Social U.











{May 1, 2009}   The Balancing Beam of Life

Life is learning, and most of the time its lessons come from unusual places. Like from a game of marbles…but I will get to that later on.

          Of all the ways to learn life lessons, animation is the best, and Disney is the world’s best in generating animated cartoons.

          Disney is important to this lesson because they have a new movie released this December featuring the first black Disney princess ever. And, when I heard this news I was ecstatic, but not only for the cultural enrichment, but for the lesson it told.

          And it’s lesson is about balance.

          Ecclesiastes 7:16-18 says, “So don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself? On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either – don’t be a fool! Why should you die before your time? So try to walk a middle course – but those who fear God will succeed either way.”

          The key theme to this verse is balance.

          One-sided people can never get very far in life because eventually they’ll have run themselves so far away from people that there won’t be anyone left (that they haven’t offended) to bring them back to a middle course.

          I remember in high school I had a tendency to be overly literal about every scripture in the Bible, not because I wanted to be stuck in the bubble that I was in, but because I didn’t know how to get out of it. I’d always been raised in the church, so I didn’t know how to think any other way.

          Luckily, that’s what other people, and the master of the universe, are for. It was certain people that God brought into my life that got me out of my bubble, and he orchestrates these things through our interactions with other people.

          Our day-to-day experiences with others are similar to a game of marbles. The shooter marble orchestrates how each of the smaller marbles hit one another in an attempt to get the marbles out of the circle.

          Likewise, God sends people into our lives in order to propel us to higher heights. And, even in the instance that the marble doesn’t get out of the circle just yet, at least it moved.

          Ultimately, the marble has to get out of the circle and will, because that’s the meaning of the game, or life. It’s about changes and honoring God in those changes with balance whether you choose to or not.

          All in all, too much of any good thing can become a man’s vice, and the lessoned to be learned here is that an unbalanced airplane can never fly.



{April 24, 2009}   Shameless Attraction

            Sitting at a lunch table full of men, I suddenly felt like a guppy in a fish tank full of hungry sharks, all ready to compete with each other to ask me out on a date. Have you ever been in a situation where it seems like every guy that you know is interested in you?

          Sure, unless you’ve been in this situation you’d think, “who wouldn’t want to have a ton of men pining over them?” But, when it’s a table full of men that you’re uninterested in that is surrounding you, then I think you’d quickly get the picture.

          Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of polite ways to tell a guy that you’re “just not that into him.” And here it goes:

 

  1. One of the least obvious ways to tell a guy that you’re uninterested in him is to say that he and another girl would make a cute couple. This completely throws guys off and makes them think that you don’t pick up on their flirtatious cues. It also signifies to him that you don’t see him in a romantic way.
  2. If the “throw-off” doesn’t work and he is a little more aggressive then say that you’re not looking for a relationship right now. Unless the guy really believes that he’s the right one for you, then most guys will back off.
  3. If for some reason he thinks that he’s the guy for you, but you’re still uninterested in him, then it’s time for the serious ammunition. You’ve got to make a decision. Be either totally honest, or run.
  4. In the instance that running and complete honesty don’t work and you have a hard core crush on your hands, then you have to break off the friendship for a while until they can respect that you need your space. When their ready to chill and be only friends then you can reestablish the friendship again, but until that happens you will always have a crushing guy on your hands.

 

          Recently, I was on the first three steps with various guys, but sadly, I have reached the ultimatum that is the fourth step. Understandably, because each guy is different, he might not need desperate measures like being shamelessly honest with him, or separating yourself from the friendship. Some men are better at picking up non-verbal cues than others are.

          Either way, regardless of whether he picks on non-verbal cues or not, always make an effort to let him down gently. Always remember that he saw enough in you to make you attractive, so don’t diminish whatever light he might have seen in you by being rude to him or by carelessly breaking his heart.

 

In Confidence,

Gabrielle



 

Frenemy: A person has gone from being a former friend to an enemy.

 

          When social circles divide to become more like ovals keeping two former friends on both sides with their mutual friends connecting both frenemies to each other, things become awkward. In order to survive in instances like these I’ve posted five suggestions for remaining civil in uncomfortable social situations. 

