Friday, 15 June 2012

Auntie Seraphic & Teenage...Seraphic?

Oh Auntie Seraphic!

I think by this point you are quite entitled to shorten your name to 'Auntie Seraph." You are not just angel-like, but a real angel, indeed, a spiritual auntie for us little poppets. Just as I consider St. Therese to be a spiritual mother, I think women on earth who are not in heaven yet are most appropriately termed Spiritual Aunties.

I am one of these spiritual nieces who is overwhelmingly relieved to have such good, blunt, and resoundingly true opinions on women and men. I use 'resoundingly' because your advice is I think what all good girls know in their heart of hearts, and what is only covered up by double-guessing and daydreaming!! So I have read your blog, erm, religiously, and I'm very grateful that you are writing and making your opinions known!

So right now I feel so happy that I have these good principles of waiting and not searching out a guy in my head and Why That is Proper and Just and all that in my head. And I have come to terms with my own issue where I always always day-dream my way into huge crazy crushes that aren't rooted in reality... le sigh! However, I am a little girl! A weeee babe! That's my consolation in the face of dumby-head things I [say to] boys, both in my head and to their faces!! But Auntie... O Sensei... I have learned better! I shall never again justify dreamy!

BUT!!! But I will not be able to use this excuse forever! And I fear that I don't have this problem just because I am young! You see, though I know I shall never again ACT too forward with a guy, because I have these principles in my head, how can I keep from THINKING day-dreamy thoughts?

It's like a disease! If I meet, or even SEE a cute single catholic boy, (or even a single cute boy, or even a boy... ai ai ai!) my little brain automatically jumps to 'what-ifs.' You know? And then even if I constantly remind myself, "No daydreaming, think about the real person, think about how he hasn't shown romantic interest in you," still, I always seem to have SOME boy or other in the back of my mind. And when that boy becomes less romantically attractive... I automatically come up with another one to take his place.

I liked and then day-dreamed about a certain boy at school for about a year. Then I realized what I was doing and stopped it all, because he never showed serious interest... I don't think... It's still sort of hard to know. And I'm anxious that when I go back to school the whole cycle will start all over and I'll make an even bigger doofus out of myself!

I wonder if I run into problems of this nature because of more deep-seated issues in my life... I truly WANT to be rid of this problem, I see how silly and irrational such a mind-set is. But I fall into it almost against my will. How, I say to myself, could I be rid of this nagging hope of 'looking forward to a special guy someday', so that I can really be ready to meet him? And... ugh. I feel sick just thinking about it.

Do you think it's just a matter of being young? Of over-thinking things? Worrying too much? Have you ever experienced this? What say you, Auntie?


Dear Nineteen,

Now I wonder if you really are who you say you are or if you are me as a teenager writing from the past, taking advantage of some weird high school science project I've forgotten about.

Listen, there is nothing wrong with you except adolescent foggy-brain, which seems to be one of those things which goes along with adolescence and can definitely suck, but eventually it will go away and the bright sun of adult reason will burn through the clouds.

I daydreamed my way through high school and undergrad university, and I am very sorry now because daydreaming is a great foggy waste of time unless you change the names and write all the daydreams down in the form of short stories. Now when I find the few examples of this in archaeological digs through my own papers, I am amused and impressed with my teenage self instead of impatient with her for all the other time she wasted.

As for boy-craziness, I have been boy-crazy my whole entire life, and I still think men are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life, which seems a bit sad, really, given that I am married and all. You would think that being married to the Love of Your Life would keep you from ever noticing cute guys ever again, but guess what. And you would think that going to university for a million years would stop you from wanting to talk about love stuff, and yet here I am in my 40s writing about love stuff. No Nobel Prize for me.

So, dear Nineteen, I advise you not to beat up on yourself for being boy-crazy but to congratulate yourself. The fact that a new guy takes up residence in your head proves that you are capable of thinking about someone other than yourself. I'm serious. The wonderful thing about romantic love, even dumb unrequited crush-type romantic love, is that it shows that we are longing for some connection outside of ourselves.

The problem with being ashamed about being boy-crazy is we try so hard to hide it, we might come off as a bit remote and unfriendly. So even as you are telling yourself to be rooted in reality, make sure you are smiling and friendly to the nice men around you. Usually they aren't ever going to show any romantic interest unless you smile and say "Hi."

