Dating. A Dying Art form.

carnival fair themed engagement couple shoot

This post has been a long time coming.

Lately, and especially with my 26th birthday now under my belt, I have been doing a lot of thinking about my past. This included talking about my successes and my failings. One area that my mind drifted to recently was Dating.

With chasing down a Master’s degree right after getting my Bachelors degree, cramming my education into half of the time, in order to finish early, and leaving the country to live in New Zealand…it’s no surprise that I didn’t have much time to go on dates. Very few in fact.

Dating is fun. Plain and simple. It is an opportunity to have a lot fun with the opposite sex, with the possibility of that first date turning into a longer, more meaningful relationship. Dinner, movie, and ice cream. Walks, drinks, and star-gazing. A drive, conversation, and an out-of-the-way adventure. However you design the date, it’s a fun time. That being said, don’t go overboard. You can absolutely do too much in a date. If you’re unsure, vet your plans with friends you trust. Additionally, not all dates go the way that you planned. I know that territory, ha. Once I was on a date and didn’t even know it. Talk about awkward.

And that segues perfectly into my point. Dating, as I have come to notice in New Zealand, is a passive game. (DISCLAIMER: I am speaking from my perspective and accounts told to me by women here in NZ, as well as some men. If you feel you are not one of these men I am describing, feel free to tell the world and comment below. Also, prepare for some massive over-generalizations.) Young men in NZ can sometimes take the back seat and fail to commit when it comes to dating. “But asking someone out is dangerous, risky, and scary.” Yeah. It is. But taking months to even ask her out on a proper date can most times be exhausting for the women. Assertiveness goes a long way.

To that effect, when you’re going on a date, make sure it’s actually a proper date. When I told you earlier that I didn’t know I was on a date, I was 18, and it was a group event. Being young, I must have missed something. I learned from that horrible awkward night and made sure to treat dating differently. First off: Groups. Okay for the first few times, but eventually you have to take a leap. Also, Dating should not be a random coffee meet-up, or haphazardly pulled romantic-dates-a-dinner-to-remembertogether. That makes things confusing. An intentional, thought out, Yes, possibly even risky planned night eliminates the need for awkward conversations where you are trying to define your relationship. It’s brave. It’s assertive. And most of all, It shows you care about the person.

Like I’ve said before; going out with someone, even if it doesn’t turn into a second date, can be fantastic. Don’t hold on so tight to the result. Just be yourself and enjoy each others company.

I have to tell you, I missed out on opportunities to date while getting my professional degrees. It happens. Some opportunities couldn’t be helped. But others I wish I would have taken advantage of. Now I’m going to say something that I usually wouldn’t say because of how it could be taken out of context, and maybe it’s because I’m getting older…slightly, but we’re only young for so long. Enjoy the opportunities you have to get to know someone new, until you find the person who doesn’t make you sad that you stopped dating.

Call me a traditionalist, but there are times when I feel like the kind of dating that I have been talking about is on its way out the front door. Chivalry and kindness. Bravery and courage.  Boldness and fervor. Dating can be an art if you treat it like one. Men, women, I plead with you. Reform how we date each other, and I promise you, not only will you have a lot of fun, but they will respect you above the coffee date. I mean…I really hope they do.

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What Do We ‘Never Forget?”

800px-Wtc-2004-memorial

Today is a day of mixed feelings in the country that I’m from. September 11th, 2001, we lost 2,996 people at the time of the attacks. 2,977 victims and the 19 hijackers. 372 foreign nationals died in the attacks. The immediate deaths include 246 victims on the four planes, 2,606 in New York City in the World Trade Center and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. Around 292 people were killed on the street by burning debris and falling bodies of those who had jumped or fallen from the World Trade Center’s windows. All the deaths in the attacks were civilians except for 55 military personnel killed at the Pentagon. Additionally 1,140 workers have been diagnosed with cancer, caused by toxic smoke on that day.

Those are the facts. Yet, when one would only assume sadness, or depression, or anger was an appropriate reaction, we rose up. As a country, we took care of each other. We huddled, consoled, prayed, fed, patched, and rebuilt. From a pile of rubble we rose. And despite your political leanings, America looked good that week, month, year, and years to follow…because I’m not talking about the work of any president, congressman, or representative. I’m talking about the hard working citizens, and non-citizens, that dug deep to find something stronger than hate, stronger than sorrow, and stronger than despair.

Today we remember to Never Forget. 12 years later, we have done just that. We haven’t forgot. Still, I am weary of the choices we now make in the name of a tragedy that struck us twelve years ago. When we say that we will “Never Forget,” do we mean the attack, or do we also mean the lessons we learned from the attack? Can we truly have one without the other? I hope and pray that America can one day be a country that I can once again say I am proud to be from.

