Feelings

Hello. My name is Lexi, and I am a logical person.

I like to characterize my feelings as at a constant conflict with my mind. That is to say, it is rare that my feelings and mind will coincide.

Often, my nonsensical feelings are beaten down by the complete sense of my brain.

Perhaps that is why I do not understand how to approach feelings.

Today, I had to face feelings. It is a very long story with many personal details which I do not prefer to indulge in. Regardless, it was a prolonged meeting that had to happen eventually: and I thank God that it happened in a manner that left both parties as unscathed as possible.

As I walked back to my dormitory, I wasn’t thinking very much. That is to say, the emotional burden of five years that I had finally verbalized had yet to float to the forefront of my mind. It arrived when I reached my room, and I sat on my bed, trying not to cry.

I’m unsure why I felt the need to cry. In all accounts, the conversation went surprisingly well.

See, there I am. Being logical again.

Denying myself the emotion that I felt.

What did I feel?

Incompetent. Slimy. Empty.

I do not know how to deal with these emotions.

So my brain logically works through what happened, removing the aspects of humanity and depth. My brain sorts the entire ordeal and gives me a verdict.

But I still felt like crying.

So what am I left to do?

How do emotions work? As a teenage girl, am I expected to move from potential romantic interest to potential romantic interest in sheer moments? What constitutes a sign? Are my peers correct, that dating without the intention of marrying is okay?

What do I do if I like a guy and I can’t make sense of the long term? Do I accept the short term? What will I gain from that relationship that cannot be gleaned from a friendship?

HOW DOES ONE EVEN BEGIN TO INTERACT WITH HUMAN BEINGS OF THE OPPOSITE GENDER WITH WHICH ONE HAS NO PRIOR CONNECTION?

I don’t know.

I know my philosophies on dating are unproven. Quite unproven, as I’ve never dated at any point in my life. But logically…logically…they should be sound.

Also worth noting is my cowardice. I choose what is safe. Shawn Hunter of Boy Meets World has what is referred to as reckless spontaneity.

I have what is referred to as Cory “The Cory” Matthews. You meet a person when you’re both in strollers, you know each other unbelievably well, you fall in love, and you end up together.

Except I don’t still know any stroller buddies.

I don’t have any long-time friends, really.

So what am I to do?

Take risks?

I’d really rather not.

But perhaps that’s what I’ll have to do. Maybe, just maybe, this college experience will stretch me beyond the classroom. Maybe I’ll learn to juggle both my disciplined approach to schoolwork and friends.

Perhaps someone will teach me how to be fun.

Or maybe I’ll just stay in my room and not interact with people.

Because honestly, that seems like a solid option, too.

People have to be worth it, though.

Don’t they? I can’t honestly claim to be a writer and love characters if I cannot honestly love the people that God made.

So I guess I’m off on an adventure.

Real peril. Things I must do. Things I cannot do. Choices I have to make. Consequences I must face.

Bring it on, feelings.

(Just…take it slow for me, okay?)

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Seasons

I’m really terrible with this whole “seasons of life” thing. My brain has trouble comprehending that better things are ahead. Instead, I see everything I’m leaving behind. Everything that I feel I’m losing.

I have evidence from my life that new seasons are good. When I look back on past friendships, I miss aspects of them. But I’ve come to value newer friendships even more.

However, it is now time to shed those “newer friendships”. I’ve moving into a new season. Part of me is thrilled and ready.

Another part of me is devastated. So many of my friends are moving to new places, whether with their families or through college. So many of my friends have already gone to college, have already left me.

know great things are ahead. I know it. But I don’t feel it in my heart.

It’s just like Quinn and Erin are experiencing in my newest book, Swoop.

Quinn’s tears broke into laugher. “No, Erin. I’m not questioning the move. No matter how much I don’t want to, I know it’s right.”

“But we’re going to lose so much,” Erin murmured. “All of our friends. Our house. Our family. Our church.”

Quinn’s lips quivered into a smile. “But we don’t know what we’re going to gain.”

