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The 20-Somethings Part VII

I love and admire this woman so very much. We’ve lived through a little bit of life together – we were roommates for a year – and she continuously amazes me with her honesty, wisdom, and maturity. Cassie is just one beautiful composite of sass and brilliance that you can’t help but love. She’s an interior designer at Eheart Interior Solutions, and she writes ever so beautifully here.

HMHW: What do you look for in a group of friends at this age?
Cassie: What I’ve been looking for – maybe my whole life without knowing it – I feel like I’ve finally found, which is so nice. For me, a huge thing is a sense of independence in a person that could also work hand in hand with a healthy dependence on one another. And that looks very different from a lot of my past friendships. By that I mean a group of friends that care enough about one another to the extent that they’re checking in regularly, just with day-to-day stuff. Like, “It’s the first day at your new job, how did it go?” Just small codependent things like that, but never, “Why aren’t you home? Where have you been? What are you doing? I can’t survive without you.” I think I just look for that balance between independence and the desire to create community.

HMHW: Fill in the blank: I’m a closet _____ fan.
Cassie: Oh geez. Sunday night slow jamz? I mean, I’m pretty out there about that, but that’s all I’ve got. But truly, I’m a closet fan to the point where if it’s at all possible to leave Bible study early so I don’t miss all of it, I would.

HMHW: Do you believe in types?
Cassie: I think that I’m at a place in life that feels like an epiphany, and I’m discovering that maybe the types we look for are ourselves, which seems a little bit egotistical. I was looking for somebody with similar interests and similar tastes in music and similar aspirations, and only recently have I been excited about the possibility of being surprised by people. I think intrinsically there are characteristics that we are drawn to but in our generation and our dating culture, the word “type” typically means things like personal style and taste in music, and I’m not sure I subscribe to that anymore.

HMHW: Do you have career goals? Do you see yourself remaining in the same career for the rest of your life?
Cassie: I do have career goals. I also see myself in transition with regards to that. I see myself in the design field, loosely, for the rest of my life. But if I were to picture myself in five years, it would be in the architectural journalism/design journalism field.

HMHW: What’s your definition of guarding your heart?
Cassie: I can only speak from my experience, and I would hope I can speak on behalf of other people’s experiences that I’ve witnessed. I would imagine that the next time I enter into a relationship, guarding my heart would maybe just look more like intentionally filtering all of my experiences and all of my emotions through some logical part of myself which gets buried underneath all the emotions. Maybe there’s a better way of saying it, because I do believe in guarding my heart, but I don’t think it means being closed off or not being vulnerable or not taking risks. Maybe it means remembering the logical things, or reminding yourself of the things you forget when you’re in love. If you’re really interested in a person, there’s no harm in continuing to date other people for a little while, and that’s part of guarding your heart. You might decide that you want this person to be your only option and that you want to get on that road, but don’t get on the road until it’s actually a road. When you say yes to something, you say no to other things. So when you say yes to falling in love, you say no to experiencing other people and there’s just something to that.

HMHW: How valuable are friendships with other women to you?
Cassie: Oh, I think the most valuable. I love the idea that even twenty years down the road in a marriage that I hope is beautiful and life-giving and unique, I will still have this group of women to go to. Because I think that we care for each other in a way that has been built inside of us, programmed inside of us – to nurture each other, tend to one another, and to be excited for one another about things.

HMHW: What about your friendships with guys?
Cassie: I think that friendships with guys are incredibly valuable in the sense that it’s a bit like exploring this other species, this other planet of people. They smell different, act different, talk different, handle confrontation differently, think different things are funny, tell different jokes, care about different things, become vulnerable in different situations. I feel like it’s just a study of a gender that’s so different from my own. So overall, I would say they’re super valuable maybe just as a step to understanding the rest of humanity.

HMHW: Do you believe in the one? If so, do you believe they were chosen for you since the beginning of time or that they become the one when you choose them?
Cassie: I don’t believe in the one in the sense that the Lord has created one specific person for you, and you sort of feel like you’re on a mission to find that person. For me, I just can’t and don’t want to live in a world in which that is my mission. I think that there are far greater things in life than finding one person that you will enjoy earth with. I love that, but that can’t be my only thing. And I think that in creating me and in creating this man – if that were God’s only thing – it would kind of remove the idea that God is our number one search. There’s just something about it theologically that has never settled with me. But I know that the Lord loves love; I know that he created marriage and romance as a means for us to understand Christ and his Bride, and what it means to monogamously pursue one love and service together. I think that it’s a beautiful thing and when you choose, you make this very logical-meets-emotional decision to commit your life to one person, and I would, of course, refer to that person as the one. But before that, I know for certain that I could fall in love with a hundred people in my life, and I don’t think that God created a hundred people for me.
HMHW: What’s interesting about that is that I used to be a firm believer in the one, as you know, and now I’m realizing that I used that as a way to not have to deal with parts of my character that were difficult to handle. Because there was this one specific person made for me who would be able to handle all my character flaws perfectly without complaint, and deal with me just the way I am. That was my excuse, instead of choosing to work on developing myself as a person who could be compatible with many different people.
Cassie: Definitely. And that is what I think is very scary and also the most beautiful idea – this choose your own adventure map of life. I look at myself three years ago and I liked the person I was so much, and when I look back I still like that person I was and the person I was with. But that was a different track – I would be nowhere near the person I am right now. It maybe wouldn’t be better or worse, but it’d be so different. And so the idea is that depending on how we develop our own personalities, careers, lifestyles, and philosophies, that could determine the kind of people that we could be compatible with. Which is awesome.

