Ask Erika

Dear Erika,

I don’t know what to do with my arms when I walk. Should I let them hang? Swing them around? Do they go in sync with my legs? Opposite? Help me please Erika!

Sincerely,

–Lost in Limbs

Dear Limbs,

Your problem is not that you don’t know what to do with your limbs. The problem is you are thinking about it too much! Anything you focus on too hard will start to feel strange. There is no rule for what people should do with their arms. Once you stop wondering what you are supposed to do with them, your arms will find their natural rhythm and place.

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Dear Erika,

I’m 23 and happily single, but at the same time, it would be nice to find someone. I recently had a date with a guy who has a lot going for him. He’s attractive, smart and responsible. I can’t find anything wrong with him, but I’m leaning toward telling him I’m not interested, in part because my schedule is so full. Am I being too picky? I worry that I may never find someone if I keep this mentality.

Signed,

–Picky Polly

Dear Polly,

No amount of résumé can make up a lack of chemistry. His attraction, intelligence and responsible nature have little to do with what creates and holds relationships together. Much more is needed to create the spark that attracts you to someone.

As for your time, schedules are like purses: you will always keep them full, no matter how much “important” stuff you have to put in them. If you met the man of your dreams, you would not be wondering how you could fit him into your schedule. This guy may be great, just not for you. You are not being too picky. Hang in there — someone will come along.

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Dear Erika,

I love meat. I have a hard time sleeping and concentrating if I don’t eat it at least twice a day. But I live in a house of students who are very food conscious and they criticize my meat intake. I am feeling more and more self-conscious about it everyday. Yesterday I ate in my room alone and hid the beef in a stew that I called bean chili. Even though they don’t always ask, I’m so ashamed of it, that I’m sure they can see my tail between my legs. What do you think, Erika: should I wean myself off meat?

–Jimmy Funnel

Dear Jimmy,

Many people become vegetarians and experience nothing like what you are going through. I am sorry to hear that you have to hide things from your housemates. More sustainable meat is available, of course, but, whether or not you can afford that right now, I do not recommend weaning yourself off meat. It sounds like you have tried, and it has had negative effects on your health. This is a time in your life when it is especially important to sleep well and concentrate.

Be open about your problem to your housemates so you do not have to eat in fear. Keep in mind that your body could change, too. Try again in a few years. Until then, your ability to function is more important than the relatively small impact your meat intake has on the environment.

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Dear Erika,

This town is small. So small, it’s annoying. I run into the same people all the time, and while that is wonderful, I never meet anyone new. That makes dating kinda hard. It seems everyone ends up dating their friends’ former girlfriends/boyfriends. How am I ever going to find someone new and interesting in this town? I mean, really?

–Jaded Cowboy

Dear Cowboy,

Good news! More women than men live in Prescott.

After all, men die younger than women, and senior citizens account for a quarter of the local population. Never mind that, though. Let’s do the math: A 2010 census estimated that 116,562 people live within a ten-mile radius of downtown Prescott. Of those, 18 percent are between the ages of 20 and 34, which makes 20,922 people. Halve that for women and you have 10,461. According to the 2006 U.S. census, 48.5 percent of U.S. women are unmarried. Round down an arbitrary 25 percent for engaged couples and old maids, apply that to Prescott, and you have 3,805 eligible, beautiful bachelorettes waiting for you within ten miles. The numbers don’t lie!

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Dear Erika,

My girlfriend and I have been together for a couple months and we’re thinking about moving in together at the end of the semester. It feels like it may be a big step too quickly, but at the same time, we find ourselves with each other at the end of almost every day, anyway. It’s been two years since I left the last girl I lived with, and that was difficult to get over. I feel reluctant to set myself up for that kind of hurt again. What should I do?

–Nervous and Indecisive

Dear Nervous,

It sounds like things are going well, if you are planning to move in together. Why jeopardize what you have by rocking the boat? Is the convenience of not travelling across town to see her worth the risk of ruining the relationship? It is understandable if you are afraid to share your fears with her. It might make her think you are backing out entirely. Do you think she would dump you just because you did not want to make a huge life change after only a few months? If so, the relationship was not meant to be.

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Dear Erika,

I’ve never smoked — anything. All of my friends here smoke one thing or another and say that I should try it. They always seem to enjoy themselves and say there’s no negative effects on health. I sometimes don’t go to get-togethers because I know there will be smoking. I don’t know if I should try it or stick to what I’ve always believed. Any advice?

–Pressured in Prescott

Dear PIP,

People use drugs for one of two reasons: 1. Curiosity, 2. Dissatisfaction with their own reality. The fact that you resisted this long means you are extraordinarily mature and level-headed, so keep it up! If your friends say there are no negative effects on health, they probably just don’t remember how they felt before they started using, or they were never okay to begin with. Maybe find different friends, but whatever you do, stick to your guns. You’re doing great.

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Dear Erika,

I got a sh*t load of school work, like 60 pages to read for each class, each week, plus one class is requiring field work. I’m just kinda freaking out about handling it and keeping somewhat of a social life, to keep my sanity.

–Overloaded

Dear Overloaded,

You and every other college student! The most important thing is to keep your priorities straight. You wouldn’t be here unless you wanted to learn, so it sounds like you need to put off socializing until you’re caught up, even if that means temporarily losing your sanity. Worrying about whether you can handle it is procrastinating, and that takes up time, too, so just dive right in. Before you know it, you’ll have spare time to seek out a social life. Besides, the bar isn’t going anywhere.

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Dear Erika,

I’m getting to know this girl. But, I’ve thinking lately, they say you can’t love someone until you love yourself. Do you think that’s true? If it is, then I should focus on myself before pursuing anything. But, if I do that, then I might miss an opportunity to date a really sweet girl. What should I do? She seems really cool and I think that I could start to like her as more than a friend, but we all know what happens when you start to crush on someone and they don’t feel the same: Things get awkward. I know that the reasonable thing to do would be to wait and see how things go.

–Lost or Found

Dear Found,

“Reasonable thing?” Come on. The question here is not reason, but how much you want to risk. You’ve got two options: 1. Take the plunge and tell her you like her (high risk) or 2. Play it cool and see what happens (low risk). Given your concern with missing this opportunity, I vote for option 1. Finding a partner trumps having to endure awkwardness.

With concern to loving yourself, merely focusing on yourself won’t make that happen. I think you can love someone without loving yourself, but someone will have a hard time loving you if you don’t love yourself first.

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Dear Erika,

I’ve always been a disappointment to my father; he wanted me to be the son he never had. I was supposed to enjoy fixing cars and building houses before joining the army. I played softball (because I wasn’t allowed to play baseball) and tried countless other ways to please him. I never dressed too girly and always listened to his advice but, when it came down to it, I was still a girl. I didn’t like shop class and I was better at art than mechanics. I know that I’ve disappointed him. It seems like he likes me less since I started doing what I want to do. How can I get him to see my value?

–Daddy’s Little Girl

Dear Daddy’s Little Girl,

Unfortunately for you, parents-to-be aren’t required to pass a humility test before being awarded children. Sadly, it might be that he likes you less since you started doing what you want to do, but his disappointment is his own problem, and probably stems from insecurity. Sometimes you just have to exit the scene, you know? You’re in college now, you survived adolescence—congratulations—and you, more than anyone, will have to live the results of your decisions. “Be yourself, everyone else is taken,” Oscar Wilde said. Maybe your Dad will never see the value in art, but until then, do what’s best for you. Maybe someday he’ll grow up and give you some respect for holding your ground.

This is a compilation of the 2011 Ask Erikas that appeared in The Raven Review.
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