MAYBE IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE SO IT WASN’T
A couple months have passed since I have last written you. And in that time, life was good. It was normal. I fell into a much wanted and needed routine. I worked long hours, I made time for the gym and others. I made less time for family, I have since made a mental note to work on that. And life passed. I wasn’t “reeling” from any heartbreak, ache, or general unhappiness— no, for the last couple months that I’ve stowed away from digital entry, I have been completely “normal” and am happy for it.
If there is one thing I have learned in my lifetime, if something isn’t meant to be, it will end abruptly and without much warning. It has taken me some time to learn how to adapt to these situations, but now I know it’s O.K. that I am going to be O.K., because I always land on my feet. The only thing you can rely on is change. Change will happen slowly, in an instant and with or without your consent, but it happens. How you react to these changes will, in turn, change you. You get smarter, you know how to welcome fear and embrace not knowing what’s next. You learn that all you truly need are such simple things, but moreover, you learn how to survive.
The weather is turning; spring and summer have always been good to me. Sure, I am a little scared, but more than that, I am eager to see what is to come. In the past, I would just leave. I would start over someplace new, looking for an adventure that would hopefully lead me to happiness and consistency. I have found that. But now it’s time to start over. I am leaving behind the idea that I can’t do what I’d like and be whatever I’d like to be.
As we were growing up there were all these rules. You had to do your homework, go to class, get good grades, pay $200 to pass go, but I have realized in my lifetime, that those rules really don’t exist. In fact, I have learned that there are loopholes in all of this. That 99% of the population will follow these rules and will do what’s expected of them, because they feel they have to— you don’t. I have learned that you can do whatever you want to do. That if you have a goal that all you have to do is put your mind to it and you can accomplish anything. We once believed this notion when we were young. This idea was reiterated throughout stories, movies, the tales of the since faded “American Dream.” In history class, you were taught lessons about people who embraced their fear and uncertainty, to chart waters unknown, and they endured many hardships for doing so— but, they also came into their own respective successes. I think the number one reason why people don’t go outside the norm or dare to challenge expectations is due to fear. In the last 60 years, the mentality of the masses is to establish and maintain a routine. It doesn’t matter if you don’t love it, hell, most people don’t even like what they do, but they do it out of habit. Because at some point in their lives they were told to have a stable career and they are afraid of not having someone tell them what to do every single day of their lives.
Sometimes, I am afraid too. But, a far worse fear, for me, is to be just like everyone else. To be trapped and unhappy, to have my whole life planned out for me. I am terrified to just go through the motions of life, when there is so much to be seen and so much to do. Life will go by, we will get older, we will win some and lose some— now is the time to face our fears. As I see it, it’s now or never, to take a stand for what we wanted to be when we actually dreamt of what our lives could be when we were young. I think these last 26 3/4 years have all been just practice. Now I know; now, I can finally see how things actually are. You can dream as big as you want and accomplish those dreams, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You just have to believe it for yourself.
A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Prior to my current living situation, I had been a nomad for four, long years. I had moved eight times, set up and deconstructed several bedrooms, living rooms and places where memories were once shared and then, consquently spent. Each year, hoping that next year I’d have a place where I not only could confidently call it “home” but to also feel like it was.
This year, that wish will finally come true. And with that, my life that has often felt so unsettled is seamlessly falling together— as if it were planned all along. Now, I don’t believe that we are not control of our destinies, as we undoubtedly have free will. But the effortlessness of my life now, especially in comparison to how it had played out in the past are at two separate ends of the spectrum. For which, I will be as cliche as I can tolerate and say, it was meant to be. Many times, those who have survived or escaped domestic abuse, lack hope or the expectation that they will be happy again. Many, including myself, for a tremendously long time, are unable to process “love,” rationalize “honesty,” or even see a future for themselves that involves being open, honest and vulnerable with another person. There’s an unimaginable fear of letting anyone in. You need to know that it will get better, just keep doing your best to break through the walls created in self-defense. And, although this has been told to you like elementary lessons, you won’t be able to “see” things or move past situations unless you actively work towards them. Acceptance will come when it does, and when it finally arrives, your life will change tremendously. Just have faith in yourself that it will come and your life will continue to get better now that you are out of whatever toxic situation you were in.
Yesterday, a tree was purchased, lights were hung, ornaments— bought and the rooms that I once was hesitant to live in, I am excited to decorate with memories. Your life will get better, not just because mine did, but because leaving and forever closing the door will grant you and your heart freedom. The hardest steps to take are always the ones leading to a new life. But, if you’re tired of hoping that next year will bring you the life and happiness that you want, there’s no time like the present to take action. This year, stop wishing for things to change and make those changes for yourself.
THE BUSINESS OF BEING HAPPY
So often as I have reread the ferociously written blogs capturing the “life lessons” I was going through at the time, I realized one thing, repeatedly— I wasn’t that happy. For being this young, all-in risk-taker, I seldom celebrated the “rewards” that I sacrificed so much to reap. In hindsight, I guess I can chalk it up to paying my dues.
I can’t really pinpoint the exact reason for why now I know what I want out of life; was it indeed, maturity kicking in? Maybe it was the fact that I was incredibly unsettled by the fact that my NYE resolutions rarely came to fruition and I was finally going to do something about it. Or maybe if I didn’t change my ways, I was going to miss out on a life that had the potential of being really good.
Perhaps the biggest risk I have taken in all of this led to this place where I am now. I finally calmed down my urge to flee, talked some reason into my ever-doubting ways and finally saw things, and people, for how they truly are and not what I wanted them to be. However, one thing I never did was give up on my fight. My resilient fight has kept me going through the hard and good times alike. I urge you all, lost or not, to keep fighting for what you want. And when you have it— fight like hell to keep it and always work at making it better. Here’s one truism I have learned along the way: happiness is a result of working continuously hard at anything. There’s no “until,” there’s never any ceasing; happiness is a process and it doesn’t give itself away freely. But then again, isn’t that what makes attaining happiness so rewarding?
We all know that when it rains, it pours. It comes down in sheets— we feel like there is no way out, there’s just the here and now. It’s a completely disabling feeling, but it’s one that we all face at one time in our lives or another. So how do you emerge out of the ashes? Day by day.
Sometimes hitting rock bottom requires multiple impacts for it actually to result in positive change. Sometimes it takes years of hitting the same wall to finally realize that some barricades you simply can’t overcome— not because you’re incapable of doing so, but because maybe you’re not supposed to. I believe that we are in control of our own destiny, the choices we make cause results. We have the ability to make endless choices or decisions for the better or worse. But, it’s eery how life works out as it does— how seamlessly the puzzle pieces fit when we aren’t trying to force them. You cannot force happiness— it just doesn’t stick, no matter how hard you try. Happiness, like love, is organic. It comes when it’s true, and stays when it’s real.
Although it hurt, I am thankful the personal ups and downs I have faced in my life. Going through these phases, circling through mistakes and, ultimately, overcoming these situations has enabled me to grow tremendously as a person and be able to clearly see/grasp reality. Facing such challenges makes you appreciative of the small things; lunch with your grandmother, nightly walks with your dog and spending lazy Sunday’s with people that love you for you. There’s no begging, pleading or negotiating— there’s just acceptance, which when you finally receive it, is a amazing thing and should not be squandered.
By this point, we’ve all heard about the Ray Rice situation and how his battered wife is standing by him through all of this. Many of you, including myself, are sickened by the notion of this. How could she? Not only did she face it herself but she has had to have seen the surveillance footage countless times. What is she thinking? Many of you don’t know— you couldn’t possibly understand, and for that, you should be thankful.
The mind and rationale of someone who faces continued abuse, emotionally, mentally and physically is not the same as someone who has only been in healthy relationships. We often tend to the jump the gun and criticize the victim— stating how they should know better and they should just leave them. It’s not that easy, it is never that easy. The fact is that many people who are abused know that it is wrong, that they deserve better, and that they aren’t happy— but they can’t just escape it. There’s something preventing them from leaving the relationship— and it’s usually propelled by the cycle of abuse that they have endured throughout the course of the relationship or even dating back years before. Often times, their inability to listen to others, is due to the fact previous cycles have been subconsciously triggered— and it is the mission for the abused to “make it better” or to “get back to the way it was.” They are not living in reality— they are unable to accept the magnitude of what is happening in the present time.
Friends and family will undoubtedly and deservingly get frustrated. Many will give up and say, “I just don’t know what’s wrong with him/her.” They sincerely don’t. Like many things, it takes a lot— and often times, severe situations, to help “wake up” the victim. If you know someone who is like this, I urge you not to give up on them. They may not listen to you, right away, maybe not for years, but they will be forever grateful for your unwavering support. They will also need your friendship when they finally are able to make their escape— at this time, they will face a whole mix of emotions and they will spend time sorting out what is “real” or not. Be patient— they need you now more than ever.
For additional resources on abuse, please visit and donate to http://www.thehotline.org/. Stopping abuse takes courage, time and a ton of support.
Contradictory to the title of this blog, this has nothing to do with neither the book nor the movie, “Ender’s Game.” Instead, it refers to knowing when to admit that enough is enough. Now, I am not directly speaking to one thing, in fact, as negative as that may sound, it doesn’t have to be. In all actuality, it can be realizing that it’s time for something more, and, often times, better.
I have recently became a “Love At First Sight” addict, as it is a reality television like no other. It’s a self-proclaimed “social experiment” where three couples agreed to not only be setup, but married to strangers based on the selection of professional matchmakers and psychologists the first time they meet. While, I am not one any hoax-filled “reality” shows, this one has me smiling at the screen as I feel like I am witnessing firsthand the premature ups and downs of an honest-to-God relationship.
This whole experiment sounds, and undoubtedly is, scary. Those who applied for the show were taking one of the biggest risks of their lives, if not the biggest, and it was all for love. To me, that is brave. They are being asked to open their hearts, homes and lives up to perfect strangers, all for the possibility that it will work out. Some people are lucky, they meet their great love right off the bat— many others are not. Some times it takes a big risk to catch a big love.
THE TRUTH ABOUT GROWING UP
I have a confession, when I was younger I believed in a lot more things than I do now. I am sure these results vary by what experiences you face and how well you handle them, but life undoubtedly takes a toll on that naive, wide-eyed optimism that you once so effortlessly eluded. Personally, I can’t wait for the Fall— there’s something about it. It brings back memories when life was good, it was new, things were starting again.
In last eight months, my life has faced a multitude of challenges. I wish I could say that they were all for the best and that they made me a stronger, better person but I am not sure I believe in the school of thought, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” In the first three months of this year, I lost my job, found a freelance gig, my sister was diagnosed with cancer, then my father with early on-set diabetes, my then boyfriend and supposed support system left abruptly, the freelance gig ended, I couldn’t afford my apartment and had to move back home. At some point, between avoiding my issues, being there for both my sister and other family members, I started to feel like myself again. I started to smile, without reason again. I enjoyed being alive.
I am fortunate to have found some footing. In the midst of recent suicides, both public and known about on a personal level, I understand the temptation. The pain and hurt of life (and those experiences that haven’t killed you, yet) can make you crazy and act in irrational ways. Sometimes we have to face the music, no matter how much we don’t like the sound— and we have to accept that things are only real if they last.
Looking back, I realized some hards truths:
- Love itself is not enough to mend all wounds— dedication, honesty, trust and communication are also needed.
- Extreme pain/hurt can make you temporarily crazy.
- Change is possible only if the person who wants that change is actively doing things differently.
- No matter how hard you try— you can’t change someone who doesn’t want to be changed, and if you continually try, you will lose yourself in the process.
- One of the hardest things to do is give up. If you’re at this point, you know you don’t want to be here, but it’s just something that has to be done.
My biggest advice to anyone who is going through an especially difficult time is to do your best to put it all in perspective. I guarantee no matter how severe it seems, it’s, typically, only temporary and that you can and will get through it. If you are ever at a point where you feel like you can’t escape it— reach out for help, people are always there for you, you just have to ask. You and your life is not worth giving up on— that is the one truth I learned above all.
DEAR POTENTIAL EMPLOYER…
Hello, thank you. THANK YOU for taking the time to even check out my website. It means that something I said or did has peaked your interest and you wanted to learn more, fantastic, that was my intention. I have done a lot of things in the 4+ years after leaving the cushy bubble called college. And as you can see, I’ve moved a lot. I know that may scare you. You may label me as a flight risk, a butterfly or someone who just doesn’t know what I want or where I want to be— I get it. But, I am writing this to tell you that you’re wrong.
I was recently interviewed on my alma mater’s radio station, 88.3 The Saint (air date July 25th), and when asked how I respond to the two types of people in my life: those who are happy and settling down and those who are still searching for something else. I thought for a brief moment and said this: “I want to settle down and be happy, it just hasn’t happened for me yet. And it’s scary to keep picking up your life and moving, but I look to those who do it all the time and they inspire me.”
Life is all about being open to the possibility of everything. This includes failing, falling and hurting but it also means growing, loving and learning. If I am taking the time to apply to your company, I see something in you, the role and the company culture that you exude. I am not doing it to waste each other’s times. One thing I’ve learned in my time post grad is what I do and do not want. I’m in it for the real deal; I hope things work out between us and if they don’t good luck— to the both of us.
THE EVE OF 26
“What do you want for your birthday?” My mom cheerfully asked as she had done the same way since I could remember. The word dropped like a single strike of a bass drum: “Nothing.” For once I wasn’t even being overly dramatic due to the fact that I was no longer in the “cute and not serious” stage of my 20s. I was hitting 2-6. Officially on the 30-side of my mid-twenties and like all the prior years, I am still as unsettled.
I follow Cosmo’s social initiatives, not because they are exceptionally fantastic— in fact, I absolutely loathe their overuse of how “AH-AMAZING,” “IS EVERYTHING” and “OBSESSED” a majority of this BS content actually is. They often post listicles on what to never say to a 20-something or to a person in their late 20s or a person… you get my gist. I guess they publish (or repost) these articles to somehow shield all of us who are insecure as each birthday cake lights up and reinforces the fact that we still haven’t gotten there— wherever there is— yet.
I have been nursing a slight age depression (despite everyone telling me that I’m still so young. *note: these people are older than me, but thank you), because, like I have been for the last four years since I left the cushy bubble called college-life, I have been at a perpetual yearly (okay fine, sometimes semi-annually) crossroad. I guess my problem is that I can’t shut off that little, annoying voice in my head/heart telling me, “No! Don’t give up! This isn’t your story.” Part of me wants that pesky voice to shut up because I am tired! And I want to whine like car-confined kid in a road trip and scream, “Are we there yet?!”
So far, my life has just been a series of trying, failing learning and then restarting— but then it occurred me, that’s what living is. As much as I’d like The Universe/ my parents (or whomever can swing it) to give me a sign, no a f*cking billboard, pointing me to the right path that will lead me to a pot-o’-gold of 360-happiness as a birthday present… maybe it’s better left unknown— for now at least.
YOU CAN’T TAKE THE DREAMS FROM AN INHERENT DREAMER
Having no major time commitment, such as a full-time job, is like being suspended between what you’ve been programmed to think is what you should be doing versus what you actually want to be doing. Since I was of age, I’ve always held a job. I even worked multiple jobs through college; all the while, juggling to maintain the Dean’s List, a major and two minors, plus an active involvement in the television club… why? Because being incredibly busy kept me on track. Without a rigorous schedule, filled with deadlines and expectations, what does one have to keep them from drifting in the seemingly endless suspension of unemployment?
After awhile, for me it was one and a half months, your days start to blur together. You adopt a lassiez-faire mindset, even though you used to be somewhat of a self-admitted control freak and a lover of game plans. The only plan you have is to make the most of the day, not to waste a precious minute of the freedom that you will (hopefully) not have for a very long time. We need to work to live, to thrive, to uphold a lifestyle that we want… this time off should not be looked at as a black hole in your resume, but as a much needed timeout— where you have the chance to regroup as an individual and take your time to find a new career that is more fulfilling than your last.
My advice is to take chances while you can. Do things and make moves that may not work out while you’re younger so that you have time to bounce back and not have someone else dependent on you. Not every job you take will be great, in fact, you may hate it. But never regret the experience that you gain from every choice that you make. Sometimes, and usually only realized down the road, it is uncanny how seemingly unrelated jobs, encounters, or what have you, relate to one another. When interviewers ask you why you’ve taken these “risks,” accepted opportunities in several different cities and why you didn’t settle for just any position to fill your time in interim, the answer is easy. Say you wanted to live life to the fullest because our time here is just simply too short not to do so. And when they ask you where you’ll be in five years— smile and tell them that you hope to be happy. After all, what else is there to want?
