Kind of, sort of dating…I think?

Lately, I have been having a lot of conversations with friends revolving around dating and relationships and it has made me so much more aware of how ridiculous today’s dating culture is – if you can even call it dating. Everyone wonders why they can’t manage to have a solid, healthy relationship but truthfully, there isn’t much to wonder about. Our relationship culture today is unintentional, noncommittal, and based more on likes and streaks than spending actual time together.

My biggest and most frequent complaint is that no one makes their intentions clear. Rather than asking another person on a date and making it clear that we are romantically interested in them, we instead go through different stages of communication until we, eventually, fall into a relationship by default.

The process starts with liking Instagram posts, tweets, Facebook statuses, or swiping right. From there, at least a general interest in another person is established. Then there is the dreaded “talking” stage. This one drives me completely out of my mind. We talk to someone day after day, from morning until night. Only it isn’t really talking exactly. It’s texting, it’s snapchatting, it’s tagging each other in memes back and forth, and more than anything else, it is through our phone screens and never in person or even over a phone call.

Recently, my friend told me that she talks to the guy she’s interested in every single day “in one form or another”. When I asked what she meant, she told me that they had been consistently snapping each other. Is that talking? Is there any real conversation even happening there? How is that even considered communication between two people who care for each other? How is that meaningful in any way?

I suppose I can see how the talking stage is important and justified to a certain extent with the social media world we have no choice but to get sucked into but come on, there has got to be a line drawn somewhere, if even just in the sand.

From there, the talking stage more often than not becomes hanging out. Hanging out becomes hooking up. Hooking up becomes emotional. Emotional becomes romantic, and here we are, dating with no real intention established or known to either person.

This is the part that makes me absolutely crazy. Both people knew from the beginning that they wanted to be with the other or that they at least knew they wanted more than just friendship but, rather than simply state that and make it clear that they were romantically interested, they insisted on playing this long, drawn out game that has no clear beginning or end.

Now these two people are connected and are more than obviously into each other enough that their friends refer to them as “boyfriend and girlfriend” or “boyfriends” or “girlfriends” before the couple themselves has even had a discussion as to whether or not that is what they are. Which leads to even more confusion. The questions of “is it appropriate to assume this person will be my prom date?” “Can I safely assume I have a date for my cousin’s wedding next month?” “Should I consider myself ‘off the market’?” arise and then comes the inevitable talk.

Eventually it has to happen. One person gets overwhelmed with the anxiety associated with this kind of unofficial, unattached kind of dating and is forced to sit down with the other and ask the forbidden question, “what are we?” at which point the couple has to decide if they are actually a couple or if they are not. If things are going well, the answer is usually, “yes of course we’re dating. I definitely assumed we were,” which seems like a positive outcome, but here’s the thing – relationships and love shouldn’t just be an assumption. We should know that we are pursuing another person because we care for them and they also care for us.

When there is no clear commitment, it can also leave openings for cheating or foul play of any kind which isn’t actually cheating or wrong because of the perfect excuse, “we’re not together” right? It can all be so infuriating and incredibly hurtful when both people know that this situation is well past casual and involves real, deep feelings. The noncommittal nature of these relationships allows a loophole, a way out, a reason for an otherwise guilty party to get off without a stitch of culpability and to me, that seems absolutely ludicrous for something that is supposed to be loving, trusting, and more than anything, safe for two people. We should know that we are spending this time with another person with the intention of being in a relationship with them.

And that is what all of this boils down to- the intention. No one outright says, “this is a date”. No one outright asks “will you be my girlfriend?” anymore. No one says what they want. Everyone is so afraid of being vulnerable enough for these things that they skip them altogether. As a result, we end up with a lot of broken, unsuccessful relationships and unnecessary heartbreak.

We need to change this way of going about relationships. We need to ditch the phones and find our way back to each other. We need to return to the intentional dates and to the in person, face to face dating with social media intertwined instead of the other way around. Stop falling into relationships and instead intentionally walk into them, knowing what we want and making it known. Maybe then we won’t have to wonder so much.


Kind of, sort of dating…I think?

“Good for her, I could never do that.”

