Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Temporary things

I was born into a family and a society that believes in forever. The concept of eternal families is not a beautiful childhood fantasy like Santa Claus, nor is it something my parents made up to smooth the hurt of untimely deaths. Forever is a real, albeit incomprehensible, thing.

I've really latched on to this idea that the things I love can last forever. I've valued things based primarily on their potential for everlastingness. I've always tried to keep temporary things in the Not Crucial pile as I've sorted through the people and experiences of my life.

But the thing is, most things in life are temporary. Even really good things. My high school choir experience--temporary. Awesome jobs and bosses--temporary. Friends--temporary. Despite my practicality, I've valued these things as much as the everlasting things. But then those things end, and I'm devastated. I feel cheated that I can't keep something that meant so much to me and that I invested so much in. I start to question why so many things are stamped with to-be-determined expiration date.

After some reflection, this is the answer I've come up with: the value of an experience isn't determined by how long you can hold onto it, but by how it changes you. If nothing ever ended, multiple worlds of new people and opportunities would be closed off. It's okay--and necessary--to acknowledge that something has changed you for the better, and then move on.

You're not left with nothing when you lose something you treasure; you still have the memories and the new self you've become through the experience. In this way, temporary things can become permanent because they contribute to the person you will be for the rest of eternity.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The best thing about Easter

Holidays are great because they usually come with traditions that you're only allowed to enjoy on that particular day (or span of days). On New Years it's driving 60 miles just to eat your favorite ice cream. On Christmas it's being surprised on Christmas morning. On the 4th of July it's fireworks. On Labor Day it's watching Lord of the Rings.

The best thing about Easter? Cadbury Eggs. So worth the wait.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Being alone on Valentine's Day

I know, I know. I said I wasn't going to rant about the insane stupidness of Valentine's Day this year. But there are a few things that really bother me, and those annoyances are just simmering inside me, setting my blood a'boiling, and pretty soon steam is going to start coming out of my ears. So, I think you'll agree with me when I say that spouting out my thoughts on my blog is a much less messy way to cleanse my system.

Understandably, the topic of choice at work yesterday was what everyone's plans were for Valentine's Day. Most of the guys were totally on top of things and had plans for flowers and romantic dinners. A few of the girls agreed to buy chocolates for each other because they had no one to buy chocolates for them. When people asked me what my plans were, I would just shrug and say, "Homework, probably." About halfway through the day, though, I got tired of the pitying and/or understanding looks people gave me, so I started telling them I would order pizza, too (which I did), in an attempt to convince people that my homework excuse wasn't just cover-up for "I'm going to go home and mope." For some reason, it worked.

Later that night I went to institute. We were operating on Mormon Standard Time, so it started almost 15 minutes late. As is one of my favorite hobbies, I sat there and listened to the conversations going on around me. One guy told his friends in an ashamed voice, "I only came today so I wouldn't have to be alone on Valentine's Day for the third year in a row." A girl later sat by me and said, in a false cheery voice, "So, how was your Valentine's Day?" the tones of bitterness literally oozing from her fake smile. I figured it wouldn't be nice to say "Who cares if you're single on Valentine's Day?" so I lied and pretended to commiserate with her instead.

I guess I should consider myself lucky, because I've never really been bothered by the fact that I've been single all 25 Valentine's Days of my life. When I reached dating age, I was determined to prove to the world that I didn't need a boy, so my lack of boyfriend on Valentine's Day was a triumph in my eyes. In college, my view was much the same, though as I slowly warmed up to the idea that boyfriends aren't all pariahs, I contented myself with thinking that next year I might have a pretty cool guy and made some pretty great memories with my roommates and sisters in the mean time. Even after spending the last two Valentine's Day without either a boy of my own or lots of spontaneous girl support, the tears, hurt, and bitterness never came, at least not on a day when America is particularly obsessed with relationship statuses.

I think most of the depression of this day stems from the fact that no one likes to be reminded that they're alone. It's perfectly normal to not want to be alone--even those of us who need copious amounts of alone time are still biologically engineered to crave human companionship at times.

But the thing is, being alone and being lonely are not the same thing. The night before I moved into my own apartment, I celebrated my new independence (and my last day of having cable) by watching One Day, a movie I thought would be a sweet love story but ended up being really depressing. However, there is one line that Anne Hathaway says that really struck me: "I'm alone, but I'm not lonely." It reassured me that I would be okay living alone, and over time it became one of my mini life mottos.

Most people never learn the difference between "alone" and "lonely." Even Merriam-Webster's Dictionary has a hard time distinguishing between the two: one means "separated from others" while the other means "cut off from others." In fact, I only learned the difference because I spent a lot of my life dealing with one or the other.

Once I figured out that it's loneliness I want to avoid, not aloneness, I began to see real power in being alone. And I'm not just talking about having sole power over the remote, noise level, temperature, and how much milk is in the fridge at my apartment, as nice as that is. No, I'm talking about the power that comes from discovering who you are, the clarity that comes when you take some time for yourself to stop and think. It is not appropriate for every aspect of life to be a group activity. Even if you love being around people, alone time is crucial to a healthy and well balanced life.

I wish more people knew this. I think Valentine's Day would be a much nicer holiday if they did.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In defense of Mondays

Sometimes I think Mondays get a bad rap. We blame them for ruining our Sundays. We spend the whole day in mourning for our lost weekend. If the day gets off to a bad start, we just say "It's Monday morning" and everyone will understand.

But in a way, each Monday is a mini New Years. They give us a chance to start anew 52 times a year. I find it especially refreshing that my school schedule focuses on something new each week--there's always a hard stop to the topics we've discussed to death so we can take a breath and switch to something else.

I feel sort of anti-human saying this, but I'm grateful for Mondays. They give me another excuse to look at the world with a different perspective. They give me a chance to dive back into things with a recharged battery--even if I'm suffering through a Monday morning headache/whiplash/hangover thing, even if the weekend wasn't as restful or as long as I wanted it to be. Despite popular belief, I don't think Mondays are actually out to get us.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Not my usual February post

It occurred to me today that I'm a sinner: February is almost half over, and I haven't once posted about the continuing bleak weather, written a snarky limerick about red-and-pink candy aisles, or mocked anyone for thinking about twoo wuv.

In fact, I've decided to step off my high horse and go with the flow this year. Or something. I'm sorry for disappointing everyone.