HAPPINESS IS …
It’s been a month since I’ve left the city of so many dreams, that I once believed I shared as well. Life changes, you change, sh*t that is both in and out of our control makes all this happen, whether welcomed or not. C’est la vie. I have spent the last few weeks detoxing from my old life; doing my best to rid myself of the stresses, toxicity and unhappiness that had been weighing me down and preventing me from being myself — let alone my best self. It’s called letting go and truthfully, once you release the death grip, the free fall isn’t so bad.
I have always been relatively close with my family, but in the last four months things have happened that I would have never imagined would happen and, in turn, it made me a better, more patient, caring daughter, sister, grand-daughter/ what have you. I realized that I had spent so many years wasting my feelings, strength, energy and overall being on things and people that would never reciprocate these efforts in any capacity that would be worthwhile in the long run. Too many times I was reminded of this realization; many of which were in dire circumstances, that I was so glad that I could be there for these people and them there for me. It’s unfortunate that most of us only realize how good we have it when it’s jeopardized, a tragedy has occurred or it’s just too late.
I have stated my belief that life is what you make of it— your story, but it’s not just the journey, the experiences, how many times and where you’ve moved to… it’s the people that make up the content, that make it all worth it. Being afraid of a commitment, being hurt, failing, or being alone— those are selfish fears, yes, to others, but also to yourself. You are missing out on the incredible people who like to be around you, who learn from you, and you them, or may even be in love with you. If you let fear dictate your choices, ruin relationships or prevent you from doing anything that you may want to do— you are robbing yourself of a life that you may regret one day. It is human to be afraid, and God knows I have been scared out of my mind before, but, for better or worse, I’ve never let it disable me from following my dreams/heart.
It’s daunting feeling— not having complete control, but from experience, I can honestly tell you that you may enjoy the fall. Let go, life’s waiting.
FACING YOUR FEARS LOOK A LOT LIKE EMPTYING YOUR APARTMENT.
As I entered the bright, yet plain classroom in UAlbany’s new Business Building, that faint nervous, but excited feeling crept over me. I had always loved school; the environment, the people and even the projects. I was that student who sat in the front, spoke up at any opportunity and went above and beyond on almost every assignment, just because. I am sure I was annoying as sh*t to everyone else, but I couldn’t have cared less, I was in school to better myself. Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking to a class of graduating seniors and it reminded me of the person I nearly forgot about — the wide-eyed optimistic, big dreamer that propelled me to take all the risks I took in the first place.
I had many doubts about leaving the city. Questions circled in my mind like a bored goldfish, without a short-term memory, did in its bowl, and too many times I talked myself in and out of making this decision. In many ways I felt like I failed. I thought, because I didn’t fall in love with the city like I had imagined I would, because I didn’t find my dream job, because I did not embody Carrie Bradshaw in any aspect — which I wanted to, that I had failed the city with so many hopes, and, perhaps, myself. Life is about taking chances that scare, challenge, excite and make you — you. NYC was a decision that I destined to make. Like any relationship, we had our ups and downs, but ultimately — NYC was not the one. One question I was asked was whether I was afraid of moving around, taking these chances without always having a full-time job to fall back on. Without much thought, I said no. I never really thought about that, very real and serious, aspect because I always believed that no matter where I went I would be okay.
Confidence is not only learned characteristic, but also an earned one. Each job, day, task, relationship, friendship, experience for both the better and the worse, grants you this quality. It doesn’t come easily for all, but when it comes, hold onto it. Despite how rough the road ahead gets, and it will get rough, try to never lose sight of what is inherent of you. You are incredible, whether you realize it or not. Do not resign yourself to the shape that society wants you to be because its comfortable at the time, you will soon realize how ill-fitting conformity is and you will regret not sizing up or down sooner. I ended my guest lecture on this note — life is all about adapting to any environment and doing so quickly, or else you’re dead (in the water). But, in essence, if you’re not living to the fullest, are you actually living at all?
IT STARTS WITH A BOX.
Whether it be out of habit, necessity or sheer hoarding purposes, we box up things that belong, are important, are of value today — or we think, someday. This week, I will be boxing up my apartment, packing up my life (again) and be starting yet another leg of my journey. Do we ever really know if we are making the right decision? Is there ever a point where The Universe finally steps in and says, “Yes! This is it, this is the right path! Keep on going!” or are we supposed to just do it and hope for the best? They say to do what makes you happy, but what if you don’t even know what makes you happy?
Sometimes we just have to box up our lives and realize that it isn’t working and it will never work despite how much you’ve tried, loved and years you gave. Even though life is not fair, you have to do your best to fight fair. This is a hard thing to do as we knowingly or unknowingly carry baggage of our past lives, lovers and experiences with us in tow wherever we go and whomever’s arms we end up in. Our bitterness and battle wounds make it difficult to forgive a past when the outcomes we were dealt left us on the short end of every stick we had ever seemed to draw. Here’s the hard truth: life is terribly unfair and there’s nothing we can do about it, except to keep on living.
Leaving a life that you’re used to is a scary proposition, but, sometimes, we all have to do it. As we live our lives, we will face crossroads, dead-ends and points where we don’t feel like going — but, we have to keep on going. We are going to face people who are terrible, who are wonderful and who will eventually bring us back to life. Embrace every happy moment like every tear shed; as this is what life is. Happy packing.
BREATHING UNDER WATER.
I am waiting for the numbness to sink in. Actually, I am begging for it set its course through my veins. They say it gets better, just have faith. Where’s the faith that I put all my being into? Let me guess, it wasn’t meant to be. Well that’s bullsh*t. How is it fair that you pour your heart and soul into something or someone and then it completely abandons you? How don’t you get to have a say? Don’t we at least get the chance to get bloodied and broken just one more time?
The illogical sets in first. You read about it. There’s five stages of grief. You may not experience them all, or maybe just hit up a few really hard, but they exist and are very real. Everybody is talking at you. You know that they mean well and would make absolute sense— if this were another time, when your sh*t was completely together— and you probably would agree with them, but now is not this time. Instead, it’s just noise. And what you’re doing— the very little that you manage to be doing is just the motions. Be proud that you’re doing that, because it’s something.
Maybe you can relate, and perhaps it, too, is out of your control. I had been grasping at straws for years. Chasing a ghost. The unbearable truth is that sometimes there’s no such thing as a happy ending, there’s just an ending. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you love— there’s nothing more you can do. It’s a hard thing to do, to accept a life and reality that you don’t want. Even though you don’t believe a single damn syllable, repeat these words: you’re going to get through this. Just breathe. Well, to be honest, asking anyone to do such a seemingly ridiculous thing like that during a time like this is like breathing under water. We weren’t made with gills, nor to experience this much pain. Yet somehow we adapt, we evolve, we survive and someday, we’ll be lucky enough to do it all over again.
WHAT IF, WHAT IF, WHAT IF.
I am at a crossroads. I have found myself in this position at many times during my short life post college. Maybe it’s because my life isn’t right just yet, or because the universe telling me that I am not on the right road and it’s time to venture down another. I am not sure what the cause is, but I am feeling like Robert Frost and I begin to recite is famous words in my head as I have done many times before, “two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both… I took the one last travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”
As of late, I have been reevaluating my life and those in it. If you’re from the thought group that everything does indeed happen for a reason, does each person in your life serve a purpose? If so, should we just stop fighting and let go when things get hard — simply because, maybe, that’s not what our “plan” is after all? I don’t know. I, for one, do not have the answers to such questions. But there’s a comfort in believing that, “it wasn’t supposed to be, and that’s why it didn’t work out.” Is that just a more elegant excuse for giving up?
Whether I like it or not, I am a fighter. I don’t give up easily. I pour myself way too much into situations, and, if they go up in flames, I rarely come out unscathed. That’s who I am. I tried to change this about me for years. But at the end of it all I just felt empty. In turn, I learned to open up and be honest — which has been the most terrifying and rewarding thing I have ever done. So in true form, I regularly put myself in situations that scare the sh*t out of me, all for one thing — a story.
In the end all each of us have is a story. We are only measured by what we did when we had the chance and what we made of ourselves in the face of adversity, devastation and triumph. No one remembers the little details like the falling outs, break ups, or little victories… they just remember, “Oh yeah, they went through hell but did this, saw that and then made this of themselves.” So if you’re ever at a crossroads, or on any road for that matter, ask yourself: what will YOUR story be?
THE MOMENT THAT LEVELS YOU
Life, in my opinion, needs to cool it with the sucker punches. They say that things come in threes; three good things, and of course, three bad. Unfortunately, it seems that the bad is rolling in like punches from an undefeated boxer in the ring. What it comes down to is when after the bell rings, the dust settles and the pain starts to set in – who is going to be there to help you get back up on your feet and ready to fight again?
There are things in life that you cannot prepare yourself for in your wildest dreams. No matter how many movies you watch where similar situations play out, it doesn’t compare to the real thing. When life is going to level you, it’s going to knock you out by the knees and then take away the floor beneath you. Of course, you’ve got your friends and family who provide the continuous, “it’s going to get better” or “I’m here for you,” but, sometimes all that doesn’t really matter if the one person you counted on the most isn’t saying it too.
At what point do you draw the line in the sand and say, “I want more from this?” Life is going to straight up suck sometimes. Chances are that at one point in your life, you’re going to lose your job, worry about how on Earth you’re going to afford your outrageous rent and your family member may get sick. And, even though, you may want to dig a hole someplace and put up the white flag, you can’t. The show must go on. No matter how terrible it will get, and it will get terrible at one point or another, you still have to go on. I have heard that your mid-twenties are a breeding ground of confusion, uncertainty and overall self-loathing because you have little to no idea who you are, what you want to be, what you want to do and whether or not the person you’re with is going to be with you in the long-haul. So what can be done? At this point, I am going to put down my phone, stop trying to fix everything and breathe.
FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD DO BY YOURSELF AT LEAST ONCE:
1. Live by yourself. You don’t know yourself fully until you’re all that you’ve got (at least in your own apartment/ house). You can do things you may not be able to do again, such as drinking wine, eating Hershey kisses and watching a marathon of chick flicks on a Saturday afternoon (OK, that sounds like a typical “Girl’s Night” in any college dorm room). But trust me, it’s an entirely different experience post graduation.
2. Do something that scares the sh*t out of you. The possibilities are endless. Move to a different city, go skydiving or swim with the sharks! Some say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” while, that is debatable, doing something that truly rocks you to your core proves to the most important person (YOU) that you’ve got some guts and you’re awesome!
3. Don’t be afraid to love someone with all you’ve got. Your heart is yours, loving someone with it and truly giving yourself to this person is the most honest and brave thing you can do. It leaves you wide open for heartbreak, ache and something else – complete and utter happiness.
4. Be your own date. While it is so nice to have someone to accompany you to the movies, dinner and to concerts, it is perfectly OK to do all these things by yourself. I am not saying to go solo to everything, but being by yourself shouldn’t deter you from doing things you want to do!
5. Be honest with yourself. This should be done every day, however, every now and then it’s best to reevaluate your life and “check in” with your inner psyche. When you do, ask yourself, “Am I happy with the life I am living?” YOU are in charge of your own happiness, so make moves to ensure that your answer to that question is “YES!” more times than not.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY FIRST COMIC CON
I like superhero movies, used to play video games until I had red dots in my eyes and blisters on my thumbs and thought that I was pretty nerdy compared to my friends… I thought this until I went to Comic Con today. This event was something a CC-virgin could never really mentally prepare for, as it was like nothing I have ever experienced. Beyond the cosplay, the endless fan souvenirs and the lines (oh, the lines), Comic Con was a magical place filled with unbridled enthusiasm and pure excitement to just be amongst other comic book lovers. Comic Con showed me the power of believing in something.
The line to enter the Javit’s center wrapped around the building, there were people as far as the eye could see and not one person was complaining about it either. Friends chatted about which panels they were excited to see, what they wanted to buy and what they’d hope to find on the other side of the glass doors and security guards. As I made my way up the crowded escalator, I entered an overwhelming floor filled with booth after booth of vendors all crowded with patrons. I browsed through rows of intergalactic badges, posters, zombified stuffed animals and costumes only to quickly realize that every single person was taking this whole situation seriously.
At one point I felt like I was in the movie, “Role Models,” in the scene where Paul Rudd is introduced to LARP and before I let out a laugh, I looked at the people who were partaking in the exchange of a (musical) pipe and realized that this was all very real to them. I am not going to pretend to “get” the whole experience of Comic Con, but I will not diminish what it was to those who, perhaps, live for this experience. From an outsider’s view, I saw people who truly believed and loved something. I am not sure why they feel the way they do about comic books and action heroes, but I’d imagine that it’s better than the real world, because in theirs (whichever series) anything is possible.
I think the learning from today is that we should stop taking our lives so seriously, we should, sometimes, act like the rules of society no longer apply and just to embrace fun to its fullest.
THE DRYER SHRUNK MY JEANS AND OTHER THINGS I HAVE BEEN LYING TO MYSELF ABOUT
We all do this. We make excuses for things we aren’t proud of, haven’t done or have been meaning to do. We tell ourselves, “next time, this will be done differently…” But let’s face the facts here and ask, how many times do these situations actually change? Can’t think of it? Yeah, you aren’t even fooling yourself.
Recently, a few of my friends, and myself included, declared goals for themselves by the time they turn a certain age, with their intention being that some facet of their life will be different by that stated birthday. I am all about goals as they help motivate me to do many things, but do we sometimes use these future dates and events as a means of just getting through our day-to-day routines in hopes that it will actually bring a better, brighter, and maybe even, fitter future? Do we really give these desires our all each day to ensure that we will accomplish them or do we rely on these future goal expiration dates to delay for us not to actually work towards it TODAY?
What are we/ am I actually waiting for? Life is passing us by and all we have are scribbles in notebooks with half-accomplished (at best) New Year’s resolutions and pictures of pasts that we want an improved version of. So what are you going to do about it? I decided that I need to keep myself to this mantra: no more excuses. In general, we are cultured to believe that once we get past hard times, we will reap the benefits of us just getting by, but what if that doesn’t exist? What if the best it’s going to be is how it is right now and we are simply lying to ourselves that tomorrow will be better? Because here’s the cold reality, all those hardships you’re currently facing will be there indefinitely if you don’t do something to change it now.
Change is hard. It’s uncomfortable, it sucks, but it holds the key to whatever future you want. Life is what you make it, and while goals are generally a catalyst for a new life, most of us need more than that to actually attain our new life. Buck up, it’s your life, it can be scary as hell but it’s also one amazing ride (if you let it be).
THE POWER OF POST-ITS
There’s a point in any part of a major break-up recovery where you need to do the “pathetic” thing. If you have ever given, lent or lived you have experienced some sort of heartbreak, degrees of severity varying of course, and you have done this. This may be sending a “let’s reconsider this,” “take me back,” “I miss you,” or “let’s talk” email/text/phone call, but as soon as message fails, you feel – get this — WORSE than you did before. How THAT is even possible is mindboggling in itself. How do you feel worse than sh*t? But it does because you then turn on your best bet — yourself.
So here’s the truth: YOU are your best shot of getting over whomever left your heart in the trenches, your confidence in shambles and your hope for a romantic future (in general, not with them) bleak. Not even your best friends, your mother/brother/sister/father or even your therapist can pull you out of “but-I-believed-that-he-changed” broken heart depression/mindset without some willpower on your end. How can this be done?
Think inception. The only way inception worked (in the movie) was making the message as simplistic as possible. So, break it down to easiest of statements; “he was not nice to me,” “he didn’t like my family,” the possibilities are endless, make up your own. However, take note, you are responsible for your own feelings (I know, total bullsh*t because they could make you feel certain ways, but in order to move on and have a healthier and happier relationship next time, you must own up to your feelings, actions and behaviors; you are in control of yourself, no one can make you do anything). You need to remind yourself of what you want, how awesome you are and to motivate (what’s left of) your confidence to get out of its hibernation! Enter: Post-its all over your home, room, anything that you have face time with. Similarly to how practice makes perfect, constant reminders drive beliefs!
UGH. So you can’t even blame them for how you feel? OK. So you can, to a certain point, but then it’s on you. YOUR happiness is YOUR responsibility. That’s a lot to bear, I know, because they made you soooo happy, until they didn’t. But remember who you were before you became “we,” “us,” or whatever made-up couples name you previously donned. YOU got this because YOU have to; it’s your life!
UNHAPPINESS & GEN Y
Last year, this time, I thought if I packed up my life, moved to NYC, worked at a cutting-edge advertising agency and had my own apartment, I would be happy. After all, that’s the definition of success isn’t it? Success aka Happiness = career + materialistic objects to prove you have a great career + everyone else’s (hopefully positive) perception of you. That’s the right definition for success/ happiness, right? Or have been mislead all this time?