“What?” Erin coughed.

“Think about it, Erin,” Quinn’s smile grew into a grin. “We aren’t totally losing our friends and family. We’ll see them again. But what’s going to happen to us when we get to Maryland? We’re going to be blessed in ways we can’t even imagine.”

“So it isn’t going to be hard?” Erin asked, doubt creeping into her voice.

“No, there will be hardships, of course,” Quinn choked. “But there will be favor, too. Blessings. That’s exciting, isn’t it?”

Hugging Etiquette

Here’s the hard truth. Hugging is awkward. I mean, momentarily linking two bodies by the arms doesn’t always end up the way you imagine it. Where should you put your face? How much pressure should you apply? How long is an appropriate hug? Is patting on the back acceptable?

Any way you wrap it, hugs are hard. So, I wrote you a guide on different hugs and the scenarios that they can be used in.

The Side Hug

Side hugs are the best way to say, “Hey, you. I want to express our friendship, but I’m not totally comfortable with a full hug, so I’m going to awkwardly snake my arm around you and bump hips.” They are very popular with youth groups, especially between the genders. If you aren’t totally comfortable giving that bro/gal a hug, even if it’s an arm-flapper, the side hug is your best bet.

The best thing about the side hug is that the intent can’t be mistaken. There’s no way to really change a side hug. It means what it means. It feels how it feels. It looks how it looks. If you choose a side hug, you don’t have to worry about anything. (Except possibly breaking a heart if the person who initiated the hug wasn’t going for that.)

To Be Used For: friends of friends; acquaintances; awkward situations

To Be Used By: anyone

The Arm-Flapper

This is a common girl hug. In the movies, it’s usually accompanied by exaggerated cheek kisses and the “mwah” sound effect. This is a nice alternative to the side hug if you’re comfortable with the person you’re hugging, but you don’t really want to…touch them. Essentially, you just flap your arms around them briefly, to the point that it almost isn’t a hug. (It could be the next new dance craze.)

The arm-flapper offers little contact. However, it is difficult to determine on sight. Girls give arm-flapper hugs in all types of attire, and at any time or event. If the person who initiated the hug is arm flapping, try to be courteous and hug them in the same manner. It is reassuring to note, however, that most girls hug the same way, regardless of who they are hugging (except for special exceptions, such as best friends; but if you’re her best friend, you know how you two hug).

To Be Used For: friends of friends; friends; gross boys

To Be Used By: girls, mostly

The Bro Hug

This is the standard boy hug. When a man hugs another man, there is excessive patting on the back. This is what makes the hug a bro hug. There is plenty of contact, to the point that they can sometimes lift each other. Regardless, the bro hug is a very friendly hug (as the word “bro” would suggest). Its intent is to communicate friendship and brotherhood.

If you’re a dude going up to greet another dude and he moves in for a hug, don’t worry! There will be patented bro hug patting, guaranteed. However, guys do not normally hug girls and pat them. (Unless the girl is crying and he does not have any sense of how to comfort her, so he begins to pat her back in a desperate effort to make the tears stop.)

To Be Used For: bros

To Be Used By: bros

The Hug

For lack of a better word, the hug is…well…a hug. It has a normal amount of pressure, goes on for a normal amount of time, and communicates the normal meaning of a hug: you matter. There’s no extra theatrics or fireworks. It’s a pretty basic hug.

However, do not be fooled by its apparent simplicity. The hug has a million variables, despite its average predictability, and these variables lead to questions and mistakes. A common blunder is which direction your head should go. In a hug, your face is situated at a place where you can see the back of their head. But do you go left or right? Left or right? Left or right?! It can sometimes be a paralyzing question, but it’s best to just pick a side and go with it. If the person you’re hugging realizes your faces are about to meet, they’ll quickly adjust with a “deer in headlights” look in their eye.

