The Art of Friend-Making and Why I Suck at It

Source: George Moss

So anyone who knows me knows I’m awkward as f***. That’s how I have always been. I could blame the fact I was an only child, or that I was the friendless loser in high school. But either way, I am just not the most akin to the art of acting like a normal human being, at least in my eyes.

Due to this rather annoying inconvenience of mine, I have struggled with making and maintaining friendships. Though I have somewhat mastered the art of socializing and holding a conversation with others, I have never quite made it into the friend status with very many people. It can be frustrating at times, especially since everyone around me seems to be able to do it so easily.

So why can’t I do so as easily?

I contemplate this at times during my solitude after work. One day, the question seed I planted in my head finally grew and I realized something! Everyone I see around me, at least from my impression of things, have had a normally social life growing up, full of trials and tribulations of friendships and slowly building friendships throughout the years. I, unfortunately, shoved myself so far down my shell that I have only recently started to discover a way out.

Socializing and making friends is almost like a skill, similar to skills that you learn in school or work on after work. It’s something that people work on naturally every single day from the time they are born to the day they die. Everyday, the skill of building friendships evolve.

When I thinking of the situation in this light, I realize that it’s not that I can’t make friends; I just have a lot less practice than others my age.

I mean, just picture me in high school. While everyone else was excitedly talking to their friends at lunch, I was quietly reading in the corner on my Kindle. While everyone else went out with their friends on a Friday or Saturday night, I stayed at home and vicariously lived through the main characters of Degrassi: The Next Generation. While everyone else attended every school dance in grand attire, I was sitting at home in my PJs watching TV.

It’s no wonder why I suck at making friends! I have far less experience than everyone else!

I feel very weird saying that I need to practice a basic skill like talking to others my age, but I will say that it has genuinely helped a lot! I can honestly say that I have become much more social these past few months and I have even started to initiate social situations instead of waiting for them to come to me.

So as I increase my skills in the art of socializing, the art of friend making will slowly start to form any I will evolve into a true semi-social butterfly!



Adventures in Teaching- Episode 1: The Retainer

One day, I was teaching a small group mini-lesson for English, and I suddenly notice something metal in Molly’s* mouth. Now, to put some context into this story, Molly has always wanted braces for as long as I can remember. In fact, she had a regular habit of taking a straightened paper clip and putting it in her mouth to imitate the look of braces, so I assumed that’s what was in her mouth.

I immediately stopped the lesson, looked her in the eyes and say, “Take that out of your mouth.” After a few seconds of hesitation, she opened her mouth to show a retainer! Now, keep in mind, I have never seen this kid with braces or a retainer. I suddenly became very suspicious about where it came from. When I asked her if it was hers, she said yes. However, she always makes a certain expression when she is lying, and she made that expression. So after giving her an opportunity to put the retainer in and her not securing it in place, I finally say, “You have two options: either put the retainer back on your teeth or it’s mine.” She then takes the retainer out and places it in the paper towel I have gotten for her. I immediately put it in my pocket.

Of course, for the rest of the day, I am wondering where in the world she got this thing. Did she find it on a cafeteria table? Did she see it on top of the trash in the trash bin? Does she have a friend with a retainer? I couldn’t figure it out! Maybe it might be hers…

So at the end of the day, I asked one last time if it was hers, and she said yes. So I responded, “So if I call mom and ask her if you have a retainer, she’ll say yes?” Molly immediately put her head down and shook her head. Bingo! My suspicions were correct! Now I just had to figure out whose it was.

Then I suddenly remember that she had a twin sister, Lucy*. Maybe it’s hers! I was able to find her and I ask if she had a retainer, but she stated that she has Invisalign. Discouraged, I decide to ask if she might know who’s retainer I “found.” I take the bunched up paper towels out of my pocket, and, right when I open the paper towel, she exclaims, “Oh! That’s my dad’s!”

After a moment of processing what I just heard, I quietly told Lucy that it was in Molly’s mouth and she immediately says, “Oh, she’s not supposed to do that!” Wait, has Molly taken her dad’s retainer before? This isn’t the first time this has happened??? So I quietly told Lucy to give the retainer back to her dad for me and to make sure he cleans it!

After that, let’s just say, I had to make the most interesting voicemail that I have ever had to leave!

*names have been changed for confidentiality

An Important Lesson I Learned About Sustainable Exercise

I was in my sixth grade gym class, and we were all learning how to use the state-of-the-art gym equipment. As I proceeded to lift a weight that, admittedly, was too light for me, I was dying of boredom. What happened to Football Dodge and Orchard? Kickball? Volleyball? Why in the world did exercise get so boring?

While growing up, an interesting transition happened with my physical activity. Probably around middle school or so, I became too old to want to play outside with my friends (or it just wasn’t cool to do so anymore), but I was too young to go work out in a gym. The only options I really had in middle school were to go for walks or join a sports team. After joining a basketball team briefly and going for the occasional walk, I was stuck. I knew I should be exercising, but there wasn’t a method available to me that I genuinely enjoyed.

