Posts Tagged ‘Positive Environment…’

After almost a year hiatus, Em’s Top 7 is back in operation! The past year has been crazy, in a good way, but super busy. I set out to write a top 7 for my friends going off to university/college and I never quite finished, so once I missed that week- it was all downhill from there! Stay tuned as I’m going to finish that post soon and have a few other back to school ones on the go!

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Today, I hung out with two of my girlfriends. We took a random road trip to try a find a decent restaurant that is actually open on a Monday, and thankfully our summer brains were on and teacher talk did not take over. The three of us are single and in our 30s and the conversation turned to an interesting subject.

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Now, this post is meant to shed some light into what it’s like to be a single girl whether by choice or by circumstance. It’s not meant to create an “us vs. them” divide, this is completely meant to offer some insight and clear up some misconceptions of what it is like to be a woman on her own, because a life without a partner is not without it’s struggles.

I believe that God has all of us, single or not, in the right place at the time. I believe that whether you are married or not, a parent or not, you can be completely satisfied and have a full understanding about life and what it has to offer. No matter where you are, no matter what your life circumstance is, there are going to be challenges. It is so important to be someone who is in tune with what is going on in your friend/family members’ lives, because we all struggle in different ways and need support and love in whatever those circumstances are. So, hopefully this post will be a reminder of that.

That being said- if you know me, you know that even when I’m serious, I usually say things with a bit of humour, so keep that in mind…

So with that long preamble- I present to you, “Seven Phrases Every Single Gal Is Dying NOT to Hear.”

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Myth #1- Single Gals are rolling in the dough…

1. “It must be nice to have such a disposable income.” We don’t know where this one comes from, because even though we have decent jobs, we never seem to have any extra money. Think about it. As a single person, you still have to make full payments for rent/mortgage, a car, insurance- all on one salary. Not to mention trying to pay off student loans and any other crazy unknown expenses that come up. At the rate I’m going, I’m looking to have my schooling paid back by the time I’m 37- if I stick to a strict budget. Now, that being said, my debit card does get a decent workout at both the Clinique counter and Victoria Secret, and I do get my hair done regularly but I figure those purchases really are necessities on the quest to land a man.

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You just sent me what?!

2. “Have you tried online dating?” I have very limited commentary for this one. People usually offer this not as a piece of advice, but as a solution to the problem. Most single women would concur that getting married is more than a box to be checked, and not a problem to be solved. And sure, online dating is a good way to meet single guys, especially if your circles have dried up of prospects. But, online dating sucks. Sure, there may be a gem of a guy on there somewhere- but it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Some people strike gold right away, while others have to deal with the many men (or boys) who are usually separated from their wives, socially inept, or seriously perverted. And that’s just on the Christian sites… That could be a whole blog post in itself. And usually the response to the lack of viable options online is another favourite phrase, “Maybe you’re being too picky…”

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I have to schedule time in to shave my legs?!

3. “Being single is less responsibility…” Another misconception about being a single person is the hours of time we must seem to have on our hands. Think about it. Groceries still need to be bought, laundry to be done, all the bills to pay, the grass to cut, waiting for the repair guy to show up, taking the car in to be fixed, the house to be cleaned, dinner to be cooked, etc. Think of all the jobs that have to be done in life and as a single person, you are responsible for them all. There is no one to ask to pick up a few things on their way home for you, or someone to sort the recycling when you are busy. There is a reason why a marriage is considered a partnership. Why do you think single people love takeout/frozen dinners so much? (Lol- and why do you think I’m having Cheerios for dinner? Awesome, yes. But I would rather have the energy/company to make something way more fabulous.)

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Married club= Singles not welcome

4. “You’ll understand when you’re married.” Without going into a rant about this one, this is the most frustrating statement a single person can hear. Especially when they are past their late 20s. What if I never get married? Will I never understand? Will I never be fulfilled? When I get married does the world suddenly make sense and have meaning? This statement sucks. I have been on the receiving end of this, and even though the intention is not mean-spirited, the feeling of not being a part of a group or not being a fully formed human being is.

