Learning to Linger

           I live a fairly busy life. I’m a college student taking 18 credit hours a week. I am also an RA, a president of a club, and a true people person who loves to spend time with her friends. Recently, while on the phone with my mum, she said something that caused me to reevaluate the busyness of my everyday routine. She said, “Ciara. You need to learn to linger.” At first I was confused by this statement. What did she mean, “Learn to linger”? I lingered! My friends and I sat in the caf for a few minutes after we finished eating most days. I was great at finding places to go and things to do that would prevent me from returning to my homework. I loved to go and visit my residents and talk to them. But, after looking at myself and my routines, I realized that I actually do not linger. I pop into my residents’ rooms on my way down the hall and out the door. My prolonged sitting in the cafeteria is usually because someone at our table is still eating. My plethora of activities that seem more important are merely ways to procrastinate on my homework. I realized that I was constantly rushing to get everywhere.
                So, I vowed to make a change. One night, I stopped in the duty office of a different residence hall on my way back to my room. I visited with some of my RA friends. We talked, laughed, and had a lot of fun. I hardly glanced at my phone and had no idea how long I had really spent there. It felt nice though. I talked and laughed and had a great time with my fellow RAs and did not feel like I was late for something or needed to be somewhere. Another night, I met my friends at our little food court area to grab something to eat. After we finished eating, we sat and talked and discussed our day. It was nice to not feel rushed or pressured to hurry up and finish.

                So much of our time is spent looking towards the next big thing. Looking ahead to the next meeting, next assignment, next test. We spend so much time preparing for what is next that we often forget to live in the now. Lingering, I have learned, is more than just making more stops somewhere on your way to somewhere else. It is an opportunity to allow your mind to linger at the place instead. It provides a mental slowdown, which is often what we need in our over-stimulated, ultra-technologically advanced world. And so, I dare you. Let yourself linger more often. You will not be disappointed. 

Not Like the Movies

Hi, my name is Ciara and I’m addicted to the unrealistic expectations of relationships placed into people’s minds by movies and TV shows. *cue chorus of other addicts stating, “hi Ciara.”* It’s true guys. Give me a chick flick and I am the happiest girl in the world. Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, Made of Honor, Definitely Maybe, The Wedding Planner, or my all time favorite movie, My Best Friend’s Wedding, are just a few of the sappy rom-coms that decorate my shelf. Give me an action film with even the slightest bit of a romantic plot, like Superman, and I’ll spend the entire movie rooting for Lois Lane and Clark Kent, without a care in the world for the actual plot (what was the villain’s name in that movie again? I don’t even know). And don’t even get me started on Nicholas Sparks. I’m pretty sure that man has a direct line to my heart. 

What I have come to realize though, halfway through my third semester of college, is that life is NOT like the movies. Not even Pitch Perfect is accurate enough to describe the relationship scene at my tiny college. In the movies, the guy and the girl meet, the romantic music starts up, their eyes lock, and BAM. It’s kismet. They flirt for a little. Go on a date. The guy picks up the check (I’m still a firm believer in the guy paying for the first date like a real gentleman). Then, the guy walks the girl back to her house, apartment, car, whatever. They’re saying goodnight, preferably under the warm orange glow of a streetlight. He leans in, wraps his arms around her waist, and gives her the most perfect goodnight kiss imaginable. The music comes to a crescendo, there are fireworks (sometimes literally) and all is perfect in the magical land of movies. 

