Life Questions

Since my husband was out of town this weekend, I decided to make the 7 hour trek south to visit my parents.  This was my first time returning home without my husband since we got married.  Consequently, I slept in my twin bed that I used in college.  The bed was placed in the same room (in fact, the exact same spot) I slept in from ages 5-11.

Returning to the place where I spent my childhood can lead to nostalgia.  Returning to my old college bed can bring back the memories of a motivated young woman who was going to change the world.  Add in the fact that I will turn 25 in a little over a month, and I had the perfect conditions to start having a mid-20s life crisis that apparently happens when you turn a quarter century old.

Many questions could have floated through my mind this past weekend.  What have I achieved in 25 years?  What do I want to do with the rest of my life?  Do I want a career?  How does the fact that I am married work with these plans?  Am I living up to my potential?  Do I even have potential?  Big questions to settle in a weekend.  Instead, I focused on the one I felt the most:  How on earth did I manage to sleep on such an uncomfortable mattress for 3 years in college?!

Okay, the mattress only cost $75 brand-new, so you can’t expect much quality.  Still,
the thing is like sleeping on cement with pebbles scattered all over it.  I must have been
insane in college.

     

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Sympathy Stress

I’ve been feeling sympathy stress this week.  Many of my friends at the seminary are waiting for Vicarage Placement Service and Call Night next week.  I feel this stress for two reasons:  I remember how terrible I felt last year at this time and I know that a year from now I will be feeling just as stressed as my fourth-year friends.  While I’m looking forward to my husband getting a call (God willing), I am not looking forward to the wait.

To be clear, the climax of the waiting period is not the day before the service, nor is it the morning of the service.  The climax of the long wait for vicarage placement and a call is during the service.  Most of the students and their families have no idea where they will be going until the seminarian walks across the front of the church as his congregation is announced.  Of course, that is after sitting through an entire church service.  Consequently, this is what many of the students and their families only hear this inner monologue during the sermon:

Inevitably, the pastor opens his sermon saying that he knows that
we’re all anxious to hear our placement and calls, so he really should keep the sermon short.
25 MINUTES LATER, he finishes his “short” sermon. 

Please keep all of those receiving placements and calls next week in your prayers–it’s an exciting but emotional time at the seminary.


Introvert Mondays: Fun for Introverts

Okay, it’s not actually Monday; I was having problems finding the motivation to write yesterday.  Also, the picture isn’t mine, it’s from xkcd.com.  I was drawing on our iPad yesterday when my drawing app crashed, making me lose a half hour of work.  I didn’t feel like drawing after that.  

from http://xkcd.com/238/

During my senior year of college, I started socializing less on the weekends.  It wasn’t that I never did anything, it was just that I stopped feeling like I had to do something with people every Friday and Saturday night in order to ward off being deemed a social pariah.  Granted, sharing an apartment with 3 other women meant that there was usually someone around to watch a movie with, but I just stopped caring weather I did something exciting in the evenings.  This is quite counter-cultural for a college student and I couldn’t decide which was worse:  The fact I didn’t have anything social to do on a Saturday night or the fact I was starting to enjoy staying in on the weekend.

Of course, now I know that I was finally settling into my introversion and my quiet evenings in were actually better for me than trying to stay out late hanging out with friends.  Also, getting married cuts down on the pressure to live the wild weekend life of a stereotypical 20-something.  Still, there are things that I like to do for fun that sounds terribly boring when describing.  Things like reading, doing puzzles, or watching television show with my husband.  Likewise, there are things that I’m told are fun that sound absolutely horrible to me.  Things like big parties, karaoke, and shopping at a mall.  

