Monday, December 9, 2013

A New Dream

My third semester of taking ASL (American Sign Language) classes has now come to an end.  Although this was my third semester of ASL, when the semester began - I was a journalism major.  Journalism has been my major since I started at my current college in the year of 2010.  In fact, I've wanted to major in journalism since I was 13-years-old.  (I'm pretty sure Superman and Lois Lane may be partial to blame for this life decision.)

My goal was never to be a reporter for the New York Times or for the local Fresno Bee.  My goal was to go overseas, using my journalism skill set of video creations, writing, and photography on a mission field - kind of like what I did in London.  I always saw myself working in another country, in another culture. But, recently I realized that my preferred writing style isn't even close to the journalistic style, and I decided that I pretty much despised my college's journalism classes and didn't care about the classwork.  I thought, "If I don't like the classwork, I'm pretty sure I won't like the real-life work either."  And although I am staying open and flexible about the idea of the mission field, currently I am leaning more towards staying and settling in California.

Now, here I am in 2013 at 22-years-old.  In October I officially changed my nine-year journalistic dream to chase a new dream.  I am now majoring in ASL, hoping to one day become skilled enough to be an interpreter for the medical field.  Once I am done at the local city college with my AA and interpreting certificate, I would love to continue studying ASL at Gallaudet - the main university for the Deaf - through their hearing program. (Between the expense and high competitive level for the hearing program, it is a big we'll see.)

When I tell people I am studying ASL, often I get asked, "What has inspired you to learn ASL?  Why learn ASL over German or Spanish?"  To answer those frequently asked questions, I will usually explain that I needed either music or language credits for my AA in college.  Considering I can't keep rhythm to save my life, I easily chose to learn a new language.  But why specifically ASL? 

Growing up, my sister, Amanda, studied ASL.  Instead of teaching me ASL as she learned the language, she would sign to me or in front of me with her hearing best friend - and never would interpret what was being said.  So, as I thought about which language I wanted to take, I thought, "Since I don't really have an interest in learning a language at all, I'll just take a couple of ASL courses to meet the basic college requirements, but mostly so I also learn how to decode what my sister signs.  I’m going to beat Amanda at her own game!" 

Since changing my major, I've been asked once again, "Why ASL?"  I started to give the answer I've been giving for the last few months…But then I realized - my original answer that I've been giving is why I started learning ASL and what lead me on this path…but it's not why I continue to choose to passionately pursue knowledge of the language and knowledge about Deaf Culture.  So, one again…Why ASL?

There are many factors that worked together in helping me decide to continue studying ASL.  First, my ASL 1-3 teacher, Nancy, is passionate about teaching her native language to others – and it shines through her every day.  The more I’ve learned in my ASL 1-3 classes and the more I get to know Nancy on a personal level, the more I feel inspired to continue learning about Deaf culture and the language.  She is someone that I admire, and sometimes I can't but think, "If I didn't learn ASL - I'd be missing the chance to know her…How many inspiring people have I missed the chance on knowing, just because I didn't know their language - especially ASL?"

Second, I accidentally fell in love with the language.  I had every intention to complete just two classes and be forever finished with the subject. When I talk to people about my ASL classes, I always tell them, “I walk into the classroom and when I leave – I feel more in love with ASL than when I walked in the door just two hours earlier.”  It's the first time in a long time I've felt so passionate about something, and the first time in a long time where I have felt like, "This is where I belong".  I’ve been told by my friends that my eyes literally light up when I talk about the language, and have even been told by another friend that when I write about learning ASL that my words seem to light up on her computer screen. 

Third, and most importantly, for the first time - the more Deaf people I meet, the more I feel like I am understood and have found a group of people I can relate to in certain ways.

Fact is: I am not Deaf.  I am 100% hearing.  Despite this fact, since starting ASL classes, for the first time in my life I feel like I am meeting people I connect with who "get me" more than the average hearing person.  For the first time, I feel like I've found a group of people who fully accept me for who I am and who I can somewhat identify with.  (Granted, I know my family fully accepts me as I am – but although they accept me, there is a part of me that they will never fully understand or identify with.)

