Let’s Talk IRL

Communication is an incredibly fluid item in our society. We have reached a time when we have the opportunity to not only speak with others face-to-face or via phone call, but can also text, email, instant message, and DM. This is both incredibly convenient for our busy lifestyles and potentially risky for our social skills.

When speaking with someone in-person, there are countless non-verbal ques to be interpreted. If someone has their arms crossed and eyebrows furrowed, they may be frustrated or upset. Even when you are on the phone, you can hear the person’s tone and volume to help translate the conversation’s meaning.

Now let’s think about texting. It’s such a fundamental part of many people’s days. With conversations via text messaging, it’s difficult to interpret meaning at times. For example, the word “okay”. If you are speaking with someone in-person and they respond with “okay” in a cheerful voice and a smile on their face, you will interpret that the conversation is going well. On the other hand, if you are texting and someone writes “ok” in response to your remark, you may think that they are being short with you or are irritated when, in actuality, they may have meant it as a simple response. There is so much left to assumption and previous encounters with a person when text messaging.

Sure, there are punctuation and emoji options, but everyone has a different perception of what those mean. For example, some people (yes, I mean people like me) tend to add exclamation points consistently throughout messages. I worry that if I don’t add that particular punctuation in my responses, my messages will come across as too serious or uninterested. Other people, however, never use exclamation points in their text messages. The same goes for emojis. Oh, and don’t even get me started on abbreviations. For example, “TBH I’m ROFL RN. I just posted the video.” may make sense to you,  but for someone who doesn’t know that TBH= to be honest, ROFL= rolling on the floor laughing, and RN= right now, it might just be a bunch of random letters mixed into your conversation. (Abbreviations aren’t my thing -for the most part- but I definitely know people who text like this and sometimes I have no idea what they are trying to say). Everyone has a different interpretation of the appropriateness of these additions to sentences and the frequency in which they should be used. This can lead to misunderstanding in conversations.

Technology makes it incredibly easy to connect with people around the world, but there is no connection quite like a real life in-person relationship. I 100% prefer a face-to-face conversation over a written one. This leaves much less to the imagination and is exponentially more personal. The written language is a very powerful tool, but I think we have a social obligation to uphold which includes containing more spoken word in our conversations.

The increasing success of electronic forms of communication have not only decreased human contact, but have also negatively affected the social skills of the most recent generations according to Liberty Classical AcademyNew York Behavioral Health, and The Odyssey (to name a few).

What will this mean for the generations to come? Do you prefer in-person or virtual conversations? Why do you think that is? Did you always have this preference or has it changed over time?

Break outside of your comfort zone today and have a (face-to-face) conversation with someone new.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Adult Friendships

I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience adult friendships are incredibly different than childhood friendships. They have to withstand not only changes in life, but busy schedules. I have always opted for a few close friends instead of a crowd of friends. I am also an incredibly low-maintenance friend (in my opinion). I am fortunate to have a friendship that, although we see each other once every couple of months, we stay very close. When something happens, she is one of the first people I want to tell. But I don’t feel like we need to talk daily or weekly to continue our friendship. We know that we love each other and we are there for the other person if they need to talk, but respect that we both have our own busy lives.

I am horrible at keeping contact with people. Whenever someone says “stay in touch” I always briefly feel guilty because I know I won’t. I know, that sounds horrible, but it’s true. My grandma is the kind of person who remembers everyone’s anniversaries and has dozens of pen-pals. She will stop any service member that she meets to thank them and starts a conversation with anyone and everyone she comes across. She is seriously one of the kindest humans on earth, but I didn’t inherit her personality. I’m an introvert at heart.

We are both married now, so our hangouts have gone from the two of us going out to the four of us staying in. We take turns traveling to each other’s house (we live about forty minutes apart) and cooking dinner, watching movies, playing games, and joking around. I was friends with her husband before they got together, my friend and I became close, and now our husbands are friends (they actually know each other from elementary school). We let each other have space, but also support the other’s decisions and growth.

When you’re an adult, you have so much more on your plate. Full-time jobs, marriage, hobbies, possibly children, college, and all other responsibilities can hold your time for hostage. Friendships can either flourish or wither away with the stress. Build relationships that can withstand time.

How have your friendships changed as you’ve grown and aged?

Have your high school friendships adapted or have you built new relationships over the years?

I’d love to hear about it.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Toxic Members

I want you to think about all of the people you have met in your lifetime. Some will only be in your life for a moment, some will linger, and others will stay and make a lasting impact. What affects who stays and who leaves? There’s a number of variables that could affect this. Now let’s think about toxic people specifically. By this, I mean the people who negatively affect your life more than their positive influence. This could be a friend, family member, or significant other. When I think about this, two specific people come into my mind.

