Compare This! Throne of Glass vs. A Court of Thorns and Roses

Hey guys!  So like, I have a short attention span sometimes and my Weekly Obsessions posts…yeah, I’m bored with them.  And while I was driving the other day, I got an idea for a new type of post called Compare This!

So here’s the deal.  I’ll take 2-3 books, books with movies, works by the same author, etc., and I’ll compare them to pick which one I thought was better.  (You are free to disagree with me.)  I like to think of it as a Face Off/Boxing Match, if you will, where these two are duke-ing it out for my favor.  And this first match isn’t pulling its punches.  Let’s get started!

The Throne of Glass series

VS.

A Court of Thorns and Roses series

(Both series are written by the incomparable Sarah J. Maas)

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Throne of Glass

The Pros:

  • This series has a number of rock stars for main characters, characters that just get under your skin and then you can’t get them out of your head.
  • The necessity for cleverness means you never quite know what’s going to happen next because it’s just a master chess game.
  • Suspense.  Oh my God, the suspense this series creates!  Once you start these books, you need to plan your days around your reading time because you aren’t going to feel capable of putting them down.
  • The world building is excellent.  Even returning to this book after a year (while I wait for the next book), I can pretty easily fall back into the world of Adarlan.

The Cons:

  • Sometimes the plot is too convoluted.  Later in the series, there are almost too many characters in too many different places.  You have to keep track of a large number of plot lines all at once and, with a year between books, it’s complicated to do that with a series that’s still not finished.  I can only hope there’s a massive payoff at the end.
  • There’s usually a portion of each book that seems so slow.  In almost every review I write, I talk about how it took me a while to get through because something bogged me down.
  • The jumping between all the narrators can feel jarring.  I know that I have struggled with that throughout a number of these books, especially as it gets later in the series.
  • Six books in this series (so far) means that this series almost feels like it’s been going on forever.  It can be hard to keep a reader’s attention on the same series for 6+ years.

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A Court of Thrones and Roses

The Pros:

  • I adore that the first two books seems to be almost retellings of classic stories.  (The first truly has a Beauty and the Beast vibe, and we all know how I feel about that.)
  • The characters are fantastic, from the ones you root for to the lowest of villains.  Every single one of them is magnificently written.  Ask anyone who’s read this series and they will all have different favorites and–if they do like the same character–it will be for a completely different reason.  They’re so multi-dimensional.  It’s been a long time since I’ve fangirled this hard over characters.  (My computer is telling me I’ve invented a new word there, but it’s the truth.)  Like, it will be decades before I stop thinking about how much I love these characters.
  • The world building.  I feel like this gets bonus points for writing two worlds, the human world and the fey world.  Each one has its own characteristics.
  • So much cleverness in the plotting.  Little hints are dropped in the previous books that come back, little moments earlier in the book you didn’t notice, etc.  It all comes back.
  • THERE ARE THREE MORE BOOKS PLANNED.  I JUST LEARNED THIS.

The Cons:

  • The fact that there are three more books planned.  When a series is supposed to end as a trilogy, everything pretty much gets wrapped up, and this one did.  So…um…I’m nervous about what these books could do next.  Maybe they’re more of a spin-off?  Because I think Feyre’s story has been told.
  • I felt that the last book lacked the same energy as the first books.  The first two were emotional roller coasters that grabbed you by the heart and didn’t let go.  But the last one, because Feyre was more grounded by then, didn’t engage me the same way.
  • For as much as I adored the characters (and I so did), there were times I felt disconnected from them.  And I can’t tell if that’s indicative of their characters (which, some of them are more closed-off/introverted/tight-lipped) or if that’s something with Maas’s writing style.
  • If you’re not prepared for it, the level of romance in the books can surprise you.  For all of their marketing as YA, these are New Adult at the very least.  Keep these books away from the youngest of readers, please.  It’s very…descriptive.
  • You may have to invent new curse word to deal with the feels you get from this series.  Rereading my previous reviews, mine included: fudgenuggets, Jerusalem’s Ghost, Holy Profanity Batman, Saints alive, and so help me Zeus.

