The Hallmark movie paradox

We’ve all seen at least one Hallmark Channel original movie that raises the theme of choosing between true love and following your dreams. You know the ones, where the female protagonist is living an ordinary day in married life–frustrated with juggling a husband, kids, and not-so-great job–when she bumps her head and wakes up the next morning in a parallel universe.

In said universe, she learns that she never got married, but instead left her hometown to pursue her dreams. She discovers she’s now a wealthy, important career woman whose biggest ambitions have been realized.

After accepting this new reality, she soaks up the fun and excitement of her newfound freedom. She goes out with the girls, enjoys being single, and lives out her dreams. It doesn’t take long to realize, however, that this  life is lonely. She finds herself longing for her past life. She wishes upon a star (or bumps her head again) and wakes up back in the real world, with a new appreciation for her husband and the life she chose with him.

Reflecting on La La Land, I realized it’s the opposite scenario.

*Spoiler alert–don’t read on if you haven’t seen it yet!*

La La Land is also about what you sacrifice in order to have your biggest dreams realized. But in this case, Mia gives up the perfect romance to pursue her dream job of being an actress. In the epilogue, she is wildly famous and successful, but has a vision of the life she could’ve had if she’d stayed with Seb, which to me was hauntingly sad.

What Hallmark and La La Land have in common is that they both pose the idea that somewhere in life there is a fork in the road where you choose between the perfect love and the perfect job. Which would you choose?

Food for thought: Do people change?

For the last month, I’ve been taking a nutrition class; starting tomorrow, I’m taking a stress management class. So I’ll be switching from thinking about food all the time to thinking about stress factors, self-esteem, personality, and stress management techniques. (Aw, who am I kidding, I’ll still be thinking about food all the time.)

Anyway, I was reading through some resources for class when I stumbled upon this NPR article about personality. The author argues that, despite the common belief that “people don’t change,” our personalities can change drastically throughout our lives.

There is research and anecdotal evidence supporting the idea that humans are capable of becoming a completely different person–given time, effort, and change in perspective.

This news is a little unnerving, considering it means a friendly person could potentially change into a sociopath. It also means that our relationships could suffer if one or both parties become a different person and no one’s willing to adapt or compromise. But on the flip side, some relationships could be repaired if the individuals are willing to change.

I was skeptical when reading this article; personally, I don’t think people can change their personality. An introvert will always be an introvert–it’s how their brain is programmed, right? I do think it’s possible for people to change their beliefs, attitudes, morals, outlook, and countless other aspects of their being, creating the effect of a whole new person.

What do you think, can people change?

Dealing with criticism

It seems that there are two types of criticism: just criticism and unjust criticism. I’m not great at taking either, but I’ve had my fair share of both.

Just criticism is actually a good thing. We learn and grow through criticism. Each time a teacher takes off points for something, we make a little note to not do that again. Criticism at work helps us do our jobs better. It shouldn’t be mean, rude, or personal. It should add a tool to our life’s toolbox. Don’t sweat a little criticism–it’s part of any worthy endeavor.

To avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

-Aristotle

Unjust criticism is a whole different ballgame. It gets personal. Maybe you’re criticized for something that wasn’t your fault, or maybe for something you can’t change. Some people like finding petty things to criticize, nit-picking your every move. It’s mean, rude, and unnecessary.

Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.

-Dale Carnegie

In my adult life, I’ve received a lot of criticism for being too quiet. It’s come from professors, boyfriends, acquaintances–even total strangers. I’m learning to take it with a grain of salt because the criticism is unjust. It doesn’t alter my ability to get my job done. It doesn’t make me a bad person.

And since I can’t change my personality, how does this criticism benefit me? Unjust criticism hurts the person more than it helps them.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

-Ephesians 4:29

Oftentimes unjust criticism has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the other person. As Dale Carnegie put it:

Unjust criticism is usually a disguised compliment. It often means that you have aroused jealousy and envy. Remember that no one ever kicks a dead dog.

 

Unjust criticism gets me down. Like, really down. On the same token, praise and accolades have the opposite effect–it can cause me to think I’m somehow better than others. I’ve learned to avoid this by using the metaphor of an ice chest: be insulated against both criticism and praise. Take both into consideration, but don’t let it affect you personally.

Don’t let compliments go to your head and don’t let criticism get to your heart.