To Be Used For: friends; family reunions; sentimental graduations

To Be Used By: anyone, provided they can figure out where to put their face

The Tackle

This is another common girl hug, reserved for special occasions. It is very similar to the hug, except it exceeds the normality of the hug. The tackle offers more pressure, lasts longer, and sometimes knocks the wind out of you. Depending on the relative sizes of those engaged in the tackle, it is almost the equivalent of getting sacked. (But a happy sacked, like, “I’m so happy to see you, I hope you didn’t need that oxygen in your lungs” kind of way.)

The unfortunate thing about the tackle is that it usually happens to you, instead of being a mutual understanding between two parties that they are going to engage in physical contact. One moment, everything is normal, and the next–you’ve been tackled. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of your attacker out of your peripheral vision. Even if the tackle leaves you gasping, it is a sure way to gauge that your friend is really glad to see you.

To Be Used For: best friends; long-awaited homecomings; scaring the life out of people

To Be Used By: anyone with proper caution

The Squeeze

This hug means the same thing as squeezing someone’s hand: you love ’em. It’s just a way of communicating a little extra love. Unfortunately, some people do not like to be squeezed. For people who use arm-flapping as their standard hug, the squeeze is rather jolting, despite its good intentions.

Logic would dictate that if the one who initiated the hug is squeezing, that the one being hugged should squeeze back. However, logic fails to include the awkwardness of hugs. This is why, despite who initiates the hug, it should always fall back to the least degree of contact. Hugs are awkward to begin with. There’s no need to force someone to have more contact with you than they’d prefer.

To Be Used For: crying children, yours or otherwise; best friends; emotional moments

To Be Used By: friends; Romans; countrymen

 

I hope this guide was informative and helpful. Did I forget any basic hug types? What kind of hugger are you? Do you have any awkward hug stories? Because I sure do!

(Once, I saw a pair of siblings at Robotics for the first time in a week. I shouted the sister’s name excitedly and wrapped her up in a “the hug”. Her brother then moved in for the same treatment, and I quickly slid to his side to “the side hug” him. Shut down.)

(Another time, I was advertising for a Robotics car wash along the side of the road. A classmate I hadn’t seen in years happened to be in town that day and came to see me after recognizing me along the road. He tried to hug me. I quietly freaked out and shut that down, as well.)

Threes Are Traitors

This past week was one of my last FIRST Robotics Competitions. Next week will be my final one, unless we win and attend Championships. It was an intense emotional roller coaster of failures and successes. I have never had a smoother scouting program than this past week, and each of my scouters did excellent in their own way.

When I think back on this weekend, I do not want to be negative, as I am often prone to be. I don’t want to focus on the mistakes that cost us our win, or the system of ranking that doesn’t seem to make sense. I want to remember our captain coming to the stands to tell me that teams were happy to be in matches with us, even though our rankings showed us to be a poorly performing team. The smooth motion of a mustard-colored gear sliding up a jiggling peg under the steady hand of our pilot. Dancing in my seat next to my friends. Being the first team picked for playoffs outside of the top eight ranked teams. Most importantly, many games of Fish Go.

I want to remember sitting in the third floor hallway, shuffling cards with my friends and trying to muffle the giggles that came from many sleep-deprived nights and the exhaustion that our responsibilities bestow.

I don’t know why a simple game of cards (or countless games of cards) is so important to me. I won’t remember who lost or who won. But they feel significant. Sitting on a strangely patterned carpet in a hotel hallway for over an hour with a mix of exhaustion induced laughter, serious thought, and grave game-play errors is important to me.

Aces are our favorites, except for the twos who take them.
Threes are traitors.
Fours and sevens stick together, unless they meet a ten.
Fives run off with face cards frequently.
Sixes do the same.
The eight of hearts will always be the most valuable to us, even though we aren’t sure why.
It’s hard to lose a nine.
When you both lay down Jacks, Queens, or Kings, the tension runs for the one, two, three, flip.
Especially when you lose your ace to a two.

How to Alienate a Girl

I had low expectations going in, not going to lie. Still, I will never turn down the opportunity to spend time with a friend: especially not in this season of life. Despite my fears and dread, I decided to do this. Although, I wasn’t expecting too much.