 

My Winner: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Why?  Overall, I found this series hit more of the right notes with me.  I’m a very character-driven reader.  I crave the emotional connections with the characters and this did it for me.  The narration focuses almost exclusively on Feyre rather than bouncing from character to character like Throne of Glass does.  That helps me stay more in the zone with the emotions and the plot.  We’re learning everything just as Feyre is.  I like that many of these characters rise in ranks not because of any powers, but because of their merit, which isn’t always quite the case in the other series.  I also liked the pacing of this series, being wrapped up in three books (give or take) rather than how the other one is still going and going.

Both of these series are absolutely phenomenal and win Goodreads Choice Awards every single year there’s a new book.  So really, no matter which one you decide to read, you’re going on an incredible journey to a fantasy world where strong characters fight against evil and darkness.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

What do you think?  Did I make the right decision?  Did I leave out anything?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!

LET’S PARTY!!

And by “party”, of course I mean “awkwardly avoid eye contact with everyone and wonder how long until it’s socially acceptable to find a quiet corner and read my book.”

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(When I wrote this post days ago, I legitimately thought I was joking about the party thing.  Who has a party at 27??  But my grandmother–who no one ever says no to–was looking for an excuse to get the family together…and I got a party.  And I’m pretty sure I looked like this above.)

I am now officially 27 years old and y’all, I’m going to tell you, the older you get the more you truly do forget your age.  At 14, 15, whatever, I was laughing at these people who forgot their age.   But for at least the last two months, I’ve already been thinking I’m 27 and then have to backpedal and tell myself that I’m still 26.  It’s the weirdest thing.

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Ok, I don’t actually believe that I’m “old” considering I’m in my 20s and spend most of my days at school laughing at my own jokes and my nights reading YA and watching animated movies, but like, there are differences.  I feel like I’m growing more into myself.  I know what I like and what I don’t; if someone doesn’t agree with that, then that’s their business.  I don’t find myself wanting to change because of what someone else thinks.  Not to mention I’m stubborn as sin myself, so them telling me to change really backfires.

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So what am I going to be doing today?  Probably melting.  It’s supposed to be ridiculously hot today with humidity through the roof.  (For those of you who don’t live in the Midwest, humidity is a villain.  It’s oppressive and makes it hard to breathe to the point where we legitimately have Air Quality Warnings on hot days.  You don’t mess with hot humid days.)

And like, I melt in the heat anyway.  Heat and I are no simpatico.

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Have a great day, you guys!  😀

Weekly Obsessions #1

Hey everyone!  So I was trying to think of a new segment to do this summer because while I love books and reading, it’s simply not what I do 24/7.  I have so many other passions and interests that it didn’t seem fair to let all of them go by the wayside.  And I know you guys are the same way–you have other interests too!

Also, my friends know that I frequently joke that I become obsessed with different things very easily.  (Readers in particular, I think, have this tendency.  #Fandoms)  So I thought, what better way to highlight different things that I’m seeing and loving than a weekly obsession role call?

It may not be books.  It may be crafts, TV, movies, history, the news, a YouTube video, a color.  I don’t really know what it will be.  It’ll be something that moved me, inspired me, caught my eye, etc.  But I thought it would be fun to share them with you guys!  So let’s get started!  I’ve got 2 to share this week.

Weekly Obsessions #1

Chris Pratt Parks and Rec bloopers

I know I’m way behind the curve, but I only just got into Parks and Rec like 6 months ago and finished it about 2 months ago.  Season 1 is terrible, but once you get past that, it’s so funny.  The Midwest jokes are strong and I love them.  But anyway, during a break between a wedding and a reception this last weekend, I wasted some time watching YouTube videos and I came across this one.  My face hurt when I was done watching it.  And then I watched it again because Chris Pratt is just that funny.

It’s really crude at times, but if you’re a fan of the show, this is hysterical.

My favorite parts are when even he can’t hold it together!

