Monday, September 28, 2015

Distance isn't a Killer... It's a Measurement

Distance truly is a killer. Distance in any relationship makes things difficult. My failed engagement ended partially because of long-distance. I have friendships fade because of long-distance. People look at me as no longer caring or becoming too selfish. Some relationships can't even begin because of long-distance. It is one thing to be a state away but it is another thing to be a country or a continent. There are simply fewer things you can do or share in those situations. It simply makes things more difficult. So why do I go so far as to say that it is a killer? Guns and bullets don't kill people but people do. So does distance truly end my relationships or is it something else?

I think distance is an excuse. If people wanted to be there, they would be. If people saw the value in making things work, they would. Maybe we expect it to fail and so we stop trying. There are a lot of variables and reasons why things can and will get messy but all relationships have that. Relationships are complicated in their very nature. You are dealing with emotions, varying perspectives and schedules, and so many other things that it is practically a miracle that they even work. And if they fail, they do so in relation to the effort put into them.

Currently, I live a hour away from my friends in my Ward. It takes two hours to spend any time with any of them and that's if traffic is good. It makes FHE hard. It makes Institute hard. It makes church hard. It doesn't make it impossible. So that leaves the real question of whether or not it is truly worth it. Do I ever personally get invited to things or activities? Do I feel personally accepted in my Ward? Do I feel like there are people that actually care? Is there a feeling of brotherhood? The answer to all of these questions is no. Is it their personal responsibility? That is also a no but I have tried. I have asked people on dates. I have gotten to know people's names and interests. I have made it known many times that I don't get emails or I don't have the items I need to fulfill my calling. I make due and I get by.

I feel like the main reason is a cliche: Out of sight and out of mind. Living far away, people don't think of me and since I put on a strong persona, people don't realize how hard it is to keep coming when you feel like no one would even notice or blame you if you stopped coming. I reach out to my friends to find out what they have been up to and they talk about all these activities they have gone to or been invited to. I ask if they will invite me in the future. Nothing changes. I am on the outside looking in and it is with a group that I expected I would be accepted by or belong to.

Maybe one of my friends was right and all I see or want to see is drama. Could I keep banging my head against the wall and see if anything changes? Sure - I can keep trying. But I can't see a different way to approach it and so I struggle to expect anything other than the same results. Physically moving closer to the Ward is something I financially cannot do, especially with my work hours changing in 3 weeks. I feel like the lack of success I had courting this last girl is analogous with the success I am having courting this Ward: Used, abused, and easily forgotten. Distance isn't the killer. It is simply a good measurement of your perceived worth by others. I simply have to continue to remind myself it isn't an actual measure of my real self-worth and look for new ways to share my talents and then maybe my perceived worth will go up.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Burning Bridges

All I know over the last few weeks is I haven't felt this tapped out and exhausted in every possible way in a very long time. Physically, I am sick, tired, and sore. Mentally, I feel slow. Emotionally, there isn't a better word to use than drained. I am literally at the end of my rope and I feel like I am hanging. I simply can't figure out sometimes if the rope is what I am hanging onto or if it is a noose around my neck.

I was nervous and had mixed feelings moving back home. I didn't like the phrase that seemed to always come to mind that this was my "failure to launch." I felt at times that my MBA was basically a failure. I failed to find a way to use my natural gifts and abilities in a career that I could be proud of or that was emotionally and mentally engaging. I struggled for weeks to find friends in my new Ward and when I did, they lived a hour away so it seemed unrealistic to actually spend time with them on a regular basis. These are only a few of the sad truths that I would find myself saying when I wasn't fighting my very hardest to try and remain positive.

I knew that I needed to get a calling in my Ward to stay active and to continue to drive down to Boston for church every Sunday. The call came quickly and unfortunately it wasn't an easy one either. I would have to wake up even earlier for early morning church to be on time for bishopric meetings and PEC and Ward Council as the Ward clerk. But this again wouldn't be so hard if I felt like I actually fit in. I feel like a continual outsider so even when I did meet someone who I could actually relate to and enjoy spending time with, I wasn't inclined to want to do many group activities. Part of that is due to how I hate large group activities where there are lots of strangers. It makes me feel small and insecure. The other part is due to the fact that I struggle to find people I trust or that I would like to get to know.