 

An open letter to my future spouse

Dear future husband,

I know I haven’t met you yet, but I hope you are learning all the lessons you need to shape you into the perfect match for me. It takes enduring many heartaches, successes, and failures for a person to mature and become wise. I always wanted to be at least 27 before I got married; I knew it would take that long for me grow wise enough to make that decision, and mature enough to understand that level of commitment. I still have quite a way to go, but that’s okay. Although I wish I would find you tomorrow, I will patiently wait until our timing is perfect.

I’m learning to be happy on my own, but it’s often lonely without you. It will be so nice to someday have you there all the time, to share a home, enjoy meals, go for walks, watch TV, go to church together. I’m tired of doing everything solo, but I refuse to settle for anyone who’s not…well, you. (By the way, I hope you love running as much as I do, because I need someone by my side at all my races.)

Please don’t worry about whether you’re tall, handsome, athletic, rich, or successful enough; I don’t care about those things. Instead, focus on your character and integrity. I care about how you treat me and how you treat others (particularly those less fortunate than you). It also matters that you can take care of yourself and can take care of me. I hope you make the effort to eat right, exercise, enjoy nature, and see to any of your medical needs. How can you take care of me if you can’t take care of yourself? I also don’t care what you do for a living, as long as you can provide for me in hard times. And I will try to do the same for you.

I hope you’re not out there breaking too many hearts. I also hope you’re not getting your heart broken. You must be Catholic, because that’s my number one dating requirement; I hope you’re staying true to your faith and keeping your relationships pure. Don’t fall into the hookup culture of our generation. Keep your standards high, and don’t settle.

Hopefully by the time we finally encounter, I will meet your standards. Everyday is a step toward self-improvement. Just please know that I’m not perfect–in fact, I’m far from it. There are some days when I can be jealous, cold, and distant. But what makes you special is that you love me in these times, just as much as when I am happy and cheerful. Because that’s what unconditional love is, and I can’t wait to find that in you.

Love,

Cori

Wanted: Prince Charming

While sorting through some old notebooks tonight, I fumbled upon an amusing personal ad I wrote a couple years ago. Since it still rings true today, I thought it was worth sharing:

Shy brunette seeks single bachelor in his 20’s. Must love dogs. High school degree required, bachelor’s preferred. The ideal candidate will be tall, thin, and athletic. Kindness, respect, and generosity are musts. Candidate must be Christian, humble, and not clingy.

Applicants who participate in smoking, drinking, clubbing, promiscuity, or related activities will not be considered. Before being selected, applicants will undergo a social media check (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

Interviews will be conducted at Starbucks over coffee. Interviewee must be able to cover his own transportation and expenses (plus mine). Use of any 4-letter word, crude gesture, or snide remark may result in your application being rejected.

Desired qualifications: musical talent, athletic abilities, 6-pack, interesting talents or hobbies, nice family, cooking skills, computer skills (the ability to fix my computer when needed).

Duties will include buying me dinner, taking me to movies, treating me to ice cream, walking with me at the park, listening to my ideas and offering input, and telling me I’m beautiful. On occasion, candidate may be needed to act as a personal bodyguard. Candidate will be responsible for planning and executing fun and creative date ideas.

This listing is part of a career progression series. If candidate fulfills duties, he may be eligible for promotion to fiancee.

Please send resume, love letter, and links to 3 social media sites to ccormier@my.centenary.edu. This position will remain open until ideal candidate is chosen.

Cori is an equal opportunity dater.

Finding my strength

Break-ups are one of the most painful things you’ll ever go through—especially if you’re the one being left. Two weeks ago, I was left behind by someone I loved truly and unconditionally. I would have done anything and everything to make it work, even if it meant compromise. I tend to be fiercely loyal in relationships, and if I want to be with someone, I’ll give up anything not to lose them. But in this instance, it still wasn’t enough.

Losing someone you love is a real test of your inner strength. The temptation is to be weak and let it get the best of you; to stay in bed all day, to become bitter, to beg them to take you back, to drink yourself into an oblivion. It takes a strong person to get out of bed, get dressed, go to work, get homework done, take care of themselves, and not seek revenge on or contact with the one who hurt them.

