Tag Archives: Adulthood

Love, Part 5 of 5: Putting It All Together

20 May

This last post on love was supposed to be dedicated to successful homosexual relationships and how they yield more long-term benefits than heterosexual ones. I researched for months, hoping to write this piece not just because I found the topic interesting, but because many of my fabulous gay friends are gorgeous, single, and looking (I know, my Friend of the Year Award is in the mail). However, as I sat down to write, I decided to shelve my notes for a bit. My last big post on love should be a culmination of what I’ve learned during the process. Part 5 – El ultimo – should bring new insight into the field of love. It should get me that column in Cosmopolitan that is –in my humble opinion -WAY overdue (Hey, Cosmo, call me maybe?).

So what, pray tell, did I learn about love?

I learned I was spending so much time writing about dating, romance, and sex, I lost sight of what love really is.

This entire series, I’ve focused on romantic love. Mainly, I’ve focused on how and why my life lacks it. What I haven’t done is celebrate the current loves of my life and why they bring me so much happiness. In short, in my constant search for Mr. Right, I’ve focused on everything that’s wrong. I failed to realize how important it is to appreciate all the non-romantic love at my fingertips.

This being said, I want to dedicate this post to all my single friends. May these words help you realize life in your 20s isn’t just about finding romantic love. It’s about celebrating this special time, a time to relish in all other types of love and discover new things about yourself you’ll love until you’re old and gray.
On a psychological level, looking at a list of things you love can help you feel less alone when everyone else seems coupled-up. It can help you make better choices when easy, not-so-great ones are within your reach. It can help you not settle. I mean, why would you? A list like this proves you deserve only the best, because you have so much love to give.

Below you’ll find a list of my current loves. What are yours?

Myself: After 29 years of trying to improve the package, I’m almost at the point where I can look in the mirror each day with confidence, vigor, and acceptance. You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. This includes friends, family, or a significant other.

Family: I’m close with my parents, brother, and my brother’s girlfriend (who is basically my sister). I also consider my best friend on the planet family (we actually refer to each other brother and sister). You can’t ask for more than unconditional love.

Roommate-Turned-Bestie: Don’t we all wish we could live with someone and never get annoyed? Or fight? Or run out of things to talk about? What about sitting in comfy silence? Agreeing on every TV show? Cooking Sunday night dinner? Regularly laughing until we cry? I’m a lucky girl.

Classrooms Filled with Graduate Students: Each week, students provide me with renewed energy, purpose, excitement, and challenge. My heart swells entering the place I call home: academia.

Old Friends: Boston, Phoenix, Chicago, Tennessee…I can’t express what it’s like to always have someone to call, no matter what time zone. My pre-New York friends continue to make such an impact on my current New York life. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

New Friends: If it’s not through school or work, I thought it was pretty much impossible to make new friends in your late 20s. I was wrong. For example, less than a year ago I met a co-worker of a roommate, and his friend. Within a few seconds of meeting them both, I was wondering where they’d been all my life. It’s amazing to continuously be meeting people who make a lasting impact.

Cooking: Feeding people is in my blood. It’s the ultimate stress relief. Baked macaroni, anyone?

Dancing: Can’t find me? I’m on the dance floor. Usually cocktail in-hand. Music, take me away.

Listening: Listening is the ultimate gift, as it’s a representation of attention and time. Listening is how I show my friends and family how much I care. Whether listening to a problem, remembering tiny details, or sharing in some excitement, there is no question to anyone in my life how much I love them. I’m forever listening.

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What’s in a Name? Exploring Adult Friendships: Part 2

28 Dec

Last week, I put friends into buckets. Today, I explore what makes up that coveted top-tier: the BFFs.

As previously discussed, adult BFFs are much different from your younger years. As a kid (I’m talking ages 5-12, give or take), BFFs are your posse on the playground. These are the same people who always get half your Twinkie (awww…RIP Twinkies). These are also the people who get invited to your birthday parties, sleepovers, and playdates.

In high school, BFFs were a tad different. High school was made for groups…the jocks, geeks, goths, populars, etc. It was easy to find BFFs in high school because you rolled with those most like-minded to you. This may seem obvious, as the goal of most high schoolers is to fit in. Why wouldn’t you want to hang with those who brought out the best in you? Otherwise, fitting a square peg into a round hole is pretty awkward (I can say this from experience, as I tried to fit myself into just about every group in high school. The benefit was I got along with everyone. The detriment? at 29, I still have no idea where I fit in).

As an adult, BFFs are more complicated. The unfortunate part of this statement is that the term “BFF” is static. It’s us (as humans) that get more complicated as we get older, thus, we inadvertently complicate friendships. It’s not our fault – as we mature and our lives change, our chemical makeup of things important to us changes. Instead of caring about who we share our snacks with, we want to know whose shoulder we can cry on or who we can trust when we need to vent. Additionally – and yes, I’m calling everyone out – as we age, we get more egotistical and hedonistic. It’s more about “me” and less about “you.” If you don’t believe me, think about it this way: as a kid, how many times did you get upset when someone didn’t ask about your day? Never, right? Or, what about be annoyed when a playdate changed? That’s pretty laughable, correct? I thought so.