HMHW: How do you make decisions about your future in this season of life? Has that changed from before?
Cassie: It has changed from before. I don’t know if I can answer this one really well because I’m just beginning to discover this mind-blowing strategy called resting in the Lord.
HMHW: Haha, that age-old, mind-blowing strategy.
Cassie: Yeah, I’m at a bit of a crossroads right now, and a year ago, I would’ve been frantic. It was always forward-motion, always one step ahead, never content. I viewed that in a positive light – I called it ambition. But I think the lack of contentment bred so much unrest and made decisions these life or death things. It’s sort of funny because I don’t subscribe to the idea of the one in relationships, but I certainly subscribed to the idea that there is a right decision, a right move, a right career choice. And that seemed life or death to me; it seemed like you’re in it or you’re not in it.

Now, I have this beautiful vision of my life in which I zoom out and I look down, and the line that I’m walking looks like a straight line from a million miles away. And zoomed closer, there’s all kinds of swerves and crazy stuff going on – all these little detours – but I think the Lord will complete his work. So when I come to a crossroads now, I’m trying out this new thing where I just casually make a list of pros and cons, tell the Lord about my list, be willing to sit in silence in the event that he has anything to say, and if he doesn’t, I just make a decision and trust that I will be blessed in that.

HMHW: Best/worst advice you’ve ever been given on the topic of love and relationship?
Cassie: I’m not sure I could even give one piece of advice, but my mom has given me the most sensible and honest advice about love. Probably everything that I’ve said so far originally came out of her mouth, and obviously has been adopted and changed to fit my personal philosophies. I think the worst advice – which I’ve never really followed – might be to only date the person that you’re gonna marry. I find that both confusing and nonsensical. This isn’t about bashing the people that that worked out for – that’s brilliant for them. But good advice was definitely from my mom, and probably Full House somewhere in there.

HMHW: What’s your perception of the differences between masculinity and femininity? Do you think it varies from gender to gender or from person to person?
Cassie: As far as making roles an absolute truth, I try and shy away from that. I think that gets messy and maybe all you end up doing is telling people what you think they should or shouldn’t do. What I believe in wholeheartedly, and I probably learned as a young child in my alien exploration of the opposite gender, is that God has created us so differently. And I think that’s awesome. There are layers to it, though, because I think God has created us individually wildly differently, as well as wildly differently in terms of gender. From anatomy to giftings, I think it’s different. And I know that’s vague and I don’t mean for it to be a cop out, but I just think we should certainly acknowledge our differences and we should certainly not make too many absolute truths about those.

HMHW: What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned in the last year?
Cassie: To stay. I was so afraid of staying [in Fort Collins]. It goes back to what I was saying earlier about how I was always running, always in forward motion, always having a lack of contentment and peace. And I think that the Lord has just breathed that into my life.

HMHW: Do you feel pressure to be thinking about/preparing for marriage? If so, is the pressure from within or without?
Cassie: At this point, I don’t feel any pressure and I’m very grateful for that. My observations and what I can attest to in my own life is that the philosophies of the people you choose to surround yourself with most often affect you. Because I can certainly speak for times in my life in which a handful of my friends were getting married and then you start thinking, “Oh shit, what’s wrong with me?” Which is fine – I could’ve been on that track too, and that could’ve been great I’m sure. But interestingly enough, most of my friends now are married and I’m finding huge rest in that because I think it’s a very up-close, personal, and realistic view of what marriage actually looks like. And it accomplishes two things for me – it makes me very excited for when that happens, and it also makes me very aware of how much it’s about the day-to-day choice to love someone. It’s still a normal looking life. And it makes me think that I could still leave the country tomorrow if I want to, and maybe I’ll do that. Maybe I’ll do some of these things and just enjoy this season. Maybe I’ll go to the grocery store and buy $6 goat cheese and not have to talk to anyone about our grocery budget. I’ll do these things and enjoy them and very much still look forward to when I want to feel the pressure of marriage.

HMHW: Going off of that, do you think you’re making the most of your single life?
Cassie: I think so. Well, what I think I could do more of is hang out with more single men. *insert laughter here* But that’s the thing, if I’m not feeling that urgency or incredible desire, then that’s okay too. I can just camp out with my married people and enjoy that. But yes, I think I am making the most of it in terms of pursuing my career, travel, and meeting new people.

