December 2016

Well, we thank you for your patience over these past months of technical difficulties. Osage Advice is currently seeking a permanent home in print!

If you have any leads or suggestions, they are welcome at <askmissosage@gmail.com>

Meanwhile, questions will be answered roughly once/month until we make the big move. Thank you for your support!

June 15, 2016

* Osage Advice will resume in September 2016 – Happy Summer! *

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Dear Miss Osage,

      What is the point of dating?  A lot of my friends are making a big deal about it, and I just don’t understand.  Is there something I’m missing?

Mystified at Middle School, age 12

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Wow, the bigger questions!  Thank you so much for bringing it up…

First, there is nothing wrong with being a bit baffled by the whole thing. Totally natural.

The thing to keep in mind is timing and experience. During middle school, kids mature at very different rates and have widely different experiences. In any given class, half could be very preoccupied with romance/dating while the other half is more indifferent or aloof. My guess is, if you really looked around, you would find you are not as alone as you might think.

A lot has to do with hormones – a word you may have heard used in bewildered or dismissing tones. Every body is a delicate mix and balance of hormones at any given time. Hormones influence the systems of our bodies and fluctuate throughout a life. During puberty, certain hormone levels rise – estrogen for girls, testosterone for boys, and oxytocin in both sexes. Sexual maturity means that a lot of biological development is at play. These changes will make some people very responsive to romantic feelings early on, while others will experience the sensations later, or in different ways.

I always say, just like plants in a garden naturally (and beautifully) grow at different rates, and in different shapes, our bodies are much the same.

The actual -point- of dating will vary a bit depending on a person’s values. According to the research though, making a deep connection to one person based on trust, respect and understanding can enhance a person’s overall health. The thrill, physical and emotional, of developing this kind of bond will eventually happen for most people – but in no rush. Being truly known, and knowing another (intimacy) is often considered the most fundamental of human needs.

Intimacy happens in our families, our friendships, and with romantic partners. Someone can be completely satisfied with the level of intimacy in their life, without ‘dating’ or being swept up in romance. This is also very natural. Finding meaning through your interests, hobbies and being of service is totally valid. Things come in their right time.

Growing as a person, and knowing yourself well, is a hugely valuable process that is supported by not focusing on dating before you are ready. So, there is value in this time for you, absolutely. I would encourage you to do your best to have acceptance for yourself, and your friends, along the way. Just trust that you are in different places – and both are good and true for each person.

I would also encourage you to go forth in this realm only when you truly feel the urge for yourself. It may take extra courage to be honest and hold to what you are feeling. But this as well is a practice in becoming the best version of You.

The meaning of dating for you will be a unique reflection of you and your life when it naturally arises. The point will be meaningful for you, especially if you pay attention to what has meaning in every area of your life.

Trust, have acceptance and stay true. It will all be clear in time.

Best of Luck ~

Miss Osage

May 15, 2016

Dear Miss Osage,

Last week, a guy in my class asked me out, and I didn’t want to be mean, so I said ok. I really don’t like him though. I wish I hadn’t said it and now I don’t know what to do. I’ve been trying to stay away from the places I usually see him and hoping he forgets. Luckily, we’re not friends on Facebook. But I feel trapped. Please help!

Ooops, age 15

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Well, as they say, the only way out is through…  Yup, I see what’s happened, and understand that you are uncomfortable. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to drum up even more courage now and set things straight.

Thanks for writing in to ask for some guidance. I’ll be glad to flush it out with you.

First, let’s take a look at what happened. It sounds like someone approached you in person and you weren’t able to be honest in the moment. This can happen. Growing up and developing character means having practice at being more and more honest in every situation. So consider it a step towards learning and becoming more authentic. This was a chance to learn what happens when you – don’t – speak honestly at the time.

Some people need more time to process, and that is ok. A good skill for these times is to be prepared with a list of responses to buy yourself some time. These can be:

“Thanks for asking, let me think about it…”
“I appreciate the offer, I’ll get back to you in a few days…”
“Oh, thanks, I’m not sure yet, so I’ll let you know…”

Of course, if you make reference to letting someone know – you have to let them know.

It is said that there are two ways to lessen the painful sensations of fear. 1 – you can avoid the thing that inspires the fear. 2 – you can face the thing that inspires the fear. The biological drive is the same – wanting to avoid the painful feelings that arise when faced with something we fear – though the outcomes are very different.

The other thing that happened was you made a self-judgment and edited yourself. What do I mean by that?  Well, you used what I consider one of the key indicators of inauthentic action. The phrase, “I didn’t want to be” immediately tells me you  were  something (feeling uncomfortable and registering a NO in your heart/body) and attempted to  act  as something else (the opposite of mean, some image of ‘nice’, etc.)

Saying no isn’t being mean. Everyone has the right to turn down an offer (of any kind!) and trust they are just as kind and worthwhile as a result. More important than ‘being nice’ is being honest and respectful. How can that look here? You might try:

“I was really surprised the other day when you asked me out, and I answered before thinking. I’m sorry. After sitting with it, I realize I’m not ready (this isn’t right for me) and I’ll have to say no thanks. I do appreciate you asking, though. I admire your courage.”

What?!  Approach him now and say all of that?   Yup.  That is the way through.

Even a slip-up or a moment of inauthenticity (not being real) can turn into an opportunity for even greater strength. This is what I suggest you do now.

How would respectful honesty have looked in the moment?  Let’s imagine this…

He:  “Would you go out with me?”
You:  “Oh, geez, I’m surprised that you asked… let me think about it”.

Totally honest, real and respectful. Here’s another one…

He: “Would you go out with me?”
You: “Oh, thanks for asking… I don’t know… can I let you know in a couple of days?”

[and a few days later]  “I thought it over and realized it’s not best for me, but thanks so much for asking. I appreciate your courage.”

Both of these options are fully kind and appropriate.

You are what you are, and you feel what you feel. Loving yourself means first accepting all of your own feelings and responses. Someone who wants to love you well would want this from you also. Loving well involves two true selves meeting in a space of respect and acceptance – even if one person is let down or scared. Everyone must face disappointment and it is far kinder to be honest and honor your connection by doing so. I’m sure you can feel the truth of this, especially when you imagine being on the other side of the situation.

So, again, I encourage you to approach him when you are ready and honestly admit what happened for you. You can give a lot of affirmation along the way. If this all rings true…

“I was really surprised the other day when you asked me out, and I answered before thinking. I’m sorry. After sitting with it, I realize I’m not ready (this isn’t right for me) and I’ll have to say no thanks. I do appreciate you asking, though. I admire your courage.”

… then I encourage you to rise to the occasion and bring your true self to the moment now.

Imagine how much better you’ll feel, once you get through.

Best of Luck ~

Miss Osage