Thursday, August 2, 2012

In Which a Geeky Girl Suffers from What she Believes to be Justifiable Outrage

“‘nerd’ is a title that is given to people in school holds no weight in normal life in my opinion”

Those wise words were texted to me courtesy my highly excellent boyfriend during my lunch break today. I had been ranting to him about what I will very soon rant to you, so buckle up.

As I may have already mentioned, I’m working at school over the summer for Campus Events, which basically means I am a glorified toilet-cleaner who occasionally sets up for the various conferences and sports camps that Messiah rents out their space to over the course of the summer. This past week there was a girls’ volleyball camp, and we ate lunch at the same time as them today. Many of the girls were sporting homemade shirts with the Batman symbol drawn on them, as well as the phrase “the dark spikes.” Which by all means is a clever nod to pop culture, but I couldn’t help feeling a little bitter look at them all. I mean, when I was in high school and I thought Batman was cool, I got ink put on my locker door. 

I’ve started to read the book ‘Supergods,’ by Grant Morrison, and it is supposed to be about the rise of popularity for superheroes like the caped crusader in recent years and how they are culturally relevant, as well as why the modern masses are eating up the Man of Steel and Xavier’s gifted youngsters. 
Morrison writes, “I’ve been aware of comic books’ range, and of the big ideas and emotions they can communicate, for a long time now, so it’s with amazement and a little pride that I’ve watched the ongoing, bloodless surrender of mainstream culture to relentless colonization from the geek hinterlands. Names that once were arcane outsider shibboleths now front global marketing campaigns” (Morrison, p vxi). 

I wish I shared his triumphant outlook, and some days I feel like I do. But when I hear one thirteen-year-old girl explain to her friend about her shirt bearing the Avengers logo, “We put superhero names on the back, from the Avengers. Like the Flash, and Superman," I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. From the deepest and most selfish parts of me a Kraken-like monster wells up, proclaiming, “I was here first! I earned this!” And I watch in terror and rage as the next generation of kids who made my life hell in junior high and high school, who made me feel excluded and worthless, stampede through my safe haven of tights and shields, taking what I somehow feel is rightfully mine and desecrating it. 

I feel kind of stupid for getting so worked up about this kind of thing. It’s just, when I didn’t have the popularity or the athletic skills that made life worthwhile in those tender teenage years, I had enthusiasm and knowledge about things like the X-Men, and Transformers. Now, girls who have all the things I lacked when I was their age are in addition taking my sacred ground for their own. Maybe I hang on to my “nerdy” interests because without them, I feel like I have very little to offer. If I'm honest, I feel like they don't deserve to like the things I like. They don't understand it well enough, they don't care about it as much as I do, it doesn't mean as much them, and therefore they should not have it. For whatever reason, I think I am doing it right and they are doing it wrong. But it's not their fault that Batman's masked face is everywhere, that superhero movies have been the latest and biggest to-do all summer.

And who knows, maybe The Dark Knight is the hero they deserve. Maybe the concepts I so identified with when I was younger can impart new insights and thought processes into their Bieber-filled brains. Maybe a mainstream superhero culture will deter this round of high-schoolers from putting ink on the locker of someone who thinks Batman is cool. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wrists (what's under my skin)

Back when I was in elementary school, I remember in either fourth or fifth grade our teachers used to give us ice cubes after we got back in from playing during recess once it was warm enough outside for us to be sweaty and uncomfortable after twenty minutes of hard rambunctious playground activity. They told us if we were hot not to rub the ice on our faces (or put them down each others’ shirts), but instead to put the ice on our wrists. They told us the skin is thinnest on this part of your body, closest to your veins, and therefore can cool your body down faster. I’m sure there is some sort of actual science to explain this properly, but since it is not the main point of this story, I will not look into any further at this point in time.

I say all that because I think that distant memory may have been what inspired me to try something new with my boyfriend about a week ago. We were hanging out in his room being all cuddly and adorable (my roommate calls it “canoodling”) when, on a whim, I took his hand and lightly kissed him on the wrist. It came as a bit of a surprise to both of us, but he didn’t seem to mind, so we just went on about our business as usual.