Recently, the Waitbutwhy.com published an eye-opening article entitled, “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy,” that communally resonated with GEN Y to the point where this piece of truth-be-told, generational gem was shared over 181k in the last four days.
I discovered it through the many repostings it had on my Facebook stream and each person’s disclaimer, “I completely identify with this,” intrigued me to the point of reading it myself. By the second sentence, I, too, was claiming my self-identification with this piece, its fictional character, Lucy, and the author’s coined term “GYPSY,” which stands for “Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies).
The article pointed out a simple, yet profound, equation; the equation of happiness and how, in turn, GEN Y’s happiness was essentially screwed from the start. Why? It’s all due to our, generally, overly enthused upbringing where we were born and raised on the simple belief that we can achieve anything we put our minds to because we are special.
Happiness = Reality – Expectations
Now, I feel like a fool, because I think I am pretty damn special, but why? Why am I so special? This belief followed me throughout my education and through my years in the professional world, but come to think of it, what was it about me that entitled me to getting a kicka** job from the get-go, a high salary and HAPPINESS? Not to sell myself short, but I really had nothing differentiating me from the wide-eyed masses at all in my early years in the workforce, but I believed that I should have everything I wanted. The article cited research from Paul Harvey, a University of New Hampshire professor and GYPSY expert who stated, “A great source of frustration for people with a strong sense of entitlement is unmet expectations. They often feel entitled to a level of respect and rewards that aren’t in line with their actual ability and effort levels, and so they might not get the level of respect and rewards they are expecting.” …and, then, it all started to make sense for me.
My expectation for happiness was an entitled one; based on juiced-up belief that hard work and determination WILL get you everything your heart desires. And, to make matters worse, social media’s intimate role in our lives constantly has us pinning ourselves against our friends, peers, family and fr/enemies. So before the depression of my newly realized reality starts to set in, the author boldly states three pieces of advice for “Lucy,” GYPSYs and now, me: 1. Stay wildly ambitious, 2. Stop thinking you’re special, and 3. Ignore everyone else. Suddenly, I don’t feel so bad, because things started to fall in perspective and I am just like every other GYPSY out there, just doing my best (while, not thinking that I AM the best (well, to a degree ;)) anymore.
AND AFTER THE STORM, THERE’S STILL HOPE
“I don’t even want a boyfriend. I just want someone who wants to hang out all the time, and thinks I’m the best person in the world, and wants to have sex with only me.” – Hannah Horvath (“Hannah’s Diary”)
When I finally took a break from all the habits/things that I had been doing for so long and often, I realized that I suddenly felt so much better. It was like a major weight had been lifted from my conscious, heart, and head. By taking certain things totally off the table for thought and discussion, at least temporarily, I could give myself the separation I never knew I needed so badly. Ultimately, what I discovered was that you can set numerous resolutions for yourself, but without addressing/ changing the real culprit, that has been hindering the accomplishment(s), you will never actually achieve a thing.
Most of us are always in a rush. It’s always an emergency or fire-drill; we train our bodies and minds to take on ridiculous amounts of stress and we even look up to those who seem to handle it well. Life doesn’t have to be so stressful. Honestly, we do it to ourselves and we shouldn’t. I get it; you have deadlines, your workplace is a high-stress environment, you can’t stand when people don’t take advantage of “right on red,” you loathe when people slow down in the driving lane to get into the turning lane. I get it. I’ve been there and I am telling you it is not worth getting so upset over something that won’t matter in the short or long-term. It is lethal to both you and your relationships.
I challenge you to be more positive. You don’t need to walk around with a forced and freakishly large grin on your face, but do something kind for someone else. It could be for anyone, even a complete stranger. It may feel awkward at first but trust me, you will feel great afterward. Positivity is contagious; you never know a random act of kindness will do for someone else. It could completely change their mindset or day for the better. I may sound unbelievably cheesy, but do yourself a favor and try it.
IS THIS WHAT TWENTY-FOUR IS SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE?
I thought that I wasn’t like everyone else born in the year 1988. I, like most, worked my butt off through high school and college, heading up multiple campus-wide clubs, working all sorts of jobs- all in an effort to better prepare myself and to encompass what the hiring forces would want. Of course I knew exactly what I wanted for my life at twenty-two, who doesn’t? Who was I kidding? I had no idea and wasn’t at all prepared for what was to come; life.
Although I feel much older than I am, I need to face the facts: I am still considered to be on the early side of my mid-twenties. I am somewhat young (despite my three white hairs), vibrant, and seemingly unlike everyone else my age, in this particular geographical region, I am not married, engaged, have any children (besides my dog), nor am I living with my significant other. I am a rare breed in a mid-sized town in Upstate, New York and sometimes it’s lonely. From my view, I see that there are three types of people out there; the career-driven, love later type, the married one (whether or not there’s a ring on your finger, it’s your relationship above all else), and then, the ambitious hybrid who believes in love and wants it but also wants a career. This is an odd, uncomfortable, discovering time in many people’s lives. The time between shaking off your nativity, as you wriggle your way into the real world, and the realization that you are nowhere close to where you thought you’d be by twenty-something.
If someone told me this is what my life would be like at 24, I would laugh at them and wouldn’t believe any of it. So now I am left with this question, what do you do when your fast-track dreams haven’t come true (yet) and you don’t even know how to attain them anymore? They seemed within reach when looked at through wide, disillusioned eyes, back in the safe haven of college and that blissful ignorance that plagued your better judgement. However, now, you feel just like everyone else; confused and lumped together in this troublesome economic climate, with hundreds of thousands of kids, just like you, competing for the same jobs. What happened to the “you” that stood out among the masses? How do you even make that person shine anymore?
I am the last type of individual I previously described. Sometimes I feel like I reside on an island of one, and to distract myself from that notion, I constantly strategize about my next move and how I am going to “make it,” all the while, believing in what everyone else headed down the alter seems to have. While there are three types of people, there are two major directions that they are going in; marriage or advancing their career. If for whatever reason, you are more directed in the latter direction, you will feel pressure to settle down, loneliness from when your friends choose their significant other over you, and, then, when you least expect it, an incredible strength emerging within you. This super-power confidence comes when you realize that you can do this; face this terrifying, exciting, unknown future where you are responsible for yourself, your failures, and moreover, your successes. So I guess this is exactly what twenty-four is supposed to feel like. It’s not supposed to feel like one particular thing, because unlike the instant-gratification-life you once dreamed up, the real thing takes a little bit longer to come true.
YOU’RE GOING TO BE JUST FINE
There have been and will be several points in our lives that we are pushed to do something that we don’t want to do or uncomfortable doing. Whether it be going to college, moving out, starting over, telling someone how you truly feel about them, taking career risks, or trying out a new fitness class; the act of doing something you’ve never done before can be daunting, hell, it’s downright scary at times. You could avoid anything that could potentially threaten your safe haven of routines and comfortable “risks,” sure, you could play it safe- but will playing it safe really get you what you want out of life?
Recently, I was given the opportunity, to essentially, head up a project at my day job and part of this role included making decisions that normally I would never have the ability to make. At first, I was intimidated; the results of this project are a total reflection of me, my creativity, and work ethic that I would be measured against. Then I felt empowered. This was my opportunity to shine, to showcase my talent, and to make moves professionally; an opportunity I could not pass up due to uneasiness that this responsibility carried. Sometimes it’s best to look past all the unwelcomed “what if’s” that drag behind most opportunities in life. There is always going to be a chance for the devil’s advocate to chime in and you should most certainly listen to justly evaluate all pieces of the puzzle before committing to put it together.
It’s important to realize that it is okay to fail sometimes. You don’t always have to win, finish first, or have the last word in an argument. You can be wrong just as long as you put yourself out there, stood up for your point, and ultimately learned something from that experience. There isn’t a running point scale or a gold star tracker in life to recognize your achievements or how many times you were “right.” It’s all about making those “uncomfortable” decisions, moves, and taking chances that will get you to your best you; happy.
THE MOMENT YOU REALIZE THAT “IT” DOESN’T HAPPEN LIKE IT DOES IN THE MOVIES
When asked why I write my answer is simple. Control. I control the situations, the circumstances, the conversations, and the outcomes. There is no painful wondering, no pacing around a lonely apartment at 2:00am, cradling a glass of wine, there is no struggle that is felt to the point where it cripples your better judgment seizes your heart like a trophy of this war we so helplessly forge through. When I write I control the ending and when I actually live it I don’t.
There are times in our lives that we piece together some ideal version of what we want, or at least what we think that we want and then we fixate on it. We obsess. We transfer this longing onto an actual being, put them on a pedestal, and then throw our heart into some metaphorical and emotional blender, coupled with unparalleled highs and lows and we do it until it kills us- or wished it had. During the “golden era” of these emotional joyrides, we don’t mind or, may even, like those sappy movies, all the while knowing that they are a cheesy and completely unrealistic, but we are dans l’amour- or at least this is what we are shown (via said movies) that this IS what love is. We relish in this fantasy- we even push the boundaries and we do something that will inevitably reveal all true intentions- we start planning a future with this individual that extends further than late nights and weekends. We do this because we’re revved up on this blind and blissful confidence that has propelled us into this balls-out being; where we say things that normally we would rework until its actual meaning doesn’t resemble its verbal or written presentation. We jump. We give up control. We live.
Whether you land on your face or in a pillow of well-received love and affection, you get your answer. And you may regret being honest, feeling, or making the decision that you made when your left picking up the pieces of that life you lived- and loved. Even though it may not feel like it now, you’ve just did yourself HALF of the biggest favor that you’ve ever could do for yourself. Now the other half of this favor is not to give up on love or putting yourself back out there- whole enough for someone to actually have you. The second part is far more difficult and takes so much more courage and strength than the first. I can promise you that it will hurt like hell, it will make you uncomfortable, and it will scare you; not only should you do it, you have to. The world will keep spinning, days will keep going by, and life will go on whether or not you’re heartbroken, confused, or so in love that you’re envied. You need to keep going as well.
Your life is not like the movies and that is good thing. When you have full control of a situation, there is no fun, excitement, wondering, and there is no rush that you feel when they finally call you back after pacing around your apartment at 2:00am cradling a glass a wine. If it’s not the rush that we get from the happiness that we didn’t think we’d feel to the caliber in which we feel it- what do we even do it all for? Live and let go, it’s terrifying and incredibly rewarding.
FIVE THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN BRINGING A DATE TO A FAMILY DINNER
Not only is today the biggest party night of the year, it’s also your date’s last chance to ditch T-DAY, just kidding, but the holiday is encroaching as swift as a turkey flies (had to). Being that it’s Thanksgiving Eve, it’s time to cycle through the five most important things to remember when bringing a date to your family’s celebration, a routine that you both will be thankful for doing.
- Realize your date’s comfort level about the “big din” and also being around your (extended) family. Like everyone, our families are unique. All equipped with quirks; whether it be a weird uncle or and grandmother promoting procreation, you need to understand that although you love them and are used to them, your date may not be. Talk to them beforehand and see if they are harboring any apprehension.
- Hot topics. You and your significant other are in a relationship, where conversation flows as freely as much needed alcohol tomorrow. Discuss any topics that you or they are not comfortable talking about with the family that may potentially be brought up. It may be worth it to put a call into a trusted relative to pass on the word to not bring it up at the table.
- Debrief. If this year’s dinner is the first that your bf/gf is attending with you, do both yourself and them a favor by debriefing them on any family history that may be applicable to ensuring a fight-free and fun family encounter.
- Be courteous. Nobody knows your partner better than you, right? If s/he doesn’t eat meat, make sure that there are options for them to. Your significant other is at this dinner for you, so have their back (and other food options).
- Be thankful. Chances are that instead of spending the holiday with their family, they are spending it with yours. This may be a big sacrifice, so show your gratitude. Express how thankful you are to have them in your life and make them feel appreciated, t’is the season right?
By going through these five easy topics you will see that with a little preparation, the whole family dinner experience can be as delicious as the meal.
WHAT IT TAKES TO BE WITH A CAREERIST
Society, the English dictionary, and most people agree that “success” is defined by acclimating some sort of version of fame, fortune, and everything else their little heart desires. Now, before the disagreeing masses start screaming at their screens, “But it isn’t all about money or materialistic things!!,” let me stop you- you are right. It’s not. In fact, everyone has their own unique belief as to how and what success is to them. With that being said, you’re reading this because you or someone you know is with, in love, or has been with a careerist and you know first hand how hard it is to maintain a successful relationship with someone who puts their career first, at least during the course of said relationship. Yes, it takes a strong individual to be with someone as determined as this, but they never tell you how strong.
One of the most common mix of variables that contribute to this particular circumstance goes like this: you both were young, ambitious, had a laundry list of goals and dreams that you were determined to fulfill. You both loved each other’s drive and inhibited imagination, and admired how career-focused you both seemed. As your relationship grew, you always supported them, as they did too, with whatever was needed, and you both needed it. At first, you both were unsure (professionally); thrown into a new surrounding, job, or circumstance, but your relationship gave the foundation and security needed to build confidence and to develop your respective crafts. Over time, there were struggles, and there were many triumphs. You watched them achieve goals, meet deadlines, cheered them on, and gave pep talks; all the while, living in your own, much different, life. Things had changed so much, but one thing remained the same, you still loved this person- you loved them enough to recognize that both yours and their needs, wants, and demands of your relationship had changed as well. So what do you do?
Relationships as a whole evolve: the individuals, the expectations, the circumstances, the external factors, conflict resolution; all parts. Things do not and cannot remain the same throughout the entire course of anything because it’s boring, it becomes stagnant, and it will die. What it truly takes to be with someone, that same someone whom you fell in love with because of all their wide-eyed aspirations, is to be happy and thriving in your own life. “But we are together, we share a life,” I, too, once shared this same ideal and it is a fatal one.
What I have learned from therapy What I have learned as I have matured is that a relationship is most successful when you have your own life, they have their own life, and you have a life together. The hardest part is letting go and you must let go to a degree. In order to “make it,” you have to trust and have faith that your lessened involvement in their life and theirs in yours will only build your relationship, and enable you both to grow separately and in turn, together- successfully.
FIVE THINGS TO DO FOR YOURSELF IMMEDIATELY
Thankfully, Thanksgiving is next week. I could always go for a couple days off, a plate full of food that my diet/exercise-driven mind has prevented me from even thinking about, and seeing friends and family. Although, I will never participate in sharing thirty things I am thankful for on Facebook, I am plenty grateful for my life and everything and everyone in it. This time of year especially emphasizes how we can give back, give to others, and give up bad habits and excuses in prelude to even more holidays and the New Year. While, I think giving back gives you more than just good karma, what about giving back to Y-O-U? When is the last time you asked yourself, “What do I need to do for me?” Can’t remember? Yup. I thought so.
One of the biggest double-edged swords is selflessness. While your actions may qualify you for admission to the patron saints on Earth club and your F&F (family and friends) may appreciate your always there, doing everything efforts, what price does all the “good” you give come at? Ironically, the most miserable people I know are self-made martyrs. These individuals give, and give, and give until there is nothing left for them; no energy, time, or even desire. You know who you are. You’re the ones who never take a break, always think of others before yourself (which is nice, don’t get me wrong, but not 100% of the time), never “splurge,” even though whatever item/object/activity in question is in no means considered a “splurge,” and you tout that you are “too tired” to do anything when asked. What these good-hearted, well-intentioned martyrs fail to realize is that many of the people that they are sacrificing for/over would prefer less receivables in exchange for them to be happier.
No matter what economical/mental/emotional circumstance you are currently in, here some things you can do for yourself right now:
- Find your inner yogi or yogini and take the absolute biggest and controlled inhale ever. Feel your stomach and lungs expand and once you can’t get any bigger; and then, slowly release this breath. Breathe out all your tensions, your expectations, your anxieties, just it go (albeit temporarily) with this exhale.
- Literally say out loud, “I am awesome and I will get through anything that comes my way.” Repeat this as many times as needed until you believe it.
- Big picture your current situation. While what you’re doing, where you are, or what’s happening in your life may not be ideal, at this moment, think about things on a macro level. If you take your perspective out of the details and onto an overall outlook and those troublesome things may not be as large and overwhelming as they appear and feel to you now.
- Set goals AND write them down. Whether your life is how you want it or not, at this moment, set some short or long-term goals; so that you finally make some serious moves on those things you’ve been meaning to do.
