Hurdles

7:45am. I try not to look at my phone right when I wake up, but I am feigning optimism that today won’t be another bleak, overcast shithole of a day. We haven’t seen the sun since Saturday, and it has directly impacted my mood. Yoga always helps, so off I go.

I started practicing yoga four years ago, but became more serious about the whole thing within the past three. Truthfully, I used to shrug at the thought of it: in my mind, yoga was a luxury reserved for skinny, rich, Goop-reading white women – ultimately something I could never fit in with or be a part of. Of course, this is the exact opposite of what the whole thing is about in the first place. Thankfully, the movement in Western culture has become much more inclusive and accessible overall, especially in New York, so I try to go twice a week. Yogis often fall into the annoying category usually dominated by vegans and people who do crossfit, so I try not to be one of those people that talks about it incessantly. However, I do like the community that grows from yogic practice: especially with women of color. There’s something about the choice to use this specific practice as an escape, as therapy, as exercise that reflects a similar mindset and creates a certain bond. We tend to get on extremely well.

Walking in, I’m a bit nervous. I take roll out my mat and lay in savasana, trying to get in the right headspace for a successful practice. I’ve fallen off the wagon somewhat, and its now been two weeks since my last class. Suddenly all of the old insecurities sink in:  I oped for a sports bra today, so my love handles will inevitably make an appearance. I’m definitely fatter than I was last time I came, so why the fuck am I wearing a sports bra again?  I think about everything I’ve consumed in the past two weeks: croissants in Montreal, dim sum in Chinatown, drinks with friends, pizza at work. I know I can’t carry this into my practice, and have to “leave it all on the mat”, as my teacher always says. Admittedly, this only half works, and after an hour of a half-assed session I leave in a shitty mood due to my inability to control my negative thoughts. Leading to more negative thoughts, and so on.

The rest of the day is trash, consisting of the usual games: navigating the needs of my boss, managing varying stress levels and personalities, all while somehow avoiding the constant stream of junk food available in the office. Will they ever stop ordering Insomniac by the truckload? For someone with food issues, the office is a fucking minefield. Sometimes I miss working from home and wonder if an over-indulgent office culture is part of the problem. Or perhaps its the industry itself: the entertainment business isn’t exactly known for its interest in health, mental or otherwise. Then again, I worked at a magazine and the girls there were literally anorexic, so is there such a thing as a healthy work environment?

4:00pm. Friend invites me to happy hour. There’s always a happy hour, and I’ve learned to say no. Last year I said yes to everything and it left me with nothing but hangovers and cringe-worthy bank statements.

4:30pm. Now eating a cookie. So much for being good today.

These are the thoughts I deal with more often than I’d like to admit, though far less frequent than in years past. I know this sudden relapse is stemming from my recent vacation, where I had no structure and indulged more than usual – and didn’t immediately bounce back upon my return. I’ve again started to think of foods as “good” or “bad”, which I know is illogical and only leads to destructive habits. Two years ago, this would have sent me into a downward spiral – eating even one slice of pizza would lead me to eat several others, throwing away any progress I had made at the gym in the months prior. Subsequently, I would rid my body of it as quickly as possible, causing irreversible internal damage both mentally and physically. I was caught up in vicious cycle, one that plagued me for far too long and robbed me of my ability to enjoy food without guilt, to feel confident in my own skin. I don’t want to go down that road again, so I’ve recognized my need for structure, for routine. This is why I need yoga: its not trendy, its survival.

I won’t say that I have full on binge eating disorder or body dysmorphia, because that would be inaccurate and insensitive to those that do. The problem is my existence on the fringes of these issues, which makes it even harder to talk about or identify with other people. When I told my ex about these issues, he quickly dismissed it with “all women have this problem.” Issues are often not seen as such unless they exist on extremes: anorexia or bulimia, obesity or dysmorphia – but what about all of the in-betweens?

Yoga has helped me understand that the process starts and in my mind, in knowing that I have control, that food is nourishment, it is fuel. I remind myself of this during meditation each morning while looking in the mirror, repeating the following affirmations: I am beautiful. I am strong. I am worthy.  I am loved. Then I take these into my day.

