Surviving the Terrible Twos: Discussing Dating

dating

Creative Commons – ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser

 

Welcome to the second week of Sam and my blog series on getting through your twenties. Today we are discussing DATING (ohh hell), and last week we discussed careers. Share your stories in the comments!

Be sure to check out Sam’s dating post here.

I can tell you how to be in a longterm relationship, and what not to do in one. I can tell you how to be perpetually single. I can tell you how to awkwardly tell someone that they have the “X-factor” you’ve been looking for… Yep, it happened, but in my defense it was long before that damn TV show existed. However, I cannot tell you how to “date” because a) the obvious and simple answer is to go on dates, and b) my experience within that arena is very limited.

I’ve had two first dates. The first first was a dive into the deep end, and the start to a serious relationship that I probably wasn’t ready for. The second first was spent freaking out about what personal information I was allowed to omit and what I wasn’t, because I don’t really have an internal “too much information” filter. Whew, stressful stuff. After forcing a second date, we agreed there wasn’t enough chemistry to go out again.

Two first dates and two very different outcomes, both of which I learned a lot from. And there you have my adult “dating” history. Therefore today there will be nooooo advice giving, ’cause this sister is as clueless as the next. But instead I will bring to you four discussion points that I hope you will weigh in on!

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Be Interrupted

Mother and daughter

As many of you know, this past Christmas/New Year my mum visited London to see me for the first time since I moved here. Before she arrived, I had a long list of wonderful London things I wanted us to do. Visiting Paris and Madrid was also on the agenda. Mum had never been to Europe and I was set on giving her the best time possible, which meant having a packed itinerary for three full weeks.

A couple of days in I realised that though she appreciated my efforts, she was just excited to see me.

She didn’t care about getting stuff done. The holiday was about us spending time together after almost five years apart. To her, it was about rich conversation and laughter and fun. It was about connection. It was about relaxation. After all, it was a holiday for both of us. She was eager to see the city I call home but what mattered is that she was doing it with me.

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Is Love Earned?

love

This week, my friend Cory kindly hosted me on his popular blog where I wrote about my experiences with love. My own blog has been having some issues while I redesign it so I didn’t get to share it with you when the post went live.

So here is the beginning and I hope you will finish reading over at CoryCopeland.net

When I was 17 years old, I had a very unromantic understanding of relationships. I remember flicking through a magazine when a quote from Nicole Kidman caught my eye. Regarding her husband Keith Urban and their problematic marriage, she declared that “you can’t choose who you fall in love with.” I scoffed and thought, “Stupid famous people and their stupid romantic theories.” I believed love had to be earned, and that we all had 100 per cent control over whom we chose to love.

I was guarded and practical due to what I had seen of marriage and didn’t want to experience myself. I thought avoiding heartbreak was rather straightforward. All you had to do was wait for the right person who ticked all the boxes. Then you invested the time into getting to know them and eventually, with much deliberation and thought, you fell in love. Not rocket science, right?

Now here I sit some years later, having loved and been loved, and not sure what I believe.

Continue reading and share your thoughts at CoryCopeland.net

 

What’s Your Love Story?

I am petrified of love. What it does to me, where it will take me, who it will turn me into. For both reasonable and irrational reasons, I don’t have the best view of it. I do in an idealistic way and I know it’s a beautiful thing, but I feel like love and I don’t go well together. I’m working on that, because though my being single right now is amazing and purposeful, I don’t want to be single forever.

I was read this quote the other day by a friend and I adore it. It made me look at love, something that has perplexed me and confused me for years, in a completely new light. It is the best definition of romantic love I have ever heard:

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”

― Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

This quote is both romantic and sweet, but incredibly realistic, which is why I love it. Now, I put out a call for your voice and input. What do you think of the above quote? Are you single, dating or married? I would really like to hear your love story in the comments section, whatever it is. Sorry to be a little cheesy but I like these stories because they give me hope. I love that every person’s story is different, and the same way no two people are the same, no two love stories are the same either. That is a very good thing and your love story, messy or simple, is to be cherished!

Will you tell me your love story? Or just share your experience, view, or definition of love?

Image credit 

To Somebody That I Used To Know

To Somebody That I Used to Know,

Sorry to be another person to use that damn song title, but I couldn’t help it, it’s just so perfectly fitting. And I mean it quite literally; I used to know you and now I don’t. Unlike the song (which I happen to like a lot), where Gotye is actually talking about someone he used to love. Gotye’s poor ex, being the person he is nonchalantly referring to. Where is the credit for her putting up with such an emo-hipster-musician for a boyfriend? Anyway, I digress.

