Thursday, December 29, 2011

For the love of many things.

    Most of us have a passion or two, things that will never fail to make us happy. For some it's sports, for others it can be work, and for most of us we develop a passion for other people. It's an interesting idea that our passions are encouraged to develop in most areas, but not in others.
    Last night I somehow had the opportunity to discuss (in painful detail) my love and admiration for psychology and some of the amazing minds in my field. In the same night, with the same people, I got to lose my brain over hockey, and not just any hockey but my favorite team in the history of hockey... Including the history of my favorite team. I may have gone on to a tangent about my love of baking, love for learning, and love of my friends as well as my future husband. I was able to gush for hours about the things that make me lose my head with passion, and it got me thinking.
    In academia we are forced to pigeon hole ourselves into one specific field. We have to choose something to specialize in and focus our studies on that one thing. Why is that? Why do we have to decide on just one thing to learn everything about, even if it is permissible to continue learning in a peripheral way about other things? What's wrong with wanting to know everything that there is to know about, well, everything?
    I understand this concept of a Jack of all trades but a master of none. I recognize that it is more desirable to have a specialty. I recognize the benefits of these things, but I also think there is a benefit in continuing to learn about everything, isn't there? How can you know that you've found the thing that will entertain you forever if you haven't found everything? Basically, why would you ever want to stop learning if it means that you might miss out on something that could be your one true passion?
    I'm sure that my reluctance to stop learning has to do with the fact that, while I find myself passionate about everything, no one topic rises above and beyond the rest. I love psychology, and every time I learn something new I find it incredibly interesting. I haven't found something that makes me want to stop learning to focus on one area. Perhaps it will come one day, but I simply haven't found it yet. I have a passion for my field, I love my work, and I love everything about it.

Sure, I don't have everything figured out just yet, but it'll get there!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

So this is Christmas.

    Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. I love cards and presents, I love helping make other people happy, and I love having my family together. At this age I don't want for much, so receiving gifts is even more exciting because I never know what creative and wonderful things my loved ones will find for me. It is a magical and wonderful time for me, and I only hope to spread that feeling with everyone else.
    Needless to say, I can't help reflecting back on years passed and the way that thing used to be. Last year was the first that Chris got to spend with us, making it special and the first of many, creating an addition to our traditions that I can't imagine changing. Last year we also had that individual that I hold many unfavorable feelings towards in our home, trying to allow her to feel like she was part of the family, and having the gesture thrown back in our faces while she went all over the state, disregarding the care that had been given to her and being selfish beyond belief. It was the beginning of my life with Chris, and the end of my life with her. It was interesting to say the least, and as much as I wish I hadn't wasted time and love on an ungrateful bitch I wouldn't change any of it for the world.
    Things happen for a reason, and people come and go. The greatest gift we can give one another is our love and affection, and those things are abundant in my life. I am blessed with a family that is healthy and happy, pets that bring joy through their constant silliness, and a comfortable home that radiates love and happiness. Sure, I have trouble now and again just like everyone else, but I have a support system that helps me at every turn.
    A while ago I was feeling like I had a void in the area of friendship, but even that has been filled. A lady that I find engaging, fun, and super attractive is moving into the city so I hope I will finally be able to actually go and see her, enjoying music and laughter as well as the companionship of a female, which is difficult for me. I don't trust bitches. In addition, I've acquired a friend of the opposite gender that genuinely doesn't base our friendship on the idea of eventually having sex with me (a novel concept for men) and also respects the sanctity of my relationship. Sure, I can't be close to my seven hundred and something friends on facebook, but I am perfectly happy with the ones I do have.
   One more piece of this extended family that I'm gaining is Chris's wonderful family and friends. They are wonderful to him, and that means the world to me. When you truly love someone, you are forced to love the people close to them, and I'm glad that the people that have joined my life through Chris are so good and loving. While he was away I was even able to turn to his friends for council and support. I suppose they happen to be new friends too.
    All in all I would say that this year has helped me to grow and develop. I've gone through periods of complete depression, loss of faith in humanity, achieving my masters degree, getting engaged, realizing that no matter how much you give to people they will always want more (and some people just aren't worth it), deciding that I never want to have friends that I would try to count on again, terminating that decision, learning how to accept the help of others, seeing one of the people I hold most dear marry the love of her life, beginning a career, and growing more confident in myself and my decisions. I couldn't have done any of this without the people I love, and I'm glad that I've got such phenomenal people to help me through the process, whether their part has been keeping me grounded, boosting me up, or simply being someone to lean on.

