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?

23

Today is my last day of being 22. While I do not necessarily believe that a new year or turning a year older should be a sole catalyst for change, reinvention or reflection, I do believe that this is a better time than any to sit back and think.

When I was younger I could not wait to be 22. Perhaps it was because of how cool and generally flawless those girls looked in movies, or because growing up I was always excited for my idea of what the future would hold: freedom, friends, boys, a career, maturity, and lots of happy hours.  22 was definitely that, and then some (less maturity, more happy hours).

It has been a YEAR, let me tell you. Sitting here now I can honestly say that this has been the single most eventful time of my entire life. I had my last semester of college, which was a goddamn emotional roller coaster given that it marked the end of the best four years I had ever known. I graduated on time against all odds because let’s be honest I passed statistics by the skin of my ass and lots of persuasion (thank you, Communications degree!) Side note: Do not knock the power of your major. Unless you’re going into something extremely specific, like med school, trust that you made the right choice if that is the direction you are really striving to move in.

Right after graduation I was forced to leave some of the closest relationships I had made in the Midwest suddenly going from being around my girls every day to being entirely on my own. Only a recent college graduate could truly understand how emotionally draining that is, as there is no preparing for that level of separation. After a brief period of denial, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Keeping in touch was not as easy as I had hoped, and distance proved to be a real bitch when trying to maintain those relationships. Through those though months I learned that while a Skype session every few weeks is not comparable to late night conversations in the dorm, it is the little things that matter when it comes to sustaining friendships, and I have learned to appreciate them more than anything. Maintain these relationships by any and all means possible, be that an occasional text or monthly Facetime.

Further adding to this awkward transitional period, I moved out of my parent’s house two weeks after getting back from Ohio. Please note note that I did not have a job at this point so this was just a leap of faith. After a few short-lived restaurant jobs got an offer from a place I thought would provide a good foundation for my career in entertainment, though it was not my first choice whatsoever. I quit that job two months later after becoming super depressed, without any plan or job prospects on the horizon. By the grace of whatever higher power is out there, and a ton of support from my parents and mentor, I was offered the job I always wanted and suddenly the meaningful career element of my life that I always reached for became a reality. So, while it may not be entirely smart to just jump ship without any plan, it is the best advice I can give. Also, unless its your dream job, do not take the first job offer you get, no matter what your parents/guidance counselor/college adviser/grandma tells you. A good job is not easy to find but it will be worth the wait.

Oh, and the boys. If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I have been tried by some dudes out here over the past year. I have been invited to threesomes (which I not-so-politely declined), yelled at, told I am too bitchy (probably true), scolded for my transparency in my blog, generally disappointed, slandered in group chats and on three separate occasions told that I was expected to give it up after being taken to dinner. Now to be fair, I have also had some amazing experiences which have inspired me to keep dating and keep my standards high. There are some great men out there, though I may not be fully compatible with all of them. I have learned that trying to prove my self-worth to someone else is a huge fucking waste of time, I should only have sex when I am 100% down and ready, and that both my emotional and physical well being always needs to come first. I have learned how to successfully balance a roster, not fall in like with a dude after a few weeks of “talking” and the importance of getting to the core of a man’s character before investing myself whatsoever.

Conversely, I have also learned how to be fine with being completely alone. And when I say that I’m talking about alone on a Saturday night with Netflix and a bottle of wine alone…and happy about it. Not just content, happy. There have been weeks where my phone has been dryer than the Sahara and those have been some of my best and most productive times. I think that type of satisfaction takes strength, especially in a world where outside validation from the opposite sex is given way too much credit. Validate yourself first or else you leave yourself open to others to do it for you. SO, if you haven’t already, delete every fuck boy in your phone and stop being so pressed for male attention that you forget about #1.

This year was about myself and continuing to grow and work to develop into my best self. Overall, this year taught me that I am a perfectly imperfect work in progress. My only hope for anyone else entering this time, enjoy all of it (even the fuckery, and trust me there will be lots of it). Find yourself someone to help guide you when you literally feel like everything is going to shit, who you can truly learn from and give back to. No matter how much freedom you get post-college or where your first job takes you, make time for family. Everything that happens is a lesson, so do not take it too personally if things do not go as planned, but try to learn from it. And of course, if you ever need someone to talk to, I got you.

What I’m trying to say is that being 22 is something else and I would do it all again in a heart beat. But, I am so ready for 23.