Again, I'm not Deaf, so there are some things that I know I will never understand about the experiences and life of a Deaf person.  However, being born with a birthmark that covers half my face, I understand what it means to not quite fit into the stupid box that our American society hands out to each child at the moment of their first breath.

I still remember a class conversation that took place earlier in the semester.  It's one that won't leave my mind, and it is probably one of the biggest moments when I realized that I feel as though I relate more to Deaf people than I had previously realized.  Those that are Deaf were primarily sharing in class about family meals.  I remember someone sharing that when they are with their family, people verbally make jokes and laugh.  When asking what was said, the Deaf person would be told, "I'll tell you later", or, "It's not that important."

Many of my classmates were asking, "Doesn't that make you mad??"  The response shared was something to the effect of, "I'm use to it."  People sitting next to me expressed how sad and upsetting they found this reality for many lives of the Deaf.  I too, was saddened.  In fact - I remember being moved to tears, thinking about how lonely that would be to not understand what was being said, and having no one willing to interpret. But I also remember thinking, "I get it."  And I do get it - to an extent from two different perspectives.

This summer I spent two long months in Germany.  I know I've mentioned that I was supposed to be there for 6 months total, but instead of coming home in December, I came home in August.  My time there isn't really much to talk about on the positive end of the spectrum…Hence coming home early.  For many different reasons, living in Germany was one of the biggest struggles I have ever had to face - especially alone.  (I've briefly mentioned my time in Germany since arriving home.  Most of what I wrote - which isn't much - can be found in my entry "Life Outside Church Walls.")

As I think about my time there, I remember the strong sense of loneliness I felt.  Not being from Germany, I don't know more than 30 basic words and phrases of German….And I only know the 30 because of my time there.  Despite my lack of knowledge of the German language, I still had to face my days and live the life of the Germans.  Some days I would be around people for 6-10 hours with German being spoken all around me…usually with no one willing to interpret.  I would sit there completely lost, often finding myself staring at a wall completely in another world.  I felt completely isolated.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, let me clarify: I never expected the Germans I met to cater to me as an American and native English speaker.  I knew going to Germany that I was going to a different country with a different language.  I respected this fact and looked forward to this upcoming adventure!  I went expecting and hoping to learn the language.  (I was so dedicated to learning the language that I even inquired a few times about language school – but my idea and interest was shot down each time.)  However, the days when I was around German for so many hours, I struggled.  I had no idea what was being said.  I didn't understand the joke, or even if I was the joke a time or two…Or why people were laughing.  (There were a few times when a laughing crowd would look in my direction.  I still have no idea what was said, or why they were looking my direction while laughing.)  If instructions were given, I couldn't rely on the spoken instructions.  I had to watch other people's actions and play an international version of Follow the Leader.

Even though I was almost always around a couple of English teachers and someone who held a past job as an interpreter, knowing both German and English rather well, rarely were things interpreted to me. 

I even remember a Sunday after church when I was talking to a friend.  My friend expressed that she was tired and that speaking in English was becoming more difficult as she became more tired.  I told her that she could leave, that I was thankful for her sweet friendship, and kind efforts.  She told me, "I don't want to leave you here alone with no one to talk to."  Replying, I told her, "No worries!  I am happy that I was able to speak to you just for an hour in English!  I'll be okay sitting alone for a bit."

Instead of letting me sit there alone, she went got the attention of one of her friends.  A couple of Sundays before, this friend was supposed to interpret a two-hour church service for me from German to English.  In the end, she didn't as she forgot (which, I totally understand!), but I knew that she knew English rather well by this fact - and by a couple of brief conversations I had already had with her.  Once my friend got the lady’s attention, my friend said, "Hey - I am leaving.  Can you keep Crystal company and talk with her?"   Before turning and walking away, the friend gave a two glance and two second reply, "No, sorry.  My English isn't very good."  Her English "wasn't very good", yet we had talked before and she had promised interpret different things for me in the future.

