Being a Woman

I think I’ve written a short blog post of embracing the girl a while back and I suppose this is somewhat of a follow up to that..if only I remembered what I wrote or I could just look back but hey, I’m already here.

A couple days ago, I indulged in my first purchase of what I would consider high-end make up products and I only purchased two things: mascara and eye-liner…the latter of which I’m attempting to master using. Holy bejebus! It ran me 40$ for two stick things. Yes, I know it’s Clinique and that the quality is there (tested my purchases; they work oh so well). But really! Today, I went ahead and bought ‘flowers’ for one’s (if one’s a female) chest so that one can flounce around braless and not be concerned with over exposure. If you’re a guy reading this, don’t worry about it if you don’t understand; you’re not missing out on anything. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. I already consider myself relatively lucky not to be overly endowed in that area but not flat like a little boy so I can only imagine what other considerations my well endowed peers must also take into account.

All this got me thinking..(wo)man, it’s expensive to be a woman. Yet I’m beginning to understand the appeal of investing into it. With today’s culture and incredible change of a woman’s role over the last generation or two, a woman must seek an individual understanding of what it means to be a woman. That yeah, I do a lot of sports but there must be some sort of balance that can struck between being the hard driving athlete and enjoying certain ‘feminine’ things. I provide this comparison because sports are still dominated by the male image and woman who are athletes (or at least I have) have at least at one point in  time consider how to conduct and present themselves that makes people take them for what abilities they have in that sport but yet at the same time, not be scoffed at for embracing traits/expressions that are considered feminine. I love riding hard on my bike wearing a dress (and little shorts underneath of course) because that’s an embodiment of this very image.

To be respected for ones capabilities, whether it be on the field (rock face) or the work place but also be respected as a woman is difficult but possible and so very worth it. I’m slowly beginning to understand what it means to be a strong woman…I’m thinking that it may involve wearing nail polish on my stubby climber nails.

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Christian Dating/Relationship.

I don’t think I’ve really talked about my faith on this blog very much. I have, of course, alluded to it many times but to explicitly draw it out? Rarely so. I don’t know why this is the case, considering the fact this blog is read by limited group of people (usually) nor do I really seek to offend people who may not follow my particular faith. I like to think that I am respectful to those who may disagree with me on this regard but only hope that this respect is mutual. Often times, I find that general society, no matter how often ‘respect for differences’ is preached, Christianity is usually left out. Perhaps it is because it is seen as an archaic concept, a concept on which Canada or many Western countries were founded upon and therefore did not require the same level of demand for explicit respect. Anyways, I didn’t set out on this particular blog post to rant about this though reader, if you are inclined to vehemently disagree with my faith and perhaps inclined to ‘bash’ me for expressing them so publicly, this is my warning to you: that this particular post will draw upon my faith a great deal.

Let me start this blog post off with the following premise: aside from one person in high school, I have never dated a fellow Christian before. Yes that’s right; the girl that just posted a relatively lengthy disclaimer before this very post about her faith and such has never dabbled in ‘Christian dating’. The following are generalizations and I may offend you and you may disagree, but this what I’ve observed: a lot of Christian guys are limited. Limited in their perspectives as they have little desire to seek opinions and socially extend themselves outside of their happy little bubbles. It’s one thing to be gung ho about your faith which is great but I think it’s extremely important to reach out and really understand where others who differ from your opinion are coming from. For example, in political science, your argument is more or less negated if you have not observed/delved into the opinions of others concerning whatever issue you’re involved in/speaking upon. One viewpoint rarely captures all the necessary information required to formulate a sound opinion. So the above is a general, all-encapsulating reason as to why I haven’t dated a Christian before. It’s a big turn off to be so enclosed I guess.

But I digress, all that was, yes to set a damn premise. There, there, I know. Anyways, through my BFP, I’ve had a feel moments of …enlightenment? Mm.. that may be too strong a word but think of something along those lines. When people of different backgrounds, including different faiths, come together and start dating, there comes a time when certain things have to be hashed out. In my case, the ‘no sex’ talk comes up. Another issue, there’s a certain limitation as to how far the relationship can really go. I imagine that I want my kids to come with me to church, hang out with kiddies their own age, have them raised with certain values. Mind you, I’m not really talking about indoctrination (although I suppose you could argue otherwise and I, would argue back) because I imagine that my kids, no matter how I raise them in a particular faith, will make up their own minds as to whether they want to follow or not. I would argue though that the values set forth in the Christian faith aren’t bad by any means, rather, they act as pretty good guidelines. With this said, I wouldn’t want the father of the children to dispute this part of raising my kids which then leads me back to the limitations of a Christian/non-Christian relationship. If you are seeking something long term, then that dynamic will be very difficult to hash out and/or won’t work at all. After dating people who are non-Christians, I can safely say that I’ve had my fair share of ‘hashing out’ and I really don’t want to deal with that for the rest of my life.

