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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Setting the expectations for my new life too high?

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Author Topic: Setting the expectations for my new life too high?
Atonement
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In a little over a month, I will FINALLY be transferring to the 4 year university of my choice.

This will be a big change for me. For the last 3.5 years, I am living in a small town with practically NO single people in their late teens/early twenties and no places to go out and meet people unless you're willing to drive about 1.5 hours. The school I’m transferring to is the biggest college town in the state, with over 50,000 students and a very big social scene.

Because of some pretty tough home situations that have made it nearly impossible have much of a social life even by my town's standards, I haven’t dated/had sex in close to a year. I haven’t been in a relationship in going on 2 years.

For most of the time, I’ve been perfectly OK with being single. But lately, I’ve found myself really wanting to be in a relationship/have a friend with benefits/something. Sometimes I just want physical contact, but others I see myself wanting more of a relationship with an emotional/intellectual connection.

Lately, I’ve caught myself thinking of my move date as the turning point in my life where I will magically get a vibrant social/dating/sex life. And I’m afraid I’m setting my expectations a little high.

I have always been the kind of girl who doesn’t attract a lot of attention. I haven’t been asked out too often or anything. Of course, this could be because the only setting where I’m around guys my age is at my actual classes, where there’s not too much room for interaction.

I’ve also found myself being really overcritical about my appearance lately. Like, standing in front of the mirror in my underwear wondering if any guy would actually find my body attractive.
I know this is silly. I know that plenty of overweight girls have active social/sex lives. In fact, I’m not even overweight, just closer to the higher end of a healthy weight range than I have been in the past. And it’s because I’ve been eating horribly, fast food multiple times a week, more than one soda a day and nearly unlimited amounts of chocolate…

It’s weird because I’ve been so confident about my body the last couple years. And I’m wondering if it’s because of who I’m around. I’m mostly around my coworkers, all of whom are older and most of whom are heavier than me. I wonder If I’m going to feel even less confident when I’m around girls my age and younger who are thinner.

I’m really/really excited about moving out and going to my new school. But I’m a little worried that I’m setting my expectations for what my new life will be like too high. What do you guys think about this?

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Heather
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I'm excited for you!

You know, in my darker moments, I'm someone who often tries to lower my expectations for the good stuff, figuring that at worst, my expectations will be met and things will be bleh, but what's more likely is they'll be exceeded. But honestly, that's a pretty crap way of coming to things. In fact, just the other day, Ode, one of my fave mags, had a great piece about realistic optimism I really appreciated and think might be really applicable to you right now: http://odewire.com/58517/look-at-the-bright-side.html

So, if you're asking me? I'd go ahead and run with your excitement right now and your positive expectations. By all means, I'd not think of school or a new place as some kind of instant cornucopia of everything you've never had, and I'd also say we should maybe talk a little about the sexual social scene at a lot of college, since how FWBs and hookups go there can have as many cons as pros, especially if you're only seeing the possible pros and not looking out for the cons.

But I'd also not assume some of the things you are. Young people have diverse bodies, too: they don't all come in skinny. And people's tastes when it comes to who they are attracted to doesn't just come in skinny, either. I'd hold on to that body confidence you have: try and get it back. Put the mirror away, eh? [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Atonement
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Thanks for the link! I will definitely give that a read.

I think it really would be a good idea to discuss the sexual social scene though. I imagine it will be very different from what I'm used to, and I have a rather short sexual résumé as it is.

Where should we start that conversation?

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Heather
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Happy to have that with you. I am just about ending my day, though, so are you okay with jumping into this tomorrow?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Atonement
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Completely understandable, I actually wasn't expecting a response until then anyway.

Have a good night!

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Heather
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Cheers, thanks.

(And I really am so very excited for you. How awesome to be heading into an independent life of your own so soon, moving away from so much of the stress and strain and caretaking of others you've been doing. Kudos on making this happen and on being able to go where you wanted to go!)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Atonement
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Thanks!

In truth, though, you deserve partial credit for helping keep me sane the last year!

looking forward to our conversation!

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eryn_smiles
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Hello Atonement [Smile]

I agree with Heather in that having high expectations and being optimistic about your future life is great. I hope it goes really well for you at college. Someone once told me about planning for the worst while hoping for the best, which I felt was a good approach too.

When I was struggling with depression, my GP recommended a book called Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. I found the philosphy very helpful in reworking my thoughts and hope you might find it useful too. Wiki does a reasonable summary of it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_optimism

[ 11-30-2011, 08:48 PM: Message edited by: eryn_smiles ]

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"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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Heather
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Hey, I'll take that partial credit! Gotta take it where I can get it, you know. [Smile]

Anyway, this is obviously a big conversation, but I think the place to start might be with just recognizing that while college culture -- which doesn't speak for everyone at college, mind -- tends to be, at this point, pretty accepting of more casual sex, accepting can be an iffy word. Some of the social dynamics around that at some colleges, or in some groups at college, are still pretty judgy and not exactly enlightened. And, as you already know, not everyone comes to college with the same level of life experience: you've had to take a lot of responsibility for yourself through a lot of your life. For some of your fellow students, college will literally be the first time they've had to do that.

That isn't to say you won't be able to find something like a good FWB relationship at college: you totally might be able to do that. But I think walking into it with the idea that the opportunity for the "good" part is ginormous might not be so realistic. You'll still have to do the same kind of screening with partners you do anywhere else.

