And there goes another season

I was worried about this past season. I now realize I had no need to be, and I’m going to miss these boys.

At the start of the season I had 15 players. Now I have 15 more little brothers. I practiced patience, gained a stronger voice, and learned I have a sense of humor very similar to that of a 12-year-old boy.

No one made any comments about girls not being good at sports, or my ability to coach because I’m female. Many of them are following the world cup just as closely and I am. For all of this I am relieved, proud, and impressed with the future children of the universe.

Even the parents were amazing! I am incredibly grateful I had great players and great parents, and I’m going to miss the little boogers. I loved the girls I coached the season before, don’t get me wrong. But considering how worried I was, and considering how well the season went…I’m really sad to see them go. Having a full team like this is incredible, and seeing the leaps and bounds they all made was so rewarding.

Next week, however, I’m about to start a whole new kind of scary coaching situation.

I will be part of a group of coaches who will be teaching middle and high school girls about soccer. These girls come from foster homes, abusive homes, and drug-using homes. Some of them are victims of human trafficking. Some of them have mental health issues, some lack motor skills, and some are dealing with anger problems. This is something I truly feel ill-equipped for, to put it lightly. I have very limited experience with these issues; even less experience with how to coach someone with these types of issues. Like learning any new skill, soccer can be frustrating in the beginning. I’m barely able to deal with a frustrated 12-year-old, let alone a 16-year-old trafficking victim with a history of anger issues.

The good news is I have help. Both the counselors at the shelter and a few experienced soccer coaches will be at practices. So, I can’t cause too much damage.

I am unbelievably honored to be a part of this; I am honored to have a chance at improving someone’s quality of life, even in some small way. Letting someone know it’s ok to try something new, to be a part of a team, is a tough thing. Teaching someone that it’s okay to fail – especially when I’m still learning how to do that myself – is going to be a challenge.

This is a thing that scares me, and I’m just going to dive in head first. What other way is there?

The downside of Ambition (Dating Limbo pt 2)

I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m terrible at this.

That’s my POF headline. It also happens to be what I say to myself – about almost anything – on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s coaching soccer, sometimes it’s this very blog.

If I’m not the very best at something then I’m disappointed in myself. I’ve been in the exact same job for almost a year now, and because I’ve made no upward progress, I’m basically failing. I realize this trait in myself, and sometimes I can calm myself down but usually it just makes me more angry and frustrated.

I’ve always thought of myself as a perfectionist – but college taught me that I am more than okay with “good enough”. However, the combination of being ambitious and being a control freak is what might drive me to insanity. I want to have control over everything, and I want to be the best at everything – but I’m also incredibly lazy and easily demoralized by setbacks. I’m never settled or truly happy for very long. In my career, personal life, hobbies, or even physical appearance – I know I can do better, should be better, have been better once.

I don’t believe I’ve ever had the perfect relationship, or the perfect job. But I take the best parts of all my past experiences and want the next thing to be better than all the best parts. It makes dating a real pain in the ass. If one tiny thing reminds me of an ex in a bad way, I immediately want to break it off. I hold myself to an impossible standard, as well as those around me.

I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m terrible at this.

I’m seeing this guy right now – let’s call him Alfredo – and I can’t help but link his video gaming habit to an ex of mine. I can’t rule out all video gamers; I’d be left with maybe 10 guys in my age bracket and geographic location. Early on in my dating experiences, the minute someone reminded me of an ex – the way they acted, words they used – I immediately stopped seeing them. I’m trying to get over that. So Alfredo sometimes does things I don’t always like, has some habits I could do without… but he’s also the most fun I’ve ever had with a date-type person, even when we’re doing the simplest of things. I’ve gotten comfortable with him very quickly, and it’s just very simple and easy and wonderful. He’s more of a safe bet than some of the guys I’ve been with in the past. Yet, I’m still scared. Lately, the safe bet guys have been more scary to me than any bad-boy-wannabe. Maybe because I’ve learned that sometimes the good guy isn’t always as good as he seems.