Fast forward a day or so, when, in a similar situation, Thomas (that’s my boyfriend, for those of you following along at home) did the same to me. And just like with the ice cubes, it was like I could feel his love, the warmth of his kiss spread through my whole body.
There’s something vulnerable about wrists, like they are an easy access point to what you keep under your skin. I can look at my own and see my veins clearly spiderwebbing their way underneath the surface, only the thinnest layer of skin separating them from the outside world. Thomas has the rough hands of a man who works hard for a living, but his wrists are still soft to the touch, receptive to contact. It’s like no matter how hard we have to be on the outside, regardless of how many callouses of circumstance we have to bear, there is still a tiny bit of us that remains susceptible to tenderness, that serves as an invitation as if to say “there is more underneath. Come, take a look.” I like that I can feel his pulse with only the lightest touch. That we can kiss the thinnest, most vulnerable parts of each other and spread warmth instead of ice.

I think love is at least a little bit about vulnerability, about letting another person get as close to you as the blood in your veins. Thomas loves me in ways I did not even know were possible, and it’s a breathtaking feeling of joy and wonder to know that I can trust him with my entire being, that I can share all of myself with him with no fear of pain or misuse of that trust. I want to share every part of my life with him with the same tenderness and vulnerability as a kiss on the wrist.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Academic Pandemic

Being a recluse from the moment you start public school more or less guarantees an extensive vocabulary at a young age. That’s how it worked for me, anyway. And I remember these two completely awful boys in my kindergarten class who, whenever I used a word that contained more than two syllables would say “Ooooohhh, big woooords!” Which isn’t really an insult, but you hear it enough times in a day and it becomes the refrain that haunts your early intellectual years. I mean, these were the same boys who had to be carried out of the classroom during a fire drill because they had tied themselves to chairs with Lego chains, so it’s not like there was any real scope or merit to anything they had to say, but I remember hating them with every fiber of my tiny five-year-old being all the same. I remember wondering if maybe it would be better to use smaller words, to keep my ideas to myself, to avoid the sort of attention that went with it altogether.
In sixth grade, my class was yelling out adjectives as my teacher wrote them on the board, and when I suggested “bulbous,” I had to go up and write it on the board myself because Ms. Fisher didn’t even know it was a word, much less how to spell it.
That’s more or less my elementary school experience in a nutshell. Cut to my sophomore year of college, where I’m sitting in the dining hall talking to my friend, who is working on a paper. He is explaining to me and another girl the intricate process he goes through while writing for classes. He’s a pretty smart dude, but he learned early on that if his profs catch on to this, they will hold him to a higher standard, and expect more from him and maybe even grade him a little harder than other students. He doesn’t want that sort of pressure, so he told us he dumbs himself down intentionally early in the semester, so when it becomes crunch time later on, he can write at full caliber and really impress, maybe getting better grades than he could have managed just writing normally.
From an early age, we learn that is is weird and often frowned upon (at least by our peers) to be “the smart one.” Now, I’m no rocket scientist by any means, but I know there are certain things in the realm of academia that I excel at. But once I became aware of social interaction (sometime around third or fourth grade, I think) it seemed like I had to choose between being actively brilliant or having friends. It’s a tougher decision than you might think. Even now that I’m in college, sometimes I’m afraid of answering too many questions in one lecture because I don’t want to seem like a teacher’s pet or a know-it-all.
I guess what piques my interest the most is what exactly made the system this way. Why are girls who act dumb cute, while smart girls are lame, nerdy and often-times shunned? Why is it more socially acceptable to be ignorant? A future run by hair-twirlers and blank stares sounds like a terrifying prospect. Even in college, boys like my dining hall friend feel like they can’t unleash their full talent or potential for fear of being treated differently. I mean, it’s good to be challenged mentally, but the longing for acceptance (and not being ridiculed) is perhaps the most powerful force in the human psyche. Much more powerful than the desire to be recognized as a smarty-pants.
So we just keep our mouths shut? Pretend we don’t know a better adjective than ‘happy’ or that we don’t exceed an eleventh grade reading level?
I’m not entirely sure what to draw from all this, or what needs to be done to change the paradigm in kids that there is a positive correlation between coolness and failing grades. Higher education is getting more and more expensive all the time, and if you’re not going to go in attempts to reach your greatest potential both in and out of the classroom, why waste your precious time and money? This Just In: Not everyone is going to like you. And if someone shuns you for being brilliant or creative or a good critical thinker, then why would you waste your time with them in the first place? If people are going to tease you, it should at least be for something good. Years of bullying and the ensuing emotional backlash taught me that if no one else will accept you, the very least you can do is accept yourself. And as soon as you realize how fabulous you are, you’ll have a hard time finding a damn to give about those with a negative attitude towards you.
I guess what it comes down to is if you refuse to think for yourself, somebody else will do your thinking for you. And frankly, I don’t trust anybody else enough with my brain. Does that mean I’ll always raise my hand when I know the answer, or that I’ll always go the extra mile to create the works of literary art I know I could be capable of every time I have to do a reading response? Well, no. But dude, embrace your talents, even if you get made fun of for them. Remember, the limpdick making fun of you is the one being carried out of the kindergarten classroom by the teacher’s aid because he had the brilliant idea of tying himself to a chair.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Set Phasers to Stunning: True Confessions of a Self-Proclaimed Ladynerd