So here I am on the edge of a Ward with what feels like one social tie to it and as I continue to spend time with her and get to know her, I find myself starting to have feelings for her. I do my best to be respectful and aware of her needs and pace but I always end up giving more than I get. Each time we have a moment where we are becoming closer, she pushes away. After a month or so of going down to see her multiple times a week to spend time with her and support her, I was tired of having to apologize for my feelings, watching her flirt with other guys, and making space for someone in my life who didn't take the time to let me know whether or not she even cared if I was there. The paradox is that the only thing I wanted to do was to make her smile and help her see how special she truly is. It's sad because the most common thing she says nowadays has changed from how much fun she had spending time with me to how all I do is add drama to her already stressful life.

So when it finally came down to it and I began to tell her some of my frustrations today expecting to talk things out, she blows up at me and leaves me standing there shocked, hurt, and alone. Add this to a week where I went into a diabetic coma, crashed my car I recently bought, and got trucked off to the hospital in an ambulance. Hours later I still feel used and confused, not knowing whether it is worth it any more to try and put out the metaphorical fire I see of the burning bridge between me and her or to just stand back and watch as I let it burn to the ground. How is it so easy for a single match to destroy something you put so much love, time, and effort into building? I think the answer lies within how much did each person personally invest and sacrifice to get things to that point. I was the one in the past that reached out to stop past fires from growing but I guess it's my turn now to stop and see how she chooses to react.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Prayer and Faith

In church this last Sunday, the speakers were giving us talks about faith. Faith is not belief. Faith is acting on a belief. I have a testimony or a belief that God is real and that He listens and answers prayers. Faith is both making time and taking the time to nurture my personal relationship I have with both God the Eternal Father and His Son and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Faith is taking the time to pray and seek revelation. But it begs the question of how do we pray and what should we pray for?

One of the speakers used the following scriptures from Matthew 7:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 
12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
So this made me think for a minute about the parents I had seen in my life. My brother and his wife have three amazing daughters but they are the pickiest eaters known to man. They will not eat certain things and others they have appetites like a bottomless pit. So if they asked for dessert, would I give it to them as a parent? In all cases, I would want to but in some cases, I wouldn't give it to them because perhaps they hadn't finished their dinner yet or we had dessert the night before. Sometimes they ask for cake and we give them salad or vegetables instead. Are we ignoring their "prayers?" Are we giving them a "stone" or a "serpent?" Am I punishing them?

Regardless of whether or not the things we pray for are righteous desires, God has a timetable. He has a plan. People have their agency and it makes tough to see or understand why things happen and sometimes the why is simply because it was result of a variety of choices various people made and nothing more. Bring it back to prayer, why does God sometimes gives us exactly what we ask for and sometimes he doesn't? It isn't because He didn't hear us.

It is because we didn't hear Him or weren't in tune with the Spirit when we prayed.

We weren't asking for the real blessings that He has in store for us and He wants so badly to give to us, but requires us to ask for them.

It's interesting in thinking about the parallels or similarities between our temporal or mortal relationships and the ones we have with God. There are people in my life that I care immensely about and I would be willing to do anything for but I can't help if they won't ask for it. And even if they ask, if they aren't specific in exactly what they want, that makes room for miscommunication and misinterpretations of intentions and often leads to mistakes. I feel like it isn't most people's intention to upset or hurt one another, but there are the few exceptions where people are only looking out for themselves or for their own personal gain or pleasure. I do my best to avoid those people at all costs.

