What My Long Distance Relationship Taught Me

mental health, Relationships / Dating, social media, Thoughts, travel

Long. Distance. Throw those words together, add in the relationship aspect, and you’ve got a pretty difficult recipe ahead of you. For some most people I’ve talked to, they draw the line at even a few days apart from their partner. Yet after two years of doing long distance, I still haven’t thrown in the towel. Of course, no matter how long or how short the distance, there’s no easy way around the obstacles that come with this kind of relationship. So why invest in a long distance relationship at all?

For starters, one of the biggest lessons I learned from long distance was the true meaning of commitment. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I’m talking about commitment not only to your relationship but also to yourself. This includes making sure you stick to a routine that distracts you from the difficulties of a long distance relationship (LDR), committing to the time and additional attention your partner may need to feel confident in this relationship, and disciplining yourself with the long timeframes that pass between seeing one another and saving up money/planning to see one another.

One of the things I’ve done to ensure that I have a routine is studying (when I was a student), going out/making social arrangements with friends, hitting the gym to take my mind off those really hard days, and always carving out time to either text or call my significant other. While now we manage to text throughout most of the day and always squeeze in one phone call, at the start of our long distance we hardly made time to talk and both realized how toxic it was to our relationship. As corny as it sounds, communication really is the heart of maintaining most relationships- and it’s honestly what strengthened our relationship in spite of the large distance (9,157 km from Los Angeles, California to Hanover, Germany).

skype.jpg

We worked hard to understand our 9 hour time difference, determining what time each of us would wake up or wind down for bed, and respecting that sometimes we may not have a chance to talk because of work, school, or just being human (overslept, too tired, etc.). But no matter how busy we got, both of us made sure to remind each other of our love, appreciation, and commitment to this relationship. From a simple compliment to a selfie of their outfit, I was always grateful to know that he was thinking of me and that I could still get a glimpse of his day. Technology really is vital to long distance relationships today, and I truly don’t know if I’d be as happy if it weren’t for our privilege to communicate daily using WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facetime, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

At the beginning of my relationship, my mother bought me a short e-book by Gregg Michaelsen that really changed my entire outlook on long-distance relationships. This quick read (took me only 2 days to finish) helped me address any hidden fears of trust, commitment, and worries about our future.

I learned how to overcome my insecurities and how to communicate them openly with my partner. I also learned that physical connection isn’t everything- and how to make the most of my time with my LDR partner when we were finally together again. While saving up money to see each other can be incredibly costly depending on the distance, it’s certainly worth it to develop a cadence for when you’ll see your partner again and have a solid date in mind for your reunion. This continues to be one of the biggest motivations for me throughout our time apart, and it’s also really fun to keep a countdown of the weeks, days, and hours left until we’ll be together again.

countdown.jpg

So while this blog post certainly isn’t to try and convince everyone to jump into a long distance relationship, I wanted to provides some guidance for people who might be contemplating the feasibility of an LDR or are already in an LDR and looking for a little advice.

What are some of the things you’ve learned from your long distance relationship? Do you have any questions or ideas I could address in future blogs? Feel free to email me or comment below- and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more LDR advice & more!

 

The Millennial Identity

social media, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Who am I? I’ve found myself asking this question more and more as I continue to juggle two lives- one being the portrayal of my life on social media, and the other being my much less exciting, real everyday life. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time worshipping all the glorious 90’s and 2000’s idols most kids my age loved: Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, Avril Lavigne, Lindsay Lohan, No Doubt, Fergie, Green Day, Beyoncé, etc. Though they all seemed so untouchable then, I adored them and nevertheless felt incredibly close to them. Twelve-year-old me popped an Aaron Carter CD fresh off the shelves into my new walkman and blasted “I Want Candy” on repeat. Twenty-three-year-old me follows celebrities on every form of social media, researches their entire life story with one or two clicks online, and nearly faints when I get even the tiniest response from them through a like or comment on Twitter (ok, not really but you get where I’m going with this). Reminiscing on the good old days when my idols were at a safe distance made me ask- Has this world of instant access to information and intimate online relationships with celebrities/presidents/anyone impacted my identity?

If I had known as a preteen that one of my biggest concerns in 10 years would be who is following me and looking at what I post, I’d literally LOL (instead of just typing it into AIM). Compared to just a few years ago, today people consider it almost inhumane for places like airports to not provide free WiFi. As some of the few remaining individuals to have relatively Internet-less childhoods, Millennials’ reliance on smartphone cameras, filters, hashtags, likes, comments, followers, etc. has become excessive- arguably impacting the way the way we see ourselves. This is further affected by the fact that an increasing number of Millennials are paid huge amounts for their “influence,” squeezing a sponsored product or service as “features” in their seemingly perfect lives on Instagram. But shows like Netflix’s Black Mirror have demonstrated that continuing on this path of technologically dependent existence will only result in the downfall of the human race.

Alright, yes- that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. But after going through a Kylie Jenner moment of “like, realizing things,” I’ve noticed that Millennials (including myself) are losing sight of who we are- keeping our heads down and instead choosing to look through an online lens that blinds us from our own reality. Social media provides a steady bombardment of influencers, lifestyle bloggers, travelers, celebrities, artists, etc.- The list goes on. It’s a visual “all you can eat buffet” of photos, videos, tweets, and likes from people who were once untouchable. Now, it offers an intimate look at everyone’s favorite things and even their exact location.

Obsessing over influencers in our lives is normal- until it distracts us from living our own reality and actually discovering who we are. We’re getting instant gratification through actual numbers that determine who likes us, wants to follow us, or shares our posts on their platforms. We’re posting everything online, cutting moments into neat square boxes to obey algorithms, trends, and standards set by each social media community. Our lives have become a glorious pixelated world that is pleasing to the eye, but ultimately makes us all look the same. Even so, the silver lining is that we’re recognizing our addiction to these online identities and dedicating more time to discovering our individual paths in life. Instead of posting every second online, my first step going forward is to just take a mental picture. Trust me, it’ll last longer. 🙂

– – – –     G.M.    – – – –

 

What do you think about Millennial identities and social media? I’d love to hear more about everyone’s experience with finding their identity while navigating the world of social media- comment below or send me a direct message via email, LinkedIn, or Instagram!