I only lived in Germany for two months, and I lived with people I had met for the first time…and although I know this part of my Germany experience doesn't even compare the the life-long stories and experiences of those who are Deaf...knowing how lonely and frustrated I felt by being left out and often ignored, it breaks my heart knowing that families with a Deaf child or sibling willingly do that to their loved one.  Actually, it doesn't just break my heart.  This completely shatters it.

It was a really hard moment when I felt completely dismissed by the lady, who knew English, but wasn't willing to make an effort - especially after she promised to spend time with me and to help me…and she was someone I barely knew.  And I know it's one thing for a near stranger to do this…But it bothers me that families would do the same thing to their own blood...Not being willing to make an effort to learn sign language, or sometimes not being willing to use what ASL they do know with someone is Deaf.   To be frank - I find it to be quite stupid.  (I have a friend in my ASL classes who has a Deaf friend.  Her friend’s parents know ASL, yet they chose to speak around their son without signing or interpreting the conversation. My friend, a classmate, had to interpret the family’s whole conversation to their son – her recently made friend.) 

I imagine and very well remember the struggle of two months among people who were practically strangers.  As I try to imagine living a whole 22 years with the experience with my own personal family…I can't even wrap my mind around the idea, let alone my heart.

(Before I continue – let me add that I am extremely thankful for a few specific people who went out of their way to welcome me to Germany, trying make me comfortable.  Although I am extremely thankful for their efforts, and I remember my time with them with a smile on my face, I either usually only saw these people once a week…or, I sadly did not meet most of these these friends until the end of my time there.)

The second way I can relate to the class discussion is in regards to the response of, "I'm use to it.”

No one in class was able to understand how Deaf people can become use to family members who aren't willing to communicate and include their family members.  I don't know what it is like to go to family dinners and to be left out in this way.  However, I do understand how it one can become use to something that most people don’t understand.

Having a birthmark on my face…Well, that’s hard to hide!  Between people’s staring, crazy comments, or rude questions, I usually have a story to tell by the end of each day – or at least a few by the end of each week!

Recently I met a Deaf woman by the name of Lisa.  She told me that someone once wrote a question down for her on a piece of paper that asked, “Do you know how to read??”  From what I understood, the person was genuinely curious if she had the ability to read – but I guess they didn’t realize the irony of their question, nor did they know how to completely use their brain when they asked it.

No one ever asks me if I know how to read, but I do get asked questions all of the time. I get asked, “Does your husband beat you?” (I’m not even married – or dating.)  Or, “What’s on your face?  Is it contagious?”  One time a store clerk asked me what was on my face.  I told her it was just a birthmark that I was born with.  She responded with, “Oh – that must be an interesting story to tell.”  Confused, I thought, “Ummm…There is no story.  I was born – end of story.  It’s people like you who give me stories to tell!”  Or, for a more recent story - I had a guy staring at me.  Usually during these staring contests people get a clue that they should stop.  This man, however, did not.  For the first time I actually had to say, “You can stop staring at me now.  You’re being incredibly awkward.”  He did stop…For two minutes.  Then his eyes returned.

Usually I take these situations with a grain of salt and take them as moments to laugh.  When I am out with friends or family and someone is staring, being rude by what they say or ask me, my friend will ask me with anger in their voice, “How do you put up with this??  How are you not rude back?” Casually and calmly, I respond, “I’m use to it.” – And my friends don’t get it.  They forget that I was born with a birthmark on my face and forget that I was born into a lifetime of staring contests and bizarre questions and comments.  They also forget that I don’t know life any differently. While it’s not normal to them, this is the normalcy of my life…Even if it is sometimes a bit of an obnoxious kind of normal.

Maybe I don’t get what it is like being Deaf.  Maybe those who are Deaf don’t get what it is like having a very visible birthmark covering their face…But although my story is different than someone who is Deaf and vice versa, there are still often common denominators in our stories.  Even my ASL teacher recently told me, "Your stories about your birthmark...Yours happen to be visible while my deafness is invisible but the way people deal with us is more similar than one would think."

