Beyond the Pages: The Thing About Insecurity Then Vs. Now For Me

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

Dumplin' cover

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
(Goodreads // Amazon )
Check out my review of Dumplin’

What It Is About:

Willowdean has always been the fat girl and she’s always been pretty okay with that despite the normal teenage insecurities. It’s never been a THING for her. Until she gets a job and crushes on one of her hot co-workers who totally ends up liking her back. And then insecurities and what people think get the best of Willowdean and makes her second guess herself and if Bo could really like her. So she decides to remind herself of how confident she is and enters a beauty pageant (that her mother is the coordinator of) — an act that sparks a little bit of a revolution when a couple of other girls, who are inspired by Willowdean’s bravery, to join with her despite them not looking like the usual beauty pageant contestant.

What It Got Me Thinking About:

insecurities for me as a young person vs. insecurities now

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There was so much to love and appreciate in Dumplin’ and so much it made me think about but the biggest thing I thought about while reading was High School Jamie and how insecure she was and then I thought a lot about insecurities in the lens of 30 Year Old Jamie. Julie Murphy really did a great job portraying those high school insecurities. Through Willowdean, who mostly loves and accepts her body how it is, we see this vulnerability that we have as young people when it comes to how we see ourselves because it’s mostly always through the filter of how the world sees us. We see how hard it becomes to be confident of the things you love/accept about yourself when it seems the world makes it so easy for those self-conscious feelings or insecurities attach themselves to you like a leech that drains your confidence. How it becomes easy to feel like you need to change because other people think you should. How it becomes easy to loathe yourself or to judge yourself harshly — for things you might have not ever noticed before.

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Beyond the Pages: Musings On Internet Life

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

The Status Of All Things

The Status Of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

What would you do if you could literally rewrite your fate—on Facebook? This heartwarming and hilarious new novel from the authors of Your Perfect Life follows a woman who discovers she can change her life through online status updates.

Kate is a thirty-five-year-old woman who is obsessed with social media. So when her fiancé, Max, breaks things off at their rehearsal dinner—to be with Kate’s close friend and coworker, no less—she goes straight to Facebook to share it with the world. But something’s changed. Suddenly, Kate’s real life starts to mirror whatever she writes in her Facebook status. With all the power at her fingertips, and heartbroken and confused over why Max left her, Kate goes back in time to rewrite their history.

Kate’s two best friends, Jules and Liam, are the only ones who know the truth. In order to convince them she’s really time traveled, Kate offers to use her Facebook status to help improve their lives. But her attempts to help them don’t go exactly as planned, and every effort to get Max back seems to only backfire, causing Kate to wonder if it’s really possible to change her fate.

What It Got Me Thinking About:

social media and how it is so embedded in my life..everyone’s life really, how social media isn’t always an accurate representation of who a person is

Image1fdsfI’ve been feeling very on again off again with social media lately. Reading this book reminded me how much social media affects my life and how it has permeated into my daily routine in such a huge way without me even realizing it. I grew up before the internet. I grew up before social media. I know how to live life without it all….but why does it feel like sometimes I don’t?

I’m going to preface this with: I LOVE SOCIAL MEDIA. I LOVE THE INTERNET. It is glorious. I have met some of my very best friends. I’ve grown as a person. Have found an amazing outlet. Learned a lot. I love how it has allowed me to have PEOPLE to connect with who I wouldn’t otherwise.

Here’s 2 things it made me think about:

 

If you don’t post it on social media, did it really happen?

In the book, immediately when Kate finds out that her fiance was breaking up with her, her first thought is basically, “what will social media think of this? How will I break the news on Facebook?” At first I thought, “how silly” but then I was thinking about how I’ve struggled with this so much. I go to social media immediately to announce life things.  I can’t go a day without thinking about how I can photograph it perfectly for Instagram. How immediately when I do something fun I need to post it. What will my followers think if I get too personal about my bad day? Will people like this? Will people think it’s lame? Social media is the first thing I do when I wake up and a lot of the time the last thing I do before I close my eyes.

I’ve been better with it lately because I’ve just felt so TIRED of sharing and curating my whole life. I try to be authentic and open as possible when I do share but lately I just want to keep things to myself. I don’t want to live my whole life out on social media. I’m tired of putting so much of myself on display and caring too much about what social media thinks. And I’ve been finding life a bit more fulfilling by enjoying those moments without sharing them. Sure, some of them were super share-worthy (like how beautiful the sun and the leaves look from my reading spot here at the park) but it’s kind of nice to not immediately reach for my phone and be like, “I need to tweet/snap/instagram/ that.”  Sometimes it’s kind of just nice to admire it and feel the sun on my face and appreciate the moment. I’m still a work in process but I’m finding that life is more fun without over-documenting it.

[Keep Reading]

Beyond the Pages: Friend Breakups

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

A Sense of the Infinite Hilary T. Smith

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

It’s senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn’t prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe’s new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she’s been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe. But most especially, she isn’t prepared to lose Noe. For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don’t involve Annabeth. Without Noe’s constant companionship, Annabeth’s world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she’s really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

What It Got Me Thinking About:

friend breakups, how friends grow apart, how friendships change over the years

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I think when I was younger I thought one of the most painful experiences you could go through was a unrequited love or a breakup with your 6th grade boyfriend but it wasn’t until I hit high school and beyond that I realized two of the most heart-wrenching things in my life would be friend breakups, shifts in friendships and growing apart from friends to the point where you they feel like strangers to you.

