I consider myself lucky. I live in a society where outright racism is generally not tolerated. Unlike my parents’ generation, I don’t worry about some stranger on the street calling me a “chink” or a “jap” or a “gook” (which, strictly speaking, I’m only one of those three).
Then again, that just means that racism is more insidious now. Instead of blatant insults, I’m sometimes left questioning what someone meant by a certain remark. Today’s prejudice has mostly been reduced to microaggressions — socially acceptable comments that are still subtly derogatory.
I am not taking a black-or-white stance (get it?) on this issue. Instead, I will wade into the muddy gray waters this topic inevitably swirls up. I will weigh the pros and cons as logically as I can. I will share the information my personal research has uncovered, as well as the insights I gained as an educator at SeaWorld. And yes, I will explain why I do ultimately support SeaWorld’s endeavors.
One of the things that I have been thinking about is how great it feels to be in my thirties. I’m halfway through this decade and I have to say that it is SO MUCH better than my twenties. No question about it. It’s not that I didn’t completely enjoy that time of my life, but I have to say that now I feel more confident of who I am. That’s probably one reason why I am able to write these words and stand by them.
So here is my top five list of why it’s great to be a childfree woman in her thirties, instead of a confused girl in my twenties:
It’s easy to be inspired by a famous person who pursued their passions and found raging success. We read about how many times JK Rowling’s idea for a magical world of wizards was rejected, or how Tom Brady was a fourth-string quarterback in college. We see how they persevered despite the setbacks. And we think, “Wow, maybe if I just work hard enough at my passion, I can be successful like them, too.”
Well, we can’t all be JK Rowling or Tom Brady. Or Bill Watterson, or even Mike Rowe. Ultimately, these folks had talent. Tons of it. And some of us — actually, the vast majority of us — have to occupy the “sucking” end of the talent spectrum.
When you meet someone for the first time, you have everything in the world to talk about. Your relationship, whether professional, personal, or romantic, is essentially a blank state. You get a chance to fill that slate with all sorts of wondrous conversations.
And yeah, you rarely have to worry about hugging (assuming you’re an awkward hugger, like me). Handshakes are perfectly acceptable on the first meeting.
But when you meet someone for the second time?
Now, there are expectations (not the least of which is whether or not the other person has upgraded you to hugging level). Here’s a partial list of all the things that can take a turn for the disastrous when you meet someone for the second time:
Guy: Soooo… what kind of Asian are you?
Girl (visibly scowling): Uhhh… the American kind?
Obviously, this was not the way to try to start a conversation with a strange woman, let alone hit on her. Let’s face it, this guy’s biggest mistake was… well, everything. But the interesting thing is, she actually tolerated him until he asked about her ethnicity.
So why was that her cue to check out? She put up with everything else (barely) up to that point. Why did this particular question send her darting away?
Today, I breathe a sigh of relief that I managed to escape the teaching profession, that I managed to find a new career where I feel I can still make a difference in the world.
But then, I realize that in expressing myself this way, I’m doing a huge disservice to all the teachers out there.
You see, when I joke that I “escaped” the teaching profession, that implies that those who still teach are stuck, that they’re in a career they hate and can’t get out of.
Nothing could be further from the truth. My teacher friends devote their lives to education not because they’re incapable of doing anything else. They do it because it’s their passion.
On some level, we all spend our lives waiting for opportunity. “I’m just waiting for my big break.” “I can’t believe how lucky he got. That guy gets all the breaks.” It’s as though opportunity is this giant metal claw, and we’re toys at the bottom of the carnival machine of life, each of us hoping to be the next lucky one to get snatched up to a better life.
But, this isn’t how opportunity operates. Whether you believe that God, Darwin, or just random blind luck is responsible, opportunity doesn’t just fall onto our lap and whisk us away.
Doctors and modern medicine are the cornerbacks in the game of life. Their job is to play defense, to prevent you from getting sick. And in true cornerback form, when they do their job, you’ll only wonder if you even needed them in the first place. But the one in 100 times that something does goes wrong, boy, will you cry foul.
And that’s why disease prevention is such a tough sell for people. The problem of modern medicine is that people only take notice when it fails us. There’s even a psychological term associated with this state of thinking: negativity bias.
So what can we do about this?
The researchers concluded that this is how women show aggression towards other women they see as sexual threats. While men “compete” for women via direct aggression against each other (you know, shot taking, arm wrestling, breaking beer bottles over each other skulls, and any other type of contest that purports to broadcast the length of our penis), women “compete” for men in more indirect ways — by insulting and ostracizing them.
