Over Analyzing In Relationships

I have to admit.  I have been very guilty of this one.  I analyze relationships for a living.  I read into things and speculate on what things mean.  It is great at work.  Speculation is what helps me help others.  However, in a relationship it can be very stressful.  When people worry, it usually comes from a combination of feeling insecure and having a great imagination.  I find that a lot of people are like this, especially when it comes to relationships.   So, when I read the post, Translating Text Messages by Neal on COED Magazine’s blog, I knew I had to share it.

Neal writes…For many guys, the advent of the text message was an absolute godsend. Personally, I hate talking on the phone.  It sucks.  You can’t see the person you’re talking to, so you have no clue how they’re responding. I’m big on body language and facial expressions.  If I say something and I get dead air, I panic big time.  While I’m over here preparing a noose, it turns she might just be zoning out on The Bachelor, checking Facebook, or painting her nails.  The whole time, I’m thinking Did she get the joke? Is she rolling her eyes? WHEN ARE WE GETTING THE VIDEO PHONE?!

Yes, I know about Skype and Google Video chat – but…text messaging has been my communication of choice.  No matter how many times I read advice articles telling me girls want us to pick up the phone and talk, I just can’t bring myself to do it. It’s actually hurt my dating life as much as it’s helped it.

But, there’s a really good reason why girls tell us to call instead of text, because their minds go into absolute OVERDRIVE when they receive a text message – especially ones without emoticons to help them understand your intention.  Do you think I like using emoticons?  No.  But, for a girl to NOT go crying into her 15 pillows at night or throwing her phone in the toilet, I have to use ‘em.  As much as guys struggle with interpreting phone calls, girls have five hour panel discussions about your texts.

So, I’m going to attempt to break down how both men and women should interpret the following text messages.

“Sure”

Guys Sends / Girl Receives: Guy’s cool with whatever you said, but doesn’t have the time or energy to put a pretty pink bow on it.

Girls Sends / Guy Receives: She’s probably pissed. I always follow this up with “can’t talk now, call u later” unless of course her response is to “call u later” then CALL HER LATER (no matter how much that sucks)

“What’s up?”

Guys Sends / Girl Receives: Most likely he’s bored, just wants to check in, or if it’s late night he wants some ass

Girls Sends / Guy Receives: She hasn’t heard from the guy in a while and is worried or if it’s late night she wants some ass

“What are you doing later?”

Guys Sends / Girl Receives: He wants to go out with his buddies, but is hoping to secure booty with the girl BEFORE going out OR he might be meeting up with a girl and wants to make sure he A) doesn’t run into the girl or B) has a back up plan

Girls Sends / Guy Receives: She’s got plans with her girls, but it’s not girls night out. Things are looking good for you, my man.

“I wish you were here”

Guys Sends / Girl Receives: … so he can hook up

Girls Sends / Guy Receives: … so she can hook up OR to save her from other dudes / show her friends her new catch

“I’m not feeling well”

Guys Sends / Girl Receives: If this is the first text of the convo, he wants the girl to come over and nurse him back to the health (read: hook up). If it’s not the lead text, he just wants to end the convo for now.

Girls Sends / Guy Receives: She just wants to end the convo

“It was nice seeing you last night”

Guys Sends / Girl Receives: If he didn’t hook up with you, he wants to.  If he did hook up with you, he wants to do it again.

Girls Sends / Guy Receives: Same as above.  There is a slight chance she felt bad for not hooking up with you and she doesn’t want you to think she’s a bitch.

“Whatever you want to do”

Guys Sends / Girl Receives: Seriously, whatever you want to do. It’s your call. (this is when i throw that stupid smiley face on the end so she doesn’t cut her wrists)

Girls Sends / Guy Receives: Most likely, she’s pissed.  If it’s followed by an smiley face (god DAMN those emoticons) she’s perfectly happy with whatever you decide to do.  Wife that chick up.

“I’ll text you later”

Guys Sends / Girl Receives: He can tell you’re antsy.  Yes, he’s dismissing you but it’s better than not getting any response, right?   Chill.

Girls Sends / Guy Receives: It’s rare for a girl to ever send this.  If she does, a guy should know that’s a free pass to forget about her until she actually does text you.

“OK. (with the period)”

Guys Sends / Girl Receives: Unless this is an accident, he’s pissed.  Do NOT call or text for at least a day, maybe half a day.  Better off calling.  If he doesn’t pick up, just leave a message explaining.  If no response then adios, muchacho.

Girls Sends / Guy Receives: Pissed. Gonna have to wait this out til her anger subsides then call and leave a voice mail if she doesn’t pick up.

“haha”

Guys Sends / Girl Receives: Could be a dismissive laugh, but he wants to let you know it’s funny and he didn’t really have anything to respond with.  It’s filler.

