Tag Archives: Friendships

ICYMI – My Annual “Lesson” Countdown on Twitter

4 Jan

I’ve had a tradition every Christmas for the last four years. This is the day I start my annual “life lesson” countdown on Twitter. I started this tradition after a particularly difficult year, determined to learn from my mistakes and start new. Call me crazy, but I truly believed if I put these lessons out into the universe by New Year’s Day, I’d given myself permission for a fresh start. It worked. As I conclude each year, I feel refreshed, purged, and determined to do and be better.

As years past, my “lesson countdown” acquired a following of friends, family, students, and strangers attracted to my “no fluff” approach to self-betterment. I’ve actually been asked why the advice is so raw. My answer is always the same: You can’t change anything about yourself until you are completely honest with yourself. The more you continue to ignore the tough stuff, the more things will stay the same. Do yourself a favor: Dig deep.

This year was my best list yet for a number of reasons, but mainly, it’s because I turned 30 in September. Yes, this makes me old, but it also makes me realize I don’t care about the same stuff I cared about in my 20s. Sure, I still want to be pretty, skinny, smart, funny, and the life of the party (who doesn’t?), but I also want to be the best teacher, employee, bridesmaid, best friend, and best potential wife possible. This means looking at life through a different lens and realizing sometimes I have to cut people out of my life to be all the things I want to be. It also means focusing on that work/life balance I never had. It means opening my heart to someone new, even if if it terrifies me (Or, I could be a cat lady. Is that so bad?).

So, in short, I’m taking this blog out of hiatus because 2013 made me stronger, wiser, and (of course) prettier, skinnier, smarter, funnier…

Your thoughts and comments are welcome! I love responding. You can also tweet me @OGradyKL.

Happy New Year!

Lesson List 2013:

#1: Tomorrow isn’t promised. Live each day like it will be your last. Have no regrets. Learn from everything you do

#2: Don’t overuse the term “bestie.” It can easily lose meaning. Save for those who you know will be in/at your wedding

#3: Embrace who you are – every positive & negative. The sooner you can, the sooner you can be truly loved by someone else

#4: Drama, pettiness, and immaturity ruin friendships. Understanding, kindness, and effort strengthen them

#5: If you aren’t a doctor, your daily job is not that stressful & the things you’re worrying about aren’t that important

#6: You can’t always accept people for who they are. This doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a person w/ limits

#7: Don’t underestimate the power of laughter. Its healing qualities are astounding and celebratory effects infectious

#8: Time does not heal all wounds. Some things will always feel like a punch in the gut, no matter how much time passes

#9: Dating is fun, said no one ever. Instead, dating is a chore until you meet someone who doesn’t make it feel like one

#10: A job is something that pays the bills. A career is something you can’t wait to do, even if it doesn’t pay the bills

Advertisements

Love, Part 4 of 5: You’re My Best Friend…Maybe

10 Apr

There are many words to describe me. Ask my friends. Ambitious, passionate, loyal, funny, silly, and fabulous are just some of the adjectives they’d throw out (OK, maybe I threw in “fabulous”). Another thing they’d throw out? I’m a total guy’s girl.

Allow me to clarify before you picture me in baggy JNCO jeans and a backwards cap: I’m not a guy’s girl in the tomboy sort of way. I’m more of a guy’s girl in the “She’s really cool and don’t mind having her around the guys” sort of way. I genuinely like watching sports. I like beer. I’m almost drama-free (and if I have drama, I usually don’t voice it). Additionally, I’m really laid back in the “Let’s talk about chicks!” arena. I’m always willing to listen to who makes the current smokin’ hot list or how her body looked (…and what her non-made up face looked like the next morning. For the record, the results are usually negative). I’m also a standing wedding date and a regular to family/holiday dinners (because their moms already met/love me, so it’s easy). I also know what they’ll eat/not eat on any restaurant menu. That’s a skill in-and-of itself.

Everything I just detailed falls within a day in the life of Kerry. This is because approximately 70 percent of my best friends are guys. It’s been this way since 1999, when I met my core group of best guy friends in high school. My “guy group” only grew as I got older.

Don’t get it twisted. It hasn’t always been easy. Being close friends with dudes has its own set of complications, especially if your friend of the opposite sex is single too. This brings us to today’s topic at hand:

Can a single guy and a single girl be just friends?
Answer: It depends.

First, let’s dive into the features and benefits of guy/girl friendships.

Benefits for a Woman: A woman’s friendship with a guy gives her the opportunity to have a light, fun, non-complicated relationship (not always the case with female/female friendships). Women are attracted to a man’s ability to think logically and rationally. A woman also loves the natural protective nature of a man. Having a close guy friend, she gets all the bennies of having a protective figure in her life without the boyfriend status. She also gets an inside look into the workings of the male brain (gold). She also can wear pajamas and no makeup to his apartment for a microwave popcorn dinner and he won’t care. Score.