However, with my sort of reformation in regards to relationships, I’m at a bit of a loss. Having never experienced what potential differences there may be in ‘Christian dating’, I am so lost. I’ve begun to really pray about what this really means and well, God answered. A couple days ago for cell group, we discussed what ‘love’ meant in the Christian context and how it would differ from the general societal understanding of it. I suppose in a very abstract way, ‘love’ in the former context means to bring out the best in the other person (that you’re in a relationship with) and the best for us to glorify God. Christians have the lofty-never-achievable-but-worth-pursuing goal of emulating who Jesus was because of our profound love and respect for what He did for us. His first and main priority was to bring glory to God. This in comparison to a more general societal understanding of love where we ‘glorify’ the other person.

This abstract idea was/is completely mind-blowing to me. Am I in a place for that? Mmm….probably not. I’m still in my early stages of really grasping this concept. Despite the fact that I may on some levels desire to pursue/be in a relationship with someone, the longevity of it will solely depend on whether I can support my partner in this pursuit and whether he can support me. Sure there are many other things I want in a SO (such as ability to rock a suit but rock a soft shell jacket and not squeal like a girl when we’re on a rock face..that’s my job :P) and I figure that God will set me up with a fellow who will meet my needs, but this one thing is the fundamental component of a Christian relationship. I imagine that there is so much more to learn..

Power in Defeat

We are constantly told that success is when we achieve the goals we have set out, to never back down against adversity..but is this only approach we can take? This mindset, though my own, has led me on a continual path of masochism and ultimately, a great deal of disappointment. I have tried again and again to make this work, some sort of relationship whether it be friendship or otherwise. Yet, I am constantly coming back and trying to make it better. I just want to make peace with it..which means I want straightforward and honest answers. However, I can’t make that happen because that information has to be from that other person. This other person keeps drawing away from me, keeps taunting me. Is it about esteem? Dignity? Ego? Maybe it’s time to admit defeat and move on without those answers I want. I don’t need them to function, to live. It’s a want, not a need. For me, letting go of something that remains unresolved is much more difficult than driving towards a goal even though that drive will be met with numerous obstacles and challenges. Maybe it’s time to stop chasing..and be the one worth chasing.

That Girl

All my life, I think I’ve always strove to be different than ‘that girl’. There are even times that I over compensate and tap into my ‘manly self’ a bit too much (yes, I grudgingly admit it). Yet here I am, sitting in my cubicle, baffled by the current situation I find myself in. It’s blown out of proportion, it has my head spinning and spilling to friends for advice and insight into the male brain. As arrogant as this may sound, it’s very rare that I find myself confused in these situations or perhaps even more arrogantly…to be rejected at any degree. I come off as an independent and confident person and for the most part I am. I am more comfortable and confident when I am pushing hard at whatever activity I happen to be engaged in (eg. climbing) than rocking out a form-fitting sheath dress (if anything, I get simultaneously confident and self-conscious of my butt hanging out). Despite my inclination to be wearing dri-fit shirts and climbing pants, to hang out with the boys and often enough, sneer at the ‘girly habits’ of my peers (eg. make up), I find myself in the exact same emotional place my friends, girly or not, find themselves in. I am not saying that women are more inclined to over analyzing things though it may appear to be the case; I think women are generally more open to others in the exploration of the emotional side of themselves. I can understand how those who usually do not engage in this sort of energy sapping mind play draw away from it. I would like to think that I usually do the same and pull away; I often try to be driven by logic rather than emotion because I understand it much better and it is easier to handle something that’s more concrete and not so dependent on the whims of others. I have had thoughts of being bold and asking where I stood and if it wasn’t anything more than friends, that would be fine. It may sting but I would just compartmentalize and then move on. What’s next? It’s like business. Yet as tempting as this course of action, I’ve held off. Perhaps it’s time I revel in why I feel insecure about myself. I don’t do it enough because these insecurities are often shoved aside for productivity; however, despite how amicable the break up between J and I was, it has brought to surface my insecurities. It seems like in every other facet of my life, I have little problem ‘giving it up to God’. Yes, I was desperate and worried that I would remain a jobless hobo after coming back from Europe, but under all that, I knew God had something worked out for me; all I had to do was keep driving and making sure I seized the opportunities that arose (after all, I can’t be offered a job without applying for it :P). Unfortunately for me, this sort of logic doesn’t apply to relationships and the like. I know why our relationship ended and I’m not really hung up about it, but what has come out of it is insecurity and I loathe it. I wonder what makes it worth it for someone to love someone else unconditionally and decide to build a life around that relationship. Even though women (and probably men, though it would probably kill them to admit it :P) remain completely baffled by the different areas of relationships, there has to be something that clicks or else the human race would’ve ceased to exist after the first generation. What baffles us I think is that because people are so different, especially in the way they approach things emotionally, that ‘something’ is different and cannot be necessarily applied to all situations. There is no one-fits-all formula. Well, that makes it hard for those of us who like formulas and things to make sense no?