Girls Sends / Guy Receives: To me, I think “lol” is the girls’ version of “haha”. Then again, if it’s followed by an exclamation point, she genuinely thinks it’s funny.  Same with extending the ha – as in ‘hahahahhahahahaha’ – that’s the honest to god laughing out loud.

That was Neil’s breakdown on text messages…here are my thoughts on why texting can cause people to over analyze.

I have found that texting seems to make a lot of people very anxious.  I see many people who over analyze everything they read in their text messages or in the status updates of their friends on Facebook.  If you read the interpretations above, you know that guys and girls can mean different things even when they say the same things.  It is hard to know what the intentions are behind certain texts because emotion doesn’t come across.  This drives most people crazy.

If you are someone who also has a vivid imagination, you may be more prone to feeling like an anxious mess.  In counseling sessions, I address self-confidence all the time.   If you over analyze, confidence is going to be what helps you minimize the amount of time your imagination goes in a bad direction.  Confidence is also the key to avoiding a lot of  relationship stress.  This is why texting is the death of many relationships.  A lot of people feel like their boyfriend or girlfriend is going to break up with them because they aren’t good enough.   They aren’t confident enough in themselves or the relationship to keep their imagination from going down a dark path when they read certain texts or messages.

Communication is complicated enough because men and women do think differently.  When you add insecurity on top of that it can cause many more problems.  I liked Neil’s post about texting because it does point out that men and women have different intentions when they say or do certain things.  That is why a lot of people can get caught up in it.  Also learn to prioritize.  There are more important things to worry about then why your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t texting back right away.  Being confident and having trust in the relationship really will help you to keep your overactive imagination on the right track.  Gaining knowledge about how other people think, especially how your boyfriend or girlfriend thinks, also really helps.  If you are naturally a laid back person, you may not have this issue as much.  However, I’ve noticed that even the most laid back person can act like a crazy worrier when it comes to their relationship.  If confidence is the problem, then continue to address that.  No one can fix that but you.  If you feel you don’t know enough about what your own partner thinks, then pay attention and look for patterns.  Knowing the difference between the sexes is also helpful.  If you are an over analyzer, I’m here to tell you there is hope!  You can get better and feel more balanced.  Just take it one day at a time and put more energy into taking care of yourself rather than analyzing those crazy text messages!!

Why You Shouldn’t Be Friends With Your Ex

This can be quite the pickle as you end a relationship and feel as if you don’t necessarily want it to be completely over. Carefully walk the friend line because there is a good chance someone will be hurt.

So here are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t be friends with your ex.

1. When you breakup with someone you are still going to have feelings for them– you can’t just turn them off once you become friends. This is going to lead to a disaster or disappointment.

2. False Hope– when you become friends with your ex, you don’t necessarily want to admit that there is any false hope. Let’s be honest; one of you will have the anticipation that you will get back together.

3. You’ve seen each other naked. This is going to be kind of awkward as you hang out and you will surely blur what a friendship is once a conversation leads to a topic having anything to do with being naked.

4. You’re not going to actively want them to be with anyone else. What is the point of being friends if you can’t really be friends with them on Facebook and comfortably see who they are flirting with? Also, judging the girl commenting on his pictures isn’t the healthiest hobby to have.

5. Friends can talk about sex and dating other people. There is a good chance you will be uncomfortable if you ever hear anything sexual about your ex which defeats the purpose of a friendship. Why would you want to talk about sex with your ex… who you are NOT having sex with?

6. Good chance you will sleep with each other again. You might regret this the day after when you are confused about what you should think or say to them. Especially if one doesn’t become attached from it.

7. You deserve to be around people who make you happy. If your ex broke up with you, then you need to reconsider how they really make you feel. If you think they make you happy, then the next day you hate them—that doesn’t sound like much fun.

8. Hanging out with friends requires friend activities, including attending their wedding(s). Can you go to your ex’s wedding and be fine with it?

9. Being friends with your ex is just going to lead to breaking up again and again. Going through a breakup once is already hard enough. Why do it more than once?

10. This doesn’t necessarily apply to every ex. There are rare relationships where the ending is truly mutual and neither would care if the other has moved on and are not interested in being an item again.

I hope these reasons were able to help you out in some way. It’s never a fun situation to be in but remember you will be fine and you need to keep your chin up!

This post originally featured in Living the College Life

Welcome Class of 2016!!

Another school year has begun!  August rolls around so fast every year.  What I can’t believe is that is was exactly 20 years ago that I was headed off to college as a freshman.  I know I shouldn’t date myself this way, but it just blows my mind that I started college that long ago.  It certainly doesn’t feel like it!