The Last Kingdom

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I only *just* discovered this on Netflix and I’m hooked.  After only a few episodes.  The premise of the story (which is based on a book series that I will definitely be reading now) is that the Vikings are taking over England and Uhtred (OO-tred), an Englishman raised by the Vikings (or Danes, as they also were called), is someone who may be able to save England.  But he’s going to need a lot of help.

Oh, and this is set in 866 AD.  You know when they add in that “AD” part that we’re going way way back in time.  And as someone who vastly enjoys British history, this is ace.  It’s well-acted, vicious (and gory), clever, and visually stunning in unexpected ways.  It looks a lot visually like Game of Thrones in what they wear, but it all takes place in wooden fortresses rather than stone because that’s what was used to build at that time.  But it’s so awesome.

It’s definitely a show you have to pay attention to, though.  I tend to like to do other things in the evening, so I turn on a movie or something and work while that’s on.  Not this show.  I tried it once and absorbed nothing.  You totally have to pay attention to every minute of this to understand it.  There’s a fairly large cast of characters to keep straight, not to mention their names and place names are pretty unfamiliar to us, so it can be difficult to remember them.

Image result for the last kingdomAlso, can I just say that I love that there is a strong female character in this?  She’s not your over-the-top strong, warrior type, but she has undeniable strength in her own right.  And I love that.  Brida (BREE-duh) is clever and a survivor, so she has to have pretty good instincts for danger.  There’s a line in the early episodes where Uhtred introduces her as something like his best friend and everyone’s like, “Um…she’s a girl…” and he just looks at them like, “And your point is?”  Anyway, it’s great.

I just nerd out every night over this show.  I try to get in one episode a night, even though they’re like an hour long a piece.  It’s a good thing my summer vacation started before I found this or I’d have really been struggling during school!

I’M BACK! + Great American Reads

HOLY GUACAMOLE BATMAN, I’M BACK.

After something like a 5 month hiatus (plus, let’s be honest, a barely-there presence for like 6 months before that), I feel like I’m ready to be blogging again.

Let’s be real: I missed you guys.  I miss talking about books, I miss a supportive reader community, and I miss a shared excitement over books.

I feel like over the last 6 months, I’ve changed a lot as a person.  That guy I previously mentioned, my high school crush that I reconnected with?  Yeah, that went from spectacular to spectacularly wrong.  I didn’t feel like I was getting the respect I deserved as a person, as a woman with life and dreams of my own.  Anyway, I called that off and I’ve felt a resurgence of confidence and identity about who I truly am.

And a major part of that that I’ve been denying/starving for some time is my reader side.

Now that my summer is about to start (with the end of my 4th year of teaching!), I’m ready to dive back into the world of books.  And I have a number of reviews stocked and ready to go.  And hopefully a few lists in mind.

But I wanted to share with you this thing that has me really excited this summer.

It’s called the Great American Read.  If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a PBS special/contest where you vote for your favorite book from a list of 100 that a survey compiled as the favorite/most life changing books of Americans.  I watched the special when it aired on Tuesday and I have to say, I’m really excited to get to read some of these.  A few I’ve heard of before, a lot I haven’t.  But it was really cool to see so many people (authors, celebrities, etc.) talking about how these books have changed their lives.

The way voting works (if you’re interested) is that you can vote all summer long, once a day, for as many books as you want to.  It’s pretty awesome in that respect.

There’s also a quiz that you take to total up all of the books you’ve read on this list.  I scored 25/100, which I think is pretty decent.  The list is a collection of contemporary books (The Help, Looking for Alaska, Game of Thrones) and the classics we all know (Pride and Prejudice, Tom Sawyer, Great Expectations) and the quirky (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Alice in Wonderland, Flowers in the Attic) and the politically charged (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hunger Games, To Kill a Mockingbird).  Now, these are only 12 of the 100 nominated.  I highly recommend that you check this list out.  It’s awesome and you’ll probably find a few books on this list that you can add to your summer reading list.

Oh, and the best part?

