Archive | January, 2013

My New “New Year’s” Resolutions

23 Jan

I know what you’re thinking: It’s three weeks after January 1st. Why is this chick writing about resolutions?

I’m writing about them because I suck at them, both making and keeping.

Like many of you, I make resolutions right before Christmas, then break them by week three. As a perfectionist, I don’t get back on the horse well. I simply forget about them and say I’ll do better next year. The reality is, I never do.

There are many reasons we – as humans – break our New Year’s resolutions. We are weak. We lack support. We hate change. Yup, I’ll say it: changing yourself – and your behavior – sucks. It doesn’t just suck because it takes effort to change. It sucks because you first have to admit what you’ve been doing all these years isn’t working. Once you realize this, I’m convinced people throw their realizations out the window (because no one ever wants to think they REALLY have a problem) and go back to making “typical” resolutions they know they won’t stick to, thus setting themselves up for failure.

IMAGINE BIG NEON LIGHTS: If you don’t make realistic resolutions from the start – ones that you KNOW will force you to change annoying patters or behaviors about yourself – then you are setting yourself up for failure from the onset.

What exactly constitutes a “typical” resolution from a realistic one? Here’s a real-world example from yours truly:

2012 was the year of party girl Kerry. You see, I never got to be 21 (I got very sick my junior year of college and missed out on a lot), nor had I been single in almost 15 years (three back-to-back serious relationships). Thus, 2012 seemed like the perfect time to try this whole night scene out. Too many cringe-worthy moments later (including a few crushes thinking I was a tool and realizing shots were never a good idea), 2013 seemed like a great year to put this lifestyle on perma-pause.

That being said, my New Year’s resolution was a two-drink minimum on any night. I made this resolution on December 27th.

I broke this resolution by December 28th. Epic. Fail.

Here’s why I failed: I realized putting rules on myself wasn’t the answer. It made me feel grounded…and since I’m not a parent yet, my own parents still own the right to ground me (wait, do they? I may write about this later). This self-grounding also doesn’t get to the problem at hand. I’m super social. I love to go out. I’m single. I work two jobs and have some street cred as a writer before the age of 30. Hell, I deserve to go out. I just need to approach it differently and I’ll be good to go.

Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong.

When you’re in your teens and early 20s, making resolutions and trying to follow through is pretty easy. If you haven’t been doing your homework, you commit to doing your homework. If you’ve been disrespectful to your parents, you commit to straightening up your act. If you really want that cute boy to ask you to prom, you make out with him a little during cross-country practice (…busted. That last one was all me. By the way, he still didn’t ask me to prom).

As you get older, making resolutions gets a lot harder. You are forced to take a deep look inside yourself and understand what’s making you unhappy or unfulfilled. Once you do that, you have two choices: Make resolutions that matter or go back to making resolutions like when you were a kid (and let’s be honest – did you ever REALLY end up doing all your homework? I didn’t think so).

So I ask you this: How many of you made resolutions this year? Now how many of you made resolutions that matter? Do you see the difference? If we all stop making the same resolutions we won’t keep – and instead start making resolutions we know we CAN keep (and will) – we will forever be improving honest, transparent communication with…ourselves. Is there a better relationship out there?

I’m committed to making resolutions that matter in 2013. To hold myself accountable, I’m putting them out to my readers. You guys won’t go easy on me, right?

Did I mention I hate change?

1. Date the guy I usually don’t (this means a non-asshole-from-the-start no call/no show bartender, musician, or Abercrombie & Fitch model clone. Who knows? By following this little number, I may get a SECOND date. Whoa. Heavy)

2. Drink a glass of water in-between every cocktail and for God sakes, eat before I leave (did I mention I never really got to be 21? This includes not learning alcohol rules of engagement until eight years later)

3. Say “take a hike” more (me = overly nice and can’t say no. Me = feelings hurt often. Grow some balls and stop getting walked on)

4. Teach as much as possible, wherever you can and with whoever will have you (my heart and mind come alive in a classroom. I was born to teach. The more practice I have, the better teacher I will be)

5. Stop cutting my bangs and coloring my own hair (bangs = I never wear them and I don’t even really like them. Honest Abe? I make my hairdresser cut them because I secretly hope they will make me look like Jessica Alba in Honey. No matter how many times I cut them, they don’t. Instead, I look 13. Stop the madness. Get adult-only haircuts. Hair color = I don’t ever want to relive the Elmo color-fiasco of spring 2012. Enough said)

6. Be in the best shape ever by enjoying workouts (More dance classes, less Pilates {which I hate}. More running, less yoga {which I laugh throughout})

Your turn.

