WTF

Dear Universe,

WTF is going on?

I like to think that I give pretty good advice – I derive pleasure from listening to people’s problems and offering my take on things, providing a (typically) unbiased perspective and hopefully offering comfort or serving as a catalyst for some type of resolution. As I see it, all of my friends are incredibly powerful beings deserving of unlimited love, sex, money, success, happiness and fulfillment. The advice I give, sometimes harsh and always honest, supports that theory.

The same things I champion in others – vulnerability, fearlessness, strength, tenacity – have recently been completely lost when it comes time to apply said advice to my own life when I need it most. Despite being surrounded by love and an especially strong support system, I feel this incessant need to do everything on my own – to always be strong, strategically work through my problems, shove any negative feelings to the back of my mind, and actively refrain from burdening those around me with my own needs. I want to be the best that I can be in every role I inhabit, from daughter and friend, to girlfriend or employee. It is important for me to be there for others, but when it comes time to call on support I am suddenly paralyzed, terrified of becoming a “nag” or the “needy girl.” Why the hell is it suddenly so difficult to be there for myself, to be so easily giving but simultaneously unable to receive?

At this moment, my life is somewhat in flux across the board: I am having a minor, unexpected and unwelcome quarter-life crisis as I try to navigate the best next steps for my career, wondering if there is ever a time to choose profit over passion (I shouldn’t have to choose…I want both!) I am dealing with an ailing family member, which will imminently bring a devastating loss in the near future. While uncertainty can undoubtedly be exciting I know I will inevitably persevere, I am admittedly overwhelmed and in need of someone to lean on – to remind me that is okay to not be okay, to feel, to cry, to be girly and imperfect before refocusing and moving forward.

In addition to everything going on, I am falling for someone. Wasn’t necessarily planning to, but as well all know, life rarely (if ever) goes as planned. But that is a topic for another day.

On Ghosting

Modern dating is akin to surviving The Hunger Games – it is not for the faint of heart. It requires confidence, patience, trial and error. Dating is an investment – when playing the game one must be all in, emotionally exposed and unafraid of rejection. We put ourselves out there in hopes of connecting with someone who can satiate our innate desire to love and be loved (or at least laid.) A true journey is nothing without a few challenges along the way  – managing expectations, following “rules”, navigating societal practices/norms, breakups, the dreaded “what are we” conversation, dodging f*ckboys, and most recently ghosting – which for those unfamiliar is exactly as scary as it sounds.

Ghosting is the act of literally leaving a dating prospect hanging. One party (the ghost) decides that they are no longer interested in moving forward and proceeds to eliminate contact with the other (the ghostee). The ghost is the decider: he/she is in charge of making the executive decision to cut communication via a method of their choosing, be it a slow fade – a steady and mysterious decline of interaction – or an abrupt, unprecedented end to all communication (rude!) The ghostee, often blindsided, is subsequently left to sit and wonder many things, the main one being “what the actual f*ck just happened.” There is no closure, except for the closure you create to get through such times – I personally recommend journaling and hitting a punching bag or two, while others may prefer drinking a liter of Yellowtail and venting on Twitter. In this sensitive time, you are encouraged to do you.

Being ghosted could actually be quite funny if it wasn’t so maddening. There is something particularly cruel about being forced to acknowledged that while there are a million and one ways to get in touch with someone, you are being ignored on single one of them. This level of rejection is enough to drive even the most laid-back person to absolute insanity. Rejection stings no matter when it occurs – be it after one date, several months of seeing each other or perhaps at some point in a long-term relationship (yes, this does happen!) For the weeks following said ghosting there is often a full-blown period that spans the full five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance).  How long this mourning lasts depends on the ghostee – more experienced daters may appear to bounce back quickly, licking their wounds and chalking it up to part of the game. The first cut is definitely the deepest, so one’s first ghosting experience will definitely warrant a few weeks of wallowing in self-pity and talking lots of shit about how big of a douche said ghostee is, regardless of whether or not its based in fact (screw facts, this is about you!)