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Hmm.. budget allows for a road trip to “Akron, Ohio”- anyone?

5. “You must travel all the time!” Three things that make this untrue. Firstly, people don’t want to travel with you. And, well in theory it sounds great to travel alone and go where the wind takes you, part of the fun of a vacation is sharing it with someone. Most of my friends are married or have kids and will not travel, some even for a weekend. Secondly, have you ever seen how expensive it is to travel as a single? Often it’s double the cost of what it costs a couple. And, travelling with someone is an intimate experience- you have to choose a travelling companion wisely. Sure, you may save a chunk of cash, but you may be giving up your sanity at the same time…. And thirdly- see point number 1.

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There is a reason he’s still single…

6. “Wait… I THINK I know a single guy….” As if being single is the only criteria one has for finding a man. Yes, the number of single guys is dwindling, but hopefully standards aren’t dwindling also! Again, see the online dating rant about checking a box. That being said, if you know someone who is single and who your single friend would get along with, please introduce them!

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I’m aaaaall aloneeeee… all by myseeeelf…

7. “I won’t be able to make it; I need to spend time with my husband/We have to __________.” Ok. I get this. I really do. Marriages take work and there are times where you need to make time to be with your husband/family. That being said I cannot tell you how incredibly lonely it is and how pathetic one feels when you have everyone cancel on you or not be free to do something because of this reason. While you are out at a family BBQ or cozy-ing up to your man, the poor single girl is opening a can of tuna and bottle of wine alone.

And, since it’s been so long (and I have one more) here’s number 8.
8. “Just be patient. You’ll find him. God will bring him into your life at the right time…” This may be a true statement (or maybe not). But, honestly this is THE WORST thing you can say to someone who is single. Why? Because it implies that you haven’t been patient, you aren’t fully ready to be in a relationship, that there is something wrong with you that needs to be sorted out before you are “blessed” with a mate. And, when someone much younger than you (and usually married) says this (and usually shares the story about how they waited so long and the man of their dreams just appeared) it honestly makes the single person want to either crawl into a hole and die or punch the advice giver in the face. Just be a good friend. Being a friend means listening to your friend’s struggles and just being there for that person. Throwing a blanket statement out there and assuming you know how that person feels isn’t being a good friend. Take them out for coffee, include them on your wild family adventures- make an effort to check in with them.

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So thankful for the handful of amazing friends I have!

To sum up: Being single is not all fun and games as it appears, but single people are usually pretty content with their lives. Yes, most single people would love to be un-single but, only if that means being with someone who is going to make their lives better. Single people want to be remembered and loved by their married friends because we love and remember you too! (And I am so thankful for the ones who go out of their way to include/love me!)

COMMENT IN THE SPEECH BUBBLE ABOVE! SINGLE PEOPLE- did I miss anything? MARRIED PEOPLE- what do you think?

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I’m starting off at a new school in September and I’ve been thinking a lot about the staff, how I will fit in, and ultimately how people will see me.  I know I shouldn’t care what people think- but I see this as a fresh start- a chance for people to really see me at my best.  I remember a few months in to my first teaching gig, and I said “Hi ________, how are you?”  to a staff member as she walked by me at the photocopier.  She stopped and stared at me and said, “Why are you so nice?” not in an accusatory way, but in a curious sortof way- like she couldn’t understand my kindness.  It was my first year teaching and over the years I feel like I’ve gotten a little jaded, a little more cynical, and a little bit negative.  I want to be that positive person that makes people wonder, why I’m different.

I had a friend in teacher’s college who always said, “it all comes down to group dynamics.”  A teaching staff is like one, family.  Each member has something to contribute and we should be there to support each other.  I was amazed at the staff I found at the school I taught at for most of my career- they have been so supportive, kind, and welcoming and I consider them my “family.”  But, over the years I’ve seen people who haven’t been as kind- and I have seen it be toxic to the work environment.

