What About Your Friends?

For many women, friends are our primary partners through life; they are the ones who move us into new homes, out of bad relationships, through births and illnesses.

-Rebecca Traister’s book

Female friendships are a topic I’ve avoided writing about. I have so many thoughts around the subject and yet nothing I felt would add anything meaningful to this blog. It’s true that I become wholly self-aware and self-conscious around the topic. However I’m here, attacking my trigger.

Where do I begin? So let me say that the age of online friendships is a gift and a curse. I blame Facebook. With the click of a button, you “Friend” someone. Is that all it takes? A passive, mindless act? You may never personally message that person, write on that person’s wall, or even have to remember that person’s birthday (FB does it for you.) But you made a new friend. On the other hand, when I learned of my acceptance into Howard University, I took to Twitter. I couldn’t anticipate the people who extended themselves like @PeaceLuvNicole. We met within weeks, and that made the transition a bit easier. There are people who are eager about taking the relationship offline, and I love and appreciate that. I started becoming more and more comfortable with the idea that I could meet some quality people by just initiating the gesture. Although I dealt with general anxiety from moving to a city where I knew 2 people and had no family, Twitter peoples helped through the process. 

Everyone is quick to “like” my minor triumphs and “heart” my Instagram photos — passive interaction has become the default setting, the status quo.

-Felicia Sullivan

I can make friends easier online. You learn a lot about someone based on what they post. It’s not the ideal way, but it’s easy, less risky and convenient. It’s passive. Trying to make friends in real life involves risk. Meeting strangers hoping and praying it leads to something can be disappointing.

Does she like me?

Does she think I’m talking too much?

Am I talking too much?

She’s so fashionable. I wish I could dress like that.

I’m 30 years old, why is this so difficult?

Truth is, I have a lot of standards because I invest a lot when I care for someone. To me, my standards are like the bare minimum of cultivating and sustaining a friendship.

  1. Thou must not be flaky. I’ve experienced a lot of people that will make plans one day, then inform me the day of that they can’t make it. REPEATEDLY.
  2. Thou must spend quality time. This is my love language, not negotiable. It’s the main reason why I make the effort to see friends that don’t live nearby. We connect when we are actually together.
  3. Thou must show REAL LIFE effort. Check-in with one another, attempt to go out and do stuff. You know, real basic and mutual.

I understand that different people need different things from friendships. I’ve always wanted a group of “girlfriends” that I could count on to do life together with. My history with friends has never amounted to that. It’s not to say it won’t happen, maybe it will take some adjusting of expectations.

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Some posts worth exploring:

What the Market Will Bear: The Long Game of Female Friendships

Sorry I’ve Been a Shitty Friend: A Multiple Choice Form Letter

What About Your Friends?

Spiritual Laws for a Distracted World (Part 1)

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I’ve been trying to continually read and be intentional during this time off. I began reading The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success (thanks to Cliff for sharing the link) by Deepak Chopra. I usually don’t stick with books like these for long, something about the new terminology, the synthesizing and then figuring out how to apply the suggestions to my life can be become a bit much. To be honest, I like things in plain language when it comes to self-help. But there were some things that spoke to me as soon as I started trying to decipher the wisdom in this book. The first Spiritual Law it touches on is the Law of Pure Potentiality and the difference between self-referral and object-referral.

To quote the book, to experience the pure “Self” or self-referral basically means that you refer to your own soul/spirit (not your ego) for a point of reference, as opposed to being affected by things around you. In object-referral, you guessed it (you’s smart!), you are not referring to Self, but are affected by objects; people, experiences, situations (a.k.a things you cannot control.) In self-referral you experience your true being (void of fear, full of respect and humility) and in object-referral you feel an intense need to control or to have “power” over those things that drive the ego. Cool. Makes sense. But how exactly do we operate in the Power of Self daily? I’m glad you asked.

The first tip the book gives is…tapping into creativity through consciousness. What does this look like? Daily practicing of “silence, meditation and non-judgment.” Oh, sounds easy enough, right?

Silence. Withdrawing from speech and basically letting your mind run miles until eventually it quiets down. And it will.