As I learn of other people’s stories, I realize that some people who are considered “normal” can easily become ignorant and uncomfortable with something that is “different”…and because of this discomfort and lack of knowledge, people don’t know how to act – often resulting in their insensitive and brainless questions.  They forget that regardless of who the person is and what they look like, or if they are Deaf or blind – we are all ultimately the same on the inside.  We are all people with joys and sorrows, people with heartaches and happiness.  We are all people with a story to tell and people who have feelings.

While growing up outside of the box, many lessons can be learned.  You can learn to be confident and happy in who you are and not conform to what others wish you could be.  You learn that there is something incredibly beautiful in being “different”.  And yeah…sometimes I do get frustrated in specific situations…But if I react in equal rudeness to the comment or question given, wouldn’t I be giving up an opportunity to educate another person?

Even if someone asks a question in an insensitive manner, I still believe that it’s an open door to educate someone – and possibly the chance to change their perspective on how they see other people – and the world.  It’s a chance to teach that people who have birthmarks, people who are blind, Deaf, in a wheel chair, etc…That these are not people to look down on or people to treat like they are any less than themselves, but these are incredibly beautiful people we can look up to for inspiration and as great role models.

Growing up, I've never really felt like I've lacked people who understand me.  But, now that I have met Deaf people who understand me more than most hearing people, I find a sense happiness and relief that I didn’t realize was missing.

Deaf people are always talking about Deaf pride and being happy in who they are - regardless of not fitting into that ridiculous box.  Even though I'm not Deaf, I find the attitudes of those that are to be contagious and to be a reminder to be happy and proud of who I am whether I am hearing, Deaf, if I have a birthmark or don't, if I fit into that box, or if I break the mold.  

The Travelin' Chick,

PS: Most of what I have published here was written for a class journal for my Deaf Culture classes - but with a few alterations.  There are other reasons as to why I am studying ASL…Like the stories I learn about of children who are mistreated by adults because they are Deaf...Like in my blog entry "A Home to Return to", with the story of the Deaf child whose parents cut off her fingers because she was signing instead of speaking…Yeah, stories like that?  They break my heart.  Stories like that make me want to try and make a difference on how the Deaf are treated, and any person who is being mistreated in any way.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


I know there is a trend taking place on Facebook with people posting on thing they are thankful for each day in the month of November.  While I think that is a great thing to do, I decided to just put all 30 things/people in list together for my blog.

I'm thankful for…

  • My parents.  They are fantastic.  But if you read my blog entry, "A Home to Return to", there will be listed many reasons as to why my parents are so great!

  • My dog, Miss Ruby Ann.  I've had her since I was about 15-years-old, and she really is a bright spot in my life.  

  • College…I'm thankful for college!  The other day, someone asked me, "How are your classes going?"  I told him, "Fantastic!"  Because he knows me so well, he looked at me surprised asking, "Are you being sarcastic right now?"  I had to insist that I wasn't.  This is the first semester I've actually fully enjoyed.  I love all my classes - and it feels REALLY good to say that.  It feels good to say that I want to go to class everyday.  

  • My two ASL Teachers, Nancy and Cindy.  I'm thankful to have the chance to get to know Cindy this semester.  It is my first semester in Cindy's class, but I am already looking forward to next semester with her as well!  I've had Nancy for three semesters now, next semester totaling in four semesters.  Both teachers have a fantastic sense of humor, are passionate about what they teach, and they geniunely care about their students.  Really, I can go on and on as to why I am thankful for both of my teachers as they have both had a huge impact in my life!!…But one of the biggest reasons I find myself to be thankful for them?  I am thankful to have two teachers who not only care about how their students are doing on their school work, but how they/we are doing in life overall.  I am thankful to have teachers who not only invest into my life inside the classroom, but also outside the classroom on a personal level.  It's such a rarity to have teachers like that at the college where I attend, and I am thankful to know them and have the ability to learn from them.

  • Rayna, my 3-year-old cousin.  Really, I can't imagine my life without her.  I love her personality, her funny jokes or made up words, and I love the contagious sound of her laughter.  It has been a joy to watch her grow into such an intelligent and entertaining child.