I think that’s one of the things A Sense of the Infinite did so well — it chronicled these shifts and that slow drifting apart we can have with even our best friend. It showed how sometimes you realize that a friendship doesn’t quite fit anymore but nobody wants to make a move. I think it was poignant in how the rose colored glasses come off when you recognize the first real crack and how you see things for what they really are. I have definitely experienced all that.

When I was in middle school I had just moved to a new school and new town and I met my best friend in 8th grade. We were THOSE type of best friends who did everything together and preferred to be with each other to everyone else. We had the most inside jokes and it was like a head over heels love affair those 2 years of our friendship. And then I went to high school and she was still a year behind in middle school and, even though we lived 6 houses down, everything slowly shifted to the point that when she finally came to the high school the cracks were far too large. It ended with her dating a boy I knew was trouble and her doing things we swore we would never do — differences I couldn’t get over at the time. That friend breakup was the hardest. SHE WAS MY EVERYTHING. My partner in crime. We were ~friendly~ the rest of high school but it was SO different and that was almost the hardest part. We’ve since seen each other once as adults and we are cool. I’d love to rekindle that friendship but we live so far apart now it doesn’t make sense. I’m happy that she’s happy and I can look at our good memories with fondness rather than bitterness.

More recently as an adult I did a friend breakup with a whole group of people that were a mix of a core group from high school and then some college friends we met and brought into the group. I still get sad about it sometimes but honestly I’m more relieved than everything despite the fact my former bff and college roomie and I have drifted so far apart as a result of me not being part of the GROUP anymore. It was one of those things where they were sole people that I hung out with. It was a mix of guys and girls and I had the most fun with them. But there were THINGS that I think I always recognized even in the height of my friendship with them but just ignored for years and years. After we graduated the drifting really happened even though we all still mostly lived near each other and hung out pretty much every weekend.

[Keep Reading]

Beyond the Pages: That Thing I Regret Not Having

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

The Start of Me and You Emery Lord

The Start Of Me & You by Emery Lord
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

“It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?”

 

What I said about itScreenshot at Mar 17 21-33-26

What It Got Me Thinking About:

girl friends, friend groups, my life choices

Image1fdsfOne of the best things about The Start of Me and You is the girl power. The main character has a close-knit group of 4 girls and I LOVED what a healthy, important friendship they all had. They were there for each other in big and small ways, knew each other like they knew themselves, worked through issues, had TONS of fun together, etc. But as I was reading I grew JEALOUS. And a bit wistful as I thought about my past. WHY? (Besides the fact Emery Lord just has a knack for writing enviable friendships).

Because I never had that.

Sure, in elementary school and maybe even early middle school I had lots of girl friends and we had sleepovers and such but I never had a close-knit group of girl friends like portrayed in this book that stood the test of time. When high school came I found myself making closer friendships with guys and caring more about those. I was almost PROUD to be the chick with all the guy friends? Proud that I was “above” all the petty girl stuff? And college was the same way. I gained MORE girl friends but mostly that was due to dorm living. I had my best friend and a handful of other girls that hung out in our general group but more often than not it was me + like 10 other guys. I didn’t foster close relationships with other ladies because I saw them as petty, too fickle, etc. I wrote them off easily because it was easier to “be one of the guys” even though I totally was a girly girl and there was a lot of NON-platonic feelings always happening (but THAT’s a separate topic for another day). It’s sad because, when I reflect on college especially, I had some really great girls in my life who were there for me and I had so much fun with but for whatever reason I liked my place among the dudes and that attention more than I cared to truly form a closer bond with the girls.

I think if there’s one thing I actually regret in life it’s not taking the time to see the value in having girlfriends and taking care of those relationships.

Now, here I am as an adult, and I wish had a close-knit group of ladies. I’ve seen how empowering female friendships can be over the years and have met some ladies here in this community who have taught me that through these past 5 years. They have been there for me and have shown me how valuable these relationships are in my life. I read YA and I see friendships like this and I’m just JEALOUS and full of regret. WHY, PAST JAMIE, DID YOU NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR LADY FRIENDS?

I mean, let’s be real, friendship isn’t always easy. I think maybe I didn’t like the hard work it DID take sometimes. It was easier to dismiss pettiness and drama and flock to the dudes who seemed to not have that. But what I didn’t get from MOST of those guys? That intimate sort of sisterhood you have among girlfriends. DEEP relationships where things of substance were talked about and the highs/lows of life were shared, shoulders to cry on, endless hours dissect life’s craziness, etc. I LOVED the easy nature of all that that I DID have amongst the girl friends I did have. I just don’t know why I didn’t see more value in that before.

But, here we are. I cannot go back. It might be harder to make friends now as a married lady but I’m working on it. I see the value. I crave those friendships. Maybe in my future I will find a kickass group of ladies to hang out with. Maybe not (I have major fears that people at my age are already set with their friend groups/friends). Who knows! But I know that my girl friends, the ones I have and the ones I will meet, are going to be more important than I ever made them back in high school and college. I might regret not making more of an effort but I am certainly not going to let myself regret it again 10 years from now.