How am I trying to apply these principles?

I already mentioned that I’m on a self-imposed Twitter break. This past week, I noticed myself just scrolling for scrolling’s sake and posting things just because a thought came to me. But what am I really talking about? Is it worth posting? Do I have to post everything I think about? Although I do prefer Twitter because I don’t spend hours on it, how much time am I really “not wasting” if I’m opening the app every 10 minutes because I’m wondering if I got a a new notification, or for FOMO(fear of missing out)? I don’t like the feeling of being addicted to the screen, or being out with friends and having to record everything we do. But what happens after I take 30 days off Twitter? I get right back on and build back up to the same habits that lead me here in the first place. Something has to change.

Besides the social media silence, I have experienced silence at home this past week. I’ve had minimal TV intake. By nature, I’m not a big TV watcher, I tend to prefer doing more creative things when I’m motivated. Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed and I need to do something that doesn’t require much effort, so I turn on the TV. I actually finished watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix last night and I was disturbed by some of the scenes. What happened to the time when events were inferred and not necessarily filmed? I’m reminded that everything everyone is watching might trigger certain things for me, and I should be more prudent before I consume. Same goes for the things we are subject to “auto-play” on Facebook, Twitter, and the like.

The book goes on to point out what silence brings out of us.

What happens when you go into this experience of silence? Initially your internal dialogue becomes even more turbulent. You feel an intense need to say things. I’ve known people who go absolutely crazy the first day or two when they commit themselves to an extended period of silence. A sense of urgency and anxiety suddenly comes over them. But as they stay with the experience, their internal dialogue begins to quieten. And soon the silence becomes profound. This is because after a while the mind gives up; it realizes there is no point in going around and around if you the Self, the spirit, the choice-maker are not going to speak, period. Then, as the internal dialogue quietens, you begin to experience the stillness of the field of pure potentiality.

Silence is powerful. We lead very distracted lives. Can we control that? I believe so. It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible, if we are intentional.

-She

Spiritual Laws for a Distracted World (Part 1)

Coping with Stress

Sometimes I recognize when I’m stressed, and other times, it’s like a typical Wednesday and I just want the work day to end. My coping mechanisms depend on my mood. At times I want to come home and pour myself a bottle of wine. Other times I push myself to the gym, or to pick up some take-out that will help me feel better. Some weeks, I countdown to Thursday when I have my #therapytime. I try not to judge myself too hard when I don’t see the gym for weeks on end. I recognize some coping mechanisms are healthier than others, but they are all helpful in just getting me through the DAY.

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Day by day is the only way we can live, taking what comes and rolling with the punches. With my job, it helps to prepare for the weeks to come, and possibly to take one day or one afternoon to plan for the 2-3 days ahead. In a PERFECT world. Planning and prepping is ideal, but realistically not always possible. Also, there’s times when unexpected things come up, and boom! you have to drop what you have planned and make like a rubber band (super stretchy.)

When it comes to stress management, I recognize Twitter works for and against my productivity. Sometimes during down-time, I vent to the the Twitterverse. I also document tidbits of my day; something a student has said during therapy, or some epiphany I’ve had in the course of the workday. Kids can be comic relief any day. Those days, I’m reminded why I love pediatrics. On days I’m just trying to get a student to sit down and care about what we are doing, my attitude becomes I’m over it and cannot wait until Friday, or spring break, or June (depends on the severity.)

Don’t misunderstand me. I am thankful for my career, which wasn’t an easy road. I think it’s easy to get discouraged, or loose patience, especially when you’re working with others. My ultimate take-away from working in a school environment is: YOU CANNOT CONTROL OTHERS. You hope for a “team-focused, positive, communicative” school team. IN A PERFECT WORLD everyone will consider one another and communicate well. You hope for on-board parents that will take your recommendations seriously. You hope for students that will not refuse services and will put forth their best effort. And this may be the case, overall, but in only takes a couple of difficult students to make things seem unbearable.

We don’t live in a perfect world. Therefore, stress can be expected. IT can also be managed, not in a pre-determined way someone else says you should manage it, but by paying attention to your current habits in a non-judgmental way.