In reality, having someone ghost you is for the best as it frees you up to explore other, more compatible prospects – you know, those people who actually like you. Yes, you  will move on. But in the mind of a millenial, being ghosted leaves an interminable sting of rejection, a painful reminder of a near-fatal blow to the ego – which, for many of us, is worse than death. More often than not, the pain comes from the loss of potential of a relationship that was never actualized, of not being someone’s type. It triggers our deep-seated insecurities, ranging from body image issues, our level of intelligence, to our personalities – as if a flat ass or a penchant for profanity are legitimate reasons why someone disappears. All of this blinds us to the fact that there was nothing that could have been done differently to change this outcome – so no, do not go back and retrace every text, call or interaction to see where you messed up. The only closure that brings any satisfaction cannot be given by anyone else but us, and more often than not the reasons for said disappearance has little to do with you. However difficult it may be to believe it, your ghost is likely not an evil person, just an extremely cowardly one. Refrain from angrily throwing darts at their photo or wishing them a lifetime of unhappiness. You are, however, welcome to rip them a new one via text, as my friend Jess* did in the recent past:

“I had a few great dates with this guy, and after one night I left my portable charger at his apartment. I shot him a text letting him know, and he said he would get it back to me. A week later, I hadn’t heard from him so I reached out again – letting him know that if he doesn’t want to see me again and no hard feelings but that I really wanted my charger back. He immediately answers – saying he’s sorry, he’s getting back with his ex, of COURSE he will send me my phone charger. Three weeks pass and still nothing – I message again. No response. At this point, I’m LIVID. I go full on crazy – send him a novel cursing him out and shaming him for not being truthful.

In reality, I just wanted him to be honest with me. Needless to say, he never answered my crazy message, but I got my phone charger in the mail shortly after, so it was a win for me!”

Lesson here: If venting to your ghost feels good, do it but make it a one and done type of thing . Do not expect a response – Remember that a ghost is trying to avoid any and all confrontation via cutting contact with you, so the best move after getting things off your chest is ghosting them right back. Also, for the love of god give back people’s stuff in a timely manner. A girl needs her portable charger!

I had to ask some of my eligible lady friends – is there any time when ghosting is okay? It was generally agreed upon that if you have been on less than 5 dates you are allowed to ghost, noting that “it is especially hurtful to tell someone you don’t want to date them anymore when you don’t know them very well.” In this case the ghostee will likely be pissed, but not wounded. Ghosting is also acceptable after a particularly awful first date or when dodging a creep/stage-5-level stalker who is giving you serious vibes (the bad kind) or anyone who comments negatively on your appearance (#boyBYE). As for someone you’ve been seeing consistently for a month or longer, out of courtesy you need to bite the bullet and tell them its a wrap. “Not that it’s ever easy to end things with someone, nor is it ever easy to hear,” one friend said, “but I think after you’ve been dating for a while – like a month or 5+ dates – it’s just good manners to tell them you want to end it.”

My friend Natalie, who has a strict “no ghosting” policy regardless of how many dates she has been on with a guy, takes the high road and has had positive results. “You’re not always to mesh with people – especially when you meet them on social media it can take a couple of dates to really decide if you are into them.” She continued with, “early on some guys fall faster than I do (within 1-2 dates) and I don’t want to deal with the fallout, but its mortifying to reach out to someone and not get a response, so instead of ghosting I tell them ‘hey, I don’t feel the romantic chemistry I’m looking for. No hard feelings.'” She says the men in question have responded well, despite being a bit disappointed (rightfully so, she’s a catch!) But being truthful is key, so do not say that you will reach out again when you know you won’t and for the love of god do not set up a next date and then disappear. Also, eliminate “I’m just not looking for a relationship right now” from your vocabulary – because everyone knows that is B.S.

And there you have it – ghosting is pretty much never okay, unless its very early on in the process or after a painfully awful Tinder date with a creep or asshole. While ghosting may seem like the best strategy to temporarily avoid emotions and confrontation, be considerate of the person on the other side – however painful this may be for you, being ghosted is much worse on the recipient’s end. If you are ghosted, ride out your feels however you see fit and then keep it moving to someone that fully reciprocates your affections – this is an infinitely superior and rewarding use of your energy. If you feel the need to ghost, let them down easy. I recommend this one-liner from my friend Carly: “I enjoyed getting to know you, but I don’t see this working out. Good luck, and I wish you the best.” Telling someone they are not for you is never easy, but completely disappearing is a surefire way to become haunted by ghosts-of-dating past – or at least deserving of some bad dating karma. Who wants that?