Anyway, move in day has come and gone for a lot of college freshman.  The first weekend away from your parents can bring mixed feelings.  For some it will be exciting to have freedom at last.  For others it will be somewhat anxiety provoking to be so far away from home.  Others will feel dread at classes starting and feel overwhelmed already looking at their syllabus online.  Other new freshman may feel a little lost, a little lonely and wish they had gone to the school where all their friends went.  Others will feel like they’ve walked into their high school class reunion.

There are so many different experiences while starting college.  You’re figuring out a whole new living situation and trying to find your way around campus.  You can’t believe how many new people you’ve met in just a few days.  So many new Facebook friends, yet so little time to actually be on Facebook.  You realize that 2am is early to get to bed, yet somehow you still signed up for all 8am classes.  You may make a mental note to change that for the spring semester.  It is a crazy time full of adjustment.

Some adjustments will be easy.  Others will be hard.  Some people are born to party and make new friends easily, yet will find they struggle to make it to class and finish the semester.  Other people will thrive in their classes, but feel anxious every time they have to find someone to eat lunch and dinner with every day.  Just know that everyone goes through some hard times their first semester.  College is a lot of fun, full of great new experiences.  However, it is also stressful and full of moments of doubt.  Each experience is going to shape you and help you become someone you won’t even recognize at the end of your four (or five) years of school.

It is okay to take risks and try new things.  If you make a mistake, do your best to learn from it and move on.  Don’t be too hard on yourself or have too high of expectations.  Especially watch the expectations.  So many new college students have this image of being the perfect student, or getting into the best sorority or fraternity, or finding the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, or going to the best parties every weekend.  You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to be involved in all the right clubs or organizations or be in a relationship to have a great college experience. 

Just take this opportunity to explore the opportunities before you and make changes as necessary.  Ask for help when you need it and take responsibility for yourself when you don’t.  Have fun, but not too much fun.  Study hard, but not too hard.  Don’t go to any extremes.  My advice for new college students is to find balance.  All work and no play isn’t good for you, but all play and no work won’t get you very far either.   Make sure you find time to eat, sleep, and exercise.  This will help reduce stress and keep you focused when those really hard weeks during midterms and finals come around.

One of the top things I talk about in my counseling office, besides relationships, is stress.  Time management is key.  In college you really have to know how to manage your time.  Take the next few weeks and try to find a good routine and schedule for studying, hanging out with friends, and getting involved with other activities on campus.  If you take on too much, try to back off on a few commitments.  If you find you are bored and spending too much time in your room, look for ways to get involved with things that may interest you.  Tweak your schedule as you go through the semester until you find the right balance with your time.  This will be key as you go through your time in college.

Good luck out there!!  I hope you have a great first year!!

A New Adventure

School is starting soon!  It is that time of year again.  I love the energy on college campuses this time of year.  Yet, it is a time for change.  Every year on a college campus is different.  New students, new classes and most likely new living spaces.  Can be good, could be be bad, definitely is hard at times!

I’m going through some changes of my own.  I am moving to Georgia.  I have decided to leave Aurora University, and I’ll be starting at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA right after Labor Day.  I’m excited, but sad too.  I love working with college students and the good news is that I’ll be doing the exact same job, just in a new location.  The hard part is saying goodbye to great friends and the students I have worked with the last couple of years.

Yesterday was my last day at AU.  It was hard saying goodbye.  There will be so many people I will miss.  I’m looking forward to my new adventure, but wish I could take quite a few people along with me to Georgia.   I feel like a freshman student.  A new campus and I don’t really know anyone yet.  Missing my old friends, but looking forward to making new ones.  Those mixed of emotions of excitement and fear can be overwhelming at times.  It isn’t always easy, but it usually is worth it when you take a chance and try something new.

Like the above quote says, “You have to laugh and have fun with it!”  It has always been my dream to live in the south.  I hate cold winters!!  There is so much to look forward to.  I will keep that in mind as I go through the reality of moving 900 miles away.  Relationships are tested by change and stress.   I know my relationship will be fine during this huge move, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live through.  Those moments are when I have to think about warm winters and no more driving in ice and snow!

Trust me, I will use all the advice I’ve given to others and do my best to think positive when I feel stressed or nervous.  I’m glad I can find encouragement from reading the blog’s of other people who have been through something similar as well as reading my own advice which I often give to others.  I’ll also be staying in touch with all my great friends up here in Illinois, who I know will encourage me any time I need it.

I can’t lie and say I don’t have conflicting emotions.  It’s like a graduation.  Bittersweet.  Those are the hardest things to go through.  Those that you are excited, yet sad about.  I admit I’ve gone back and forth wondering if I’m doing the right thing.  On one hand I know it will all work out, but there is still a part of me that thinks, “what if it doesn’t?”.  There are no guarantees in life.  However, nothing is permanent.  There will be freshman that realize college isn’t for them or that they’re just at the wrong college.  They will leave and move onto something else that works better for them.  The same is true for me.  I can always come back to Illinois if it doesn’t work out.  So, why not take the chance?