Apparently this confusion of what constitutes as “fun” can widely differ between introverts and extroverts.  Sophia Dembling explains in The Introvert’s Way that, “Introvert fun is quiet, contemplative, and often experience in solitude.  It frequently relates to our environment.  A peaceful place is conducive to our kind of fun.  So is slowed pace.  And time” (pg. 123).  Here are some examples of activities she mentions that are considered fun by many introverts:

-Quiet sports like hiking, biking, or swimming*
-Going on walks
-Reading and writing
-Yoga
-Going to coffee shops, either by yourself or with a couple of friends
-Deep conversations in intimate settings (like going out to lunch with a friend or a small dinner party).
-Seeing movies by yourself
-Gazing out the window
-Long, quiet drives
-Museums

Of course, there are many activities that are often thought as “fun” that many introverts abhor.  Here are some examples of activities that introverts don’t enjoy:

-Roller coasters**
-Karaoke
-Audience participation
-Costume parties
-Practical jokes

I would also add large parties, bars, extreme sports like sky diving, and fairs.

Really, when discussing what is fun, it’s important to remember that the definition of fun is subjective.  That means that extroverts should remember that their introverted friends/family may be very sincere when they say they want to spend a quiet evening at home.  It’s not necessarily a cry for help from depression or loneliness.  Likewise, it’s important for introverts to not become uppity when talking about fun.  Just because introverts are more likely to enjoy spending the day reading or exploring a museum doesn’t make them better or more sophisticated than extroverts.  Not mention the fact that I hate to try anything new, so without a few extroverts gently telling me I should try a new activity, I may very well miss out on something I would enjoy.

What do you do for fun?  Introverts and extroverts alike, have you ever felt extreme pressure to enjoy something you hated doing?        

*This isn’t necessarily true for me.  While I enjoy things like hiking and running, I also like playing team sports.  Ultimate Frisbee is one of my favorites.
**I’m wondering if the roller coaster thing has to do with many introverts being highly sensitive persons (HSP).  I’ve mentioned HSP before and I promise I’ll go into more depth about this later!


Sometimes I’m Not a Very Good Wife

Yesterday, my husband and I were walking downtown when a big pile of melting snow slid off a rooftop and plopped on his head.  Other people who saw it gasped in surprised and gave him sympathetic looks; I was doubled over with laughter.  Sometimes I’m not a very good wife.


Why I’ve Been Trying to Avoid the Bad News of This Week

On September 11, 2001, a teacher came to inform my homeroom of breaking news only minutes after the first attack on the Twin Towers.  My fellow students and I spent the rest of the day shuffling from classroom to classroom, continuously watching the news coverage.  I saw the second tower fall, I saw the Pentagon in flames, I saw the burning remnants of Flight 93.  I was in 8th grade and I spent that September 11 watching the horrors of the worst terrorist attack on American soil unfold.  My 9th grade brother and 5th grade sister spent their September 11 much the same way.  When we got home from school, my mom was not pleased to hear that we watched the news all day.  “It’s not doing anybody any good to keep watching coverage on something like this,” she told us.  My dad must have agreed, because our television stayed off that evening.

It turns out that my parents instinctively knew what studies are beginning to show:  Surrounding yourself with news of traumatic events can be harmful to your physical and mental health.  Yet even as studies start to prove this, it becomes harder and harder to avoid the constant bombardment of news when disaster strikes.  With so many ways of getting information, from television news to radio programs to blogs, it’s incredibly difficult to avoid a constant stream of coverage.  Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter makes this nearly impossible.

But I am trying.  My husband and I found out about the Boston Marathon Bombing 30 minutes after it occurred.  He knew that he would have to discuss the story with people at church, so he wanted to watch as the news developed.  I told my husband that there was no sense in following the story that soon–it would take hours or days for anything definitive to form.  I read one article about the fertilizer plant explosion and then avoided the story.  I know next to nothing about the poison sent to a senator and the President.  I turned off NPR yesterday morning once I realized that they were doing constant coverage on the Boston Bomber manhunt.  I will admit that I am fairly ignorant of the current events of this week.

However, this does not make me a heartless person.  I mourn with my country this week for all that has happened to my fellow Americans.  But these events only show what I already know; that we live in a sinful world where tragedies will always happen.  I don’t need constant news coverage to tell me this.

Through long grief-darkened days help us, dear Lord,
To Trust Your grace for courage to endure,
To rest our souls in Your supporting love,
And find our hope within Your mercy sure.
“When Aimless Violence Takes Those We Love”, LSB 764:5  

Happy Birthday, Blog!