- Do something small TODAY to treat yourself. It could be taking ten minutes to run into a coffeehouse to get a well-deserved, holiday-themed latte, or eat a Kit Kat bar; just do something that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
One of the most empowering things to realize is that YOU are in complete control of your mindset and you have the power to change it. While, you may come armed with the best intentions, if you’re not taking care of yourself, you may not really be taking care of others as well as you thought you were. There’s no need for silent suffering behind the scenes, because chances are that many people will never pick on your perpetual nonverbal cues, they will just think that you’re negative. Bottom-line: you have to help yourself in order to truly help others.
YOU’RE NOT CRAZY, JUST STAY AWAY FROM ANY COMMUNICATION DEVICE.
There’s something about not getting a response when calling, texting, or emailing someone that truly makes the blood boil. In fact, it makes many people feel “crazy.” It’s happened to the best of us, we hate being ignored and when it happens (repeatedly and usually “without” explanation) that little lever keeping us rational, snaps. In an effort to keep our restless fingertips at bay, let’s get down to why we just can’t accept being ignored.
GIRL #1: I called and texted him last night. Still no response
GIRL #2: Why are you still contacting him?!
GIRL #1: Because I want an answer.
GIRL #2: An answer to what?
GIRL #1: Why he’s ignoring me.
This conversation happens every day, all over the world, I’ve even had it (far too many times than I’d like to admit)! I decided to poll some friends as to why they continue to contact when they feel “crazy” when they’re sent straight to voicemail and what they do about it.
Reasons behind the “crazy”:
- loss of control
- lack of communication
What is done:
- ignore back, use silence, eventually one person must cave
- call attention to it and make it know that this behavior is unacceptable
- keep calling, by this point I’m furious
- break up with them, I’m not dealing with that
- do something to distract myself, they better call back with an apology!
It’s very difficult and takes a lot of self-control to separate the raw emotion from the action, i.e. incessantly calling them, when in the situation. You are angry about everything: the other person, what’s happening, and yourself. You don’t get why you can’t just just do as they’re doing and be okay with the silence. Even in the midst of hitting redial for the 85th time, you fully realize that you are being irrational and you honestly feel like you have no control of the situation, moreover your actions. You so badly want to throw your phone and walk away, but (even if you actually do it), you will quickly retrieve your coveted technical gadget and keep it by your side when you finally decide to get some fresh air. You don’t know why this is controlling you like it is, all you know is that you’re furious, hurt, and you want him to pick up the f-ing phone, so that you can, well, express your frustrations.
First off, let’s clear the air. Despite how loosely this ideal is thrown around, WOMEN (in general) ARE NOT CRAZY. However when things are done such as hitting the “ignore” button like it’s a game, our feelings get hurt, we feel invalidated, and we can’t stand it. I am going to go out on a limb and say that most people, especially women, like to “know” what’s going on. We don’t like being left in the dark, and not only not having our questions answered, but also the other person deeming that they don’t have to be responsible for those answers. We read: “You, your feelings, your questions are not worth my time and I do not care enough about making you feel safe, secure, and “better” by answering them.” Now, that may not always be the truth, it all depends on the context of the situation. Sometimes the other person may say, “I just need time, I’ll call you back later.” I know this is incredibly hard to do, but respect this request, or else your efforts of communication will go unanswered.
THEY say, “all is fair in love and war,” and although being ignored doesn’t seem fair, think of it as a game. It’s your choice to play or not, but be prepared to lose if you do. The best thing you can do in this given situation is to physically and emotionally separate yourself from your communication device, person, and your thoughts. Do something for you, the person YOU most ignore.
Early November is apparently not the best time/month for lovers. Not only is it the beginning of the “holiday season,” which as a couple, you will have a lot of gift-giving, togetherness, and family functions to attend. All of which sounds simply merry (for one of you), but might put the other on the fast track to celebrating solo this season. Or the breakup may absolutely not have nothing to do with the calendar whatsoever, it may be unknowingly-to-you or obviously-blatant to you that it’s time to end the relationship.
Having been on both sides of the warzone, I know that when you truly care for someone, (for a lack of a better analogy) it kills. Unless you’re sadistic, you don’t want hurt anyone and certainly not “break” their heart. There is nothing easy about a breakup, but there is a better way to view it. Think of it as a breakover: an entirely new lease on life, and your heart, that you get to decide. The beginning of it is always the worst. You may still be “in a relationship” via Facebook, and you can’t bear to change your status; it’s always the little things that are the hardest to do! Here’s a tip, just block the other person so that you don’t have announce your singledom for the cyber-sphere to gawk at. In fact, breakup up with your Facebook too, at least temporarily, commit to a separation period of (at least) three weeks. Three weeks is key, because the first week you are a complete emotional mess; you will be scrolling through pictures, posting depressing/embarrassing statuses, stalking the other person, writing on their wall, contacting their friends- it’s just bad, all of it. The second week, you are still incredibly hurt, lost, and confused as to why and how “it” happened. However, in the second week, you are a little more determined to do things to make YOU feel better, not to be confused with getting all sorts of messed up with drinking/drugs and otherwise just numbing yourself. Lastly, the third week, you are more rational, yet still very wounded, but you can start to think about you, your wants, your needs, and start to plan what’s next in your amazing life.
Aside from parting ways with your social media presence on the www, it’s time to get physical, and I’m not talking about hopping into bed with some rando in an effort to ease the pain! No! The only things that will come of that mentality are a STD, an unwanted child, and/or reputation. It’s time to start doing YOU. What are your career and life goals? How are you going to accomplish the ones you haven’t already done? What activities do you want to try that you haven’t? What do you want to see that you haven’t seen before? What restaurants do you want to eat at, but haven’t because they didn’t like ethnic cuisine? It’s time to be selfish and focus entirely on you. When’s the last time you pampered yourself? Or splurged on something? Don’t go bankrupt to make yourself feel better, but it’s time to start doing things for you.
Breaking up with someone that you shared a life with is terrifying, humbling, lonely, but moreover- it’s eye-opening. Having time and space apart from the other person enables you to identify what you liked and didn’t like about your relationship, what your next relationship must encompass, and also what kind of partner you want in the future. As much pain and utter confusion you will feel, you will also gain a clear understanding of who you are and what you want from your life, and unfortunately this revelation can only be realized by yourself. Breaking up hurts, it’s uncomfortable, unfamiliar, but you two broke up for a reason, and as does everything in this wild, unpredictable world, it happened for a reason. I promise- if you separate yourself from the other person, cut ties, allow yourself to heal/ move on, and focus on YOU- you will be 110% better for it. So let go of all the stigmas associated with breakups, because this is a breakover!
THE BAND-AID EPIDEMIC
Have you ever been in a relationship, dated, talked, or “hung out” (whatever that means) with someone and things were going splendidly, until they didn’t? It may haven’t been a fatal blunder or even that big a deal, but it happened, and it left a sour taste in your mouth. You may not have wanted to take a deep-dive into why things played out as they did then, so you did what we all have done at one point or another, you threw a band-aid on it. While a quick fix, make up ***, or having changed the subject entirely may have eased the awkwardness, time will eventually prove no matter how high the stack of bandages may be, your wound will never heal.
Besides risking infection, which will eventually cause DEATH to your relationship, this is no way to live your life or communicate with someone you care about! Two of the most difficult and uncomfortable things to do in life is to be both honest and upfront. You can think something all you want, but never saying how you feel to the person you feel it towards will never solve any problem! The absolute best thing you can do you for yourself and any relationship (at whatever degree or type) is to practice doing these two things. If it bothers you enough where you a) can’t stop thinking about it, b) losing sleep over it, c) limiting you living your life as you would normally- you need to buck up and say something.
Being honest is never easy and practicing it doesn’t necessarily make this burden ever worth bearing, but it will make your life so much easier! You don’t want to live with knowing, feeling, or expecting something that you can’t comfortably handle. Life is too short to worry, wonder, and wait around hoping that the subtle message you sent between making out and eating dinner will be received loud and clear, because it won’t; most men have a two track mind: food and sex, that is it. Band-aiding the situation, will ultimately lead to a deadly infection, that stemmed from hiding your true feelings, cultivating resentments, not being yourself, and frustration. Guess what, perhaps this little cut of an issue could have been medicated and healed LONG before it morphed into a relationship-consuming bacteria, if only you talked about it! Amazing what a little quality communication can do for the heart, the soul,and your other half.
“IF DATING A CELEBRITY WASN’T PUBLIC ENOUGH, HOW ABOUT A BREAKUP— SONG ABOUT IT?”
T. Swift has been getting A LOT of coverage over her latest single, “We Are NEVER, EVER Getting Back Together.” Although, annoying in the “talking” parts, it’s a catchy song about a rollercoaster relationship that desperately keeps trying to revive itself until Tay-Tay puts the kibosh on it, writes about it, and then it becomes an overnight nationally broadcasted hit. I’d hate to ever cross Taylor, everyone will not only know about how much you suck, but they will also be singing about it.
Being a celebrity must be unbelievably fantastic tough. Although pre-fame, you knew that you’d live in the public eye and wildly embraced it, throwing privacy to the wind for whatever bit of limelight that you could squander. However, you now complain on your Twitter, Facebook, etc. that you’re sick of being followed by the paparazzi, being judged, and don’t know why you can’t just be treated like a “normal” human being. Am I missing something? A “normal human being,” as you put it, wouldn’t able to afford that lavish loft in Soho, trips to exotic isles, and touting around a multi-thousand dollar handbag (you know, that you will only be photographed once with) – let’s trade spots, I promise you will learn to tolerate working in a cubicle, standing in lines, and having people shove you to the back of the subway—because you’re just a normal nobody.
Okay, I am putting on my “empathetic hat.” I see where things can get annoying when it comes to having your personal life broadcasted on every major radio station across the US. Personally, I get irritated when I hear that my exes are talking behind my back to friends about us or our breakup (of course, it’s okay for me to do it), so I am not sure how well I’d handle hearing about it accompanied with lyrics and a good beat (and secretly liking it). Regardless to celebri-dom, it all comes back to buyer beware, all of Swift’s now ex-boyfriend’s knew that she was a singer songwriter that used her personal relationships and experiences to fuel her multi-million dollar record sales. To all those scorned-by-the- “country”-pop-music, did you ever turn on the radio? This girl is everywhere! And, although, it sucks to hear about how sh*tty you were to break poor Tay-Bay-Bay’s heart, perhaps you got what was deserved, melody and all.
PROFILES TO KEEP SCROLLING PAST: ONLINE DATING
It has been months since I abandoned the ship of online dating. I dabbled in conversing via (a poorly running) instant message, emails, and then, the onslaught of text messages and calls when I was too quick to shoot over my number (because I couldn’t stand answering another 7 paragraph email- again). I quickly realized that online dating is practically a full-time job and I had to quit (to get a real job, maintain real relationships, and give myself back “me” time). In my well-seasoned months (two), where I shopped around in a 100 mile radius for men, I came across some interesting finds that aren’t highlighted in their “About Me” section.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of online dating, just ask my friends I try to setup profiles for them all the time. However, there are definitely some things that I have learned that should be acknowledged by all who trust their hearts to (strangers) on the www. Before you even set your search requirements, you need to start with you. You’re turning a new leaf; you’re done with hoping that after a series of unattached hookups with your do-not-disturb-unless-it’s-late-and-you’re-no-longer-sober playmate will turn into dates, in the sunlight, and perhaps you can tell your friends and family about him. You’ve also realized that, although, research has proven that our hormones sway us to choose “bad” boys we are going to do a better job at ignoring our inner-sex-Goddess (in this case, demon) and choose someone based on our “MUST” list, compatibility, and how about this one, ladies, maturity and dependability? Okay, once we have gotten that in order, it’s time to scroll through hundreds of profiles where every profile, pretty much, boasts the same BS.
Here are some tips to keep in mind while navigating through the, perhaps, thousands of profiles of men “just looking for love.”
- Beware the recently separated/divorced: How soon are they getting out back into the game? I don’t care who he said ended it, at one time, there was love- no more than that, they had a life together, pets together, maybe even kids. Emotions are going to be raw, sensitive, and maybe not be fully healed.
- Beware someone touting they are ready to get married and settle down: this is complete woman-bait. FINALLY! What you’ve been dreaming of: a guy who hates games, wants to get married, and he wants YOU— or someone like you, I guess whomever attracts his “matrimonious” eyes first with a smooth message, or maybe even a “wink.” Chill out Bridezilla, think about all the other ring-hungry ladies who are pondering these same, ridiculous thoughts. You don’t want someone who is ready to settle down with just ANY online dating subscriber, you want someone who wants YOU!
- Beware the men with over 10 pictures: come on, that’s excessive, most women users don’t even have that many. And be even more cautious when half those pics of are of him naked, donning a wife beater, or taken in a mirror– what is this Jersey Shore? You don’t want a man who is obsessed with himself. Trust me, it will be a lifetime of stopping in front of every mirror, window, or anything reflective for him to get a better view of himself.
- Beware the man who lists all his interests and isn’t open to yours: I am not kidding about this. You think, “This is great, this guy is so active and involved!” But upon further investigation (an actual conversation) he makes it very clear that the things he does IS his life and he’s really busy, but since he’s getting up there in age, and all of his friends are hitched, maybe he should make an effort… you want someone who will meet you half way and not only include you in some of his activities but also is open to being apart of yours!
- Beware the man who openly states exactly what he wants: LISTEN/READ to what he has put out there for all to see, acknowledge, and inevitably, judge. If he says that “he doesn’t want kids, never wants to get married, and sucks down two packs of cigs a day,” that’s his prerogative. But don’t think that just because you like his profile or think that he is sexy, and that you’re fabulous that you can persuade him into kicking the habit, going ring shopping, and, one day, being father of the year. It doesn’t work like that, at least we have somewhat of an advantage now, they are literally, spelling out their wants for us.
- Beware the “NICE” guy: This is a hard one to spot, because he’s just so damn nice. These guys are the worst because they come across as amazing, well-established, family-orientated sweethearts looking for someone to treat well and share their life with. The nice guy, openly tells you that he has been really hurt before and confides some BS sob story in you, so that a synthetic trust forms (exceptionally quickly I might add). You let your guard down, because he’s NICE, and over time, that niceness wears off and the phone calls, text messages, dates out start becoming few and far between and then he vanishes! He doesn’t respond to any form of modern day communication and he’s uncharacteristically MIA; the reason being, he’s just too damn nice to break up with you.
Obviously, this list can go on for days, but to retain readership, I will limit my “buyer beware” warnings here. There is this undeserved trust that people have in user’s profiles because we want to believe that fundamentally this guy means what he says and he’s not like the people we’ve met/dated prior. The fact is, regardless of their online profile, they are still strangers and they should be treated and such, and with that, keep your guard up and only believe what you read when it’s physically proven outside the cyber-sphere.
HOW TO LEAVE THE SCARE IN HALLOWEEN THIS YEAR.
Halloween is very hit or miss with people. I find that most people are totally into it; they dress up, go out, and realize that this your once-in-a-year pass to dress up however you wish and NOT get judged for it OR they aren’t. They are the ones at the bars wearing completely normal clothes such as a t-shirt reading, “this is my costume.” Bullsh*t that’s a costume! That is a lackluster effort on your part of being original, creative, and FUN. This year, as I browse through Pinterest searching for better, less sleazy, cheap-looking (we all know that it isn’t actually ($) cheap, sh*t’s ridiculously overpriced), DYI costume, I came across THE BEST couple’s ( and of course, group and singular) costumes ever. While briefly reminiscing about all the years I have spent, in the past, wearing counterpart costumes, I also remembered some hard lessons learned that were no treat (pun, absolutely intended).
Let’s say you and your loverkin are doing the matching, cute, celebrating-every-ounce-of-your-coupledom-by-wearing-a- couple’s-costume this year. You’re ecstatic there are so many options, you could be Kermit and Miss Piggy, Fred and Wilma, Peas in a Pod, even giant boobs- yeah, I saw it online, don’t be surprised. The list is endless! For those who haven’t had the pleasure of forcing your mate in whatever counterpart getup- this is REAL LIFE dress up and he will oblige, like good boyfriends do. There are few things to keep in mind, however, as you browse through the aisles of packaged fantasy or scroll through limitless options on the www (world wide web): don’t push the boundaries too far (with what he will be willing to don) and respect the fact that you are taken and not see as a free-for-all with bearing usually concealed body parts.
To keep your Halloween spirit up and unhaunted by drama, play by these rules:
- Talk to your significant other about costume ideas. If s/he’s not the “creative” type, research on your own and bring back a handful of options
- Discuss limits on how much skin is possible to show (minimum clothing requirements)
- You will most likely be going out with other less-than-sober, dressed-up individuals will be so if your costume calls for unwanted attention (such as costumes that encourage touching, grabbing, poking, or prodding perhaps you should rethink that selection
- Getting schwasted and posing inappropriately with a guy dressed up as a squirrel and grabbing his nuts (what? it comes with giant-sized nuts) may not be that funny a) when he sees you doing this from across the bar (that rodent will be roadkill), b) you’re not intoxicated, c) you wouldn’t like it very much if he did that to you. THIS GOES FOR GUYS TOO… just maybe not with a man dressed up like a squirrel with giant-sized nuts, if it does, that’s cool too!
