Tag Archives: relationships

Of Pinkberry and Grins

It’s literally been half a year since I updated this. The post-college 8 to 5 work life gives you less free time than expected, especially when you account for going to the gym after work and cooking dinner.

Seriously, for those who have done this all their lives, kudos. Especially those with kids to juggle.

Anyway, I’m writing about a recent meet-up with a girl from a former church at Pinkberry. We ran into each other downtown and decided to catch up after not seeing each other for 4 years. I knew her somewhat well, back when we were in the same friend group and went to weekly church events.

The meeting started with her being 30 minutes late while I stood idly outside Pinkberry on a crowded street, trying to casually blend in while my phone was using up all my 4G data. Pinkberry has like zero seats available at any given time (seriously), so I spent half my time stalking the tables for an open seat.

Finally, the meet-up commenced after the girl (whom we’ll call N*) arrived panting and out of breath. Turns out she had biked three miles here and had been held up in traffic. I told her not to worry, and we proceeded to eat froyo (fancy term for frozen yogurt) and chat…

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Except we couldn’t chat. Because N and I did not click at all. Never in my life had I been in a more awkward conversation. This is how the flow of the first bits of conversation went:

 

N: So what are you up to now?

Me: I work as an analyst at … (insert response here about numbers and data crunching).

N: (worried look on face) Do you like it?

Me: It’s nice. The workplace has a good work-life balance; you rarely have to work overtime… (insert joking comparison to other jobs known for rigorous work-life balance)

N: . . .

Me: Uh, okay? What are you doing nowadays?

N: Oh, (insert long answer about teaching).

Me: That sounds great!

N: . . .

 

I honestly don’t know why the conversation didn’t flow easily. Believe me, I tried to be as personable as I could. And it’s not that I’m a complete social idiot; I’ve held conversations with strangers, coworkers I barely knew, and even my boyfriend’s ex. But somehow, N and I just couldn’t talk without long silences, and me trying to fill the silence.

Soon I basically gave up, saying I had to go and “it was nice seeing you, let’s hang out sometime.” Also known as never. As I left, I sadly pondered how it was possible that N and I had clicked much more in the past. N certainly didn’t seem different, apart from her awkwardness that never became apparent until that day. Perhaps it was I who had changed.

4 years ago, I was a scared freshman in college some 3,000 miles from home and knew exactly five people on campus. Aside from class, I spent most days in my room browsing the Internet and avoiding my extremely social roommate. I mean, I was always cordial to her, but we never became close friends. Acquaintances is the correct term, which happens often when you were quiet and socially anxious like I was.

This led to me having few friends and spending nights alone with my textbooks and laptop. I didn’t mind, of course. It was a blast, browsing Tumblr each night and listening to iTunes in my pajamas. Why did anyone want to go get drunk at a frat party when they could watch YouTube in bed?

But there were downsides that I didn’t see at the time, the consequences of which have become apparent only recently. For instance, I was not wise in making friends; I stuck with friends out of convenience, even ones who were clearly toxic to my wellbeing. (More on this topic later.)

 

N and I clicked much more then. I can’t pinpoint why. Perhaps I was less outspoken? Perhaps more meek, so that my countenance seemed friendlier?

I guess change is the only constant in life.

 

 

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5 Red Flags That A Promise Won’t Be Followed Through

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

These words are part of Robert Frost’s famous poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The speaker is mesmerized by the dark woods, but he continues on his way because he has prior obligations. (Literary critics will also add that this poem speaks of a dichotomy between society and nature, but we can save the heated discussion of literary analysis and whether “deep” has ten hidden meanings for a later day.)

Promises are hard to keep. Think of the last time you promised to call a friend, then subsequently forgot because Criminal Minds was on TV.  Or the times you promised to write a letter to Aunt Judy about your school year, but suddenly it’s already final exams time and you haven’t sent a single envelope the entire semester.

Everyone’s life is invariably busy. Distractions get the best of us, and it’s easy to forget small promises. But when you’re on the receiving end of broken promises — or at least promises that were never followed up on — it’s hard not to take it personally.

(This is why lawyers make contracts for everything. Sealed with your DNA, social security number, and birthdate.)

The problem is people tend to overcommit themselves. No one wants to say no to anything. Here are 5 red flags that a promise is likely to be a dud:

1. “Dude, of course I’ll look over your essay later this week.” They say yes now, but unless they pinpoint a specific date and time, they’re not going to do it. “Later this week” is a euphemism for “Um, yeah, I’m not in the mood to follow through right now or anytime soon, so like, let’s wait 3-4 days, after which you and I will both have forgotten about the thing I promised to do.”

2. “Sure! Let me check my schedule and I’ll let you know.” Even worse is when they don’t mention a time period at all. They could technically “let you know” in 90 years and not be in the wrong.

3. “I agree, let’s hang out sometime.” Either they don’t like taking initiatives or they just like putting things off. Similar to the phrase “later this week,” the phrase “sometime” is another way of saying, “I’m not sure about the future, and I’m too lazy to plan ahead right now. I mean, if I really, really, REALLY wanted to hang out you, then I’d be jumping right in to arrange plans now and here. Don’t get offended; most people aren’t in that special 1% group. Nothing personal.”

4. I promise to keep in touch. Probably one of the biggest cliches in history since happily ever after, this phrase is used most often at graduation ceremonies, goodbye parties, and the end of summer friendships. Nobody ever seems to follow through after saying this popular phrase. Never mind the fact that in today’s society, we have email, text messaging, cell phones with video messaging options, instant-messaging, and a plethora of tools that makes the letter-writing Stone Age pale by comparison. Most people seem content with a brief “what’s up lol” online before fading completely into oblivion within 1 to 3 years.