  • The ability to learn.  I'm glad I can continue learning - whether I am learning textbook information, learning about other people, or about myself.  I'm thankful that learning doesn't stop after high school or college.  I'm thankful that learning is a lifelong journey.

  • My Nashville mom, Lynette.  She is a blessing.  Words can't even begin to describe how thankful I am to know her and to have her in my life.  We've had so many conversations filled with laughter, prayer, and encouragement.  It is hard to believe we've only known each other for about four years.

  • Humor and laughter.

  • Having friends around the world.  Sometimes having friends who live around the world can be a little hard as there are friends I often miss - a lot!  But, I am thankful to have such a diverse friend list and the ability to know each friend.  Even when I miss a friend who lives in Japan, London, or somewhere across America...when their name comes to my mind, a smile always spreads across my face.

  • Encouragement.  I'm thankful for the encouragement that friends and family have brought to my life, and I'm thankful for oppuritinity to encourage others.  Whether it be in person, through a phone conversation, a letter, Skype, or even through Facebook…Whether it be through a compliment, prayer, through a joke, a smile, or just saying "hello"…I am thankful for encouragement.

  • The ability to travel.  The world is a big place, and I'm so glad that I've gotten to experience and see places and things outside of my California "normal" and comfort zone!

  • Books.  When I can't physically travel to another place, I know I can always open a book.

  • Photography.  You never know when a moment will become a cherished memory.

  • Skype and FaceTime.  They make the miles between my friend and I seem a lot shorter, and sometimes nonexistent. 

  • My friend Katrina.  I've known her since I was either 13 or 14 years old, and she is easily one of my all-time favorite people!  She's always honest with me, telling me what she actually thinks verses what she thinks I want to hear.  (Basically, she'll flat out tell me I'm crazy or irrational when I think I'm being perfectly sane.)  Whether I run into a problem or I'm working on a creative project, her perspective is always helpful and refreshing.  Her sarcasm is hilarious and she has a sweet, welcoming family.  Whenever I'm Tennessee, I always look forward to visiting with her as she and her husband often invite me to stay at their house.  She is one of my greatest friends!

  • My birthmark.  While I am not thankful for awkward moments and annoying stares, I am thankful for the things I have learned through having it.  I am thankful for the awkward moments that turn into humorous moments and annoying stares that turn into educational moments for the one staring.   I'm thankful to have the ability to go to different classrooms where I work to teach the children about it and to let them ask any questions they may have.

  • My job.  I work as a noontime assistant at the school I attended as a child.  I LOVE my job.  Although I've had jobs in the past, I've never enjoyed them like I enjoy this one. The people I work with are fantastic, the kids are hilarious, and I never get tired of clocking in everyday.  (And let me just add…This is the first time where I have loved my job, and have loved going to school at the same time.  It's a great feeling!)

  • My parent's new home.  We've been in it a little over a year, and it has been a HUGE blessing.  We've been able to have a lot of visitors, dessert and game nights.  These are things we couldn't do in our old home…I absolutely love being able to bake something sweet and having friends over for a visit!

  • Hugs from BreAnna and DJ whenever I see them.

  • Trying new things.  You never know what you might miss out on if you aren't willing to try something new.  In the end, it may be the best thing you've tried - or it may be the worst…But at least you've tried, and aren't left wondering what could of happened had you not tried that something new.

  • The ability to grow and change.  I'm glad that I can grow and change as a person.  My personality, ways of thinking, and flaws are not set in stone…Thank goodness!  I'm also glad that I can grow from the best of experiences, and even from the most unpleasant ones. 

  • Board Games.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE board games - and card games too!!  I've had some of my best memories circled around a good game with family and/or friends throughout the years of growing up, and throughout the recent years as well.  Anytime you want to play a game, I'm in!

  • Flexibility.  I'm thankful to be flexible - at least, mentally.  Being mentally flexible makes life so much easier when plans change and things don't go 100% according to plan.

  • Creativity.  Life would be boring without it.  