 

  1. Stand your ground. If you act cowardly (although you might be feeling completely awkward) you give that person power over you. Yes, it is good to loose your pride, however, if you act like you’re afraid of whoever you’ve had conflict with then that person will see that and will think they can treat you however he/she wants.
  2. Always remain cordial. It never helps any situation to visibly hold a grudge against someone. Yes forgiveness is ideal, however we all know that sometimes it takes time to completely forgive a person. So, rather than holding a grudge that all the world can see, act as though nothing happened. If anything it makes you look like the better person if the frenemy still treats you rudely.
  3. If ever in a verbal situation with the frenemy don’t walk away. Walking away always makes it seem like you’re not willing to work through problems. I suppose if you don’t value the friendship that much you have nothing to lose, but if you’d still like to try to be friends it’s best for you to stick around and try to speak.
  4. Don’t go out of the way to be friends with someone who doesn’t want to befriend you.  It makes you look desperate. Friendships are mutual relationships, and anyone who doesn’t put equal work into one doesn’t value it as much as is needed for it to succeed.
  5. Ultimately, it’s important to accept that not everybody is going to like you, in the same way that you’re not going to like everybody that you meet. Whenever you accept that sometimes different people don’t click it becomes less hurtful whenever you find someone who doesn’t want to be your friend, or who you don’t want to be friends with.

 

          My best advice, however, for how to handle social situations with people who you don’t get along with well is for you to see things from their perspective. When we humble ourselves and actually attempt to see ourselves as others do it becomes easier to like (and if not like, than tolerate) people who are different from yourself.

 

          So how do you handle uncomfortable social situations with frenemies? Please post and share!

 

In Confidence,

Gabrielle

 

 



{April 3, 2009}   Life with a Cancer Survivor

          Can you imagine coming home, sitting on the couch after a long day (not even a long day, but a day of not seeing your family at all) to be greeted with a question about the dishes that weren’t washed the night before?

          My mother is not always the easiest person to get along with, not because she is a mean person, she just has some painful past experiences that cause rifts in my family today.

          Basically my grandfather completely destroyed any bit of happiness that was in my mother when he was left raising three girls after my grandmother died an early death. So, other than having household chores beaten into her, I don’t know what other type of relationship my mother had with her father – the only parent that she had to lean on and learn from.

          And, quite frankly, I believe that internalizing her pains has caused her to have kidney problems and ultimately cancer. And although that is sad, it is not nearly as bad as the reality of having children by her bedside in the hospital but not really having anything to talk to them about other than homework and household chores.

          I apologize if I sound overly harsh or as though I don’t love my mother, because I do. However, what I’ve realized is that life is not fair, but that doesn’t stop it from happening. Irregardless of what happens to us in life we can only take what we’re given, and what we create for ourselves, and run with it. No person in the hospital is thinking about how sorry they feel for themselves, they want to get out of there so that they can live.

            I wish my mother would think about what she knows about me and talk to me on a personal level, not as someone quick to judge, but as a mother who is capable of being a friend. Who knows? Maybe things take time and perhaps she’ll have to reach a conclusion about our relationship on her own. Either way I’ll be here waiting on her and hoping for the type of relationship that I would be proud to display for my children one day.

            So my question for you is: are you and your parents close?

 

In Confidence,

Gabrielle

 



          Riding in the back seat of my friend’s car I laid my head against the backseat seatbelt, pressing it against the car door, and listened to the unnerving banter taking place all around me in the car. And there I sat,  wondering if I was going to enjoy my spring break trip with a group full of girls who I had always considered my friends, but who were not a thing like me.

          I like to be spontaneous, while they are more conservative and planner-oriented. I like to flirt, while boys are the enemy to them. And the final separating moment would be that I was once a literal Christian now turned open-minded, and they are still stuck in judgment.  

          Could I possibly be any more opposite from these girls?

          And so after deep thought and long conversations with some friends I came to the realization that I can be nice to everyone, but that does not mean that everyone is my friend.

