All I want is to be understood (and/or loved)

For years I’ve toyed with the idea that some of my social discomfort is based on some diagnosable trait. Maybe I’m slightly autistic or something. I have no real clue. I was looking for an explanation. 

I don’t understand everything about myself. I know as a certainty that I have some things, that I am some things. But going through this period of depression and having ups downs and relapses made me question how much I really know about myself. 

I want only to be understood. I want to understand myself. I want to have someone else who wants to understand me and works at it. I’m grateful (it doesn’t always help) to have a God who understands me. 

Barring understanding, I want to be loved. It would be nice to have both. But if I’m loved (by myself and by others) then I think not being understood would be bearable. 

Why you should be using Tinder (If you’re not married)

We often think that failure should be avoided at all costs. It’s the worst possible thing that is we can do. This paradigm is beat into our heads throughout our education process, and we’re not taught failure’s critical role in our individual growth. 

We learn most from the things we do not immediately accomplish. Those are the things we study more, work harder at, and actually remember. 

So if you want to get really good at something, you should go push yourself to do stuff and fail as quickly as possible while learning everything you can from the experiences. 

And now we return to the subject: why you single people should be using Tinder. 

My brother told me his entire focus while dating was to find women he didn’t want to spend his life with. There’s an incredible amount of wisdom in this, but this view feels cynical to most people. 

Your reaction may have been: “I date to find someone I want to spend my life with!” Of course you do. But consider the opportunity to use proof by contradiction. Assume the logical opposite of the thing you want to prove and prove it false. 

Just as valid. Same outcome. 

So where does Tinder come into this? Tinder changes the game for you. I started using it on a whim, but it’s been incredibly valuable. 

By meeting complete strangers who like pictures you post and a blurb you write about yourself, you gain experience quickly. You rapidly iterate your dating experiences and meet people you would have otherwise. 

In essence, you fail over and over and learn about yourself and other people. 

Can it make you cynical? Probably. I have a friend who constantly got unwelcome propositions via Tinder. After a large number of these, she asked me what about her profile and / or swiping strategy matched her with more than her share of douches. So we chatted about how she was approaching things and figured out some ways to improve her matches. 

So if you’re not dating enough or you’re continuously dating the same schmucks or people who don’t interest you, try Tinder. Learn something about yourself, the people you meet, and find people you don’t want to marry. 

I’ve been doing it for months, and I’ve had some fun relationships and found a lot of women I don’t want to marry. Maybe in the process I’ll prove the opposite and find one I do. 

Vitality

The presenter of a TED talk I listened to postulated that the purpose of life is vitality, and the opposite of vitality is depression. I think that’s a goo distinction to make. Happiness and depression are not opposites. The opposite of happiness is sadness.

But vitality and depression? Those seem a good match.

I’ve had real difficulty for several weeks maintaining vitality and zest for things I’m doing. What used to get me excited no longer does. The things that should matter most to me don’t. I have little desire to do the things I know are important–they just seem like a drag and don’t have meaning except what society seems to believe they should.

It’s not a great place to be. I still get out of bed every morning. I still end up programming for several hours, but the vitality, the excitement, the desire to do those things is gone.

I’m seriously doing one of the coolest things a person could ever do. From a cognitive standpoint, I know that. But that doesn’t make it any better.

Vitality will return: it always does. This time I’ll try to track the things that change as it does, and see if I can use that as a pattern to bring vitality back more quickly.

A guide for using this blog

The title is slightly misleading. Lots of website have style guides and media guides. This isn’t like that at all. 

It should be no surprise that I’m fairly open with what I post here. I am aware I may have many readers, but likely won’t. Those who end up here are likely facebook friends who are curious about what I posted regarding my blog on a Sunday afternoon. However, some of you may be women doing appropriate background searching on a guy you are going on date(s) with. 

I’m talking to you. 

The content here is public; I know that; I’ve been aware of it from my first major post in January. But please understand the power you hold as you read. 

You were likely drawn here as part of a way to protect yourself or “make sure this guys isn’t psycho.” That’s a good thing to do, but be careful. Mystery and learning about the other person while dating is important.

You may have a huge urge to judge me based entirely on what I’ve written. I suggest you be very careful about that. I am open and authentic, but I still control 100% of what is written here. I don’t hide anything, but I still try to hold some things close to the chest. 

One girl read my entire history, decided I was broken, mentioned it frequently while we dated, and turned me off entirely to getting to know her more. If that’s your judgment, just say so and tell me you’re not interested, because I’m not interested in dating a therapist/counselor/coach/fixer. 