It all comes down to being respectful and having fun (together). If you keep these tips in mind, (hopefully) you will keep the boo-hoo-hooing (crying) out of Halloween this year!
ALTHOUGH YOU MAY NOT BE MARRIED, READ “MARRIAGE” BOOKS TO IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP OR YOUR MENTALITY OF RELATIONSHIPS.
As a love/relationship-obsessed individual, I read everything that I can get my eyes/hands on that pertains to these topics. Get this, although I am not married, I have read several (okay, hundreds) books and articles that are focused on improving marriages, issues in marriages, marriage boosters, etc. Carousing around relationship/self-help section of any bookstore may be intimidating, especially if you’re like me, twenty-something and single, and reading up on how to “Save Your Marriage- NOW.” Don’t let these particular circumstances daunt you, this is research. This is you making a HUGE effort on how to effectively communicate with your future/partner, avoid relationship sinkholes, and how to consistently improve what you’ve got (or want to have someday).
One such book that I have read excerpts from and has been highly recommended is, “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts,” by Gary D. Chapman. This book outlines how, as individuals, we speak in different “languages,” we have different needs, and we how feel both appreciated and loved are also, you guessed it, different.
“Your emotional love language and language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English. No matter how hard you try to express your love in English, if your spouse only understands Chinese, you will never understand how to love each other.”
– The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
How effectively you can communicate with your partner will make or break your relationship. There is absolutely no doubt about it. If one partner (or, worse, both partners) feels like they can’t be open with the other it will eventually destroy your, once happy, union. With that being said, one may express their feelings and talk it out regularly, and they also may be getting increasingly more frustrated doing so, because the other person doesn’t seem to be receptive of their intended message. We have all been there and probably yelled, “I know you can hear but do you understand what I am saying to you?” There is an enormous difference between hearing and listening. And when Person A is trying their best to communicate with Person B and s/he doesn’t appear to understand what is being said, thus does not react in the way the Person A wanted (or had hoped). All the while, “B” may not actually understand “A’s” intended message, but is really trying to listen. Because there was no action made by “B” for whatever reason, “A” may like their feelings are being invalidated and dismissed. This may lead to “A” emotionally shutting off from “B;” ceasing a line of communication.
Whoever thought that getting from A to B was easy?! Just explaining that example was exhausting and confusing, now insert a real relationship issue! Communicating in any relationship (romantic or not) isn’t simple. It takes a whole lot of effort to understand how your partner “works,” how to effectively speak to them, and how to “decode” messages from them. Falling in love is the easy part, keeping that love alive by effectively communicating with other person, isn’t. Read, do your research, and talk AND listen to your significant other, if you love them, it’s worth learning whatever “language” necessary.
LOVING THY NEIGHBOR: PIECE OF CAKE. LOVING YOURSELF: NOT AS TASTY.
I think most of us stopped loving and believing in (how freaking awesome we are) right around the time we started to become conscious of ourselves and started to be judged by others; the ungainly, awful age of 12. I never knew how odd I acted and even more odd looking I was until I went to private school. Before that, my awkward, overweight bubble was confined due accepting friends and sheltering parents that let me be my own, unique-self. It wasn’t until I was told that I had a “pear-shaped” body did I start to criticize my lackluster curves and my nonconformist image that made me want to so badly look, sound, and be like them versus any fruit-shaped version of a girl that I was.
It took years of self-reflection, writing, and hours coupled with thousands of dollars of therapy to overcome the many “body” issues ensued from my assimilation for “acceptance.” I had accomplished changing who I was, what I looked like, what I wanted to fit the part. For it only to mean absolutely nothing outside the confinements of the school that fostered a complete contradiction: independence, confidence, and an analogous look and feel; as if you were but a product of its institution. When I was released into the “real” world- college (a realized far cry from such), the plaid skirts and polo shirts that made me feel both so apart and alone were shed and my identity was questioned, yet again. But this time, I was deciding what I wanted and who I wanted to be and not what was expected of me. This empowerment gave me the strength to embrace my passions, learning curiosities and voice that hadn’t quite reached its capable volume before. It took most of my life to realize that I had something to say and share that mattered- because I am just like you, only I write about everything that I go through (to get through it).
I wasted so much of my life hating myself and wanting to be different (the same) that I never recognized how great I was then. I know many people who pick themselves to pieces and either cannot see or refuse to see how amazing they are and all that they have to offer this world. They are the first person to cut themselves down, limit their potential and dreams, and don’t try as hard as they should because of a debilitating “I’m no good” mentality. ENOUGH. Right now, I want you to say out loud: I AM GREAT, I AM BEAUTIFUL, I AM ME, AND THAT MAKES ME VALUABLE BECAUSE ONLY I THINK THE WAY I DO. ONLY I AM ME. Sound silly? Too bad, do it anyway. We need to stop hating on ourselves. When did it become okay to be our own biggest enemy? How do we expect others to love, respect, and treat us right when we can’t even do it to ourselves? It doesn’t happen. This is how unhealthy relationships start- long before meeting a significant other, it starts with YOU and your inability to love yourself enough BEFORE shacking up with someone, who may not be right for you, and looking for the love that lack within yourself from him; to love you, “whole.” Love starts with loving yourself. So for all those searching for l’amour and constantly asking, “why doesn’t anyone love me?” The first question you should really be asking is, “do you love yourself?”
WHEN TO LEAVE YOUR NEST.
There once was a little bird who lived in a very tall tree. In fact, this tree was taller than the rest in the forest where all her feathered friends lived. When the time came to learn how to fly, the little bird was excited and optimistic, as most little birds when about to fly for the first time. With endless possibilities of flight, happiness, and freedom the little bird dove out of the nest and into her limitless surroundings. At first the little bird soared, looped, circled, glided, saw things she had never seen before from the view of her nest, and felt an unbelievable rush. Then, something unexpected happened, as the little bird approached the ground, she tried to flap her wings to slow her descent, but they didn’t work, and the terrified, little bird plunged into the ground breaking her wing. It took the help of several other birds in the community to bring the baby bird back up to her nest, where she still remains years later, wing-healed and hesitant.
This story may be about a timid bird, afraid to fly again after a disastrous first flight, but I think it’s something that many of us can relate to. At one point or another we were either the bird or we knew someone who was this bird. What we must realize as bystanders of potential heartbreak is that there is usually nothing we can say or do that will make our lovesick bird of a friend from flying higher and higher until her wings (and the relationship) cannot sustain itself any longer and like Icarus, she gets burned, and then falls hard and fast. Everyone’s wounds take different lengths of time to heal. Depending on how long the flight (the relationship) was and how bad the crash (the breakup) determines the amount of time needed back in the nest. As friends, or even as the person experiencing this, it should be known that you or anyone else cannot rush the process. It’s essential that one embraces this refuge in order to deal with what happened, to process, to truly feel everything that was endured, and then figure out how to improve for next time/next flight.
Two often made (detrimental) mistakes made during this time are jumping back out of the nest too quickly, in hope of picking up on a drift wind (rebound). This may relieve some pain, momentarily, but once one tries to flap again it will be quickly realized that one can’t fly with a broken wing. The second mistake people make is avoiding what happened and not fully realizing the hurt, venerability, and everything else that was wounded. Instead these people make excuses for why it happened, they blame it on themselves, and build a wall around their heart in an effort to not experience that kind of pain again. What they fail to realize that the worst pain of all is indifference; wanting so badly to feel something but not being able to at all. In reality, they are making their nest, their supposed safe haven, into a prison; where they watch, criticize, and live unhappily alone because of their fear of falling versus flying still haunts them.
As a friend, we cannot let her/him suffer in their solitude. Often times, their thoughts are both heat-brokenly biased and harmful to their ability to overcome this hurdle. Although necessary, the wake up call isn’t easy to make and definitely takes a true friend to dish out some tough love. Having been in both positions before, I was most thankful for my friends who told me the truth versus what my disillusioned heart/brain was thinking at the time. We must be patient and not get angry for repeated desires about their former beaus. It is our job to listen, be there, and enable (the best we can) our friends to feel through their breakup. As the wounded warrior (in the battle of l’amour), we need to be open- completely. Open our friend’s advice, because they only want the best for us, to learning opportunities through the pain (yes, they are there!), and open to the limitless sky that awaits us when we are ready.
THE WAY LOVE CHANGES.
I remember when I was about twelve years old, my (then) best friend asked what I was looking for in a future boyfriend. As I laid, sprawled out on my character-themed bedspread in my whimsically decorated room, I pondered for but a minute and rattled off a list of superficial “nice-ities” that I wanted my adolescent Prince Charming to come equipped with when he swept me off my feet in my over-crowded, child-mill of a middle school. Twelve years later, a lot has changed especially how I view love and love’s role in my life.
When I was younger I would do the most ridiculous things for the boys that I was seriously crushing on. In fact, I flat out humiliated myself on many accounts. Looking back now, with all the “rules” (of dating) I couldn’t fathom ever doing what I did then- now. With years, comes wisdom, but we also lose part of our silly, do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-his-(positive)-attention ways. We get so wrapped up in our image, how well we’re playing the game, and who is “winning,” that we rarely do anything to put ourselves truly out there. Years ago, love was once this inexcusable do-anything attitude that often led to hard lessons learned. I look at my little brother, who at 18 has his first serious heartache. It’s both cute and discomforting to know that I know exactly how his position feels and how quickly that lovesick feeling can turn into just plain heartsick. As an older sister, I warned him of the ways of women and the games that we all play, especially at 18 when we have no idea about anything at all. Un/Fortunately he drowns me out with his puppy-love enthusiasm, something that we only feel for a short amount of time in our lives– before we get “jaded” by breakups, deceit, and all other bad that makes us guarded and cautious. I had much advice for my brother, but the best advice at all is to totally embrace it. You will get hurt, you will cry, you will feel an unparalleled happiness, and you may even feel what you may believe to be love. The series of highs and lows associated with all relationships are (most of the time) worth it and essential to your own emotional and mental growth. You can read, study, discuss topics concerning love, but until you feel it, live it, reel from it- you don’t know anything about it at all.
The reasons why the love we seek/feel changes is due to the fact that we are changing, we are growing up and dare I say- getting older. We have realized things about ourselves that weren’t recognized in years prior and our needs and wants change with that. I can guarantee that when we were (much) younger, you may have listed a handful of aesthetic features when describing your version of Mr./s Perfect but now, those stunningly good looks don’t nearly hold as much weight. We know this now, advise younger siblings, but really, would your teenage-self listen? No. Some things you need to learn through your own lessons, including both the good and painful outcomes. They teach us about ourselves: what we want, need to avoid, and what to strive for and ultimately through trials and tribulations love’s role in our lives grows up with us.
Although I mostly write about how to emotionally protect yourself from all that is hurtful and (mostly) preventable out there in the dating world, I would go as far as to say that I love, love. The inner-workings of couples, figuring out what makes people work (and sometimes, what drives them apart), and how to communicate (always a work in progress) fascinates me. One of the absolute best things when coupled-up (or not) is discovering things to do, see, and EAT together; thus, loving locally (local businesses where you live/venture off to).
While carousing in Schenectady, NY I came across WanderingDago, a revolutionary (to the area) food truck that brings eclectic tastes and ever-changing menus to the 518. At first I was completely confused with the name, and moreover, the fact that a lone food truck had set up shop on Jay Street. Having lived in NYC and Baltimore, I was accustomed to a variety of mobile vendors, but for Upstate, this was a delicious surprise. Intrigued and curious, I approached armed with questions.
RGenhofer: What prompted you to start a food truck in the 518?
WanderingDago: We moved to the 518 for a few reasons, we visited many cities upstate, and it seemed like a city that was in the revitalization process and a city that we could become a part of the community and grow with.
RGenhofer: How do you manage a successful relationship when working in such a confined space?
WanderingDago: To be honest it was difficult in the beginning when we were both trying to do everything from cooking to marketing. Every day we understand our roles in the company more and more which make it easier and easier. For example, Brandon is an awesome cook and understands food on a level that I do not but I am awesome with people and enjoy taking time out of the day to speak with our customers and to market our business to obtain new customers. We are able maintain a successful relationship because we each have distinct roles and responsibilities in the truck.
RGenhofer: Do you recommend working with your significant other?
WanderingDago: It’s not for everyone. But as long as there are guidelines and open communication it can work. For now it’s working for us.
RGenhofer: Yikes, I’ve tried and failed. Besides cultivating your relationship even more so, where do you see WanderingDago in the next two years?
WanderingDago: Our goal is expansion in the mobile food industry. We would like to own two or three mobile food trucks that would launch from a central warehouse location. In that warehouse, we will bake our own bread, grow our own vegetables and prepare all of the food to be distributed amongst the trucks to serve various cities in northern New York.
RGenhofer: That’s sounds both like an incredible but completely capable goal of achieving. Can you sum up what you want the 518 to know about WanderingDago:
WanderingDago: Brandon and I do not have a background in food; in fact I am an Attorney and Brandon worked in Marketing and Advertising prior to opening the Wandering Dago. We started the Wandering Dago because of Brandon’s passion to cook fresh, homemade and delicious food. Brandon and I wanted to start a business in the food industry that we could have fun, travel and meet lots of new people and that is why we chose a food truck as opposed to a restaurant. We love venturing into new neighborhoods of Schenectady and meeting new people, we love getting feedback from all different cultures about our food, we love having a chalkboard that allows us to change the menu daily and most of all we love bringing homemade affordable food to the community.
WanderingDago is locally owned and operated by (the very much IN love) Brandon and Andrea. To track the truck, find out the daily menu, and to contact them to cater your next party or event please visit their website, Facebook, & Twitter.
LETTING GO IN ORDER TO GET IN
Vulnerability is a terrifying thing. There are so many things that could go wrong; you could get hurt, embarrassed, deceived, “waste” time and energy, and be completely honest about how you feel towards another person and they may not receive you and your love as you hoped they would. Yes, it is an unbelievably scary thing, especially if you’ve experienced all/some of the things that potentially could go “wrong” before. Despite the unknowns and possible rejection, as always, there is an irrefutable silver-lining that hopefully may make you second-guess your stubborn heart.
Most of us can remember THE event or series of events that resulted in us creating a barrier around our heart; they lied, cheated, decided that they didn’t want “it” anymore, abandoned you, gave up- whatever happened, it hurt you. It hurt you so much that you retreated inside yourself and you probably even swore off love and relationships (for awhile). Your heartbreak and great wall construction may have been recent or several months (even) years ago, but its’ emotional and mental impediment still remains. You say you’ve tried to move on; you go out, you meet people, but still like, a layer of ice, it shields you from any warm and fuzzy emotions. All of this may be true, but are you trying to demo this wall with sticks or a hand grenade? It’s going to take a whole lot more than a handful of happy hours and blind dates for you to actually overcome the emotional landmine keeping you from happiness.
The first step is to breathe. Breathe out all that negative, wounded, angry energy and release it from your mind and heart. It is contaminating you and there is no place for it inside of you anymore. If breathing doesn’t do it, write it out. Write a letter to whomever or whatever put you in this emotional impairment in the first place; pour everything into it. When recalling what happened, take yourself out of the situation, see what really happened versus what happened to only you. Remembering and analyzing the situation is only half the battle of moving past it, understanding and accepting the outcome is the entirely different and second half of this process. Now read it over, again, and again until you are satisfied then light it on fire and flush it down the toilet. Seriously.
Instead of looking at the situation as solely negative, change your perspective. What have you learned from this experience? What would you have done differently? Would you have handled yourself the same way? How are you going to be better for this? I know this line is annoying and overused, but, I believe, that everything does happen for a reason. Whatever “bad” we endure makes us stronger and wiser and we should never regret anything. For it is all the “mistakes,” the good, the painful, everything and anything at all, that contributes to your story and your life. There is nothing exciting or interesting about a story that is all rainbows and butterflies! Embrace everything you felt, learned, loved and let go of the all that is anchoring you down from living your life to its fullest. You’ve only got one chance, one adventure, make it exciting and worth retelling.
HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY NAVIGATE THE DATING SCENE; THE MUST LIST
Dating is like navigating an uncharted jungle, someplace exotic, full of potentially harmful creatures and full of cliffs (steep, deadly, and heartbreakingly dangerous that you may fall off of/for). It can be extremely intimidating and scary for those justgetting back into the overgrown greenery in hopes to find whatever version of a treasure they are looking for. Thankfully, through trial and tribulations, headways have been made on how to successfully chart your path on this unknown venture we all call dating.
Stop! Before you join a dating site, or put on your most flattering outfit to attract whatever kind of man you’re hoping to snare, or spread the word that you’re open for business, deep dive into some self-discovery. For all those who have ever attempted to change his questionable ways, or got tired of making excuses for his bad behavior, or were ever blindsided by entirely different version of man you thought you knew, take a step back and determine the following: What do YOU want? What are YOU looking for? Don’t get overwhelmed, it’s much easier than you may think, you just need to sit down and make your “MUST LIST.”
A “MUST LIST” is not a superficial fantasy list. Don’t waste your time with detailing the physical traits you what your next beau to come equipped with. Instead, this list is focused on the things that truly matter in a relationship, the deal makers and breakers for you. Before you start dating/flirting/browsing again, make your list. Having a clear, unbiased mindset enables you to see through his charming pickup lines and dreamy eyes and see him for who he really is not the person you want him to be or are determined to change him into. Your list is individual to what you are looking for in not only in your next relationship, as a whole, but also in the next person you emotionally, physically, and financially invest in. If you were car shopping would you base your decision solely on how it looks? Of course not! You should have a solid understanding of what you want and expect (a romantic ROI- return on investment) from your next partner, but, be flexible, nobody is perfect and going to hit every bullet on your list (and if they do, skip the games and snag him!).
Most relationships/marriages break up due to differences in career/personal goals, expectations, upbringing/lifestyle, and intellectual incompatibility. By writing down (and keeping in mind while you’re out in the thicket) what you want and need out of your next partner, you are taking the preliminary steps to eliminate future potential problems. It’s OK to be selfish, a relationship should benefit both parties not force one to compromise/conform. A potential suitor does not need to meet each of your requirements in order to be qualified as “datable,” however, the more “musts” they meet theoretically improves your compatibility. If you’ve had bad luck with your latest relationship(s), it may be who you are dating, so take some time, reassess, and write it down. Dating isn’t easy, but you can make it so much easier if you create your own personal map. Everyone deserves a relationship that makes them happy, it’s a must.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS AND BEING HUMAN
Love is synonymous with loss. Unfortunately at one point or another you will face the inevitable loss of someone, something, an idea, a dream, but with that also comes unparalleled experiences that far surpass any pain you may encounter. “THEY” say the greater the love, the greater the loss, the more heartache, the longer it takes to “get over” that person, but what is often left out, even I forget sometimes, is how incredible and exciting it all can be. A great love can change your life for the better.
There are countless movies, books, plays, poems written to mirror this seemingly elusive and un-fabricated emotional state that we are inescapably trying to attain (whether we want to admit it or not). But a true, earth-shattering love is but an eclipse of what is captured on any silver screen or printed on any page. Relationships teach us unequaled lessons than does not experiencing it first hand and, yes, this means actually putting yourself and heart out there. In this sheer state of venerability we are more susceptible to encounter a multitude of feelings never truly felt before. The act of putting down your guard, jumping in head first, doing your absolute best, and being truly open to another individual enriches your life, despite what pain may ensue from fights, breakups, and other uncertainties that will undoubtedly find their way into your coupledom.
What I learned about relationships is that YOU are responsible for 50% of everything in your relationship. However individually you are responsible for 100% of how you feel, how you react, what you put in, how you help out, how you keep the sparks still ignited, how to handle yourself in a fight, and how to execute a successful resolution. Although there are two people in the relationship, you cannot blame your actions on the other person’s. It gets you absolutely nowhere. A reactive relationship is not a happy one. No matter how tempting it is to fire back at the other person after they’ve hurt you, think about it first, more often times than not whatever you think you heard wasn’t truly intended and miscommunication is at source of the argument.
I also came across an article on Oprah.com, http://www.oprah.com/relationships/How-to-Know-Its-Real-Love-Advice-from-Martha-Beck/1, that outlines what “real” and mature love really is.
- That you can live without this person: they may be the love of your life but you absolutely can live without them if ever you had to
- Understanding and accepting that your love will change for one another: when couples unite, they go through the different stages of coupledom, but eventually the “honeymoon” phase wears off and you have two, real people, and it’s how the both of you interact and maintain your relationship after the newness diminishes and you are together for years and face numerous uncertainties, both good and bad
- Realizing and being okay with the fact that you are not each other’s “everything”: it is unhealthy to do everything together. Although you share a life and love with this person you need to have your own life and hobbies so that you can come back and enrich each other’s lives with what you experience and also to get a break from one another!
- Embrace honesty and freedom: both partners should always feel like they can tell the truth and speak freely with one another. If ever there is a fear of coming forward, with anything, this is when and where lying, deception, and hiding things start. Be open and honest and no one will get hurt.
- Be true to yourself: don’t morph into what you think or want your partner to be. They fell in love with you, not a cloned version of themselves, unless they like themselves that much and then we have a different problem.
Sometimes it takes loss and separation to fully grasp what you experienced in your relationship. Perhaps taking some time (together or sometimes, separate) and thinking about what you have learned, what you have realized, and how much you’ve grown as an individual can help you reassess where you stand/stood/or want to be in your relationship. However cynical I may sometimes come across, I do believe in love and how it can change/save lives, relationships, and situations and that it’s never too late to try again/ or a little bit harder.
I am the first to admit it, I am a highly emotional human being. More often times than not I act before I think rationally which hasn’t always landed me in the best of circumstances especially in relationships. Many people can relate to this behavior and can agree that screaming matches have occurred far too much, grudges are held too long, and issues still lay under the surface unresolved. How do you handle the hurt and all the other, many, emotions in a disagreement?
Since I usually don’t follow these rules, stating them now will be more like a goal list on how to behave when tensions rise. I would assume that somewhere down the line our conflict-resolution skills were developed as children and we most likely mirrored the actions of our parents, which may or may not have been the best examples. So let’s start from scratch.
- take a deep breath
- scratch counting to ten, count to 120, that’s two full minutes were your brain and your heart can take a time-out
- stay away from social media, cell phones, or anything else that is considered viral (note to self)
- physically separate yourself from the situation or person so no more damage ensues
- write down or create a voice memo (every cell phone is capable of doing this, it’s really amazing) and talk/write how you feel then listen to it or reread what you wrote
- after you’ve calmed down re-approach the situation and individual with a more rational, complete statement of your feelings
No one is perfect, and things are done and said in the heat of the moment that are most often not reflective of your true emotions and feelings. There’s always room for improvement, cool heads, and of course, apologies (when warranted, of course).
So, for the record, I’m sorry for being completely out of line (sometimes) when in the middle of an argument, hurt or not, it’s (not always) called for.
THERE’S ALWAYS MORE ROOM FOR MORE HEARTBREAK.
My sister has always told me that people never change. I, the eternal optimist, believe that people are capable of changing if it is both truly wanted and inherent. I guess I’m a fool. I have learned the hard way that people, generally men in their mid to late twenties and up, are set in their ways and although they may have pleaded that they have transformed internally, it’s usually bullsh*t.
Everybody knows somebody who has fallen for the classic, “But, baby, I’ve changed” promise. And in that moment when the inevitable pain starts to sink back in is when, again, you realize that you have been duped and that all your friends, family, and countrymen were right all along. The worst feeling (in the world) is when you’ve already been heartbroken by someone, barely survived it, reeled yourself in, and somehow found it within yourself to stand on your own two feet again, you’re doing better than you had in months (since your breakup), and then not only does he come back into your life, he comes back with earth-shattering revelations and things that he never had the balls to confess to you before. You’re floored. Your friends are shocked. Tears are shed. Finally, there was the communication that you’ve been waiting for, poor timing aside. The truth is that more often times than not, it might be a lie. It might just be a product of loneliness, boredom, and the realization that you’re so much better off without him and he can’t stand that, so he makes a guest appearance back into your life/heart.
As women, we are suckers for believing that people that we love/d can change. We want it to be true to heal all of our wounds and (still) broken heart, so much that we completely disregard our better judgment, our friends’ advice, and the blatant writing on the wall, to invest our energy and emotions in this self-proclaimed change. We so desperately want this other person to be capable of transforming all their bad ways in order to cope with the pain and hurt that both they and the relationship caused. Somehow despite all the things that happened and weren’t done, the things, said, the fights had, we can look past all that and believe again (in him). It’s truly a proclamation to the strength and love within (a woman’s) someone’s heart and being to do that, but in many cases it won’t ever be enough to materialize that “change” into healed hearts and positive actions and outcomes. The promise of change is like a new lease on life, and in many cases, love. We get so sidetracked with what could be that we fail to realize that most times it can never be until, again all those promises that were once made are broken again, and the idea change resumes its place in your fantasy coupled up with Prince Charming and other fairy tale nonsense.
THERE’S A NATIONAL SINGLES WEEK, AND NO, I’M NOT JOKING.
I wouldn’t be surprised that, with some investigation (i.e. a simple Google search), I would find that every day of a the year is most likely dedicated to some silly cause, classification, or celebration. Well, apparently this goes for singledom as well. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous, do people really, truly, celebrate “national weeks” like this? Are there specific flags touting whatever you/organization think is worthwhile to make enough fuss over? Although, a week doesn’t need to be dedicated to your solo relationship status, there are many reasons to celebrate being single.
Most of us (including myself for that matter) would never know that this national week is even existence except for the blogs (on Glamour) noting its establishment and then quickly listing ways to buff up your online dating profile to avoid “lone” lifestyle. BEFORE you start editing whatever social profile you may be sporting in the cybersphere, hold up. While some changes may be necessary (like any photos of you doing the kiss face/duck face are never sexy, cute, nor okay), perhaps you should embrace the unique features that make you, you (bad grammar and all).
What’s the big rush anyway? I feel like since I was a child I had a one-track mind, and that track was boys. I always was crushin’ (pathetically) on someone. I don’t think there was ever a grade from pre-k and up that I wasn’t pining over someone of the opposite sex. There are so many things I would say to that 5 year old version of me, such as, “cool kids are independent,” “don’t focus on boys until you’ve focused enough on yourself and your goals,” and “don’t put up with anyone who treats you any less than how you believe you deserve to be treated (no matter how outrageous that degree may be).” Instead I fed into the fantasy worlds created by Disney, Barbie, and every bit of media that my sponge-like brain could absorb. Six months ago, I’d be re-reading and editing the shi*t out of not only a virtual representation of me but also myself, to confirm to whatever “standard” of sexy that was currently in hopes of being more desirable (to men). It takes time, but I believe that growing up and finding out who YOU really are grounds you as a person, and single (or not) that’s something to celebrate.
MOVING ON IS THE HARDEST PART.
Like many women, I enjoy romantic comedies. Unlike many women, I LOVE well-written, entirely relatable, funny, but often, tear-jerking romantic comedies; for all those in agreeance see “Celeste & Jesse Forever” (http://www.sonyclassics.com/celesteandjesseforever/).The movie documents one couple’s divorce and the (painful) struggle of maintaining their (close) friendship while moving on with their lives. Although the exact circumstances and situations that unfold for these two characters may not ever happen to you or I, the concept remains true to everyone fiction or not.
Perhaps I should fess up. Although I have always been very honest about my opinions when it comes to well, anything, I was never this cynical (I prefer, cautious and “real”) when it came to love, relationships, and marriage. My “realism” came about through growing up and experiencing life (at its worst and best); the most amazing and turbulent relationship followed by the most painful breakup of my life. Although our roller-coaster romance propelled me into a whirlwind of sh*t, somehow I survived, and more miraculous than that, I don’t hate him. Anger makes letting go and moving on so much easier and, believe me, I tried so hard to think about everything that had transpired to get furious enough in an attempt to shut the door on the last two and a half years of my life. However I made I conscious decision that I didn’t want to hold onto anger and moreover, have it reside in my heart. I truly believe that is playing house with anger is far more unhealthy than curling up with a pint of B&J (or bottle of wine, or for those who have willpower and a form of super-heroism, a treadmill) and letting your emotional inhibitions loose every now and then.
I am not going to spoil the movie for anyone who wants to (finally see an excellent “chick” flick) it. But what I can tell you is that it is true; the process, the pain, the grieving, the healing, the letting go; moving on. There’s no such thing as easy, fair, or painless when it comes to breaking up (even after everything is broken) and the piecing yourself back together part. It hurts all the way around but what I can promise is that eventually it gets easier, that you will find a new form of “normal” that you will be even more comfortable with because you created it yourself for yourself. No part of living or living is easy, if it were we wouldn’t want it (because let’s face it we usually want what we can’t easily attain).
THE, VERY TRUE, 90 DAY PRINCIPLE.
I enjoy reading articles and books of my choosing. I rarely, if ever, read manuals, directions, recipes. I just don’t like following rules and I am far too impatient to stick the step-by-step directions on doing anything. This intolerance has resulted in horrible mishaps in the kitchen (but also some new tasty creations), unstable furniture, and getting severally lost too many times to count. But one rule I do follow and believe in (now) is the 90 Day Principle.
Although I wish I coined this theory, I did not, I can however say that I have tested it out and it is (sadly/scary) accurate. The 90 Day Principle is a theory that outlines the four phases two individuals go through during their (who guessed it?) 90 days of coupledom. These phases include: the honeymoon phase, the getting comfortable phase, conflict/resolution, and whether or not you decide to continue your relationship or realize that magic wore off before at the three month mark. Let’s face it; both parties are on their best behavior for at least the first month to month and a half of any relationship. More often than not, neither person is in any version of “rare” form during this time, instead, they are rushing to look/smell desirable in the morning, making an effort to put the toilet seat down, and doing all those other things that would chalk them up to be considered “perfect.”
Everyone, sooner or later, will learn that the 90 Day Principle is valid, and they will most likely learn this lesson the hard way, aka a failed budding relationship. I get it! It’s exciting, s/he’s “everything you’ve ever wanted” (doubtful), you love hanging out with them (playing house, as things start to settle and the all those fun dates slowly turn into night after night of home cooked meals and logging far too much couch/tv time), and you really feel that s/he really gets you. I am going to say this because, you deserve to hear (read) the truth; IT’S NOT REAL. What you are experiencing right now with this other person is a test run, it’s like hopping into a new, flashy car, the slick ride you’ve been eyeing ever since you got a hefty paycheck and you are test driving this puppy. At first you are excited, in “love” with this car; in fact, you love the color, the look, the feel, the smell, the way you feel while driving, the way people react as you pull up in your hot wheels, and you think, “I am so happy, this is the best car ever, it’s better than any other car out there.” Over time, more specifically the first ninety days of owning this vehicle, your excitement slowly starts to wear. You start to notice little things like how the car handles, little scratches, how expensive/upkeep it takes to maintain this car, and then you start to compare your car to newer models that are coming fresh off the lot. Can I be any clearer? The first 90 days of a relationship is a test drive, so much that it fits the analogy of a new car to a (model)”T.”
I understand how aaaamazing it feels during the first month/month and a half of a new relationship. It’s new, it’s fresh, and it makes you feel good. But the best way to handle the beginning of a budding romance is to take it slow and as rationally as you possibly can. There is a chance that those feelings (that you believe to be “love”) are real and may materialize to being such, but there’s also a more realistic possibility that what you are feeling is infatuation and excitement and not l’amour. Cool your jets, if it’s real, it will surpass 90 days, 900 days, even more than 9000 days. Take your time; your wallet, expectations, and heart will thank you later (90 days later that is).
THE THING ABOUT WEDDINGS.
My oldest girlfriend is getting married tomorrow and up until today I was skeptical about the whole thing. Not because I don’t believe in marriage or don’t believe that they are perfect for one another (they totally are), but because they seem so young and how can you possibly know at my age (or even, younger) what you want/ who you will love for the rest of your life? However, as the bridal party was going through the motions of the rehearsal, it all became very apparent that sometimes age has nothing to do with it.
A few years ago, I thought and wanted to get married by the time I was twenty-five. Being that I am twenty-four and know now that I am nowhere near mentally/physically/emotionally/financially ready, my “plans” have obviously adjusted and such, my perception on marriage. Marriage is a big deal. It is not all fluffy dresses and open bars (love both though), it’s a commitment between two people that no matter what sh*t happens; they will stick together and work through it.
The unfortunate reality is that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. This statistic and the sheer price tag of the big day deters a lot of people from racing down the alter until much later in life, if at all. I wonder if people who opt for divorce were never really “right” for one another, gave up too easily, or never really wanted in the first place. I worried about my friends because they are young, but when I saw them in all their wedding bliss, all I could think was, “Wow, these two people are so in love.” The way they interacted made me truly want what they so fortunately have someday.