I got my boobs in second grade. I had also been the tallest girl in my class since kindergarten. I was used to standing out for being “bigger” in those ways. Then, as I got older, those weren’t the only parts of me that grew bigger. I’m not afraid to admit it, I was a fat kid. At the time though, I had no idea.

I was the kind of kid who took dance classes with all the other girls and laughed while I stumbled around on stage, completely unaware that I had zero rhythm whatsoever. I played soccer for six years and scored one goal. For the first two seasons I played, I would sit down and pick the grass in the middle of the field while the other kids ran around me and actually, you know, played soccer. I didn’t care. I was happy. And I was completely oblivious.

I tried my best to keep this image of myself in the back of my mind as I got older. It turns out, loving yourself and not worrying what everyone else thinks is not the norm. Especially when you’re a girl. We are instead taught to be hyper critical of our bodies at all times and never ever for one second think that it’s okay to wear a bikini if you are anything bigger than a size two.

Fast forward to my senior year in college. My friends and I decided we wanted to do the whole “spring break” thing, load up the car, and drive the 25 hours to Panama City Beach Florida for some sun, sand, and ~possibly~ an alcoholic beverage or two. At the time, I was wearing a size 12 pair of jeans and for the beach, I brought a *gasp* bikini. I know, who did I think I was wearing something that might show my not-so-flat stomach and back fat?

The first day on the beach, my friends and I were playing games and trying (failing) to bop the volleyball around to each other without letting it hit the ground. We were all laughing and totally carefree with Lime-a-ritas in our hands and miles of ocean in front of us. Then, this group of girls walked by. There were probably two or three of them. All tall, tanned, and definitely somewhere around a size two. I bent down to pick up the volleyball that we had dropped (again), and heard one of the girls say in a hushed tone to the others, “Good for her, I could never do that,” as they looked at me in my bikini and continued walking by.

This sentence has stuck with me ever since. This girl felt like she had to commend me for wearing a bikini to a beach as if it were some magnificent feat that most people can’t do. The sad part is – most girls and women feel as if they really can’t. They feel as if their bodies are not the right shape or size or a myriad of other ridiculous things that are seemingly required to wear a bikini.

I did not choose to wear that bathing suit to make a statement. I did not wear it to stand up to “the man”. I wore it because I thought it was pretty and I wanted to. Simple as that. If there is one thing hearing that sentence taught me, it’s to be proud the little girl up on stage doing her own thing and the happy little grass-picker ignoring the rest of the soccer game and the girl in her bikini on the beach. She did those things because she wanted to and didn’t give a rats you-know-what about what she was “supposed” to be doing. That girl has the right idea.

“Good for her, I could never do that.”

What happens when you get fired

Today I was fired for the fourth time in the past year. I know, what a loser right? That was my first thought too. I thought, how could I be this pathetic? How could I be so stupid that I can’t hold down a simple job? How am I ever going to have a future with someone if I can’t be responsible enough to receive a consistent paycheck? What is wrong with me?

I reached out to the people closest to me, asking them the same questions I was asking myself. As much as they tried to help, it was useless. It’s not like anything they said would make me feel better about myself. Then it hit me. It’s not like anything they said would make me feel better about myself. Because this isn’t about them at all is it? This is about me. After that thought crossed my mind, it was followed by about a million more. Here are a few of those thoughts.

It’s not you. It’s the job.

Now this isn’t necessarily always true. But in most cases, it is. When people get fired from jobs, more often than not it’s because they were not giving the job the kind of dedication and work every job deserves. I was not giving this job anywhere near my all. Why? Because I didn’t care. I wasn’t passionate about this job and for me, that’s everything. For me, no happy = no worky. Some people will say, you have to pay your dues and all that mumbo jumbo, and they’re right…to an extent. Sometimes a job is just not for you and that’s okay.

This is not the end of the world.

So you found out a job wasn’t right for you…so what? On to the next one. Being fired can be a make it or break it moment for you. Of course the initial meltdown is okay and definitely will happen. But then pick up the pieces, bury them six feet deep and move on from it. There are millions of jobs out there. One of them will hire you. This job is not the last one you’ll ever have. A girl (or boy) has gotta eat.

Your job does not define your worth.