That's as far as I think girls should go, however. If you see a guy you recognize from class pass you on the street, you are allowed to catch his eye, smile and say "Hi." Repeat with next guy you recognize from class. You don't have to start a conversation; in fact, you shouldn't. Let them start the conversations past "Hi." And don't call yourself a doofus.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful. Having adolescent perpetual crush foggy brain is uncomfortable, but it seems perfectly normal to me. Just keep rooted in reality and don't beat yourself up for being the kind of woman who thinks men are marvellous and always seems to have one in her head.

Oh, and it is 100% normal to want to find a special guy one day. Thomas Aquinas thought (or thinks) getting married and having babies is the natural end of the human being, a path some are called out of by a vocation to religious life (or, I would add, some other more mysterious plan of God). Just don't think about it every 15 seconds.

There is so much more to life, especially when you are very young and have so many opportunities and student discounts. A girl can't live on caffeine: you need the nutritious food of studies, art, music, lectures, film, professional training, worship, travel, exercise and building friendships. But, as I said, your feelings are absolutely normal and arguably laudable. Just make sure they don't run away with you or make you feel dumb. Remember that feelings are not facts, and fleeting thoughts are not actions.

Grace and peace,

Update: Hmm. I see that I myself feel a bit bad for thinking so much about love stuff. Love is rather important, so why shouldn't someone get a Nobel Prize for writing about it? Plato certainly wasn't ashamed of the Symposium. And it seems to me, looking out of my 17th century attic into post-1963 Britain, that the questions of love, marriage and family are more important than ever.


MichelleMarie said...

Resoundingly good advice for all dreamy 19- and 29-year-olds out there ;)

I especially like the part where you underlined that romantic infatuation, though troubling, at least takes you out of yourself (as long as your focus isn't "what does he think of MEEEE", but "how is he, really?")

And I was going to say: writing about love (all types, including, and perhaps especially, romantic) is the highest vocation !

Emma said...

I'm an almost-24 with the same problem, and I'm trying very hard not to imagine a future with an attractive Christian man I have just met. About halfway through the evening (there were 5 of us out for drinks/dinner and a pub event), I realised I was attracted to one of the gentlemen, and froze up completely! We're supposed to get togethr as a group for the same thing next week and I am very worried that I will turn into the aloof, uptight, witch-with-a-"B" that I become when I'm worried that my attraction is obvious. This has happened before. Is there some way to avoid this?

Seraphic said...

Yes. Go with it. Smile and laugh and enjoy the fact that you are a few inches away from Mr Hottie. There's no shame in a nice Single girl finding a nice Single guy as cute as a button. Touch his arm while you're at it. Just don't ask him out or talk his ear off. Ask him questions about his fascinating self.

There is nothing wrong with feeling attracted to guys. Just with obsessing on the imaginary guy you invent in your head with the face of the real guy. Skip the imaginary guy and smile at the real guy.

Anonymous said...

I am very happy that you've discussed this letter; it seems that the things Nineteen brings up are universal (and universally difficult) to many girls. But I'd say, as long as one is aware of her "problem", as Nineteen is, one is pretty safe at least in the matter of making it be about herself.
It brings so many interesting aspects! For one thing, when the objects of crushes are not actual boys, but celebrities (and I've seen some of my girlfriends completely powerless with this problem), it can become truly dangerous in a couple of ways. Including making you nothing else, but more egoistic (of course, that's an extreme case, but it shows a tendency).
I, too, like Emma, would love it if you elaborated some more on the subject of how to behave lady-like but not creepily and/or rudely and/or unapproachably. It is especially difficult for shy people - the more shy you are, the more ashamed you feel about "liking" anyone and more awkward you become.
(Also, any thoughts on shyness itself from you are always greedily awaited, Auntie Seraphic - it can be very destructive to all relationships and is a problem more common than it is socially recognized to be).

To be honest, I've always thought that true Art is always about Love. Probably because God is Love and (to put it a bit simplistically for the sake of shortness [too late]) Art is, in my understanding, seeking God in human experience, through personal revelations. At any rate, love is the most important thing anyone can talk about and though, of course, marital love doesn't by any definition exhaust the incredible vastness of that subject - as you've said, it is very, very important, and, as you've pointed out, epsecially in today's world, when there is so much confusion about what it means to love. And even if it's not THE most important, it sure looks like the most puzzling kind...


sciencegirl said...

I think the big trick is to behave politely, pleasantly, happily and to spread the love.