It’s also frustrating because I have no idea how dating works. And as that ambitious control freak, I want to know everything and be good at all of it. Not understanding the dating game makes me even more angry that I didn’t get to date in college. I still have text conversations with boys from POF or Tinder that I’ve met before, and I feel like I should shut those down, I hate leading people on. I hate being led on. I’ve been seeing Alfredo for a month or two and when does that become shady? It isn’t “official” with Alfredo, and I don’t even know if that’s what I want anyway. But I like his taste in music and the fact that I can be ridiculous in front of him. He can cook. The ability to cook is such a small thing, but the time it takes for me to fall for someone is severely shortened when I see them in their element, and especially when that element happens to be in the kitchen. He continues to surprise me, and makes me laugh all day long. There’s a slight chance I’m over-thinking all of this, too. Maybe I’m just scared.

I’m scared that another failed relationship means one more thing I can’t get right. Either way, I’m not ready to dive in head first, but I’m not ready to let go yet either. There’s no explosive chemistry, but there’s staying power and a level of comfort with him. Maybe that’s more important.

I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m terrible at this.

And maybe being lost for awhile is okay. Someone needs to remind my ambition of that.

Life Advisor?

What’s the adult, real-life version of an academic advisor? Ya know, the person who tells you that you’re doing awesome, and then tells you exactly what classes to take next semester? They look at your resume, and tell you you’re awesome, but give you small tweaks to make your resume reflect that awesomeness, and make you seem even more awesome? Is there a life advisor somewhere I’m not aware of?

About a year ago, when I was sitting through Alumni Days – listening to successful, graduated alumni talk about life after college – one of them said something that just recently sort of hit me.

There are no semesters, no constant evaluation in life. There’s nothing, and I mean nothing to break up the monotony. In college – while it could be brutal – there were breaks. There were finals (brutal) but then you were done, and then you went to new classes with new people and new professors and new topics. Now, there are intense deadlines (brutal) but no breaks, and on Monday I return to the same tasks, with the same people, working on the same project. Nothing actually changes, nothing moves forward…

In college, once you pass XYZ1000, you move on to XYZ2000. You fail that class? Oh it’s cool, just take it again.

In life, you manage to complete something, and then you have to do that thing again. And again. And again. Maybe some small things are different, maybe after a year (or several…usually several) maybe, maybe, you get promoted and get to make more money to do those things. But fuck something up? You could get fired. You don’t get to try it again.

Essentially, the consequences for fucking up are greater, but the rewards are lesser. And there are no life advisors to tell you you’re awesome, or which projects to take on, or what the hell to do about your resume. Instead, the other adults just… let you flail around out there, watching you squirm. They probably enjoy it, too. Buncha jerks.

“So, what do you do?”

Every time I see someone I haven’t talked to since I got my job, of course we ask each other what we’ve been up to. I tell them I graduated, got a job, live in a different part of the state, etc. Then they ask “So what do you do?” and I tell them my title, which like most titles, essentially means nothing. Sometimes they actually accept this as an answer, which is awesome, and maybe they ask what company I work for. Which, again, most people haven’t heard of most B2B companies so me telling them means nothing. They’ve heard of the main client I work for, but I can’t exactly tell them that so I continue being vague. If none of this is acceptable, they then ask something to the effect of “Soooo what does that mean? What do you actually do all day?”

Here’s the weird part for me. I have no idea. I mean yeah, I know what I do on a daily basis. I know what my job description is, vaguely. But, for example, I don’t know what to put on my resume. I never do. I mean, I know the tasks I do and what they’re used for, and in theory what the client uses them for. However, to anyone not in the industry, anything I say isn’t going to make sense. So I either ramble out some jargon about panels, verbatims, reporting specs, and testing scenarios, or I just say “I sit at a desk all day.” Neither of which actually answers their question, and it doesn’t sound the slightest bit glamorous, but neither is my job. And I get that I’m entry level, I really do. I understand that I’m just a glorified intern. And yet…I constantly feel like anything I do has no significance, no impact, and no value whatsoever.