But I suggest you read with caution and form your judgments based on our face-to-face interactions. A good friend did that and our conversations have allowed for me to maintain a level of disclosure I find appropriate and tailored to the level of trust I felt with her. 

You are privileged with this information. What will you do?

I can make choices, but I can’t see all the consequences of the choices

A few weeks ago I started dating a girl. It was a really positive experience for me and we complemented each other in many ways.

As time passed, I saw more and more that I was regressing into some traits I wasn’t comfortable with and realized that continuing the relationship would not continue to be positive for me.

I was faced with a pretty ugly decision. It has been many months since I felt as needed and as valued as I did with her. And I knew I would be giving that up to return to the dating world of talking with random (sometimes really odd) people at church, online dating, and tinder.

How do you even make a decision like that?

How do you balance the fact you feel valued and needed more than you have in a long time against the strong likelihood it will become more and more unhealthy for you over time? How do you balance the need you fill for the other person and the desire you have to fill that need against the need you have to stay mentally healthy? How do you deal with the knowledge that you’re going to drastically hurt someone?

Making hard decisions sucks.

And you never know what will come from them. At what point will God stop opening doors? Will He ever? Will He be here for the person you hurt? Will He be there to comfort you in all the pain you pull onto yourself in that moment and for the days and weeks afterward?

Will He trust you to meet and become friends with or date someone else after doing what you did?

Probably.

I tried to follow inspiration. I had some ideas what were most important in my life and what Father wanted me to do. But most of it was based on what I felt I needed, on what I wanted to do.

I made a choice. I knew some consequences. I haven’t seen them all yet.

I’ve made a lot of choices recently. I quit my dream job. I don’t know what will come of that. But I relied on what I felt was right and the inspiration I received.

I can’t see what comes from my choices, but I can trust they are good and Father will make something positive out of them.

Accepting and giving love

I’ve had a lot happen this week. It may turn into several posts.

I like to consider myself a fairly normal person. The people who know m best know how accurate that may or may not be. But I hope things I experience are things you can relate to.

I have a need to be loved. Coexisting with that is a need for validation. I come across a bit conceited because I don’t really like the fact I have those needs and because I greatly dislike false validation.

However, I experience fear every day that my efforts are not enough, that what I’ve accomplished in life severely lacks, that I may never accomplish what I believe I can or should.

Heavenly Father knows my needs. He knows my fears and concerns. He knows what I need to grow, and what I can endure. When I receive priesthood blessings, He always tells me He loves me and is pleased with me. That is a great comfort and always needed.

We are aware that we often only accept the love we feel we deserve. I know that is very true for me. I have difficulty accepting love during my darkest times. I have difficulty having hope for future blessings and experiences when those times happen.

Believing others when they show me love is important. It’s something I can improve and something that will make a difference for me. When I have hard times, I can ask friends to speak with me and listen to what they say and how to see their love and Father’s reflected in them.

I was able to be that person for a friend a few weeks ago. She’s had a rougher past year than I have, and as she told me about it, I sat, listened, let her cry, cried with her, and did everything I could to show I cared and to reflect the love Father has for her.

It was apparent she’d been having trouble accepting how much someone could care about her. It was good to be the person she needed then.

Some day, I want to be with someone who sees me for who I believe I am, who loves me in spite of my faults and fears, and who I believe when she says I honestly deserve all the love she and my Father give me.

Until then, I get to learn from friends, and I get to rely only on my Father to learn to accept love in my life. The reality is we deserve more than we accept, so it is up to us to open our minds more and be wonderfully accepting of the love and kindness we actually deserve.

Season of thanks: Mom

I love my mom.  She’s the perfect example, mentor, role model I could have.  (She wouldn’t agree, but I might be able to convince her a little.)  Some may say it’s cliché to put her as the first entry during my season of thanks, but I feel it’s the right thing to do and it is fitting.

Aside from the obvious “she sacrificed herself to carry and birth me,” she has done far more.  During elementary-school summers, she would sit me down for half the day (it may have only been 90 minutes) and I had to to school work.  I hated it.  I fought it.  None of my friends had to endure that type of torture.  And I made the experience hellish for her.  That’s probably why she stopped doing it.  But I’m grateful now.  I frequently look back and know that my desire to do well in school, my confidence that I will, and my desire for perfection were molded during those summers.

