The Little Sister

I'm a little sister.

I've taken my fair share of lumps, bumps, and bruises. (Well, let's see…there was an entire year that my older sister was obsessed with determining if I could break my arm in more weird and wonderful ways [falling from the monkey bars, having it run over by a Barbie Power Wheels…]) etc.

And while I would love to expound on all the divisive ways my older sister chose to torture me, I have to say that I have never, ever been so tortured as when I had to see her in pain.

I have a frequent flyers number for my hospital stays; I'm extremely familiar with IVs, blood tubes, and tourniquets.

But it is very rare that I am at the hospital with someone who isn't me.

Enter my sister's routine leg surgery to repair her ACL. All the sudden, she's this little person in a huge hospital bed with a hair net on, crying about how scared and overwhelmed she is.

I can honestly say that I've never felt more helpless. (Even when I was laying prostrate on the grass, waiting for that Barbie Power Wheels to run over my arm.) I couldn't do anything to help her pain or to alleviate her fear.

And then I thought, she must worry about me like this all of the time. And because I am the little sister, as you may also confirm if you also have a sibling, it took me until just now to put myself in her shoes in that way. (Hey, we mean well, but sometimes the younger ones can be a bit self-centered.) Especially if we have a sister as awesome as I do, who is always watching out for me.

So, if you have a sibling, try to give them a hug tonight. Remind them that there is no one like them in your life, and while it hasn't always been perfect between you two, you've got nothing but love for them.

Goodbye?

I had a rather poignant conversation in the middle of a rather ordinary day. 

How do you say goodbye? (Besides the obvious). 

How do you say goodbye to a friend that you know you may not see again for awhile? How do you say goodbye to a co-worker that you’re leaving behind for a new job? How do you say goodbye to a lover or a family member?

Or do you? Do you ever say goodbye? Or do you just keep that part of your life alive somewhere? Why even say goodbye in the first place? Whose to say you won’t meet again? 

So, what do you do? (So many questions!)

Well, all I have to say is that I’ve never regretted that I said goodbye to someone when I did. There have been times in my life when I said goodbye, and it just stuck, and I never saw that person again. 

And at the same time, I’ve never had a moment in which I wished to say goodbye to someone one last time. Even for my grandmother who passed that I did not say goodbye to, because my memory has preserved her as the great person she was, not the sick person. 

On the other hand, I’ve kept up relationships in my life for no other reason than because I was afraid to say goodbye. Because it inevitably meant the end of something. 

Maybe instead we can all be hopeful enough that we won’t have to say goodbye, but smart enough to know that we may have to someday. 

Looking for relationships in all the wrong places 

I have an important announcement to make: 

You don’t have to be friends with the people who are in the closest proximity to you. 

(I know, I know. In other obvious news, your waitress doesn’t actually care how you’re doing today.)

But seriously. Just because you’re rubbing shoulders with your classmates, roommates, coworkers, or clients, all the time doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be friends. And you don’t have to be. 

I mean, is it nice? Yeah, of course it is. It’s great to have a support system wherever you are. It’s so wonderful to have a “work wife” and a “bff” as your roommate. But some people aren’t going to check off every box for you, and that’s okay. 

Take me, for example. I’m very, very blessed to have a loving and supportive and tight knit family. But I know people whose family doesn’t fill the love needs that they have and they need to go outside that unit. They need to go to their friend groups or their coworkers or what have you. Because sometimes, the people that you’re supposed to “be friends” with don’t always work out. 

And while it’s a little less convenient to go out and throw all of your personality traits outside of your immediate area (sometimes literally) and see which of your acquaintances “sticks” (aka, “who sticks around”), these friendships will be more meaningful when you have more in common than that you share a house or a cubicle or a classroom with them. 

Be unafraid to look past the obvious to find a true friend. You’ll be surprised at whose looking for you too. 

Love Makes You See Things Differently

Love is weird.

As you may know, I have been dating my boyfriend for 10 years.

I’ll wait for that to sink in. (Everyone needs time with that one.) And I have to say, we’re quite different. And not even in a girl/boy sort of way. More like a tomato/tomatoe sort of way. He likes all things concrete and science. I love all things abstract and literature. So, we tend to see the world very differently.

For example? Cars.

My boyfriend loves cars. (I don’t know what the deal is with men and machines. Kindred spirit? Fueled by gas? Anyway…) He likes the way they sound, he likes the way they’re made, and he knows the difference between the two.