Whether or not you agree with the conclusions of the researchers, this “mean girl” behavior clearly exists. The internet abounds with women hating on other women’s outfits. And worse, it’s considered snarky and witty.
“This can’t be right,” I mutter to myself.
I put my pen down to breathe. I am in serious need of oxygen here. Seeing all of this in list form makes my bleak situation look even worse. I’m turning 30 next week. 30!
What am I doing with my life? I don’t have a job. My boyfriend broke up with me over the phone a month ago, and I cry every time that song by Gotye, “Somebody That I Used To Know,” comes on the radio….
Do you know what happens when you take sex and make it public? You get porn – stuff that people who aren’t getting enough sex drool over, and stuff that people who are sexually fulfilled smirk at, because they know how unrealistic it is.
Similarly, do you know what happens when you take a proposal and make it public? You get engagement porn – stuff that people who aren’t happy with their own relationships drool over, and stuff that people in fulfilling relationships smirk at, because they know how unrealistic it is.
Not that there’s anything wrong with porn.
Last night, I was given a gift. It was my second of the week — and one that the teachers of young children rarely receive.
I had been surprised to hear from the parents of a child I worked with 30 years ago. At that time, I was a resource teacher for the state of Arizona, specializing in children with developmental delays, ages zero to five. Their son had been one of my students. In fact, he had been one of my favorite students.
I’m really not sure how to refer to this woman. She wasn’t a friend, but then again, “professional acquaintance” seems so… distant. The difference she made in my life was immense, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for her.
And maybe that’s why the whole experience has been… weird. I haven’t shed any tears for this woman, and to claim that I’m distraught would be disingenuous. Yet, I am saddened by her passing. I want to say this to her family. I want to hug her husband and kids and offer my sympathies, to let them know how she touched my life, even so briefly.
Still, it’s not my place to do so.
When did all my skirts gain an extra 10 cm of length? Why was my underwear drawer filled with things in cotton? Why did the bookshelves hold only kids’ books, law books, and my husband’s books, while all my favourite volumes of poetry were shoved to the back row? And my computer files? Three categories — Kids, Household, and Work.
From where I stood, thrill-seeking now looked like a disease. Itchy, embarrassing and contagious. Still, I would have been fine — if it were not for Will.
They say, “Home is where the heart is.” But what if your heart is in more than one place?
They also say, “Home is where you hang your hat.” But what if you prefer to hang your hat in the same place every day?
These two old sayings seem to be at odds with one another. The former offers comfort by implying that wherever your heart longs to be is home, while the latter aims for embracing life, saying home is wherever you currently are. I have found both of these to be no comfort, and in fact, total crap.
When I began dating, the universe neglected to provide me with step-by-step instructions — only a vague sort of stage directions. He is here, you are there, hold hands, kiss, cut, thank you everyone, now we are done. The film director might have gone home, but I was still there, baffled.
So what happens next? After the kissing and the sex? How do I handle it? More specifically, how do I handle Matt?
If you’re out with friends, do you look warm and inviting, like you’re having fun and hoping to meet people? Or do you look like you’re stuck someplace you don’t want to be, with people you don’t want to be with?
Start paying attention to your friends who do get attention from guys. How do they stand when they’re out? What sorts of facial expressions are they wearing? Are they smiling and laughing? Or do they stand there with a half-scowl on their face? If they catch a cute guy glancing at them, do they look back and smile? Or do they turn away without acknowledging the guy?
And, oh yeah, stop judging your friends because you think you have the goods and should be the one getting approached. Because, seriously, that’s not attractive.
The attitude I have towards teacher meetings is the exact same attitude my students have towards school. Deep down, on some level, they know it’s important for them to be in class, to learn new skills, to attend school every day and graduate.
But, they also know they have time to develop these skills, they have time before they need to graduate. So, they just can’t get themselves engaged in class. And that’s when they start slyly chatting with their classmates whom they haven’t seen in over a month… checking Facebook on their phones… texting people… playing Angry Birds….
I get it now.
Meeting someone for the first time? Awesome.
What’s not so awesome? Hugging someone for the first time.
I confess, I’m an awkward hugger. To me, there’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than going in for that very first hug with someone I’ve recently become friends with.
The problem isn’t the first hug itself. The problem is when to attempt that first hug—when to level up the friendship from handshake / fist-bump / touch-on-the-arm / pat-on-the-back / casual-side-hug to….