That’s not exactly selling myself, is it?

Maybe if I was less ambitious this would all be ok. I would sit in my cubicle, put in my time, and wait until it was time to retire. Follow the suggested path, keep my head down, etc etc. I just can’t do that, though. On the other hand, I’ll be the first person to admit I can be a lazy piece of shit. Motivation eludes me for the better part of the day and maybe even week – but only when I’m not interested. If I can find a task or project that is challenging and interesting, then I also find it motivating. What I do now, is neither of those things. Some tasks, occasionally, yes. Any new things that break the monotony of my normal job routine, I will jump at the chance to tackle those projects on my own and I’ll spend all day trying to figure it out and how to do it well.

But how do I do that on a daily basis? Where is this magical job that makes me passionate about my work? Of course I understand there will always be good days and bad, but where’s the job that motivates me to do more than just kill time in my cubicle?

I love that I know things about economics and I even appreciate that I had to suffer through a few accounting classes, but that is what I really wish they would have taught me in college. How to find my perfect fit of what I’m good at and what I’m passionate about. I don’t know even how anyone would have taught such a thing…but I wish someone had. How do I figure out what I want? Once I do, how do I get there?

“Give it time,” they say. Maybe patience has just never been my strong suit, because I’m only 23 and I couldn’t be more restless.

Dating Limbo

My choice on any given day after work is to keep drinking water and make sure I get my 7-8 glasses a day, or to drink some wine instead. This choice is both literal and metaphorical. Literally, I should drink 7-8 glasses of water a day and literally every day I really want to drink some wine. However, the metaphor can apply to my dating life. (I realized this with the help of a friend, so, thanks friend!)

See, I’ve been seeing this guy. We’ll call him Remy. So, Remy is my first…idk, “thing”, from Tinder. And really, he also happens to be my first “thing” not from my high school… because, as you may recall from a previous post, I dated the same person from my hometown during most of my time in college. I didn’t have any new relationships in college…. and now I’m out here in limbo trying to date and stuff in the adult world. And by the way, what are these adult dating rules? Why has no one written them down?

So Remy. Remy claims he isn’t sleeping with anyone but me. Remy has claimed he isn’t ‘quite single, but ya know, isn’t married or anything’ (well, good, right? But I get what he’s saying. Or do I?). He also calls me ‘bae’ or ‘babe’ or similar things on occasion. Which honestly could mean nothing. The owner of the fucking liquor store calls me ‘honey’, ‘dear’, and ‘baby’ on a regular basis, and I swear I’m not there often enough for that to be warranted. So this could mean nothing. Remy can read me incredibly well, seems to clearly be very very attracted to me and also realizes I’m an intelligent human being. But…. what is this? This “thing”? Am I in a relationship and not know it because I’m a moron when it comes to adult dating? Am I being led on in a way I don’t even realize? I turned down many a suitor after I met Remy (again, I deleted Tinder for this guy). I did this because I just felt like there was some insane connection between us… or is he just really charming? Right now, there are no points against Remy other than he cancels plans on me or just simply won’t return my texts on a semi-regular basis. But he’s busy, and of course I question everything: Why was he on Tinder in the first place – to meet a nice, intelligent girl like myself.. or to get laid? Also, why was I on there in the first place? Was I looking to get laid, or something else? Do any of these questions have real answers? Are all of my questions rhetorical? When will I stop?

Side note, and maybe really important: I kinda like this boy. I’m very attracted to him in more ways than one, he’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, and we have a lot of similar interests. That last one sounds silly, but it’s more important than you would think.