Me? I like…the way they look. Some of them. And how some cars have faces. And how some look really angry or really dumb. And that’s about as far as my engine will go. (I know, I know. The “I’m a girl, don’t ask me to change a tire” flag is flying high tonight).

Well. That was before we started dating.

Now? After a decade? I can tell cars apart. The worst part? I have a preference. Before we were dating, I just wanted one that went forward when I asked it to. Now that we’re dating, I’d prefer a Lamborghini Aventador. Poor guy. He doesn’t know he’s dating a Libra with incredibly expensive taste. (As if there were any other kind!)

So now when I drive down the highway, my head turns a little too long when I see a nice Volvo. I find myself drooling a bit when I see a Dodge Challenger in black. And of course, when I see someone driving like an idiot up ahead, I am always right when I guess it’s an Acura, a Lexus, or a BMW.

I never paid much attention to what I was driving, let alone the cars that were driving next to me before. But now I’m excited to identify the car (and to get it right). Just because I love a guy who loves cars.

Now, if only I can get him to acknowledge Hemingway over a Hemi, Poe over a Porsche, and Nabokov over a Nascar race, I’d say my work here is done.

But I’ll take mileage over matter any day.

You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry

Tonight, we’re going to talk about our feelings.

No, seriously.

You can work to swallow them, hide them, or even pretend that they don’t exist. But feelings are a part of us, and without them, we’d all be Cybermen.

(Personally, I like to sing to in the car to expel my emotions. Performing a concert live where no one can hear me sing the wrong words and notes makes me feel like Beyonce, and we all know that no one can hurt the queen’s feelings.)

It was during one of these solos inside of my car that I realized something about one specific emotion: anger. Anger is unlike any other feeling because it is so fleeting. It transforms too quickly to envy, fear, sadness, or even apathy. We don’t really experience anger all that often, at least not in its purest form.

But when we do experience anger, and here’s where my revelation comes in, we are not angry in the way that we have made ourselves believe. Have you ever realized that when you are angry at someone or something it’s because they didn’t do what you expected them to do instead of being angry at them for what they did? Isn’t anger then simply surprise and confusion?

Think about it. When you were younger and you did something wrong, oh say, stuff a lot of tissues in the porcelain throne to see what would happen (like I did), you can probably remember that your parents were pretty angry. Or at least, you could probably guess that they would be very angry if you did such a thing. Why? Because you did permanent damage to the toilet? Maybe. But they could buy another one. Because you purposefully tried to break something? I guess, but you were just a kid.

No, it was because you weren’t acting as your parents were expecting you to act. I don’t know why, but most parents simply assume that their children will wear halos and do what they are told. And everything we know, from fairy tales to television shows, tells us that this is not true. So, kid goofs off, parents get angry, kid gets punished, kid promises never to do it again (with variable results).

Think of another situation. What about when you forget to buy something for your anniversary with your partner? Why does he or she get angry, you ask? Not because they really wanted a present, and not even because this is probably the fifth time you forgot. (Although, yes, it is probably the fifth time you forgot and that sucks for the other person.)  But the reason they are probably angry is because you are not acting as they’d expect you to act. 

Consider one more scenario. You have a best friend. You develop feelings for him or her. Then, when you build up the nerve to tell this person, he or she tells you that they are not interested, but they would like to stay friends. You, in turn, are angry. So, you declare yourself eternally in the “friend zone” (which does not exist) and proceed with whatever course of action that scorned lovers take. But really, you guessed it, you are only angry with your best friend because he or she did not act as you expected. This causes feelings of mistrust and hurt, and that’s understandable. But it isn’t your best friend’s fault for being honest with you.

Essentially, you need to evaluate the situation the next time that you find yourself angry at someone or something. Most often, you will find that you are angry because things didn’t go the way that you were expecting them to. And if you are going to be angry about that, then you are going to be angry for the rest of your life.

Be Mine? Be Alone.

The adage “you always want what you don’t have” is always true.

Yet, it is even more accurate around Valentine’s day.

Singles are painfully reminded that they need to be coupled to be considered a successful member of society. Meanwhile, they are trying to work up the courage to sign up for a dating site or be forever humiliated by their “encouraging” (nosy) parents.

