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.)

Sense and Sensibilities

I often see myself in fictional characters, especially older, timeless ones. Most prominently, I see myself as Jo March from Little Women (which I know is a common sentiment among young girls, but for me it’s true). However, in the recent months, I’ve also recognized myself in another character: Elinor Dashwood.

It has been almost a year since I listened to Sense and Sensibility, and I don’t remember if I felt any particular similarities to this character at the time. I do know, however, that I am sensible and logical, nearly to a fault.

In the same way that Marianne Dashwood is quite emotionally driven, many of my friends are engaged in relationships and are incredibly emotional. They process with their hearts and feelings, jumping into situations that make me ponder whether they were thinking at all.

On the other hand, I don’t even know what to say to them when they describe their situations to me. I have no ability to comfort them in their distress. My brain simply tells me that this shouldn’t be a problem in the first place.

I think through things logically. I use reason to understand feelings, and am sensible enough to know when I’m not truly being reasonable. In matters of the heart, when my friends are sighing over haircuts and eyes, I’m cataloging memories and evaluating them.

It makes me sound heartless when I am not. I am a very emotional creature. When someone upsets me, it may take me hours…days…weeks…months to speak to them again. However, these grudges usually dissolve when I reason with myself.

It is a strange battle I strike in myself as my heart sometimes aches, and my brain chides its shortcomings. A fight between deep emotions and “You know better.”

I can’t imagine what it would be like to operate fully in my emotions. I don’t know what I would do without my logical reasoning. Is this why so many teenagers are engaged in silly, thoughtless relationships? Is this why they claim to love each other? Is this why hearts are broken when these bonds inevitably break?

It seems that sensibility needs a slap of reality every now and then. Then again, nothing but logical evaluation is no way to live.

Life’s Tough, Get a Helmet

This Robotics competition was rough. The day before we had to leave, I got sick. The ride to Cleveland was five hours and the hotel room was infinitely smaller than the last one. I couldn’t play cards with my friends because I’d spread my germs everywhere. Best of all, anyone who heard I was sick and knew of medicines was giving me advice.

I went in for a little bit on practice day, but ended up overdoing it and missing all of qualification day. I sat in bed, watching matches via live stream and texting our captain strategies to use for our matches.

Oh, our matches. We had such hope going into this competition. We really did have a great robot this year. On practice day, we had two incredibly successful, high scoring matches in a row. It was like a sign that this was finally our time.

It wasn’t. Every match we participated in during qualifying was stacked against us ridiculously. No matter what we did to be successful, one of our alliance partners would cause our loss. We had virtually no ranking points, even though we were in the top ten scorers out of sixty teams at any point during the qualification matches.

The number one ranked alliance picked the other best robot on the field and left the rest of us with no course of action. No matter what alliances we put together, it wouldn’t be able to defeat the top two robots.

When I think of it that way, our losing both of our quarter-final matches doesn’t seem so awful. But again, we did all that we could and our alliance-mates let us down.

So, now the competition season is over, and with it, my time in Robotics.

Cleveland was certainly a ride.

But hey, life’s tough, get a helmet.

life's-tough-get-a-helmet

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.

A Daily Dose of Crushing Reality

I’m struggling a great deal right now. It’s senior year. This is the year that I have to determine what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.

And I know what I want to do. I want to write. I want to pen novels, create characters, weave stories. Share these works with kids who will look at them with wonder. This is my passion. I’ve been developing it all of my life.

All I want to do is find the next step in developing that. High school graduation is synonymous with college, so I’m trying to find a school that will provide what I need to grow as a writer. I want to have a better understanding of creative writing, as well as grammar, usage, and mechanics. There are other skills I want to develop further, such as public speaking and video editing.

However, a few days ago, I was effectively hit with the crushing reality that I cannot survive on my passion. Not only have all my research efforts been inconclusive, but I’m unable to live on writing. By the time I’m out of high school, I will have published five, if not six, published novels. But they aren’t popular by any stretch of the imagination. Three of them are works of a child. Three show marked improvement, but no one reads them. No one enjoys them, except a select few people who know me.

I have another series I’ve been developing for a year. I’m anxious to write it, to share it with people. Yet, I won’t be able to survive. I don’t possess the funds to traditionally publish them.

Now, I’m forced to consider other options. Other things to do with my life.

Can you even begin to understand the crushing frustration of knowing what you want to do with your life, and wanting to improve yourself; yet there is no opening for you to do so? And then you are forced to decide what you will do with the rest of your life; something that you aren’t passionate about?

It would be different if I didn’t know what I wanted to do. If I didn’t have something I am incredibly passionate about and have seen myself pursuing for the rest of my life.

But I do. And I instead must put aside my greatest passions and look for something else; all for money, and having enough to live.

I have cried more than four times this week. There is so much anger and frustration pent up inside of me. I’m furious. I’m disappointed. I’m heartbroken. I’m disgusted.

And I have no idea how to help myself.

Parodies

Once upon a time, I found I possessed the skills required to write decent parodies. Granted, they aren’t perfect; they don’t always feature rhyme schemes, and occasional words must be sung rapidly. But I manage to tell a story; a new story with old music. I think that’s rather cool.

Because I think that’s cool, I write parodies more often than I should. “Why, Lexi,” you ask. “More often than you should? What’s that supposed to mean? That’s great that you can write them, you should write them all the time, just to have them.”