I had no choice but to be strong over the last two weeks. The night my ex broke up with me I was writing a paper for my group research project. I had two classmates counting on me to do my part, and I stayed up till 4:30 am getting it done, crying the whole time. The next morning I had to open the campus food pantry. I tried to get out of work, but no one could replace me. So I showed up, running on two hours of sleep, trying to keep myself composed, and helped people. One sweet student who came in and saw my eyes thought I was sick; he made some recommendations on how I could get better. I couldn’t help but cheer up from his kindness. Later, my boss graciously gave me the afternoon off, and when I returned to work that night there were cookies on my desk.

When I had woken up that morning, I felt as though my world had crumbled. What would I do in my free time? Who would I share meals and stories with? Who would I turn to if I needed to talk or if my car broke down? My world seemed so empty and lonely. But throughout the week, I saw my mom, my grandpa, lots of college students, my classmates, and professors. All of whom showed me nothing but kindness.

I lost not only a companion, but an entire community of people surrounding him. I spent so much time with them, I neglected my own friendships and stopped making new friends of my own. The loneliness is almost too much to bear, but I have to learn to make it on my own. I’m looking forward to new adventures in travelling, making new friends, and jumping back into the world of dating. My mom sent me this picture to remind me that around every river-bend, a new adventure awaits.

creek

In the meantime, if anyone reading this has advice for me, please comment below and/or leave me your email address. I’d love to have someone new to talk to!

My break-up playlist

When you’ve just gotten your heart broken, listen to this (and stay away from those sappy love songs!):

  1. Before He Cheats, by Carrie Underwood
  2. Tornado, by Little Big Town
  3. You Lie, by The Band Perry
  4. A Little Bit Stronger, by Sarah Evans
  5. I Hope it Rains, by Jana Kramer
  6. Cheater, Cheater, by Joey and Rory
  7. Jar of Hearts, by Christina Perri
  8. I’m a Keeper, by The Band Perry
  9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, by Miranda Lambert
  10. Good Girl, by Carrie Underwood
  11. Undo It, by Carrie Underwood
  12. Done, by The Band Perry
  13. Trailer For Rent, by Pistol Annies
  14. Baggage Claim, by Miranda Lambert
  15. Redneck Crazy, by Tyler Farr

And last but not least, my personal favorite: Gunpowder and Lead by Miranda Lambert! Download, sing along, drink some wine, and go find someone who actually deserves you 🙂

My dating standards

  1. A laid-back personality. There is nothing I hate more than someone yelling–at me, at other people, or just yelling over a football game or something stupid like that. My guy can absolutely not be short-tempered. If there’s one thing I won’t tolerate in a relationship, it’s someone picking fights, starting debates, and getting worked up over petty things.
  2. Kind, compassionate, thoughtful, and caring. Not just towards me, but towards other people. Especially the poor, hungry, and powerless. They say your character is how you treat those who can’t do anything for you. My perfect man should have great character.
  3. Sweet and affectionate to me. And only me. I can’t stand guys who flirt with everyone. He shouldn’t give me any reason to doubt the relationship or feel jealous. It’s that whole trust thing.
  4. Crazy about me–but not literally. Sure, I want someone who wants to spend all our time together and is always thinking about me. But sometimes guys overdo it. They become obsessed: calling ten times a day, sending text after text even when I don’t respond (“hey”, “what are you doing?”, “Helloooo?”, “????”, “r u alive?”), wanting me to give them all my time and energy. The ideal guy will not develop an unhealthy obsession with me.
  5. Open-minded to my faith. I’m not too picky when it comes to religion. I’m Catholic, but I won’t try to convert whoever I date. I just ask that they do the same. Like, don’t question what I believe or try to convince me that organized religion is wrong. I want to get married in the church, and if, when the time comes, he isn’t willing to go along with that simple request, maybe he’s not the right one after all.
  6. Tasteful. Not just in the movies they watch, the music they listen to, and the clothes they wear. But also in their behavior and rhetoric. I find foul language extremely distasteful. My ideal won’t be obnoxious, foul-mouthed, listen to the likes of Miley Cyrus or Chris Brown, like idiotic films like The Hangover, or drive around with rims and a deafening muffler. Bleh!
  7. Fun to talk to. A pet peeve of mine is when a guy texts or IMs me and doesn’t bother to form complete thoughts or sentences. I have no interest in texting someone who sends me the following messages: Wyd?, Hey, Sup, How r u? Is it really that hard to type out a whole word?! And if I text you something and you reply “whatever”…oh no. That word is so rude and lazy. I’m a writer, I like words. Use your words!!
  8. On the same wavelength as me. I can only connect with someone if we think alike when it comes to what really matters in life. For example, if a guy is driven by money and power, he won’t mesh with me because I value the simple joys in life (which are usually free).
  9. Humble. It seems like a lot of guys I know are conceited and arrogant. They always talk about themselves, and never fail to mention how many degrees they have, how much money they make, how many girls they’re going out with. Newsflash: I’m not impressed by any of it.
  10. Then there are the usual things: must love dogs, athletic, sense of humor, no drugs, within 5 years of my age, honest, loyal, not a player. And the deal-breakers: bad hygiene, immaturity, frat boy, judgemental, overly suggestive.