 

 

Thoughts on anything I wrote? Did you/do you have a close knit of girl friends that you hang out with? Or were you “one of the guys” like I was? If you have/had close girlfriends please tell me about them so I can live vicariously!! 🙂

Beyond The Pages — Enjoying It For What It Is

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

After I Do
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

Lauren and Ryan have been together since they were in college. Now, many years into their marriage, it’s all fallen apart. In an attempt to figure out what to do next, they decide to take a year off from their marriage — no communication at all — in the hopes that spending some time apart they would fall back in love again or figure out what their future is. They both end up on a journey of self-discovery and that year questions what they think about love and marriage and their ideas of it.


What I said about it:

 “I’m so used to reading books about people FALLING IN LOVE that it was refreshing to read something different. I honestly was glued to this unraveling of love but then also this year of self love and reflecting on the marriage and the love for each other.”  Read my full review from last year here!

What It Got Me Thinking About:

It made me think about A LOT re: marriage but I’m not going to get into that because VERY PERSONAL. But today I’m talking about this quote from it:

“Isn’t it nice … once you’ve outgrown the ideas of what life should be and you just enjoy what it is.”

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I feel like if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 29 years of living is that there is no one way that life should be or is going to turn out. And I feel like, while I’ve really embraced the idea in this quote in the past couple years, I find myself in each different stage of life battling it.

We learn from an early age — through movies, tv, and what is around us — what life is supposed to be like. You go to school, go to college, get a good job, get married, have some babies, grow old into retirement and then die. But there are so many variables and details it doesn’t account for. It’s easy to get thrown for a loop when suddenly you don’t find your life checking that next box.

When I was kid, I thought life should include your mom and dad staying married forever.  They got divorced and suddenly the new normal was being a child of divorce, which came with its struggles, but ultimately brought me a stepdad who is like a second father to me, a stepmom who has become like a mother when my own mother has passed and a little sister I wouldn’t have if my parents stayed together.

When I was a teen, I thought life looked a certain way until it didn’t. I went from fun Friday nights and school day dramas to watching my mom get sick from brain cancer. You don’t think, when you are that young, that your parents won’t be there with you into adulthood. You don’t have to think about dying much until it is in your face and then it becomes such a reality. This is by far one of the hardest things of life and it is hard to see any good things but it definitely made me grow up a lot and gave me the ability to help people who have gone through things like this — including Will when he lost his dad.

When I was a college student I always thought I’d get out of school, get a good job and start my career in marketing. That’s what was supposed to happen. That was the goal we’d all been working toward with all my studying and good grades. Little did I know when I graduated in 2008 that I’d face one of the worst job markets, that I’d work retail hell at minimum wage for a year, get a part time job in marketing, then FINALLY a full time job that I hated. And I would have never guessed that after I landed that full time job, that a year and a half later, I’d get laid off. I would have never guessed that, here we are 2 years later, and I’m nannying so we can pay the bills and still not in my career.

Before I was a wife, I had ideas of what marriage would be like. In my 2 1/2 years, while it’s been great, there was nothing that could have prepared me for what marriage really is. How hard it is while being wonderful. I’d had all these notions in my head for what marriage SHOULD and WOULD be like and I tried so hard to keep us there…until I realized that we can’t fit a married people mold. That our marriage is our marriage and we can’t compare it to others or what we think it should look like.

 

There’s so many expectations of what life should be like. In my head I should be in a successful career, maybe buying a house and just feeling more like a grown-up. I don’t. I feel way behind in my career and like I’m a fake grownup. But I’ve realized the more I’ve tried to compare myself to that picture of what life is supposed to be like, that I’m super unhappy. I can’t measure my life or my marriage on some stick that god knows who invented. Our lives can’t and won’t follow that. And the best thing we can do? It’s to just embrace the place we are in our life. Take every single deviation from “the plan” for what it is and enjoy the crap out of it.

For me, it’s as simple as reminding myself the good things about my place in life right now. The ACTUAL reality of my life. Not what I’m missing out on or where I should be. When I’m upset because I feel like a failure career-wise, I take a deep breath and think about the fact that in the summer I’m enjoying a nice day at the park when most people are in an office wishing they were outside or that in the winter I can wear sweatpants and hoodies to work. I think about the lessons I’m learning that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. And there are so many of them.

I could sit here and focus on what life should be/where I should be at or I could embrace what it is and find some freedom in that. It’s not always sunshine and roses but it is what it is and I’m not going to waste my one, precious life here on earth in the rat race of trying to make my life mold to a certain way.

 

Also check out: On Being LikedYou Mean I Have To Work At This?, What Will You Do With Your One Precious Life?

Beyond The Pages — On How I Live

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

It weaves together the stories of a handful of people before and after the collapse of a civilization largely taken out by a super-flu that spread quickly. I don’t want to give too much away and the official summary is wordy but it’s one of the BEST books I’ve read this year.


What I said about it:

 ” It was brutal, thought-provoking and just a real masterpiece.”  Read my full review here!

What It Got Me Thinking About:

How I live!!

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Normally these posts are super focused on one particular thing but Station Eleven got me thinking about a lot of things but, when I reflected on them, they all could be filed under “how I live”. I try to be really conscious of how I live — my effect, my happiness and my joy, what I’m putting out there/leaving behind, how I’m growing and what I’m focused on. I try to think at the end of each day, “if this was my last day on earth would I be happy with how I lived it?” and then in the morning I just tell myself to do it better and remind myself this new day is a blank slate.