My school teachers were ok with me missing a few math problems or having a few grammar errors.  My mother never was.  I spent hours (sometimes hours each day) going back and redoing my work.  Because I hated redoing so much, I learned to ensure it was done right the first time.  (Some of this mindset continues to today.  The desire to be right is so strong that I never check my answers on tests because I trust I read the question carefully enough the first time and that I did the problem right.)

She also made me play the piano every day for 30 minutes.  I would often slough and do less work, messing with the timer or putting the clocks ahead (I did this during time-outs too because I have no patience.)  I regret it now.  I regret that the choice offered me was to either play the piano or play sports.  Obviously I chose sports, and now I can only sight-read very slowly and can only play what I have repeated over and over and memorized.  But the important thing for me is I learned to appreciate music.  Although she usually chose songs I hated or didn’t know, my mom often played the piano when I was little.  I complained about it, but those songs (“Born Free” and “The Blue Danube”) echo in my mind today.

I didn’t often bring friends home, but she talked a lot with me about who my friends were and why I liked them.  She taught me to choose my friends carefully, to know why they were my friends.  I still talk with her frequently about my friends now.

She taught me something far more important about friends.  She taught me that friends are family, and friends of family are family.  She would often go out of her way to ensure we had interactions with friends.  After grade six or seven, I cooked up a plan with my friend Addison Pica to go climbing (I definitely had a middle school crush on her).  It was mostly due to my mom’s effort with Addison’s parents that the trip worked out.

My mom taught me to love people and want the best for them.  Sometime she didn’t approve of who I brought home–mostly in principle–sometimes in character.  Before my mission, I dated Ruth (Andrews) Chandler for seven months (or six–the timing got strange at the end).  My mom was not keen on the idea of me having a girlfriend.  But she accepted it and worked hard to learn about Ruth and learn to love her.  (For me dating Ruth was the best possible thing that could have happened before my mission.)  I’ve seen this pattern from my mother with other women I’ve dated.

She never approved of one person I dated, despite spending a lot of time with her during several visits.  Looking back, I wish I had been less infatuated with the girl and listened more to why my mother, despite attempting to love this girl, never could.

My mom adopts people.  My best friend during high school was Jenna (Furniss) Ralph.  She had a greater influence on me as a friend than I can express in words, and it may take us until after we die and communication is eased for her to understand why.  To the point, my mom loved Jenna like a daughter.  She learned to love Ruth like that.  My mom thinks of my oldest friend, Maren Kennedy, as a daughter.  Maren is involved in a theatre group back home and my mom always goes and supports her productions, and she always asks me what’s going on in Maren’s life.

This is a pattern my mom has shown since before I was born.  She wanted 12 biological kids (that’s a lot, I know) and I’m grateful there are only two of us.  But she has “adopted” children (especially daughters) since before I was born.

My mother consistently reaches out to love those around her.  She shows Christlike love for them and will serve them however she can.  My mother taught me to value my mind and has been formative in setting me on the path toward a Ph.D.  She taught me to accept and try to love people, even when they might not be what I expect, or someone I would normally love.  She taught me to love music, to love intelligence, to love others more than I love myself (possibly a lot).

Because of her example and her tireless forcings, I am now grateful for her example.  I now try to emulate that example.  She is probably not the mother she expected to be, and she likely regrets some things she did.  But she is the mother I need and should have no regrets about that.  I cannot imagine a more perfect mother.  I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for allowing me to be her son.

_________

Challenge of the day: pray for 10 minutes and only thank God for what you have.

I’m a sprinter

It’s simple, really.  I do things in sprints.  It’s part of who I am.  Distance running never held any draw for me (it’s strange cycling does, actually).  A lot of it draws from my hyperactive mentality.

I love new things.  I love to have new experiences and new challenges.  But if I don’t get through them quickly, the passion flames out.  For a while.  Then something triggers my interest again and I’ll do more on it for a while.

Sometimes this happens in a matter of hours.  Sometimes the sprint is a little longer.  But, dang, I’ll beat anybody in the sprint.  (Maybe this is why I don’t have a desire to be a computer programmer–barrier to entry and marathon mentality.)  I like things I can start and finish in the same week, preferably in the same hour.

Part of it likely has to do with the fact I have a lot going through my mind.  I’ve no way to measure this, but I conservatively estimate I have at least 50% more things pass through my thought centres than the average person.  So I like to get things done when I think about them, or when they are on my mind for a while.