Continuing the Search for Contentment

There have only been two points in my life when I experience pure and utter contentment. The first was during my baptism, right at the moment when I was dunked in the water and the second was when I had a ‘forehead to forehead’ moment with W. They’re both significant points in my life as the first was real indication of rebirth or change for my life (from poopy emo to the person you know now) and latter showed me what I was really looking for in a person, though not so much on the attributes of the person I wanted (even though W is an awesome person) but the feeling I wanted to capture with that ‘other’ person. I dare say I’ve failed (thus far) in the latter; in the past 10 months, I really tried to make that moment happen between J and I…perhaps I tried too hard. I guess I had a lot to prove to myself, that I would be capable of keeping a relationship longer than a mere month (or even less). But no matter how hard I tried, how much I gave up on certain, fundamental things of myself, that moment didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, we had moments were I knew I was happy but utter contentment? No, I’m sorry to say it didn’t exist. I don’t regret our relationship; I’ve certainly learnt a lot about myself and what I would want in my other.

What will make me content then? If the two moments are indicative of anything, it’s finding peace with who I am (through God) and finding that right other. The journey toward who I am is going to remain as a journey for the rest of my life, but I like to think I’ve figured out the central things that make me spin and after being in a relationship with someone whose fundamentals differ from my own, I know that I need someone who matches me on these things but is willing to find a middle road on the things that make us different and unique. I know as a Christian, I should say that my other should be someone that is a man of God too, but that’s not enough I guess. Rather, I want someone that is genuinely interested on making a difference in the lives of others for the pure sake of just helping others whether he be Christian or not, that he does it not because it is a mandate in his religion or obligation, but because something deep inside pulls him towards bettering the lives of his fellow man. Maybe this sounds idealistic, but I would like to think such people exist. It may also sound simplistic simply because we all for one, have some sort of feeling of altruism and we all would like to think that we’re that kind of person. We’re not. I’m not passing judgement on anyone and I’m not even saying that I am, but I would like to think I’m building myself towards achieving that. I would like someone to be able to push me towards this goal and acting on it. To keep me open minded and humble, to keep learning. I know this blog entry is pretty dry and maybe not as introspective as some of my other ones, but I still respect J and also don’t feel like exposing all that went down with our relationship since this blog post stems from that.

After this last chapter, will I settle for anything less than contentment? Will you?

Marriage – Bliss to Hate

This is around the season where wedding planning is in full swing for those planning to tie the knot in the spring or summer. Of course, I am (thankfully) not part of this process and won’t be for quite a while. However, after watching a documentary on CBC, listening to my mother’s ‘concerns’ (I call them rants) about a Christian/Non-Christian marital union and watching a number of films which depict infidelity and dirty divorce spats, marriage is not too far from my mind. Last night, I also read an article about a couple who engaged in an experiment scanning the differences between those in long-term, committed relationships/marriages vs. those newly in love. What struck me wasn’t the results of this experiment,but the fact that they had the hardest time finding people who were married for a long time. When my own parents divorced, the divorce rate was around 50%. According to a CBC article, 4 in 10 first marriages will end in divorce. I think the thing that I’m most curious about is how do you go from loving one another and willing to do anything for that other person to hating them. Is it the small things that you previously dismissed that aggravate you? Lack of communication? The wearing off ‘love blindness’? Also, is marriage taken less seriously as before? It no longer seems like marriage is seen as a life commitment, but rather something to engage in until things don’t work out. I suppose one could also question the motive behind marriage. Undoubtedly, love and affection is part if not the major part of deciding to get married, but for women, there’s that blasted biological clock that keeps ticking away. Let us not forget the social pressure of all your other friends getting married when you get to you’re late twenties. Anyways, I’m not against divorce; both my mother and father are happier now that they are divorced. However, is the ease of getting divorce just an easy out? A number of times, you hear about celebrities getting divorced because of ‘irreconcilable differences’.  What the hell does that even mean? Does it imply that for some, there was a lack of planning and communication before marriage to understand the different nuances of your partner and that you found them out later on? I suppose such a post could be considered as pessimistic or even inappropriate on Valentine’s Day, but it’s food for thought.