The Practice of Self-Care

New Yorkers are always on the go, seamlessly moving from the office to after-work events, endlessly searching for the next best restaurant, apartment or gallery opening. The opportunities are endless, leading us to fill our calendars with as many concerts, trips and dates as we can manage. Surrounded by ambition, we never cease to find inspiration from our co-workers, partners and friends who keep us on our toes. In a city where we are always moving to create the absolute best version of ourselves, it can be easy to get lost in the midst of it all – particularly when it comes to practicing presence, gratitude and self-care. The concept of self-care is simple: find something you love and make time to practice it when needed, consciously working it into your daily  life in order to restore and recharge. As a generation that expends an incredible amount of energy interacting, sharing and comparing with others, it is critical for us to take a moment for ourselves.

One of the best parts of self-care is that there is no right way to practice it, and how its carried out depends solely on the desires of the individual doing it. Extroverted people may find that being around people in a social setting is soothing for them, and therefore they seek out opportunities to be in groups, be it volunteering or taking a language or dance class. For others, rest is an important component of self-care, and they ensure to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. I typically find myself most at peace when I am solo, writing in a journal, reading or tuned into an amazing playlist and therefore I carve out at least an hour daily to do so – I can sense a negative change in mood when I go a day without music. I also find joy in working out and pushing myself physically, especially in small group settings led by women – which explains my obsessions with Pop PhysiqueY7 and DanceBody. Whether you value silence and solitude (solo meditation, sleep), group settings (concerts, fitness classes, book clubs), creative forms (music, writing, cooking, learning a language) or a physical expression of yourself (running, dancing, yoga, etc.) make it a priority until it becomes habitual.

Self-care also relates to protecting your mental state by developing and strengthening your boundaries, which includes learning to say yes or no and standing firmly in your decisions. This is particularly relevant in dating where we can get so wrapped up in another individual that we forget to take a step back and look at the situation objectively, asking ourselves the important question: Is this person adding to my life (and vice versa?) Is this dynamic (casual or otherwise) working for me? Do I feel good with this person? Self-care demands that you scan your relationships and make sure you are feeling fulfilled and secure within them. It also means abandoning fear of perception, trusting your instincts, and walking away if you have articulated your needs and they are still not being met. Possessing a strong sense of self and wants/desires is extremely powerful and pretty sexy, too.

It is more important than ever to focus on what drives us as we make our way through this world so we can take our newfound energy and use it to bring selves forward every single day. Know that is is perfectly fine to unplug and allow yourself let yourself go. Be good to yourself and know that you are allowed to change your mind, to run the emotional gamut from ecstatic to depressed and back again. As with all practices, self-care is not about achieving perfection. Find what fuels you, embrace it and trust the process.

Click here for the basics on the self-care movement and how to get started.

A (Feminist) Rant

I am naturally reserved, patient and submissive – qualities often associated with femininity. I am also a no-nonsense, in-your-face feminist that does not play games. Let me explain.

I am all about women doing whatever the hell they want, today and always. I am of the mindset that unless they directly harm myself or others, a woman’s choices are hers to make and hers alone. So long as she is not endangering the world around her, a woman can dress, act and behave in any way that makes her happy and should not be subjected to the ridicule of the outside world. Point blank.

I have not always been this way nor I am I fully healed from years of conditioning – I have been guilty of making hasty comments about a woman’s appearance or behavior from promiscuity, blind ambition or a hair style. It took me years to see that competitiveness and resentment towards other women in American culture is both supported and ultimately expected in all aspects of life from the workplace to romance, and breaking free from this destructive habit is no simple task. There are other women who prefer to adhere to the damning way of thinking that she needs to put others down to succeed (see: corporate hierarchies everywhere.) I often still find myself slipping back into judgemental tendencies from my teenage years, promptly forcing myself to stop before the words slip out and I revert back to my old ways.

Personal growth requires definitive change. As a result I am much quieter, though no longer out of fear or insecurity but to ensure my words are contributing constructive and positive value to this incessantly negative world. Though generally laid back and slow to anger, I have become more sensitive – particularly towards people who offer their opinions on women without being asked for it or get themselves off by bringing women down (a la Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.) I am a supporter, and therefore will not tolerate any degrading bullshit from men or women who insist on delivering their self-righteous critiques on an individual’s appearance or actions. This is not to say that people are not entitled to their beloved opinions but, contrary to what many milleinials believe, not every opinion is necessary or valid. Before speaking them into the universe, I recommend that we all take time to be more mindful of our criticisms, especially when it comes to things that do not personally affect us. I promise that you will find that when you expend less energy on useless things that do not concern you and more so on what actually matters, you are free to dealing with your own shit – of which I am sure there is a lot.