As the title suggests, I’m a self-proclaimed ladynerd. I like Star Wars and Star Trek and Stargate SG-1 and Transformers and superheroes (Batman in particular), the whole bit. I’ve got a Star Trek encyclopedia, a billion t-shirts related to the aforementioned fandoms, action figures, Transformers bedsheets, even a life-size cardboard cutout of Darth Vader. I was raised on Star Trek: TNG because my parents watched it all the time. One of my earliest memories is going downstairs at night, seeing Worf on the TV and being really freaked out because he seemed so pissed and you know, bumpy. One of the first VHS tapes I remember watching was A New Hope when I was in preschool. I was with my mom, and I remember asking her to rewind back to the part where the Jawas are rounding up all the droids, and she wouldn’t because we were already like two thirds of the way through the movie. I remember struggling with the VCR months later when I wanted to watch Return of the Jedi but the remote was still a foreign object of strange technological hieroglyphics (if only I had a tricorder...). There was a pretty lengthy span in those tender years when every Friday night my family would order pizza and we would watch Mystery Science Theatre 3000. When I was in elementary school, I went to the local bookstore at least once a month to pick up a few new Star Trek novels (they’re still collecting dust one of my bookshelves somewhere). The summer after fourth grade I almost got myself signed up for the Klingon Language Institute. Until at least the end of eighth grade my family watched the new episode of Stargate together every week until about the tenth season, when it started to get dumb. I was writing fanfic about Data before I truly understood what that was. In sixth grade I brought both the Men in Black movies over to my best friend’s house because the fact she hadn’t seen either of them seriously jeopardized our friendship. Later that year, I gave up watching any DVDs for a month so my mom would let me get the director’s cut of Pitch Black. I’ve loved Transformers since I was fifteen and the first Michael Bay version came out. I’ve since gotten into the original TV cartoon, and I love that too. I developed a serious interest in Batman, the Punisher, and other anti-heroes early on in my freshman year of high school. My favorite movie that came out this summer was Cowboys and Aliens by a long shot. I have plans to wear my Batman onesie pajamas to the Dark Knight Rises premier this summer. In short, I’ve been at this for a long time. For me, this is a lifestyle.

Keep in mind I have many other interests besides the ones discussed in this essay. I’m a musician and know just about everything there is to know about a wide variety of music. Which, really, is just another form of nerd-dom. I mean, just yesterday I taught myself how to play the Imperial March on my electric bass.

I guess I should also say something about how I’m using the term “nerd.” By no means do I intend for it to be derogatory in any way. As far as I’m concerned, to be “nerdy” about something means that you just like it a whole lot, maybe more than the general populace may deem healthy, but hey, if you like something, then you like it. And there is nothing wrong with being passionate about things. Too many people drift through life completely devoid of passion, taking a lukewarm interest in this or that. In my professional opinion, it’s important to care about stuff.

Anyway, also allow me to add the disclaimer that I am by no means a comic book aficionado. Most of what I know is from movies, what I research on my own, or what my Marvel-guru friends tell me. Most of my experience with graphic novels involves Watchmen, Kick-Ass, and the Scott Pilgrim series. I wish I was more knowledgeable about the X-Men universe, everyone’s various origin stories, what the Batman villains are actually like, the original plots and characters, etc., but for now I freely admit that I have a lot more to learn. This may make you think I’m a bit of a poser, but I wanted to confess upfront the actual scope of my knowledge and where I get it from.