          The people that I hang out with are the people that others are going to associate me with, and some associations I would prefer not to have.

          The difficult lesson that I had to confront within myself regarded my self-imposed obligation to care about everyone else’s feelings before my own – thus making me friends with everyone because I couldn’t turn anyone away.

          I’ve always enjoyed having many friends, but when I reflect upon the quality of friends that I’ve had over the years, not very many of them actually reflect me.

          So my advice to you is this: you’re not being wrongful to desire friendship in people that you admire. Who wants to hang out with people that they don’t see as being desirable?

          I’m not saying that friendships should be based upon superficial things like money and clothes, or even popularity. But even if a friendship was based on these things, I believe that true friendships develop between people who have similar life experiences and who want the same things, so if money and clothes were things desired then the friendship still has the potential to flourish.

          So, my question for you all would be this: how do you pick friends? And if it’s by being nice to everyone and accepting the people who (it’s sad to say) cling to you, are you happy with those friendships?

 

In Confidence,

 

Gabrielle



{March 13, 2009}   Intelligence

 

          Getting my midterm test back, I opted against opening the booklet’s outer blue covering to reveal the red-pin grade that I received on the test. Hoping that it was good, but knowing that it wasn’t, I sat with its blue discomfort right in front of me.

          When I opened the booklet’s flimsy covering my doubts were confirmed, only a million times worse. Never have I done so poorly on a test in my life. Thus, I was left to sit through the rest of the class period void of all traces of intelligence and quiet.

          And at this point is where my question began: what makes a person smart?

          Is it one’s comprehension of book smarts or street skills? Is it one’s ability to cope in different social settings, or the quick-wittiness of critical thinking skills in desperate times?

          Opening up my test booklet made me question my level of intelligence. Am I simply someone who just isn’t smart, coasting through life on inter-personal skills and a friendly demeanor? Because, according to this test, a life of college-related smarts just isn’t for me – or at least doesn’t come naturally.

          Being a woman of faith, I like to believe that God will get me to where I need to be when I’m supposed to be there, but what if that’s not how things work? What if, like intelligence, you either have a knack for knowledge or you don’t.

          And, this left me with a sad realization – I’m not a smart person. I actually don’t exactly know what type of person I am. So, in my search to understand myself better I went to friends and asked them whether or not they saw themselves as being smart.

          Every person I asked responded that they viewed themselves as smart. But how can this be? Does this self-confidence in one’s intelligence originate from an acceptance of one’s limitations and gifts?

          Perhaps truly smart people are those of us who have the knowledge to try? Those people who don’t get every book-related concept, but know that getting an ‘A’ requires studying, doing homework, and asking questions?

          I don’t really know, but I do know this: I try hard and have a desire for success. Maybe it’s okay that I don’t have all of the book smarts, or street smarts for that matter.

          Maybe true intelligence begins with humility, and with a gentle spirit that allows the seeker to learn from others thus creating a better self.

          Exodus 31:3 says “And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and ability, in understanding and intelligence, and in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship.”

          This is a beautiful scripture, and I like to believe what it says, but if everyone is created with intelligence then what is the point of a test (that is a hypothetical question)?

          I still don’t know, but I’d appreciate your comments so that I can better shape my own understanding of ‘intelligence’ and what it means to be a smart person to you. Maybe you can help me get my ‘intelligence’ back. J

 

In Confidence,

 

Gabrielle



{March 6, 2009}   Carpe Diem

Laying in my bed with both eyes closed I remembered doing runway in front of a casting director for America’s Next Top Model. Three times he watched me walk back and forth in front of him, but neither time was I satisfied with my walk. Although it was all a dream, whenever I woke up I realized that if I had been prepared I would have nailed those runway walks and would have landed the job.

 

So the moral of the story? Be prepared in all seasons because you never know when life’s perfect opportunity is going to surprise you. The perfect example of this concept is unfortunately, Chris Brown. Developing his dance skills from the time he was a toddler, Brown was simply prepared whenever he was “discovered by a local production team who visted his father’s gas station searching for new talent” (Chris Brown Biography).