Despite how much TLC and celebrity weddings broadcasted on every media outlet, we (most women and myself) absorb, I find that the more each love story prides itself on being “reality” the less it becomes and feels less real. To them, tomorrow is not about anything besides them as individuals. Just two people celebrating their love and devotion for each other and the promise of a future of uncertainties, with the one certainty being one another.
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO DATE? (AND YES, I’M BEING “FOR REAL,” GIRL)
It’s sad to say but women these days do not know what acceptable dates consist of. Back in the “olden” days, it was expected for the gentleman to pick the lady up at her house, greet her parents, and take her out for dinner/drinks, and then return her home at a reasonable hour. In today’s world, dating has been d-evolved into “hanging out” but calling it a date to glamourize it. No matter how much you dress up the title, you’re sitting on a stranger’s couch drinking boxed wine out of a solo cup; this is no date, my friend.
When I started to date I made it very clear what I expected from my potential suitors; that I wanted to be taken OUT on a date NOT hang out on their couch where they try to booze me up enough in hopes to get lucky. I’m not that type of girl and you shouldn’t be either! It has absolutely nothing to do with being high maintenance or having high standards, it’s about setting expectations which ultimately decide future course of whatever relationship you have with this person.
If you think about it, this person is a stranger. Maybe you met him once or twice before at a crowded bar, accompanied with the liquid courage (and confidence) that you’ve been aggressively sipping on for the last couple of hours. You have no idea who this person is, what his story is (and more importantly, BAGGAGE is!), or if he has a dark side. In today’s world you can never be too safe with meeting someone new, the awful truth is that we live in a messed up world. Pretty, “strong”, all-knowing women disappear, are murdered, and are sexually assaulted every day; you cannot take your chances (and your life) on a cute guy with a great smile that you met out last Friday! You say you are smart, got the grades in college, so act smart in your personal life!
When it comes to dating you need to implement some rules for safety (both physically and emotionally):
- Dates 1-4 should be in a public, open place
- Never get into a car, go into a dark places, or anywhere that you’re alone until at least date 3
- Don’t get physical prematurely, make him wait (why the hell not?)
- Take your time getting to know one another, you’re playing poker, baby, don’t put all your cards on the table!
- Honesty isn’t always the best policy (at least in the beginning of the relationship): everyone’s got skeletons, but you don’t need to clean out your closets and dump your dirty laundry on him and your potential future together, it will scare him off.
- NO SLEEPOVERS until you are official! This faux coupledom you’re playing around with will only get someone hurt, and it most likely be you.
- Wait 90 days to make up your mind and heart about someone. It isn’t love after a day, a week, or even a month. It takes quality time together to really get know one another. What you’re feeling is infatuation, it will wear off, I promise.
- First impressions and gut feelings are the most honest, so listen to yourself. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t force it.
You’re a respectable woman, date like it.
SOMETIMES, EMPHASIS ON “SOMETIMES”, IT’S OKAY TO BE THAT GIRL
When’s the last time you allowed yourself to “act like a damn fool?” And when I refer to “foolishness” I do not mean drunk, I am referring to acting like the giddy, wide-eyed, big-dream-conceiving, blissfully optimistic girl you most likely once world before you got well acquainted with the world.
We get caught up in our lives, we take things far too seriously, and we cry/think/harp over some part of our past too much to move on with our amazing future. This is nature, this is being a woman. But somehow, no matter what challenges that we are faced with, we overcome them, because (most of us) have this inherent inability to succumb to whatever bullsh*t we have the (mis)fortune of facing. As I get older I have realized that all those painful, difficult moments that I have gone through, that made absolutely no sense as to why they were happening to me at the time (how could so much pain ever be good for us?) made me a better individual. However, despite all the lessons I have learned, all the hardships hurdled, it’s okay (every now and then) to let your guard (and wall) down and feel again.
I suggest implementing (what you can of) a controlled environment. In this environment, that crush you’ve been seriously debating letting into your heart/life, renting that cheesy chick flick that you KNOW will make you cry like a baby, vegging out with whatever you once did with your girlfriends (or solo), I suggest you do it. Establish a specific time, date, and length and give into to your inhibitions. Even devout dieters have “cheat days,” so what’s wrong with letting your strict guidelines you’ve created (to keep yourself safe, sane, and in shape) loose every now and then? The problem with conforming to our rules that we put in place (to ultimately protect us) is that we slowly become rigid and all those feelings that we once felt (too much) don’t come around as often as we’d like (allow) them to.
There are a few things that differentiate us from robots and most men, a major difference is that we can feel (sometimes far too much) a whole variety of emotions over the most simplistic of things. Over time, many of us have adapted the ways of the opposite sex and have implemented limits on what to feel for and how much to feel things as a protective mechanism. However experiencing the whole spectrum of emotions enables us to grow. It teaches us what is meant to be and inevitably what wasn’t/isn’t and although we rise to the occasion of becoming wiser and stronger for it, the greatest lesson of all to learn is how to, despite all the bullsh*t we’ve been through, to feel, love, cry, and act foolish again.
Underlying years of denial, the truth is that we are all looking for someone (or something) to make us feel some version of happy and/or “whole.” This mentality, which was enforced at a very young age, implies that our life’s successes, although perhaps plentiful in every other aspect, does not weigh as much as does a healthy, loving relationship. It’s not fair, it’s unrealistic, however, no matter how many achievements a person has accomplished, there’s always the question, “But why is s/he single?”
The main lesson I have learned in my time in and out of relationships is that you do not need a boyfriend or girlfriend to be happy or to be “whole.” You can be wildly successful professionally and feel complete all on your own without having someone else. Focusing on yourself is the safest bet you could make. You are your own ROI (return on investment). No one is going to do the dirty work for you and life will not be overly gracious to you, handing you all the leg-ups without you putting your blood, sweat, and tears into achieving whichever status you’re aiming for. But after the day is done, and you’ve got your pile of gold, or whatever you wanted, you may then start to wonder, “How and where do I find love?”
This elusive, some thought to be, mythical, concept doesn’t appear magically on your doorstep and I hate to be the one to tell you this, but Cupid doesn’t exist either. Finding THE ONE is like fishing, the only way to ever get a bite, is to be constantly putting yourself back out there, despite catching minnows and other undesirables, eventually, you’ll catch someone (hopefully not something) that (you didn’t know you were looking for all your life) you been making such an effort for.
I read an article about someone who was killed by a disgruntled employee. The article closed with how successful, generous, kind-hearted the victim was and then also stated that he had didn’t have a family of his own. This man most likely worked hard all of his life, accomplished many things professionally, but what readers will take away from this was he put his career first, put family life off, to be murdered by some employee he had fired the week prior. The moral of the story is that you should find your version of happiness because life is short and unpredictable and measured not by your successes but by the relationships you have formed along the way.
THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT SHACKING UP.
In today’s world, the idea of moving in with a boyfriend is so highly glamourized that more and more young(er) ladies are merrily forgoing their independence, space, and sanity to embrace the full frontal of coupledom. Living with your significant other before tying the knot is absolutely essential because, let’s be honest, you really don’t know another individual until you’re spending just about every waking/free moment with them and then cleaning up after them, doing their laundry, and constantly having an internal battle of hard limits vs pet peeves. However, while playing house is fun, many are starting to face the realization that by jumping into (the same) bed has only propelled themselves into a “hurry up and wait” situation; where they play the wife role sans title, ring, and there is no set timetable when their GF status will be upgraded.
It happens to the best of us, and when I say that, I mean, it happened to me and a few friends I know (and I’m sure you know some fabulous ladies that also found themselves in this situation as well). When you’re asked to move in with your boyfriend, you literally jump for joy. You pick out decorations, accessories, go house/apartment shopping, all the while you are dreaming up this little perfect love nest you are building and how it will lead to your own version of “happily ever after.” Before you know it, it’s been a couple of years, you definitely resent your him for the most minuscule things; not taking the wet clothes out of the washing machine and putting them into the dryer, how he puts his dishes in the sink when the dishwasher is RIGHT there, and how he leaves his sopping wet towel on the bed or the floor. You wonder how you ever got to this point, when just a few years prior love songs played in your head every day, you couldn’t wait to make his dinner, and you knew without a doubt, that you wanted to marry this man because he was perfect (emphasis on the word WAS). The conversations about your future have been put on hold because he decided that he wanted to go back to school and that marriage, your potential family, and dreams could wait until it was convenient for him, and suddenly, you have no idea where this is going anymore or even if this is what you wanted in the first place.
Years ago you were sold on a dream that you had been conjuring up your entire life. A dream where you would find someone who you were madly in love with, always put a smile on your face, who’d split the chores 50/50, let you win sometimes, and you would be safe and secure. Your relationship would never have the problems that your parents’ had, because you knew better and you’d be together, forever. That dream is a lie. I am not even saying that because I am slightly cynical, and I am slightly cynical, I am saying it because it’s the truth. Most women, collectively, want this because we were all force-fed this same ideal, but unlike our mothers we don’t believe that we need marriage as pre-requisite to live with the “love of our life.” So we move in. We fall into the same roles our mothers/fathers played in their relationship, and you find yourself thinking, “I am just like my mother.”
How do you avoid this relationship sinkhole? Honesty. Before you shack up with your significant other, make sure you both have a clear understanding of what “moving in together,” means to the both of you and what both of your desired outcomes of it will be. Sometimes, you both will head into with the same goal (marriage) but life happens; you realize you are too different/want different things/ you can’t stand him after all. Communicate, communicate, communicate. I cannot stress this enough. There needs to be clear lines of communication with your partner. Don’t hold it in, hold grudges, or hold your own (because you think it’ll be easier and won’t cause an issue, it always will cause an issue… just not this second). Be honest with him and yourself; if it bothers you, tell him and if you find that you’re unhappy, tell him and also tell yourself, that even though you have an amazingly furnished apartment in a great location, sometimes two peas don’t belong in the same pod.
GOOD IS BORING AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT.
You’ve tried. She’s tried. I’ve tried. We’ve all desperately tried to be GOOD in our lives at one point or another. There some people who are genuinely good, they smile 98% of the time, there’s a bounce in their step, their manners are impeccable, they wear long(er) dresses, and bystanders often ask themselves, “How the hell is she so damn happy all the time?” The truth is that they aren’t, but they would never let the rest of the world know that they are (sometimes as miserable as we are) normal.
There are rules that come with donning the title of “good.” Rules that make you second guess your golden ways because it’s more difficult to keep up the positive song and dance and not step on anyone’s toes than it is to be average or just plain “bad” (oh, you rebel, you). Good girls play it safe, they usually don’t take risks, they date “harmless” (is there such a thing?) boys, and they sure as hell don’t sleep around, am I right? That’s what everyone thinks, well, that’s what I thought. Since
high school college I have been trying to be “good.” Why? Because I didn’t want a reputation and I thought that I was ready to settle down in my “safe” (HAH) risk-free relationship. Even when things crashed and burned (the whole place down) I still didn’t want to become an honorary member of “The Bad Girls Club” because of my post-breakup behavior. Although it was tempting to seek solace with some stranger, when I was going through coupledom withdrawal, I stuck it out. Getting over a relationship, the person, the things you did together, your weekend traditions is like weaning yourself off a highly addictive drug that you’ve been using a crutch for the last several years of your life. The only way to do this successfully is to go cold turkey and face the sound of silence; i.e. separate yourself to gain independence. So I did, I did it until I started to enjoy being on my own (and let me tell you, it is SO liberating). But let’s face the music, it’s nice to have someone too. And it’s usually best if this someone is unknown to your circle of friends, or in this case, your friend’s ex boyfriend.
I read an article in Glamour today citing an example of girl whose ex boyfriend ended their two year tryst, in the spring, to “find his own happiness” (i.e. another lady). Devastated, she went through all the phases and cycles of a breakup and was finally coming to terms with what had happened and was moving on. She doing a-ok until she found out that her best friend and her ex were in love and moving in together. Now, that is a very drastic example of “recycling” an ex boyfriend, but is it ever okay to date your friend’s former beau? I can tell you right now, the ONLY things that good girls recycle are plastic, paper, and cardboard; however can you still be “good” but do something as “bad” as dating someone’s old flame?
Personally, I think it’s circumstantial. I know that I am way too jealous of a human being to gleefully share a past love with one of my BFFs, even though I know that my ex boyfriend’s are in relationship/engaged and I am 100% okay with it and that is due to the fact that I don’t know these girls personally/at all. I think the reason why there is such a stigma with dating a friend’s ex is due to the memories that they shared, the good/bad/ugly, and how they most likely turned to you when things were rough. As a “good” friend, you listened, ate B&J, and cried together watching “PS I LOVE YOU” for the 100th time (in a week) and then after seeing all the pain and misery that they went through, you brush it off and sleep with the enemy, literally. But there has to be an exception right? Is there ever enough water under the bridge, years passed, and new memories formed (with someone else) to make it kosher to fall for a friend’s former lover? Jury’s out on this one, ladies and gentlemen!
EVEN SANTA WANTS A “THANK YOU.”
Both men and women play the gift-giving roles. You have to, largely due to Hallmark and the rest of superficial “holidays” that America likes to celebrate then, subsequentially, significant others/crushes are roped into buying a cheesy pink stuffed bear that say, “luv u,” when you squeeze its’ cheaply stuffed belly (I hate stuffed animals) or else you “don’t care, “you’re insensitive,” or an “emotionless jerk.” But birthdays, birthdays are a whole different ballgame. Birthdays deserve gifts without exception and with that; they deserve a “thank you.”
I have had 24 birthdays, most of which were awesome. I love everything about birthdays, it’s the day you’ve arrived on this planet, you should definitely, without a doubt celebrate it. I even enjoying throwing parties, both for myself and for others, equipped with lots of unnecessary amounts of planning to ensure that everyone has a grand ole time. Oh, and I also love gift-giving. I like to “think outside the box” or “going above and beyond” and I find this is usually the case for those who are currently crushin’ it or in love. Way back when, I used to be the ugliest ducking, and I would make little birthday gift bags to give to boys who I had borderline stalker crushes on and they and all their 4’5″ friends would make fun of me in the lunchroom. I would never quite understand why I was being made fun of after I just did something so nice but it happened anyway. I rarely got a, “Thank you, I, too, share the same magnitude of crush on you,” instead it was more like, “Leave me alone, you’re ugly and a good foot+ taller than I am.” Let’s just say I now know when it’s appropriate to give gifts and when it’s best to stay away, also, twelve years have passed, so things inevitably have changed (all good changes, too, lunchroom boys).
Some people find birthdays awkward because a) it’s their upcoming BIG DAY and they are unsure to what their lover/significant other will give them (and they are nervous on their behalf) or b) it’s their lover/significant other’s day of birth and they have no idea what to get him/her because a) they aren’t that into them or b) they are that into them. This has happened to a near and dear friend of mine recently, and I understand her pain. They aren’t together, but they are sleeping together, and she likes him enough to get him a gift but not enough to commit and the jury is out on his feelings towards her and their potential future together. She wrestled with the idea of even getting him anything at all but then the argument is made, “well, I get my friends birthday gifts so why shouldn’t I get him a birthday gift?” At what point is it acceptable/expected to get your non-committal luv-buddy a token of celebration? Unfortunately, NOTHING IS EVER SIMPLE. If you get him/her something too extravagant it’ll send them the, “I’m seriously into you” message which may scare them. If you don’t get anything, then s/he feels like you don’t care about them and reaffirms their position of a “playmate.” FYI Birthdays aren’t supposed to be this complicated! They are supposed to be joyous and should always be accompanied with balloons and cake!
So how do you win this battle of the birthday gift? Depending on where you stand with whatever s/he is to you, give appropriately but always give something. When in doubt, always go with food and a card; a cake, candy basket, order them lunch, or take them out to dinner. Never, ever, ever say, “Your birthday gift is in the mail…” I was told that and it just put both of us in an awkward position. I kept wondering where the f*ck my gift was and he avoided it like the plague and we are no longer together (but it wasn’t due to the gift, although it probably should have been). Birthdays are supposed to cause happiness and excitement, not ulcers. The thought always does count and so does a “thank you;” bon chance and bon annversaire.
SORRY, COWBOY BUT YOUR TRUSTY STEED RODE OFF INTO THE WIND WITHOUT YOU.