It's hard to be honest and supportive and put yourself out there all the time but it is part of life and it is unavoidable. You have to be vulnerable and genuine and authentic at times. You should try to be loyal. There are going to be times when people make mistakes or have hard days and you need to be there to pick each other up. But if people can't sustain you or support you or being willing to work things out with you, it begs the question if it is still worth it. How hard is it to say I am sorry? I made a mistake. And yet, we let pride get in the way and we don't realize what we lost for the sake of our pride until it is already gone. I have done that before and I have promised myself that I wouldn't let it happen again. The hardest part for me is to draw the line on how many chances I am willing to give. When do we stop giving? How long should I be patient and continue to support and listen and be there for someone before it is time to simply let them know that although you care, you need to walk away? At what point has loyalty become stupidity and being used by other people?

Going back to the scriptural reference, I think the only thing we can really know is that God listens, He wants to bless us, and He will bless us in His time and in the way that will bless us the most... Even when those blessings come in a manner that we weren't asking for, like in the form of a trial. And if we do stop listening to Him, we have to earn back His trust when it comes to listening to and following the Spirit like we would when we build back trust in our temporal relationships. He never left us but we left Him. He isn't a genie granting our wishes. He is our Father in Heaven trying to help mold us and guide us as we grow and sometimes growth is painful.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Lunch Breaks with TED

Currently, I have been trying to find effective uses of my time while taking breaks at work. One of the things I like to do is read my scriptures on my phone and I recently started watching TED talks. There are certainly TED classics... Brene Brown talking about Vulnerability, Steve Jobs discussing how to live before we die, and Linda Hill and Ken Robinson speaking on creativity. Recently, I found a few more great thoughts that I will have to watch again and again to really comprehend and understand what they were talking about.

The first was the follow-up talk by Brene Brown about her research on shame. It made me ask a few questions: Why do we want to stay small? Why do we think vulnerability is a weakness? What are we afraid of people knowing about ourselves? Vulnerability is emotional risk and uncertainty. "It is our most accurate measurement of courage. To be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen, to be honest.... Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change."

We are driven by failure. It motivates us to keep going and to work through until we finally succeed. She recites a quote by Theodore Roosevolt called "The Man In The Arena." Fantastic quote... Shame is personal and is a focus on self. It is two statements: "Never good enough" and "Who do you think you are?" It is the difference between I made a mistake, which is guilt, and I am the mistake. The ability to feel and recognize guilt is difficult but healthy and adaptive. Women feel shame in trying to do everything and do it perfectly without people recognizing how hard you work. Men feel shame when they are perceived as being weak... Emotionally, physically, etc. Shame can't survive when we have someone that can say "Me too." Shame dies when someone can show us empathy.
"You show me a woman who can actually sit with a man in real vulnerability and fear, I'll show you a woman who has done incredible work. You show me a man who can sit with a woman who has just had it, she can't do it all any more, and his first response is not 'I UNLOADED THE DISHWASHER!!' but he really listens (because that's all we need), I'll show you a guy who has done a lot of work."
The next talk was by Tony Robbins who I first heard of as a life coach when I visited Australia. He sounded like a fascinating individual and when I saw his TED talk online, I thought I should give it a listen and I am glad I did. He gave an interesting talk about personal drivers or motivators we have today, which are generally governed by our emotions or human needs.

Most people say we can't achieve our goals because we didn't have the resources we needed to succeed... knowledge, money, time, technology, management, etc. Robbins says that the true defining factor is RESOURCEFULNESS and not resources. Human emotion... He breaks down into creativity, passion, curiosity, determination, love, resolve, etc. What are we going to be emotional about right now at this time?

The 3 Decisions of Destiny revolve around 3 questions: What am I going to focus on? Focus creates meaning. What does it mean? Meaning creates emotion or causes us to act. What are you going to do? These decisions can shape our lives. Our model of the world shapes our perspective of how we see the world: Needs, Belief System, and Emotions. The 6 Human Needs are:

  • Needs of the Personality
    • (1) Certainty,
    • (2) Uncertainty/Variety, 
    • (3) Significance,
    • (4) Connection/Love,
  • Needs of the Spirit
    • (5) Growth,
    • and (6) Contribute Beyond Ourselves

These needs are all weighted differently for every person and we all have different belief systems. This is why we have so many different people around us. Our perspectives change when we add meaning or emotion to things and this is even more true with those of us who have faced death. The best answer in his opinion is to give our all and serve someone else. Learn to appreciate other people.