This leaves me with my literal and metaphorical choice: drink the water, or drink the wine? I could drink more water. I know that’s a safe choice. It’s good for my health, my well-being, and my conscious will likely be clear if I choose water over wine, because I won’t know what I’m missing if I choose not to drink the wine. I could choose to just not think anything of this boy, let this “thing” run it’s course. Maybe even let him go completely, to be certain I won’t fall for the boy. But – the wine could be really good, worth choosing over the water. Drinking some wine and one fewer glass of water couldn’t kill me, right? I could get drunk off this boy. I could see what this wine is all about, what it’s made of and just drink the whole bottle, drink all night. That’s really the only way to try wine anyway, to drink the whole bottle. Drink it all in, to make sure each glass is as good as the next. In the morning I could see if I get a hangover off some cheap, sugary imitation or if it was the good stuff. I could wait and see if he’s the real deal. In a month, I could wake up with a hangover when I fall and he leaves – or I could wake up in a month and be rewarded with something real.

Let’s not over think it, shall we? I’ve always preferred wine over water, bacon over vegetables, and beer over exercise anyway. I’ve gone shot for shot with some of the worst/best alcoholics I know, so bring on the hangover if that’s the case. I’m done asking these rhetorical questions, done with the annoying inner monologue, and done trying to play it safe.

Fuck it. Let there be wine, she said.

Making Friends

I’m not going to lie to you. You’re in a really strange place right now. Arguably the weirdest time of your life. I don’t know what to tell you, but you will figure it out eventually. Somehow, it just happens. -A.

I have a favorite barista. She’s been my favorite for a very, very long time. Since I started drinking coffee out of both habit and necessity, A. has been there to further my addiction.

A. was also a friend and mentor to me in high school – she was very involved in a lot of the discussions I had about where to go, what to study, etc. She eventually hired my brother to work in the coffee shop because he’s related to me (and probably because he was well-qualified, I’m sure). So A. and I occasionally stayed in touch when I went to college, but not nearly as close as we were when I was in high school. Then I graduated, and after a few months of being on my own I happened to be in her area and surprised her at the new coffee shop she opened. I told her life in general was great, getting a job right out of school and all that. Except…after being in a new place, all alone, for a certain amount of time… I realized I was constantly going back to my hometown or my alma mater to meet up with my friends from high school and college. I suddenly realized I was unable to make friends in my new situation.

“But really, how do adults make friends?” was the question I kept asking myself. Sure, I had coworkers and they were great but also most of them were married with kids and not exactly open to my still-favorite weekend pastime of drinking like a college student. Plus – do I really want to hang out with these people outside of work, too? I get to see them 40 hours a week… shouldn’t I have separate friends for evenings and weekends? Perhaps these other friends should be people who don’t have children, and therefore a lifestyle more similar to mine? Where do I find these people?

For me, what makes this whole process even more difficult is how introverted I am. Unless I’m somewhat drunk or in a super-rare talkative and outgoing mood, I’m not going to just walk up and talk to someone. Small talk isn’t something I do if possible. If you’re a fellow introvert, you get it. If you’re an extrovert, go read Quiet by Susan Cain (or if you don’t want to commit that kind of time, watch her TED talk). So even if I did want to go to a bar alone, where other people my age and with my same interests were hanging out…I wouldn’t be able to say hello anyway.

Another option could be that I could join a sports team, either something I’ve played before and am halfway decent at (soccer) or I could try something completely new (any other sport ever) and fail miserably. Either way, I’m embarrassingly out of shape and that’s no way to make a good first impression on my new friends!

My mom suggested I could get a second job, which did not appeal to me in the slightest. But still, I entertained the idea. Eventually I decided to volunteer as a soccer coach, for something to do. But that didn’t really result in any friends…just met some cool parents and their cool kids. Neither of which fall into the category of friends I’m looking for.

I moved up here in May, it’s now the following January… and I still find myself driving an hour or more to go hang out with friends. I eventually decided to join the company indoor soccer team, so at the very least I’ll meet people who work at my company, but whom I wouldn’t normally see every day. That almost counts, right?

Maybe this will lead to something, or at least help me figure out how to make friends in my own introverted way.