Couples, no matter how long they’ve been together, feel an annual pressure to reveal their undying love in one expensive, romantic display. Even if they agree not to exchange, someone reneges and buys a really awesome gift for the other and further seals the fact that he or she is far, far too good for you, making you wish for not only the single life but for a private island where you can be ashamed of yourself, by yourself.

And this is all in the name of love.

Now, I know we’re a couple of weeks away from V-day, but I need to make something clear before we’re lost in a haze fueled by chocolates and romantic comedies. Before everyone starts asking you why you haven’t found someone “nice” to “settle down with.” Before you feel the overwhelming pressure to conform with society’s orders to share your life with someone else.

Before you ever involve yourself romantically, you need to learn to be alone.

That’s right, all that “love yourself before you love someone else” isn’t really helpful advice. If you really want to be successful in a relationship, you should know what it feels like to be by yourself. What it is like when you only have you.

You should teach yourself how to solve your own problems, how to feel better after your own temper tantrums, how to unwind after a long day. Then, when your significant other is unavailable, emotional or otherwise, you won’t have a complete meltdown. And you won’t completely cling to them when they come back.

In the end, the biggest problem you face in a relationship is when you think your partner should be there to fix things for you. But a good boyfriend or girlfriend should be like aspirin: they are able to ease the pain but not keep it away forever.

Of course, I don’t often consider myself in a position to give out romantic advice. Although I have been in a relationship for 9 years, I don’t suggest that what may work for me will work for you.

But this Valentine’s day, I wouldn’t ask yourself why you are still alone. Rather, ask yourself if you’re ready not to be.

5 Lessons I Learned Holding Your Hand

Little sisters, am I right?

We look up to our older siblings, hoping to to be one quarter of the person they are. And what do they do? They use us as their minions to do their bidding. They tell us it won’t hurt when it does. They act like the hardest thing they’ve ever done was share anything. They tell us to get out when all we want to do is be there with them. They tell us we’re annoying when all we want to be is appreciated.

As a younger sister, I can attest that this is all true. But I can also say that there are many benefits to being a younger sister, too. So, on my older sister’s birthday, I would like to recount some of the lessons I learned by watching her live her life first. Yup, that’s right. I had a bird’s eye view of all of her failures. But we’re going to focus (mostly) on what she achieved, so that I can do right by her. After all, she did right by me.

5. Don’t Listen to Mom and Dad

-Mom and Dad certainly know best, except, well, when they don’t. They can direct you as much as possible until it has to become about what you want out of life. Although my sister took this to the extreme by listening to the advice of my parents and doing the exact opposite, she showed me that it was possible to live outside of the box that the world created for me. She showed me it was possible to accept someone’s advice without taking it. Of course, sometimes avoiding fights and going along with whatever your parents say is the safer route, and she certainly taught me that lesson, too.

4. Make Some Noise

-I thought that this was only me, but I think all younger sisters suffer from this issue a bit: we don’t like to talk for ourselves. From day 1, our older sibling is holding our hand, introducing us, telling other people what we think before we can even form words. Which inevitably turns into ordering food for us and talking on the phone for us, and basically taking over all social activities, like a personal secretary. So, when I grew up, I was left with a residual shyness. My sister? Shy isn’t in her vocabulary. She’s zany, and boisterous, and downright loud. And while most days I appreciate that I am the ying to her yang, I have to say that I admire her energy. It makes me feel like I should do more to make my presence known in this world, let alone a single room.

3. Treat Yourself 

-As a younger sister, I have often been tricked into doing something that I didn’t want to do simply because my older sister told me it was a good idea. Who was I to argue with my elders? Inevitably, this lead to me fetching her snacks or doing her chores. Now, that I am older I can see through that ruse…and use the same tactics on other people. See, now I realize that my sister was just treating herself. She was just asking for help when she needed it (and when it was convenient for her). In all honesty, we all need to ask for assistance when we need it, and we also need to treat ourselves like the queens we are. Just as long as there is some give and take along the way.

2. Monkey See, Monkey Don’t

-Okay, and now we get into the less than glamorous moments. You’re human, sis. So, I’ve seen you make your fair share of mistakes. But I want to thank you for learning from them. You not only shared your wardrobe with me but you shared your slip-ups. You told me what happened, and why I should never make the same mistake. Because of this, I started to live vicariously through you, and I could have the fun without any of the consequences. It was kind of like chewing chocolate cake and then spitting it out: all the taste and no calories. So, thank you for having less intelligence to do the things you did. But thank you for having more intelligence to turn around and tell me what was a terrible idea. And also what made a great story.