See list below of items that, unless requested, do not require your validation or input whatsoever:

  • A woman’s appearance (clothes, hair, makeup, grooming, etc.)
  • A woman’s behavior and character (introvert/extrovert/ambivert, loud, soft-spoken, profane, timid, secure/insecure, religious/spiritual/neither, independent, social, family-oriented, party girl, homebody etc.)
  • A woman’s sexual preferences (LGBTQ, promiscuous, monogamous, chaste or born-again, submissive/dominant, poly, asexual, etc.)
  • A woman’s decisions (single/married, employed/unemployed, children, abortion, birth control etc.)
  • A woman’s past (we all have one)
  • A woman’s feelings (for fuck’s sake just be quiet and let us speak)

 

 

Online Dating: A Love/Hate Story

My longest relationship to date has been my on and off again relationship with online dating apps. Between Tinder, Bumble, something called Coffee Meets Bagel and countless others, the options at our fingertips are seemingly endless. While the whole notion of finding love online likely weirded most of us out in 2009, to meet a single millenial today that does not have a profile on one or more of these apps is shocking. We are addicted to the rush – the instant gratification that comes from being “liked” by a hot stranger. I am no exception here, being the first to admit that during the summer after my college graduation I was so caught up that I often swiped through potential matches while my date for the evening was in the bathroom. Sometimes I double-booked. Other times I swiped at work and while out to dinner with friends. By midsummer I was averaging 3-4 dates per week, constantly searching for someone smarter, taller or more exciting to stroke my overly inflated ego.

Dating with such ferocity is, of course, unsustainable. My desire to meet new people gradually waned, making small talk tedious and first-date jitters scarce. The once exciting process of doing my hair and makeup before walking out the door felt more like prepping for a job interview. While it would make sense for one’s self-esteem to go up with more and more dates, for me it was the complete opposite. With each guy that did not blow me away within the first few moments of us meeting I lost complete faith in finding someone that fit all of my requirements which in hindsight were absolute bullshit. For a guy to not call me back was not simply a rejection but a mortifying personal attack on my appearance, intelligence and personality that I could not shake. Despite this negativity I continued through the remainder of that year, succumbing to the unwritten social obligation for the single girl to eventually stop being single and find someone. I had no vision of what my ideal relationship looked like and therefore received from the universe exactly what I put out: a mixed bag of fuckboys ranging from emotionally inept to emotionally suffocating, rich and narcissistic to creative and overbearing. I tried to make dead-end situationships work with guys who I saw potential in. I promised to kick my habit, but within 24 hours of a breakup I would be back online trying to find the next best thing, swiping blindly on subways and on lunch breaks. I kept doing so regardless of high or low I felt, going out with guys even when I was clearly not ready. There were many attempts to stop, but I always came back.

At the top of this year, three weeks into my resolution to swear off online dating completely, I relapsed. Right away I matched with a guy and went back and forth, exchanging numbers soon after. We met up for drinks and I felt an instant vibe, which never happens because out of every 2,000 profiles about 90% of them are rejected and then the 5% of dates that do end up panning out are usually awkward and/or boring as all hell. He was a nice, funny guy with a bit of edge who you could tell loves his mom a lot. He was creative and witty, with a personality completely unlike the showy finance bros that lead with their salaries. He was also hot – not in the way where I wanted to jump him but I knew after a few minutes (and later, a few cocktails) that I wanted to know more. While we only dated briefly, I noticed a shift in my mindset as I did not feel defeated that it did not develop further. I am moving forward with restored confidence in the existence of hot-but-also-nice guys and also in myself to put myself out there without fear and expectations. And for me, that is progress.

Online dating has afforded us the opportunity to meet people that we may not have encountered otherwise, and that is absolutely incredible. We have opportunities created for us and available at the push of a button – a luxury our parents never had. Tinder is certainly not the problem when it comes to modern dating – it is the mind of the user that needs a shift as to not get so deeply attached to the ego. I do not want to get so wrapped up in finding a partner that I forget to live consciously in the present. I do not ever want to be the girl swiping at a bar on a Friday night or writing a guy off for being corny or “not my type.” I want to be excited about a first date, filled with stupid small talk about hometowns, hobbies and a moment or two of awkward silence. I want to connect with people, thinking of nothing outside of enjoying someone’s company for a couple of hours. Meeting someone that I think is interesting and who I also want to make out with rarely happens, but when it does (on or offline) I will aim to enjoy the experience for what it is and take my ego out of it.