All this preamble leads me to a list I like to call “BFF Mandatories.” Combine these mandatories with my buckets from last week and I’m pretty positive you’ll be looking at your friends in a different light.

Empathy: Empathy is the cornerstone of adult friendships. Your 20s and 30s are filled with unexpected events and you need friends willing to put themselves in your shoes, regardless if they’ve had the same experiences.

Support: Breakups. Moves. Job changes. Deaths. Adulthood kinda sucks, doesn’t it? That being said, when things go wrong, you need dependable people to help you pick up the pieces. You need people to sit with you while you cry, listen to you while you complain, or even simply smile and nod when you decide clown college is finally for you (it could happen).

Trust: As a kid, you gossiped about everything. The game of he said/she said was amazingly fun and made you feel super cool. As an adult, gossiping makes you pretty lame and in the eyes of others, untrustworthy. I truly believe you can’t get through life without at least a handful of people you can 100 percent trust. I’m not just talking secret-keeping, either. I’m talking about life’s most rock-bottom moments they’ve seen, yet will never reveal. Instead of judging you, they coach you through it. They either help you avoid making the same mistake twice or encourage you to follow your heart. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Loyalty: This factor is the one stand-out that carries over from childhood. Remember how you use to choose sides during a playground fight? Same rules apply here: as an adult, you must choose sides. Playing neutral doesn’t fly anymore. Before you all think I sound harsh, hear me out: How often are you angry with your friends that are wishy-washy or play politician? Or, how often are you upset when your now-enemy was invited to party of a (now) mutual friend? There is comfort in knowing someone will always be on your side and as adults, usually these sides are pretty clear-cut. Your BFFs will never waiver from your side.

Flexibility: Between jobs, families, events, exercise, and other responsibilities, life is pretty unpredictable. Making plans is great because it means you have a set date on the calendar. It also means that person is important enough to you to plan something in advance. However, sometimes life get in the way of these plans and cancellations are necessary. Further – and let’s be really honest – sometimes we have 100 percent intention of being somewhere, but are so tired/sick/whatever, we won’t be our best if we go. Therefore, we opt to reschedule. Those closest to us – that know us well – understand and don’t make a huge deal out of it. In turn, we understand when they cancel on us at the last-minute. HUGE disclaimer – if this happens all the time, you may want to reexamine the friendship…once in awhile is OK, but if it’s a consistent problem, it needs to be addressed.

Respect: Your time. Your feelings. Your beliefs. Your good days. Your bad days. Your differences. Your opinions. Your advice. Your efforts. Other people in your life. Did I mention feelings? If your supposed BFFs break any of the above, you need to make a friendship 911 call. Stat.

What other qualities make up an adult BFF? Do you agree with this list? I’d love to hear from you. Comment away.

Stuck in the Middle? Exploring Adult Friendships: Part 1

16 Dec

Friends. With so many definitions, how do you really define these people in your life? Sure, friends are people you call on bad days. In fact, they are the same people you call on good days. You laugh together, cry together, and tell each other things you don’t normally tell others. This sounds pretty simple, right? Someone either is your friend, or they’re not.

Unfortunately, as adults, friendships are not so simple. Why? Because the above definition is truly made for friends under the age of 12.

In your 20s and 30s, friendships change. Sometimes they change for the better and sometimes they don’t. If a friendship falls into the latter category, it’s probably not because you got into a physical or verbal fight (both more common during our younger years). Instead, it’s usually life’s fault, throwing roadblocks, challenges, or changes into the friendship neither of you anticipated. Some of these factors include boyfriends/girlfriends, getting married, babies, job changes, moving away, etc. All of these changes sound natural and logical, so why are we consistently disappointed when friendships change? Why can’t we accept the fact people change and thus, subsequent relationships change too?

If only this rationale was so easy to accept.

A wise friend once told me adult friendships fall into three buckets. First, you have your best friends. These people fall in the top-tier of your existence. These are the people you simply can’t live without. Second, you have a middle bucket. This middle bucket includes everyday acquaintances or people who dropped from best friendship bucket. In the latter situation, you may have grown apart, but you like person and sometimes enjoy their company (the happy hour/sometimes dinner friend, if you will). Finally, there is the “non-friend” category. This category includes all “other” people, the people to whom you are – at best – consistently polite (because you aren’t mean) or simply don’t like at all.

In 29 years, I’ve never used these buckets. Honestly, I think everyone is my best friend (I recognize how unrealistic this is, trust me). In fact, I have less than a handful in the “non-friend” category (if I don’t like you, it’s probably because you/I/we were hurt in some way. Thus, you/I/we couldn’t get over it). You could say I thought I was immune to the friend buckets…until recently, as I became increasingly upset over a few (seemling) misconstrued text messages, emails, or phone/in-person conversations.