Once I got into college, I started getting in and out of fitness. I started doing what I was supposed to do in the gym. I did cardio for 30-60 minutes, and I would do weight training for another 30 minutes. It was fun at first, but when the novelty wore off, I slowly fell out of it. Then I would feel guilty, go back, get bored again, not go back, and the pattern continued for years. I just did not enjoy the cardio aspect of my workouts enough to be motivated in the long run.

Then I started my most stable fitness journey in 2018. It’s funny, because I did not have a New Year’s resolution to be more healthy or fit that year. I was watching Youtube one day and a fitness video came up on my recommended. After I watched it, more and more started popping up. And more and more I watched. I saw women doing weightlifting and not focusing so much on cardio. It seemed like my dream workout routine.

And it was. I can confidently say that I have been weightlifting for a year now and I could not be happier with my workouts. It wasn’t something that I needed to do, it was something I wanted to do. For the first time in a long time, I found exercise fun!

Now this blog post isn’t about telling you how you should or shouldn’t be working out. I have learned time and time again that it is not an effective way to get people to stick to a work out routine. Something I learned is that in order to make exercise sustainable and consistent for a long period of time, you need to find a type of exercise that you genuinely enjoy. If you like doing it, you’ll want to do it. When you want to do it, it won’t be as much of a struggle to get yourself moving.

For me, that exercise is weightlifting. However, it can be anything! You can go for a walk, take a dance class, do yoga, play with your kids, or even doing stretches while watching tv. Whatever form of exercise gets you moving and motivated is going to be best for you.

What form of movement do you enjoy the most? If you know, go ahead and make it a habit to get out there and do it! If your not sure, try different types and see which one is the best match for you!

Changing My Daily Attitude from Negative to Positive

Credit: Andriy Popov, 123RF

I think we can all agree that Sunday evenings are the worst. You went into the weekend with the idea that you were going to be so productive and you’re going to get so much done. Then suddenly its 8pm and you’ve maybe checked one thing off your checklist. Your anxiety starts kicking in. As you struggle to get to sleep, you think “Ugh, here comes another long week.”

Don’t worry, I tend to have the same habit. In fact, I can say that I have unfortunately woken up most school/work days thinking the following thoughts:

“Just get through today and you can take a nap when you get home.”

“Today is mostly testing, so it will be easy to get through.”

“Okay, only *blank* days until the weekend. I can do this.”

Most of my life has become something to “get through.” As I approach the ripe old age of 25, I start to look back and regret that negative attitude of mine. If only I appreciated the precious years that I had in the past. If only I was able to recognize the good parts of my life back when I was in school, college, and even the first couple of years of my career.

I don’t want that habit to continue. I don’t want my life to be something to “get through.”

I have had a bit of a revelation recently. The job that I’m dragging my feet to is the same job I was jumping up and down about when I was offered it three years ago. My grad class that I dread every week is the same grad program I anxiously waited for when I applied two years ago. My apartment that I complain is too cold or too small is the same apartment I was thrilled to move into three years ago. Everything I currently complain about are things I was once striving for and achieving.

I need to get back to the roots of why I do what I do, and how lucky I am to be where I am today. I have to make the conscious decision every single day to have a positive attitude and to look at each regular day thing as a great and special opportunity. Now of course, this is easier said than done. But, like most things, it will become easier with time once it’s a habit and I take time to practice it every single day.

So next Sunday night when I’m laying in bed, instead of letting my negative tone take over, I will consciously decide to remember and focus on these positive thoughts:

“I get to see my students eyes light up when they see me tomorrow morning. I get to see them grow as a learner and as a person every single day. I can take satisfaction in knowing that I was part of their journey in becoming a loving member of our society.”

“I get to learn new teaching strategies one a week with some pretty awesome teachers. These ideas are relevant and highly effective. Best of all, I have students to whom I can immediately apply these teaching strategies. I am growing as a teacher more and more each class!”

“I get to wake up each morning in my beautiful Victorian apartment! I am so thankful to wake up in a warm bed and with plenty of food in the fridge for breakfast. I have such a beautiful space to relax and host the occasional get-together.”

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

-Winston Churchill


Rethinking Valentine’s Day

Oh, Valentine’s Day. Aka: Single Awareness Day. Aka: Get a Room Day. Aka: OMG Stop Going On and On About your Significant Other Day.

I don’t know if it’s obvious, but I have always been kind of bitter about Valentine’s Day. This year will be especially rough, since it will be my first Valentine’s Day in three years that I will spend Single and a Pringle.

But lately, I have been rethinking Valentine’s Day.

If you were to describe Valentine’s Day with just one word, what would it be? You would probably say “love.” Well, here’s the thing, why would a holiday all about love be exclusively just for couples? To be fair, they are whom a lot of stores are marketing to, but what difference should that make?

Instead of focusing on what I do not have, I’m focusing on what I do. You know what I do have? I have familial love with my parents, who have been there for me since the very beginning. I have love for my friends, who stick with me through thick and thin. I have love for my job and coworkers, who have provided a wonderful and consistent work environment. I have love for my students who I get to see grow every single day. I have love for God, who makes everything possible. I even have love for myself, something that has taken me a very long time to get.