That being said, there are a lot of days where I don’t like my answer. And there are a lot of days that turn into weeks that I get so consumed with LIFE that I don’t even think about it. I try to be so present and conscious about how I’m living but sometimes living just gets in the way of being mindful of it…which isn’t a BAD thing when I’m happy about how I’m living.

 

There were 3 major things that Station Eleven really had me reflecting on concerning HOW I LIVE:

 

1. How “surviving is insufficient” — The beautiful thing about the civilization after it all collapsed in Station Eleven is how, after all they had been through, they didn’t just want to be a society that survived this super-flu that wiped out everything. Surviving wasn’t good enough — they wanted to rebuild, thrive, find joy and just try to do better and learn from it. The Traveling Symphony’s (bc art and storytelling prevail!!) slogan on their wagon was “Surviving Is Insufficient” and it resonated with me so much. So many days I feel like I’m just in straight survival mode. Just trying to survive the day. Willing it to be over. And yes, some days that’s the best it’s going to be — a triumph to just survive the day. But that is not the sort of habit I want to get into and I feel like it’s so easy for me to go through my work day and and my work week and I just try to SURVIVE until the weekend. Survival mode is not enough for me as a life strategy. I know that but sometimes I let myself get into it. I’ve always loved the quote from Oscar Wilde —

to live quote

And honestly that is the rut I get stuck into sometimes. I’m existing and surviving alright but I’m not REALLY living.

 

2. On what I make important: In the book, one day is normal and within the next week everything collapses and soon everything you were used to is gone — plumbing, electricity, internet, your job, fame, Friday nights out to the bar  etc. All those things become relics and we see that as the story shows threads from BEFORE and then those from after. The things people are worried about and seem so damn significant to them before vs. after is a startling difference.

No more internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in doing so, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.

 

It made me think so much about how obsessed with all my screens and my internet life and my tv shows, etc and how fleeting they are. How when our internet goes out or my phone dies and I FEEL LIKE GOING CRAZY. I can’t live. I think of how I can get lost in the internet and suddenly it is 5 hours later. How, if they world ended and I survived, that the things I’ve placed as important in my life would mostly be rendered useless. And that’s not to say that I can’t ENJOY these things or that they are evil but I’ve realized how they consume me and how I should be mindful of my attachment to THINGS and how I can get so fixated on something so insignificant.

 

3. On being remembered: There’s this one character who ponders immortality and what it is to be remembered, what they want to be remembered for and all the people they remember — how they become immortal in his mind. Memories are a funny thing. I think a lot of people I’ve lost in my life, people I used to know and grew away from, brief encounters with strangers, etc. So many things color our memories — time, perspective, etc. Someone passed recently that I didn’t know but had an impact on me and I wept as I watched their memorial video — how alive they seemed and inspiring they were. How they embraced life.  I wondered if my life would translate that way.  I am morbid so sometimes I wonder what people would say at my funeral if I died. How they’d feel. What would they tell their kids or friends or family about me? It always makes me reflect on if how I’m living is how I want to be remembered.  How do I want to be remembered as a blogger? As a family member? As a friend? As someone you met briefly? Obviously I want to be remembered favorable but what else do I want to be remembered for? I don’t have the exact answer but I want to at least be remembered for being a person who really LIVED. Who loved. Who inspired in some small way. Was kind and genuine.

 

 

There’s nothing like reading an apocalyptic that is so realistic and that could SO easily happen to make you think about how you live. Which is a-okay with me because I want to LIVE a life that I can be proud of and enjoy so reflection is good for my soul. I don’t want to do this life on auto-pilot. I want to experience the good and the bad and the in-between. I want to connect. To share in humanity. I want to learn and grow. I want to be remembered in all my messy glory as a human who tried their best and died feeling like, despite the bumps along the way, they did it right.

 

What inspires you when you think of how you live? Do you have any life mottos or mantras that guide how you live? Did anything I said resonate with you?

Beyond the Pages: Bright Before Sunrise

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

Bright Before Sunrise Tiffany Schmidt

Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

Brighton is a popular and well liked girl who has suffered a loss but she likes to smile and maintain that she’s fine. Jonah is a boy who is forced to move schools and feels like an outsider and it only gets worse when his girlfriend, what tied him to his old life, breaks up with him. When Brighton and Jonah meet it is NOT love, or even like, at first sight. In fact, Jonah flat out tells Brighton what he thinks about her — something that infuriates Brighton, being someone who is all around well-liked and friendly with everyone, and she becomes determined to get him to change her mind about her.

What It Got Me Thinking About:

being liked and what that means, caring about what people think of me, how I view being liked now vs. when I was a teen, being a people pleaser

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I related to Brighton so much because in high school I was SO the people pleasing, I-just-want-everyone-to-like-me person that she is. I cared SO much about being liked and if someone didn’t like me? I would be SO irritated and it would be my mission to make them change their mind. Which is essentially what Brighton tries to do in Bright Before Sunrise. I understood her SO MUCH.

It made me think a lot about how I am now. Of course I WANT people to like me. I’m still a bit of a people pleaser (I have come a LONG way in that). I don’t ENJOY being disliked. There are still those same feelings as I’ve always had. I mean, generally who doesn’t want people to like them?

I think the difference between now and then is:

1) Other people’s opinions of me don’t affect me AS MUCH as they used to: I mean, there are times when they DO really affect me but back in high school/early college it could break me. It would make me doubt myself. It would just drive my every mood. I would try to change and become who I thought they wanted me to be. But I think NOW I’m way more confident in who I am. Sure, it stings. It sucks when you know someone doesn’t like you. But, I reflect a little bit on if I could have done anything different that could help me become a better person and then I let it go. Their loss.