#YARepresents

Yeah, YA (and a few other children’s books) makes a pretty awesome showing on this list.  They include:

  • Charlotte’s Web
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Looking for Alaska
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Book Thief
  • Hatchet
  • The Outsiders
  • Twilight

And did I forget to mention Harry-freaking-Potter?  For real, I know that all of the books on this list (ok…most…I’m looking at you Fifty Shades of Grey) deserve this recognition and a shot at winning.  But let’s be realistic: there are very very few books that have made the kind of impact that Harry Potter has on an entire generation.  If this series doesn’t win/end up in the top 5, I will eat the imaginary hat that I do not own.  (That’s not a great bet consequence, but since I make the rules…)

So yeah.  It’s going to take me some time to fall back into the blogging routine, but I’ll get there.  I really miss writing and sharing my thoughts with you guys, and perhaps by telling you guys about my adventures in the Great American Read at the very least will help me get back into the swing of things.

Until then!

~Holly

Where I’ve Been: A Life Update

Hey guys!  I can’t believe it’s been MONTHS since I’ve last posted something.  (Ok…maybe I can, if you knew what I’ve been doing.)

First of all, I just want to say that I think I’ve lost my spark for blogging.  It used to be so much fun for me, but my taste in books has changed over the past year or so.  While I still enjoy YA, I’ve become a major historical nonfiction buff.  Stories of real life for me have suddenly become more fascinating than fiction.

If you want me to review the nonfiction I’ve been reading, I’ll gladly do that.  But since this has been primarily a YA blog, I didn’t want to just switch on everyone.

But another reason why I haven’t been blogging is quite simple: I fell in love again.

If you’ve stuck with me over the past seven (!!!) years, you may be rolling your eyes because I tend to fall in love a lot, right?  I’m a hopeless romantic and I know it.  But I’m also quite picky when it comes to guys, so it takes me a while to find the right guy but them I’m a goner.

ANYWAY, this one is different.  It feels different, not just to me.  He’s told me on multiple occasions that he’s never felt anything like this, and both of us have been in (failed) relationships that almost brought about engagements.  So I think we have at least some idea of what we’re talking about.

I really want to tell you about this guy because I just like to gush about him.  And I think this story is awesome.  ❤

I met him when I was a freshman in high school.  (Oh yeah, we’re going back in time.  2006, baby.)  We were in show choir together, which meant we spent quite a bit of time in the same place.  Rehearsals, competitions, etc.  I was an uber dork and he was tall and handsome.  He made me laugh and he was one of the few people I felt really listened to me when I spoke.  So naturally, I developed a pretty big crush on him.

(You see why I like this story so much?)

He was two years older than me, so when he graduated in 2008, I saw him 1-2 more times after graduation and then he was gone.  He served 8 years in the Air Force and traveled all over the US and was stationed abroad for a time.  He returned to our hometown about a year and a half ago and got a job at a local restaurant with my cousin.

In all of that time, we never reconnected.

Part of it was because I was afraid he wouldn’t be the person I remembered.  I’ve reconnected with old high school friends before and they were completely different.  It just ruined my memories of them and cast a different light on what I thought of them.  He was my one unsullied high school crush that I could look back on with fondness, and I didn’t want that ruined.

In November after a date cut me off cold turkey, I reluctantly headed back to the dating apps try to find someone new.  That’s when I found him.  (I’d found him before on the app, but I’d been avoiding him for reasons stated above.)  With a little bit of reluctance, I accepted his attempt to contact me.  We talked over text for almost two weeks.

At first, I wasn’t sure he remembered me.  Everything was vague, getting-to-know-you style questions.  But he let slip the name of our show choir director, and I said, “Oh, you do remember me.”  His sweet reply was, “Of course.  Why wouldn’t I?”

(You have to remember, I was so quiet in school that people didn’t really notice me then and they certainly don’t remember me 10 years later with that kind of ease.)

Because of his work schedule at a nearby gym, it was hard for us to find a time to meet up again for the first time.  To keep things casual, I went to visit him at work one night, just to see if we were compatible.  I was so nervous I put on extra deodorant before I left the house so I wouldn’t sweat through my clothes and stink.