  • Pinterest.  When my own creativity fails, Pinterest is available 24/7.

  • The chance I had to visit Nashville this summer.  The trip was something I really needed.  I was able to reconnect with old friends and had the chance to deepen friendships.

  • Chocolate.  Need I say more?

  • Music.  Although I can't keep beat to save my life, I'm so happy I can enjoy the creations of those who can! 

  • My time at Free Will Baptist Bible College (FWBBC), now known as Welch College.  Sure…I attended the college back in 2009-2010…But my one year there has had a great impact in my life and was full of memories that I still love to reflect on.

  • My time in London.  I learned so much while I was in London in 2012, and made friends that I know will last a life time.  

My list could go on and on about people and things I am thankful for…But this is the shortened edition.  What are you thankful for this year??

The Travelin' Chick,

PS: After I wrote this, I remembered I wrote an entry similar in 2011.  It was fun to compare the entries to see similarities or differences.  (Thankful in 2011)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

DIY: No Man Plan

In the last two weeks or so, I've had a few female friends tell me, "I want to have a 'no man plan' like you do!"  Then, the other night, a friend specifically asked me, "How do you have a no man plan anyways?  How are you able to have one that is so successful?"  I looked at her and jokingly said, "It's easy.  Men don't hit on or flirt with me."  (I was semi joking.)

My friend wants to be in on this no man plan stuff but has no idea where to begin.  During her inquiring, I realized that my last blog entry on this topic,  "My 'No Man Plan'",  I wrote about why I have the plan, and the intentions of my plan.  I did not, however, write about how this kind of plan works.

As my friend asked me her questions, I realized...My plan isn't really about having a plan.  It's more about having a realization.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned in life is that plans...well...They don't always go according to plan.  It's good to have plans.  They give a sense of direction, they give you a goal.  However, in addition to having a plan - you also have to carry around a bit of flexibility.

Here's the thing.  Yes, I have a "no man plan"...But just because I have this plan, if a guy were to pursue me and ask me on a date, it doesn't mean I'll instantly tell him no because of this plan.  (It doesn't necessarily mean I'll tell the guy yes either...ha!)  After all, God's plans for my life are always bigger than what I can think up myself.  If a guy starts pursuing me, I have to be willing to be flexible…Otherwise I may miss out on one of God's blessings for my life.

For all I know, at the end of the five years of my "No Man Plan", I may meet a guy.  Or...God may say, "Forget five years!  There's a great guy who is going to start pursuing you next week!"  Then again, God may instead say, "You can make a bigger impact on this world for Me by staying single than if you were to get married."

No matter how my life plays out, the point of my plan isn't necessarily to cut romance out of my life completely.  Once again, if a guy pursues me sooner than later, I may say, "Ok.  Let's give this a shot." However, if no guy pursues me in the near future - then I'm okay with that too!

Having a "No Man Plan" really means that I've come to a realization.  I've realized and acknowledged that life isn't just about falling in love with Prince Charming and to marry him.  Life is about living!  I don't need to be married to live a life worth living.  I don't need to be validated by a man like many women seem to do - as my worth is not in a single male human-being.  My worth is found in Christ and who I am as a person.

Yes, I would LOVE to be married one day...I'd telling you a huge lie if I told you I wanted to be single for the rest of my life.  Having this plan doesn't make this desire disappear.  It just changes the way I look at the world, who I am as a person, and the decisions I make.  It is my way of saying, "I don't need to be married to live."

Someone recently asked me, "What are you doing to do when your 'no man plan' expires in 5 years?"  I told them, "Probably the same thing I'm doing now.  I'll live life to the fullest, whether I am single, dating, or married."  I'm not out looking for love.  If love comes and finds me, then so be it.

It often saddens me when look at some friends who are literally always searching for love (as if it's their one and only life goal) and always asking, "When is this mystery man coming my way?  When am I going to meet the one?"  It sometimes seems as though they're just sitting, waiting…and waiting…and waiting…Not doing anything else but sitting in the waiting room of the love department of life.