Low and behold, the problem wasn’t them – it was me…and my all-or-nothing system.

Over the past year, I’ve had many friends move away, get married, have babies, etc. It’s amazing watching all these life changes happen and truly be happy for them in the process. However, as lives change and communication becomes less frequent, some friendships I use to consider “best” don’t feel as “best” anymore. I’m sure many of you are familiar with these feelings: only one person is putting in the effort, one-sided conversation, self-absorption, consistent plan-cancelling, not listening, missing big events, hurt involved, and the list goes on. I’ve been on both sides and neither is fun. You leave these conversations feeling unsatisfied and helpless, trying to understand what went wrong and how to get things back to where they use to be.

Excuse the cheesy winter analogy for a moment, but adult friendships are like snowflakes. They are individual in nature (and very fragile) but if you find the good ones (equal and reciprocal), it’s amazing how beautiful, strong, and powerful they are. However, – without care, tending, and effort – snowflakes are many, fleeting, disheartening, and forgettable. Further, they disintegrate quickly. No matter how many more snowflakes fall, they are unique in nature. You’ll never get the same one twice.

Let us return to this mysterious middle bucket, the bucket housing the acquaintance friends. It is this bucket I have difficulty accepting. Why? Truth be told, if I adopt this bucket into my social set, my friendships are no longer black and white. Instead, these friendships fall into a place of ambiguity and I can no longer hold them to “best friendship” expectations. You guessed it – that also means I need to stop being hurt or disappointed when expectations aren’t met.

I challenge you all to take a long, hard look at your friends. Who are the people you call with exciting news? Who are the people you’d do anything for? Which friendships are equal in effort and appeal? These people are probably your best friends. If you are struggling with a particular friendship, ask yourself why. Is it because you no longer like them? Cut your losses and place them in the “non-friend” bucket. Does your friend never ask about your life? Do they never call you back and/or are always too busy? It may be time to move the friendship to the middle bucket. Are you hurt by something they said or did or, did you hurt them? Ask yourself if you both can get past it. If yes, work it out and forget about it (grudges are toxic). If not, you have two other buckets to work with.

Adult friendships are complicated. The best ones make you feel happy, complete, and supported no matter where life takes you. The others – if not properly managed – can suck the life right out of you. Figure out who you want in your life and put your efforts into these relationships. Carefully scrutinize the others and understand what benefits they bring to the table. If the negatives outweigh the benefits, you need to stop trying and let the relationship take its natural path to another bucket.

What are your thoughts on adult friendships?

Look for Part 2 next week, when I explore what elements make up a fabulous adult best friend. Happy Holidays!

The Inability to “Do Me”

19 Sep

I’ll admit it: I’m pretty bummed MTV’s Jersey Shore is going off the air. Not because I’m super in love with the show, but because the show yielded some pop culture doozies. All the hairspray…gym action…fake tanning…seriously, nothing can compare. The Jersey Shore-isms are pretty amazing too. Who doesn’t have “meatball problems” or wants to yell “the cabs are here”? Admit it – Snookie and the gang put a lot of phrases in our vocabulary that would otherwise be nonexistent.

The Jersey-ism that fascinates me the most is the idea of “doing me.” Sure, everyone says it, but when you take out the dirty innuendo, what does it mean? According to Urban Dictionary, the phrase means “do what you feel is best for you,” without caring what other people think. As any Jersey Shore fan can attest, this repeated mantra was well-played out throughout the seasons. At the end of the day, each cast member did what was best for them…and apologized (or didn’t) later.

I want to be like that…or do I?

Before writing this post, I soul-searched for a good 48 hours. At almost 29, can I “do me?” I should be able to…right? At this point in my life, I should care less about what other people think and more about me, myself, and I. I should be able to say “Kerry first” with confidence and vigor. I should be able to make decisions and not worry about hurting other people’s feelings. I should be able to make mistakes and not be so hard on myself. I should be able to take risks without fear. 

Yes, I absolutely have the ability to “do me.”

…Pssst. Guess what?  I may have the ability, but I truly suck at “doing me.”

Why? Because, simply, I don’t like the idea of “doing me.” Hell, most of the time I don’t even know what’s best for me. Thinking I’m doing what’s best for me usually gets me in trouble (Examples: I still can’t look at my NYE 2012 dress without blushing. Nor can I drink birthday cake vodka. Nor can I talk to a boy I like without turning into an awkward 7th grader…the list goes on).

In your late 20’s, people say you get comfy in your own skin. I agree. It wasn’t until last year I finally started taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from every experience. However, through it all, I never once disregarded the feelings of others or put myself first. In this, I burned no bridges or lost any friends. In fact, my experiences brought me closer to my friends and family. This being said, I don’t care how many people tell me it’s time to put myself first. I don’t have the ability, and that’s OK.

That’s how I “do me.” What’s up, Sammi Sweetheart.