HMHW: What did you believe about romance and love a year ago that you don’t anymore?
Cassie: I will say that a year ago in terms of romance, I may have had too casual of a perspective on it. And I don’t at all mean that to say that I was gallivanting about in an inappropriate way. But I think that I was maybe not as careful with some people’s hearts and feelings as I could have been, because I was just in the throes of this perspective that said, “There’s no commitment anywhere; I’m not committed  or responsible for their feelings.” There was just a lack of realism. So what I believe now is not that you have to know for sure that you want to date someone to be hanging out with them or having conversations or entertaining thoughts and feelings, but that you should treat those with a lot of respect. Maybe I just feel more respectful about romance than I did last year.

HMHW: What are your thoughts on modesty and its effect or lack thereof on daily life?
Cassie: I think if I were curvier I would think about it more. I rarely think about modesty. I certainly grew up where that was a conversation, and I think I held on to that. A lot of it had to do with comfort – like when I was getting dressed in the mornings and my mom pointed out, “You know, you can’t really do anything in that skirt that you’re wearing.” Then you think, well of course, that would make things complicated. Maybe this is a cynical point of view, but I kinda think that people will think about whatever they want to think about. There are certainly things that make it harder, and I would never set out to be a person that made it more difficult for the guys around me. But I just don’t think about it too much unless I see this really extreme version of what not to do or wear. I think women are beautiful and we wear clothes that make us feel beautiful. You can obviously cross the line, but establishing absolutes is not my thing.

HMHW: Most embarrassing dating story.
Cassie: So I just started dating this boy and I was over at his apartment for the first or second time. We were having dinner and I had to use the restroom, and my contacts were really dry. And it’s probably not the best thing to dig through someone’s cabinets before you know them really well. But I thought, “For sure he has contact solution.” So I grabbed the bottle that I saw and squirted it in both eyes really quickly. And, you know, it was the thing where it was the contact solution that’s straight acid. Like acid rain in my eyes. And I squirted it in both really quickly, so I had fire eyes. I was frantically splashing my eyes; I was crying; it was this huge scene in his bathroom in this small apartment. And I turned the fan on, and the water was running, and I think it probably just sounded like crazy town. And the most embarrassing part is that I came out and tried to pretend like nothing happened, even though my eyes were bloodshot. I was so embarrassed. But he was very kind about it, and informed that sometimes, contact solution cannot be shot in your eyes.

HMHW: Do you believe in the ability to be ready for marriage? Do you have factors you think will indicate your readiness?
Cassie: I think certainly there are indicators that you are more ready for marriage than not. For me, one of the obvious signs that I feel like I don’t yet possess is a very strong desire to be married. I do, eventually, but I mean like right now. I also really believe in listening to the people around you – and not that you have people who are saying, “You know what? You’re ready for marriage.” But if you have people affirming your financial responsibility, how you take care of people, how nice it is that you have found it in yourself to learn to serve, then that’s a good sign. I think we’re allowed to stay in a selfish place for so long, which is nice, but I think that when you start feeling the urge to leave that behind, you’ll start bestowing [the unselfish traits] on the people around you – friends and family. So I think listening to the people around you, listening to yourself, and really having the desire for marriage all seem like great indicators.

HMHW: What are your opinions on pursuing/being pursued based on gender roles?
Cassie: I think when girls say that they want a guy to pursue them, it’s unfortunately been misconstrued or misunderstood. I grew up hearing that expressed in a way that meant that as a girl, all you’d ever done was talk in secret with your girls about a guy, and you have never indicated even once to him that you know who he is or that you’d even be remotely interested. And you also never actually talk, but he for sure will receive a package from the good Lord on his doorstep that says, “Ask her out.” I think that would be creepy, and also not realistic. I think that once in a relationship, that is when you want to feel pursued, and that’s when a guy wants to feel desired as well.

So maybe it’s just this symbiotic thing in which, as a woman, you’ve made it very clear that you think they’re fabulous and you’d love to get to know them, maybe they pay for your dinner – that’s nice but I’m not a stickler, I think we’re all poor. But basically, I think it could look very different in each situation and it’s a compatibility thing. There’s no shame in saying, “I think he’s awesome, but the way he pursues me doesn’t speak to me in the way that I was created.” And maybe the guy would say, “She’s awesome, but I don’t quite feel pursued or desired by her in the way that speaks to me.” So I think that a big part of pursuit and roles in a relationship has a lot to do with compatibility – being able to give and pursue and serve one another according to the other person’s needs. I think a lot of that is meant for within a relationship, but obviously at the beginning, a show of interest that goes both ways is nice.

HMHW: What’s been the hardest part of being a twenty-something?
Cassie: I think maybe a lot of people would say this, but change, change, change. I’ve written a lot about the imagery of it – for a lot of my twenties, I’ve felt like I’m in this field and there are fireworks everywhere. There are parts and pieces and shards of all these things falling on my head. It’s changes in friendships, changes in my familial structure, changes in my ambition. Just a lot of change.

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About thehonestbrave

tending the space between where i am and where i want to be.

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