Like I said, change is hard.  I am in the middle of packing which is a pain.  Starting a new job is a little scary.  Having a house for sale is very stressful.  Will it be worth it in the long run?  I truly believe so.  Valdosta State is a great university and their counseling team seems very solid.  I am very honored that they offered me the position and in January when it is 60 degrees outside instead of below zero, I don’t think I’ll be complaining.

I will still be keeping up with this blog and hope to impart some wisdom to the students at VSU.  Wish me luck on my new adventure and please send up a prayer that my house sells soon!!

Losing a Loved One

Loss is hard.  Fortunately, most college students who are dating don’t have to deal with their boyfriend or girlfriend dying.  It does happen, but it is a lot more rare than a typical break up.  However, after last Friday’s massacre in Aurora, Colorado, it makes you think about how fragile life really is.

A lot of people who were injured or killed last Friday were younger people.  They were sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, cousins, friends and even boyfriends and girlfriends of people who are now grieving the senseless loss of their loved one.  This year has been hard on my family as well.  We have experienced a lot of loss since the end of 2011.  It can make you stop and evaluate your choices in life.  There are so many things people take for granted when it comes to the people they love.

It is easy in the every day stresses of life to believe that the people you count on the most will always be there for you.  I have met with a lot of students who really can’t imagine losing their boyfriend or girlfriend or even their close friends to death.  It is easier to imagine losing a grandparent or distant relative.  It is a little harder to comprehend the loss of a parent, a sibling or a friend who still has so much life to live.

That is usually why it can be harder to accept.  The people who lost their lives on Friday, July 20th were mostly in the prime of their life.  They were looking forward to seeing a good movie with their family and friends and had no reason to think there life would be over within a few short minutes.  Thank God incidents like this are very rare.  You are much more likely to be struck by lightening then to be shot in a movie theater or on a college campus.  No matter how a person dies, when it happens to someone you love, it can be hard to understand and accept.

So, how do you move forward after losing a loved one?  You’ve probably heard it takes some time.  It isn’t easy, no matter what anyone tells you.  Your mind, your heart and your soul are going to go through a long process.  The grief process has five steps.  1. Denial  2. Anger  3. Bargaining  4. Depression  5. Acceptance

You notice that acceptance comes after a lot of other emotions cycle through.  No person grieves the same either.  That is why it is hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving.  Some people want to talk about the person and feel better when they open up.  For others, they don’t want to talk about it.  They do better when they stay busy and distract themselves a little more.  For most people, you can’t go wrong with giving the person who is grieving a hug and asking if there is anything you can do for them.  Sometimes just bringing them a home cooked meal is enough.  Just knowing that you care and you want to help is better than nothing.

If you are the one grieving, be patient with yourself.  Some days you’ll wake up feeling better only to crash back into depression or anger a few hours later.  It is a long grueling process, but time does eventually help.  The days and weeks pass and your brain will start to adjust.  At first, you may be resistant to letting go of your pain.  You don’t want your loved one to feel that you’ve forgotten them.  I remind people who are grieving that you can still remember them without feeling so much pain.  You can start to remember them with a smile and actually feel happy in your memories instead of feeling so lost or sad.

Life has a way of marching on whether we like it or not.  Days, weeks, months and then even years pass.  New people come into our life.  They don’t replace the people we lost, but they fill in the gaps that are still there in our lives that need to be filled.  The only positive thing about loss is being able to empathize and understand what other people are going through when they experience it.  You will be able to relate and give encouragement to those people because you’ve been their yourself.  This may help you, in a way, deal with your own loss.  Giving to others has a way of healing your own heart from the pain.

Even though we are all different, all of us at one point or another are going to experience a loss of some kind.  I hope you never have to experience what the people of Aurora, Colorado are experiencing.  I also hope as a college student you don’t have to go through the death of parent, sibling, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend.  It is hard enough to get through the stresses of college.  Going through a major loss can make it a lot more complicated.  If it does happen to you, know that you have choices.  You can withdraw from classes for the semester and take a leave of absence.  This will allow you to focus on your family or getting help for yourself without having to stress about papers and tests.  Many students have had to do this and come back to school after a few months feeling a lot more prepared to deal with class.  Other students need the distraction and choose to stay in school at this time.  There really is no right answer on how to best deal with situations like this.  Do what you think is best for yourself and your situation, and try not to compare yourself to others students.