1. I Forgive You

-Yes, nothing is more sacred than those three little words when you’re a little sister. Because after all these questions: Who stole my straightener? Where’s that shirt I like? Why are my shoes in your room? It’s nice to know that you can focus on what really matters. Forgiveness. No, I will not stop stealing your stuff. No, I will not hang up your clothes after I use them. No, I will not return what I borrow. But I promise that I’ll always be there for you when you need me. That is, if you can forgive me. (And I think you should because you did some pretty messed up stuff to me when we were kids. Like, you tried to run over my arm with a power-wheel car, and you almost forced me to eat “backyard soup.” So, I think you owe me this one. Or at least this shirt.)

Of course, I know I had it easier being the little sister. But I know I had it even easier because you were and are my sister. Love you.

It’s The Sap–Sappiest Season of All

I’m a sensitive person. I tear up a little when Oprah gives things to people. I smile uncontrollably and coo when I see baby animals do something cute. I see it as a personal attack when people don’t say, “have a nice day!” You know, I’m just a little thin-skinned. (Okay, okay, I have paper skin of the same hue, but let’s not split hairs.)

But thankfully and magically, the holidays have changed that (or at least, they have made my affliction less noticeable). Around this time of year, I am suddenly surrounded by a cloud of sentimentality from the people I interact with daily. What is it about this season (the end of one year, the beginning of the next) that makes people bust out their tissues and tell you how they really feel about your relationship? Like, if I don’t see you for the rest of 2014, I need you to know that I really enjoyed your company for the past 360 days. Could this be the result of the proximity of our loved ones? Or possibly some commercialism brainwashing?

Wherever it comes from, I think it is wonderful. Finally! says the CareBear inside of me, Finally, we’re expressing our feelings in a meaningful way! Group hug, everyone! No, come on, get in here and get your pipin’ hot slice of love!

And I do love it. I’m so thankful that people are a bit more free with their feelings, a little bit sappier around this time, so their loved ones and acquaintances receive some type of acknowledgement for everything in the past year. After all, everyone wants to be reminded of what their presence means to someone. That’s a no-brainer.

But what isn’t a given for everyone is that he or she will have another year to spend with you. So, don’t forget to spread the love around more than once every December. Remind your friends, family, employees, and acquaintances that you are glad that you’ve crossed paths on this great journey of life. Believe me, you’ll be happy you said something when you did.

Author’s note: I will not be posting for the rest of the week, but I hope that everyone has a safe and happy holiday! Love, BaileyDailey

9 Things I Learned From Being in a 9 Year Relationship

Yes, you read that right.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 9 years. Although dating hardly seems like the right word after all this time. Is “going steady” still a thing?

I know. Our relationship is as old as a young child, and we’ve been dating longer than most married couples are, well, married.

We met in middle school, began our relationship in high school, and stayed together through college. He wrote in my middle school year book, “will you go out with me?” and we never looked back.

But now I am looking back. On all of the lessons we’ve learned along the way. Maybe you’ll learn from our mistakes or maybe you’ll just laugh at them.

Thing #1

Never give or take relationship advice.

As you can imagine, I’ve been asked for a lot of relationship advice throughout the years. Unfortunately, I gave out a lot of it. That is, until I realized that it doesn’t really do anyone any good. You are different than me, thus your relationship will be completely different than mine. What will be your line in the sand is just my Tuesday. Your final straw will be my latest mistake.

So, really, the argument of this blogpost just collapsed in on itself. If you’re still here when the dust clears, go onto #2.

Thing #2

Relationships are hard. Make it easier by dating your best friend.

Like I said, I don’t give out relationship advice. But if I did, I would tell you to date your best friend. Tim and I work well together because at the end of the day, I’m still excited to tell him how my day went. He shares my interests and my goals, but he isn’t afraid to disagree with me.

Thing #3

Sometimes, people that are completely different than you make the best partners in life.

