball games at Coors Field and Packer games at Badgers, the bike rides, snowball fights and Harry Potter movie-marathons. The pool parties, happy hours, road trips and barbeques.

The smiles.

The hugs.

The uncontrollable laughter.

These past four years have made my heart so incredibly full, nearly as full as my ever-shrinking apartment—the number of books I’ve accumulated since I’ve been here is embarrassing, guys. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next 2, 5, 10 or 15 years to come.

I’ve come a long way since making the decision to start this grand adventure—over 8,000 miles and an immeasurable amount of self-growth, courage, spontaneity and a ‘You only get one life so you better damn make it the best possible life there is’ mentality. If I can take just one thing away from this is that it’s never to late to make a change, to face that fear or worry and do the damn thing! You’ll never know the amazingness that awaits you on the other side if you never try.

Cheers to four years, y’all!

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