Also, find trusted family and friends to talk to and gain support from.  You may also decide counseling is something you would like to try.  It can be helpful because you are able to open up without feeling like your burdening your family or friends who may be dealing with their own grief.  Many people have stated that counseling has been helpful, but it isn’t for everyone.  You can do some research to find out what ways of grieving will work best for you.  Just remember it is a process.  It is okay to be angry, upset and sad.  However, if you feel you’ve been stuck in one part of the grieving cycle too long, it is time to do something to be able to move forward.  One step at a time is the best way to approach the grieving process.  Feel free to look into any of the websites listed below that may be helpful.

Coping with Grief and Loss

Understanding Grief

5 Stages of Grief

Why Are You Having Sex?

There are a lot of reasons to have sex.  Same action, different intent (or reason), different result.  Sex can be simple or it can get really complicated.  When deciding to have sex, make sure it’s for the right reasons, otherwise the complications add up quickly.

Why have sex?  That is a good question.  Hopefully you decide to have sex because you are in love with someone and want to take your relationship to the next level.  Maybe you decide to have sex because it is fun.   There are many good reasons to have sex, and it doesn’t matter how often.  Even more promiscuous people can be having sex for the right reasons.  In fact a lot of promiscuous people tend to be safer, have more satisfying experiences, and have a sex-positive outlook on life.  Why?  Because they are confident about their decision to have sex.  It is about doing what they want, not about feeling obligated or trying to please someone else.  People who are confident also don’t need to have sex to feel attractive.  They can go out with their friends and not feel compelled to end the night in bed with someone else.  They have standards that they don’t lower just for the sake of sleeping with someone.  Sex isn’t an integral part of their personality – it’s essentially one part of their life that they enjoy.

The decision to have sex should be about you, not about impressing someone else or making someone else happy.  If you feel like you can’t say no, or you don’t have the right to say no, then you are getting into risky territory.  This is your body, and emotional and physical health you’re talking about here.  You should be making the decision to have sex because it is what you want. However, I find a lot of people hop into bed with someone they’re not even attracted to because they feel obligated to have sex.  This could mean there is something in your brain telling you the only value you have is sexual, or that people will only like you if you have sex with them.  You may also feel incomplete if you’re not having as much sex as other people around you.

Stop and think about your choices.  Remember that you actually DO have a choice to have sex.  It is also okay to decide not to have sex.  There is no rule that you have to hook up with someone because it’s Friday night.  If you have friends who think something is wrong with you because you went home alone, then you may want to examine the type of friends you keep.  The key to all this are the words “have to”.  You don’t HAVE TO do anything.  You can stay home and read a book on Friday night or you can go out and have sex with someone if it makes you happy.  Again, the key is doing what makes you happy.  In college it can be easy to get caught up in doing what you think other people would approve of.  Trust me, it is way more important to do things you approve of.  You have to live with yourself when you wake up the next day.  If you are okay with your choices, then don’t let others judge you or push you into doing things that make you feel uncomfortable.

Also, think about your choices after a night of drinking.  Maybe you make good decisions about sex when you’re sober.  You tend to have sex when it pleases you and wake up with no regrets.  However, is it the same after you’ve been drinking?  I meet with many students who only regret their sexual decisions after a night out drinking.  They didn’t intend to have sex, but find they always end up in someone’s bed after downing a couple shots.  Examine your behavior and make some different choices if what you’re doing isn’t making you happy.  If drinking is causing problems in your life, you may want to figure out how to change this pattern before it becomes even more complicated.

Having sex out of obligation, peer pressure, or only while drinking may be the result of something as serious as sexual trauma, a consequence of dangerously low self-esteem or a desperate desire to fit into the “hookup culture” mold.  If you aren’t having sex because it’s fun, pleasurable or as a way to connect to someone you love, then you need to examine why.  Whether you should seek therapy or whether it’s an issue you can work through on your own or with friends, don’t continue to indulge in behavior that isn’t good for you.  Remember, having sex for the wrong reasons is never going to satisfy you or make you feel good about yourself.

Race and Relationships

Ryan Knapick and Josh Baker have been best friends since fifth grade. Colette Gregory entered the picture in high school. She and Josh are dating now. Knapick is white, Gregory is black and Baker is half-Hispanic. To them, race doesn’t matter.

“People are finding people with common interests and common perspectives and are putting race aside,” says Knapick, 22, a May graduate of Indiana University who works at a machine shop and lives with his parents in Munster, Ind.

He and his friends are among an estimated 46.3 million Americans ages 14 to 24 — the older segment of the most diverse generation in American society. (Most demographers say this “Millennial” generation began in the early 1980s, after Generation X.) These young people have friends of different races and also may date someone of another race.

This age group is more tolerant and open-minded than previous generations, according to an analysis of studies released last year by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, part of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. The center focuses on ages 15 to 25.