The sparks, you guys.  Oh my God.  I was there for about 3 hours while he told me all kinds of stories from the service, about what he’d been up to, and telling me jokes.  He’s a bit of a talker, so I was content to just be listening and sharing a few of my stories here and there.  When I left, my face legitimately hurt from all the smiling I had done.  When I got home, I had a text waiting from him where he told me he hadn’t smiled that much in a long time.

The funniest thing is that he’s not my type.  Since college, I’ve fallen into a (terrible) routine when it comes to picking guys.  I like them to be taller than me, well-educated and dorky, funny, not a trouble-maker, and settled when it comes to what they’re doing with their life.

He is 6’4″ (tall: check!), but he only has a high school diploma at this point.  (He wants to go to culinary school, which is fantastic for me.  I don’t cook.)  He’s funny (check!), but he’s been caught by the law on more than one occasion in his past and mixed up in some pretty bad situations.  However, since his last brush with the law, he’s cleaned up his act.  He wants to be a different person and even in such a short time with him, I’ve seen evidence of that.  And he’s definitely not settled in his life yet.  Before I walked back into his life, he was planning to move halfway across the country to Denver.  He told me one week into dating that he wasn’t leaving unless I was coming with him.

Ironically enough, it’s these imperfections that make him perfect for me.  What I was finding with a lot of my well-educated boys was that they were very analytical and left-brained.  There was no room for emotion, so when I would get upset they would shut down.  I struggled so hard to get them to give me the emotional support I needed.  I struggled to talk to them, knowing that I could say the wrong thing and they would get offended.  I was a master at bottling up emotions until I exploded.

This one is different.  He picks up on the smallest changes in my demeanor.  If I need to cry, he holds me while I do.  When my anxiety spikes, he knows how to help because he has anxiety himself.  He’s not afraid to tell me what he’s feeling.  (I hear every day how beautiful I am, how smart and amazing I am, how much he loves me…I could really get used to this.)  It’s so different from what I’m used to that it’s become something of a whirlwind.  I certainly didn’t believe him at first that I was beautiful, amazing, etc.  He told me he was going to keep telling me until I believed him because it was the truth.

Like many of us, I always wanted to be like a Disney princess when it comes to finding her Prince Charming all the while laughing at how they fell in love in only a few days.  Now, I get it.  Maybe because I knew and trusted him so long ago, we just click.  Since we’ve been together, my anxiety has only gotten the better of me twice rather than at least once a week.  I feel more calm and more confident.  I can make my corny jokes and he thinks they’re funny even as he rolls his eyes.  We’re both just as happy to spend the day in our pajamas watching Netflix as we are dressing up and going out on a date.  And he pushes me to try new foods and he loves planning surprise dates where I don’t find out what we’re doing until we’re on the way there.  (I hate surprises, but so far he’s done a fabulous job of knowing what I’d like to do.  So…I trust him.)

And he feels comfortable around me.  He tells me things he’s never told anyone else, in halting stories that aren’t practiced and polished from constant retellings.  He fits in with my family far better than any of my past boyfriends.  But the biggest selling point for him was the fact that his notoriously stranger-hating cat let me pet him the first time I met him.  That was apparently a sign that I was perfect for him.

I know I’ve said this before, but for anyone looking for love out there, don’t settle.  If something’s not right, get out.  In many of my previous relationships, I start having anxiety about the future, if I can love this person, what being married to them will be like, etc. in the first month of dating that person.  It’s disturbingly detailed, the thoughts that run through my mind.  But with this one, I haven’t worried about those things.  He has made loving him so easy that I don’t have to worry about what the future will bring because if he’s next to me, it’ll be ok.

…That was a terrible cliche.  My apologies.

A Reaction to Las Vegas

I’m just going to put this bluntly: I’ve snapped.  I’m tired and I’ve lost it.  I don’t normally use profanity on this site because my mama raised me better than that (and because I know that some of you are younger readers), so I try not to.  But today…I may make an exception.

Because I am so bloody tired.