Say the boy you have a crush on is at a party. Greet him, chat with him, smile with him, and then find a reason to go chat with a lot of other people, including the girls and the other guys. If you and he keep running into each other and finding other little moments to chat, things are looking up! If you are having a conversation with someone and he walks in the door, wave hello, and wait a few minutes before moving over to chat with him. If he is so happy you are at the party that he joins your conversation, things are looking up!

If the man you have a crush on is married or a priest, then go ahead and be a bit cold. Otherwise, have a nice time chatting with cute guys and learning more about them. I don't get why so many girls are appalled that the young, single, nice, Catholic people who get together in study groups might find each other cute. That said, if there is a man you find attractive physically but would NOT want to date (maybe because he is a non-Catholic Christian, or because he loudly derides some values you cherish), then don't flirt with him, and just be as pleasant as you are to 80 year old men.

Jamie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said... where, then, is the line between "arguably laudable" feelings about a crush and being emotionally unchaste? I think sometimes if I allow myself to think about one guy too much, well, I end up thinking about him too much. Ugh. I'm not explaining myself well, I hope this sort of makes sense. I don't think that I beat myself up over it (most of the time, anyway...) but it's really hard to find the balance.

I guess my pride likes to kick in too and then I'm able to lie to myself and convince me that my 24-year-old self is too good for silly crushes... ("...but are they silly?? What if NCB #1 is HIM? Or what if #2, 3, or 4 are HIM? And 'crush' just sounds so juvenile...")

I'm laughing at myself now, but it's not really that funny. But I think you might understand, Auntie S. :)

Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

FWIW, I'd nominate you for a Nobel Prize in literature if I were on the committee.

Seraphic said...

Well, of course I understand. And sometimes we feel powerless over our crushes and the only thing we can do is turn to God, who can do anything and everything, and say "I don't want these thoughts and feelings about this guy any more. Would you please take them away?"

The only way to know that a guy is THE ONE is when he asks you to marry him and you think your heart will explode because you are so happy. Random guy in class or supermarket is not THE ONE. For all you know, THE ONE is currently in first year seminary in Malaysia and you won't meet him until 2021.

So stop worrying about THE ONE but also don't worry so much about your crushes. As you may have noticed, they come and go. They are like the common cold: frequent, annoying, temporary.

But don't let crushes stick in your head, like a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder. Don't daydream. Daydreaming turns your common cold crush into pneumonia crush. If you absolutely have to imagine rescuing Crush Object from certain death because he has been tied by the Evil Villain to some railway tracks, then change his name and write it down. Get it out of your brain.

Apparently sexual thoughts pounce on young men every 15 seconds or something amusing like that. I asked my husband how young men get any work done. He said they just bat them away like midges and don't dwell on them. Thoughts and impulses spring up, but you can say "No" to them or you can let them take over your brain. Of course I think you should say "No" to them.

Also say "No" to feelings of shame. It's so interesting because I read a lot about young men with SSA feeling so ashamed of their feelings for boys, but nobody talks about how ashamed young women often feel about their feelings for boys.

This shame is not all bad if it points to natural modesty and a desire not to let ones feelings rule (and ruin) one's life. But it is bad if it interferes with a woman's sense of herself as good and deserving of love and respect.

It is also bad if it interferes with her ability to make friends and contribute to social events. So I think it very important to remember that feelings are not FACTS. You shouldn't be judged for how you FEEL but for what you SAY and what you DO.

Joy Marie said...

Ahh!!! So happy I found this blog. As a recently turned ex-teenager, I still totally struggle with crushes. I remember feeling really guilty about it, because I felt I wasn't being "emotionally chaste" - even though I would get so nervous and shy around a guy and not be able to talk to him. I realized though that I really can't help crushes, but I can try to help fantasizing. This I learned when I finally, I wound up the courage to ask this guy I'd been crushing on from afar for coffee. Unbeknownst to me he had a girlfriend, so when he turned me down gently after telling me he'd think about it (majorly confusing moment for me then!) and I was effectively crushed, I realized that I'd been totally emotionally invested in my dream!

But I can't help the fact that I crush hard on guys. I definitely try to control my dreaming, which is hard because I spend so much time thinking and wondering about my (new) crush, but I can't help be... emotionally compromised in that regard.
So, any advice maybe about the emotional aspect of a crush? I feel like I'm constantly fighting my emotions, especially since I'm a pretty shy (but extroverted - so majorly confusing I know) girl.
For me, crushes are just so emotionally taxing!