So, my advice? Stop making empty promises. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and fall short.

Or, you could sneakily put the responsibility on the other person. “Promise me you’ll keep in touch, okay?”

(If someone says this to you next time, answer with, “I’ll try, but only if you send me three pounds of gourmet cheese in the mail.”)

There are plenty more fish in the lake…or sea

There are plenty more fish in the sea.

This is a common adage, usually used as a relationship advice for people who’ve just experienced a breakup.

Words are often easier said than done. And when we see the same people in our lives over and over again, it doesn’t take long to lose belief in the popular saying. New fish? Where? The lake is dried up!

In fourth grade, I had my first crush. I still remember his name: Ryan. Ryan had cute blond hair and blue eyes, and he was smart and nice.

Then my family moved a few years later, and I had to attend a new school. Before entering my new class, I was convinced I’d never meet another boy like Ryan again.

Of course, my sixth grade self was proven wrong.

Throughout middle school and high school, I went through a slew of different crushes as I changed schools a few times again. (My family moved around a bit before we finally got settled. On the bright side, I can say I’ve lived in more than 5 different states. Not many people can say that.)

Each time I changed schools, one of my gloomiest thoughts would be, Man, I would never meet another guy as funny/nice/awesome as (insert crush’s name here) again. NEVER! Then I’d be proven wrong less than 2 months later.

But those were my teen years. Now that I’m a full-grown adult (more or less),  it takes more than just good looks and innate ability to win me over. Infatuation is not the same as real love. But even so, the adage still applies to everyday situations outside of the romance box.  It’s not the end of the world if you have to move to the other side of the country and possibly never see that inspiring counselor from summer camp again. It’s okay if you have to leave behind a wonderful community soccer team. It’s all right if it didn’t work out between you and Susie, because there are plenty more fish in the lake. And if not, try the sea. Seriously, have you been to an aquarium before?

And exploring the wider sea is beneficial not only because it allows you to meet new people, but also because it gives you a wider perspective on the world.

Example: Every school year, I get cooped up in the bubble of academia and end up seeing the same faces in my acquaintance circle over and over. One specific guy comes to mind from last year: he’s kind of obnoxious, hogs conversations, and gives three-minute monologues on his viewpoints.

It gets worse.

You might think someone who’s the epitome of an argumentative attention hog wouldn’t be very popular. The scary part is, after 275 days of having to be in the same proximity all the time, he became the ‘king’ of our acquaintance circle. In our limited acquaintance circle, he was the most outgoing and gregarious. Plus he was a top engineer and the most athletic. So naturally, he was Mr. Popular among my acquaintances.

(Probably only among my acquaintances. This is what closed-off academia life does to your judgment.)

It wasn’t until I went to my summer internship that I realized: oh yeah, there are hundreds of people out there who can balance gregariousness and fitness… and also respectfulness! And in the workplace, all types of education shine, not just engineers.

Fish in the sea adage: +1

Psychology has shown that people we’re familiar with are more attractive to us. That’s probably why people tend to date people in their acquaintance circles, whether it’s from school, work, or book club. We’re just more comfortable with people we already know.

But you know, why only eat bass when you can try salmon?

 

 

 

Fairly Platonic, Mate

Some people claim that it’s impossible for a female and male to have a strictly platonic friendship, unless one (or both) only digs people of the same gender.

In addition, the term ‘friend zone’ has been steadily trending on the Internet. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune,

When a guy agrees to be friends, he’s forced to stifle his attraction while regularly seeing and talking to the woman he’s attracted to. She discusses her love life and has the audacity to ask his advice on it. He performs occasional “manly” household and automotive favors for the women. Essentially, he does everything a boyfriend would do – without the benefits.’

 

So, what’s my take on the whole situation? I’m not too sure, but I often wonder how life would be like if humans were incapable of emotions whatsoever. That invisible realm of flimsy things attached to your heartstrings, pulling the trigger on tears and euphoria? Complicated much?

Just kidding.

No, seriously though: At first glance I thought, That’s ridiculous. A girl can have guy friends and vice versa. 

The idea is to not get emotionally attached to a friend. “But my best friend is so hot/awesome/cute though, what do I do?” 

The trick is to think back to your childhood days. Remember those days we all played freeze tag on the playground? And boys and girls both had cooties? (Okay, maybe not that last part.) But we all remember those innocent days where boys and girls could play together under the tree without emotions getting in the way.

Friends, to put it simply, are people we like to hang out with. Not every friendship needs to be as close as that of Scooby and Shaggy. And not every friendship needs to develop into something ‘deeper.’

But alas, how do we control our emotions when we do fall for a friend? Such was the case back in 8th grade, unfortunately. A guy in my extended friend circle admitted he had a crush on me. Since I felt completely indifferent towards the guy at the time, I tried in vain to think where I had gone wrong. Did I lead him on? No, I acted the same way around other guy friends with whom I had perfectly platonic friendships. Was it because I was always too nice? No, I distinctively remember arguing with him about useless stuff.

In the end, I realized it was out of my control. Internet mongers nowadays would sympathize with him, saying he was “unfairly put in the friend zone.” But we should recognize that we will meet many people in life and make a fair amount of friends. Each new friend can’t be our future husband or wife.

Oftentimes we are so focused in our own little bubbles that we forget the vast amount of people out there, and the things we have yet to discover. We limit ourselves by planting ourselves in so-called “friend zones.” Our futures are not limited to our current circle of friends. 

It’s healthy to have a good balance of friends from both genders. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Not only do males and females generally have different senses of humor, but they also have different perspectives on many subjects.