Hopefully my roommates can’t hear me or think I’m a freak – though even if they do, who cares? This journey to wellness is mine, and mine alone.

 

Introvert Problems

I am an introvert. Somehow writing it down feels like a confession; all at once I feel lighter as though I am revealing some magnificent secret, lifting its weight off of my chest. There are certainly shades of grey in between the timid introvert and its counterpart: the emboldened, unabashedly prominent extrovert. Personalities, after all, are capable of spanning across the many labels we place on them. While I enjoy interacting with others and highly value interpersonal connections, there is no doubt of where my true self lies, despite years of trying to fool myself and the rest of the world into thinking otherwise.

I have always been an introvert, but terribly ashamed and scared to admit this as I irrationally attached so much negativity to it. In all honestly, I resented myself: for not being more outgoing, for not being able to enter a room of strangers and feel completely at ease. I envied the social butterflies who could flitter around through a crowd initiating conversations and introductions, completely uninhibited by fear of rejection or judgement. Meanwhile, I would assume my self-assigned role of the wallflower, finding comfort in my solitude (and in turn, as you may have guessed, was perceived by many as standoffish/a huge bitch). As a result, the self-deprecation persisted, as did this vicious, victim-based mentality. This went on for years, and yes it was fucking exhausting.

Luckily for me (and the world) I decided to get over myself and accept that I am not to be understood by the masses. My introversion throughout my teens and early adulthood was based in fear, but I have since reclaimed it, recognizing the true extent of its power. I now take pride in my boundaries, in letting people in slowly, in not investing emotionally in every single person I meet. I don’t beat myself up for not being the life of a party or for having a million and one friends or followers. Naturally, I am drawn to those who are on the other side of spectrum, amazed by their outgoing superpowers.

Most of my closest friends are extraverts, but now instead of breaking my back trying to compete with them I choose to yield, allowing them to take center stage and glow in their unashamed, and incredibly loud selves. On occasion I step into the spotlight going off on a tangent about my newest interests or dancing on a bar after one too many margaritas. In general, however, I find intimacy in silence – the most cherished moments with people for me are just listening, not thinking about some witty rebuttal or any of that shit, actually listening and getting into the core of another human. Intimacy is in doing nothing, in reading side by side or bodies intertwined with music blaring and neither of us saying a word. Alone, together.

For what its worth I know that I am imperfect: I am not the most eloquent, despite my username. I don’t always speak, and when do it is often fraught with emotion and mysterious riddles that require some serious deciphering as I jump from one thought to the next. I am intuitive and I feel extremely deeply though I don’t always verbalize these feelings. I don’t often speak without thinking first, unless margaritas are involved. I don’t give myself fully to everyone I meet, but I constantly strive to make sure that those close to me feel the depth of my love and gratitude, even when I don’t say it. I prefer to express myself through writing, or let a song say the things that I sometimes can’t. And I realize that these things aren’t problems after all.

 

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.

The Honeymoon Phase

I will be the first to admit that I have been totally MIA this summer in terms of my blog, mainly because I have been boo’ed the hell up. I am having a great time but I have definitely neglected my writing. This is mainly because I am in a different head space: content-wise my focus has shifted from dating to now being in a partnership. And while I think this will inspire some new ideas at some point, for now I am going to focus more on lifestyle and experience posts. I prefer to write about fuckboys (its more fun!) and keep my more personal and meaningful relationships under wraps.

We all know that new relationship feeling where everything is exciting, fresh and new. Everything your partner says is hilarious, you’re inseparable and you can’t help but look at them and think  “damn, bae is cute AF”.  You are both sick of the club and your ideal night consists of Netflix and takeout.  A lot of people say this is the best part of a relationship, but that’s because its the easiest. Many relationships crumble and fall at the end of this phase because people quite simply don’t want to put in the work that it takes to make something truly last because they are seeking perfection and let’s be honest, our generation is extremely impatient. As adorable as this phase is, eventually you have to move past the surface level shit (favorite tv shows, “wyd” texts, celebrity gossip, etc.) in order for a relationship to become stronger.