On Vulnerability

I have been thinking of vulnerability a lot of as of late. It seems simple: accept and love yourself unapologetically, and be open to all of life’s experiences, both positive and negative, without fear. In practice? An entirely different story. You mean to tell me that I’m supposed to expose myself for who I really am all of the time and allow people to possibly reject, hurt, and disappoint me? Pass.

In a world where both men and women are expected to be unwavering in their strength, it is no wonder that people have a an extremely difficult time being vulnerable. The word itself is typically associated with weakness, fear, and shame: qualities that young boys are raised to avoid like the plague and girls come to associate with “neediness” as they grow older. Vulnerability can be a liability, so instead of opening up we do the opposite – shut down and shut the world out claiming that we do not need anyone.

Act big and bad all you want but let’s face it: we want to be loved, wanted, desired, successful in our own right and genuinely happy. How can you attain all of those things by fronting and putting up defenses? I am not saying you should allow people to walk all over you, because vulnerability is not about being weak or being someone’s doormat. Nor am I saying that when you first meet someone you should go “Hi, I’m _____, and these are my fears/hopes/dreams”. But, sooner rather than later, you have to be willing to let your guard down and be real in order for relationships to move forward. In friendships and love, vulnerability is essential for to establish real connections as it requires both parties to be genuine, trusting, and honest. Without that what do you have? Let me answer that: not shit.

So, I need you to forget everything you know about being vulnerable and replace it with the following:

Vulnerability takes courage. It takes a brave soul to be completely honest and open with all of you, from your strengths and victories to your weaknesses and shortcomings. It takes courage to show your true self, flaws and all, to others. In doing so you are opening up to potential pain, but also to happiness and freedom that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.

There is strength in vulnerability. Being extremely open and self-aware is powerful. Having a firm grasp on your likes, preferences, fears, needs, goals and being able to express them is a sign of strength and security with yourself as you are. You are secure, know your boundaries and can stand your ground. Yes, you are open but that does not mean you will allow people to take advantage or manipulate. It also implies that even though you love yourself, you’re still striving to improve.

Being vulnerable is cool. Everyone is always stuck on trying to be “cool” and hiding their flaws or insecurities out of fear of being judged as this or that. You are not like anybody else, and why would you want to be? Try being yourself (the real you that you are with your family and friends) and see what happens. It may be a cliche but it needs to be said because people are still out here fronting for some reason. I am a nerdy, outspoken goofball with a weird laugh and a big head and I am not sorry about it. This is my truth and I have accepted this. Accept yours.

Vulnerability is extremely sexy.  I think someone who is able to be entirely transparent, aware and accepting of themselves is one of the most attractive qualities a person can possess. It is a bold move to share the good and bad parts of yourself and to trust someone not to shit all over you. Someone who exudes confidence and security in who they are and what they feel without apologizing for it is hot. It turns 6’s into 10’s everyday.

It takes a lot to consciously strive to be vulnerable and it is something I struggle with daily. We have all had an experience or two that make us hesitate to trust out of fear of being hurt and cause us to hide ourselves away. Being vulnerable will not shield you from disappointment in life, but it is more about accepting the hurt and not letting it control or limit you. Yes, being vulnerable has led me to experience deep pain, its also allowed me to feel the most joy I have ever felt. Without the lows how the hell could we ever learn to appreciate the highs?

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.

“Cuffing Season”

I left my apartment to head to work this morning in my sundress I felt had not gotten enough wear this summer, only to walk outside and smell something peculiar. I stopped. It was a very particular smell, one that only comes once a year and every time it scares the living shit out of me. It was the slight smell of bitterness in the air, which most of us Northerners know indicates summer ever so slowly turning into fall. But us younger adults all know fall + colder weather – the options of summertime + thirst = cuffing season. It’s simple math.

As with most modern dating terms, “cuffing season” was something I was introduced to in college and immediately took issue with it. My freshman self was quick to ask “why is this a thing? Why would you put a time limit on a relationship before it even develops?” Now older and somewhat wiser I completely understand the concept of the cuff.

For those who are unfamiliar, “cuffing season” is the period between October-March (though the exact dates are debatedd) where all of a sudden everyone and their mother gets boo’ed up. You can’t walk down the street without wanting to throw up all over every hand-holding couple and the “good morning” texts your best friend receives every morning. I can only assume this “season” was created by a guy who wanted the perks of a girlfriend in the comfort of his own home during the cold winter months, but with an expiration date attached – so that come March, he could get back out there and start prepping for spring break and the months of summer flings ahead. The signs that cuffing season has begun are imminent: sweater dresses and boots start coming out, going out becomes less appealing, and dudes you haven’t heard from since Memorial Day all of a sudden creep out of the woodwork with a “hey stranger!” text. When you get this, know that winter is coming.