I’ve known the guy for years. I’d never met him because of the nature of the cyber-charter school, but I knew him. In sophomore year, we worked very well together on a project. He was fun, engaging, and friendly. I knew all about who he was and what he planned on doing some day.

Then junior year began, and he didn’t treat me very kindly. I don’t mean to be rude, but I honestly didn’t know what was the matter with him. He would constantly poke and jab at me, offering derogatory comments–usually regarding something I was already insecure about. I didn’t know why, but I remembered the guy from sophomore year, so I pushed on. I told my one friend who questioned my pushing that “I don’t give up on friendships”.

Perhaps I should have.

Senior year was a mess. He never tried to talk to me. Never asked about me. Never started a conversation. He would simply answer a question within a week or so of my contacting him. So when I had the opportunity to see him, for the first time, I knew it wasn’t going to be great. But I remembered the guy from sophomore year. He was great. The senior version of him wasn’t as wonderful, but maybe that sophomore kid was still in there, somewhere.

Despite my low expectations, the evening was even worse than I had anticipated. I didn’t think that there was much he could do to make the entire situation even worse for me, but he found a way.

And now, I don’t want to be his friend. I have given up on that friendship. I have no idea where that sophomore boy went, but I miss him. I wish he was still around. And I wish I could have met him before he disappeared.

Cherish your friendships before they change. Sometimes the people you care about will disappear when you aren’t looking. By then, it’s too late to get them back.

Conversational Addict

I don’t know what it is about me, but I really enjoy getting to know people. I love to hear what makes up a person. Their likes, dislikes; hobbies and interests; talents and passions. It fascinates me, that I can get to know another human being.

Naturally, when I meet someone new, I’m bursting with questions for them. I can hardly handle waiting to know something as simple as their favorite school subject or what they enjoy in their spare time.

In the same way, I’m touched when they take the effort to return the question to me. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that anyone else is like me: that anyone else would want to know what I’m like and who I am.

That said, they rarely take that effort, and I settle myself with a pleasant question-and-answer routine, until I feel I know the person, at least from their perspective. It brings me a lot of joy.

But then it ends.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t get bored with people. However, I feel they get bored with me. Conversations which used to boast at least thirty minutes of good back-and-forth are reduced to about twenty minutes of my prodding and their shrugging.

I don’t mind it so much. Sure, it hurts when someone you were getting to know chooses to ignore you. There’s some pain when you realize they have no intention of knowing you as a person.

But there’s always someone new to talk to.

I’m unsure whether my enjoyment of conversation is healthy or unhealthy. I do know that for others, it can be absolutely exhausting. So, I try to take the time to appreciate the conversation I receive from those who are more reserved than I am, along with those who talk just as much as I do.

Why I’m Not Entirely Hating College Anymore

If you keep up with my blog, you’re well aware of my apprehension towards college and higher education in general. I’ve poured out a lot of my feelings, frustrations, and fears into this blog. However, in the recent month, I’ve been almost warming up to college. Here’s a couple of reasons why.

1) New Experiences.

At first, I didn’t like the idea of new experiences. I’m one of those people who has a great fear of the unknown. However, I’m coming to realize that most of what I’m involved with is going to slip away after this year, and what am I going to spend all my time on? Certainly not Robotics. Definitely not camp. I’ve got to start something new to make up for my lack of busyness.

2) Spiritual Growth.

Complete honesty right now: I’m not in a place in my life where I feel like I’m growing a lot in my faith. There, I said it. My spiritual environment has been really weird this fall; I’ve missed a lot of church because I’ve been serving at camp, and my youth group has all but stopped meeting. Not that youth group was an incredibly spiritually growing environment in the first place, but it was something. I’m ready to be around like-minded people and really grow. (This isn’t to say I can’t use the opportunities God is giving me right now to grow. I don’t believe He’s holding me in some kind of “in-between place” where I can’t grow. I need to make the best of the opportunities He gives me.)

3) New Friends.