Is it worth it/lucky us/culture of obligation

…to be part of a relationship, knowing that it has no future, knowing that at the end of the day, it’ll come to an end. Ending not because of ‘natural causes’, because of the natural devolution of your relationship, rather because there’s a deadline.

The issue of traveling, of losing the valuable ability to pursue and maintain long-term personal relationships as it takes a back burner to career and academic pursuits have been prevalent in my life (as I’ve constantly reiterated to the point of redundancy). A high ranking official in which I had the opportunity to speak with told me that I didn’t have to chose between career and ‘life’. Maybe he didn’t, but did his partner? Although it is the 21st century, arguably women are still expected to, more than men, to sacrifice their career pursuits to facilitate the building and maintenance of ‘life’ when in a (heterosexual) partnership. So in a relationship in which both partners wish to strike a balance between career and ‘life’, finding the golden mean isn’t just with oneself anymore, but you must also take into account the other person.

I spoke to a friend I met when I was in DC. He has been in China since the beginning of the spring semester and will be until Christmas where he’ll then fly out to London for the holidays with his family and then return to DC afterward to complete his law degree. I am, of course, in Brussels to pad up my resume at a rather expensive cost with no assurance that what I am doing now will actually accrue to some sort of advantage when looking for an actual job. The comment ‘lucky us‘ came up in our conversation. I  couldn’t decide whether to take this comment earnestly or sarcastically; to be honest, both sentiments arose although the former came out more as an obligation. Within the last couple years, I have gone to 3 different continents, was never situated in one place for more than a semester and as a result, my personal life arguably suffered. Not only have I not had the opportunity to pursue or even consider a long term relationship (my pick up line would include: by the way, I’m leaving x amount of months), but I have also drifted further away from my closest friends. Although we remain close, I have honestly lost some and yes, I have gained some; however, making a close friend because you’re in the same program but knowing you’ll most likely never see each other again is completely different than having someone you grew up with, who knows your past, the shit before your reformation. However, the latter party is now at a loss because they cannot relate to the experiences you are having abroad. This is no one’s fault, it’s just kind of sad. I told this friend that, and he agrees with me on how lucky we have been to have had the opportunities we’ve had, but it would be nice to be in one place for a while. Then I told him that from a selfish point of view, it was kind of nice to know that I wasn’t alone on this boat. It’s not just the fact that I’ve left home, but the succession of programs in such a short period of time is a contributor. Even those I met in the first and/or second program did not necessarily cram abroad programs so close to one another and thus, perhaps cannot relate to my exhaustion. There is a significant difference between traveling for pleasure and traveling to work/volunteer, to go with some purpose and for a prolonged period of time. The latter requires one to adopt to a new culture, to be social and meet new people, establish a new circle of friends, etc. and this is exhausting especially when you have to keep changing places. Don’t tell me that traveling for kicks is the same as this process; it’s not.

I’m curious as to why I so easily do things that don’t necessarily bode well over me but in the long run, has potentially positive consequences for me. Is the collection of obligatory experiences and the sentiments that arise with it worth it? I’m taking French classes right now. I can absolutely say that I have little interest in going there every Monday and Wednesday evening, especially in conjunction with my current work demands, job application preparations, attempts to maintain a relationship with a man who has the completely opposite work schedule as I do, yet there I am, every Monday and Wednesday. I’ve skipped once and felt pretty guilty about it…though a few episodes of the West Wing coupled with a cup of hot chocolate soothed these anxieties. But even though I express my fatigue and stress and thus don’t really feel like attending French classes, I know in the end that I will go. I know it. Part of this attitude was conditioned by how my parents raised me and to be honest, it’s not a bad thing. I’m just worried that if I continue with this without a balance of personal indulgence that the positive impact these experiences undoubtedly have or will have in the future will be overshadowed by the bitterness of ‘not living’.

However, when reflecting on this lifestyle attitude, I know it has a lot of credibility. When looking at my current situation in which I will be leaving Brussels in less than 2 months, and subsequently leaving my longest (sad..) relationship in the last few years, it probably would’ve been easier on me if I hadn’t disregarded what I knew would be a sad and shit situation in the end. Yet the happiness that fills me every time I see this person, the comfort and simple contentment in which I find when encased in a blanket cocoon with my personal heater, makes it ultimately worth it. I’m living in spurts and it sucks, but perhaps it’s better than not having ‘life’ at all.

Before any opposing sentiments are expressed over the above statements, let’s just take into account whether you, my friend, are living a similar life style as I am, and if not, whether you really can put yourself in my shoes. Things aren’t so clean cut.