It’s best that you know now rather than later that you’re not just one person. There are a bunch of you, so I’m sorry if you thought you were special for the first paragraph of this letter. You see, I have this uncanny ability of growing incredibly close to people incredibly fast. You could say I’m a connector. I loves a good connection, I does. Or I used to, until I got sick of having so many ‘old friends that weren’t friends any more’ and decided to start collecting some long-lasting, forever type friends. Such a romantic notion, which I think I’ve successfully achieved. I have a spectacular inner circle of friends whom I love dearly. Tick. Now, back to you.

As I mentioned, you’re many people. Some of you I really fancied the pants off of (not literally, I was much too frigid for that). Which yes, means that a good portion of you are male. Of which another good portion just stopped talking to me, and quite abruptly. Ouch. Guys tend to do that, or is it just young guys? I don’t know but it rather hurt. Until I wrote to one of you years later, a hateful and angry email that felt great to get off my chest. The response was hauntingly obvious and helped me understand; guys don’t do ‘friends’ if they actually would prefer to date you. They want all of you or none of you at all, and I had my rule of being single until I was 18. I wanted you to wait for me, I wanted you around. How utterly naive and selfish I was.

Right, that’s one of you out of the way. But you were the first and there were many to follow. No boyfriends, just emotional, coy and flirtatious flings. We liked each other a lot, and talked/texted/hung out, but never dated for one reason or another. However, lets be clear on one thing: I was never a wild or promiscuous teenager. In fact I wore the title of ‘Virgin Mary’ among my school friends, not so proudly but definitely with dignity. There was the year that I went a little bit overboard on the meaningless kisses though. Like I said, I was frigid for a long time. But it seems I then discovered the art of kissing at 17, and I just took off! Making up for lost time, maybe? I don’t know but it’s funny when I think about it now. My point is that from the age of 15-19, there were a few of you that I absolutely adored. You could say I was an ’emotional harlot’. I wore my heart on my sleeve. I wanted love and I was looking for it in you young men, the wrong people. I’m so glad it didn’t work out with any of you. Though I am still single now, it’s all worked out for the best. Most of you are happily married now, which is nice.

The rest of you somebody’s that I used to know are friends that didn’t stay friends. We changed. I know, another cliche, please forgive me. But we did and you really do need something in common with friends for it to work. Whatever that may be. I do like to think some of you were around for a special season, that maybe God blessed me with you then took you away again. You were good to me and had great impact in my life, at the perfect time. I hope I returned it adequately. I was sad when you left my life but not willing to chase it, because it was obvious it wasn’t meant to last. I know I sound like I’m talking about a romantic relationship, and not just regular girl friends, but I’m a little bit lesbian like that. I take all relationships in my life very seriously. All that matters is people, which makes this letter quite ironic. Oh, life.

We may have spoken recently, old friend, on Facebook. I’ve been reconnected with a few of you and its the darnedest thing! To see how you have grown up and who you have become. That some of you have even had children! Facebook aye, the site where everyone is ‘friends’. But we’re not friends anymore, are we? It’s a weird and awkward thing to navigate, friendship. We would still call eachother a friend, it would be harsh not to. But the fact of the matter is that we aren’t friends any more and that’s okay. It’s mutual.

Whoever you are, friend or flame from the past, I pray that you’re happy. I truly and genuinely hope that your life is swell. I also hope that you remember me, for one reason or another. I imagine it will be a particularly embarrassing reason that will keep me alive in your memory, that would be fitting and is fine with me. Just remember me, okay? Because I remember you, all of you, even though I don’t know you anymore.

May the Lord’s face shine upon you,
Micaela

Image credit

Independence Isn’t Cool

Not sure if you know, but I’m actually really cool. I moved abroad and I barely even call home because I don’t need family anymore. So independent, so cool.

Yeah, and I often just block God out and say ‘I’ve got this’, because I’m that capable and awesome. I can make it on my own.

If you didn’t already know how hip and cool I am, that’s because I’m not at all.

I’ve just created the belief in my head that doing life on my own makes me awesome, which is entirely untrue. All that my independence does is show me up for my fear of vulnerability and my arrogance, which is so not cool.