Vacation Anxiety…Family, Fun, Sun, and Data Plans

13 Jan

In early 2011, my entire family planned a trip to the Dominican Republic and invited me and my then-boyfriend along. By mid-year, everything was paid for and we were all really excited…that is, until August 2011 when my (now) ex walked into my room and without warning, ended our relationship. My stuff was in boxes the next day. This box included a check written out to my mother to refund his plane ticket. Needless to say, I ended up not going either. It was too painful of a reminder. After my family returned, they could not stop talking about how much fun they had or stop referencing the inside jokes along the way. It sounded like a blast and I regretted passing up the opportunity.

Fast-forward to early 2012. My mom informed me the family would be returning to the Dominican Republic in January 2013. Did I want to join? Without hesitation, I said yes. I love my family. I love sun. I haven’t had a real vacation since 2004. Why not? I got back last Wednesday and I must say, the experience was quite different from anticipated. I learned a lot about myself, as well as family dynamics.

My family is pretty close. My mom is the most generous woman alive. My dad is a logical, always helpful problem-solving superhero. My brother is 100 times cooler than I’ll ever be and my personality polar opposite. As different as we are, we are friends and siblings. My brother’s girlfriend of over two and a half years is also like family – she’s like the sister I never had and doesn’t have a problem telling me like it is, no matter the situation. All of this background sets the stage for a pretty natural chemistry. When we get together for holidays or birthdays, laughter roars. We all talk regularly. I’ve lived out-of-state since I was 22 and I’m never at a loss with visitors.

Although this vacation was wonderful – and I’m really glad I went – I was stressed out on this gorgeous island for the majority of the experience. For five days, I couldn’t pinpoint the problem, I just know I wasn’t acting like my normal, carefree, my-girl-likes-to-party all-the-time-self. Instead, I was anxious, a little reclusive, and strangely quiet. What was my problem? I’m on this amazing vacation with my amazing family and I couldn’t relax. I came home feeling like I needed a vacation from my vacation.

After some thought, I realized I’ve heard this story before. Many of my friends (who also live out-of-state and are in their late twenty-somethings) head home for a while or go on a trip with their family and come back feeling…defeated (for lack of a better word). Why is that?

Over the past few days, I’ve hypothesized many reasons:

Odd Man Out: My family is all coupled up, either married or in serious relationships. As wonderful as each couple was in trying to include me in activities, itโ€™s intimidating to be in that type of setting, especially when you couldn’t get more single. This is especially true when you are at an inclusive resort with absolutely no cute boys on deck (trust me, I looked).

Extra Curriculars: I work really (really) hard. I balance two jobs. Plus volunteer. Plus work out. Plus write a blog. Plus date. Plus life stuff like errands, cleaning, etc. My life is nuts. As crazy as life is, I’ve adopted another responsibility over the past year and a half: party like a rock star. I love the nightlife and am a chronic sufferer of “fear of missing out syndrome.” In this, my friends and I regularly dance the night away and have a 4 a.m. cocktail. It’s fun. I can’t explain it, but with my family, I feel like that party girl can’t quite come out like she does in NYC. Trust me, they wish this side of me came out more often while they were around, but it doesn’t. Instead, the thought makes me self-conscious.

