Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Travel Complaints

I've heard lots of stories about people who've gone a trip with someone who complained the whole time and ruined the trip for everyone else.  Then the question that always arises is, "Why did they bother coming?"  Well, I have a few answers:

Possibility #1: When you invite someone on a trip, they may have no prior experience to know whether they would like it or not.  They are probably basing their decision to come on how much fun you tell them it's going to be, the way other people talk about trips like yours, and the way that trips like yours are portrayed in the media.  A person really should consider themself and how they personally will react to the trip, but that's something that takes practice and a lot of tuning out what other people say.  Before you criticize someone for complaining, ask yourself how analytical you would be if someone invited you to something.  Would you think through every detail carefully, taking into account what you really know about the people, the place, and yourself, or would you just jump in the car and get excited for a fun-filled weekend because that's what everyone tells you its going to be?

Possibility #2: Sometimes, a person knows that they won't enjoy the trip and shouldn't go.  But when you tell me about a person like this, I have to wonder if it was really okay for them not to go.  If the person said that they didn't want to come because they didn't think they'd like it, would you really have said, "That's okay," or would you have tried to convince them that it would be fun?  Would you be happy that they weren't going to ruin the fun for everyone else, or would you be sitting here telling me that you can't believe they didn't go with you?  Perhaps they bothered coming because they were never really welcome to stay home.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Truth or Dare

I still remember playing truth or dare at recess in first grade, when lying in the game seemed worse than lying in real life. The feeling of truth or dare has changed a lot throughout the years. In elementary school, it was a mostly just a fun game, with silly dares. Once we got to high school, most "truth" questions were about who you had a crush on, which was fine with me because I told my friends about crushes anyway (but this is a very private topic for some people, so not the best idea). But starting in college, the questions in games like truth or dare became more private - stories about what you've done sexually or while you were drunk. I hadn't done anything, but that in itself was something I didn't want to reveal.  I didn't want to be called out as Miss Innocent in front of the group because I didn't see myself that way.

When you auditioned for plays or singing groups at my college, you had to answer irrelevant questions, such as "What's the craziest thing you've ever done?" I always wrote about something a friend had done as if I had done it myself. Stretching the truth on these audition forms taught me how to do the same thing in games like truth or dare.  If I was asked about the last person I kissed, I would say "A boy I was in a play with," but I wouldn't mention that it was just a stage kiss in the play. I felt safer this way, but still left out. I longed for a wild story that would shock everyone on an audition form or a in a game of truth or dare. I considered doing things I didn't want to do, just to say that I had done them.

It's funny how the anticipation of things is so different from what actually happens.  Now I have a boyfriend, and I don't think I could have predicted how amazing everything actually feels.  It's hard to believe that I once thought that the point of all this was to tell everyone.  I used to say that I would throw the biggest party ever when I did certain things for the first time, only to realize that those things are the biggest party ever. Truth or dare is kind of like a one-night stand - telling people intimate stuff when you don't have an intimate relationship with them is supposed to be fun. I was never into one-night stands.  It also never made sense to exaggerate stories that meant nothing to me when I had tons of stories that meant everything to me. Truth or dare may be fun, but in the long run, it's more important to find people who like you for your real stories, whatever they may be.

Questioning Motivations

Let's say that Person A is cleaning out her closet, finds some clothes that she doesn't wear anymore, and decides to donate the clothes to charity. Meanwhile, Person B has been feeling really bored and frustrated all week.  She doesn't like where her life is going - she wants to do something much more fun and exciting and rebel against anyone who tries to get in her way.  Just when she gets home, her mom starts criticizing her appearance.  She's had enough.  She empties her closet into a trash bag to donate to charity and heads to the mall to buy some new clothes that reflect the person she really wants to be.

I've been in Person B's shoes a lot, and a lot of people will judge you when you do something like this in anger.  But my question is this: What difference does it make?  Won't people still benefit from the donated clothes regardless of the reason that they were donated?  If Person B had donated someone else's clothes without their permission, then that would be wrong, but if the action is good, then we have no reason judge the reason behind the action.