2) I try to take it less personally: I’ve come to the conclusion that just sometimes people are not going to like each other. I mean, there are people that TONS of people love and adore and are good people…that I just, in my heart, don’t jive with. It’s okay. As long as their isn’t anything malicious going on, I try to just think that it is what it is. Every single human being is NOT going to like me. And that’s okay. I’ve also learned that sometimes people are super fickle. Sometimes people are overthinkers. Sometimes people have past histories that affect their interactions.  There are so many reasons that might actually have less to do with ME than themselves. If it’s something I’ve DONE to make them not like me, well then that’s something I need to reflect on and potentially make better if I can. Sometimes you know there isn’t a future for you and that person and you just file it away under LIFE LESSONS.

3) I’ve discovered that being LIKED isn’t my biggest aspiration (and also I want to be liked for GENUINE reasons): I don’t just want to be a person that is generally well liked but nothing else. That’s kind of boring (and I think, in the book, Brighton comes to realize that). Of course being liked is LOVELY and I LIKE being well-liked. But I also aspire to be other things more: a dependable and loyal friend and family member, someone who exudes passion for life & the things I love, someone who stands up for what they believe in, someone who is always growing from their mistakes and perseveres through set backs, someone wanting to be nothing more than genuine even if it exposes flaws, someone with a huge capacity for love even when it’s hard, etc. There are so many things I aspire to MORE than just being liked. Being liked is a bonus I think.

4) I have no business spending that much time trying to analyze why someone doesn’t like me: I just don’t. I could be doing SO many other productive things. I mean, why use my energies trying to figure it out and adds so much negativity I don’t need. I read a quote or a blog post a LONG time ago that said this (I wish I remembered it!!) and the gist of it has always stuck with me. (Note: I like to be mindful and self aware if it’s something I need to work on but that’s where the analyzing needs to go…with where I can change…not where THEIR head is at).

 

I think my biggest struggle STILL related to this is this:

Other people’s perceptions of you that is based solely on ANOTHER person’s thoughts/feelings about you.

I mean, I’m fine with being disliked if it’s because of who I genuinely am. I really am. If it’s really me you don’t like and I’m being 100% me? I can handle that. I really can. Obviously if it’s something that might be a personal character flaw, it sucks to know  and I can work on it.  But if it’s just WHO I am? I can move on. What I really struggle with and have a hard time handling? When someone dislikes me based on another person’s biased interpretation of me. It is the thing that frustrates me most and something I’ve been trying to work on not getting so worked up over.

I mean, really, I still have no business spending that much energy on it because especially in that case…there really IS nothing I can do and it’s not worth my time or effort except just to continue to be myself. I think, related to this, I’ve been really trying to work on this myself — not letting MY perception of someone affect another person’s. I want people to judge me based on THEIR interactions and experience with me NOT because of someone else’s so I should extend the same to other people. It’s a hard one to work on but I’ve been trying to be REALLY cognizant of it.

I’ve come a long way with all this but I know I still have more work to be done!

 

 

Is this something you have struggled with/struggle with currently? How do you deal with it?

 

You may also enjoy:

Beyond The Pages: You Mean You Have To Work At That??
Beyond The Pages: Since You’ve Been Gone
Beyond the Pages: What Will You Do With Your One Wild & Precious Life?

But There’s Always Something Else At The End

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

I just finished Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer and I’m feeling unsure how I want to talk about it, other than just generally knowing I want to talk about my connection to this book. Whether or not I’ll “book talk” it later, I don’t know, but that’s the freedom I’ve given myself by hanging up my book reviewer hat.

What Belzhar Is About:

Belzhar is about a girl who gets sent to a school for kids with “issues” and they are supposed to heal. The main character has lost her boyfriend and gets sent there because she is unable to cope with it. She gets put in a special English class and there are only like 4 other kids in the class and it’s SUCH a hard class to get into and nobody knows how anyone gets picked…but every year kids in this class proclaim it as life-changing. When she gets in the class, she realizes they are going to be studying the works of Sylvia Plath the whole semester and they are given a journal writing assignment that leads her and her classmates to Belzhar…a place they all almost can’t believe is real.

I don’t want to give anymore away than that, but I immediately knew this was going to be an interesting book for me. The Bell Jar changed my life, so I was interested to see how the works of Sylvia Plath would change these kids.

My first Bell Jar reading experience:

I was a senior in high school. My mom had just been diagnosed with brain cancer and was told she had maybe 6 months to live (she ended up living for 2 years though, FIGHTER she was). The chaos that was unleashed on the day of that diagnosis forever altered my life. It wasn’t an after-school special where we rallied around each other and lived out her last days frolicking in the sun and such. There was anger that none of us knew what to do with. And that anger became as volatile as an active volcano. One night, everything was too much and I left. I packed a bag and called a friend and I left. I ended up living at a friend’s house for a month or so (a friend who, I might add, had the perfect Full House kind of family which made it harder for me). I only saw my family in counseling sessions until I returned home.