Either way, I like to think I know a lot about the things that I like. When I was younger, these things made me somewhat of a social pariah. In kindergarten I had this friend, Bryce, who would sit with me during snack time and we would sing the song the band plays in the Mos Eisley cantina together. He abandoned me in first grade though, because, well, I was awkward and  developing faster than any of the other kids and even then I think the social Darwinism of the popularity contest was already setting up instinctively in our minds. In fifth grade I was reading the Ultimate Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy while most other girls were giggling about what boy they were dating that week. Yeah, I kept mostly to myself until I was about twelve or thirteen, when the things that I love finally started to pay off. Or maybe the other people like me were finally revealing themselves.

It wasn’t until my freshmen year of high school that I really got comfortable in my own skin. I dyed my hair pink, lost twenty pounds, and finally decided that I would be who I was without any qualms about what others might think about me.

Then came the boys. The Christmas of my sophomore year of high school, my very first boyfriend got me the Optimash Prime Mr. Potato Head and a Punisher t-shirt. One of our first dates involved us sitting in his room and coloring Transformers fuzzy posters. At long last, my interests and areas of knowledgeability were getting celebrated. I felt more accepted than I ever had before.

And so, because of all that, it pains me to see all these girls my age prancing around in shirts that proclaims “I HEART NERDS!” with Snoopy or Tweety or Spongebob wearing horned-rimmed glasses on them.

No. No you do not.

More than pains, it pisses me off. I know this girl who posts these Facebook statuses alluding to Zelda or to Pokemon just to impress the nerdy gamer boys she likes. She literally commented once when a girl said something expressing her confusion: “It’s a nerd thing. You wouldn’t understand.”

No. It is a petty insecure girly thing. When one in ten statuses of Taylor Swift lyrics says something like “GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL LOLOL xoxox” there is something fundamentally wrong. Granted, I have more than once used my knowledge of Star Wars or Batman to get a guys’ attention (I’m sure my D cups also have something to do with it) but I went through years of social discomfort and having all my friends shun me because I was the only one who didn’t think Sailor Moon was cool to get to where I am. I have earned this, thanks. Besides, this is more than just a gimmick to score cute boys. It’s not just a front to seem cool or hipster. This is an integral part of who I am.

I got into Transformers and Star Trek and everything else because I genuinely enjoy them. Growing up, the Starship Enterprise felt like a family to me, and I wanted desperately to be a part of their crew for years. I started to love X-Men so much because I knew firsthand what it was like to be an outsider, to be rejected by society because I was different (that, and Wolverine is smokin’ hot). I’m not trying to make this a sob story, because I’m pretty damn grateful for how I grew up because I think I turned out awesome. And not just because I get along great with a specific type of boy now. Because a) there has to be more to a relationship than “Ohhhh we like the same TV shows!” and b) I’ve dated guys who think my quirks are seriously weird and should be overlooked and ignored.

My second semester of college I got introduced into a group of people and upon hanging out with them for maybe ten seconds I thought, “Oh my God, these guys are just like me!” It was a new and exciting experience, for my nerdiness to not just be appreciated, but celebrated. So I guess this is a word (well, several words) of encouragement to girls who feel desperately awkward or like they’ll never be accepted or loved: it does get better. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Someone is bound to come along and appreciate the crap outta you, and even if they don’t, well hell, that’s not why you’re nerding out about any given band, book, or Sci-Fi series in the first place, right? At least it shouldn’t be. You deserve to be you, because no one else can do it with the same style and finesse that you can. So go for it, don’t feel like you have to hide. In high school my physics teacher had a Star Trek uniform (he let me borrow it for a sociology project I did), so you can function fine in the real world with all kinds of quirks and interests.
It’s also a warning: ladies, if you pop the lenses out of your 3-D glasses in attempts to hook up with a Zachary Quinto as Spock look-a-like, you better be able to tell the difference between Skywalker and Scotty. Because I will find you. And aside from that empty threat, nerdy boys (or girls, for that matter) are not “easy prey,” we are people, just like you, and we will see right through if you ask said Spock look-a-like to “teach you the ways of the force.”

Friday, December 23, 2011

I finished my third semester of college without any epic failage! I just invented the word failage! It’s Christmas soon! I’m home on break! Yeah woooo!

Okay. I should probably look into blogging more than once a semester, but, as per usual, life has been crazy (and I am lazy) so, lame rhymes and excuses aside, here we go.

You may recall in my last post how I was looking forward to a drama-free year without conflict or trouble.