Strength is important to have so that we can dodge the curve balls that life throws at us. However strength and independence are not the same, and independence is not the goal. Independence from people is lonely. Independence from God? That’s a sin.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Yes, I can stand on my own two feet. I am capable of looking after myself and had to learn pretty fast, which is great and something I am proud of. But I am never enough. I still need God, need my family, and need my friends. That is not a sign of weakness or a bad thing in the slightest, which I am only just beginning to accept.

Vulnerability is strength unarmed.

I started to think about all this recently when I was really ill. I had a nasty virus and was bed ridden for the best part of 7 days. It was horrible and it was the loneliest I had felt in a long time. I could have reached out to my friends and my housemates for help. I didn’t because I didn’t want to bother anyone or look completely pathetic.

If I didn’t try to do it on my own, that week wouldn’t have been so dark for me. I would have had food in the house and regained strength, but instead I didn’t eat for over a day and got worse. Pa-the-tic.

I’m probably more vulnerable with my counselor than anyone. When I saw him and we talked about my week, it came out: I desperately needed love and attention but I was too scared to ask for it. The independence was a facade to hide that.

I’m learning that fierce independence is more pathetic than vulnerability. It’s a guard so that people can’t see what’s really going on. It’s isolating and dangerous.

The main point is that we all need support, and though we all need a level of independence as adults, taking it too far isn’t cool.

So I quit, because to be vulnerable is to truly be strong.

Can you relate? Are you independent, or do you struggle to be independent? Leave a comment. 

Are you a Good Friend?

I am so blessed; I have many beautiful friends that I’m incredibly thankful for. There are enough to enrich my life but not more than I can handle, because I’ve given up on having a million ‘acquaintances’ – it just isn’t attainable. I’ve gone all ‘quality over quantity’ with my friendships and it’s working out a treat.

My small circle of close friends are scattered around the world. Some are wiser than others. Some are funner than others. Some I laugh with more. Some I cry with more. Some I am more honest with because they let me be. No two of my friends are the same and they are all amazing in their own right. They all have their weaknesses and their strengths, as do I.

Not one of these friends has ‘got it all’ in terms of friendship qualities. But I tell ya what, I’m damn fussy when it comes to friends, because they have an esteemed place in my life. Yep, my friends are handpicked. I listen to them, watch them and learn from them. They don’t all make decisions that I would and vice versa, but they still have a profound effect on my character. That is why I only get close to people who give and take, who encourage, who are real, who have awesome and desirable attributes. Mostly though, I’m friends with people who love me unconditionally.

Below I’ve listed my definition of a good friend, and what I think you need to be giving and receiving in your friendships.  Obviously this ain’t gospel, just my opinion (which this blog is riddled with, wa-hey!)

Without further ado…

They respect you. They respect your choices, even if they wouldn’t choose them. They respect you as a person and treat you with value. They are reliable and prioritise you – I believe this comes from respect.

They are honest with you and can take honesty. This is a big one for me because obviously, I love honesty! There’s only so deep you can go when you aren’t honest. From “that dress isn’t flattering on you, don’t buy it”, to “come on, you know better”. I love it when my friends talk straight with me, because I know that we’re always on the same page. A lot of times I don’t want to hear it but I always try to take it, even if I disagree. However some people just can’t handle honesty, period. Tread with caution when speaking honestly; it needs to be done well with sensitive issues. E.g. I hate being judged. I will not be honest with friends if I think they’re going to go all self-righteous on me, because that’s not what I need. I need love and acceptance, then correction. It’s an art. I used to be terribly judgmental and I still struggle, so I know it’s a tough one. Oh, and some people don’t want correction at all due to their value system being different, and in that case, drop it like a hot potato. But that’s just common sense.

They laugh with you. Not at you, with you. Lots and lots and lots. ’nuff said.

They bring out the good in you and encourage you. The best kind of friend sees your assets and focuses on them, as opposed to drawing on your weaknesses. You want to know why you are loved when you are with friends. It’s just standard protocol. However, sadly, some people are insecure and will subconsciously try and bring you down. If you feel crappy after hanging out with the same person every time, you need to re-think the friendship. Or just tell them to be nicer, dammit!

They listen to you. No one wants to be around the person who can’t stop talking about themselves and their life. Ugh. (Sometimes that’s me… eeeeek)

They spoil you. This can be in whichever way they love best – words, gifts, favours, hugs. Whatever they have to give, and whatever you need!