 If you learn nothing else in life, learn this. Your job status does not determine who you are or what you’re worth. What your boss thinks of you, does not define you. A job is what you do during the day (or night) to pay for the things you do when you’re not working. Keep that in mind. Getting fired from any job, no matter what it is, doesn’t make you pathetic and it doesn’t make you a bad person.

You will be okay.

This one doesn’t need an explanation. Just trust it. You will move forward. You will have a bright future. You will be okay.


What happens when you get fired

How do we let people who hurt us back into our lives?

Letting someone who hurt you back into your life is one of the hardest, most underestimated acts of bravery someone can make. In my opinion anyway. When you’ve been broken by someone else, when another person has torn you apart into so many pieces you didn’t think it was humanly possible to put them all back together, allowing them close enough that they could do that again is paralyzing to say the least.

I mean, it’s the basis of any heartwarming estranged parent/child scene in any movie or TV show. It’s what had everyone up in arms when Ross and Rachel tried to work things out after their break. It’s at the heart of millions of our favorite stories. But what happens when it isn’t a story anymore? What happens when it’s real life and it was your heart that way broken, my heart that was broken? Is it even possible to get past that, to be okay again, to trust again?

8 months ago, I felt like my still-beating heart was ripped out of my chest. I had a constant knife in my belly, an incessant ringing in my head. I was destroyed by a love that was not ready for me. But now…now she wants back in and even more terrifyingly,  want her back in. I want another chance for us to have the relationship I always knew we could have if only we were ready. Now, she claims she’s ready. Now, I think I am ready.

But how do I get through all of the horrible things I went through the first time around? How do I learn to trust that the bad things are different now; that when she tells me something, she’s telling me the truth; that when she expresses her feelings to me she’s being honest; that she won’t be angry with me every time I experience anxiety that’s somehow related to her? How do I trust that she will treat me better this time?

Letting someone back in sounds so easy. Forgive and forget, that’s how the story is supposed to go right? If I choose to forgive, that means I have to forget right? If I choose to forgive, that means I don’t have a right to be afraid of old habits dying hard with her right? Or at least, I don’t have the right to vocalize that?

The thing that gets me, the thing that always gets everyone, is the fear. Fear will get you every time. Fear that our beating hearts will be beating in someone else’s hands instead of inside our own chests. Fear that we did this to ourselves. Fear that we may be playing with fire again, and we very well may be burned, again. Fear that the second we let our guard down, the kill shot will be ordered and we will be left defenseless.

But that’s the thing isn’t it? If we give in to fear we lose and if we don’t, we might still lose. I guess we have to choose which odds we like and if the risk is worth the fight. I am still not sure if the odds are in my favor but I don’t know that that matters when it comes to situations like these. I don’t think the odds are ever in our favor once our hearts get involved.

And I guess that’s ultimately how we get past the past. That is how we let someone back into our lives even after they hurt us. Because no matter what the odds are never in our favor when it comes to love. No matter what we do, we have a higher chance of losing than we ever do of winning. So in the end, why not just take the chance? If the odds aren’t great either way, we have to choose the path that could possibly even have the teeniest, tiniest chance of letting us win.

So we let them back in. We let them back in on the off chance that our hearts remain beating in our chests and end up just a little bit fuller than they were before.

How do we let people who hurt us back into our lives?

My brain on OCD

At seven years old, I was diagnosed with  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. I obsessively washed my hands in fear of germs. I  sat at the kitchen table for three hours trying to get my letter e to look just right. Every time my parents would leave the house, I was convinced they were never coming back.

I developed massive anxiety. It interfered with my schoolwork, my friendships, my happiness. My mom took me to see a therapist and after a few months, it was as if I never had any problems at all. After that, my OCD laid pretty dormant for years.

It wasn’t until I was nearly 21 years old that the old habits resurfaced. Only this time, I didn’t get to be better in a few months and move on with my life. This time, I encountered problems that will most likely stick with me for the rest of my life. 

I wanted to share a bit about what it’s like and what it feels like to have a brain on OCD.

Every single thing comes with a what if. One of the biggest challenges I face with OCD face is the constant what-if game being played in my head. What if they leave me? What if I did something wrong and they hate me now? What if my cat dies because I forgot to feed her this morning? I know that these thoughts are completely irrational and I would know if I had done something wrong; my cat won’t die if I forget to feed her once. But I continue to worry all the same.

