1. Meeting new people isn't as difficult or scary as people think it is.
I've never really been scared of meeting new people, but then again, I've never really had to do it. I went a private, Catholic K-8 school, which (along with our sister middle school) fed into the private, Catholic high school in town. This means that I knew over half of my class when entering as freshman, and when you meet people when surrounded by your friends, you don't really have to meet them...you just kind of find out who everyone is and it all snowballs from there.
As a freshman in college, living with the 43 people I lived with in my co-op was all the icebreaker I needed to make new friends. This summer, I met people at weddings...this is when I learned that simply being in the same space as another person is all the conversation starter you need to start to get to know someone. I feel as if this will take me places in life.
Also taking me places in life will be my knack for making small talk, and then being able to turn that into a real conversation. Finally, something that running my mouth is good for!
2. You can get away with juggling multiple guys at once by calling it "dating".
This "old-fashioned" concept of dating really saved me this summer. There was a brief moment of overlap between some of the boys I'd been chatting up (with my newfound small-talk skills), and for that brief moment, I was a little concerned.
Okay, a lot concerned. Ask my mom. It was as if I was in some sort of moral crisis. I couldn't be consoled. I had trouble sleeping. I felt terrible. I worried. I stressed. I thought way too much. I watched TV shows and movies in which the girl was stuck in the middle of two fantastic guys, trying to draw inspiration from how she made her decision. I agonized for hours over what to do.
Then my wise mother informed me that this was called dating, and I didn't have to do anything. That calmed me down. My mom's moral compass points due north pretty much 100% of the time, so I knew that if she approved of what was going on, it had to be okay.
Once I had calmed down and realized that she was right, she made fun of me for randomly blurting out the following statements at random intervals if my conscience ever began to eat at me again:
"I'm 20, damnit!"
"They don't know about each other, right? You didn't say anything, right?"
(and, my personal favorite...)
"I don't see no ring on this finger!"
Ahh, dating. Love it!
3. The magic position for me to sit in on a plane to stop feeling nauseated.
I figured this one out the hard way on my way to California.
I get motion sickness really easily on planes, despite dosing up on Dramamine pre-flight. I don't do well with the first and last 20 minutes of each flight...plus recovery time, so while in the air I deal with about 50 minutes worth of nausea.
That made this flight to California was the worst kind for someone like me. We took off from Portland and had an hour-long flight to Reno, where we landed to pick up more passengers. This means that I had 10 minutes of time on the actual flight where I felt okay.
We then took off for the second leg of the flight, which lasted, oh, about 50 minutes.
Needless to say, I had a terrible time on the flight and felt like I was about to throw up for pretty much the entire time.
I solved this problem by locking my left arm on the headrest of the seat in front of me, while resting my head in my right hand that was propped up by my elbow on the tray. Humming quietly to myself with my eyes closed completed my position, and I managed to keep my breakfast. Success!
4. Reading classics is a noble pursuit, but not as fun as reading "classic" books of your childhood.
Anna Karenina. Wuthering Heights. Jane Eyre. The Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged. Emma. The Sun Also Rises.
These are the novels I set out to read at the beginning of the summer.
They remain in a neat stack next to my bed. I opened each and every one of them, read a few pages, got distracted, and never tried to read them again.
I instead occupied my time with my favorite books from my childhood - like The Babysitters Club series. I read a whole lotta those books this summer. Along with the entire Ramonaseries. And the entire Little House On the Prairie series. I don't feel as if I wasted my time either. I stand by my deep love for these books, and if I have daughters one day I hope they will love them too.
I really couldn't get over how much I still love the Little House series. Laura Ingalls Wilder knew how to write, that's for sure! She also knew (unbeknownst to her, of course) how to write about her experiences on the prairie (and in the big woods, and on the banks of Plum Creek, and by the shores of Silver Lake...) in such a way that makes a good ol' 21st century girl like me want to pack up and move to the middle of nowhere.
Don't even get me started on how wonderful I think life seemed back then...hard work, yes. But they spent their time so productively, they made everything they needed, they went to bed and got up according the the sun...they also wore bonnets and aprons and petticoats. And these people knew how to do things. They could handle life.