Now, even if you smell bad, I know you have friends. But that doesn’t mean they’re good friends, and I know I’ve suffered hugely from letting friends walk all over me. Don’t settle for crappy friendships that aren’t enriching your life in one way or another. No one is perfect, but there are some energy-sucking people out there that you cannot change with your friendship. They will continue to hurt you if you let them. Take this with a pinch of salt because I know there are always exceptions, but it needs to be said.

I know I am blessed with lovely friendships, but I also know that to keep those people there I need to be a great friend as well. If you want or need more awesome friends, then be an awesome person! Be yourself obviously, as well as kind, encouraging and open to new people you meet, and to the fantastic people you already know. Be the kind of friend that you want to have. That includes your best old pals too, of course. Cherish the longtime friends who have proved faithful over time, they’re like gold.

I’ve had friendship lulls in life, and no matter what else I did have at the time, I noticed and felt the lack. We were made to be in relationship with each other! Not just in romantic relationships, but also with the people around us every day.

Life is rich when you can call someone a friend. If you need a friend/more friends/better friends, then go and get ’em!

What do you think makes a good friend? What would you add to my list? 

For The Strong Ones

We all know at least one of them. Those strong and resilient overcomers who we respect and admire, the ones that just cope so well and seem to have it all together. We could never do what they do, they’re so much stronger than us.

That single mum who is juggling work, kids and the lonely hours between sunset and sunrise. The student who works extra hours whenever they can to pay the rent, and volunteers for church, and is available for their friends whenever they call. That girl who just found out her Dad has a terminal illness and might not make it to Christmas. The guy who recently had his heart broken and is still figuring out how to piece it together.

We know their story, but because they aren’t shouting it from the rooftops, we don’t say anything. We assume that they’re coping.

We commend how brave, wise and Godly they are, and we don’t worry about them because they’re so capable. Plus they probably have enough people to look after them. We pray for them and hope for the best. It’s a little awkward to call or text and say ‘I was just thinking about you, and I’m here if you need anything’. So we don’t, because they might think we are being nosey or intrusive.

What do you say to those people who are hurting, anyway? We think to ourselves ‘I hope they are okay’, ‘they are amazing’ and ‘I wish there was something I could do’. We think that because we can’t fix their situation that we are useless, so we don’t do anything.

Except…

We’re all strong as and when we have to be, because we don’t have any other choice. That person you know, the one who you don’t have to worry about – they’re actually just like you. They only difference is that they’ve had to stretch themselves to survive the crappy season life has thrown at them, and yes they are staying afloat, because they have to.

I live in London, one of the busiest and loneliest cities in the world. I’ve experienced the type of loneliness that makes you ache from the inside out. However, I also haven’t called that person that I’ve been thinking about because “it’s not my place”. They will never know that I was thinking about them because I haven’t told them, and they will feel alone.

Those robust, capable people have days where they don’t want to get out of bed too, you know. They’re not always strong and they could be crumbling right now. So call them, reach out. Yes, there is a line and you don’t want to cross it. But sometimes I think we are so scared of crossing the line that we miss the opportunity to show love and be a blessing.

They look strong, but underneath it all they feel weak. They need you.

I don’t mind if you know my business because you probably heard it through the grapevine. I do mind if you know what I’m going through, you assume I’m okay because I’m ‘a tough one’, and you don’t let me know you care.

This post isn’t for me or about me, it’s about you or the friend that needs you.

Because even the strong people need to know you see them.

Have you ever been one either side of this fence? Do you wish you had called? 

A Love Letter [The Invitation]

(I would like to clarify that I didn’t write this for you, I wrote it for me in a special time. Then I remembered that I made a vow to myself and to this blog that I would write on here with relentless honesty, in the hope that it would break down walls, encourage and inspire. This is my letter, yours won’t look like this. God has written you a love letter too, it’s within you somewhere. He loves you, He sees you.)
Dear Micaela,I created you to be beautiful and that you are. You have made me proud since the day you were born, and though sometimes you felt unnoticed, I always noticed you. You are pure of heart, kind, funny and honest. You are mine and I truly delight in you. I am your Daddy, and though you struggle with that word now (yes, I’ve seen you laugh/cringe when others have called me that), there is a time coming when it will flow naturally from your heart and mouth. I’m patient for that day.Micaela, my heart aches for you to understand how much I love you. You truly are the most precious and priceless diamond to me. I created you to shine, and though life has thrown dirt at you and you have tarnished yourself, my purpose for you is ever the same. Does a diamond lose it’s value if it’s soiled in mud? You are still worth the whole world to me, despite the dirt, which I am continuing to remove every single day, as you heal. Shine, my beauty!Let me in to the innermost parts of your heart, because I will never force my way in uninvited. Everyday, seek me and welcome me so that my Holy Spirit can fill your cup to overflowing and show you how valuable you are. No human will ever be able to show you that the way I can, I assure you. I am your source.