People have argued with me on this point, which also supports my thesis about why relationship advice is completely bogus. But I believe it. Tim is a chemist, and I’m a writer. Our brains are wired differently, and when we do argue, well. To put it in his terms, we can go a bit nuclear. And sure, there are times we don’t see eye to eye. (Mostly, because I am a foot shorter than him…) But I can accept his opinion, and he can accept mine because we respect each other. Respect is not something I see in a lot of relationships these days. Tim and I try not to talk over each other (although it happens), and we try to support each other, as a result. Most days, if we give each other the time to blow off steam, we can avoid an impending argument.

I once heard that soul mates are not the people who are exactly like us, but the people who make us better versions of ourselves. Most people cannot even be in the same room as their soul mate because it is so hard for people to accept their own flaws. Tim is a rare soul mate, who pushes me, albeit gently, to be the best person I can be. We like to think that we knew each other in a past life but were unable to be together for some reason. This is why we’ve been given so much time together in this life. (Cue the “awww’s.”)

Thing #4

Every relationship experiences growing pains.

I think the hardest thing about dating someone during high school is that we are all trying to find ourselves. Yet, Tim is one of those rare people who has always known who he was. I had a pretty good lock on my identity during my high school years, but my center of gravity started to drift when I got to college. I felt the need to reinvent myself, which caused a lot of unforeseen heartbreak.

Kids, don’t be afraid to break up for a little while, if you have to. Sometimes, you need to figure out your own situation without dragging someone else into it. Trust me, love will find a way. There are too many success stories of people who went their separate ways only to end up back together a few years down the line. So, if it doesn’t feel right, try to take a break. Tim and I tried to take one, but we found it was much easier to keep each other in our lives while we went through the rough patch then to be pushed away. What can we say? We’re masochists.

Thing #5

Don’t force it.

I can’t say this enough. I’ve seen too many couples try to “work it out” when they are really two soggy puzzle pieces: they may have fit together once, but they don’t anymore, and that’s okay. Sometimes we grow out of people, like old clothes. This is natural. If it happens, don’t fight it. Appreciate what the person has brought into your life and kindly show them the door. If it feels like you are truly unhappy with any part of your relationship, besides the little things (he/she snores, he/she leaves the seat up, etc.) then you should get out of there.

Thing #6

Don’t have a lot of expectations for your relationship.

I used to wear myself out. Every anniversary, I would wait for Tim to ride in on a rented white horse to take me to a duck pond where we could spend a moonlit night feeding the fowl. When this didn’t happen, I would get upset.

Finally, I realized I was looking at everything the wrong way. Tim works hard to show me how much he appreciates me in his life every other day of the year. I started to realize that anniversaries were a special day for me, but for Tim, they were just another chance to prove his love, just like any other day. I’ve accepted that he isn’t going to ride in on a white horse, but we still have a rule that he must make me/buy me a card on our anniversary. For a few anniversaries, when we couldn’t drive, we didn’t even get to see each other. Now, I’ve learned to appreciate any time we spend together. Try to remember that the other person is probably doing the best they can with what they have. Cut them a little slack.

Thing #7

Be vulnerable and communicate.

I don’t really believe in the “your my other half” business. I believe in being my own person while the other person is their own person. If you can be yourself together, then it’s perfect. However, when you try to hold back your emotions, or you don’t communicate exactly what you want, feelings can and will get hurt. You really want that white horse? Tell him/her.

Thing #8

Check your pride at the door.

I see a lot of relationships fail because one person is really concerned with being right all of the time. While we have an element of healthy competition in our relationship, Tim and I don’t let it get the best of us. We begrudgingly say the other one is right, this time, and we move on. Instead of repeating “I’m right” in your head, maybe try listening to what the other person is saying for a change of pace. I believe people show their true colors through conversation, but sometimes we are too busy thinking of our reply and we miss it.

Thing #9

Be the other person’s cheerleader.

This is something that I didn’t know how to do until I met Tim. I’m sure dating a writer can be really scary at times. We want fame and fortune, but we are usually full of self-doubt. Also, I expected Tim to write me poetry for the first 4 years of our relationship because I thought, “I can, why can’t he?” But he’s always supported me, no matter what. He doesn’t ask why, but how. He always reminds me of what I am capable of, even when I don’t see it. He’s proud of who I am and what I am going to become. Most days, everyone just needs someone to believe in what they can do and who they are.

I love you, Tim. I always have and I always will. I’m not sure I deserve you, but I’m going to spend the rest of my life proving that I do.

Here’s to another 9 years…