Today’s post will be short and sweet. I tried elaborating, but the fluff detracted from the simplicity of this life-changing relationship rule. It’s a rule we learned from our friends Carlo & Sarah, and we’ve followed it since the early days of dating.
I used to be a board game flipper. Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of the details, I suppose that’s a side effect of Hulk-ing. But either when I was losing really badly, or maybe after I had already lost, I flipped the board game and stormed off.
I couldn’t handle my frustration.
While I’ve outgrown throwing board games, I wouldn’t say that I’m cured. Extreme frustration can still put my projects in mortal peril.
As a recent example, I felt like I was walking a tight rope with my college experience blog post. I wanted to show that I was slow developing meaningful friendships, but without discounting the amazing people I went to school with. I wanted to show that I took my studies seriously, had fun, and traveled, but without appearing to brag. I wanted to get my point across, but without rambling. I wanted celebrate my overall experience, but without undermining other peoples’. I felt like I was continuously falling off the tight rope.
I became frustrated, and I was seriously tempted to trash the post altogether.
But surprisingly, something I learned from a baking show saved the day.
Tonight, five unforeseeable mishaps have conspired to land me at an unfamiliar cafe. The cafe is a little off the beaten track, with an upstairs seating area that overlooks the downstairs. I’m currently upstairs, and downstairs a college student is participating in a rather painful open mic night. I’ve put in my headphones and turned on Pandora to drown him out – dubstep, the concentration music of my college career. To make matters even odder, I’m wearing an old Cal t-shirt.
I feel transported back to my college years.
When I went to UC Berkeley, Caffe Med was one of my favorite study spots. It was similar to the one I sit in now – split into two levels, and a little of the beaten track. Caffe Med served great coffee as well as delicious, freshly made carrot juice. They were open late – ’till about 2am – which was great for last minute studying or essay writing. What I loved most about it, though, was that is was generally pretty devoid of college students. There might be a few scattered about, but it definitely wasn’t packed to the rafters like the other local cafes.
I liked studying alone in college. I liked being alone in college.
A lot of people talk about their college experience as their glory days – their social apex!
That wasn’t my experience.
For example, to commemorate freshmen year dorm life, at the end of the year, someone made a yearbook that included a drawn out floor plan with cut out pictures of our heads. The heads were placed not in the rooms where we lived, but into the rooms where we most often hung out. Most heads were clustered into their primary friend groups. My head was in my own room – away from the pack.
I was separated, like a metaphor for my primarily independent college experience.
Thanks to California’s recent rain after the long drought, this has been my first season with allergies. I was in denial when the symptoms first hit, but it was (and continues to be!) allergies. I feel like I’ve turned into a walking billboard for Claritin.
Allergies are a funny thing – especially as a metaphor. I’ve been thinking about the term “allergic to failure” recently. I’m not sure where it came from, but perhaps it started with Eminem’s lyric: “I must be allergic to failure, ’cause every time I get close to it, I just sneeze.”
While Eminem may be allergic to failure in a metaphorically healthy(?) way, not giving it much attention, I think I’m allergic to failure in more of a clinical way.
By which I mean, I completely overreact.
When you have allergies, your body misidentifies an external element as dangerous and attacks it violently, which causes the symptoms we see on the eyes, nose, throat, skin, etc. Through this process, your immune system creates antibodies that sound the alarm every time you’re exposed in the future, and your body continually overreact every time you’re exposed to the allergen.
Even though the allergen is harmless. There’s no threat.
That is how I am allergic to failure. Not in a cool Eminem-I-just-sneeze-at-it kind of way, but in a I-completely-overract-and-will-cause-chaos-to-avoid-it kind of way.
Neither failure nor allergens warrant the overreaction I give them.
Starting around junior high, I was a little problematic. On top of having difficulty navigating the social ups and downs of middle school, I felt (as many adolescents erringly do) misunderstood by my parents and convinced that they were trying to ruin my life. To prove my point, I was explosive, frequently screaming “You wouldn’t understand!” and “You’re ruining my life!” – followed stomping and door slams. Not my finest hour.
Since I clearly wasn’t open to my mom’s input, she smartly sought out someone that I could talk to. She found a girl at our church about five years older than me who was willing to mentor me through this tough time.