#Blessed

I'll be the first to say I read too deeply into things. I over analyze with the very best of them. I painstakingly try to even out the dissonance in my brain, to account for unspoken intentions and hidden truths. Within the confines of a concrete way of looking at situations, there is little room for overlap, for the gray. Angry feelings percolate in my belly, anxiety creeps up my spine and I make a sweeping conclusion. But these polarizing opinions are provocative, and well nothing considerable was ever accomplished from being too neutral… So let's delve into being #blessed.

 What we share with the world.

What we share with the world.

 What really goes on...

What really goes on...

Social media likely originated with the purpose of connecting people. By that connectedness meaningful dialogue might be born, relationships nurtured, and useful information shared. That or some really bright people were just bored and wanted to stir up the social fabric of our society as we know it. Since then though social media has deviated from this once noble path. It's become a playground for airing what is wonderful and discarding what is fallible. We carefully curate a version of ourselves that is deemed acceptable for others to witness, and we discard or conceal the elements that make us most human. Affirmation is sought from people we may not even know mindlessly scrolling and tapping, scrolling and tapping.  

Enter the blessings and the squad goals. This concept of being #blessed is tossed around, and a set of criteria exists to alert the general population when you have been inducted into this desirable club. Some conditions for admission include a house in the Hamptons, a healthy, beautiful child, a prestigious career, a storybook romance. Do not misunderstand me, these are swell things to have and likely many people covet them. I do in one way or another, but not even because I want to. I feel like I should, because it is desirable in the social sphere's collective eye. I admire from afar the little family that appears to have it all together. I tell others who have what seems to be a fruitful, happy life that they are so blessed. When my own family is gathered around the table, and things are going right, then I feel like we are blessed.  I might even envy others who make it look easy. I post manicured images of food such that people might find them beautiful and think me capable, and talented. Dear world, tell me I am worthwhile, confirm for me that I am #blessed. I promise I will work diligently to maintain the illusion of togetherness. 

But it is all nonsense, plain and simple. Straight bullshit. 

(from atop my soapbox)

Is not our mere existence a blessing? Is the child in the inner city who struggles to learn and lacks any familial support not blessed?  How about the individual who cannot verbalize his or her preferences? The refugee, the single parent, the victim of abuse or bullying. The person who conceals his or her innermost self so as not to alienate loved ones. The child with visible differences who is not represented in mainstream media. The rejected, the cast aside, those whose bodies have betrayed them, riddled with illness. 

We yearn to be deserving of the status of being blessed, of being the chosen ones. In a book I read recently this entire line of reasoning was debunked in that from the moment we are conceived of we are already enough, without ever having to prove anything. With this in mind can we collectively find the courage to share what is not likable, or pretty? Can we acknowledge that the suffering that marks our human condition is itself a blessing albeit wrought with struggle and pain? What will it take to cast feelings of resentment and inadequacy aside?

Here is where the seas part. Some of you will say  what is this chick even talking about? She should just scroll and like yet another picture like the rest of us, and then cast judgment the next moment, or start dieting, or talk behind that girl's back. 

The others among you might acknowledge that deep down you feel something like what I feel. Not necessarily the exact same sentiment because I take introspection to a devastating level. Or maybe this vulnerability is more common than I envision but it's the world's best kept secret. People are hesitant to share what is realistic about their lives unless it is to garner attention or pity as the spectrum in the social sphere spans between narcissism and self loathing.  If gloating serves to erect a fortress around this exclusive club that not everyone can join, then pity is not helpful either. Progress and connectedness happen somewhere in the middle. To me that would be a place void of overt #blessings and #goals. 

If I have offended you, I encourage you to get back to a routine that is comfortable. I would not want to disrupt anything you have grown accustomed to. This discussion is not meant to shame or judge either although I admit this reasoning gets close to feeling like a judgment. We are all susceptible to the desire to be perceived as noble, or somehow enlightened it seems. 