Fulfilled, With More to Come: Thoughts of a 26year old

In a few days, I turn twenty-six years old. Without jumping head first into the endless clichés about what I thought I would be doing at this age, what I’d be earning, or what number child I’d be raising, allow me to let you into my head.

As a very healthy (minus a busted ankle), average height, average weight, educated, Gen Y, you could say that things are going pretty well. Up to this point I have made it through life without breaking a bone (no fault to trying), received a trophy in tee-ball at the age of five, got baptized at 7, class president in the 5th grade, class clown in the 5th grade, won a relay race in the 7th grade, 7th grade: closest I came to getting straight A’s (next time would be in my graduate year, almost 9 years later) made it through junior high school (and that’s actually a great achievement if you know how horrible it is to be alive in a public school from ages 11-13), organized a “See You At The Pole” day junior year, led a Special Needs Physical Education class with my best friend, Corbin Elliott, led a Leadership Course senior year for sophomores (the course that convinced me that I wanted to work with teenagers when I was older), graduated high school with an above average GPA, was awarded the “Matt Corgian Life Award,” senior year, built an addition onto a church in Renosa, Mexico with my friends, went to a highly decorated philosophical college in Grand Rapids Michigan called Calvin College, discovered I wanted to have a career in Social Work, worked at Apple, Inc for two years, became a youth pastor for a year, became Head-Counselor at Dickson Valley Summer Camps, transferred to Aurora University, realized that I wanted to become an International Social Worker, considered the idea of moving to NZ, learned that youths with ‘suicidal ideation’ were going to be the population I would serve, received a Bachelors in Social Work, made the decision to move to NZ, I achieved “Excellence in Academics” during my graduate year, was awarded a Masters in Social Work, acquired my work visa overseas, moved to a country half-way across the world, traveled the breathtaking New Zealand landscape, watched/talked/ate with NZ’s politicians in governmental buildings, and graduated from a very prestigious internship in Auckland called the Maxim Internship.

As I sit here in the dwindling light, in this increasingly uncomfortable wicker chair, thinking about all the things that I have done in my life up to this point, I know in full understanding that my life is only a quarter of the way complete. There is much more to be written, many more knees to be scraped, stories to be told, loves to be had, and breaths to be taken away. I know that.

And let me reassure you that for every good thing mentioned above, there was an antithesis. A few for example: no broken bones? MANY torn ligaments, sprains, and hairline fractures. Trophy in tee-ball? Every other team I would played for after that would never win first place…ever. Made it through junior high? If “making it through” with emotional/physical scaring due to incessant bullying for 6 years, all thanks to my red hair, counts as “making it through,” then I made it through. See You At The Pole day? Add ‘Christian’ to the list of things I was randomly punched in the hall for at school. Wanting to become an international social worker and moving overseas? Well this one takes the cake, because if you asked scrawny, 13-year-old Eric, walking home after getting verbally thrown down in the dirt, for something he couldn’t change about himself, that one day he would leave the most comforting, loving, understanding, and wholesome people in his life…people that cried for him, prayed for him, and were there for him…and move to a country where he knows only a handful of people and nothing else….to work with youths who aren’t given the time of day…..I would tell you that you were wrong. I would tell you that my family have been, and always will be, my rock…and that I would never leave them.

The fact of the matter is, I’m here. Over 8000 miles, (or 13,000 kilometers) separating us, doing what I feel called to do. Loving those I feel called to love. Investing in those young, crazy kids, and seeing myself in them every…single…week. And you know what? It may seem like I regret being here, or that I’ve made the wrong choice, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot has happened since the days that I was a child.  I have seen tragedy. Loss. Hurt. Death. Seeing the vulnerable picked on, seeing the desperate crawl, and seeing the hopeless take life into their own hands and crush it. This is apart of growing up. This is apart of living life. A part of that is also learning countless lessons, making some incredible lifelong friends, seeing some incredible places, and knowing compassion of which I had never before known.

In the end, I hope to chalk a few more things up on my list of life achievements one day…things I can be proud of. A fulfilling job that I didn’t sell out for, a wife who loves me, a family with a kid of our own. A kid that will most likely experience similar trials I went through, but a child that I will one day love like crazy and pour everything I have into. Until then, I’m twenty-six, and instead of thinking back on the things I didn’t do, the things that I regret doing, or the things I don’t have…time is always better spent on the journey looking forward. So with that in mind, lets see what happens next.

Here’s what was next: The Beginning of the Ending –https://ericlukepeterson.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-beginning-of-the-ending/