Who are you?

This morning I stumbled upon a wonderful blog by a lady named Dee, who seems to be very spiritually in-touch. In her “About me” post, she says: 

“By the way, my heart is where I really live. It is the place where I am the truest me. My circumstances, experiences, careers, relationships, and possessions do not define who I am…they are blessings, fruits and extensions.. another of the valuable lessons i have learned along the journey.” http://deeclarknz.com/about-2/

This statement struck me, because I feel exactly the same way. When someone tries to get to know you, they typically ask the same questions: What do you do for a living? Where are you from? Are you married/dating? What did you study in school? Etc., etc… I, for one, am sick of answering these questions. Maybe it’s because the answers are a little unsatisfying and don’t give justice to who I am on the inside.

We are so much more than our jobs, our marital status, our education, our salary. In my faith group we discussed a quote that goes something like this: The gateway to life is narrow, not because it is meant to only let a few through, but because we are so vast. Every human on the planet is a vast, extraordinary being, and we shouldn’t rank them based on what they have or don’t have. No individual is more valuable than another.

So instead of getting to know someone by grilling them with the 20 questions, try to discover who they are in their heart, where they are their truest self. They will appreciate you for it.

Can’t hurry love

The other day in the YMCA locker room, I overheard an older lady telling another lady that she’d attended two weddings this summer: one for a nephew, the other for her sister. “My sister’s engagement was a big shock,” she explained. “She is 64 and has never been married; he is 69 and has never been married. And get this–they’ve been going together for 40 years!” I thought, this has Golden Girls written all over it! (In case you didn’t know, it’s my favorite show. Christopher Lloyd is brilliant.)

One of my favorite aspects of Golden Girls is that these four women are still dating in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. I especially love Dorothy’s story. You see, Dorothy had married a schmuck named Stan at a young age because she was pregnant, and eventually divorced him when he cheated on her. I love that she gets her chance at true love on the final season of the show, when Blanche introduces her to her uncle Lucas and the two get married.

A lot of people in their 20s feel as if they need to settle down and get married. Sometimes you find someone who brings you some mediocre level of happiness and you decide you might as well stick with them. I mean, they’re good enough, your biological clock is ticking, and all your friends are getting married. But sometimes waiting is good.

I recently stumbled upon this quote, which I saved because it is so accurate: “There are three types of people in the dating world: 1.) the players, 2.) those who are in a hurry to get married, 3.) those who are genuinely waiting for their shot at true love.” As a hopeless romantic (and I do mean hopeless), I definitely fall into the third group.

If you wouldn’t shout from the rooftops how much you love this person, if you don’t tell all your friends about them, if you aren’t proud to show them off to your family, then you need to think: do I really love them, or am I just settling for them? No one wants to settle, and no one wants to be settled for. It’s unfair to both parties.

I listened amusedly as the locker room lady continued, saying, “When I got the wedding invitation in the mail, I thought, ‘Is this a joke?'” I must admit that it’s a little strange to wait 40 years to propose to your significant other. Wouldn’t you know after the first, oh I dunno, 10 years?? But anyway, I’m happy they got their happy ending. 🙂

Love doesn’t have to happen in your 20s. You could find it in your teens, in your 90s, or any time in between. And when you do find the right person, you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops (as will they). Sometimes love takes its time, so you must be patient. In the meantime, have your own life and find out how to be happy without a significant other. By the time Mr./Mrs. Right does come along, you’ll have lots of wonderful traits to share with them.