Benefits for a Man: Surprisingly, a man’s friendship with a woman affects him more than vice versa. A man values his woman-friend’s opinion more so than women he dates. A man also secretly loves a woman’s emotional support. A man doesn’t hesitate to call his close female friend for advice/comfort, but will hesitate to call women he’s sleeping with or dating (because he doesn’t want to risk his manhood). Another benefit to a man – and probably the biggest –is he never has to explain anything to his female friend (behavior, thought process, anything). A man loves to feel understood in every way, shape, or form. Whether it’s how he acts when he drinks too much or what he prefers for dinner, he loves the fact his woman-friend “gets him” and doesn’t judge. In short, if your male friend considers you his BFF, you are taking on the role of the best girlfriend/wife he could imagine, without all the nagging or sex (in that order).

The above description sounds pretty cookie cutter. Simple, even. Unfortunately, these tidy little descriptions are almost never the case. Males and females are, well, males and females. They are biologically predisposed to figure out what the other person means to them outside the friend zone. This doesn’t guarantee anything will actually transpire between the two. However, it is scientifically proven the thoughts are – at some point – present.

In a 2012 Men’s Health article, male and female friends were asked if they were – at some point or presently – attracted to one another. 41 percent said they were either attracted to their friend or thought about dating them. Taking this one step further, guys were twice as likely to say they were attracted to their female friend than vice versa. Hmm.

Based on this little nugget of information, I decided to conduct an examination of the types of single guy/girl friendships out there. Based on my research, I’ve rated each relationship on a scale from 1-10 (in order) based on if they can “truly” be friends are not. The goal with this little project is to understand the scope of male/female friend dynamics and help others navigate through it, based on my own experience and (at times) stupidity.

You Dated…Then Broke Up
We’ve all been there. Suddenly you’re dating. Then you’re not. The reasons vary: It’s not you, it’s me. We’re better off as friends. Blah blah blah. Then you try out that latter thing – being friends. How’s that going? Odds are not well. It’s because the friend thing doesn’t work unless you both didn’t really have romantic feelings for one another from the onset. Take it from a girl who has tried to be friends with most of her ex’s: It doesn’t work. You either want to be back together or – at least – sleeping with them. If neither are the case, you probably secretly hate them…and will hate them even more once you force yourself into a “friend” situation and see them with someone else (ouch). As true as your intentions may be to keep the relationship, it will always feel forced, difficult, and unnatural. The only exception to this rule is if you know you both know you’ll get back together at some point. Ready to be honest? How do you ever really know?
Really Friends? 1

You’ve Hooked Up
For a man, hooking up and going back to being friends is easy. Sex is an act and then it’s over. For a woman, it’s not that easy. There are hormones, emotions, neurological changes…ugh. Note I’m not talking about the typical one-night/few night stands (chicks can let these experiences go pretty easily. In fact, most are pretty forgettable. Sorry, guys). I’m talking about a guy you’ve build a pretty kick-ass friendship with over the years. It’s simple: If you sleep with him, it will forever change your relationship. No going back. It will either turn your friendship into a budding relationship because it felt right for you both or one of you will end up really hurt. Tricky.
Really Friends? 3

Rejected
Hands down, this is the worst. You know the drill: One of you had feelings for the other. One of you finally put these feelings out into the universe, hoping for the best. The best didn’t happen and the feelings weren’t returned. Total bummer. Getting back in the friend zone post-trauma is pretty difficult and not just for the rejected party. The “reveal” moment for either party is a relationship turning point, giving one friend certain power over the other. This power can transcend into the non-rejected party getting strange and distant once the information is out. Or, they might start hardcore flirting with the rejected party (if they haven’t already) just to test the waters (never good, as it send mixed signals). Further, they may start taking advantage of the rejected party, using them as a dating “crutch” if their current dating life sucks. You both can try to keep this going, but there will always be a perma-stamp of hurt and resentment associated with the friendship. I speak from experience.
Really Friends? 5

Flirt-Tastic
This one can be fun if you don’t take it too far. You both know you’re attracted to each other, but that’s where it ends (you both know it would never work out and you’re both OK with it). Through this understanding, you get an amazing friendship plus all the benefits of longer stares, “You look greats,” intense hugs, semi-platonic (OK, not really) kisses on-the-lips…you get the picture. Pretty awesome, yet harmless. Just be warned: If you cross the line, please reread “You’ve Hooked Up” (above).
Really Friends? 7

Platonic All the Way
This one puzzles your friends and family the most. You’ve been best friends forever. You are the first person the other calls with happy/sad/complicated news. You can sit and talk about nothing for hours. You are happy hanging out or partying like its 1999. You love each other’s friends and family. There are no secrets between you two. Actually, you know too much about each other. The only thing you don’t know is what each other looks like naked.

