Wednesday, December 25, 2013

And To All A Good Night

 Yikes. I told myself and my readers that I would focus this year. I guess that hasn't really happened, has it? I know I'm not going to get another chance to write before the new year, so since I am sitting in bed, alone, with Pandora blaring, I should type something out quick.
This blog means a lot to me. But this year, I tried to make everything else mean a lot, too. I tried to get over my anxieties. I flew a plane! I started learning guitar, I sang on a stage (with friends, myself, and myself with my guitar!), I drove to Minneapolis, I saw my favorite comedy stars, I saw Tom Petty, I got myself into a concert for free by saying I knew the band and then actually meeting the band. I got back into the music I used to love & discovered so many new bands. I really rediscovered my love for music this year.
 I met so many people, some who have stuck around, some who were here for a reason & moved on with their lives and became memories to me. Some I keep making memories with. This year I learned A LOT about relationships. A lot. Yes, I am 22. I don't know shit. But I know a hell of a lot more than I did four or five years ago. I am a 100% different girlfriend and friend than I was in my old relationships.

I have had a few relationships. And they have all meant so much to me. Some are in the past and are meant to stay there. I learned a lot from them, and they hold a special place in my heart. But not every relationship is meant to last forever. A couple of them were really great learning experiences. We outgrew each other and moved on. At the time, it hurts like hell. But then you get to look back on the memories & smile instead of cry, and realize the reason for it all. That's been the hardest part for me. I'm not good with change. I have lost a hell of a lot of people in my life, and I hate to lose anyone. No one likes to go through the trouble of meeting someone and getting to know them and their friends and their family and their habits and then have to stop knowing them. I am so thankful for the people I've met and the places I've gone and the things I've seen.

I was in a long relationship once. I was young and stupid (I mean, I still am, but even more so then). I really thought it would last forever, at the time. When I was 18 and thought about 22/23, I planned to be married, hopefully with a kid. You may think that's crazy, but everyone in my family started young. I'm one of the only women in my family to not have had a kid young. I grew up with the mindset that that was what people do, and I wanted to do it. My relationship was not easy. We never got the fun teenage dating days so many people did. We had to struggle with life and lean on each other for support. When you are forced to depend on someone at such a young age, you start to grow angry towards each other for all the things you are, and aren't. We grew up and apart.

My next relationship was another dependency. We used each other, like drugs. But in the end, it wasn't enough and we didn't know how to thrive alone. I needed to be alone, for the first time in my life. Being alone is not easy, trust me, I know. I have had many, many nights alone, trying and crying to figure out what would make me feel better. It took a long, long time to realize that what would make me happy was myself. When I started to figure that out, I realized I was ready for another relationship.

I found one and it was great for me. When it ended, I was sad. But now I look back on it and smile so much, because that relationship made me realize who I want to be, as my own person and as a partner. In that relationship, I put to the test all the things I used to do. I talked out my problems instead of keeping them in. I didn't argue about the little things. I tried to learn his interests, I tried to lead my own life while staying a part of his. I encouraged him, and he encouraged me. There are a lot of things I wouldn't have done without him. I learned how to have a real relationship. It didn't last, but that's okay. I wouldn't change a thing about it. Again, I was alone, but this time, I knew how to do it. It's never all that fun, as I'm a very social person, especially the older I get. But I didn't hate going home to nobody anymore.

People like to tell you all the same things in your 20's. And probably in your 30's and 40's and so on...everyone who is older is going to tell you about the things they wish they had known at "your age." Sometimes, we can heed their advice. But a lot of life is just experiencing what we can and learning from it. Here are the things I've learned about relationships, so far. I'm sure a year ago this would have been completely different, and in a year, I will probably laugh at it. But right now, this is what I know.

I am a horribly impatient person. I HATE waiting, especially for the things that I want. The waiting is the hardest part. But sometimes we have to wait for things. In a society that revolves so heavily around instant gratification, I know I'm not alone in my struggle. But patience is necessary. I tend to get angry and upset, quickly. I've learned that is the worst way to deal with things. I try to take a deep breath and consider the ramifications of my thoughts. Is what I'm thinking plausible? How much of my actions are overreactions? How much of what I'm thinking is unnecessary anger? I'm inexperienced for the most part, and I have my moments where I can't seem to control my thoughts, words or actions. And I almost always regret it. The days I have been patient are the days I seem to think more clearly and have things work out. The times I react badly & impatiently and get dramatic are always the times that in the future, I wish I would have done differently. It's so important to just relax & let things work out the way they will. You really can't force anything or change certain things, and I need to remember that. Hey, I'm trying.

This is so important. Love is selfish. In a relationship, we would do anything for our partner. But first and foremost, we'd do anything for ourselves, and sometimes that comes through more than the former. There have been so many times where I was upset about something small, but when I thought about why my partner was acting a certain way, I realized how insignificant my worries were. Sometimes our partners go through things and instead of being supportive the best way we can, we get upset too, and it turns into a fight. It hurts to see someone you love hurting, and sometimes you don't know how to handle it and do so poorly. But it's important to just empathize with them and help them through it, not add to it. Sometimes, your partner is just stressed out about something that has nothing to do with you. And they don't mean to take it out on you, and if they ever do, instead of starting a screaming match, try and consider why they did so.

