The Ventriloquist

An online publication at and outside the boundary of evangelical Christianity.

Tuesday

15

March 2011

Dear Prudence

by The Ventriloquist, on March 2011

Dear Prudence,

I have a hall mate who won’t quit coming into my room. She’s been bothering me all semester, but I can’t bring myself to tell her to leave my room.... and pretending i’m not in the room when she wants to come in doesn’t always work. What should I do to stop this?

Dear Person,

First, know that there is nothing wrong with your desire to be alone, productive, or simply not with this specific person-it’s just very important to know the appropriate ways of communicating your desires without crushing (or even maiming) the feelings of another. First, know that passive aggression is very 2009. In fact, studies show that many individuals are keen to inauthentic or ambiguous signs given by others who are lying to “people please” or ameliorate an otherwise awkward situation. I would encourage you to focus on one reason why you don’t want her company-is it that your valuable and limited personal space feels disrupted? Does she focus on issues you don’t wish to talk about? Is she demanding? Messy? Repetitive? Either way, consider asking her (and other hallmates) to give you a specific window of time each night/week/ whatever where you can be uninterrupted in your studies-if you can show consistency, she probably won’t be offended. Even a simple sign on the door could be helpful when you just want alone or roommate time; if you want company other than hers, just shoot a text or email that lets a friend know you’d like her company. If you feel dishonest and want her gone specifically, consider giving this beautiful person the attention they desire in another forum-offer to walk together, do chapel together, or grab a meal-she obviously wants your friendship (or cute clothes/wheat thins/superior internet connection), so meet in the middle and hook her up with other friends or through other, less intrusive social venues. If you see this friendship as a total no-go, then I would encourage you to step back and consider this person’s role in your life. And above all, be honest! Trust me, a dorm room is a terrible place to hide... especially when you need to use the powder room and she’s still knocking. Most people have many times when they prefer to be alone or with specific people-this is not an impractical or impolite request to make. Finally, if this friend reads this article (or calls your bluff) and confronts you, I would encourage you to use “I” statements (I appreciate my space, so when you come in without knocking I feel confused and frustrated) to explain why this has become an issue-apologize for your silence, but be honest about your needs and open to her responses. Rejoice that your company is desired, set healthy limits, and don’t be ashamed to admit that you are a human being with unique preferences-God made you that way!

Dear Prudence,

I’ve started working out and I’m not sure what to think about it. My main motive in working out is wanting to look good. As a follower of Christ, is this acceptable?

Dear Person,

To begin, allow me to congratulate for honestly acknowledging your own motivations, as well as picking up on a habit that has proven to increase your focus, health, and mental wellness by about a billion degrees. Seriously. But let’s step back and examine this phrase, “my main motive...is wanting to look good.” What about this do you find questionable? Do you find yourself focusing on unhealthy goals of appearance? If this is case, don’t throw out this healthy activity just because you have human inclinations to look like Natalie Portman or The Hulk- rather, I would encourage you to seriously examine why you’re unhappy with your current state. Is there a special someone that you think finds you too fat/thin/wimpy/ short/weak? If so, grab a friend (NOT that special someone) and work together to create concrete goals related to strength and ability, not appearance. God authentically desires our health and fitness, especially in a culture that emphasizes excess and gluttony. This, however, has NOTHING to do with your sweater size. Instead of measuring your waist each night, vow to conquer that quads machine by 20 more pounds each month. Don’t use gym apparatus that you’re not comfortable with just to show off-enlist the help of a training specialist there or look online (I suggest wholeliving.com) for realistic plans that emphasize dedication and balance, not extremism or flawless abs. If you fear a lack of faith, read your favorite theologian (or catch up on the news with a podcast) rather than listening to toned individuals like Fergie on the treadmill. As in all things, I would beseech you to seek a balance between self-gratification and well-earned self-love. God calls us to know His love and care for us and to see His providence in all things-so thank God that you have a body that works and strengthens when we use discipline-but remember that our bodies, no matter how gleaming and toned, are earthly rubbish if not used completely in His service.

Dear Prudence,

I think I have an unhealthy crush on my professor. What does this say about me? Is there something wrong with me?

Dear Person,

Don’t feel judged-there’s nothing “wrong” with you- because it is an unavoidable truth that we will all have inappropriate crushes from time to time (see my long-term obsession with Johnny Depp, but only as Captain Jack Sparrow). It is, however, very important to hear some tough love statements on the issue. One, it is statistically likely that your professor is one of three things: 1) married, 2) in a serious or committed relationship, or 3) completely uninterested in people below the age of 23 as dating material. It’s ok to acknowledge that another human being is attractive or has desirable qualities, and college is a bizarre life stage in which we are separated from many people that would typically gain our admiration (friends, family members, peers). The “unhealthy” aspects come about when we idealize someone based on a shadowed view of them, desire to be noticed, or even a low view of oneself. Sadly,

I would advise you to pull aside a trusted friend or family member and ask them to honestly remind you (privately) that you have no future with this individual, and that secretly harboring lustful or deeply romantic feeling towards them shows disrespect for yourself and the object of your desire. You yourself deserve beautiful, healthy relationships with an (emphasis: attainable) high-quality person that knows you fully and that you know as well. Remind yourself that you probably won’t even share real quality time with this person, that they have an entire (and very meaningful) life off-campus that does not involve thoughts of you and finally, that your college degree and personal integrity are way sexier than that special professor’s musical voice or Banana Republic wardrobe. In all seriousness, if you find yourself going the extra mile (or 5) to impress the professor or see them outside of class contexts, consider talking to a university counselor or that same tough-love friend-no assumptions here, but any romantic obsession should be investigated as the root of a deeper emotional or physiological issue. And of course, if the professor seems to return the feeling in way that makes you uncomfortable, RUN (don’t walk) to counseling services or your RD.

The Ventriloquist
The Ventriloquist

The Ventriloquist is an online publication at and outside the boundary of evangelical Christianity. Articles published under the Ventriloquist pseudonym are from authors who wish to remain anonymous.