Take today for instance.  I met with my thesis referee (I still have to ask him to be it), Gil Fellingham, Ph.D and sports science genius (that ESPN dude has nothing on Prof Fellingham!).  He had finished reviewing the second draft of my thesis regarding volleyball attack speeds.  He told me that I should make the edits he suggested and I’d be ready to publish it and defend.  He also said I should pare the paper down to submit an article to Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports.

Then I met with Carl McGown, BYU’s volunteer men’s volleyball coach to discuss a study he’d like to do.  He told me to contact both my thesis advisors (Iain Hunter and Prof Fellingham) and get them to ask the BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe for funding for the study.  Went and visited Profs Hunter and Fellingham within the next 30 minutes.  Hey, it was on my mind.

Somewhere in here I went to class and spent most of it editing my 50-page thesis.  Because research (as a general topic) was on my mind, I passed by the Maeser Building–home of the Honors Department–to check in about submitting original research (in information systems) for presentation.  I got the submission sheet and returned 30 minutes later with my abstract and short description written.

Then I had to do homework for my research seminar.  Fun, but boring in light of the day’s focus on volleyball research.

Anyway, it’s just after midnight and I have finished the edits on my thesis and finished the first draft of the article to submit to JQAS.  What!? (Shawn and Gus style, of course. #psych)

Anyway, that’s how the night went (oh, and there was an indoor soccer match, a shower and an hour-long conversation with a girl in there, too).  Like I said, when something’s on my mind, I’ll get it done.

I’ll win the sprint, but balance was never my strong suit. :/

Beauty

Wow. Two posts in a month. It’s like a record or something (until you look at my first four months blogging, and then two posts is kinda crappy.)

Skipping the age story (still not the right time), I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about Beauty–what it is and how we know something/-one is beautiful. And since I’m a man, I’m going to be biased toward women’s beauty.
First off, I have to say I disagree wholeheartedly with the thought that beauty is only skin deep. I think that is a shallow definition of the word and espoused by people only slightly less shallow. (In four months I haven’t really become any less judgmental.) But I wholly agree that ugliness runs to the bone. (This doesn’t refer to the physical definition.)
People manifest beauty in many ways. We obviously think of beauty in the physical sense. We see magazines glorifying this type of beauty at every checkout register of every grocery store. But how many delve into a more comprehensive definition of beauty? How many of us look beyond the face to see what’s inside? Innate talents and personality greatly affect my vision of another’s beauty.
(I should note that everyone has different ideas of what constitutes beauty. It could include intangible character traits such as intelligence, courage, daring, wittiness, or stubbornness. Or beauty could include very specific physical characteristics–fingernails, eye colour, or hair length. I give these only as examples, not as conclusive exposés of what I consider beauty.)
Women generally become more beautiful to me as I learn more about them (sometimes this goes in the reverse). Perhaps this is a mental connection I make as they talk about who they are. Also my observations of women’s actions/abilities change how beautiful they are to me. Also my interpretation of beauty is affected by how similar she is to what I think beauty entails, whether it be physical, mental, emotion, personal, etc. The closer she is, the more beautiful I consider her.
Two examples may help illustrate. To me, a woman with little physical beauty is much more beautiful when I hear her classically-trained voice. This not physical characteristic makes her more beautiful to me. Or if she shares goals/aspirations/opinions (although disagreeing with me can be more attractive (depends on the topic)) with me, she immediately becomes more exciting/attractive/beautiful.
I guess what it comes down to is that certain characteristics people have, certain things they say/do are considered beautiful. These add up to (hopefully) overcome areas where they are not as beautiful as another.
But, all that aside, women who try their best to be beautiful should always be praised for their efforts–in whatever manner they add to the world’s beauty.

Blog? What blog?

[If you clicked on “Blog” and were sent here, it’s ok. Something is broken and I’m trying to fix it. For my most recent posts, click on the links to the right.]

So apparently when I get busy, my blogging decreases. And when I’m no longer busy again, then I forget I have a blog. Kinda sad, eh?

Well, it’s more sad when you find out that my blog is one of my bookmarks that is so prominently shown on my browser.
Nothing major has changed in the last four months (maybe that’s why I haven’t written–little to pontificate about). I still like women, volleyball, school, and religion. Maybe a few things have changed. I no longer live with freshmen and am now breathing the fresh air of social interaction with people close to my own age.
It’s fun to live where I do. What’s interesting is I am among the youngest guys there, but am older than most of the women in the complex. Yay for two year missions. While I may not agree that those years “don’t count,” (I think I had between four and eight years worth of memories) missions give guys a chance to mature and catch up.
Not that age should matter, but that’s another story. (One I might share a little sooner than December.)