Yeah. Wouldn’t it be awesome if my brain worked that way?

Instead, my brain decides that we need to play it on guitar.

And after we learn how to play it, we practice it.

After we’ve mastered it, we record it on our phones and share it with people.

After we have a basic recording, we want to record it for real.

When we record it for real, we want to mix the audio nicely.

Once that’s done, we want to make a video to accompany it.

You see how this works?

No matter what it is, I end up putting an incredible amount of effort and passion into things. I can’t just write a song and think, “Huh, that’s cool.” No, my brain will not rest until it has finished the project. This leads to unfortunate lapses of sanity, as I latch onto multiple projects and try to see them to completion all at once.

For example, I published a book recently and am making efforts to market that. Meanwhile, I’m pondering what I’ll be doing for NaNoWriMo this year and doing tiny spurts of research. Yet, I’m dividing another share of time to another series I’m working on planning out.

Four different plans of my own for Robotics are fighting for my attention, while several other necessary aspects of being a part of the leading committee are also tugging at me. Occasionally, camp will lean in and whisper a remind in my ear of something I need to be doing. School has started its incessant pounding and pulling; and smaller, enjoyable responsibilities begin to adopt the role of “chore”.

Welcome to the creative mind.

I Was In the TV

About two weeks ago, I saw a link on Facebook. It was for an “Author Spotlight” on a show called Good Day PA; and the lady featured had written a children’s book. My friend who does my covers had illustrated one of her books, and I watched the interview for fun.

Then I saw the button. “BE A GUEST”, it said.

Well, how can you not listen to a button like that?

I clicked it, and followed the consequent steps to possibly appearing in this segment of their show. One mailed package and several emails led to another, and I was scheduled to appear on August 25th, 2016.

This might be a fun time to mention that I had yet to figure out this was a live broadcast, and just because there was no studio audience didn’t mean that it was pre-recorded.

But anyway.

I got there an hour after I wanted to be–and technically a half an hour later than they’d asked me to–but I’d emailed while I was stuck in a miserable interstate traffic jam to let them know what was going on, and they were very gracious about it.

So I sat. Nervous. Terrified, even; in a little conference room with professional, older women who had official businesses or doctorates. And I tried not to be incredibly stressed and panicked.

But all went well, dear readers! I think I did rather okay. If you’d like to see my interview, the link is right here.

They misspelled my name, but I’ll forgive ’em.

“Just Another Book”

I often feel this is the attitude people take with me. Lexi published another book, look at that. Way to go. I might read it if you give me a copy.

While writing does get “easier” with practice, I find each book just as miraculous as the first. I remember publishing my first book. Everything was new and exciting, and it was thrilling. This may not be “new”, but it’s still exciting, is it not?

Steady didn’t just appear on my computer, and the cover didn’t just spawn from the ground. It took hard work to write, hard work to edit, and hard work to publish. I wasn’t the only one working towards getting this book on the market.

So, here it is. Midnight, and I’ve published another book. I refuse to look upon this with monotony. This is a beautiful thing! The cover is lovely, thanks to my dear friend; and it’s free of errors, thanks to several other people.

I hope you’ll take the time to look into it. This book is dear to me, because my characters are growing up. When I was first designing the plot, it was depressing for me, because they’ve been my babies for so long. The book itself isn’t depressing, but it was hard for me, in some cases.

If you’ve read any of my other books, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.

Camping, and Working, and Camping, Oh My!

When I started this summer, I knew one thing was certain: I was going to be extremely busy. I would be at camp working three weeks and as a camper one week; and when I wasn’t at camp, I would be babysitting.

The first week of camp was a media week. I’ve been working in the media assistant position for years, and it was an easy week, for the most part. Week 2, I was a junior counselor.

Now, to understand the enormity of that statement, you have to know that I haven’t been in a cabin since my first summer working. This is my fourth summer. The one time I was in a cabin was as a Counselor in Training, before I became ill and consequently couldn’t be in cabins,

So, my first experience as an official junior counselor was in my last summer working. And goodness, was it an experience. I had eight girls in my cabin, and it was a struggle-filled week. None of them seemed interested in learning about God or faith. There was extreme spiritual warfare going on. The single great bright spot was one of them accepting God for the first time.

Only a few weeks later, I was put in a cabin again, with one of my closest friends as my senior. This week seemed to go exponentially better. Every girl already had a relationship with Christ, and the vast majority were hungry for God and for growth. It went superbly. Much of the week was encouraging them to join the same program I am in at camp. All but two are applying.

And then this past week, I was a camper. The second I walked in the door, I sensed something was off. And it was that moment that I decided I didn’t want to be at camp. I was thrilled to be there for chapel, but that was all. God put it on my heart that I was to be ministering to the other girls in my cabin, whether I wanted to be there or not. Just because I wasn’t staff didn’t mean I wasn’t still a servant of God.

Long story short, our cabin went into a time of extreme spiritual warfare towards the end of the week. I told you I sensed something off when I came inside the cabin–and that “off” thing was the devil in the spiritual realm. Our girls banded together to pray into the lives of one of our sisters-in-Christ, and it was powerful.

Then I came home and crashed.

Camp was an adventure this summer, but I certainly grew.