5. Sidewalk chalk artwork is a fantastic - and cheap - form of therapy.
I've been using sidewalk chalk with the kids I babysit all summer. A few weeks ago, I passed a 12-piece bucket of it in the $1 aisle at Target and just had to buy it. That evening, I spent a good hour in my driveway working on my art (I can't draw to save my life, so my version of "art" is always just writing my name all fancy-like).
See? It's all I got. But it works for me, and it made me feel like a little kid again, which is always a welcome feeling.
6. There is nothing better than holding a sleeping baby.
Seriously. That is better therapy than anything. Even sidewalk chalk. The baby I nanny for often snuggles up on my chest and just conks out for an hour...and hour I consider to be pure bliss. He falls asleep and I hold him, listening to his contented sighs...then I contentedly sigh, and often fall asleep too.
7. I am extremely blessed to have such a fantastic family.
I was able to see them on quite a few occasions this summer - two weddings (including 10 days in California), family camp out, beach trip, sleepovers...and on every occasion, I appreciated them more.
My family is awesome. See this post for further evidence.
I love them so much that I'm taking a special trip to Beaverton this weekend for the sole purpose of having a sleepover with my younger sister and cousin. That's a whole lotta love.
8. The best compliments aren't about how you look, but how you are.
This summer I spent a few days a week babysitting for a family whose oldest child has special needs. He is such a sweet kid, but watching him can be very trying. He's 11, and requires as much attention as his 3-year-old brother needs - if not more. I love watching him, but it definitely wears me out after a few hours (his parents are incredible - I don't know how they do it).
One day, I had to take him to the eye doctor to get his glasses adjusted. The staff there know and love him, and it all went smoothly. I didn't think anything of it until a few weeks ago when I babysat for him again. His mom told me that they had been back to the eye doctor recently, and that the woman there who had adjusted his glasses told her that her new babysitter was great with her son. She told her that I was incredibly patient with him, and that he was in good hands.
This woman didn't need to tell the mom this, and she in turn didn't have to tell me...but I am so glad she did, because it was the greatest compliment I have ever received.
9. The best kind of friends are the ones you can talk to as if no time has passed since you last talked, even though it's been months since your last contact.
One friend in particular and I have always been this way. We went to school together from kindergarten through high school. We were best friends in middle school, and drifted apart in high school for a while, before becoming good friends again our senior year.
With us, it doesn't matter how much time has passed - we pick up where we left off, talking loudly and for hours about everything we've missed over the past few months. We catch up on couches and on porch swings, while watching trashy TV shows and eating homemade goodies made especially for the occasion.
This girl knows me better than most of my friends, even when she doesn't have a clue as to what's going on in my life...I really think that this is the best kind of friend to have.
10. Walks on the beach are the best kind of date.
I like to keep things simple.
I don't require much, as long as I'm not hungry and don't have to go to the bathroom.
Walks on the beach at night...oh goodness. If that's not instant romance, I don't know what is.
So the ocean decides to come up really quickly and thoroughly soak your jeans. So you get a little sand in your hair.
Doesn't matter. It's perfect.
11. Weddings are more fun when you're in your 20s than when you're a teenager.
You don't get stuck sitting with your parents, for one. That makes it way easier right off the bat.
The open bar is a place you're more than welcome. The dance floor is your haven.
And then, you're 20. You're an adult, and you're no longer a teenager - at the same time. It's the best age for meeting new people. (Read: New boys.)
I went to four weddings this summer. Four fantastic weddings...all because I'm 20. And not 19.
12. Living at home is fantastic.
I love my siblings. I love my parents. I love my cat.
I love having a washing machine at my disposal. I love having a fridge and cupboard stocked with food that I didn't have to buy. I love having all of my mom's baking supplies. I love having someone to cook for me when I don't feel like it. I love having people to cook for when I do feel like it.
I love having my familiar room with my familiar bed. I love my bulletin board filled with quotes and pictures from high school. I love having a living room with an inviting couch and a TV with more than one channel.
I love having a backyard where I can bask in the sunshine without the nosy eyes of people walking by on me. I love being a place that is so familiar that I can navigate the expanse (which isn't very big, but whatever) in the dark.
I love home.
And those are some of the things I've learned this summer.