Then there is the what if game’s cousin, the intrusive thoughts. My mind goes places I don’t want it to go without my permissionI do not actively think about all of the bad things that could happen however, that is why these thoughts are called intrusive. They come from nowhere and present me with all of the worst possible options for what may happen.

The next part is my personal favorite: the obsessions. The what if game and the intrusive thoughts come to me and cause me enough trouble in themselves. Adding the obsessions to the mix really just puts the icing on the cake. Once my brain finds a thought it likes, it latches on and won’t let it go. My brain operates without my control at this point. It decides without me which thought we get to obsess over and then keeps that thought on a loop until I do something about it.

Then come the compulsions. When I was young, they were hand washing, erasing and re-writing the letter e, calling my mom on her cell phone until she answered and reassured me that she was okay. Now my obsessions are all more related to the people I love and the way they think of me. My compulsions almost always include double, triple, or even quadruple texting someone I think may be upset with me for some reason I am unaware of. For others with different obsessions, the compulsions will be what seems like a reasonable reaction to their thoughts. The compulsions are our way, or my way at least, of making the thoughts stop if only for the moment.

But that’s the problem with OCD. The obsessions always come back or are replaced with new ones. It is endlessly frustrating to not have control over your own thoughts and impulses. It is very very hard to understand why I can’t control what’s going on in my brain. I mean, it’s my brain. But that’s how it is and, for the time being, there isn’t much I can do about it.

This is my brain on OCD. 

My brain on OCD

I’m a 20 something with a college degree. Now what?

At every stage in formal education, we are told we are being prepared for the next step. Elementary school prepares you for middle school, middle school for high school, high school for college, and college for the big time – the real world. Everything we are taught is meant to prepare us for the next big jump in our lives. I spent each step right along with all of my classmates getting ready for what would ultimately become our “real lives”. I finished elementary school. I finished middle school. After what seemed like forever, I graduated from high school. Then I took the natural next step and went to spend the next four years of my life in college where I double majored and earned two degrees before I graduated in May 2015. I did it. High school diploma? Check. College degree(s)? Check. I am officially higher educated. Sooooo now what?

It’s been a year and a half since my college graduation and I have had four different jobs, all of which I hated and none of which had anything to do with the four years and thousands of dollars I spent on my college education. So now, at 23 years old, I am a nanny making $12 per hour and I have to wonder…is this the “big time” I spent 17 years in school preparing for? Is this what all of my hard work amounts to? 

Now I have heard all of the anecdotes, read all of the celebrity memoirs saying that they weren’t anywhere near their goals at my age. And I have to hope that those anecdotes will someday be ones that I can tell my own children. However, we live in a world that is increasingly difficult to be a twenty-something in. 

As we grew up, we were told the only way we would ever get a “real” job is to get a college degree. Without one, we would never go anywhere in our lives, right? Well, here I am with two degrees and the same kind of job I had at fourteen years old. That college degree was supposed to be my golden ticket. It was supposed to open up the doors to my future. Every job that I apply to, even ones I don’t really want, is labeled entry level so naturally I think, “Great! That’s me! I’m entry level!” But upon further investigation, these jobs almost always require three years experience minimum. Oh. So not entry level? Because that’s definitely not me. I end up applying to all the same jobs people with only  high school educations are applying to. 

My sister, who is a year younger than me, opted not to go to college. She didn’t think it was worth it. More and more often I find myself wondering if she made the better choice. She has a job she loves making good money with plenty of opportunity for upward movement and just recently bought a house. She seems to be excelling at this twenty-something gig we’re stuck with. I always worried about her lack of a college degree for her future, but now I’m thinking maybe she had the right idea after all. 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved my college experience. I made the best friends I will ever have. I learned to live on my own (and loved every second). I learned how to hold my liquor and how to enjoy a friday or saturday night no matter what I was doing as long as I had my best friends with me. 

I learned more about real life from the college experience and the people I spent it with than I ever did in my actual college classes. In that respect, college is an irreplaceable, priceless expense. But that isn’t the reason we are so pressured to get that degree. 