Give Space.
This one is really hard for me. I love to be around people, and when I'm in a relationship, you can bet I'll take any amount of time that I can. But sometimes we all need space. I used to be that girl that wanted to spend everyday with a boyfriend. Now, I really need alone time. If I spend every waking moment out with people, I get so exhausted. I need a couple nights a week to come home & lay in bed with Netflix & my cats. I try and make sure anyone I'm with knows that I am completely understanding of this. If my partner needs a night without me, I want them to be able to tell me without fear of me getting upset. It's so hard to not take it personally, especially on days when you don't feel the same. But it really has nothing to do with you (if you're being honest with each other). Some days I would love to see someone, but I just feel like I need some me-time. We all get that way, it's totally normal.

Don't Sweat the Small Things.
Eighteen year old Kat thought that everything was the end of the world. Any little thing could set me off, and fights lasted for days. Screaming matches over the smallest thing were pretty common. Now, I try not to get angry at things that don't matter. There are things that matter, and there are also ways to communicate that to a partner. My mom always used to tell me to pick my battles. This is huge in a relationship. When I lived with my ex and he didn't do the dishes on a night he said he would, we wouldn't talk for days. How ridiculous is that? Especially considering there were many nights where I didn't do my chores and my reasoning was always supposed to be understood, whereas his was a bullshit excuse to me. There are just things you need to work there. Communication is key, which leads me to...

So many people don't know how to communicate with their partner! When I was younger, there were times when I'd be afraid to say what was on my mind. The older I get, the less I care. I am an open book with most people, and you can count on me to tell you when I'm upset about something. End that horrible stereotype of women expecting men to read their minds. I have known far too many women like that. Men won't read your mind. Other women won't read your mind. Only you know what you're thinking and how to effectively explain it someone else. Don't expect anyone to know what is bothering you, because half the time you might not even fully know. I don't care how long you've known someone, no one will ever know you so well that they will be able to 'read' your mind. They might be able to tell something is up, but lots of people don't like confrontation and are not going to dig it out of you.

Be Your Own Person, and Let Them Be Theirs.
This is so important. When you are with someone, you are with them because you love certain aspects about them. You might not love everything about them, but that is what makes them who they are. Don't try to change that. If you fall for someone who has a trait or habit that you truly can't stand, communicate how you feel and try to compromise. But don't go into a relationship with the expectation that the other person will change, and don't ever change yourself for someone else. It always boils down to loving yourself first. If you are both comfortable with who you are, you will be comfortable together. Besides, isn't that the best part about a relationship? That the two of you have similar interests you can enjoy together, but that you also have these differences in many areas that you can learn and discover? It's so exciting to learn new things, especially with someone you really care about. And it definitely brings two people closer together, to share their interests and watch someone getting into them. A big part of who I am is made up of all the things I've learned from relationships, whether it be romantic partners or platonic friendships. We are made up of all we've been through and all we know. You can't change someone's past, and don't try to.

These are just the things that I've noticed about myself in relationships. I've become a much more patient person, and I'm still not anywhere close to where I want to be. Relationships are fucking hard work. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's easy to feel like everything is wrong when you argue. But arguments are part of a relationship. If we didn't disagree sometimes, we would become far too complacent, I think. That's not saying fighting is normal. You should never be fighting over everything all the time. I'm just saying that some minor disagreements are normal.

But in general, I think that a lot of people take relationships too seriously, especially at a young age. We all try to rush things so much. There is no rush. Yes, life is short, and I struggle with that a lot. But then I just try to take things one day at a time, and live in the moment. Now, the thought of marriage and kids is something for my future. I love hanging out with someone I really care about, learning new things with them and just having fun. I just want my romantic relationships to be like my platonic friendships. I want my partner to be a really good friend that I just happen to sleep with. Someone to depend on and experience new things with and just have fun with, just like I do my friends.

The holidays are hard, especially for people who are single. And I know how annoying it is to hear  that you'll find someone eventually, so I'm not going to say that. If you're single right now, enjoy the holidays with the people who are in your life. Don't dwell on what you don't have, and enjoy the things you do have. I've noticed, in my own life and from other people's stories, that we find people when we stop looking. Don't place pressure on your relationships or yourself. Just let things happen naturally. If you're in a relationship, kiss your partner tonight and thank them for everything they've done and everything they are to you. So many people don't have someone to go to bed with tonight, and don't take the fact that you do for granted. If you are single, snuggle up in bed and watch your favorite movie, or text/call a friend and tell them what they mean to you. No one is truly alone, we all have people who care about us, even though sometimes we feel like we don't. Don't fall into those thoughts. Just be happy.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all who don't celebrate Christmas, enjoy whatever you do celebrate :)