I absolutely do not expect the honeymoon phase to last, and truthfully I don’t want it to. I firmly believe that a relationship begins once guards fully come down and you get to uncover your partner’s true self. We are both hard headed so naturally we will disagree on things, from why NY is the greatest city in the world to which Future songs are okay and which are trash. We are not always going to be attached at the hip, and that is okay because we both have to grow as individuals and nobody likes a clinger. We will need to deal with any problems head on because as we all know life comes at you fast. I will sleep with my hair wrap on and he won’t say shit about it. I am ready for that. Of course I want elements of the honeymoon phase to continue as the relationship goes on: I don’t want to stop laughing at his corny ass jokes, exploring new things, going out together and getting excited whenever I know we have plans set.

For now I am unapologetically basking in new relationship bliss. Can a girl live?

Dating 101

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I think this is a better time than ever to talk about dating. Despite the rise of “Netflix and chill” sessions, going outside of each other’s bedrooms is still an important part of dating. And contrary to what Twitter wants you to think, girls do not need a man to drop $200 on a date to be happy.

Around this time of year I see a lot of people out here acting up on and offline, saying the likes of “I’m doing me, I love myself enough for the both of us” and “I’M SAVING MONEY BY BEING SINGLE THIS YEAR.” These people are a) hurt b) in denial or c) have deluded themselves into thinking that dating has to be extremely expensive and are mad because they don’t think they can compete. It is one thing to be truly working on one’s self, getting your money up, and generally being comfortable in your single status, but I don’t think those people are crying for attention on social media. There is nothing wrong with wanting love or seeking out a companion, and you should not let the process of dating, your financial status, or anything else intimidate you if that is what you truly want.

In a world filled with gold diggers, users and girls just out here looking for a meal, I can understand a man’s hesitation to spend money on a woman, especially in the initial stages of getting to know her. What if she’s not as cute as she looked online? What if she orders everything on the menu and spends all your money?  It’s risky, sure, so many times people take the safer lazier approach and try to “kick it at the crib” instead of going out. I do not care if you are just out of college working part-time to find a job or you are making six figures in some morally corrupt Wall Street gig: take her out! Abandon this notion that dates need to be an expensive dinner and a movie and think outside of the box. Museums, concerts, art shows, going somewhere new are just some of the things hardly cost a thing. Not to mention they are more memorable and impressive than a guy throwing down half of his paycheck on dinner then asking when you are going back to your place.

Ladies have a responsibility when it comes to dating, too. I am all about girls picking up the phone, making plans and introducing a guy to something he has never experienced. Hell, I’m even cool with *GASP* picking up the tab sometimes. If anything, it shows a respect for the guy you are getting to know (if a true partnership is what you’re after.)  A man should make a good amount of effort to express genuine interest, but let’s not place the financial completely on his shoulders. Remember: dating should be fun, not stressful. If you are looking for a trick, then by all means let that man take you out and order an appetizer, steak, dessert and whatever the hell you want on his dime. If you are looking for a partner, eventually a guy taking you out over and over again without any sort of reciprocation will lead to resentment. If your outlook is “men have to pay for everything” then you cannot get mad when a dude asks you why you are not abiding by traditional gender roles by making him a sandwich in the kitchen.

Side note: if you are strictly looking for sex, you do not have to do the whole “dating” thing.  Both men and women have the power to establish a sexually-based relationship from the beginning, and you never even have to leave the house! In 2015 I would love everyone to please stop the bullshit and tell people what you want. Taking a girl out solely so you can smash is disingenuous and shady will have a girls angrily showing up at your home because you sent mixed signals. If you are looking to actually connect with someone, make efforts that aid the process (i.e. going outside and bonding.) I completely understand that house dates are a low-effort way of getting to know someone, but trust me you can save the boring stay at home stuff for when you are exclusive or married.

The perfect date allows two people to comfortably explore each other’s personalities and experience something new all while staying in their respective financial lanes – the possibilities are endless! I just told this guy that I wanted to take him to a BYOB ceramic studio ($15) because booze + crafts sounds like a win-win situation to me.