I was feeling very alone and, while thankful for the family housing me,  just felt like nobody understood. I was in this violent sea of anger and confusion and grief, just being thrashed by waves and feeling like I couldn’t keep afloat. I went to the library and decided to give The Bell Jar a try. No idea why. I just had heard of it and decided I wanted to read it. I will never forget reading this book in a room that was not mine, surrounded by people who couldn’t understand what I was going through. I stayed in that bed until it was over and I wept and I wept and I wept.

Someone finally put words to what I was feeling. I no longer felt alone. Or crazy. I understood Esther and that feeling of all-consuming isolation, like you are absolutely alone, trapped inside a bell jar nobody can even penetrate. I wrote like crazy after that experience — I knew I had to get it all out. I felt the tiniest light of hope in one of the darkest and confusing times of my life. That book helped me out of it in a way.

My experience reading Belzhar:

The characters in Belzhar know that bell jar feeling so well. As they each reveal their stories, you see the aching loneliness they have because of situations in their life. Soul-crushing pain and grief and guilt and confusion. There was one quote in particular that just really encapsulated both of our experiences:

Belzhar quote

But then they start reading Plath & writing in their journals. And these words – they save in a way. They let us know we aren’t alone. They allow us to feel outside of ourselves, which is exactly what helped the numbness dissipate for me. They give voice to things you couldn’t even assemble into words. Let you slip into somebody else’s life for a bit or get an outside look in to your own life.

Belzhar Meg Wolitzer

If I read The Bell Jar prior to that year, I probably wouldn’t have felt the way I did about it on a personal level. But words find you and take you where you need to go. Just like they did the characters in Belzhar — though definitely in a more physical way.

Reading Belzhar reminded me of the power of words and how healing they can be — whether they are the ones we breathe into ourselves or the ones we put out into the world for others to breathe in. It reminded me of how sometimes you read a book that your soul really needed you to read. It reminds you of your humanness and that we don’t have to share the burden alone. That’s what I loved about the English class in Belzhar. They didn’t have to share their burdens alone anymore — they had each other to share their pains and their guilt and the weight of the world they were each carrying.

And it reminded me of the hope…

There is more to that ribbon passage I shared above. It continues:

Belzhar quotes

It’s the kind of hope I had at the end of The Bell Jar that is mirrored in this book. When I read the end I saw that Esther knew that things weren’t going to be automatically easy, but she had reached the end of the ribbon where there was something other than infinite pain. She knew she could still descend into that madness and it would be hard, but there was hope. And 18-year-old Jamie, who felt so lost and knew that harder things were going to come because a cancer was currently wreaking havoc on her mom’s brain? She needed to know there was going to be something at the end of that ribbon. Something different. That it wouldn’t be endless pain.

As I read Belzhar I found myself instantly transported back to that time in my life and reminded of how powerful words can be. Things have been rough here in the present — not hopeless, but hard enough that it’s tough remember to have hope — and I think reading this book took me to a Belzhar of my own…a Belzhar I needed to go to right now.

Beyond the Pages: You Mean I Have To Work At This?

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

Landline Rainbow Rowell

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

Oh you guys! This is one of my favorite books of the year so far! I read it in January and I still can’t stop thinking about it and need to buy myself a copy to re-read it. Rainbow Rowell’s second adult book is about a marriage that has been off for some time and she knows it has been. It’s not an issue of not loving each other but between jobs and kids and all somehow it just has gotten a little lost. When they are a few days out from leaving for Omaha for Christmas, Georgie has a huge work opportunity arise and she has to stay in LA for it. She assumes they’ll all just stay home but is surprised when Neal decides he and the kids are still going. Scared of what this implies, Georgie wonders if it has all fallen apart for good and if/how she can fix it….until she’s given an opportunity to talk to Neal in the past.

What I said about it:Rainbow Rowell continues her trend of being able to write poignantly and candidly about all sorts of love. I loved that, while this was partly a story about a love going wrong, it’s also a story about falling back in love and remembering the first time you fell in love with that person as well…especially in the face of maybe losing it all. She makes love just come alive and feel true.” You can read more of my thoughts about it here!

What It Got Me Thinking About:

relationships (marriage & friendships), not being passive in relationships, how much “work” relationships take, my own relationships

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There’s a lot of things Landline gave me to think about while reading it and after but one of the biggest things is how much care, commitment and “work” needs to go into a relationship — any kind of relationship. In Landline, the marriage was not dissolving because of necessarily huge things but these small, tiny moments. Little decisions that happened daily and were almost unnoticeable until one day you look up and realize,” WOW how did we end up like this?”

I’ve only been married for almost two years but I could see how easy it would be to get to this point. To get too complacent. Take things foregranted, unintentionally stop TRYING and let it all slip away. I think it’s easy to become passive in a relationship and not even realize it — to just let it BE and not do all the things to cultivate and nurture that relationship.

When I was younger I used to always say, “it shouldn’t take this much work to have this friendship/relationship.” And yes, in some cases it shouldn’t be THAT hard and shouldn’t constantly FEEL like work. But I think what I always thought was that relationships shouldn’t ever take work. That they should just naturally be. Maybe I was just too young to quite get it yet or maybe I was just mistaking what WORK meant in regards to relationships. But I truly believe that any good relationship worth having requires a certain degree of “work”. We must be active in maintaining it and nurturing it. Taking care of it. Not just putting it on cruise control or auto-pilot. I’m not saying we need to constantly be doing this but I think, as I reflect on my marriage already, I need to be mindful. It’s easy to slip into patterns, to stop communicating, to stop trying, to ignore things, stop making an effort to love each other. To just settle into the marriage and think it’s going to work because we love each other and smooth sailing from there.