This may be the thing I’m most excited for, which is kind of funny to me, but it’s totally true: I’m thrilled to be making new friends. As I look over my life so far, I’ve noticed that a lot of my childhood friends aren’t really my friends any longer. Most people I’ve known for this season of my life will be slipping away sooner rather than later. I’m ready to meet some forever friends, guys! If anyone has read the Christy Miller books, you know the kind of friends I mean. I’m so excited to meet some people who will be a part of my life for the rest of my life. I need best friends, and college will give me a way to get that.

All this said, I’m also kind of concerned about how this is going to play out. I’ve been accepted into two colleges thus far, but I haven’t been earnestly seeking where God wants me to go. I guess we’ll find out where He puts me when He tells me. His timing, not mine.

Also, it feels great to use contractions again. All I’ve been writing lately is formal essays for my AP Language class, and contractions are hugely a no-no. I’ll have to return again soon to revel in my literary freedom.

Friendship Crisis

I came to the realization yesterday that if I were to stop putting effort into my friendships, I would only have about two or three left. That was rather sobering, to realize that so few of the people I call “friend” actually contribute to what is considered “friendship”.

As an only child, friendship has always been important to me. I cherish relationships with people. However, most of these relationships are rather one-sided. I’ve always been more than happy to do more than my share of the upkeep. Right now, though, I’m not sure if I’m alright with that anymore.

I have a couple of people who can’t contribute anything to a conversation. They simply laugh after everything I say, and when I try to turn the topic to them, they shrug and say that they have nothing new to share. Others only have one way to communicate with me, and they realize it; however, they choose not to check it frequently enough to actually talk. Some turn the topic of conversation continuously to themselves, even when you’re trying to speak to them about something.

It’s utterly exhausting, trying to keep everything straight. It’s even more frustrating to not have anyone to talk to.

At this rate, I’ll be thrilled to go to college by spring, considering I might actually meet people interested in friendship.

I don’t feel that I’m too unreasonable. However, it could be that my relationship ideals only exist and thrive in a fictional setting. That would be greatly disappointing.

So here I sit. Desperate for conversation, but with no one to talk to. If I email them, will they answer me within a week? Say they answer my message, but they only sending laughing emojis after each thought of mine? Or maybe I’ll try to communicate something important to me and they’ll want to talk about coats.

Perhaps I need to dial back my sense of humor. As much as I enjoy my class clown image, it may be more beneficial for friendship to be less hilarious.

NaNoWriMo Jitters

Here I sit. One hour until National Novel Writing Month officially begins. My sixth attempt; I am historically successfully.

And I am terrified.

All I have been able to say about this for the past two days is “I’m not ready”. And I haven’t been able to say it to anyone. So I turn to you, dear reader, in the absence of anyone who cares to understand my severe apprehension.

I have the plot ready, so that isn’t my problem. In fact, I’m rather excited for this story. In my last book, my characters experienced the tough parts of growing up. Now, they’re experiencing some of the more exciting elements. I have a more simplified plot, along with starting and ending places.

I think my characters are ready. I know what has happened to everyone in the last year. Where they have stumbled and struggled; where they have grown. I’m excited for them, yet also heartbroken. I’ve designed this plot to be the end of this “Toner World” I created. The end of my childhood stories.

Is that what’s bugging me? It’s my senior year. I have so much on my plate, and everything is about to change. Oh, for crying out loud, everything is changing. Everything is already changed. I don’t have any best friends; I have responsibilities in every part of my life; I’m growing up.

I want to be excited to jump back into this world. And as I begin to talk about it, I’m getting excited.

Is that my problem? I don’t have anyone to talk to? And it’s not that I don’t have anyone to talk to—it’s that the people I talk to don’t care about my writing. For goodness sake, today I tried to bring up my writing to my one friend, and they said “dun dun dun”. That isn’t conversation. That’s a sound effect. I can contribute those on my own.

Am I so sick of not having anyone care? Is it manifesting in this upset bubble of “not ready”?

Actually, someone does care. I received the sweetest, most encouraging card the other day. They care.

