On the Subject of Dating…

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Dear Soph-
While running an errand on my lunch break today, I was stopped at a stop light when a group of high school kids walked by (apparently they get half days every other Wednesday…who knew). There were six of them…three boys and three girls…all paired off like they were marching towards an ark. The couple leading the pack walked hand in hand. He chomped on some gum like a baby calf while she gazed adoringly up at him.

Normally, I wouldn’t give much thought to this, but I was so distracted by what this kid was wearing. Gray sweatpants. And no shirt.

I instantly assumed the poor boy had fallen, hit his head, and woke up confused thinking he was Mark Wahlburg circa 1991. That was the only logical explanation I could think of for him looking like a complete douche. But upon closer inspection of his mediocre attempt at swagger, I realized this look was intentional.

Where was this young man’s shirt? I thought to myself…suddenly concerned that his Justin Bieber physique looked chilly.

And that’s when I noticed his girlfriend. Hanging onto his hand and struggling to keep up. Why was she struggling to keep up, you ask? Because she was carrying both of their book-laden backpacks.

And his shirt.

At this point they were walking past my car and the young man looked directly at me. I made a huge deal of rolling my eyes at him – like the judgmental old person I’ve become. And I couldn’t help but feel sorry for his girlfriend. She probably thinks she’s happy. She probably tells herself she doesn’t mind toting his crap around like a pack mule. But I refuse to believe that. Now, I could certainly be wrong here, but just this snapshot in time told me this was a one-sided relationship.

I immediately thought of you. I would never want that to be you.

I have a lot of advice on the subject of boys and dating that I will share at the appropriate time, but after witnessing this spectacle, I felt compelled to say the following:

Number one… Don’t date someone who thinks it’s acceptable to walk around in public with his nipples hanging out.

Number two… Don’t EVER be with someone who treats you like his own personal butler. You carry NO MAN’s backpack. And certainly no man’s shirt.

Respect yourself first. Respect whomever you date. And demand respect in return.

Love, Mom

Consider the Source

Dear Soph-
As much as I’d like to keep you little and protect you forever, I realize there will be times as you are growing up where you will have your feelings hurt. Someone might insult your appearance, or your work, or your character. And instead of hunting that person down and kicking the crap out of him or her, I will offer up a piece of advice that my mom often said to me when I was growing up:

Consider the source.

I’ll give you a (simple) example: I came home from school upset because Joey told me my art project was ugly.

To help make me feel better, my mom said this: “First of all, your painting is not ugly. You did a beautiful job. And second of all, consider the source.”

What does “consider the source” mean? Well, in the context above, it meant this:

Joey is a little asshole. What do you care if he doesn’t like your painting? What does he know? Do you like your painting? If so, that’s all that matters.

Consider the source is about putting things in perspective. Taking a step back and looking at the situation and determining if someone’s opinion (or insult, or criticism, or back-handed compliment, or perceived slight) is worth upsetting you. Does what they say (or think, or do) really matter in the grand scheme of your amazing life?

If the answer is no – and take it from me, the answer will most often be no – then brush it off and move on. Why waste the energy on this person? Why let this person’s negativity get you upset? Or change the way you feel about a situation or about yourself?

What you need to do is suss out the people in your life who truly matter. When you get down to it, whose opinion really counts? Whose opinion do you care enough about to let it affect your thoughts about yourself and your outlook on life? Ultimately, this should be a short list. You need to live for you.

And yes, I realize this is easier said than done when you’re in the midst of the minefield that is adolescence. But it’s something you should try and keep in the back of your mind always. Growing up and in the “real world.”

My wish for you is that in the face of criticism or negativity you are able to step back and consider the source…recognize what an amazing individual you are and have the confidence to not let that negativity get under your skin. Always remember that if someone is trying to bring you down, it only means you are above them.

Love, Mom