Don’t think I’m nuts – this type of guy/girl friendship CAN happen. It just takes a very special pair of people. No one will understand it. To others, it’s natural two single, attractive, awesome people should try it out if it seems so OBVIOUS they should be together. Let me break it down for you: Even if the attraction is there – even if one, the other, or both feel like the other person is perfect – they will not cross the line. Why? It’s not the fear of rejection that makes you uneasy (though, that may be a small part). It’s the thought of not having the other person in your life if things don’t work out. It’s a feeling that hurts more than anything you can imagine. Take that as a HUGE sign.
Really Friends? 9 (Not a 10. In these types of relationships, you always have to leave a +1 to chance)

Have any of you had experience with the situations above? I want to hear from you. Leave comments!

Source: http://news.menshealth.com/platonic-friendships/2012/09/17/.

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.

Ode to the Slutty Halloween Costume

24 Oct

Halloween is a pretty stressful holiday. Why? It’s not because you’re stressing about the act of wearing a costume (Because duh, you should. Only un-fun people refuse to dress-up). It’s over what (or who) you should dress up as. Should your costume be slutty or tasteful? Scary or stupid? Let’s be real – for most girls, slutty prevails. Thus, we arrive at the question even more puzzling than why Justin Timberlake didn’t pick me: What is the appeal of the slutty Halloween costume?

Ooooo! (raising my hand reeeeeally high). I can answer that. I am the queen of the slutty Halloween costume. When will I grow out of this stage? Hopefully never.

This year, like many years prior, it’s truly a struggle of mind-over-matter. When am I too old to wear the slutty Halloween costume? Haven’t I worn enough slutty costumes over the years? Hmm. Like the Ghost of Christmas past yields to the meanness of Ebenezer Scrooge, the Ghost of Halloweens past wants to take you on a journey of  Kerry’s costumes of yesteryear…

19-Year-Old-College-Freshman Kerry: A Naughty Schoolgirl. Wait, stop right there – before you judge: in 2002, this costume was still hot and original. My then-roommate french braided my hair and I rocked a Limited Two pleated skirt (two sizes too small), a crop top, and white knee-highs. However, that doesn’t leave blogger walls…I’m pretty sure I told my mom I was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, instead.

20-Year-Old-Broke Kerry: A Black Cat. Spandex, ears, tail, and a nose. I’m pretty sure my costume cost less than $10. That was the year I got into my only-ever verbal spat with a chick. She was hogging the beer pong table. No bueno. Meeeeow.

21-Year-Old-I-Can-Legally-Drink Kerry: A Fairy Godmother. I walked around a frat party in my senior prom dress and held a wand. When cute boys approached, I tapped them with my wand and batted my eyelashes. This action made my wish come true: Friday night dates lined up for at least a month. Ah, to be young again.

25-Year-Old-in-the-Desert Kerry: Tinkerbell. What is up with me and fairy things? Covered in way too much glitter, this costume was slutty in a simplistic way. Tights, strappy dress, heels…wow, I was losing my touch. Boooring. Hey, I was living in Arizona. It was too hot to think.

28-Year-Old-Newly-Single-Back-in-the-Game Kerry: Varsity Cheerleader. I actually tried to bad-ass up this costume. My friend and I were “rival” cheerleaders (I on the blue team, she on the red). However, the skirt was short enough for scandal. I made sure of it.

29-Year-Old-and-Living-It-Up-Before-30 Kerry: A Cop. My sluttiest costume to-date. I don’t want to give too much away before the big reveal, but let’s just say one of my best friends is going to be “jailbait” just so my costume won’t look so ridiculously standout. That’s love right there.

At this point in the story, newly epiphanic Scrooge would head back to the real world, pack up his money, and start dishing out some serious gifts. If I chose to parallel, it’s at this point my subconscious is supposed to say, “Hey lady, grow up. You’re a professional member of society, an award-winning marketer, and a respected teacher. You need to start Grandma-ing up your chosen October digs. It’s time. Let it go.”

Sorry, Ghost. You got nothing on me. I choose to fight the system.

The reality is, a slutty Halloween costume has no reflection on your real-life personal taste, personality, or professionalism. Additionally – contrary to popular belief – a slutty costume does not automatically imply you are throwing out the “I want attention” card. Wearing a slutty Halloween costume can give a woman the opportunity to feel sexy and confident (Yes, it’s true – sometimes we really like wearing next-to-nothing to feel this way). Further, it can give a women the once-a-year opportunity to dress without judgement. Who cares if the costume looks like a nightie? Maybe she’s always wanted to wear a nightie outdoors. All the power to you, sister. Halloween allows her that freedom.

I am a proud advocate of the slutty Halloween costume. I don’t see myself growing out of this mantra anytime soon. Do you respect me less? Think I’m less intelligent? Feel sad because my costumes are a cry for attention?

I didn’t think so. Like many other women who sluttify their outfits around October 31st, I’m just playing dress-up.

Author’s Note: If you are reading this blog post and wear your slutty Halloween costume throughout the year…Goodnight and good luck.