Silly me. From rooming issues to romance catastrophes to budding new romances, things have been topsy turvy for months. I feel like I’ve gone through the entire spectrum of human emotions this semester, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I know I brought some of the sadness on myself, but I can also safely say I did exactly what I thought was right, and I have no regrets about what has gone on.
Well, that’s not exactly true, now is it. I don’t believe anyone has “no” regrets. Don’t we wish things had gone the way we planned when they go wrong? Don’t we wish we could take back the words that drove the ones we love away, even if we knew they were the words we needed to say? Don’t we feel bad about doing what’s best for ourselves if it hurts others around us? I don’t know. But instead of waxing too existential (I’m gonna go bake cookies with my mommy when I’m done writing this) I’ll just say I feel good about how things have ended up so far. Even fantastic, in certain areas :D

So, like I said, lots of changes in my life, but I’ve just come to accept that life is tumultuous, and the best you can do is hang on and do your best to enjoy the ride. This is not a new concept, but sometimes I think it’s good to be reminded of it. For instance, Tuesday I took a walk through my hometown, jamming to a sweet new playlist I put on my iPod, and as I danced through the crosswalks and enjoyed the brisk winter air, I just felt real, unadulterated happiness. And freedom. Sometimes that’s all it takes, you know? Taking twenty minutes to enjoy the simple things.

But the nub and thrust of the situation remains that you simply can’t go through life without trials. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

I have learned that no matter what happens, no matter how my heart is broken or how stressed and powerless I feel, God is still good and he is still in control. I will praise in my joy and in my despair. Which sounds a lot easier than it actually is, I’ll admit. But my God is faithful and just and merciful and I believe his steadfast love is unfailing.
Trials by fire. We can only be refined if we get burned. And to be frank (who is a pretty honest guy) I’d rather have whatever I don’t need, whatever holds me back, burned away. I mean come on, if the only thing standing in the way of yourself is yourself, wouldn’t you want to be out of your own way?

Styx put it like this: “Get up. Get back on your feet. You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it.”

In a testimony I shared with some of the girls on my floor a little while back, I compared myself to the Israelites after their exodus from slavery in Egypt. Because of their unwillingness to go into the promised land, they had to wander around in the desert for forty years. That must have sucked majorly for them, but by the time those forty years were over, they were ready for the promised land. They were ready for what God had prepared for them, and he was patient and stuck with them that whole time. I have turned wandering around in the desert (so to speak) into an art form. I’ve known, albeit somewhat vaguely, what direction I’ve wanted to go in as far as my life and future career are concerned for years, but I often choose to ignore the avenues that will take me there in lieu of what is right in front of me, or seems easier. Next semester I start a Christian Ministries major with Youth Ministry concentration. Finally, I feel like I am in the right place. The music department at my school has taught me a lot of things, and first among them is the fact that pursuing a major in music would not take me where I want, where I need to go in order to fulfill my purpose.

It also taught me that just because you love something, you won’t automatically be good at it. My advisor actually told me: “You’re not an A musician. You’re more a high C, low B musician.” Clearly he doesn’t listen when I play electric bass. Ahem. Anyway, sometimes, we need to push to the edges of what we consider our “maximum capacity” just to see how far we can stretch them out. For so long I have gotten by doing the bare minimum, just because I knew I could. I want to poke holes in my security blanket, to let the light of new opportunities and challenges shine in. And I definitely want to do more than just exist. I know it sounds cliche, but I want a life full of, well, life. There is a vibrance and an energy in me and I want to use it to not just survive, but thrive. It's time for me to get out of the desert. I know I am capable of more than what I do in my day to day existence, and I have made it my personal mission to become the best and most alive Manders I can possibly be.

That’s it for now, I suppose. A lot has happened and a lot has changed over the past few months for me personally, but I have come out of it all feeling excited for what will come next, with a fresh determination to never, never give up.

Until next time, here's a picture of me with Darth Vader...

Merry Christmas to Alderaan, and to Alderaan a good night!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sophomore Slump? (More like Comeback of the Year)

Last night my roommates and I created a ruckus the likes of which I’m sure the Eisenhower fitness center has never before seen. It was brilliant. We were in hysterics, and although I’m not sure that’s the best condition for exercise, I’m totally okay with it being a condition I live in most of the time.