But if somewhere in the pit of your stomach you feel the same way, I hope you might know that you are as blessed as the next person. I promise to do my part by thinking twice before concealing my burnt scones and dirty dishes. I will try to encourage and empower others. I will use discomfort as an opportunity for personal growth. I will try not to judge for fear of being judged equally harshly. 

#blessed

On Social Sharing

This is in no way an attempt to debase behavior patterns or imply anything is wrong or right. The social sphere is all very organic and well uncontrollable. Like a wild fire. I am sincerely intrigued, that's all. Maybe Valentine's day and the abundant sharing got me pondering. 

Someone posted on Facebook, "Looks like everyone has the best boyfriend on Valentines day". I thought it was cheeky and clever and would be interested to know his marital status and profession. Maybe a comedy writer because it would make good stand up. Others may find the comments offensive or even bitter. Thus is life and we don't have to agree; it's small stuff anyway. 

Have you ever felt unsettled about learning deeply private and personal news via social media about a person you don't communicate with in the "real world". Like you're a creepy fly on the wall but you've done nothing wrong in fact. Is this just the social norm for our generation and we better start posting to keep up?  Or maybe we should only follow/friend people we would realistically communicate with outside of social media? This isn't it either. I like following Martha Stewart. I could be thinking too deeply about it but I am actually curious and might conduct a case study. If you have some insight, post it on Twitter @pensivefoodie. 

Are you supposed to like something on Facebook that is deeply or even partly sad? Twitter is effective in sharing and "affirming" content without the connotation that is it "likable", which may not be the case. For instance the death of a loved one or an egregious wrong. 

This video had me crying in the Best Buy parking lot, while my boyfriend ran in to buy a keyboard. He returned to the car to me a blubbering mess, keyboard in hand and confused. He took my phone away.  This is not the first time. 

This concept applies to trivial rants too: Something like this girl hates her mother-in-law, husband is a dud, and her little one peed the bed, again.  How about a Like with insert condition button. Or better, a Hug button. Here is a use case for your reference.

  1. Read Sad Content 
  2. Experience cognitive dissonance: Is it disrespectful if I like this? Will the source get the wrong idea about my intention? 
  3.  Reflect: This person needs a Hug or Support. 
  4. Click Hug Button and/or Like with a lump in my throat and a very heavy heart.

Facebook, get on it or Twitter will continue to outpace you. 

Just an observation. I have yet to read a post from a Wounded Warrior or a child with a terminal illness like this, "I am having a really hard time making it day to day." Or from a young woman with an intellectual disability, "Hey, the world is sometimes less than accommodating and marginalizes me."  Are these posts out there? I am sure they are. But they are not as frequent, as "I hate traffic".  Is this a lesson? Yes, I think so. No one cares you hate traffic.

Thanks to my big, brave sister, and her insight from a position as an Oncology Counselor for this invaluable reminder. 

On a lighter note. Have you experienced this moment? "Sh*t a Tyho. Argh *typo. Too late, already shared. What will the world think?",  says the sneaky grammar gremlin in your ear. 

Another observation.  I am grateful for the variety of beliefs, lifestyles, and cultures social media connects. Like this, a post on Instagram a while back, by Erica Domesek, the craft goddess behind P.S-I Made This. I've even found it to share. It was great. The woman has, well, serious balls and business chops.

Nonetheless, she's neither better nor worse than a woman her age who has four children and posts a picture of her child's first day riding the school bus.  Seriously, to each his own. 

"Insert name surely can't always look that gorgeous and together, can she." Real Simple magazine launched a fun hash tag campaign #rsgetreal to disprove that very thought. People posted to Instagram their vulnerable and non-perfect moments.  Dirty dishes. Piles of laundry. Fast food for their kids. It was very refreshing and these were my favorites. I would totally eat the meal in the third shot.

Do you ever feel defeated when no one likes content you thought was wildly genius, share-worthy, or beautiful? I do sometimes.  Have you ever deleted it you felt so bad? Not yet. 

Do you follow someone back as a courtesy even if you're not sure you would be interested to hear/see their personal details? The jury is still out. 