These both led me to think a lot about a concept that I feel can be a great driver in many aspects of our lives which is personal accountability. What are you proud of? What are you responsible for? What is the impact that you leave? There is a company called Profiles of Leadership and they focus on how personal accountability can positively affect teams. I feel like if we can combine all these concepts of authenticity and vulnerability, resourcefulness and emotion, and lastly teamwork and accountability, we can become truly great. We can move people and change cultures and society. I will come back to this in the future but I feel like this a great foundation and it is easily connected or parallel to my personal spiritual beliefs as well, which is a great segway back to the beginning... Lunch breaks where I read my scriptures on my smartphone. Thanks TED!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Patience... My Young Padawan

The title for this post is ridiculously nerdy and stupid but sadly enough it fits... I am frustrated right now. At 27 years old, I am learning how to date all over again. I like one of my friends in my ward. We go on dates and hang out a lot but this actually may be hindering me as much as it is helping me. She has a really tough job and we talk a fair bit so I want to see her and spend time with her partially because as her friend, I want to help her to be happy and selfishly, it makes me happy. I really like spending time with her! However, it can be too much at times or more accurately I can be.

She knows that I like her more than just friends and she knows that I am willing and want to see if we can move in that direction. So with that sitting in the back of her mind, she feels a lot of pressure to be at the same place as me but it takes her more time than me to naturally move from friends to deeper feelings, so in turn I feel the opposite pressure to be self-aware and slow down. The more time we spend together the harder that is for me and she feels subconsciously some guilt that she isn't there already too. It has been a month... Maybe even three weeks... I can't remember. The hardest part is I think I am slowing down when I'm really not and I don't even notice it. So instead of continuing to try and fail to figure out what is the right pace for her, I'm just going to give her the keys and let her drive for a bit until I can really understand where she's comfortable.

I want her to be happy and spending time together makes us both happy but for starters, when we spend time together I need to keep it lighthearted and not so deep. We need to do "friend" things and do more relaxed activities. I want her to feel comfortable and I want to be friends regardless of what happens so this is super hard for me to bury any feelings and thoughts that I might have for her. I have tried to turn that part of me off for years so I could go slower but it's never worked. I guess I am going to have to try a little harder this time. I like this girl and I feel like she is worth the wait however being patient is going to be super tough.

It is going to be hard to bury my feelings. It is going to be hard to not be jealous when she creates friendships and spends quality time with other guys. I'm really not okay with that but honestly, it is a great thing for her to make a bunch of friends, get her feet settled here, and really figure out if she wants to date me and if she has those feelings for me. I feel like I want to do the same but I don't want to push her away either so instead of dating around, I think I might just get a gym membership or something. And I hate gyms... (Sigh). Who knows? Maybe if I get my sexy on that might speed up the process. Hahaha... Seriously though, it is going to be hard to see her struggle with the difficulties of her job and not be able to support her because of the possibility of scaring her off or coming on too strong. She can be jealous if I spend time with other girls or feel scared or guilty because of where I am emotionally in comparison to her. It is going to take time and it is going to be hard but that IS natural. Relationships don't come easy and they take work and time.

Christiana:  She says that if you love her, you will not lose another match. She says that if you love her, you will win this tournament.
Chaucer:  There she is William. The embodiment of love. Your Venus.
William:  And how I hate her.

Regardless of how frustrated I feel, we both simply need to be more present. She has a lot of fear of commitment and I don't know if comes from not wanting to get hurt herself or hurting others in the future or it could be associated with some part of her past or a past relationship. My anxiety comes from the possibility of missing an opportunity or not being enough. If I could learn to just focus on the now at all times instead of only when I am with her then I wouldn't worry or think about things that are out of my control. I guess the only way to see what will happen is to keep trying and wait and see if anything changes. I really hope that it does...