 

By pursuing what he enjoyed and chasing it constantly, the day finally presented itself whenever he could display his talent for the people who would advance his career.

 

So, am I saying that you should wait for the “perfect” day to move forward with your life?

 

Not at all. I think that any professional would say that whatever they’ve prospered with in life has been something that they’ve chased after, but not out of necessarily a conscious decision or force of habit, rather from passion that makes hours of preparation bearable – and impossible to live without.

 

So, my advice for achieving your dreams is to literally be prepared on all occasions. Ecclesiastes 11:6 says to “plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both” (Ecclesiastes).

 

In laymen’s terms, be well rounded in whatever you’re interested in! Life can be short, why not invest in everything that you’re interested in? Who knows maybe you’ll be good at it all! And if not, you have a better understanding of who you are.

 

In Confidence,

 

Gabrielle

 

Works Cited:

Ecclesiastes. 6 Mar. 2009 <http://www.newlivingtranslation.com&gt;.

 

“Chris Brown Biography.” 6 Mar. 2009 <http://www.musictory.com&gt;.

 

 



{February 27, 2009}   Hand-In-Hand With A White Man

Walking out of Tinsletown Theater in a crowd full of blacks and colleagues, I was hesitant to display affection to the guy I was standing next to, not only because I had just gotten out of a relationship, but because I was walking hand-in-hand with a new potential date – who just so happened to be white.

It’s sad to say, but society doesn’t appear to be as enamored with women of the black community as it is with women of other ethnic backgrounds – especially whenever black women are with white men, and that is why I have decided to confront the issue of interracial dating in this week’s blog.

In friendships and relationships minorities have a tendency to cling to one another out of the conscious understanding of having a social difference in common whether it is a black man with a Hispanic woman, or an Asian-American with a Native American. However, this clinginess does not necessarily transfer over into romantic relationships.

With respect to black culture, as of late, black men have the tendency to reject black women in exchange for women of other races.

Some black women feel that this rejection is fueled by the bold outspokenness and independence that black women have, which in return emasculates (or simply takes away the sense of dominance) from black men. Because of this some women believe that black males seek relationships in other ethnic groups.

On a contrary note, “a study by Harris and Kalbfleisch (2000) suggests that due to the increase in people of color in America’s schools, workplace and society, the potential for interracial romantic relationships is inevitably going to rise” (Ross, “The Perceptions of College Students About Interracial Relationships”).

This acceptance of open dating by black men encourages the increase of interracial dating among black women; however, it’s important not to believe the foolishness that because people share a common skin color they will share similar mindsets or attitudes, thus making them more suitable in relationships.

As I previously mentioned, being in a similar circumstance in my life, I have discussed the topic of dating other races with friends over lunch-room conversation and these conversations have formed the foundation for the comments mentioned thus far.

So should black men stop dating other races out of fear of harming black women’s self-esteem? No. It’s damaging to oneself to deny inner feelings for a person of another race out of fear of the approval, or lack of it, by people of their own race.

My advice in deciding to date a person of another race is this: don’t allow yourself to be limited in dating opportunities simply because of another person’s skin color. It’s difficult enough to find a person that one is compatible with; to limit that dating pool only to people of one’s ethnicity could narrow the possibility of potential dates too much.

So my question to you would be this: should black women stop waiting for black men to take an interest in them, and date men of other ethnic backgrounds? Or, should black women adopt more docile attitudes (without submitting their independence) in an effort to attract their men back to themselves. (These questions are open to people of all ethnic backgrounds!)

Source: Ross, William. “The Perceptions of College Students About Interracial Relationships.” NATIONAL FORUM OF APPLIED EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL 17E: 3. 27 Feb. 2009 .



            The doorknob twisted, but wouldn’t lead me out. My chest remembers the familiar feeling of standing trapped in my friend Maurice’s dorm room one evening freshman year. I frantically tried to leave, so that my mother (who was on the phone) wouldn’t know that I was in a guy’s dorm room.