How should you feel when you friend request someone and it remains pending for a super long time in internet terms?  Meaning: a day or heaven forbid twowholedaysThink Zuckerberg in the last scene from Social Network. They portrayed him as a bit of a weasel in that movie anyway but he likely has enough money not to give a crap. 

Do you ever feel you need someone to physically remove your phone from your possession and not give it back for a while so you stop checking emails and refreshing Instagram? Guilty

Is it ever awfully tempting to delete all your accounts? As if a burden would be lifted and you'd stop comparing yourself to people you may or may not even know.  It's all relative anyway.Apples are not oranges and never will be. Furthermore, if I truly believe what I have been raised to believe then all the excess is superfluous anyway.  

Some quick thoughts to finish it off.

  1. How many pictures is too many pictures, in succession?  
  2. Should professionals allow clients, students, colleagues to friend/ follow them?
  3. Do we share to spark an emotional response from others, to inspire, to gloat a tad, or just because everyone else is?

Personally, I probably share too much about my pets. I don't have children so this is likely to be the case. I'm also not totally sure how I will share kid-related content if and God-willing when I have children. I post a lot about what I'm eating. I love to eat. Sue me. And I post a lot about family; they are post-worthy and a source of love and hope. 

End postand tweet. 

The Names We Give Ourselves

I gave into the Facebook craze, back when using it was new and pretty necessary.  When you friended people you never even met before going to college, because they were from your state. Or who can forget the time you were friends online with someone but failed to speak to them in real life? Awkward!  Social media underwent some refinement, and more focused forums were born.  I discovered Tweeting and Pinning much later in the game and am still getting acquainted. Personally, I am more fond of Pinterest because it is visually appealing, customizable, and a catalyst for fun projects. Twitter more than fills its niche, though; I just have a problem with brevity perhaps.

Both forums allot the user a limited amount of characters to explain his or herself, like a pitch of sorts. To condense your whole person into a partial paragraph, or a collection of fragments is tricky. Most people want to share as much information as possible, because in essence social media accounts are components of your personal brand. What you post and how you post shape how you're perceived whether you like it or not. And the people/entities you follow comprise the content you are bombarded with day in and out, so choose wisely. Ideally, there will be people that find you just exceptional enough to follow back.

Part of navigating the social media space means wading through users to find what and whom are relevant to your taste. Most intriguing to me is how people describe themselves. A great deal of blurbs I have seen look something like this: I am a motivational speaker, juggler, painter, photographer, dog walker, illusionist, cheese expert, poker player, and firefighter. In my spare time, I catch crocodiles, drink pickle juice, and recite the decimals of pi in reverse.  Ok, not exactly this extreme... but close.

More realistically, people still list off four or five professions in one sentence. And I think, "Wow, what an accomplished human. What have I done!?" But, are we actully all of these things? Likely not, because there are not enough hours in the day to accommodate the exhaustive dedication to each of these fields required to gain proficiency. Unless you have a personal assistant. Then anything is possible, I bet.  

I also ask myself, what are the metrics we use in determining what we are? Is it subjective, based on how we look at ourselves and what traits we most value? For example, if one time I went on a camping trip, have I earned the badge of avid outdoorsman? If one uses Instagram, does that make him or her miraculously a photographer? Or, is it more declarative and indisputable like I am B negative, Diabetic, or Sicilian? You publish a book or get paid to write things; you're a writer. When do we earn the right to say that we are something?

Take this blog for example. I call myself a foodie because I love to eat, not because I know everything there is to know about food or have impeccable taste. The simpler the food the better for me, actually. Good bread and some cheese will suffice. Don't know much about wine. I prefer coffee watered down. Fond of fake sushi (the kind with cooked elements like tempura shrimp). If James takes me to Sonic for a date night, I'm a happy girl. I also just really enjoy the sensory experience of making/eating food. By someone else's assessment, the title may be totally off. Foodie just sounded less gluttonous than eater so I went with it.  