Another study by Teenage Research Unlimited in Northbrook, Ill., found six of 10 teens say their friends include members of diverse racial backgrounds.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, today’s teens and twentysomethings grew up with “diversity,” “multicultural” and “inclusion” as buzzwords. Many were required to take college courses in cultural diversity. Now the media fuel this colorblindness as movies, TV and advertising portray interracial friendship and romance.

Some attitudinal changes are based in demographics. About 33% of those under 18 are racial or ethnic minorities, and about 20% of elementary- and high school-age students are immigrants or children of immigrants, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Racial diversity is especially common in college friendships because that age group is exposed to a wider range of people, and college students have more opportunities to become friends with peers of other races, says Anthony Lising Antonio, an associate professor of education at Stanford University, who has conducted research on friendship diversity.

It’s not that young people are specifically seeking out friendships with other races, kids say.

“It goes beyond that to who you get along with,” says Karina Anglada, 17, a high school senior in Chicago whose parents are from Puerto Rico.

The ‘color-mute’ syndrome

Rebecca Bigler, 42, a psychology professor who directs the Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab at the University of Texas-Austin, traces such attitudes to baby boomer parents who may have set a tone for raising colorblind kids.

“It makes us feel racist if we acknowledge race, so we try not to, and we end up being color-mute,” she says. “Children learn from their parents that you don’t talk about race.”

Bigler is white. Her former husband, the father of her teenage son, is black. People talked about race when she was a child in the ’70s, she says, but now the younger generation — especially white kids — believe that racial injustice is “a thing of the past.”

“Society is still marked by racial inequality, and my worry is that it won’t get addressed,” she says.

Evidence of inequity is ubiquitous: A Department of Justice study released last year shows that blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to be searched, arrested and subjected to police use of force. And last month, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University issued a report about inequality in American schools, even as the system becomes increasingly multiracial.

Where students go to school depends on where they live, which is dependent upon family wealth. The Harvard study found that segregation isn’t simply a black/white divide but a multiracial one, in which whites remain the most isolated group and the least likely to attend multiracial schools. California schools are the nation’s most segregated, the study found.

‘Common interests, not color’

Gregory, 24, knows that firsthand. She was born in Gary, Ind., and grew up in Los Angeles; she was the only black person in a private school in her Bel Air neighborhood. She returned to Indiana for high school, the same Catholic school Knapick and Baker attended.

“It’s more natural to me to be in a diverse setting and to be attracted to people because of common interests and not because of common color,” says Gregory, who works in fundraising at a Chicago theater company. She earned two degrees from Northwestern University.

Baker, 23, who graduated from Loyola University in Chicago and is an accounts manager for a Chicago consulting firm, says his high school’s diversity allowed him to be friends with whites, blacks and Hispanics. He says he’s Hispanic, like his mother. His father is white but is unsure of his heritage because he was adopted, Baker says.

Knapick, who is seeking work in his college major of criminal justice, bonded with Baker playing basketball, running track and as Boy Scouts. Both are Eagle Scouts and earned their honors at the same ceremony.

Some of the mixing is a result of record numbers of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, totaling more than 35 million over the past two decades and representing the largest wave of immigration in American history, says Marcelo Surez-Orozco, founder of the Harvard Immigration Project, now known as Immigration Studies @ NYU. He is a professor of globalization and education at New York University.

“We have more groups coming at a faster rate and changing our society with a speed we’ve never seen before,” he says.

In addition to immigrant families, the number of children from other countries adopted by U.S. parents has tripled from 1990 to 2005.  The fact that white parents are adopting babies from China, Guatemala or South Korea who don’t look like them reinforces the idea that race matters less. So does the fact that interracial marriages, though still not common, have increased from less than 1% of U.S. marriages in 1970 to almost 6% of marriages in the 2000 Census.

The tide began turning when the Supreme Court in 1967 struck down laws in 16 states forbidding marriage between blacks and whites.

No pressure to ‘choose sides’

A Gallup Poll on interracial dating in June found that 95% of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of blacks and whites dating. About 60% of that age group said they have dated someone of a different race.

Olivia Lin, 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is Asian; she’s dating someone who is Puerto Rican and says her family is “pretty open to it.” Lin, who will graduate in the spring with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, in the fall will attend Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., the only non-sectarian Jewish-sponsored college or university in the country.

High school freshman Aliya Whitaker, 14, of Montclair, N.J., says her mother is Jamaican and her father is African-American. Her mother encourages her to make friends with those of other races.

“She’s never told me to stick with my own people or choose sides,” Whitaker says. “When my friends have quinceaeras (Hispanic girls’ 15th-birthday celebrations) or bar mitzvahs (a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony for 13-year-olds), she encourages me to go.

“But she says: ‘Remember where you come from.’ “

This post was originally written by Sharon Jayson in USA Today.   Click here to read the entire article.