         

          According to USA Today colleges around the U.S. are allowing men and women to share dormitories together. “In the prim 1950s, college dorms were off-limits to members of the opposite sex. Then came the 1970s, when male and female students started crossing paths in coed dormitories. Now, to the astonishment of some Baby Boomer parents, a growing number of colleges are going even further: coed rooms” (Smith, “Colleges Are Allowing Coed Dorm Rooms”).

         

          What?!? I’m sure many parents are already crossing those universities off of their child’s potential school list, but it’s true, men and women are living together at universities like: Brown University, California Institute of Technology, and Clark University – and my mother is unsettled about me simply stepping foot in a guy’s room.

 

          Surely as we get older it becomes understood that males and females have intimate interactions in closed quarters, whether as friends or as more than friends; so, when do young people get the opportunity to decide what social interactions are the best for them, as well as within what physical parameters?

         

          The time is now. I think that if parents are so concerned about what their children are doing, then they need to look back at what they were doing in their twenties – and if it wasn’t pretty, then they need to talk with their children. Parents should know that being overly concerned does nothing good for their relationship with their young adult. In fact it leads to resentment (see previous blog).

          However, not all college students are happy about the housing situations presented them by living on either coed campuses, or on coed dorm floors. Neither are religious leaders: the ethos of today–everything goes–is incompatible with a religious lifestyle,” he recently wrote to a university official. “I cannot imagine any truly devout person, whether Christian, Muslim or Jew, living in a mixed-sex environment” (“Orthodox Jews Protest Yale’s Required Coed Dormitories”).

         

          So what do you think? Is it okay for women to mingle in their guy friend’s bedrooms? My mother definitely didn’t, and probably still doesn’t, think that it’s good. “It doesn’t quite send out the right message” she would say– “it’s just not proper.” Is hanging out in a person of the opposite sex’s bedroom or home a big deal, or is it an understood societal norm? 

 

Works Cited:

 

Smith, Michelle R. “Colleges are allowing coed dorm rooms.” 2 May 2008.  USA Today. 20 Feb. 2009. <http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-05-02-coed-rooms_N.htm&gt;.

 

“Orthodox Jews Protest Yale’s Required Coed Dormitories.” Los Angeles Times. 7 Oct. 1997, B-4 ed. 20 Feb. 2009. <http://articles.latimes.com/1997/oct/04/local/me-39253&gt;.



{February 12, 2009}   A Storm For Freedom

You want to know how to achieve freedom? I’ll tell you how, but through a story of course: 

I listened to the restricting phone message in the school parking lot at the start of tornado season. Both coincidentally, and symbolically, soon afterward whirls of debris would be scattering through the sky, breaking the peace that was a pleasantly warm afternoon.

Earlier in the day my internship coordinator called on me to come into the newsroom to help answer phone calls during the evening tornado storms.

As an intern wanting to make my way into the broadcasting industry I jump at the opportunity to prove my skill to the station by showing that I’m one of the most dedicated workers they have – all with the hopes of getting a job one day. Who would head out in tornado-raging storm weather for nothing?

So, moments before I head to my car to join the people who keep our citizens safe and informed, my mother calls. Being a tad bit overly-worried, my mother’s phone calls naturally carry the sense of a loss of freedom into the air waves. She tells me not to go to my internship, but rather to stay put nice and safe in my dorm.

And what’s my response?

Nothing. I say okay… I say okay.

I know! Depressing, right? Here I am a twenty-year-old woman who can’t even decide whether I’m going to work or not on my own.

So, here’s the point: how does anyone gain the freedom needed to survive in this world with overly-protective, overly-controlling, overly-anything parents?!?

Here’s the answer. Speak up! You absolutely have to! If you don’t, your parents will continue to place a zip tie over your torso, and reel you into their world – later moving you back into your teenage bedroom.

In the insightful words of Jet, “give me back my point of view, ’cause I just can’t think for you.” Friends, your parents will always want to live their lives through you, but both you and they have to realize that they can’t insert their “point of view” into your life. Live! It’s okay to break free from your parents. They loved you before…and unless you do something terribly drastic (but even if you did) I’m sure they’ll continue to love you after.

In Confidence,

Gabrielle 



et cetera
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