Friday, September 11, 2015

The Time You Spend

I sit in an airport awaiting my flight and look around. I see couples, singles, old, Black, Hispanic, disabled, hipsters, youngsters, nerds, working professionals, and more. I marvel at the diversity and people watching you have the opportunity to observe and take in all in one location. The biggest marvel of all perhaps, is the things that seem to unite all of us sitting there besides the obvious of trying to catch a flight; technology. Whether it’s the technology medical advances that have increased the average life span or the technology failures that can occur to delay an entire airport system and ruin hundred’s of people’s delays in a matter of minutes, technology is changing faster than many of us can fathom and it’s here to stay.

Is all technology good though? It’s a philosophical debate. 

I continue to sit completely still in my seat in the airport observing those around me. It’s unlike me to sit this still but as my work laptop refuses to connect with the WiFi, I have no choice but to sit in peace until I reach my destination and can finish the project I need to complete. I take in those around me and observe, not for the first time, how incredibly rude we have become as a society. I watch many of those traveling with earbuds in, no desire to engage in conversation of any manner with those around them, including their own spouses and children. I watch many knowing that the only exercise of the day they have will be the movement of their thumbs swiping on their electronic devices.

My heart sinks at that thought but a topic for another day.

I can see many of their screens. Twitter, Instagram, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and U.S. Airways appear to be the favorites of the group immediately surrounding me. I look around and suspect that would be the selection of the majority of the airport.

I shake my head and continue to observe.

For those not web browsing, I watch individuals of all ages and backgrounds play candy crush and other mindless app games including children who perhaps, are too young to be touching an electronic device to begin with.

My heart sinks.

Where did meaningful conversation go? Chatting with those around you, connecting with your loved ones as you sit with them and for parents in this day and age, one of the longest period of time in one sitting you get with your children.

It’s not just the airport. If it was, it would make it better knowing people hate waiting and this is how they cope. However, I see it in every situation. Couples and families out to dinner. Friends at a party on their phones rather than catching up and really hearing what is going on in their friends lives rather than a superficial conversation once again.

I once went on a date with a guy who took four phone calls and sent twelve text messages before I stopped counting in the span of 45 minutes before I promptly told him to just go home.

How did we come to this? When did we start accepting this as “normal?”

I login to Facebook as I need a break from this activity of people watching and scroll through my newsfeed.

I grow more depressed and bored the further I scroll.

I used to love Facebook. I could keep in touch with friends and family far away. Send mass messages and update others on a regular basis about my life without actually having a personal conversation individually about it.

I’ve grown tired of it.

Are you twenty something old female growing more impatient by the day that everyone around you is getting engaged but you?

No worries.

Just login to your social media and see all the great pictures of what just has to be the fifth engagement this month on your screen.

Hate your job?

No worries.

Read all about the great opportunities your friends are exploring.

Wish you could afford the Caribbean vacation everyone else at work seems to be taking?  Just scroll. You can live it vicariously through your friends who kindly upload 212 of their vacation pictures they took a week ago for your leisurely perusal.

Think you aren’t skinny, educated, fashionable, wealthy, or happy enough?

You’re right! If you think for a moment you are where you should be, just login and see how much happier, more successful, more beautiful and fit everyone else is than you. Social media does a great job of confirming that for you. It would hate for you to think you’re doing better than anyone else.

Any given day I can feel insecure at the drop of the hat and if I look at social media, it can only serves to reinforce any insecurity I’m feeling. So why would I want to add one more way to do that?! That’s when I realized, social media, just isn’t for me.

I asked the girls in my high school bible study recently, to raise their hand if they check all their social media via their phone first thing in the morning before leaving their bed.

Every. Single. One. Raised their hand.

My heart sank.

Most of you at this point probably think I’m a sad, underpaid, angry individual sitting behind a computer who has some vendetta against social media and while the second part of that might be a little true, the first part couldn’t be the furthest from the truth.

I’m a really happy,  well-compensated individual for my age that is incredibly blessed. Anytime I doubt any of that, social media just serves to compound that feeling and feed and sow those seeds of unhealthy emotion inside of me.

I’ve deleted the Facebook app off my phone. I have to manually login through the web if I want to view it. I had Snapchat and Twitter for about five minutes two years ago but couldn’t access it now even if I wanted knowing I don’t know how to use it or my logins. Instagram and every other app out there has never been on any device I own. It won’t be either for the immediate future.

I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live his or her life. Social media can be great to get a message out or connect with those far away.