You’ve grown up to be a strong and independent woman, but don’t go your own way. Stay close to me, lean hard on me, trust my faithfulness. Let me be your fierce protector and defender, because you’re my daughter and thats what Daddy’s do. I know you’re not used to it, and letting a man love you is a struggle because it’s foreign. And you’re scared, I know. It will take a while but all you need to do is keep whispering yes, because we’re in this together. I will restore the fatherless years; the years that the locusts have stolen.

Precious girl, you make my heart smile. You are a blessing to those around you; you carry light and joy everywhere you go.

I love you,

Father God (your Daddy) xxx
What does God want to say to you?

The Truth About Love [according to me]

We all love the idea of love. The word triggers pretty thoughts and the word rolls off our tongues pretty easily:

“I love Ryan Gosling, he is so fit!”

“I love strawberries, they’re delicious”

“I love my Mum, she’s the greatest”

 “I’m in love with you”

We all need to be told that we’re loved, sometimes we may struggle to say it but ultimately love is a good thing to us. It offers hope, restoration, freedom and encouragement.  But like all truly good things love isn’t always easy; in fact sometimes it’s really hard.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The above scripture sets a pretty high standard of what love is, and I think it’s safe to say we all fall short. For me, it is so hard to forget; it keeps no record of wrongs’. I like to remember people’s mistakes – people that I supposedly love – and use it as ammo when I need to. Yep, that’s what it’s like to be loved by me (at times) and I’m sorry if I have ever done that to you. If I haven’t said it outwardly, it has probably been simmering inwardly and it may have even affected our relationship. Again, I’m sorry, I’m working on it.

What this part of the scripture is really saying is that Forgiving = Forgetting. This baffles and challenges me to my very core because it goes against my grudging nature. So maybe to forget those wrongdoings I needed to forgive them, even the smallest of them. Funny how I never thought they were big enough to forgive, yet I can’t seem to forget them. Because I haven’t forgiven. But how much has Christ forgiven me for my wrongs? He wipes my slate clean every single day. Who am I to hold so much against people that I love?

I may not be able to forget in my head, but if I choose to I can certainly forget in my heart. When we let go of that emotional memory we let go of the anger and sadness too.

Love, which is meant to bring hope and freedom, can bring so much pain because it is loving despite flaws (and worse). I’ve seen it first hand with people close to me, I’ve seen love bring hope to the receiver and pain to the giver. This is either because the receiver keeps on taking without giving back, or because the receiver is what I have judged as undeserving of love. Which I’m realising is pretty harsh now that I’ve written it down. WHO am I to judge who deserves love? None of us do and all of us do. We all need love, regardless of how deserving we are of it. Hopefully it does eventually change the receiver’s heart and they begin to give back, but that’s never why we love in the first place. We love because we were created to.

To be honest, I really struggle with this; with loving imperfection. Because if truth be told, I only expect to be loved when I felt I’ve done enough to deserve it, when I’ve earnt it, when I’ve deemed myself worthy. Yet in reality that’s not how it works, and though I continue to fail, the people in my life still love me. How? Why? Instead of just accepting it and loving others the same way, I wrestle with trying to understand it. That’s the stunning and downright haunting thing about love, especially Christ’s love; we don’t deserve it or always understand it because it’s too damn big for us to comprehend.

My mum always said when I was younger ‘I love you, but not because you’re a good girl’. Fast forward more than a decade and I am still grappling with this concept of love. Except that it isn’t a concept and maybe that’s where my problems lie, in this one tiny truth: Love isn’t meant to be understood.

Love sees your best, forgives your worst, and always believes in you. I may not be able to get my head around it, but I don’t have to. I just need to get my heart around it.

What do you love and hate about love? What do you struggle with the most? Please share in the comments and help me know that I’m not alone!