But you can only control yourself.  And who knows, maybe your positive attitude will be contagious!  These are seven things that will help build an environment ready for collaboration and encouragement.  I don’t have it all figured out- but these are things I’m going to try and do come September!  These tips are specific to teaching, but I think they can translate into any workplace!

 1. Greet/Acknowledge people- the simple act of saying hi to someone and asking how their day is makes a world of difference.  I got into the habit of doing this after I saw an episode of One Tree Hill (the one when Jimmy holds them hostage- he goes on about how hard his life was and how not one teacher or student said anything to him the day he returned after being gone for a month).  After that, I felt challenged to say hi to as many students as I could, because it broke my heart that someone could go a full day with no one talking to them.  I automaA Not So Positive Environmenttically do it with other staff members and the relationships I’ve built over the years (and the “cold” secretaries I’ve won over) is amazing!  And, use their name, “Hi ____, how’s it going?”

2.  Speaking of names- learn them! I heard a story once of a teacher who had taught with another for over 10 years and asked “what’s your name” after he asked her to sponsor his child for soccer or something.  Not cool.

3.  Join Staff Traditions- at my school we have a cake tradition.  Those interested put their names in and then there is a draw for those people’s birthdays.  On their birthday, someone brings in a cake for them.  Most people participate, but some do not.  It’s important to get involved with your staff- even if you think they are silly.  Bring a pot of soup for Soup Friday, and take them time to be a part of the staff Christmas video!

4. On that note- go to staff events!  Whether it’s drinks at the local pub, ladies outlet mall trips, or events put on by the social committee, make an effort to be there. The connections you make with people outside of work are amazing- there is no pressure, people can let lose and how else do you foster a positive work environment then to get away from the busyness of the office and the stress of work?

5.  Make an effort to be involved- One thing I did not like about our renovations and expansion of our school was the creation of more work spaces.  Before, everyone ate in the staff room at one large table, the older math teacher forced you to play shuffle board, and people didn’t have set seats- they just sat with anyone.  Since we’ve expanded a lot of people choose to eat elsewhere, or are busy doing other things and it’s impacted our staff in a big way.  I know people get busy with marking and lunch time help- but it is so important for your own sanity and to help collaboration to make an effort even once a week to each your lunch with you colleagues and not just your buddies.  I’m going to try to have one day a week that is my staff room time- that’s what the science and math people started doing and it was always so nice to see them!

6. Make people feel welcome- This is especially key for people who are new or visiting the school.  Notice them at the lunch table, and skooch over and talk to that supply teacher who is sitting all alone.  Also, make an effort to sit with those people who aren’t your friends, especially if they are by themselves.  By doing this I have made some great friendships with some really cool people.  They may not be the loudest or the “coolest” but it’s often those quieter, shyer types that are often the kindest. See the Positive in Everyone- This is the one I need to work on the most.  Drama and negative energy is built on how you perceive other people and their actions.  We assume someone is slighting us by not talking to us, that someone is purposely not returning something they borrowed from you, or we gossip about every little thing someone does.  I’m resolving to see the best in everyone and not get caught up in the negative cycle.  Instead of reading into everyone’s actions and assuming the worst- I’m going to assume the best.

7. See the Positive- in Everything!   This is the one I need to work on the most.  Drama and negative energy is built on how you perceive other people and their actions.  We assume someone is slighting us by not talking to us, that someone is purposely not returning something they borrowed from you, or we gossip about every little thing someone does.  I’m resolving to see the best in everyone and not get caught up in the negative cycle.  Instead of reading into everyone’s actions and assuming the worst- I’m going to assume the best.

My mom always said, you can’t control other people, but you can control how you react to them. Some people are stupid, some people are petty, unfriendly and mean. But, that doesn’t mean you need to be stupid, petty, unfriendly and mean in return.  People often respond to others in the same way they were treated and I’m sure the effects of being a positive member of your staff will inspire others to do the same!