Petty Woman: On Growing Back Together After Growing Apart

Petty Woman…walkin’ down the street, Petty Woman…oh wait, that was me.

Advice Shoes

In my experience, there is a phase with women friends, particularly sorority girls, that around the time you graduate college you start “growing apart” from people who challenge you. As free time gets more precious, you choose to spend what little you have on the ones who never make you worry about protecting yourself. These friends are pure gold. They make you feel good about yourself, they cushion the bumpy parts of life, and they know you for the layers you’ve accumulated through years of experiences, not just what the people who meet you now see. I am blessed to have a large group of friends like this and we are closer than ever. They have my heart. I will always be loyal to them.

But what happens to the other friends? The ones who really did mean something to you when you were starting out adulthood, but you had minor falling-outs that through time and distance turned into completely losing touch?

The 20-something ego is like a balloon. The more inflated it gets, the more fragile it becomes. When your balloon gets too big, you have to start avoiding anything potentially sharp or rough. I’m talking specifically about relationships here.

Personally, my brain is geared toward a black and white viewpoint. I naturally see things in such stark contrast that it can be difficult for me to discern the little gray areas in between. This has made me exceptionally loyal to the friends that are still in my life, but it also made me overly dismissive of friends who were going through something I didn’t understand at the time. I see now that I spent a few years on a high horse, thinking that I was seeing things clearly but I didn’t recognize the temporary gray areas when black and white didn’t line up exactly.

Now I’m 30 years old and could not have guessed the surprise life had in store for me this decade. Meaningful girlfriends are trickling back into my life; people that I’ve missed greatly and didn’t even realize it until they came back. I’ve noticed that a lot of my girlfriends I went to college with are growing back together. I think part of it is that we want the world to be a kinder place to our children. We want our daughters and sons to look for the gray areas. We want them to see that sometimes people are just going through a thing. It’s their own thing, not about anyone else. We shouldn’t let our ego get so big and fragile that we can’t see around it.

I’ve had this conversation with a few of my girlfriends and it seems like when you turn 30 you realize how unique the opportunity was to forge relationships at a time when you were all on your own figuring out your personality for the first time without your parents. When you are friends with someone you LIVE with, eat with, go out drinking with, stay in and do nothing with, talk all night with, sit in comfortable silence with, cry with, occasionally bicker with, and laugh with, you know each other in a way no one else can. Some of the girls I lived with in college and right after know more about me than my husband does. Mainly because he doesn’t watch reality TV and I don’t discuss my weight, grooming, ex-boyfriends, or digestion with him…so that kills like 80% of my favorite girl-talk topics right there.

When I think about my ego balloon now, it has considerably deflated in the past 10 years. It takes up less space in my life now. It’s stronger and more flexible. I don’t shy away from people who challenge my version of myself. I own the fact that a lot of my disappointments in friendships were self-inflicted because I chose to protect my big, fragile ego instead of looking past it for gray areas that would help me understand.

I would like to know…have you experienced this? Do you have friends that are back in your life after years of hiatus? Has an old friend apologized to you? Have you apologized to them? Any thoughts from the Men? Please share if you’ve gone through this too.

I’ll leave you with some Pinterest quotes that really speak to my frame of mind in 2015:

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Advice 2

Ode to 2003 + a playlist

I recently saw on Facebook that my college Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois is planning a major renovation which includes demolishing Hessler Hall where I lived for one glorious semester in 2003. So I started looking back…

ode to 2003

I’m open about the fact that I ended up at Millikin because I pathetically followed my High School boyfriend to college. He got a scholarship and went to play football there and when I went on a campus visit with him I just loved it. I already had a roommate assignment at a different college but somehow I got out of it and into the Freshman Honors Program at Millikin. Ironically, my husband also went on a visit to Millikin University to check out their football team but we didn’t run into eachother because at that time I was in Junior High. This is why, when he brings up his college days, I like to shout, “tell us a story, Grandpa!” It’s hilarious and adorable every time. (To me.)

Anyway, it didn’t work out with the freshman year boyfriend but that year I did actually meet not one, but TWO loves of my life…these little biscuits right here, aka Lauren and Jess. Aren’t they pretty? The stories I could tell. Gosh I love them so much.

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I’ll do a brief, self-indulgent synopsis. Lauren and I met where a lot of blonde sorority girls meet…in remedial math class. I had gotten up early to hot roll my hair and pick out my “Millikin Blue” sweater which I wore with majorly tight, verging on bell-bottom pants and sandals. She was wearing overalls with a black T-shirt and Tommy Hilfiger socks.  And since it was an early class she was really grumpy. Also she may have been hungover. I thought she was the coolest person in the world. I still do.

I met Jessica when we both pledged Tri Delta. I didn’t know her well at all when she came up to me one day in the cafeteria and announced that she thought I should break up with my boyfriend. She said she could just tell from her observations that it wasn’t really working out. I thought she was slightly crazy and a little rude. I was also completely amused and couldn’t wait to find out what she was going to say out loud next. To this day, I still feel that way about her.

Back to Hessler…

There were 8 of us girls from my pledge class who lived there in 2003, including Lauren and Jess. If you put my funny stories in a pie chart I think like 20% would be from those 4 months in Hessler Hall.