Two years ago I wrote my first post.  Admittedly, it was an odd post to start a blog.  There was no explanation of who I was or why I was writing, just my thoughts of being so very, very tired of teaching devotions.

Anyway, I could talk about how much has changed and how much has stayed the same in the last two years, but that would be boring.  I drew a picture instead.


Why I Hate Shopping at Walmart

My shopping nemesis is Walmart.  My dislike of the store is immediately apparent.  I physically react to walking into a Walmart:  My eyes widen at the sight of the cavernous ceiling, my skin crawls when spotting the narrow aisles, and my head pounds as I observe all the people milling around.  I don’t have this reaction when I go to Target.  Unfortunately, the closest Walmart is only 5 minutes from our house and the closest Target is 40 minutes away.*  I simply cannot justify not shopping at Walmart this year.   

I may not be able to avoid Walmart, but I don’t have to like Walmart.  In fact, my shopping experience for the last nine months has solidified my disdain for the store.  Here are 5 reasons why I hate shopping at Walmart:
1.  I can never find anything.
I also can’t find things like popsicle sticks, sidewalk salt, coffee filters, and light bulbs. 
2.  Items I need to buy seem consistently out of stock.  Seriously, it’s like shopping at the seminary co-op (where you can’t assume that they are going to have what you need), only the co-op is free and I pay for things from Walmart!

Of course, this can be a problem because sometimes I’m uncertain if something isn’t
there or if I just can’t find it.
3.  I can never find an employee to ask for help.

This means I can’t figure out whether I just can’t find an item or if the store
doesn’t have it.
4.  Inevitably I forget something at the opposite end of the store, meaning I have to trek through the miles and miles of aisles to get what I need.

This always seems to happen when I’m in a hurry, hence the picture of me running.
5.  There are never enough cash registers open.
Who decided that “Speedy Checkout” should go up to 20 items?  That’s not speedy!
And no, I don’t want to use a self-checkout; I want the store to do its job!
Ugh, Walmart.  The store may have me in its clutches this year, but rest assured that when we go back to the seminary where there are a plethora of shopping choices, I will be taking my business to Target. 

*I know this could be worse, that I could have to drive 40 minutes to get to the closest Walmart and even further to get to the closest Target.  Still, it’s my blog and I’ll complain if I want to!  😉

Introvert Monday: How Introverts Become Lonely

The Lonely Introvert:  It seems like an oxymoron at first.  How can people who desire time alone and often thrive working by themselves get lonely?  Fairly easily, actually.  People are social creatures whether introverted or extroverted.  Consequently, if introverts spend too much time alone, they can get lonely just like extroverts.  However, it can be more difficult for introverts to find a way to fend off loneliness.  They need a certain type of interaction to fulfill their social needs.

For introverts, it’s not the quantity of social interactions they have that makes them feel socially satisfied, it’s the quality of those interactions.  Sophia Dembling explains in The Introvert’s Way, “Introverts don’t get lonely if they don’t socialize with a lot of people, but we do get lonely if we don’t have intimate interactions on a regular basis,” (pg. 63).  This can be a blessing and a curse.  Introverts don’t need a herd of friends to make a fulfilling social encounter, meeting someone for coffee is perfectly suitable for them.  However, since introverts desire such a deep connection to feel fulfilled, it makes it difficult to find people to connect with.  That’s why introverts can feel lonely at a large party–they may not know anyone at the party or the atmosphere may not be suitable for long conversations.  In all honesty, this is why I never got into the bar scene in college:  Hanging out with strangers with loud music blaring and alcohol flowing didn’t seem like fun at all.  This need for intimate interaction is also why some introverts still want to socialize after working with others during the week–they may not have a deep connection with their co-workers.

Of course, that’s not to say that extroverts aren’t capable of socializing on an intimate level.  Some of the women I’ve developed the deepest friendships with in my adult life are extroverts and I love meeting up with them for a cup of coffee (you know, when we actually live in the same state).  Partly that’s because they didn’t have the same hang ups I have when meeting new people–they were willing to start a friendship while I was still studying them (wow, that makes me sound like a serial killer.  I promise I’m not!).  This is willingness to open up quickly is important when moving so often and I admire that in them.