The actions that we take can have either positive effects, negative effects, or no effects on other people. The only time we should question reasoning is if the action itself is harmful. It makes a difference if you punched someone to hurt them, or to get away because they tried to attack you, because the action harmed someone else. But in the case of the clothes, the action actually benefited other people.  Here is a neutral example:

Let's say Person B breaks up with her significant other and decides that from now on, she's never wearing red again because it was their favorite color. Many people will judge this decision as silly and stupid and immature. But again, what difference does it make? What impact does her not wearing red actually have on anybody else?  It is perfectly acceptable to not wear red because you don't like the color.  How does it suddenly become unacceptable because someone has a different reason? We have no right to judge someone for acting based on their own feelings when the act itself does nothing wrong.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dos and Don'ts of Party Hosting

You probably remember how parties worked when we were younger: you got an invitation in the mail telling you who, what, where, when, and asking for an RSVP.  So you responded and arrived at the party, which was just as it was described on the invitation. Now that we’re older and we don’t send out invitations for non-formal parties and events, I think we may have lost some of the basic party-hosting etiquette that those invitations required us to follow.  Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts that I think we all should follow when hosting a party or event.

Do:
Let your guests know the date, time, location, and type of party/event you’re having, and any other information that might be helpful.  Think about what you would write on an invitation, and give your guests the same info.
 - Pick a specific date and time, rather than saying “sometime next week.”  There are a few conditions under which you might not be able to pick a date and time very far in advance:
 1. You’re getting together with just a few friends and want to wait and see which day is best for everyone.  This is okay because with such a small group, your guests know that they will be included; you’re catering your plans to them.  In a larger group, however, you may not be able to accommodate everyone, and changing the party date so that someone can come will probably mean that someone else will no longer be able to come and will feel more left out than if they couldn’t go on the original date.  If you have close friends who you want to accommodate within a larger group of guests, take care of that before you announce the party date to everyone.
2. The event is weather-permitting.  In this case, you should pick a date as soon as you know the weather forecast.
3. You truly cannot commit to a date and time very far in advance (ex: because of your changing work schedule).  Again, let your guests know the exact date and time as soon as you can, and in the meantime, give them a rough idea.  You could say, “I’d like to start the party by 6, but I’m not sure I’ll be out of work by then.  But it will definitely start by 9 at the latest.
Be accommodating in the way that you invite guests to your party.  If you create a Facebook event, for example, call any friends who don’t have Facebook.  Also call any friends who haven’t responded, as they may not have seen the message.
- Answer any questions about the party. If you don’t have an answer yet, tell your friend that you’ll get back to them, so that they know you got their message.
- Stick to your plans as best as possible.  Your guests are assuming a certain party plan and may not be okay with doing something else.
Let your guests know what level of food you’ll be serving, and follow through with your plans.
Let your guests know what will happen if there is a problem.  Ex: If it might rain the day of your cookout, will you postpone it or have the party indoors? 
-  Only cancel or postpone the party if there is a real reason for it (ex: you’re not feeling well)
If anything does change at the last minute, let your guests know as soon as you do.  Call all of your guests to tell them, especially if they might be on their way already.  It’s fine to update the Facebook event or send an email, but you can’t be sure everyone will see the message in time. 
- Apologize for the inconvenience if the party needs to be postponed, and understand if not everyone can make the new date.
Respect anyone’s decision not to attend your party if they’re not interested in the activity you’ll be doing.
- Make your guests feel welcome and let them know how glad you are that they came.
Don’t:
Leave your guests wondering about important details until the last minute.  
Refuse to pick a date and time in advance because you want to wait and see what other fun offers you get.  
Assume that everyone checks Facebook, email, etc. as frequently as you do.
Ignore questions about the party.
- Assume your friends won't mind if you cancel the original plan as long as you invite them to do something different.
- Change your plans about serving a meal. 
Leave your guests wondering what’s going on if there’s a problem (ex: a blizzard).  
- Cancel or postpone the party because you get an offer to do something better.
Forget to inform your guests about last minute changes of plans.
Change the party date as if it's no big deal and everyone can still come. 
- Criticize your guests for not being interested in the type of event you're having. 
- Indicate that your friends should feel lucky to have you to show them a good time.