Sunday, June 15, 2008


I watched 27 Dresses the other night and I was struck by how jealous I was. The storyline is that the main character, Jane, is so selfless that she lives her whole life for other people and forgets to live her own. It is supposed to be this sad "feel sorry for her" kind of story as she has had to be a bridesmaid 27 times.

But I didn't feel sorry for her at all. I wanted to be her. There are 27 people that thought she was a good enough friend they wanted her in their weddings - the most important day in their lives. There are 27 people who honored her by choosing her to stand beside them. The way they painted this character is one that selflessly helped out in any way she can, going above and beyond.

I have been a bridesmaid once. Just once. Sure, I am a few years younger than her, and I will probably be in at least 3 more (2 sisters and another friend). But that's it. I suppose 4 is enough. I should be happy that there are at least 4 people in my life who want to bestow their highest honor on me. But I can't help but wonder why there haven't been more.

My friend Darcie has been in at least a dozen already, including my own. My husband has been in at least half a dozen. What is it about their personality, their friendships, their relationships that makes them more wedding party worthy than I am?

To me, this is more than a discussion about wearing a dress and standing on stage next to somebody. It's about friendships. Why is Darcie considered a better friend than I am? Is it because she is? Is she more sacrificial? Is she less self-involved? Is she less busy? Does she laugh at more jokes? Listen to more stories? Around more often? Why do more people consider her BFF worthy?

And more importantly, why do people consider me less BFF worthy? Is there something fundamentally wrong with the way I approach friendships? Sure, I have a couple BFFs - they were the ones standing next to me at my wedding. But do they have me? Would they choose me? Am I the one they go to when something good or bad happens in their lives? Do they tell me their secrets? Do they think about me randomly and wonder how my week is? Do they have pictures of me around? Do they cherish our memories? Do they make effort to contact me during the week just to chat? Am I on the list of people they'd call first when they get engaged, pregnant, a new job, etc? Am I #1 in their lives?

Perhaps I'm thinking too much about it and should be happy with the friendships that I have, and the level that they are. But a part of me wishes I could be a better friend; I could be a closer friend. Am I choosing wildly popular people who consider me a great friend, but have several great friends above me? Am I not allowing myself to get vulnerable with people, thus keeping them at a distance? Am I too downright selfish to be BFF material? Am I too needy and push people away?

Besides the one time I have been a bridesmaid, there was another time I was asked. I was thrilled. This would have been my first time as a bridesmaid, and I was honored that somebody chose me. But as a few months went by, apparently I wasn't a good enough friend and the bride told me I was no longer worthy to stand next to her at her wedding. I have never forgotten this moment. I was not good enough.

There have been other friends that I thought could have picked me, but they did not. I can't say I wasn't disappointed. I understand the decisions that go into a choice like this, that have less to do with friendship levels than one would think. But I can't help but look at other indicators of friendship, like phone calls, emails, visits, sharing secrets and being involved in their lives, and see that I am not their BFFs. Am I anybody's?

If there are only 2 people that jump up and say "Yes! Yes! You are mine!" should I be content with that? Or should I want 25 more to jump up and say "Mine too!!"? Is 27 a bit excessive anyway? I mean, after all, the term Best Friend Forever implies that there is only one. "This is THE best." Should I concentrate on the two that jump up? Should I make sure I am the best friend I possibly can be to them? Or should I figure out why there aren't tons more people willing to step up and say the same?

Friday, June 13, 2008

I am still teaching for a whole nother week. A freakin week.

The most ironic thing: my first day of summer is the actual first day of summer.
That is unreal.

and you have no idea how it kills me inside.

Monday, June 2, 2008

How to... Survive College

I dedicate this to my seniors graduating this week.

1. Make new friends.
You will always love your childhood/high school friends, but there's always room for more. Don't just stop with the first people you meet, but keep meeting friends everywhere you go. At your dorm, in your classes, at your job, your friends' friends, at bible study, at meetings, during intramurals. You cannot have too many friends, and you need to explore all the different types of personalities that are available to you at this unique stage of life.

2. But keep the old.
Keep in touch (more than just random facebook messages) with your old friends. They will hold you accountable to who you used to be, who you used to want to be, and who you can be. At this stage in your life, nobody knows you better. Whether you like everything about your past or not, you cannot complete divorce your present from your past because you will lose a part of yourself. See them when you come in town, write them letters, call them and talk for hours.

3. Explore your options.
Never again will experimentation with your life be so cheap. Take any class you can, join any club you want to. Don't be afraid to try new things. You will absolutely regret it later if you play it safe. Try out for the play. Take Philosophy of TV. Write an article for the newspaper. Volunteer to build a house. Sign up for the mission trip. Your life calling can be hidden and you can miss it sticking to what you know.

4. Start saving.
It is ridiculously easy to blow off money. I went through thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it except the pounds I gained from the midnight runs to McDonald's. You can build yourself a future by putting aside even a little of whatever money you get. While hundreds of trips to Walmart may seem like the only way to survive college (especially in a small town), remember everything will be there later when you actually need it.

5. Carpool
Besides the obvious advantage of saving gas money, you will bond like crazy in a car. Whether it's just to class, around town, to a neighboring town, or home for the holidays - sharing rides is the selfless, socially acceptable thing to do. Make sure you are not always the driver (or never for that matter). If you don't know of anybody going where you're going, just ask. This is one of the best ways to make new friends, and forever memories.

6. Share
I mean this in every way possible. Share food, shoes, videos, ideas, thoughts, opinions, friends, rides, resources, duties, emotions, laughs, memories, pictures, jeans, phone numbers, recipes, classes, books, life stories, etc. Besides the economic advantage of participating in a communal relationship with those around you, and the opportunities to try new things, it puts you in great social standing. Open up to those around you, so they can get to know you. You will never be able to communicate effectively if you do not have a basic understanding of who the other person is. But please keep in mind, there is such a thing as over-share. Don't be one of those people.

7. Take pictures
In this digital world, this really goes unsaid, but let this serve as a reminder of the importance of capturing memories. Don't depend on others to take the pictures; that doesn't always work. Get a small camera and take it wherever you go. Don't forget that you have it. Take pictures of random things, exciting things, boring things, everyday things, ugly things, beautiful things. Stick your head out your dorm window with your roommate and take that picture (still one of my favorites).

8. Play
Ride bikes, swing, play tag, night tag, capture the flag, intramural volleyball, kickball, etc. Not only does the physical activity release endorphins, which I describe to my sixth graders as "happy bubbles of fun", that fight off depression, anger and stress, but feeling like a kid again is absolutely imperative at the stage of your life when you are most resistant to adulthood. Let's not forget the social benefits of acting foolish with a group of people.

9. Find deals
Locate the dollar movie theatre and never go anywhere else (and bring in your own candy). Figure out if there's a Mocha Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. Where can you use your student discount (ask EVERYwhere)? Split meals, drink water at restaurants, just go out for dessert instead of a whole meal. Clip coupons. Find the used book store, the goodwill store, the closest outlet. Be thrifty, be cheap, be resourceful.

10. Go to class
Let me state the overstated and obvious: you paid for it. The professor's most important lesson can be the one that you miss. You can guarantee he won't repeat it. There is no make-up policy, no alternative assignments, or "absence" folders. Just go. It's why you are at college - to learn. This is the greatest opportunity you are given - the opportunity to be educated. Take it all in, even the gen ed crap, because you will be a better human being. Take my word for it.