I am tired of waking up in the morning and learning about mass shootings that took place the night before.  My radio station even teased the news, saying something vague about 50 dying and, “We’ll tell you the rest after this song!”  My first reaction was that it was some kind of accident, like a plane crash or a train derailment.  It wasn’t until they came back that I learned the truth.

I am tired of going through the day waiting for answers.  Being a teacher and at work all day, I didn’t have any time to follow the news to even figure out what was going on.  (I didn’t even know it was an outdoor concert until lunch.)

I am tired of waiting for answers that will never come, like why this person picked this place.  Or why he decided to do it.  Or why he believed this was a good path to take.  Or why he continued for so long.  So many questions that will never be satisfactorily answered.

I am tired of the absolute bullshit happening in the media about mental illness because this guy was white and nothing about terrorism because he was white.  Apparently there’s some kind of guideline involved in calling it terrorism vs. mass murder, but I’m finding that line seems to only exist when religion and race are involved.  If you’re firing a weapon into crowds of people intent on killing as many people as possible, it’s fucking terrorism.  Done.  Look how easy that was to call it terrorism!

I am tired of nonetheless spending hours in front of the TV to figure out what happened.

I am tired of hearing the sentiment that even though it’s a tragic time, it’s so uplifting to see people come together to help each other.  It bothers me so much.  Like, you think you’re being comforting, but you’re really not because this shouldn’t have happened.  Sure, say it after a hurricane or something where people are reaching out to help neighbors.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t recognize the heroes who stepped up in these situations.  Last I heard, there was at least one Las Vegas cop who was killed at the concert and he deserves recognition.  But in a situation like this, it’s panic and pandemonium.  There was no forewarning.  So I don’t blame the people who fled for their lives and maybe didn’t stop to help someone else.

I am tired of anticipating the gun control “debate” that will surely rise, which will include one side insisting that all guns should be banned and the other side going out and buying even more guns to thwart the other side.  This is idiotic.  I’m all for regulations.  There have been too many shootings, too many mass murders, too many acts of terrorism in the US involving guns to continue on this current path.  Do you realize how stupid we look to the rest of the world, especially the ones that have outlawed or restricted guns?  (Yes, I’m aware that we have a second amendment, but guns in the 1780s were one shot, front loading rifles with little to no accuracy.  A fully automatic rifle or even a fucking revolver would have been unthinkable to the Founding Fathers.)

I am tired of having little to no hope that our laws will change any time soon.  Especially not with this president.

I am tired of wondering when this will eventually impact my life.  Because how can it not?  The statistics are startling and as a teacher, it seems all the more likely that some day, there may be an attack on my school and I may be in the crossfire.  I have never, not once since Sandy Hook, felt 100% safe in my job (and I wasn’t even a college graduate at the time!).  As teachers, we are more or less taught to protect the kids at all costs, even if we have to give our lives.  And that is fucking terrifying.  On days like this, I have a hard time juggling my daily job with what could one day be my responsibility.  (And don’t tell me I’m overreacting; we had a bomb threat a couple of years ago that was thankfully a fake, but could have been devastatingly real.)

I am fucking tired of feeling helpless in these situations.

I am tired of everyone offering prayers but not solutions.

I am tired of the rhetoric.

I am tired of the speculation of where it could happen next.

I am tired of fearing going to large venues with friends.

I am tired of fear.

But I am also emboldened.  I am fired up and ready to make a change, because this cannot continue.  Many of my friends are struggling to come up with the words to explain to their children how and why things like this keep happening.  And why should we when regulations, when policy changes can protect our children in the same way that children in the UK, in Australia are protected?  In both of those countries, they had wake-up calls after a mass shooting and they took steps to fix the problem.  So why do we keep making excuses about this one?

Why do we keep allowing it to happen?

Much like the violence itself, continuing on this path is senseless and destructive.

The Friend-Zone: A Word War

Hey guys!  I’m still alive, though my reading has dramatically slowed with the beginning of the school year (as it always does).  Don’t fret; I’ll be reviewing books again…eventually!  But until then, I thought I would talk about a topic that truly bothers me.  And since we’re just getting back into school (for many of you, high school and college), I thought this topic would be appropriate.