So for a very special #TBT Tribute to Hessler Hall, here is my 2003 Nostalgia Play List. May it take you back to a simpler time. A time when Nick and Jessica were Newlyweds. A time when Tina and Amy were still on SNL. A time when we wore logos on butts.

Happy #TBT 2003 Playlist:

Get Low by Lil’ Jon

In Da Club by 50 Cent

Ignition by R. Kelly

Picture by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crowe

Shake Ya Tailfeather by Nelly

Cry Me A River by Justin Timberlake

The Remedy by Jason Mraz

 

Pinterest DJ Enzyme

 

 

 

Unsolicited Graduation Advice from your overbearing Aunt

(And it’s not even Thanksgiving!)

I’ve been seeing Graduation stuff everywhere lately and it’s got me reflecting. It’s literally been 12 years since I graduated from High School. It’s gone by in the blink of an eye. Just yesterday I was this classy, ambitious young coed with nothing but academic promise and career achievements ahead of me:

The 80’s (theme dances) were a crazy party time for all of us. Fun fact, one of the people in this picture is now a doctor and one is a successful sales manager. The other one writes a blog. 

Now I’m just a washed up, bedraggled mother of two. Sometimes I don’t even have time to put on my mom jeans*…

(*I can’t post a picture of how I really look during the day on the off chance my husband reads my blog.)

Anyway, I recently came across a file on my computer of the letter I gave to my nephew when he started his Freshman year of college. I have modified it slightly but I will share it with you now in case you know any young grads who could use some tough love advice. Also, what do you wish someone would have told you about college when you graduated from High School? Feel free to comment with your I-wish-someone-told-me’s!

Dearest nephew:

It wasn’t that long ago that I was in college and there are a few things I want to tell you.

  1. College is the first place where your success is really up to you. You are on your own. Your professors are nothing like your high school teachers. They don’t know your parents or your potential and the only thing they care about is that you respect them enough to show up and participate. College classes are technically the “reason” that you go to college, yet they have little to do with what you will remember about your four years there. I will tell you a secret…college classes aren’t that hard as long as you show up. Challenge yourself to have perfect attendance and pay attention. You will be shocked at how much your peers struggle with this concept of not skipping class. They will wonder how school is so “easy” for you because no one told them that it really is and they don’t show up or pay attention enough to notice for themselves.  I will say again, you are completely on your own. No one cares if you go to class or not. The only person you can rely on to keep you on the path toward success is yourself. You have nothing better to do with your daytime hours than to show up at class. Every day. Decide right now that it’s a priority and your academic career will be smooth sailing from day one.
  2. Protect your reputation (both now and in the future.) One of the magical things about college is that no one knows anything about each other. No one knows if you were popular in middle school, what kind of house you grew up in, who your parents are, or who you’ve dated. If you want to keep it that way, then by all means, only share what you want to share. But never lie or be ashamed of the experiences you have gone through to make you the person you are today.
  3. Protect the reputations of others. This may come as a shock to you, but you are going to meet a lot of girls at college and many of them will not act like ladies. Some of them will have no self-respect and no sense of self worth, and the sad thing is they don’t even know it yet because they are on their own for the first time too. Please learn to recognize this and don’t take advantage of it even when the opportunity is tempting. Remind yourself that every girl you meet is someone’s Avery. Be a gentleman and treat them with respect even when they don’t ask for it or deserve it. In your choice of lady, be selective. Be discriminating. Dare I say, be classy.
  4. When things get too heavy or dramatic, rely on your sense of humor. Be self-deprecating and you will never lack for friends. This will actually make you more confident. Good comedians know this and use it to make people feel comfortable around them. Don’t ever use your wit to make people laugh at someone else’s expense.
  5. Be goofy, ridiculous, and spontaneous, but don’t do anything illegal. You have a target on your back. There are bitter people out there who are just waiting for you to slip up. Don’t ever, ever do anything that could jeopardize the reputation of yourself, your family, or the University. They are offering you the privilege of a lifetime, and although it might seem like you are already “in”, the reality is that they are now expecting you to earn what they have promised to you. You have been granted a seat at the table and now you have to prove to everyone that you deserve to be there. Stay humble. Stay grateful. This school is taking a chance on you and you owe them your very best effort in exchange for this major opportunity.

And a few more things…

  1. Never be the drunkest person in the room. Sports are a competition. Grades are a competition. Internships and the job market waiting to judge your academic career and volunteer experience are all a competition. Getting drunk should never, ever be a competition. This is how unfortunate and embarrassing bathroom accidents start.
  2. Never, ever, ever text inappropriate pictures of yourself (or anyone else). Just assume they will be made public. This goes for all forms of media really. Just DON’T do it. If you don’t believe me ask Brett Favre or Congressman Anthony Wiener. If they were busted, you will be too.
  3. Don’t smoke. Anything. Just adopt a no smoking policy all together. For one thing it’s bad for your health, but it’s also just not worth the risk.
  4. Assume everyone has an STD until proven otherwise by a medical expert. Sometimes you will be wrong, but sometimes you will be RIGHT! (And just think how glad you will be that you dodged that bullet!!!)
  5. Never forget who taught you how to play Flippy Cup.  And don’t disgrace me.

I am already so proud of the man you have become and I know that you are only a fraction of the way towards realizing your full potential. I believe you are destined for greatness and I intend to brag about you obnoxiously the whole ride there.  I. Love. You! Always have, always will.

Aunt Emily

Me with my Koltie-Baby