In terms of my classes, sure I learned stuff but at the end of all of the papers, late night study sessions, and trash cans filled with k-cup pods, I got a very expensive piece of paper and a handshake from my university president. I didn’t get the guaranteed job everyone told me I would get. I still eat mac and cheese on a regular basis. I am now a poor college student without the excuse of actually being in college. 

Most of the time, I am very grateful for the years I spent getting a higher education. Some days though, I wonder if I would be closer to my dreams had I chosen not to go. I get the question a lot about whether or not I feel like I am better off with a college education and honestly, I don’t have an answer. I loved college very much but now I’m $50,000 in debt and barely getting by financially. So if you ask me and I don’t give you the answer you were looking for, ask again tomorrow. Chances are my anwer will have changed.

I’m a 20 something with a college degree. Now what?

Think Twice Before You Use the “S” Word

I have learned a lot about myself over the past two years. More than I had learned in all of the twenty one-ish years prior to that combined. One of the biggest and most recent discoveries I have made is that my most used four-letter-word isn’t a four letter word at all. It is five letters and that word is “sorry”. I have spent a good majority of my life apologizing.

Sometimes because I caused someone some amount of pain or because I made a mistake. Those kinds of apologies have been and always will be warranted and necessary. Those kinds of apologies mend relationships, alleviate someone else’s pain, allow me to own and accept my mistakes.

There are the kinds of apologies that are just simply me being overly and ridiculously polite. For example, I find myself apologizing to inanimate objects when I run into them and hurt myself. I apologize to random people in the grocery store who run into me because obviously I was in their way and saying excuse me was too much work. These seemingly harmless apologies are usually just that, harmless. Pointless really, but they cause no harm.

But then there are the apologies I am famous for; the kind that belittle and demean me as a person. These are the apologies I give for being who and how I am. These are the apologies I am making a conscious effort to do away with. I am constantly apologizing for having anxiety and for the attacks it creates. I am constantly apologizing for wanting to talk about the things I am feeling with the people I love too often. I am always apologizing for texting people more than the socially acceptable amount of times in a row. I am constantly apologizing for loving too hard, too much, too strongly, for wanting to show the people I love how much I love them. I am constantly apologizing to people when they hurt me. This last one is the most important one.

So here’s the story: Someone hurts you, a friend, a family member, or a significant other. You tell them that they have hurt you expecting an apology in return. Instead, they make you feel bad that you are even telling them that you are hurt. I mean, how could you be so selfish? It’s bad enough that you are in pain but now you have to make them feel bad too? How inconsiderate of you. And so now, you apologize. Now you are distraught. You are so sorry that you have hurt them. And you know, if they don’t think they’ve hurt you, maybe they didn’t after all. Maybe it is you who is overreacting and you should probably console them now for making them go through the pain you have put them through in accusing them of hurting you. 

But wait. See what just happened? Now you are giving the apology you should be getting and they have neither acknowledged that they have hurt you nor apologized for having done so. But you feel like something happened just then right? Like something was resolved? Now here’s the part that I love. Nothing happened. You are in the same place that you started in and they have still hurt  you. Only now, they’ve hurt you and they’ve made you feel bad about it. Funny how that worked huh?

I do this. I do this every day and I am apalled at how it has become almost second nature for me to fall into that place with someone. I apologize to people because they have caused me pain and I feel bad because they feel bad about having hurt me. Well, not anymore. 

I have learned two things  from discovering the “sorry” word. One, do not ever ever ever apologize for who you are. If someone else doesn’t like who you are, if you come on too strongly, if you annoy them, if they don’t accpet you as is, then who cares? Chances are, if you really think about it, you don’t like who they are as a person either if they act that way with you. And here’s the best part: that is perfectly, 100% okay. Everyone will never like everyone. That’s just the way the world turns, darling.

The second, and to me, far more important thing, is that when someone hurts you they do not get to tell you that they didn’t. They do not get to say that you are wrong. If someone hurts you, they owe you an apology for having hurt you even if they didn’t do it intentionally or knowingly. No one gets to tell you when you are and are not hurt.

So from now on, I would like you to pay attention. I would like you to think twice before using that five letter word and to think three times before letting someone weasel their way out of using it to you. 

Think Twice Before You Use the “S” Word