 

 

The Princess Mentality

For as long as I can remember my parents have called me a princess. Now before you roll your eyes, this isn’t all bad, given that it set me up to believe I was of high value and deserving of great things in life. Simultaneously, however, it instilled a sense of passiveness within me – one that had me kicking my feet up for years and just waiting for good things to happen as opposed to going out and taking things for myself. This included but was not limited to dating, where I would just wait for someone to approach me and let things go from there. Ask a guy for his number? Approach a guy I thought was attractive? Send a DM? Ask a guy to take me out? Never. Because of course, that would make me a thirsty bitch. That’s the princess mentality hard at work.

At the core of this passiveness was, of course, a fear of rejection. When you are raised to think that you are extremely special, your ego grows. Millenials are particularly afraid of rejection, causing us to shy away from living outside of our comfort zones. We have all been conditioned to be so deathly afraid of rejection its crippled us to the point where nobody is approaching anybody. Going out is akin to a 6th grade dance where everyone is being shy, standing against the wall, waiting to be asked to dance. The internet is a constant battle of the sexes where everyone seems hurt and afraid to put ourselves out there out of fear of damaging our fragile egos. We are comfortable with being passive because blaming things on circumstances seemingly out of our control is so much easier than owning our shit. Our egos are on Kanye levels and pretending is at an all time high. I only wish more people knew that they have the power to rise above all of this.

One morning a few weeks ago, I woke up. I know it sounds insane but in that moment I realized that I was powerful and have complete control over everything in my life, even if at times it doesn’t seem like it. Everything I had previously worried about, people’s perceptions of me, all of the fear just disappeared.  Other people’s opinions, while valid, have no bearing on who I actually am. I am wearing my hair natural for the first time since middle school, dressing in clothes that I like for my body type and shooting my shot at any hottie that I want to get to know better without worrying about things that used to bother me – including but not limited to: Will he like me? What if he has a girlfriend? He’ll definitely think I’m easy because I’m approaching him first and not waiting for him to notice my subtle eye contact. Even if I go up to a guy and he has a girlfriend or god forbid  I am not his type or whatever, my life goes on. 

Men and women alike clown others for being aggressive and going after what they want but they are only playing themselves. Guys would rather go on Twitter and rant about how there are no good women than actually ask out the girl they have been crushing on for years. Women go to parties and sit on their phones the entire time, trying to seem hot and aloof while waiting for guys to notice them. Pro tip: Stop staring at your dry ass timeline and get out there. Contrary to what you have been told, its not about what you look like or what you have – its about caring less about others (in a non-narcissistic way) and realizing nobody else is going to bring you happiness but yourself. Go up to that cute guy at Trader Joe’s or that barista who makes your coffee every morning. Think about the worst possible thing that could happen. If you’re currently thinking “he/she will reject me”, then you need to re-read this entire article.

 

 

Breakups

A few weeks ago, post-breakup, I can safely say that I was in my feelings. There was no rom com and ice cream binge. There were barely any tears because I had cried during the weeks before it even happened. Instead, I went to LA and drank lots of tequila and ate tacos for a week with one of my best friends. I highly recommend this method of coping.

Today I can honestly say that I am okay. This post is not going to be like the initial piece I drafted which in hindsight was more of a letter to my ex than an actual blog post for everyone to to see (pro tip: do not post when you’re reeling from a breakup. It is not cute!) I decided to keep that one for me and primarily focus on moving forward. Anyone who knows me knows that I can hold a grudge to the death. I am still salty at this kid who popped one of my balloons during my 8th birthday party. But when it comes to exes, I put them into two categories: 1) eternally banished assclown and 2) still an assclown but perhaps civility can happen in the future. I decided to go against perhaps better judgement and stay friends with my ex, because I realized after I got over the blow to my ego that I was not actually mad at him, but more so at the overall situation. I chalked it up to lessons learned: no more long distance relationships, know when your man is acting up and most importantly: breakups are not the end of the world, but simply the end of a phase.

This post is short but sweet. I did not want to simply gloss over my breakup as though it did not affect me, because it was an impactful part of my life. I loved him and anyone close to me knows that. As a writer, its only fair that I expose both the good and bad sides of my life. This is not Instagram where everyone only shares the bougie and fun shit they’re up to. I will always remain honest on here, whether I am hurting or I am feeling invincible. More than anything I want our emotionally challenged generation to understand that it is fine to feel sad and vulnerable. You don’t have to be “good” all the damn time. You will never be able to avoid getting hurt, but pain is temporary, so fall in and out of love as it happens and enjoy these experiences regardless of how they end.