The one individual was a childhood friend. I wrote about her previously; she was an only child. We became friends when I was about four years old and we grew up together. I moved out of the state when we were mid-way through elementary school. We would see each other about once a year because it was difficult to get together when neither of us drove. In high school she started hanging out with the wrong crowd and partying regularly. It didn’t really bother me because it didn’t involve me, but I worried about her. Her grades were dropping and she was getting into fights at school. When I finally got my license (I was almost eighteen), I went to visit her. We planned to have a girls’ night and catch up, but when I got there she had friends over and told me that we were going to a party. She knew I had never been to a party before and that I wasn’t comfortable with it, but she wasn’t considering what I wanted at that point. I didn’t know any of her friends and it was just an uncomfortable situation in general. I spent the next few hours talking to her parents while the girls got ready and then we went out. I found the designated driver drinking right off the bat, so I confiscated her keys and designated myself as driver (thank god the car wasn’t manual because I would have been useless). So I spent the next five hours being the only sober person among about a hundred strangers in the woods while keeping tabs on all of the girls that we brought. There were fireworks, drugs, fights, vomiting,… and I was not happy to find myself in this predicament (although I was glad to be there because there wouldn’t have been a sober driver if I wasn’t). I had to play babysitter when we got home. We didn’t hang out again for a while. I tried to reconnect several times in the upcoming years, but she always had an excuse. The only time she invited me to hang out with her was when she was going to a bar with her friends, but my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I weren’t comfortable with attending – she was pregnant and would probably be drinking and that’s a hard no for me. When I invited her to hang out next, she said financially she couldn’t go for lunch. I said don’t worry about it, it’s my treat. She continued to have excuses and at that point I finally had enough. We had an argument and that was the end of our friendship. Honestly, it was such a freeing feeling. I no longer had to worry about being dragged into something I wasn’t comfortable with. I was holding onto the relationship because of how long we were friends. We had history, but that only goes so far. We didn’t even know each other well anymore, but she was a piece of my past that I didn’t want to let go of. She would only call me when she needed something, would make rude comments to me at times, and never had my best interests in mind. That’s not a friendship. It wasn’t healthy and it was nice to finely close that door.

I still wish her happiness and health. I hope that life is treating her well and that she figures out what she wants in life, but I am glad that I won’t have to be there for the journey. I thought that made me a bad person for a while. I thought I was being selfish, but then I realized that the relationship was toxic. And it’s okay to release the toxic people from your life.

I’m not saying to give up on all relationships and to push everyone away. Trust me, I have friendships that have needed work, but we both worked at it and put aside our differences. It wasn’t a one-way street with them. We both admitted faults and worked through them. Balance is key. And balance was something that I would never achieve with my childhood friend.

Love yourself enough to know when you need to let go and set toxic people free.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

T.V. Dinner

My family always ate dinner together at the table. We would spend the time away from our phones and with the television turned off. We were forced to have genuine conversations and enjoy each other’s company. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I started spending time at friends’ houses. I remember one particular childhood friend’s parents would cook her dinner first, she would eat it alone (or with me if I was there) in front of the television, and then her parents would cook their own separate meal later. This happened even when she didn’t have friends over. She was an only child and I remember thinking about how lonely she must feel.

Fast-forward to this week. My husband, brother, and I had dinner at my mom’s house a few days ago. We all sat down at the table and there was a moment when I thought to myself, “Wow, it’s so quiet. Oh, it must be because the television isn’t on. What are we supposed to do now?” The moment passed and then we spent the next hour sitting there enjoying food, laughter, and each other’s company. That was my “aha” moment, when I realized that my husband and I were spending our dinners together, but in front of our phones and television. There wouldn’t be silence, but there also wouldn’t be much conversation either.

After visiting with my mom, we (my husband and I) had a conversation about our current dining habits. We agreed that changes needed to be made and we decided that a reasonable goal for us would be to eat dinner together at the table at least five times a week.

Two nights ago we took the time to cook together and my brother was able to sit down to eat with us. We ended up spending the next three hours talking, laughing, and playing music together. It was nice to have that quality time with the people that I love. With our busy schedules, it doesn’t happen often these days.

It’s about the quality of time, not the quantity. Like many others, evenings might be the only time that you can spend with your loved ones. Instead of spending it with your face in your phone or glued to the television screen, take the hour to actually talk with those around you. Whether that means discussing how your day went, talking about what you have planned for the upcoming week, or re-evaluating your goals, it is time well-spent.

Cherish your loved ones and the time that you have together. Changing your dinner habits is a great start to healthier relationships and more meaningful conversations.

Love Always,

Elizabeth