“The Friend-Zone”

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I’m an English teacher, so let’s start with a definition, shall we?  Oxford Dictionary defines the “friend zone” as “a situation in which a friendship exists between two people, one of whom has an unreciprocated romantic or sexual interest in the other.”  (It also gives the helpful example sentence of “I always wind up in the friend zone, watching them pursue other guys.”  We’ll come back to this.)

Some backstory.  Growing up, I was always friends with guys far more than I was girls.  I couldn’t relate to girls as easily as I could boys, so my best friends most of the time happened to be guys.  Usually nerdy and awkward guys because that was the group I fit into.  I even had one teacher who gave me the nickname “the flirt” because she only ever saw me with boys.

Now, from time to time, this did lead to instances of either me or one of those friends having feelings for each other.  Especially in high school.  And look, that happens.  Sometimes sparks just fly.  And the more you get to know a person, the more you start to think…maybe…something could happen between you two.  Totally normal.

What’s not normal is the sexism that ends up in the mix.  I’ll give you two scenarios to prove my point.

Scenario 1: Sophomore/Junior year of high school, I developed a massive crush on a guy in show choir with me (let’s call him Trevor).  Trevor and I had a lot in common, we had fun together, and he even took me to prom (as friends).  His parents were pushing for us to be a couple, and so was I.  He was one of the first boys I was actually attracted to and seemed to be attracted back.  But I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I hung the moon on Trevor for 2 years.  I poured my heart out once to him, finally asking why we weren’t a couple.  He replied that he “wasn’t in the right mindset” at the moment for a relationship, but he thought he would be soon.  So I hung on.  Right up to his graduation at the end of my junior year, when I realized nothing was going to happen.

Scenario 2: Senior year of high school.  In my calculus class, there was a boy (we’ll call him Richie) who had been a friend of mine early in high school but who I hadn’t really seen since freshman year.  I looked forward to Richie coming into class every day because he always asked me about what I was reading that day.  (It changed every other day.)  Come prom season, I told him about my dress and that I was excited to go; I love formal dances.  He told me he had to work that night, so he wasn’t sure if he could make it.  I told him he really should come because it was a lot of fun.  He ended up showing up by the end of the night and we danced the final slow dance together…which is also when he kissed me.  I was absolutely, completely, horrifically blindsided.  Never had it crossed my mind that he liked me.  I tried to distance myself from him at school the following week.

Guess which of these two scenarios got labeled as the “friend zone”?

You guessed it, scenario 2.

Why, you may ask?  Because in scenario 2, a female (me) was denying a male (in this case, Richie) a relationship.  It didn’t matter that I was completely uncomfortable with the situation.  It didn’t matter that I had been kissed against my wishes.  It didn’t matter I wasn’t attracted to him in the same way.  What mattered was that I had rejected him, a guy who had given me special attention.

And look, let’s be honest, I was not high enough on the social ladder for rumors to really circulate about me.  And I was happy with that.  There was talk, but not nearly what it was when one of the popular boys was caught dirty dancing with a girl who wasn’t his girlfriend at the same prom.  It also helped that I never took that talk too seriously.  I knew who I was and was comfortable in my own skin.  I knew I didn’t want to be in a relationship with Richie and I let him know that.

But even now, I can’t describe to you how afraid I was after prom, when we ended up at his place for a “party”.  (It ended up only being us and one of my friends with her date.  No one else showed.  We watched She’s Out of My League, which was 100% true and prophetic in this guy’s case.  More on that later.)  I was alone with him for a long time before my friend showed up.  (Not totally alone.  His mom was upstairs, but you get my point.)  When he sat on the couch next to me, I tucked my feet up between us to keep some distance.  I think he even tried to give me a foot rub at one point and that definitely freaked me out.  I didn’t even want him to walk me to my car later that night.  And I definitely didn’t want to see him in calculus the next school day.