Know what I mean?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Atonement
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Yeah.

Do be honest, I'm kind of thinking it might be a good idea for me not plan on participating on hookups.

While I'm ok with the idea of sex outside of a romantic relationship (as in for me, it doesn't have to be a boyfriend, and I don't have to be with the person for any set amount of time.

However, I would like there to be some level of mutual trust. Like, I would like to know it's not a person who's going to run home and give a verbal photograph of my genitals to a whole fraternity.

I don't know if you've seen the movie "Friends with benefits" but despite the fact there's definitely some problematic stuff in that movie, I rather liked the relationship model that was presented in the first half of the movie (the part before the characters fell in love and lived happily ever after). How realistic was that?

To be honest, though, now that I've been single for a while, I'm kind of opening up to the idea of dating, as in having another boyfriend. That's not to say that that's something I definitely want right now, but its an option.

So, to summarize, I'm open to both the idea of a friend with benefits or a boyfriend. But I'm not planning on pursuing either until I get a chance to meet people and see what's best for me at the time.

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polyprotic
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Just wanted to chime in here with my experience last year as a freshman at a big school, coming from a similar background.

This past year has been hands down the best of my life. I've learned a ton and grown in every aspect of myself. I gained the confidence to go from feeling like a scared kid from a heavily abusive past to carrying myself as a real grown-up. I have friends for the very first time in my life and have had a whirlwind of new romantic, sexual, and intellectual experiences. All in the past year. College has been very kind to me so far, and has exceeded any of my highest expectations.

That being said, it is terribly easy to get lost in a school that big (my school is also >50,000). You really do have to make an effort to meet people. If you'd like, I can share some of what I learned last year?

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Atonement
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I'm really happy for you, Polyprotic.

I'd love to hear about your experiences and any advice you have to offer!

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polyprotic
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The first thing I would suggest is finding a few fast friends. They don't have to be someone you think you're going to be best friends for life with. It's a good start to meeting their friends if they know people, or socializing with new people together. And who knows? They could very well turn out to be great long-term friends. I am now rooming with two of my first friends on campus, and foresee us being buds for a while [Smile]

I met a lot of cool people in my dorm (will you be living in one?) and in classes. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you before a lecture. You can kill two birds with one stone that way: a study partner and possibility for friendship or more. Clubs are also great for meeting people with similar interests as you.

Meeting people at parties can be tricky, though. Depending on the party, you may have several opportunities for a hookup in a single night. Or on occasion you meet someone really interesting and have a good conversation. Sometimes when that happens, you meet up with them later and the spark is gone for one or both of you. I've found that happens a lot when either or both of you have been drinking. So try not to take it terribly personally if that happens to you. Unfortunately, you may be in for some rejection.

In my experience with any of those situations, things tend to go more smoothly if you go in with an open mind and with as few expectations for the outcome of your quasi-relationship as possible. It avoids a lot of heartache when things don't turn out the way you want, and allows you to get to know the person much more organically than if you came into things with only one idea for a relationship model. For example, you may miss out on a great friend if you pursue them romantically from the start and things don't work out in that way. Even with roommates, it gets tricky going in with the expectation that you'll be friends.

In the same vein as what Heather was saying about a lot of other kids there never having had the responsibility of being self-sufficient in any way, you will come across many of them. And that can sometimes feel pretty darn alienating or frustrating. I just remind myself that I don't know exactly what they've had to deal with in their lives. Just because they're privileged in that regard doesn't mean you have nothing in common with them. Also, you may very well find that, given your situation, you actually have considerably less responsibility because you are only looking out for yourself and voluntarily for your friends.

No one is exactly who they seem to be, and everyone is going through a ton of changes at this time in their lives. You will all have that in common, which allows you to become friends with people you never imagined you could be. It's pretty neat that way [Smile]

So essentially, if you go into this with an open mind and without specific expectations for what will happen in what timeframe, and put yourself out there reasonably, I think you will have the opportunity to experience whatever you feel comfortable with. I think college is the time for this sort of experimentation, after all.

I'm so excited for you and everything this year holds for you [Smile]

[ 12-01-2011, 02:57 PM: Message edited by: polyprotic ]

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Atonement
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Sounds like a lot of good advice!

I will be living in an off campus apartment with 3 roomates that are assigned by the apartment (I could chose my own if I wanted to, but I don't know anyone).

However, the place rents to students only, and I picked it in part because it advertises a lot of activities and seems like a pretty active community.

I tend to get along well with people on a casual lever, so I'm not worried about interacting with random people- I'm more concerned with my interactions with people that I get closer to.

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Heather
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Atonement: it seems like you're very clear on what you really and want need, what you feel open to and what you don't. That, really, right there seems to me to be most of what you need to walk into this well.

If you stick to those things, and just make sure that if you find yourself in situations where you might feel differently than you though, take real time to reevaluate -- rather than just going with the momentary flow, despite it being very counter to what you thought you needed and wanted -- you'll be in a really good place, IMO.

These discussions are really interesting for me, on a more personal note. the social mores now are often so very different than they were when I started college, as are where a lot of people are at going in than I was. So, it always takes making some mental adjustments for me, something I always appreciate having the opportunity to do.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Atonement
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Just curious: What is different?
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