Well boys and girls, life, is NOT like that. Not at all. And that makes me sad. Why it seems to upset only me, while others seem perfectly content with it, I don’t know. Maybe because I expect too much. Maybe because I think that guys need to watch these kinds of movies to learn how to treat a girl. Maybe because I’m just one of those crazy girls who thinks she is going to find a Mr. Right and hear the music and see the fireworks. Regardless, it saddens me to think that this isn’t the case. 
Want to know how I know this? Because, at my school, things don’t happen like that. Here in the land of 3,500 undergrads, you are more likely to meet someone while sitting in the basement of some random house off campus drinking warm beer and listening to badly auto-tuned music. If you meet a fraternity boy and you’re not in a sorority, then forget about it. You don’t stand a chance. Or, you’ll meet someone in one of the various clubs or organizations you’re a part of. You guys will flirt, but it’ll fizzle out, or you’ll date and realize it’s not working, and then every meeting afterwards will be an awkward trip down memory lane as you’re forced to sit across the table from them and try not to think about those times. And I’m not even one of those girls who goes out all the time and hooks up with random guys like it’s her job. That’s just how life is. But that doesn’t mean that is how it should be. 
What I would like to know is what guys today look for in a girl and why. I think I know what they look for. Guys expect girls to look drop-dead gorgeous all of the time. They expect us to have flawless skin, perfect hair, and amazing bodies. God forbid we ever break out in a zit every once in a while, or get a little bloated. I have a guy friend who would be an amazing boyfriend. He’s smart, attractive, kind, respects women; the kind of guy you’re excited to introduce your dad to cause you know they’re going to get along. My friends always say to me, “why don’t you date him? You two would be so cute together.” The answer, as much as it pains me, is simple. I’m not his type. I am very far from his type and I know that and he knows that. It has become an understood concept in our friendship. What is his type, you may ask? Well his last girlfriend was seemingly perfect. Worked out all the time, flawless skin, perfect blond hair, bright blue eyes. She had it all going on. We asked him what was wrong with her and he said, “she could work out more.” Work out more! The chick had a six pack I’m pretty sure.
I know that I will never look like that. I dread going to the gym. I would rather read a book that run on a treadmill, or bake cookies than do squats. My hair is usually a mess, my eyeliner is uneven 99% of the time, and nothing in my wardrobe could be deemed “sexy.” I would rather watch HGTV or Netflix than party. I don’t drink and I don’t smoke anything. I didn’t even know what marijuana smelled like before I arrived at school for Resident Assistant training. I cry at ASPCA commercials, and I can’t listen to “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” by Carrie Underwood without tearing up. I can’t watch movies where there is a possibility of the dog getting hurt. I am, however, a kind person. I am loyal and when I love, I love with my entire being. I do not understand how someone can cheat on their significant other, because I can’t even have a crush on more than one person at a time. I put others before myself. I feel deeply and love wholly and, while I may not be the prettiest girl or the best dressed, I will be the one that cares the most. Where are the guys that are looking for these kinds of girls? Do they exist? 
This leads me to the ever more important question, “why?” Why do guys think that all girls must look like supermodels? Why don’t they go for real women? Why is it so hard to go on an actual date with a guy and not just “hang out” all the time until you realize you’re basically dating so you might as well make it official? If someone could please gather the male population and demand the answers to these questions, I, and the rest of the females out there, would greatly appreciate it. 
There is a line in Sleepless in Seattle that really stuck with me. Rosie O’Donnell and Meg Ryan are sitting in Rosie’s living room, watching the old romantic movie, An Affair to Remember. Meg Ryan is complaining about relationships and how there is a severe lack of “magic.” She states that she wishes she could have a relationship like the one in the movie. Rosie looks at her and says, “that’s your problem. You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.” Perhaps that is my problem too. Perhaps that is a lot of women’s problems. Hollywood has placed such unreal expectations as to what a relationship should look like and women are only setting themselves up to get hurt. Perhaps we should try to realize that they are only movies and everything is scripted. Perhaps, however, Hollywood should stop making fantasy life look so damn good. Maybe then, we would be able to move on and realize that Mr. Right isn’t going to be perfect from the start. There may not be fireworks and music and dazzling good looks, but that will be okay because, once you find the Right One, you’ll be so busy being in love, you’ll forget about the movies. So, my fellow addicts, hang on. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And perhaps the Right One is there too.