It shouldn’t be all work.  I’m not saying that. There’s a bigger problem there, I think, if all you are doing IS working on it. But I think we are doing a disservice to our important relationships if we don’t realize that they DO take some degree of work and nurturing and caring for. They need us to be intentional and active participants.

And it’s not even just marriages. It’s friendships too. I think of so many great friendships that just faded away because both parties just STOPPED — for no reason. It happened by letting the communication stop, by not being active in engaging that relationship and letting life get in the way. I never meant for it to happen but it did before I realized it. And sure, that’s life, sometimes friendships are going to naturally fade but I think too often we are passive in relationships and don’t put in the work without even meaning to. I know I do and I’m realizing that.

I’m resolving to work harder at my relationships and be more intentional. Too many valued friendships have slipped away and I also don’t want to, years from now, being in a situation similar to Georgie and Neal in my marriage wondering how I got there — feeling surprised by it. I don’t want to look back and see all the small things that made us seemingly end up on different planets and know that I could have helped it.

Here are 3 things I’m going to do in my relationships starting today:

Marriage:

1. Go on a date at least once a month: I think one of the biggest things I’ve already seen about marriage is how easy it is to ALWAYS sit in our jams and flop on the couch. And yes, I do love that time and it’s valuable to us. But it’s easy to stop dating each other when you get married. Like really, really easy. Our dates don’t have to be expensive or anything crazy but I do want to make it a point for them to be a planned, specific date. I’d like for us to rotate who plans the date.

2. Stop eating dinner on the couch: We’ve gotten in a really bad habit of eating dinner while catching up on one of our shows. If we ever have a family this is something I do not want to EVER happen. I grew up with family dinners that slowly faded to everyone just eating on their own or in front of the tv. I started to miss those conversations and catching up. So I will clear off our kitchen table (which is half filled with books) and we will eat dinners together and use that time to talk. No phones, no tv on, no laptops.

3. Find an activity or a project for us to do together: I used to love when we’d go to the gym together but my interest in Pilates kind of ruined that and that’s okay. He works out with a friend now, which is good for him, and I do an exercise that I really enjoy more than the gym. But I loved that we had SOMETHING we did together. We have so many activities that we do separately (not to mention when we both get in our own little worlds..him with video games and me with blogging) and that is important but I want to find something to do TOGETHER.

Friendships:

1. Get better at communication: Here’s the thing about me. I suck at keeping in contact. I’m real bad at answering texts. I hate talking on the phone. I’m the worst at answering emails. It’s not that I don’t WANT to talk to you (sometimes I’m just not in the mood to socialize with ANYONE or I’m busy/in the middle of something). But I’m just not good at keeping in touch — a few friends aside. But I’ve come to realize it’s an excuse. Not because I secretly hate people. I don’t know what it’s an excuse for but I know that I can work at it*. I just have dismissed everything as “well, I suck at keeping in contact” without really taking steps to be better at it. I truly am not a person who needs constant communication to know we are friends (I have a few great friendships where that’s mutual) but I’ve also gotten in the bad habit of just NOT communicating. And the worst part? I’m not very good at initiating the communication. I let months slip away without saying anything. I’ve got a lot to work on here — answering communication and initiating it. Especially the initiating.

2. Make plans: I also suck at making plans. See, here’s the thing. When I’m with people and spending time with a friend, it’s great! I love it! But the actual thought of making plans? I am the worst. I’m lazy. I’m never the person to ask anyone to hang out because I honestly am so content with doing my own thing or hanging with Will. I know I’ll always be glad I did it (like I normally AM) but there’s this period from the making of plans until I get there where I’m like WAHHH CAN I JUST SIT HOME PLEASE?

3. Do something nice for a friend: Because I’ve gotten in this cycle where I don’t really initiate contact or make plans with people, I’ve slipped into some selfish habits that I didn’t even realize. I used to be the friend who always looked for ways to genuinely do nice things for my friends — a way to encourage them,  to make their day, make a birthday special, help their broken heart, etc. I just stopped. I stopped being thoughtful. And I feel like a shitty person. I’m going to make an effort to be intentional about this once a month until I’ve gotten myself out of whatever weird funk I’m in.

* I think a lot of my issues with friendships is due to some past friendships. Maybe I’m just trying to protect myself by just not taking the risk of nurturing friendships? I don’t know.

 

 

What do you think? Do you think relationships take work? Have you experienced this first hand? Am I the only one who struggles with this? If you’ve read Landline did Georgie and Neal’s story resonate with you in any way?

Beyond the Pages: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

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 The book that inspired this conversation:

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Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
(my thoughts to come closer to the release date)
(Goodreads | Amazon)

 

What It Is About:

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…”

What It Got Me Thinking About:

friendships & relationships, identity in relationships and how it gets so intertwined in them, finding your identity, being brave (even though I’m not going to talk about that in this post..maybe another?)

Image1fdsfIn Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson Emily’s best friend Sloane just takes off and leaves. To Emily, Sloane was the best part of her. They’d been BFFs for a couple years and they did everything together. When Sloane leaves, Emily is left feeling like a huge part of her is missing, rightly so, and she really has to find out who she is outside of Sloane. She finds herself struggling to do things like fill conversations because Sloane always was the outgoing one who knew what to say and she found it was hard to really so anything without Sloane by her side because Sloane gave her some of the bravery she seemed to lack. Especially since most people really only knew her as “that girl that’s always with Sloane.” She’s forgotten who she is outside of “Emily and Sloane” and has really let herself rely on Sloane’s presence for her identity.

