Can I start off by saying that life is not all about making a lot of money? I’m just going to put that out there before I begin.
I have a story that I need to share. Earlier today, a good friend and I went to the local Barnes and Noble to study for our AP Calculus AB exam coming up this week, an incredibly important one that for us requires a great deal of practice. We went to the back of the store where we’d be out of the way, and got down to business. A few people came to our corner of the store, looking around at books, and all of them stopped to speak with us for a moment. Three out of four of them asked us what we were up to, and each time we answered with a smile, “Oh, we’re studying for our calculus exam.” The next questions were always “Oh wow, what grade are you in?” 11th. “I see. What are you girls thinking about doing once you get out of high school?”
I want to go into experimental psychology, doing research and hopefully making some great scientific breakthroughs. My friend wants to major in language and international health, doing work abroad to help the sick in developing countries. Pretty cool, right? Most of the people who asked us thought so, telling us about what their children do or what their own jobs are. Then they went on their way, wishing us luck on our exam and congratulating us on working so hard toward our future. Simply put, these strangers sympathized with us. All of them except one. And that’s where I got angry.
One man came by and immediately took great interest in our work. “Oh, are you girls studying? What are you working on?” I showed him the review sheet, and he began telling us how great calculus was, asking us if we thought it was “fun”. My friend and I glanced at each other and shook our heads, laughing. We both hate calculus, and will be glad when the class is over. I think this is where we got off on the wrong foot. He blatantly disagreed with us before changing the subject to, you guessed it, our plans after high school. I went first, my friend explained her ideas after. “What would you do with international health?” She responded, explaining that she hoped to work for “maybe a non-profit organization, do vaccinations and that type of thing”. We smiled. I’m proud of her. This man, however, was not.
(And I quote) “Why the hell would anyone want to work for a non-profit?” My friend’s smile froze, and so did I. Was he kidding? Did he actually for real just cuss at us? “No really, why would you want to work for a non-profit?” He repeated with disgust. My friend timidly replied, “Well, I mean, I want to help people, you know…” She trailed off as the man interrupted. Something along the lines of “Oh, sounds like you’re a Democrat.You can’t just give people stuff for free. That won’t help them. You gotta get ’em a job! That’s the only way they can support themselves. Take a look here.” He pointed to some books on the shelf in front of us (the history section). At this point my friend and I, who are very active in our church and believe strongly in mission trips and helping others in need (yeah we’re pretty liberal), are thinking What in the world is going on? The man continued. “Who do you think created more jobs? Obama or Steve Jobs?” We paused, unsure of how to answer. After a moment of silence, he waved his hands. “Steve Jobs of course! He created more jobs for people than anyone in office ever has. Why don’t you go get yourself a job where you’ll be making money? That’s the only way to help people.” Utterly stunned at this man’s forwardness and shocked that he actually believed these things (as I agreed with nothing he was saying), all I managed to get out was “Yeah, it’s a lot to think about.” What was his mature reply, word for word? “It’s not actually, but whatever”. Wow.
He went on to tell us how he’s an engineer who goes around the world helping people fix technical things or something like that, listing all the countries he’s been to, implying obviously that he believes what he does for a living to be above whatever we had planned. At some point in the conversation he asked my friend what language she wanted to work with. Spanish was her answer. “You speak Spanish?” “I’ve been taking it for 4 years now at school,” she replied. He held up a Rosetta Stone program he was purchasing. “That’s all you need.” I glanced at my friend. Was this really happening? Who did this guy think he was? He turned to me, asking me about my plans in psychology. I explained that I wanted to get my PhD so I could do research in psychology, hopefully making a great discovery some day. I’m proud of that and the hard work I will be doing. His simple reply was, “Oh, you don’t need to waste your time being a psychologist in the U.S. Go do something in the world, blah blah blah” something that didn’t make sense to me. I don’t even remember what I replied.
Somehow the conversation came back to calculus. My friend and I made it clear that we were glad to be almost done with the subject for good. “Oh no, don’t give up on calculus!” he cried. “Well, I’ll be taking AP Statistics next year, so I’m not completely giving up math,” I told him, timidly. “That’s stupid! Statistics is so boring; I don’t know why they teach that. I’m an engineer and I never use statistics.” I was shocked at this man. “I’ve heard stuff like that,” I laughed timidly. “I’ll just have to see how it goes.”
Finally this man left us, wishing us luck on the exam before walking away. I hope he was satisfied. My friend snapped her fingers at him in a oh-no-you-didn’t fashion, and I laughed. That’s all I could do, as I was speechless. Here are the things I’d like to point out that are so terribly wrong with that situation, including some things I wish I had said to him:
- Why did this man, who did not even know us, come up to completely interrupt two 17-year-old girls who were obviously studying in order to speak to us about something totally irrelevant to what we were studying. Two words: INAPPROPRIATE and RUDE.
- Was cussing at us necessary at all? No. Absolutely uncalled for.
- How DARE you tell us that what we want to do with our lives is a waste of time! You don’t even know either of us! Plus, our plans are pretty noble causes, I believe. We want to spend our lives giving of ourselves to help other people. Tell me again how that’s stupid.
- Life is not only about having a job that makes you a lot of money. Likewise, the only way to help people is not to get them a job. My friend wants to help people who need medical attention just to survive. There are a multitude of those people on our Earth. Getting them a job is not going to do them any good. What about people who do have a job, and all they can make is minimum wage? As is often the case, say this person isn’t making enough to support himself or herself. They need help; that is a fact. I feel it is our responsibility as human beings to help others if we ourselves have the means to. If you don’t agree (and this man obviously didn’t) that is totally fine. I just want to ask you this: how would you want people to treat you if you were the one in need?