This move has shown me the importance of having close friends nearby and just how lonely I can become in a crowd.  The first couple of months we lived here, my week went like this:  Monday-Thursday I spent by myself while my husband worked.  Friday I worked (but only with the kids–enjoyable, but not exactly fulfilling my social needs).  Saturday I spent the morning by myself and the afternoon with my husband.  I had ample alone time but little to no meaningful interactions with anyone besides my husband.  I could communicate with my friends via internet and telephone, but there wasn’t anyone I could spend time with in person.  The first part of introverted loneliness was created.

Then came Sunday morning.  Every Sunday felt like I was caught in a hurricane of people.  Faces would blur together, people would try to chit-chat with me and I would freeze up, and the constant interaction with others would have drained me of my social energy.  The problem was that I had no social energy to give–without the intimate social interactions during the week that I desperately need, my socializing fuel gauge was running on empty.  I couldn’t interact on Sunday mornings.*  The second part of introverted loneliness was created–I felt alone in the crowd.

Thankfully, things have gotten better.  I have found a few people that I can meet with for one-on-one, intimate interactions during the week.  That means I have some sort of fuel in my socializing tank.  That also means I have some friendly faces to help me through Sunday mornings, whether or not they know about my anxiety–these people can be called a “surrogate.”  The Introvert’s Way explains it as, “If you’re shy among groups, there’s nothing wrong with latching onto someone who isn’t and riding along,” (pg. 165).  Surrogates help shy introverts like me start meeting new people.  Typically my husband would be my surrogate, but he cannot fulfill this role on Sunday mornings when he has to work.

There you have it, the two ways introverts get lonely.  It is well put in The Introvert’s Way as, “Introverts are not immune to loneliness.  We can be lonely surrounded by people if we haven’t found anyone to connect with.  We also can get lonely if we allow the momentum of solitude to override our natural need for companionship,” (pg. 76).  This is just further evidence that introverts aren’t antisocial like some people claim.  If we were antisocial, we wouldn’t get lonely.

Do any other introverts get lonely?  Have any extroverts ever felt lonely in a crowd?     

*To be clear, church isn’t all about socializing.  Obviously it’s about hearing God’s Word and receiving His sacraments with the body of believers.  But believe me, this is so much easier to do when you can interact with others. 


How I Know When I Need to Leave the House

I spend many hours by myself during the week.  Some days I handle my alone time without much difficulty–I  have come to appreciate the sound of silence and I try to monitor my behaviors so I am aware of when I’ve spent too much time alone.  However, there are weeks when I get lax.  I stop paying attention to how much time I spend with others and start creating my own little world inside my house.  That’s when things get weird.

Consequently, I’ve compiled a list of some signs of when I need to leave the house:

1.  When I start having imaginary intimate conversations with people.

2.  When putting on my shoes to go outside starts to seem like too much effort.

3.  When I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve interacted with in person that week.
4.  When I start to spend hours and hours on my computer, especially if I’m looking a pictures of cute animals.

5.  When I start making inanimate objects talk to each other (potholders are the best for this activity!).
6.  When I start greeting my husband in the same manner that a Labrador puppy would when he comes home from work.
7.  When I say something so crazy and nonsensical that my husband tells me. . .

If these things start happening, then I know that it’s time to leave the house and experience reality.

How do you know when you’ve spent too much time alone?  Does it happen often?

   

Spring Has Abandoned Us, Part 2

Remember when I talked about spring coming?  What an optimistic fool I was.  Remember when I lamented about winter lingering?  Little did I know what was yet to come.  Easter came, there was still snow in our front yard:

Obviously, I very much wanted flowers for Easter.

The snow finally melted and we even saw 50 degrees for a day.  Was spring finally coming?

No, it was not.  Today, I woke up to the pounding of rain on the roof.  Then the rain changed to sleet.  Then the sleet changed to snow.

It’s April 11 and we had 3 inches of fresh snow fall this morning.  Now, I grew up in the Midwest and I know that an April snowstorm isn’t unheard of.  However, cabin fever set in about a month ago, so I have to ask:  WILL SPRING EVER RETURN?!