I’ve only been back at school for about five days, and already so much has happened. Sometimes, having so many good things happen in rapid succession makes me nervous. I worry that something bad will happen to counteract it all, or I’ll mess up and ruin everything good around me. But last night while Jazzi was trying to show Nat and myself ridiculous ab exercises, I realized something. It is totally okay for things to be going okay. I can spend the majority of my waking moments happy, even joyful. Over the past several months I’ve been dealing with and working through a lot of heavy and sometimes really upsetting stuff. But in this past week I’ve had closure, some errant loose ends in my life have been tied up, and I finally feel like I’m moving forward in God’s plan for me.

Over the summer my mom told me if you want to move forward, you have to move forward completely, leaving the door to the past shut firmly behind you. I have a hard time shutting that door. I want a fall back plan; I want to know I have other, safer options if the new things I’m trying go wrong (or just not the way I want them to). I learned this week that shutting the door can be hard, even painful, but it can be done with grace and hope. You don’t have to slam the past behind you so hard the frame rattles, but you have to be firm and trust the new direction you’re being led in is ultimately better for you and probably everyone else involved.

I feel like the next chapter in my life is beginning. I feel ready for this year and whatever it will bring. I feel ready to continue operating in the calling God’s given me, wholeheartedly. Last year I think a lot of fear (of rejection, of embarrassment, of just plain not being good enough) kept me from trying things I wanted to do. Well, in about an hour I have my first jazz ensemble audition, after which I have to go to the ice cream social to recruit for the step team, and then tonight I’m going to the first Powerhouse worship session in order to continue the process of becoming a member of their worship team.

Am I scared? Absolutely. All kinds of things could go wrong, or I could be rejected, or any number of other catastrophes. But will I let any of that stop me? Absolutely not.

There was a time when I let fear paralyze me. There was a time when I would not stand up for myself, or fight for what I wanted.

No more.

Things fall apart. People mess up. I mess up. It’s just another part of the human condition. But things can also come together. And things can go right. This semester, I think things are going to go right. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Commander Manders as Love Guru

I am often under the impression that most people have all these expectations of what “the perfect guy” should be like. He should kiss you like this, he should hold your hand like this, he should do this whole laundry list of things to prove he loves you more than anyone else and that you are the only thing in his world blah blah blah. I get it. The chick flick and every Nicholas Sparks novel ever written has warped the female psyche and our expectations of love.

On principle, I think that’s stupid. Your man should love you and respect you and there’s nothing wrong with being treated like a princess, but for God’s sake, you’re never gonna find the “man of your dreams” if you’re so wrapped up in all the things he simply has to do in order to make his affections count. Speaking from experience, it is far too easy to forget that your boy (and every other boy on the planet) has wants and needs and also expectations from you. The relationship is not all about you and what you want. 

Ephesians 5:22-28 says:

 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 

 People express their affections in different ways. Within certain parameters, just because a guy doesn’t text you every half hour or comment on all your pictures or kiss you in the rain and on the forehead (I may or may not have barfed all over my laptop) doesn’t mean he doesn’t dig you. The way the above passage was once explained to me means that if you and your husband/boyfriend/whatever are walking down the road, he walks on the street side. If a car comes, your safety comes before his. That is sacrificial love. That's the love that counts.

I’ve struggled for a long time with this concept. It used to be whenever I was in a relationship I always figured my boyfriend only did nice things or said nice things to me because I had pressured him into it somehow, that vocalizing my insecurities forced him to try to appease and assuage me. I was always so focused on making sure he knew, he KNEW, how intense my feelings were for him; like he wouldn’t believe I loved him unless I said it a million times on the phone each night.

And living like that is just exhausting. It’s okay to just believe someone when they say they care about you. I’ve struggled forever with this. But I think it just comes down to knowing you’re beautiful and awesome without some guy feeding you the lines he thinks you need to hear in order for you to stay with him. Confidence will never come in full from someone else’s opinion of you. Besides, love is about a lot more than improving body image or social standing.

I think I’m finally at a point in my life where I’m ready to love with a big love. A love that is a caregiving love. A love that has big arms. It’s not all about my feelings and making them known. Relationships are about putting the needs of another wholeheartedly ahead of your own and the willingness to do absolutely anything for someone else. If I can have that level of mutual commitment with someone, I think how often he “hugs me from behind and picks me up” will tumble down the priority list.

In short, don’t believe everything the internet tells you about how relationships should be.
Except this blog.