Welcome to the life of an American female. Aimlessly wandering the road of youth and adulthood, she shares her tales of growing pains, discoveries and ideas. There might also be a pinch of happiness, a dash of light, and a micro-amount of wisdom within. The author is not liable for any psychological damages you may incur while reading this blog.

The author put it best when she said, "My humor is like a good martini - extra dry and sometimes served dirty."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

On Gender Roles and My Future Little Me

I am currently expecting our first child -- a little girl. We're super excited, and we've been blessed with a lot of gifts for our future little one. A friend of mine (a psych major) and I were discussing gender roles the other night, and how society just "expects" little girls to wear frills and pink. She got a lot of weird looks when she bought a "gender neutral" outfit for our little one, and I had people asking if I was "sure I was having a girl" when I registered for some clothes that were blue, green, or otherwise "non-girl." I see no reason our little girl can't wear blue, green, or camo if she wants.
Camo's cute!

I wore lots of colors growing up. I wore muck boots and camo and fished and rode the tractor with my dad. I helped with the cows and learned how to bait a hook, although it took longer for me to get the hang of taking the hook out of the fish's mouth. I ran barefoot in the yard every chance I got, and was more interested in mud fights than boys. I also loved Lisa Frank, lime green, and tiger stripe print. I played with Hot Wheels, Lincoln Logs, Legos, and stuffed animals. I had a handful of dolls, and I played with them, too. I was always told to "act like a lady," but my parents never tried to reign in my "tomboy" behavior. Unless they were putting on a quite the show, they were quite okay with my affinity for "girl" and "boy" activities. I was, after all, a good ol' country girl.

I also knew how to keep it cool.
You know I'm rockin' those shades.
My daddy taught me how to change the oil in my car, how to do basic work in lawn mowers and tractors, and my mama taught me about keeping up a house and gardening, although it would be many years before I could actually keep a plant alive, much less get produce from it. I got bumps and scrapes and scars from my misadventures in the woods. I got a tick once. I stepped on lots of splinters, thorns, and spurs; and I learned that grabbing nettles firmly and confidently does NOT make them hurt any less.
Ain't you ever climbed a hay bale before? 
I loved climbing hay bales, going hunting (although I cried over everything I ever shot), and bird watching. (Actually, it was more like bird identifying. We would sit at the dining table and watch the birds gather around the feeder and look them up in "the bird book.") I also learned how to knit, crochet, sew, and cross-stitch. I taught myself how to play violin and loved to read. I like to think I was a pretty well-rounded kid. Much of that is due to my parents just letting me be a kid. I had rules and chores, sure, but they didn't try to force me to be anything I didn't want to be (like a girly-girl). I could play in the dirt all I wanted, so long as I didn't track it in the house and I kept my nails clean.

Clearly, we didn't know a lick about shop safety,
but we sure knew how to fix a non-broken wagon!
That's what I want for my little girl. I don't think forcing her to be a girly girl (although she has no say how I dress her as a baby!) or expecting her to have the same likes I did as a child is a healthy parenting approach. I want her to have respect for herself and others, but by all means, please, be a child! Please, run and play and get dirty! You can never get those carefree years back, so the longer I can delay her immersion in the overwhelming expectations of the world, the better. Nothing hurts worse than hearing a little girl say she's fat, or that no one likes her, or that she is anything less than what she is.  Let's let kids just be kids, for as long as they can, okay?

See, I still knew how to look the part of a lady!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

On Jealousy and Insecurity

Admit it. At some point, you've let your insecurities get the best of you and succumbed to that ugly green monster known as jealousy.

Whether it's over looks, attention, or possessions, jealousy is never a pretty thing. It also won't get you what you want. On the contrary, it's likely to make you lose what you already have. Jealousy is like always looking back - you'll miss out on all the great moments you could have been enjoying.

Hey, keep on fussing that your brother got a bigger burger than you.
This dog will eat them all, no questions asked.
The world won't end if you find yourself feeling the twinges of jealousy one day. (Seriously, it's ok.) We all feel a little jealous about one thing or another at some point in our lives. What really matters is what you DO with those feelings. If you let them consume you, you will become paranoid and bitter...if not downright spiteful. You'll spiral down deeper and deeper, and, before you know it, your world is no longer just green with jealousy, it's empty. That's right. Empty. That's because no one wants to hang with an overly jealous person. They're a drag. I know, because I've both been one and hung with a few.


The good news is that jealousy can be managed better with maturity, which typically comes with age. It's not uncommon to have direct battles with jealousy in your teens. If you're still facing the same battles in your thirties and using the same management techniques as when you're a teen (which usually equals none), well friend, you're in trouble. Get a grip on that. Like, now.

That's so not cute.

In my particular case, my jealousy wasn't over someone else's possessions. My issues were, like many women's, mostly centered around my boyfriend at the time. I was young (16) when we started dating. My boyfriend's way of avoiding conflict or even remotely difficult questions was to not divulge any information and more or less just lie. 

For example, he was invited to a graduation party by a girl that was part of his (supposed) old circle of friends. I told him I wasn't comfortable with it, and it almost turned into an argument because he felt I was making something of nothing. He claimed they had always been just friends and there was no reason he couldn't have female friends. Of course, his tune changed later when I happened over a giant bundle of notes he had saved from her, one of which detailed a pregnancy scare she had had after having sex with him. Just friends? Um, no. Needless to say, omissions like this created deep trust issues that seriously delayed my battle with common teenage jealousy issues. 

"What? She just needed a place to crash. It's not like we're naked."
That boyfriend has since became my husband and we're expecting our first baby together. Clearly, we worked through our communication and jealousy issues and built a stronger bond, rather than letting the little things tear us apart. When it comes to jealousy in a relationship, it's important to remember that communication is key...and communication is a two-way street. If you don't voice your concerns, you can't expect to be heard or have your feelings considered. (Note that it's not just speaking up, it's what you say and how you say it!) When you feel jealous, it's important to stop and ask yourself exactly what it is that is making you feel that way. Nine times out of ten, it's rooted somewhere in your own insecurities. If you can isolate what is making you feel jealous, you can make the conscious decision to change your behavior. Whatever you do, don't undervalue your feelings. You're having them for a reason, whether it's due to your own insecurities or something else entirely (like poor communication). 

Yep. Get to know that person in the mirror. 

I think jealousy is a pretty natural human behavior, it's just one of many behaviors you have to learn to manage appropriately. Unbridled jealousy can wreak havoc on relationships and your own sanity. Identify it, own it, overcome it. :)