So imagine my already confused state getting even more confused when people at school seemed to be blaming me for not liking him.  Because that’s essentially what “friend zoning” someone is–blaming you for not returning the same feelings.

And that’s where I have a problem with the term “friend zone”.  It’s even present in that example sentence from Oxford Dictionary where it says, “I always wind up in the friend zone, watching them pursue other guys.”  Granted, this is 2017 and gender is fluid, but be honest and tell me you didn’t immediately read that sentence and picture a man talking about a woman.

Not once, ever, while I pined over a guy for two years did someone accuse him of friend zoning me.  I rarely ever saw anyone give him grief about leading me on for that long.  (Honestly, I only remember his mother doing that…)  If anything, I felt the blame.  Like I couldn’t hold his attention long enough.  Or I wasn’t exactly who he wanted me to be and I needed to change.  Or even that I was being clingy for wanting a relationship.

I can tell you, wholeheartedly, that this is not true.  And if you ever feel like you’re being blamed for not feeling returning someone’s interest, don’t.  You deserve better than someone trying to guilt you into a relationship with them.

The whole connotation of the term “friend zone” is that someone (typically male) is showing someone else (typically female) affection and they are being denied/rejected, thus making that affectionate person a victim and the denier the villain.  This is absolutely not true.  If you don’t feel it, then you don’t feel it.  There is nothing wrong with that.  I cannot stress that enough.  You shouldn’t be forced into a relationship you don’t want to be in because someone is upset you aren’t returning their feelings.  And if they truly loved you, they’d understand.  Life is about timing and sometimes timing sucks.  You just have to put on your grown-up pants and deal with it.  No one is entitled to a relationship with you.

With distance comes wisdom, and I can tell you that I’ve learned a lot in these past few years about perspective.  And I’ll share with you the aftermath of both of these stories:

Aftermath of Scenario 1: After Trevor graduated, I never saw him again.  Seriously.  It’s been a little over 8 years and even in my small town, I’ve never run into him once.  I’m not even Facebook friends with him because it hurt too much in the beginning.  After that, I didn’t care as much.  But his life went in a very different direction than mine, including a DUI charge when he was 20.  So…frankly, I’m glad I got out of that before things got out of control.  He thrived on drama, and I like peace.  Eventually, if we’d gone out, we would have broken up anyway, I’m sure.

Aftermath of Scenario 2: I felt terrible about the way I treated Richie.  (This goes back to blame game…I’m speaking from experience.)  We stayed in contact for a couple of years sporadically on Facebook, finally dating our sophomore year of college.  We went to different colleges, but we tried to make it work.  It was awkward; too much time had passed since we were truly friends.  And eventually he broke up with me because I was, and I quote, “too smart”.  The guy who said I friend zoned him in high school–and who was studying to be a doctor of all things–dumped me because he was intimidated by my brain.  Let’s just say that the feelings I harbor toward Richie can be contained in one finger.  Maybe two.  It was with a certain amount of glee that I swiped left on his picture when I saw it on Tinder about a year ago.

And to be honest, this whole “friend zone” thing didn’t stop after I graduated high school.  At least one other guy accused me of doing the same thing in college.  Girls, it will happen. You’ll meet a boy who wants to be you friend (whether that’s his only initial goal or not) and will get mad when you don’t want more.  It’s ok to say no.  You have that right, and no one can take that away from you.  And if you get into a situation where he doesn’t want to take no for an answer, seek help.  From teachers, friends, adults, councilors, police, complete strangers, anyone.  You are a human being with hopes, dreams, values, and an identity all your own.  They are not entitled to you.  They don’t get a say in what you do with your life.  It’s your life.  Be who you want to be and make the hard decisions.  Because if you aren’t doing what’s right for you, you’ll eventually regret compromising yourself for someone who doesn’t actually care about you.  Been there, done that.

If you’ve taken anything away from this, I hope it’s that you know that you’re worth it.  Wait for the right person to come along.  Because when he/she does, you’ll easily see how those other guys weren’t treating you right at all.

~Holly