I’m 12…All Over Again: As previously mentioned, my brother is the coolest guy ever and we’ve become really close over the years. However, by day three, it felt like he and I resorted back to the dynamic when we were kids: he thinking I was uptight and ridiculous and me being, well, uptight and ridiculous. This whole situation made me panic because I was afraid we’d annoy the crap out of each other and not be as close post-trip. This didn’t happen (thank goodness), but it got me thinking as to how you’ll never quite “grow up” within your family’s schemas. Everyone has their “role” within a family, and no matter how much you change, you’re stuck with it like a bad high school superlative. In my case, no matter how laid back and fun I’ve become over the years, I’ll always be the super type-A, academic, sensitive older O’Grady kid when insecurity rears its ugly head. On the flip side, if I was the former fun kid who became serious, I’d be constantly reminded about how fun I “use” to be. You get what I’m saying. In the eyes of your family, you’ll never really shake the person you were at age 12.

Frankie Says…Relax: I need to be honest. I thought it was going to be super easy to turn the world off and do nothing for five days. My family is great at it. They can all sit in the sun, do nothing, and be happy. To 99.9 percent of the human population, this sounds amazing. Before I left, this sounded amazing to me too. Passport in-hand, I turned my data plans off and was left with only 150 prepaid text messages. I should be good, correct?

Wrong. It turns out I am an epic failure at removing myself from the world. I need to check Facebook. I need to Tweet. I need Google searches. I’m not being dramatic. My DNA is constructed to always be connected to people. It absolutely killed me to only have access to my address book (and a few text message conversations) over vacation. I know what you’re going to say: that’s not normal. Maybe not, but it’s who I am and always been. You’re talking to a girl who had a pager at age 14 so she could be could always be available to call her friends back. Hot. Mess.

Additionally – as sick as it sounds – I’ve learned my idea of a vacation isn’t relaxation. “Relaxing” for a day or two is fine, but then I need to get out, bar hop, try new restaurants, build someone a house…you get the picture. Otherwise, have any of you seen Dirty Dancing? The structure of the camp Baby and her family vacationed? Yup, kinda like that.

Although this analysis may sound a little critical, I want to be clear: overall, I had a great time on this family vacation. I got to spend some serious quality time with my wonderful family, slept in, recharged, and ate tons of delicious food. I also have a kick-ass January tan. Sweet. However, as we grow and change within our own lives, it’s really important to understand why we don’t always feel 100 percent our “new” selves going back to our roots. The moral of the story is this: the beauty of family is that they love you no matter how you grow and change. They love you in spite of how your personality shifts. They want to embrace and love whatever person you morph into as you age. Let them. Your bonds will be stronger and trust me; your vacations with them will feel a lot more relaxing. Further, it truly doesn’t matter if you don’t love the same things they do or laugh at the same jokes. As long as you’re a good sport about it, your family is probably just happy to have you around, being part of the family. Just because you’re different, doesn’t mean you’re a disappointment.

Here’s to family vacation 2014.

2nd Annual Countdown: Lessons of 2012 (via Twitter @OGradyKL)

2 Jan

For the second year, I’m counting down the top ten lessons learned in 2012. Lessons were originally published on Twitter (@OGradyKL). One lesson per day was revealed from December 22nd – January 1st. Lessons are non-scientific (at best) and based on nothing more than my meandering (yes, and comical) experience as a later-ish twenty-something.

Enjoy and Happy New Year! ๐Ÿ™‚

Lesson #10: If you want something, you need to ask for it. If you don’t ask, you can’t be upset when you don’t receive.

Lesson #9: There is a delicate balance between being labeled the life of a party or the party girl. The latter isn’t cute.

Lesson #8: My Prince Charming is out there somewhere, but that somewhere isn’t anywhere alcohol is involved.

Lesson #7: A broken heart can heal, but it’s not just about time and patience. It’s about forgiveness, empathy, and letting go.

Lesson #6: Mean girls don’t go away. Instead, they get worse (and more bitter) with age.

Lesson #5: Overcommitting yourself is just as bad as always saying no. Find a happy medium.

Lesson #4: Dating advice for the awkward: when in doubt, make out. It’s fun and you totally avoid uncomfy pauses or dumb convos.

Lesson #3: Don’t let your career define you. Remember, your life outside work hours is way more interesting.

Lesson #2: You can’t be best friends with everyone, but you can be the best friend possible to everyone. Life is richer with kindness.

Lesson #1: Live every single second like it was your last. Life is too short and unpredictable to waste a moment over-thinking.