This last year has helped me realize that I am lucky, blessed and determined. Regardless of where I go from here, I know that it will be in the right direction so long as I have the world I've worked so hard to create around me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Strangers on a Train

             Hitchcock made brilliant films from start to finish. From his work in the silent genre to more vocally expressive works later in his career he was always able to figure out what it was that frightened us. As we know, we are today afraid of the same things we were once afraid of. The underlying tones of what frightens humanity don’t change. We will always be frightened of some basic themes, these will be things that we will never get over as a species.
            Hitchcock’s history aside, I was thinking about his wonderful film, Strangers on a Train, if for no other reason than I am taking an incredibly long train ride. Philadelphia to Atlanta is no joke, and neither is the 16 hours that I’m not even half way through…. It gets me thinking though, just about strangers on a train.
            We all boarded as strangers. Nobody knew anyone with the exception that some people traveled together. Everyone sits in a seat, often paired up with someone that they have never even met, and we’re expected to be just fine with the whole thing. Close quarters with people that we have no idea about whatsoever. Then again, the real strangers may not be those people around us, but the people in our seats. The people that packed out bags, put on our clothes, and go through life in our bodies.
            How many of us really know ourselves? Some people never find themselves presented with this problem and assume that they know themselves just fine. I firmly believe that if you never examine yourself for who you are and who you want to be you cannot truly be a complete person.
            When do we stop being strangers to ourselves? We aren’t born knowing ourselves at all, we grow into an understanding of who we are in terms of what we like or dislike, how we look, where we belong… Then we grow into adults with preferences of what we want to be rather than what we are, We again become strangers to ourselves in that we know what we want to be and can’t quite make it happen yet. Our ideal is incongruent with our current selves and we are uncomfortable with it. We struggle to make the two the same, by changing ourselves or the ideal that we’ve developed. If we can’t do that we remain strangers to ourselves.
            There are a million different ways to find yourself as a stranger. We come into this world in this condition, we grow into it again later, and most likely many times after that. If at any point you look at your situation and wonder how you got there, or who acts like this, you’ve probably developed into just another stranger on a train.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Cards

    So lately I've been working on my Christmas cards. (If you want to get a little Christmas [or plain holiday] joy in the mail email me, facebook me, text, whatever... your address and I'll make sure you get some love too.) Looking at the cards I'm sending out really made me notice how much has changed in a year. I know I have a tendency to focus on the negatives, the things I've lost and the things I'm unhappy with, but change can be a global thing and in this case it is. Sometimes when things change so drastically we like to say that we've stayed the same, it's just the people around us who have changed. This time I'm proud to say that it's me that's changed, and I'm glad for it.
    This year I'm sending out a lot more cards, trying to spread a lot of joy and remind people I care about that I'm still here. Two people have been struck from the list and my life, two of the people that this time last year I considered to be two of my very best friends. These two people were in my life for years and now are no longer welcome in any way. They are now the type of people that I wouldn't even wave to if I saw them. They are people that I had extremely unbalanced relationships with, relationships where I gave them everything I had and got very little in return. Of course true friendship isn't about what you can get from others... but in retrospect I find it really painful to see the lack of respect that they held for me when I was doing everything I could to treat them well. Even with this realization, it hurts to know that these relationships that I invested so much time into are over and gone. This feeling makes me have to really look at myself and try to figure out why I would miss people that didn't treat me well and only made me feel worse about myself, while alienating people that could make me happy. While I try to figure all of that out I recognize that I have changed. I've grown to a point where I can see past the facade that other people put out of being a "friend" while they are really just using you for their own benefit. Granted, it adds to my trust issues and causes me to question the motivation of most people in my world, but I feel like I'll be protecting myself in the long run.
    Last year I was still in school. I was working towards an accomplishment that, while I didn't see how big of a deal it was, only 7.62% of people in the United States over the age of 25 have accomplished. This figure ranges from 6-8% of people overall depending on where you get the statistic, so I picked one on the high end. Master's degrees aren't easy to accomplish. I recognize now how big of a deal it is, and how it makes me far more marketable. I'm really lucky that I can do good work and really help people in need. Granted my field is not one that makes seriously huge amounts of money, but I can work flexibly and pay my bills, and when I go home at night I know that I'm doing something, even if it is something small, to make the world a better place. In addition, I have the luxury of being able to move if I need to, and still be able to make a living. I've got a great job that I love right now, and I am looking for an even better one, just because I can.
    One year ago I was preparing for an interesting Christmas, opening my home to people that had nowhere else to go and no other families that they could spend it with. I let these people act as members of my family and gave them all of the love and appreciation I give to my own family. Now I've cut one of those people out completely, and am preparing to bring the other home because we are starting a family of our own. That isn't to say I'm pregnant, just to clarify, but rather that this person will be in my life forever and every Christmas will be spent with him.
    I've changed a lot in a year. I've made concious choices about my life and what I deserve, let people that weren't worth it go, taken a stand on the harassment some people feel is appropriate, started a career, said "yes" to a marriage proposal, recognized what is truly important, and grown as a person. I'm proud of everything I've done in the past year and I'm excited for what I may get to do in the next year. I've never been a new years resolution person because I don't think you should need a new year to make changes. The kind of person I am, however, is a loving, caring daughter and fiance, a dedicated mental health professional, and an ambitious student. I am the kind of person who may take things hard because I dedicate myself 100% to the things that matter to me. I give more than I expect to get, and I want to make a difference. I'm looking at life closer now so that I can see what I need to do to continue to be the person I want to be. No matter what happens I will make decisions I can live with, and I most certainly will not have regrets.

Live, laugh, love. Give yourself to the world. Don't be afraid to get hurt. Keep people who love you closer than anyone else. This is what I've found makes daily life most enjoyable. Hopefully whatever you're doing works for you.