PRIDE at the White House

I found this article about President Barack Obama having a reception at the White House to celebrate gay pride month.  I thought it would be a good idea to post it on my blog since the Pride Parade is in Chicago this weekend.  For those who are unaware, June has been celebrated as Gay Pride Month since the Stonewall Riots in 1969.  I think this is huge step forward.  Things definitely aren’t perfect, but they are moving in the right direction.  I’m hopeful for more positive change for all LGBT people in the future.

Proud About Pride at the White House

Simi Singh JunejaSimi Singh Juneja

My sister emailed me her invitation to the White House to celebrate LGBT Pride. I had to take a pause. Never in my or my children’s lifetime would I ever have imagined that a sitting president would stand up and welcome her — that he would see her.

I have issues with being seen…

As the third daughter of Punjabi Indian immigrants who landed in Statesboro, Georgia — a one-year-old with wavy green lines across my baby-faced, curly-haired green card photo — I figured as I grew, the best had already happened because we reached the land of opportunity. In a family of five daughters, it was easy to get lost in the sheer volume of siblings, and the intensity of my parents establishing a new life.

When I learned that my younger sister was gay, I was terrified, confused, angry and worried. As the years progressed and I realized that this was not a passing phase, and more of a growing into who she was meant to be, part of her identity, I felt protective. As her big sister, I worried for her future and feared for her career. I know her heart and her strength. Living in the closet was never an option for her. It felt to me like a death sentence for her dreams. How was such a brilliant and talented woman going to navigate a country and a world that might not give her the dignity, respect and inclusion she deserved? She has never let anything stop her from living her life with integrity.

When she and her Southern Belle sweetheart decided to commit the rest of their lives to each other with a three-day traditional Indian wedding, my parents, sisters and I decided to “come out” to our communities and the extended family in India. My mom called her 60-something younger sister in Gurdaspur and wrote a letter to her 80-plus older brother in New Delhi explaining that love was love and that her daughter was marrying a girl. We held our breath and waited for the worst. Instead, my mom’s sister showed up bearing gifts welcoming the newest Arkansan members of our family. My aunt danced the night away and joyously took first prize at a very competitive game of musical chairs after the rehearsal dinner.

In my lifetime, my sister has been recognized. She is seen. President Obama celebrated Pride at the White House and she was there. Words can’t express my pride in our president and our country’s courage. Nobody should be invisible to their own government.

And I can’t stop the tears…

A long time ago, on a sweltering southern evening, we sisters played on our smooth concrete driveway. We weren’t busy judging whom we would marry; we were laughing and counting nickels for the ice cream man. The world was spinning and we were home. As my sister and her spouse — and many other LGBT couples were welcomed to the White House, the world was still spinning and they finally got to go home.

Feeling Helpless

One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling helpless.  When you feel like you have no control over your life or the situation you’re in.  When someone you love wants to leave or break up with you.  It can leave you with this horrible feeling which can turn you to become someone you don’t even recognize.

I’ve met with many people who have been faced with feeling very helpless.  Nine times out of ten they react with an obsessive compulsion to regain some control.  I hear students tell me how they couldn’t stop themselves from texting their recent ex, or driving by their apartment or house, or stalking them on Facebook, or hacking into their email account.  Normal, kind, caring people can become self-absorbed, insecure, and very obsessive people when going through a situation that puts them out of control.

Especially when a boyfriend or girlfriend breaks things off.  You can have this overwhelming feeling that if you only explained how much you still love them, or asked them to give you another chance, or got them to see you ONE more time, then they would take you back with open arms.  You may think the only way to get them back is to fight for them.  In your mind, getting back together with you ex is the only way you can imagine ending your pain.  Other people may tell you to let it go and move on, but your brain can’t even comprehend that statement.  Even if your ex treated you like crap, if you loved them, then you want them back.

So, what can you do during this time when you feel so helpless?

1.  Do not obsessively contact your ex.    Trust me, this will not help your situation.  They are pulling back for a reason.  It may even be for a stupid reason.  However, if you continually bother your ex with texts, emails and Facebook messages, it is going to annoy them.  This is only going to push them away further.  Your instinct to choke hold them to you will only have the opposite effect.  After the break up, I suggest contacting them one time to let them know you still love them and want to get back together.  Also tell them you’re going to give them the space they asked for, and that your silence doesn’t mean you want the relationship to be over.  Say what you have to say, then leave it alone.  Give them time to think and possibly even miss you.  This way it isn’t like you’re giving up and just moving on, but you aren’t pissing them off either.