Well, there’s one.

I guess I’m just in an odd place right now. For example, I’ve been growing out my hair since I was ten years old. But I’m in such a need for a change, I have an appointment in a few days to chop it off.

Do I need change? I know I’m sick of maintaining my long hair. I’m sick of a lot of things.

I guess what’s important is, I’m excited to wake up tomorrow and reenter the world of my characters. For the last time. The last November.

At least they care what happens to them.

And I love them for it.

Some Things Never Change.

Today, my Robotics team moved out of the building we’ve met in since our infancy into a new, larger space. In fact, we also held an Open House on the same day. I was out of my home from 8:30 AM to 9:30 PM. It was a humongous day.

I’m the only remaining member who’s been around since year one. I remember the first time I walked into that building. I sat at a table in the middle of the room. The place was nearly empty. Along the walls, there were giant pieces of paper stuck, complete with scribbles. The members were doing some kind of exercise, but I knew that I wanted to be there.

Over the years, we’ve accumulated a lot of junk. Never been quite so immaculate as that first year. Until today.

I remember when he joined the team; one of two members still remaining from year two. I went to school with him, and I was terrified to approach him and ask his name. Four years of friendship has taken care of that problem.

His first year, we went around and labeled everything in the building that belonged to us. All we needed was a label-maker and sufficient tape. Those labels lasted a long while. Today, as we were marking our territory, things had changed. We no longer have the label-maker. Yet, there he went, printing out signs and posting them with blue tape. I took a few moments to help him. I guess some things never do change.

I got kind of choked up today, as I turned off the lights. Nobody else was. Everyone was happy to be out of that basement space; the regulations and peeling paint. All I could see were the memories I’d had there.

The time that Justin ran backwards down the hall with his glass of tea. Chuck’s coffee cup. Cutting wood in the hallway, and scaring someone with my odd questions. Sitting in the windowsills. The bag of bag of bag of bags. Tripping over a vacuum cord and almost doing a face-plant into the carpet. Pulling out one final chair, and releasing the rest to clatter onto the floor. Labeling tools for hours with duct tape; strategy meetings in the kitchen; silly pictures of drinking hot chocolate. Scouting game shows and improvising with chairs. Sharpie massages, birthday cakes, pounding the bubbles out of a plastic mold set. Karen’s preference for PB&J to a hot meal.

My friend, dancing on a picnic table. Chasing the ducks by the hatchery. Testing our shooters in the yard, while little boys scurried to gather the fallen frisbees. Patrick throwing a ball at my head. Pictures while eating, laughing while eating, sitting together while eating. A little boy’s bet of a Kindle to the winner of an arm-wrestling match. Strategy lessons, reading in the fireplace, trying to sew together our bumpers. Our hushed conversation in the place where the chairs sit. Pizza deliveries; kick-off day buzz; the ring of the doors when they were left open. Standing outside in the bitter cold, while Jared wore his shorts. Pounding on the door to be let in; keys knocking on the windows.

Following my friend for a job to help clean up. Our squirrels, Crook and Nanny, who chased each other around the tree. His promise for the functionality; Josiah’s hiding from the camera; naming everything we ever saw, including Oscar the Spork (who was actually a spoon). Trying not to cry in the bathroom. Vacuuming and vacuuming up sawdust, hoping to keep things clean for only a minute. Our first fight; him cutting in the hallway; my cousin throwing a frisbee just to spite me. Writing notes and notes for meeting after meeting. When she accidentally hit the light-switch and created the perfect lair lighting for filming. Writing stories and articles in the corners of dark rooms. Being hushed; ironing fabric; rewriting lyrics for questionable songs that we didn’t want in our heads. Sitting on the steps, sharing cookies. Silly conversations about boys and dances. Rolling my eyes equally with and at my friend. Vader the puppy and Sable the puppy. Captain Safety scripts in the hallway.

So much of me and my friends are invested in that building. While I’m thankful for new space, I still hurt. The new is exciting, but the old is special.