It’s deceptive though. It’s only a small snapshot of others lives. It’s not a personal connection. The people who seem to lead perfect lives and constantly have amazing posts aren't showing you the complete picture. Social media is the biggest photoshop scandal out there that we aren't talking enough about or protecting our kids from.

But (and there is always a but), when you realize you are allowing social media to dictate your feelings and consume your life, when you realize you spend more time on it than with the people you call friends and family; you’ve reached the final stage in the grief healing process known as acceptance.

So let's change this. Change how you interact with friends and family. Get more personal. Spend more time with them. Spend less eye contact with your screen.

And if you don’t and I see you out for lunch with family, eyes glued to your device, well,

My heart will sink.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

No Strings Attached

Dear Every 20 something year olds…

This year you will probably see a minimum of at least six couples get engaged, five couples from last years engagements get married, and at least two are bound to announce an impending baby.

Here is what I have to say:

“Nah, Nah, da boo boo, goody two shoes for you.”

Not really mature but honestly, sometimes I'm just at a loss for words when I see the news.

While all of those individuals just tied themselves into a nice little box, can check that item off their life to do list, you can move on because you don’t have to answer to anyone else.

Some people say that those in their twenties don’t have enough direction and I used to agree. Now, I’d say some of us have TOO much direction.

We set these milestones that have to be accomplished by this age, do this before any of my other friends, and obtain approval from everyone in my family about the path I’m on.

And you know what?


We seem to be on this frenzied path to accomplish so much that we are running ourselves into the ground to obtain everyone else’s approval without bothering to stop to realize if we have truly found happiness for ourselves.

I don’t mean we should be so negligent that we run up extravegent credit card bills, never get jobs, have no direction in life, and never take responsibility. I think that we should slow down to evaluate who we truly are, rather than letting society or our friends tell us what we should be doing.

This next statement is probably going to really upset some people and while it’s certainly not aimed at everyone, some people could benefit from hearing that tying yourself to someone else so early and so seriously is the worst thing you could possibly do for yourself or to someone else.  

For the past year and half since I graduated college, I’ve watched couple after couple get engaged and subsequently married and some even start having children.

And I just have to ask, what did you truly give up in the pursuit of having this “perfect life?”

How can you possibly know what you wanted when you’ve never truly experienced being on your own in the world away from mommy and daddy, away from the confines and safety of college where some of the biggest choices you had to make were: Do you go out on Thursday or stay in to study?

The point I’m striving to make is, some of us have yet to understand what we really want and have settled instead, on the first seemingly best thing we could find.

Every year I’ve done the New Year’s Resolution route. Just like so many others, by February, I’ve already broken them and resolved to make better ones for the next year.

This year, I think I finally found one I could stick to. Those that know me probably would describe me as the responsible, mature, old beyond my years friend in the group. The one you could always rely on to help out, say yes to volunteering, heading that project, joining that initiative.

Now, I’m going to follow my own advice. I’m only in my twenties once. It’s the only time I can rationalize taking two weeks off to go on that Europe trip I keep talking about or going on 20 first dates in a year if I want to. Don't attend a wedding for someone I didn't really ever like or keep in touch with just because it's the proper thing to do. I'm going to find out what's like to have free time on the weekends instead of scheduling every spare minute. Whatever it is, I’m done doing what everyone else thinks is the right thing and I’m going to do what I want. I’m going to do me.

My New Year’s Resolution?

“Say no to responsibility, and yes to opportunity.”

I might make some of the worst decisions I’ve ever had, but I know that somewhere along the line, I’m also going to create memories that will last forever and stories to tell friends sitting across from one another drinking a beer. For once, I might just be the irresponsible one instead of the dependable friend. Maybe I'll find that person along the way I want to spend the rest of my life with but you know, I'll make sure I've been able to make the decisions that suit me first and I'll do it on my timeline, not when society or anyone else thinks is the right time.

My roommate Georgia is the perfect example of this. She just accepted a great job offer to move to another position within her company but she had to transfer to Atlanta. She could do it because she didn't have anyone else to consult or base her decision on. Those are the opportunities I'm just not willing to give up on.

For me and others, that’s okay because it’s better to do this now, than decide I didn’t get enough freedom when I’m 40 and have that mid-life crisis that now, affects an entire family.

I just have to answer to myself and God.

And I like that concept.

(Feel free to leave me great opportunities I should explore and I’ll make a list. Or not. I’m not committing to anything just yet :D)