Regardless, we all identify with traits or skills that make us feel worth. If what gives you a feeling of value is also your occupation, then more power to you! Oftentimes home life, hobbies, and volunteer pursuits are where feelings of worth really flourish. Either way, it is clear that people want to contribute, and find their niche. A space all their own in this ellaborate universe.  I for one would like to find the one or two things I can get good enough at to say I am a insert title here. But, there is also something appealing about dabbling. Being well rounded and knowing a little bit about a lot of things. 

In the spirit of social media here are the names I would give myself - Francesca: a contributer, lyric-messer upper, card maker, semi-professional food taster, sticker collector, mystery aficionado, adequate speller, aspiring maker, domestic dabbler, old soul, cookbook hoarder, during-the-movie-question-asker. Most importantly: a grandaughter, daughter, sister, partner, and friend. 

What are yours?   

The Friend Zone

For most of my high school and college years, I resided in this trying place known as "The Friend Zone". Because I am now happily in a relationship that was well worth the wait, I think it is finally ok to share my tales of woe. An episode of MTV's Girl Code, a hilarious show I have grown somewhat fond of, sparked a memory for me. Since the pseudo-scars of early womanhood have healed, why not make a joke of it. For a giggle, or ten, check it out.

In high school, I was blissfully busy with schoolwork and extracurricular activities. If possible, from what I recall, I was not super preoccupied with finding a mate. Sure I had crushes, and many awkward let downs. When you hear the guy you were pining after found a super hot girlfriend. Haven't we all? If not, just pretend to understand. I also kept in the back of my mind the belief that high school guys were a tad immature and just made better friends, and I would find a companion in college. Also, I did not have a lot of game. I think my Dad maybe even told me this once, but he meant it lovingly like, "Oh Francesca, don't be concerned, other girls just have more game than you. But never change. You are perfect, and someone will adore you like I do." Aw, thanks Dad.

College came and there were indeed handsome and bright guys all around. Many had girlfriends, or just worked the masses with their dimples and long LAX bro hair. Nice to look at no less, but alas they were not my match.  I developed a considerable crush on a guy in one of my classes, who was genuinely a kind and intelligent person. I thought we were connecting on many levels, and I guess in retrospect we were. But he fed me a classic "Friend Zone" line, that he had just gotten out of a long, serious relationship. Today, he is dating a young man as equally as handsome as he, so I suppose it wasn't me that was the issue,  just my gender.

I think I probably tried too hard, mostly because I really wanted to find a companion. Over-thinking every word and deed, and generating in my mind these elaborate justifications that the guy I liked really did like me too. Until I read this, and it became clear. He was just not that into me.

I met a few guys older than me, at church of all places. Thank you Jesus, for hooking a sister up! One was a grad student, and the other an alum about 10 years older than me. Another lightbulb in retrospect: Francesca, look for older guys.  Nothing ever got too serious, but I do believe that everyone you meet has something to teach you if you look hard enough. I came away from every encounter more capable of navigating the WTF moments of dating/ trying to date.

There were always warning signs that I was in the "Friend Zone" and now I can identify them. Some of the more obvious ones, I failed to recognize:

"You will make a wonderful mother someday" - This melted my heart, of course. What a compliment. But when coming from a young man it typically meant, you are a nurturing and kind soul, but I do not want to date you.

"Want to study with me?" - Again, super flattering. Someone admires my intellect? He must want to be my boyfriend. No, sorry. If he wants to be your boyfriend, he will ask you to dinner or try to bed you, ASAP. 

"I really enjoy your company, but..." - The but is never, ever good. If a guy wants to be with you, he will break down a wall to do so. Although I tried ever so diligently to prove myself otherwise, it just wasn't meant to be in many cases. 

I wish I had known some of these things then, but I have emerged from the battlefield and am doing just fine. It was not all for naught. For other wallflowers that may have a hard time dating, do not be discouraged. Celebrate who you are, and don't change for anyone. Although it will be saddening in the moment, the best is yet to come. Relationships that do not materialize prepare you for different and hopefully better things and well, people.

Someone will love every part of you.