I always want to tell those friends, "Don't you realize there is more to life than men??"   Many of my friends who do this are unhappy in life and will tell you that they aren't happy.  When someone is constantly searching for love…searching for something they want but don't have…I think they put a lot of unnecessary pressure on themselves.  No matter how hard you search, no matter how hard you wish, dream, or pray…it won't make that perfect guy walk in front of you and have him ask you out.  Plus, if you focus on what you don't have - sometimes you can forget about what you do have.

For those of you wanting tips on having a "No Man Plan"...Here you go:

  1. Realize the beauty in marriage, but also realize the beauty in being single!
  2. Realize life isn't about meeting somebody.  Life's purpose is bigger than getting married.  
  3. Find something to do.  Get a hobby, go to school.  Set some goals.   Keep busy!   Find something you're passionate about and strive towards the passion.  If you keep busy doing the things you love, you have less time to think about what you don't have.  By being involved in what you love, it brings the feeling of natural joy and happiness.  It brings a sense of purpose.  I love the job I currently have - and I absolutely love studying ASL.  I have a goal to become an interpreter, hopefully for the medical field if I can become skilled enough.  By keeping myself busy, I don't have much time to think about my singleness.  Sometimes I find myself so busy and I struggle with the little time I have as a single gal.  Had I been dating someone during these last few months, I'm pretty sure I would have felt too stretched and my attention would have been split - not being able to give my 100% towards anything.
  4. Surround yourself with likeminded people, and people who are an encouragement.  It has been said that you become most like the 5 people you hang out with the most.  Who are you hanging out with?  People who complain about what they don't have and focus on what they wish they had?  Or do you hang out with people who are happy and content?  What kind of friend are you?  If you're in somebody's top 5 people that they hang out with the most, how are you impacting the developing character of your friends?   Find people you admire and look up to.  Find people that are encouraging and that live life to live life to it's fullest!
  5. Get to know yourself before you put yourself into a relationship.  How can you let someone else get to know you, if you don't even know who you are??  What are you passionate about?  What do you love, and what do you dislike?  What do you believe?  What is your attitude on certain topics…So many people try to be who others want them to be so that they will feel accepted…Molding themselves to other people's desires and standards.  Forget being accepted by others.  Accept yourself for the way you are and be yourself!  If you go into a relationship not knowing who you are alone, that's unfair to yourself and to the person you're trying to date.  You need to know your identity alone, and just have an identity defined by who you're dating.  If you were to date right now, and the relationship were to end in a few months…Would you still know who you are if it ended, or will you be devastated by not knowing who you are anymore?  Have have you identified yourself by your love life circumstances?  (I've heard many girls talk about not knowing who they are after their 3 or 6 month dating relationship ended.  I really find that to be incredibly sad.)
  6. Realize that if you're not happy now single, you probably won't be happy dating.  You have to learn to be happy as you are in all walks of life - single, dating, married…Be happy to just be you.  Oh - and don't expect someone else to make you happy.  That's not their job and that's not the point of dating.  Dating isn't some instant "I'm happy pill".  I mean, it's not their job to make you miserable either, and dating someone should bring you some happiness.  I've just seen many people go into relationships unhappy, stay unhappy, and for the relationship to end with the person feeling even more miserable.  Think of it this way, do you want to date an unhappy single guy (or if you're a guy reading this, then do you want to date an unhappy single girl) that expects you to make them happy?   How much pressure would that add to the relationship alone?  I just think it would be a lot more work if you go into it with someone, or both unhappy, verses if you were both content before entering into a relationship.   (And actually, I think this one is tied to all the other numbers above in a big way.  If you don't find your own identity, find something you love, surround yourself with great likeminded people…Of course you're going to be unhappy.)
  7. You have to be ready for a relationship.  Many people want a relationship - which is natural.  But you have to be ready for one.  Are you sure you're ready?  What are your current motivations for dating??  

Maybe a "No Man Plan Realization" is just what you need.  Maybe it's not.  Sadly, many women (and men) validate themselves, and wait to live depending on their relationship status - and I don't want to be a part of that trend...Do you??

The Travelin' Chick,