2.  Distract yourself.    Enlist the help of good friends and family to help you occupy your time.  They can listen to you and hug you when you cry.  They can take you out and help you to forget for a few hours that you feel so crappy.  They can also take your cell phone away or reset your passwords on your Facebook and email account so you can’t login without them.  They can help you avoid the urge to contact your ex.  It is hard to give up control.  However, it is the best way to get through those first really hard days and weeks.  If your ex has asked for space, then show them that you heard them by choosing not to contact them.  It may be exactly what your ex needs to want you back.  If they are just breaking up with you to get you to beg them to come back, then you aren’t giving them what they want.  If they are trying to manipulate you, distracting yourself from contacting them will be a way to stop it and you may find they come to find you sooner than later.

3.  Build back your confidence.   Break-ups have a way of reducing your self-confidence.  You can feel like you aren’t good enough or that something is wrong with you.  This is a good time to take an evaluation of yourself.  Did you mess up?  Did you do something you regret?  Since you can’t change the past, why not focus on the future?  What would you do different if you had the chance?  This way if your ex comes back, you’ll be able to tell them realistically what you would change and do differently.  This may help build trust back into the relationship.  Even if your ex doesn’t come back, you’ll be able to avoid making the same mistakes with someone new.  If you’ve evaluated yourself and feel like you didn’t do anything wrong in the relationship, then work to own that reality.  Don’t let your brain trick you into thinking, “If only I had…”   You can get caught up in tearing yourself down.  Sometimes there isn’t anything you could have done to save the relationship.  Remember all the positive things you have to offer to someone in a relationship.  Eventually one day you will be ready to find someone who will see those things in you.

4.  Focus on yourself.    I know I said break-ups have a way of making people self-absorbed.  There is a right and wrong way to focus on yourself.  You don’t want to talk to your friends for weeks about you’re ex and completely ignore the fact that your friend lost a job or just failed a major test.  Sometimes it even helps to get out of your own pain and listen to others.  Don’t ignore other things going on around you just because your life is upside down.  Some days it is okay to just focus on your own pain, but don’t let that go on for weeks at a time.  The right way to focus on yourself is to get back those things you may have lost in your relationship.  You may have spent a lot of time focusing on your ex when you were together or always helping them with their problems.  Now is the time to go back to things you enjoy doing.  Remember those hobbies or sports you used enjoy?  Find time to do those things again.  They will help you process your feelings of grief and get those pieces of yourself back.

There are a lot of positive things you can do when someone puts you in a situation that makes you feel helpless.  Remember that you can choose to give up control, even though it isn’t easy.  Doing what comes naturally isn’t always the smartest or best thing.  Fighting your instincts to chase your ex may end up getting exactly what you want a lot faster.  Even if it doesn’t, you’ll feel proud of yourself in the long run.

Nominated for the Illuminating Blogger Award!!!

On Wednesday I was nominated for the Illuminating Blogger Award!  I was nominated by the blog, So It Must Be True…, written by Valerie.  The nomination is for blogs with illuminating and informative content.  I’m honored by this nomination, and I’m truly grateful to all the readers out there that either enjoy or have been helped by reading my blog.

In accepting this award, I have to share one random thing about myself.  I guess it is no secret that I love to help people.  What some people may not know is that I love animals.  I am addicted to reading blogs about cats and dogs.  They crack me up and the pictures are usually too cute for words.  I get a chance to see the lighter side of life, and it really helps me cope with the things I hear in my counseling sessions.  Here are my three favorite blogs about cats and dogs.   The Blog of Otis, Rumpydog, and Kitty Bloger

Another part of accepting this award is being able to nominate five other talented bloggers. Therefore, I would like to give the Illuminating Blogger Award to the following blogs:

One Gay at a Time-  I started to read his blog a couple of months after I started writing College Life.  He gives a very honest and open inside view into his dating life as a gay man in New York City.  I started adding a few LGBT relationship posts onto my blog soon after I started reading his blog and used some of the insights I learned from his life to benefit the LGBT students who may read my blog.

Rewriting Life- This blog is written by Kaleigh.  She uses her blog to help people, especially younger girls gain strength and build their confidence.  She just finished her senior year in college and may have just graduated in the last few weeks.  She is also the founder of the website, HUGstronger.  I have been inspired by her writing and can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Singleosophy-  This blog is written by friends, Grant, Max, Les and Heather.  Although, I think Les is taking a hiatus from the blog.  They write using a lot of their own experiences with dating and life in general.  It is very humorous, yet insightful at the same time.

The Unforseen Wisdom Ahead-  Lauren writes this blog.  She opens her heart and soul in her blog posts.  I love to read her posts about life, love, dating and her dreams.  Her blog has inspired some of my ideas for my posts.

Finding Roots-  I love this blog by Jarryd.  He is a college student who is finding himself.  His writing is genuine and honest.  He writes about dating, friendships, being gay, his major which is public relations, entertainment,inspiration and life in general.  His blog is entertaining and full of great information.