What are some ways you manage your stress?

What are some habits you realize help manage stress that you hadn’t taken into account before?

-Tica

Coping with Stress

Voicemails I don’t delete- Part II

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In this day and age, voicemail’s are obsolete unless I’m job hunting or expecting another major announcement. I don’t check them unless a strange number calls my phone and leaves a message. Any other person, I immediately call back. Which then leads to a conversation like “did you get my voicemail?”…”No, I actually didn’t check it” (read: please save me the excitement of typing in passwords and tell me why you called)

I can’t stand checking voicemail. Most of the time, I have saved messages or new messages from months ago. Except now my voicemail box deletes voicemails unless I save them. So here are my current saved messages.

Hey Tracey it’s Janice, uh, Ms.____, I’m  sorry. Based on the…an email I received late yesterday…I didn’t see it until after I saw you, we need to actually report to ____ this morning. I need you to come to _____ we’ll be there in the morning, we need to do a classroom observation, um, someone in Ms. ______’s  room and uh, there’s something else that I have to do. Give me a call let me know you got this message. Bye.

Hey Tica, what’s up? It’s Chevon. I saw you called…Fritz told me you called and said you were in town. So give me a call, maybe we can meet up with you today for a bit….I’m on my  way now to Yamile’s house…We do have another birthday party to get to later but uh, call me and let me know what your schedule is like and I can see if maybe we can meet up for a little while. Alright? Bye.

Umm hey I think I’m in front of your house but I don’t see a number and I saw some other people leave the house…so I don’t know if (inaudible). I’m in the car on 157th right next to _____________. Let me know.

Um I told you I was gonna call you and I told you to answer my call and you find a way not to answer my call I don’t know, I don’t know what to think about this… I’m upset. Alright.

Hey Tracey, it’s me ummm, whenever you get a chance can you please give me a call. Uh, I don’t know if ,uh,  Sue call you but she was very worry, um,  so she wanted to hear something from what’s going on. So call me back whenever you can. Love you babe, have a good day, bye-bye.

Hey Tracey this is Kenn ____. I am, um, sorry that I, um, totally relaxed and got settled and fell asleep last night and um and I was supposed to (brief laugh) we were supposed to talk last night. Anyhow I was trying to catch you this evening, um, I will be up for a bit so feel free to call me back. Or we can try again tomorrow. I hope you’re doing well. I’ll talk to you soon.

Hola mi nietita como esta? (pause) Cuando tiene un chance me llama, estoy en Nueva York. Okay bye-bye un besito.

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Very telling, don’t you think? Find the first installment of voicemails here.

Are you a voicemail person? Why or why not?

Voicemails I don’t delete- Part II

A/S/L?

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Remember when instant messaging was GREATER than text messaging? When you used dial-up and tied up your phone line just to get online and type to people in real time?

What happened to the good ol’ days of primal internet? When conversations with online strangers began with A/S/L…with hopes that you’d have a connection and convince the person to e-mail you a picture? Sometimes you still spoke to that person without a picture because they were an interesting character. There was a thrill factor. There was anonymity. There was only so much information you could find about that person on other websites. Your best bet was to stick to the primary source.

Were chat rooms your thing? Before the predators were at large. Live journals were the archaic blogs. Making the American Online (AOL) Search log was comparable to ‘Trending’ on Twitter. Times have surely changed, but in my not too distant past I was introduced to AOL. The family used a shared AOL account, and my screen name always had those stupid parental restrictions. Do those even exist anymore? My only means of getting to the chat rooms was to use someone else’s screen name, and I had no qualms about that. When I got into the chat room I would quickly set up my screen name: SINCERITY710. I loved to chat, pretend I was 18 when I was really 16. If the scanner was working, I would scan some pictures of myself and upload them, waiting for the next private chat request.

And when that window popped up…

I might would choose “ACCEPT” and respond…

18/F/Queens.

18/F/Queens

YOUR TURN! What was your screen name and why? What are some of your favorite memories from the AOL-era?

A/S/L?