So I have decided that instead of dismissing Valentine’s Day as just another day, I am going to use it as an opportunity to show love towards those I care about. I will visit my parents, have a good laugh with my friends, let my co-workers know I appreciate them, show my students how much I care about them, and pray to God thanking Him for all the love that I am able to see in my life.

As for showing love for myself, who knows? I have been wanting a giant teddy bear for about seven years now…

5 Things No One Told Me About Teaching

Okay, before you roll your eyes, I’m taking a more unique twist on this type of list. I think we’ve seen at least twenty posts similar to this by now and they all pretty much say the same things. Here are some things none of them have said so far:

  1. The amount of times per day I have to tell kids to stop dancing. Seriously, I feel like the dad from Footloose sometimes. Ever since the gaming sensation known as Fortnite, kids cannot stop flossing, hyping, orange justicing, and who knows what else. I’m not even sure if they can help it! To be fair though, I find myself flossing every once in a while when no one’s looking!
  2. Teaching is not just a three ring circus, it’s a ten (or more) ring circus. There are days where I am LITERALLY teaching two or three lessons at the same time. I wish I was exaggerating. Then ON TOP of that, I’m prompting one other kid at table by tapping my finger on their paper and ON TOP OF THAT I have my eyes on every single other kid (on my caseload or not) in the room to make sure they are on task and not on YouTube or Spotify. I had administration observe me once and tell me it was exhausting just watching me teach. They have no idea *yawn*
  3. How old you’ll feel teaching the younger generation. I’m not even that old! I’ll be 25 in March, but these kids make me feel like a granny sometimes and I know it will only get worse as I get older! Out of my co-taught class of 27, only 3 knew who the Backstreet Boys were. If I try to make a Drake and Josh reference, they look at me with question marks. They have no idea I was within the original generation of Pokemon players, and they have no idea how long Pokemon has been around. In fact, anything prior to 2005 or so is unknown territory. Don’t worry though, I’ve been educating my students on 90’s boy bands. It’s vital information that they need to know for life!
  4. The smells. From kindergarten to high school, there’s at least one type of smell most days that just knocks your senses out.
  5. Inspiration comes from everywhere. From classroom designs to lesson plans to teaching strategies, there more place than ever to get inspiration. Of course, there’s Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or even just peeking in your BTFF’s (best teacher friend forever) classroom. But inspiration also comes from students themselves. I can fully say that my cohort of students have inspired me to learn more about all the aspects of teaching to be the best that I can be. This year in particular, they have inspired me to be more knowledgeable of fifth-grade level books so that I can start suggesting books to my students. As a result, there is a huge reading culture in my classroom, even from the most reluctant readers! I even started a book club in my co-taught classroom.

So there’s my more unique things about teaching that no one ever told me about. Is there any other unique things you can think of?

Venturous

venturous: adj. willing to take risks or embark on difficult or unusual courses of action

It’s been a trend the past couple of New Year’s where you put your New Year’s resolution into one word. No more “I’m going to lose weight” or “I’m going to go out more.” Now resolutions look more like “Health” or “Social” or “Thankfulness.”

I’m not one to normally make New Year’s resolutions; I’ve always found them a little cliched and redundant. Every year, I’d secretly tell myself I will eat healthier until I immediately quit after eating a cupcake. But this year, I decided to pick up on this new trend and make myself a goal of what I personally feel I need to work on.

I have been very shy since middle school, something I have slowly but surely work on throughout the years. I also have abandonment issues (fun stuff, I tell ya), which causes me to have difficulties making deep connections with other people. When I try to make friends, one of two things usually happen:

  1. I start forming a friendship with someone and, right when we start going deeper, I start distancing myself.
  2. I keep to myself and become more of an observer to conversation, as opposed to a participant. A lot of times it’s just easier to keep to myself than to put myself out there and risk getting ridiculed.

I am also the type of person that overthinks WAY too much. I have to wait at least two-three years before I get a tattoo. I have look at a shirt in a store for at least fifteen minutes and think through my entire closet for what it will match with before I decide to buy it. I have to think through every single scenario that might remotely happen before I decide to walk up and say hello to someone new. It’s EXHAUSTING!

One blessing I have received last year is becoming more self-aware of my mental health and how much these old habits have negatively affected my life. So I finally came to the point by New Year’s where I politely said “FU” to my past issues and decided to consciously work on myself this year.

So I chose the word “venturous.” I want to be more spontaneous and take more risks. I want to open myself up more to people and let my personality shine through more. I don’t want to be afraid anymore of what others think of me. I want to take more risks. I want to be free.

Part of my risk-taking is starting this blog. I’ve been wanting a way to share my thoughts about self-love and mental health, but I was scared that if I started this blog, no one would read it. But you know what? I embraced my new “venturous” self and I have officially started this blog! And I could not be more proud of myself for doing it.

So I hope whoever is reading this will decide to stick around as I share my journey with self-love. And, hopefully, you’ll get something out of it too!