I find it really funny when men royally screw up, end things, or completely go M.I.A. and then expect to come back to open arms (and legs). Why do they expect to not be held responsible for sh*tty behavior? It’s because in general, most women, let them get away with whatever they did or didn’t do. Most of the poor traits we see in our men are largely due to the women that were in their lives not saying,”HELL NO, YOU CAN’T SOLICIT ANY SORT OF LUVIN’ FROM ME AFTER YOU BROKE MY F*CKING HEART.” Instead, desperate for some shred of closure or attention, these duds are let back in (and even get a fresh pair of sheets!) and then as, hopeless romatics/eternal optimists, aka most women, we are FLOORED when they leave again(even though they PROMISED never to hurt you again...).
This has happened to everyone; either you have let them back into your life/heart or you haven’t. Props to those who had the strength
every most of the time and said no to your former lovers and shut the door on his lingering hopes and unfulfilled loneliness (horniness) that has brought he back in the first place. I recently had an ex contact me, under the guise of an apology for his bad behavior and his exit from my life. At this point, I was completely over him and the bullsh*t so his efforts of remorse didn’t mean much to me either way. What made me stop in my tracks and think, “WOW, MY SISTER WAS SO RIGHT,” was a text message I recently received. Where a “how’s work?” turned into him confessing that he misses getting action, almost expecting that I would volunteer my body as if it were a service! LADIES, YOU ARE NOT A CAR WASH; you are NOT a one stop convenience shop where he can choose the services he pleases whenever he pleases.
“THEY” say that behind every great man, there’s a great woman, which translates to women basically rule the world because, inadvertently, we control “THE MAN.” If you can’t stand up for yourself when your hit-and-run-hun comes a knockin,’ think of your best friend, your sister, your daughter, and your future daughters and don’t degrade yourself to being someone’s (sexy) doormat. YOU/ME/WE are better than that (s)expectation! If he can leave once, he can leave again and no matter how amazingly talented you are (and you totally are), it won’t be enough to keep him in your life any more than superficially/sexually, and it’s not worth the heartache/baggage/or any dirty souvenirs he may have acquired when he was “finding himself.” Protect yourself, your heart, set those standards, and SHUT THE DOOR/delete the text/ignore the call/walk away, when he comes back (because eventually, they will all come back).
THAT THING YOU SHOULD BE DOING.
I recently cleaned out my closet, more so physically than mentally (but that’s happening slowly, I don’t have the complete seasons of Grey’s, Sex in the City, and a bottle of vino to quite handle that joyride yet). Anyway, I found a very vintage shirt and leather jacket that belonged to my mother (she’s still alive, I just stole these belongings from her) and I did what every girl should do every now and again, I played dress-up.
I’m 24 years (young) old, but sometimes a girl needs to put on her mother’s clothes from the ’80s and dance around her room to The Killers. Instead of in-taking countless calories by drinking myself happy, I burned them off. I even was smiling without going into a stooper. This was better than finding the giant chunks of deliciousness in a pint of B&J, better than a really good first date, or the super-cheesy-but-makes-you-cry-like-a-damn-fool part of a chick flick, all because it was self-induced! OK I’ll admit it, I used to be one of those girls who depended on another person (
usually a guy) to make me happy. I was hands-down pathetic. I think at the time I even annoyed myself, I KNOW I annoyed everyone else around me, but I was a dumb kid, what did I know about “men” or L’AMOUR for that matter? I knew nothing. I knew of push-up bras (that I could never fill/still can’t), Lancôme juicy tubes, and whatever horrid article of clothing my parents painfully smiled and said, “you look…. great, dear,” as I strutted around the then “glamorous” halls of Crossgates Mall.
Let’s face it. We all went through those phases where we thought we knew everything but really knew nothing and eventually we fell on our glossy-lipped faces and we had to in order to grow up. No one ever said that maturing would be graceful and that your swan-like transformation (that you were promised would happen and it was the only thing that got you through days of relentless bullying because you were “pear-shaped”)wouldn’t leave you short of a few feathers, and so we never knew what is coming until it did. Many of us, found “confidence” in men because they said nice things (but even little boys have
big (who are we kidding?!) expectations) and those words of flattery didn’t come without an agenda. We slowly forgot what we once did to make ourselves happy and we chased around pre-pubescent boys to glean whatever table-scrap compliments we could to feel “pretty.” Even as we get older, we continue to do this, but instead of getting giddy over calling up Johnny after school, we want the package; we want the husband-to-be/live-at-home-make-a-life-with-me-boyfriend in order to feel “whole.” We completely forget how to stand on our own two feet and feel pretty sans Johnny, or any Tom/Dick/or Harry for that matter.
However the universe always has a way of coming back around and reminding you that you’re being as naive as a that glossy-lipped, wide-eyed, and big-hearted girl you once were and, once again, you’re back on the ground. But this time, in your descent upwards, to a stronger, more fulfilling, exciting life, do yourself a favor, and do it without the harness of a man. You can climb this mountain, molehill, or whatever obstacle you have before you on your own. You did it once, you just need to remember. Growing up wasn’t easy then and it definitely isn’t easy now, but sometimes the best way to deal with LIFE is to take a break from all the “adult” things you’ve been doing and kid yourself again. You may actually find that you miss making yourself happy and the view from up top is better knowing that you made it on your own.
I THINK I SHOULD BREAK UP WITH YOU, CHOCOLATE AND EVERYTHING ELSE BAD FOR ME.
I remember the days when I didn’t have hips, and with that, no a**. I was also seventeen years old and I was naive to all the “bad” things that were plaguing my life. I’d like to call it nativity now, but it’s definitely more like selected ignorance. You know, when you do things that you know are not good for you/ shouldn’t be doing at all.
I wish there was some (known) fundamental reasoning for why we do these things; and I am sure if one would sit down with a therapist they’d chart it back to childhood. It would be really awesome if our brains could implement a process that if we were to contemplate doing something that would only hurt us later, that a negative reaction would happen to us immediately. Similar to Pavlov’s, “classical conditioning,” however the response would ensue BEFORE we made the mistake of acting on our impulses. I don’t think it’s the fact that we cannot connect the dots and realize that some behavior results in unfavorable outcomes, I believe it’s the case that we don’t have the strength to choose NOT to do these things. So how do we beef up our willpower to avoid these outcomes all together?
I guess you could pinch yourself every time you have a craving for Ben & Jerry’s, want to talk to your ex, or you’re about to make an impulse buy, but I don’t condone inflicting physical harm to your body. I would say your best bet is to remove yourself from situations where you may do something (that you will regret later). But you say, “I’m hundreds of miles away from my ex and I’m home alone so I don’t try to find solace in someone else’s sheets, and THAT makes me want to talk to him.” Here are your options a) surround yourself with people that will fill your lonely void (and not try to sleep with you), but I also know that getting yourself around those people isn’t always easy. So b) get out your “ME TIME” list and start doing things for you, c) if you have any other suggestions, I am welcome to hearing them because I, too, am guilty of these bad, bad ways.
In the end, it’s up to you. It’s ALWAYS up to you to put yourself first/protect yourself. No one, no man (even despite what he says (as he’s trying to get into your pants)) will do this for you. Think, think again, and then think even harder before you do anything that may leave you saying, “Why did I do that?!” You are your own worst enemy and only “savior.” So save yourself from heartache, poundage, a malnourished bank account, and any other negative possibilities, and use that pretty little BRAIN that your mama gave you.
MAYBE IT’S THE LACK OF SLEEP BUT THIS SONG IS MAKING ME CRY.
Not all women are emotional. In fact, it seemed like my vital organ was missing for quite some time until my reckless heart got the best of my rationale and I fell (beyond the reach of sensibility) in love and then it (I) inevitably got broken. “THEY” say heartbreak is necessary for growth; for you to know what real love and loss truly feels like, so that you can mature and (hopefully) find a love that will surpass anything you had ever felt before and this time, every piece of you will remain whole.
It’s been months since the absolute worst days of my life, the breakup. I barely survived. To be honest, I really don’t know how I did it. I don’t know I found the strength within myself to pick up my life, pack up my things, and leave the person who I believed was the love of my life. I have become stronger, wiser, (a little) more cynical as I slowly pieced myself back together sans un homme (without a man). This time around I am focusing on numero uno, which I had never done before. My good friend (had the kahunas) told me once (to my face) that I was a “boyfriend’s girl,” which meant that I would do anything for my man; putting my needs/wants/goals secondary to his and ours. I was appalled at the time to hear her say this but upon reflection, she was right. I pretty much had a boyfriend since I was fifteen years old which prevented me from (getting to know/putting me first) me. At the time it didn’t phase me because I honestly thought I was going to marry this man and have the life I thought I wanted. When it ended I was on the verge of 24, not knowing what I truly wanted to do with my life or even where to start.
My new found independence was terrifying at first. I had so much time on my hands, a concept completely foreign to me. I could do whatever I’d like, not answer to anyone, and not have to worry about a thing. I read. I read everything I could get my hands on (which largely consisted of relationship books and, of course, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy) and then I started to write. I had only recently started to write towards the end of our relationship and it was a reflection of the utter pain and loss that I was experiencing. I decided that I no longer was going to write about what once was had and turned my attention and efforts to penning my comeback from the worst heartbreak I had ever (and hopefully, will ever) endured.
Standing on your own two feet isn’t always easy though. You miss the life you once shared at the most random moments; shopping in grocery stores, driving past specific places, and of course, when you hear certain songs. Maybe it’s due to the extreme lack of sleep of which I am currently suffering from, but this up and coming artist, Yuna, hits a nerve that is both memory-inducing and addicting. Her work is hauntingly beautiful (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTw66q5PNEQ&feature=related) and reaffirms the notion that the further you place those uncomfortable (even painful) memories in the back of your mind (and heart) you are just fooling yourself. I am no therapist, but perhaps it’s good to sit down with your ghosts, face them, understand them, and maybe you can finally put them to rest.
SO TEXT ME, BABY
I truly believe that with all the wonderful advancements in technology there has been in a severe decline in communication, physical and emotional activity, and even humanism. We live in a world of convenience, we want what we want and we wanted it yesterday. This goes the same for love. Because it is so easy to shop around for anything our hearts desire via the WWW (world wide web) we have adopted this a la carte mentality when it comes to our future significant others as well.
Love in the 21st century has led to the ability to customize your search for “MR/S RIGHT” and with a few clicks you could be potentially scrolling through a list of possible matches. I am definitely an advocate of online dating because I believe in its core principle; bringing like-minded people together in a virtual environment (free from dark alleys, one too many drinks, and a complete avoidance of the bar scene- where let’s face it, you’re never going to meet a man who is interested in your values at 2:00am as you cradle your vodka cranberry). But even when we tailor our dates to a “T,” are we really getting our Prince Charming? While I WISH I could tell you beyond a responsible doubt that the answer is yes, I am going to have to say no. No matter how much you fine tune your search criteria and how amazing he looks on “paper,” he is human and inadvertently has flaws (which he isn’t going to mention in his “about me” section).
With so many options on how to get in “touch” with your possible beaus (often times, “nos”) when’s the last time you actually spoke to that person, you know, on the phone? I’m talking about actual audio (don’t even get me stated with in-person contact) doesn’t seem to be Kosher in the digital age. Talking about feelings, sharing important topics, or even putting the kabash on a relationship has become the duty for (any sort) of online messaging. With having several relationships start and end online, I have often questioned if any of it was real. I say this because I am finding that people act a certain way in person than they do via SMS/messaging. It’s as if they had a new found confidence/voice/ or prerogative when things weren’t tangible. Technology has brought us together and is seemingly creating a barrier (in many cases) keeping the “realness” of relationships at a safe distance (which can be ignored, accepted, or “lost in the mail”).
Sure, we can shoot a text, email, or write on someone’s Facebook wall, but it all feels very impersonal. The scary part is that with time, and even more advancements, our collective failure to really “talk” to one another will worsen. The sheer horror that I felt when an ex said, “I love you” for the first time via SMS will (sadly) become commonplace, our conflict/resolution skills will deteriorate even more so, and our fingertips will be largely responsible for our “conversations.” They say that “everything comes at a price,” and I wonder if the more connected we pride ourselves to be (as a society) are we really more disconnected than ever?
SOME KIND OF LOVE STORY
Every now and then you hear of a (true) love story that makes you second guess your cynicism and debate (for a few minutes) taking down your guard to potentially let love (back) in. I had such an experience today and it made me realize that there are actually good guys out there and like it’s (supposed to be) shown in the movies, they never stop fighting FOR you.
While wine tasting in Vermont, I was chatting with the wine connoisseur and her mother (who was joyfully washing the tasting glasses) and they mentioned how her daughter/sister recently got remarried for the third time to her teenage sweetheart and get this, he had been looking for her for FORTY YEARS. The two fell in love while abroad in Europe, they parted ways with plans to reunite during the summer but the daughter’s disapproving father (purposely) nixed her visa and she couldn’t return to her Brazilian beau. Years passed, they both remarried (twice) and had families of their own. All the while, he couldn’t forget about his sweet summer romance years prior and hired a private investigator from South America to find his long lost lover. When he saw that she still had her (ex) husband’s last name, he debated to not reach out, but the haunting wonder of “what if” had been culminating for decades and when she resumed her maiden name, he pulled the trigger. LSS (long story short) he contacted her, they blissfully Skyped for a year, and wed shortly after their three week vacation reunion. They both have never been happier and are still madly in love forty years later.
We have all watched the movies (that are brainwashing and unrealistic) and we have seen men fight physically and emotionally to get their girl back. I have personally begged (unflattering, I know) for my exes to fight for me; to do something, to act in a positive way to save our relationship and to prevent him from losing me. Not all of them did. In fact, one asked, “What does it mean when you say, “fight for me?” You say all this sh*t from movies and you expect it to happen in real life.” I then realized that not all love (stories) are alike and that men who don’t fight for you, your relationship, everything you shared, and your impending future are not worth the perfectly scripted lines you stole from the silver screen.
The truth is that, if someone truly loves you and wants to be with you, NOTHING, I mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING will deter them; no matter the distance, years, and even the inconvenience (and expense for that matter) of hiring a P.I.! True love overcomes all the bullsh*t (life) that got in the way of loving one another in the first place, and I can most certainly drink to that!
EX MARKS THE SPOT
There’s (usually) ABSOLUTELY NOTHING good that comes from continued communication with your ex. I know this, I have said this, I am currently SAYING (writing) this, but, I, like every other woman in the world (yes, YOU know you’ve done it too) is guilty of this crime. If you’re presently debating texting/calling/emailing/Facebook-messaging, g-chatting, BBMing (does anyone do that anymore?), pinging, showing up on his front door step with his favorite sandwich (he will most likely take the sandwich, slam the door in your face, and then call the cops in that order FYI), STOP. Have you ever asked yourself WHY THE HELL you are still talking to this schmuck (that probably broke your heart in the first place)?
I mean REALLY ask yourself why. And if you truly do a deep dive, I doubt that you answer is going to be, “because I miss him,” “because I still love him,” and it’s more like, “it’s 9:50pm EST and I am sitting on my bed alone (blogging) and I’m lonely” or because, “he was filling a void (most likely from childhood) and now he’s no longer there and I have no one to distract me from facing myself, my past, and my own sh*t (that I have been burying for 20 years).”
I am going to go out on a (short) limb and say that many times when we find ourselves missing (and usually contacting and then later regretting it) our exes is due to the fact that we are currently alone and being alone can be a terrifying thing because it allows us time to think. As women, we are believed to think too much and perhaps we over-analyze and replay events/memories/conversations in our heads until we don’t know what even actually happened. But thinking is good. Thinking allows our brains and hearts to process the hurt/confusion/anger/or whatever emotion you’ve associated with him. In order to get over our past, we need to face it. And that’s not going to be done by getting schwasted so often that your girlfriends are Googling “AA FOR BFF,” ANY bartender knows your drink (OR YOUR NAME for that matter), and you’re 100% okay with starting the party solo. Sometimes being lonely is just what the (love) doctor ordered. Loneliness unjustly bears a tremendous negative connotation. However, it enables us to become (more) independent and forces us to learn to be comfortable with ourselves. It also gives the gift of “me” time, which will most likely not be available for ever.
Next time, when you’re ALONE and all your girlfriends are conveniently not responding to your calls/texts (because they are with their boyfriends) try not to think of it as a bad thing. In fact, right now get out a piece of paper and write down at least five things that you want to do, try, eat, watch, read, or go to. I’m not kidding, get out that pen and paper! I suggest putting “Fifty Shades of Grey” down on your reading list (if you haven’t started that deliciously inappropriate trilogy already). “LONELINESS” is now your mandatory “me” time and every time you are experiencing it, get out your list and do something! After all, “you can only be truly happy with someone else when you’re happy with yourself (all by yourself),” I hate that saying because it has been said one hundred times too many to me, (and I hate this even more) but it’s true. Embrace the lonely, embrace yourself