It made me reflect on how EASY it is to get your identity so intertwined and entangled with people close to you and that you love. So much that you start to forget who you are apart from them. That happened to me with my old group of friends and I watched it happen to so many friends as they started dating and then getting married. While I don’t think Emily’s situation was necessarily unhealthy like maybe mine was, it still made me think a lot about defining who we are by who we are close with. It was enough that, when Sloane left, she realized she had no idea how to BE Emily anymore. Sloane had helped her find who she was and gotten her out of her shell but she struggled to exist apart from that.

I was friends with the same group of people from high school and then some of them even went to the same college as me and then the group came back together after we all were done college — adding in some new people that were part of our group in college who had stayed around the area. I’d say I was one of the “main” people in that group — a staple..not an outlier really if that makes sense. I loved that group of people and there was so many good times with them but I slowly started to realize I lost myself within that group. I was definitely the “different” one out of all of them and they seemed to be okay with that but I realized, in ways, they didn’t and slowly a lot of who I was slowly got snuffed out.

I remember making some new friends outside of the group and then they would say things about these new people that would make me feel like I was stupid for being friends with them yet I had FUN with these people, had great convo and had things in common. They made fun of my music. How I dressed. The guys I liked unless they were semi in the group. But it wasn’t outright mean or malicious, I’m sure it was mostly good-natured, but I kept toning things down to fit inside that group. I wanted to. I wanted to maintain being a part of that group because on campus it always seemed like our group, a group of mostly guys but a few girls, always had the most fun. I cared more about being part of that group at the time than I cared about some of those things that I gave up or pushed aside at that time — opinions, values, interests and hobbies.

I remember not knowing who to sit with if they weren’t there in the dining hall (most of them were on the men and women’s soccer team which is hilar because I’m like the least athletic person ever) and felt super timid. Or if they were all away for the weekend on a soccer trip I felt lost. I felt invincible in ways when I had the group with me. I had people. Most of my interests and plans were wrapped up in that group. I mean, I DID have other friends outside of that group and talked to A LOT of people but I never made these people a priority like I did this group. I let myself just get swallowed up by the group. Absorbed the way they thought, what they liked, how they acted, etc.

But then I started to miss those parts of me. I started to see behaviors that I didn’t actually enjoy anymore. I missed friends that I had given up for them. I was just frankly sick of a lot of things and had been hurt by some of the people and found some of it to be really unhealthy. There’s a lot more that went into it that could take me hours to tell you, and Gayle Forman’s Just One Day that honestly gave me the balls to do it, but I gave that group up slowly in 2012 but FOR REAL in January 2013. I decided to sever ties and be done. I had to…for myself. It was the right decision and I know that and I’ve even been able to be at peace about it and make amends with my bff from that group. But it was HARD.

It was like a limb had been cut off. All those instant plans…GONE. People to talk to. Years and years of memories just kind of faded. I was scared to have to make new friends because those people had known every single thing about me and knew all the things I had been through. It was easy in ways. But I was mostly scared because I knew I would have to get to know myself all over again. To remember who I was. To do the things I wanted to without group approval. Blogging, when I started in 2010, honestly was a huge catalyst in this because I found a community where I could be 100% unabashedly myself and it became the support I needed when I left the group. Made me believe in myself and help me to remember what I loved about ME and find who I was again. I had to be brave and take chances and sometimes even be uncomfortable but every time it got easier and I stopped caring about being anybody other than who I was. I let myself form my own opinions, enjoy the things I enjoyed before & now felt drawn to, become the person that was just struggling to come out in that time. It’s been scary and hard but I’ve enjoyed getting to really know myself all over again.

I saw so many friends do this in romantic relationships and regret it sometimes later and this is what I love about Will and I from day 1. We just have never done this. We are so strongly ourselves and have our own very unique identity but there is this beautiful way in which we ARE a unit. We love the things that make each other different from the other (okay I don’t LOVE the video games and he doesn’t LOVE the books but we love that we have THINGS to help us always be ourselves). I mean, sure, I would LOVE for Will to love more of the things I do and ditch a few of his interests in an ideal world but I would never want him to stop being him and lose himself. I stated this early on to Will, before we got married, that I never ever wanted to lose myself in a marriage because I saw it happen to people close to me. I never want to forget who I am.

And I think we’ve done a good job so far of encouraging each other to have our own things and to be our own people in this relationship. Never forgetting that yes we’ve become “one” in marriage but we are two hella different people with dreams and interests and opinions. And we deal with it just fine.

Will is definitely my other half  and a big part of my world but I feel absolutely a whole person whose identity isn’t just in being “Jamie and Will” but I stand strongly just as Jamie and he stands strongly as Will. And I think we make each other stronger and our marriage stronger because of that.

I just know that I don’t ever want to lose myself again in another person or group. Ever. I’d rather be alone than bend myself into something I’m not. To push away the things that make me ME. I never ever want to forget or ignore who I am. Because I rather like being me.

 

Have you ever experienced losing your identity in someone else? Witnessed a friend or family member do it? If so, how did you find yourself again? Any other thoughts on this?

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