- Really, you’re gonna pull the “Oh you’re a Democrat,” card? Did you even give either of us a chance to explain our beliefs before judging us? We were listening to what this man was saying, taking care to think about what he was saying. To an extent, I could see where he was coming from. But did he even listen to our point of view before judging us? Not at all. He didn’t take the time to listen at any point in the conversation.
- I’m sorry, but did either of us ask for your opinion on politics? Nope. Did he honestly think that he could just come up two random strangers, two teenage girls for a matter of fact, and just throw his beliefs on us, no questions asked? We were too flabbergasted to even know what was happening. If he came over thinking he could find two more people on his side, he picked the wrong two girls.
So thank you, sir, for interrupting our precious study session and blatantly affronting us. I am utterly offended at your insulting of everything I stand for in life. I hope you think through what you said to us and realize what a devastating impact you could have had on two people you didn’t even know. It wasn’t only your beliefs that offended me, but mostly the fact that you spoke so rudely to us without taking the time to listen to our side of the story. Thanks again for your inappropriate behavior. That really made my day, since you know, I wasn’t already stressed out enough.
In my psychology class we just finished discussing a unit on motivation. Of course, we spent time discussing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but specifically we looked at the need for belonging. In simple terms, this includes the need to feel loved and have positive relationships in our lives. That makes sense, right? Obviously humans need the love of friends and a group to which they belong. This whole idea is very real and tangible in my life at the moment, so I decided to share my thoughts with you.
If you’ve been following my blog for very long you probably have gathered that I’m not the most outgoing or sociable person; I very much prefer to keep to myself most of the time. Now don’t get me wrong. I have a few close friends, and without them I would be even more of a mess than I already am! They mean the world to me, even the ones with whom I’m just beginning a friendship. In other words, I understand this “need for belonging”. What I’m writing about here is when this need becomes an obsession.
Although I cherish my alone time and feel awkward in most social settings, I have an (at times) insatiable desire to feel wanted. It’s not that my friends don’t show me enough love and support, because they never let me down. It’s when someone I’m not already close to catches my eye that problems ensue. Have you ever met someone, or maybe only made eye contact a few times and you automatically thought, “That person has to be my friend. I have to get to know them because somehow I know we’re meant to be best friends”? It’s like going back to 6th grade when everyone had those tiny vacillating crushes on each other. Except this time, I can’t change my mind. Something about this person overwhelmed me and now my mind can not seem to let the issue go.
The problem here, in case it isn’t obvious, is that the person doesn’t always have the clarity of prophecy that you do, and they’re not always willing to jump right into a friendship. Maybe the two of you are in that weird situation where you’ve known each other from afar for some time now, but you’ve never had a decent conversation, so of course it would be strange to start now. Or it could be that you just met each other, and she’s not quite as friendly as you, or he isn’t ready to go for it yet. Best friends take time to form, right? It can be difficult to accept this if the desire to feel wanted by this person takes over your every thought.
For me, it’s not always that I’m so fascinated by this person, but more that I feel a strong need to be wanted by them. You know that feeling, right? Sometimes I get to the point where I feel as though I’d do anything if it meant that I’d earn their approval, that they’d want to include me. (I would never actually be like that though. I’m not insane.) Usually when this happens, the other person is “cooler” than me to some degree. We all know I can be very awkward, so it’s a satisfying feeling to be included by someone who would normally look right over you.
My question is, why do we get these feelings? Why such a severe need for belonging? Is it because we want to fit in with the so-called popular people? And is it okay to have such a strong desire to be wanted? From what I gathered in Psychology, it’s natural. In my opinion, as long as you don’t let your emotions get the better of you and your decision making, everything should be fine in the end. I’ve asked my friends for advice, and I always end up hearing something along the lines of, “You just have to let it go eventually. Especially if you can tell it won’t work out”. Maybe they’re right. I can’t help but be ever hopeful though. After all, I just want another good friend. Is that too much to ask? 🙂
Have you ever been in a tough situation, and you didn’t know how to respond? Maybe that person you strongly dislike is asking to spend some time with you, and you have no real reason not to say yes, except for the fact that you genuinely hate the very idea of being with him or her. We’ve all been there. “Oh I’m really sorry, but I can’t today. I’ve been super busy and still have a lot to do.” LIAR! You were probably sitting on the couch watching TV when you said that. I’ve done it though, numerous times. I like to call it “giving an excuse” rather than “lying” because, well, the former just sounds better. (They’re the exact same thing though and we all know it).
There are all kinds of things we make up excuses for: turning in a paper late, coming into school/work late, not having a chore finished…and so on. We lie about how well someone sounded when they sang or played an instrument, how much we love the video they just showed us, how good they look in that outfit, how we actually feel at the moment, you name it.
Sometimes we lie so that we can do something, instead of in an attempt to get out of it. I had a friend who, on two separate occasions, lied about who I was so that he could hang out with me. We had a whole plan and everything if something went wrong. Now if that’s not dedication I don’t know what it is!
So why all these lies? I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings, nor do I enjoy getting into trouble. Obviously the way to avoid both of these predicaments is to lie! Duh!
Or maybe not. Sometimes I lie and it’s no big deal, so I don’t worry about it. No one gets hurt. Other times the lies just get deeper and more complicated until finally it has to stop. My point here is, try to avoid lying if you can. And if you can’t, think again. Then if you truly can’t avoid it, at least make it a small one. If it turns out to be a mistake, learn from it, and don’t use the same excuse twice. That can create some seriously awkward moments, and trust me, I know how that goes. 😉