I am certainly not mad at whoever came up with this one because there is something brilliant about it – and I know many ladies who actively look to cuff because both sexes can agree that cuddling up on a Saturday night is infinitely more enjoyably than trekking through 12+ inches of snow to get to the bar. While some people want someone to come to their family’s Christmas dinner or ring in the New Year with, most of us just want someone to come over for take out, a movie, and fun. I do think there is some hope in all of us that our winter buddy will end up being something more, but that might just be me. I warned you that I am Drake-level soft.

The two things that irk me about this time of year is the expectation that a) you have to lower your standards for a winter boo and 2) there is a definite expiration date. I am personally not going to shack up all winter with someone I wouldn’t be bothered with in the summer, so when I decide to cuff someone, I refuse to pick someone with qualities I don’t want in a potential partner down the line. Also, geography plays a huge role on who is cuffed as nobody is trying to take an inter-borough commute during a storm.

As with all things, the terms of the cuff would have to be established beforehand to avoid (or try to avoid) potential heartbreak come Valentine’s Day. After all, this is more or less an agreement to satisfy both parties with whatever level of companionship they are looking for to get them through the cold, dark winter. Keep your eyes peeled and remain alert for the heightened level of thirst and “have a great day beautiful” texts as to not fall for the first person who tries to temporarily lock you down for 4-5 months. Do not be afraid to skip the BS and ride out your winter solo instead of lowering your standards just to tell your friends that you have a cuddle buddy on a Saturday night. Most of all, communication is key regardless of the season, so make sure you are getting what you want out of what should be a wonderful, mutually beneficial experience.

On Being Alone

We all know that girl – she is hopelessly romantic, has a new boyfruend every couple months and uses social media to broadcast her relationship status. You can log on to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram at any moment and essentially catch yourself up on the happenings of her relationship, and her tone of voice fluctuates depending on whether or not her and the boyfriend are on good terms. On Monday she may post “me and my baby forever and always 8.6.2014 xo” but by the end of the week she’s angrily tweeting “SINGLE!” Her ever-changing outlook on love is evident amongst her friend group too, who have to deal with her mood swings. When booed up, everything is sunshine and rainbows and subtle shade towards her single friends. But when single, she is absolutely miserable until someone new comes into the picture.

The sad thing is that this is not simply behavior of high school girls, but grown women too. I thought maybe some of this behavior would end after age 19 but it is more common than ever to see people broadcasting the entirety of their private life in public. It is one thing to like being in a relationship, but another to need one to complete you and validate your existence.

Anyone who knows me knows I love love. I think a fulfilling, mutual, and loving relationship is one of the best things life has to offer, but it is not a necessity. After college, I learned to truly enjoy being alone and actually enjoy it. Still, being “alone” has a very negative connotation for most people, especially young women. If someone had told me that being single was fun a year ago I probably would have laughed and conclude they were just trying to justify their loneliness. Admittedly, I was a serial monogamist in part trying to fill a void that existed after a previous relationship was ended. If I wasn’t in a relationship, I would think there was something wrong with me if I didn’t at least have someone to talk to casually or “come over and chill” on any given night. So many of us strive to be booed up, its hard to take it when we don’t have someone by our side, accessible physically or emotionally at any part of the day. This is particularly try for newly single people who need a quick replacement to their sudden loneliness, which I understand. What I DON’T understand is how someone can jump from person to person without taking a breath for some self-reflection. These people who feel that they need a relationship tend to make the same mistakes repeatedly and do not truly grow.

Single people are not exempt from these issues. Some people, even out of relationships, can’t let a day go by without finding someone of the opposite sex to talk to. Whether its someone to like their Instagram post or someone to make small talk with during class or a work day, some singles still need that constant attention. Yes, we all want to feel valued and wanted, but a few days or even weeks of solitude is not just normal but beneficial. And you do not have to justify this time away from the dating world, because I guarantee you that girl who is “in love” is not at all as happy as she seems.

If you do not know by now I am unapologetically single. I was not always this way and it took me almost a year to get there, but its more liberating than anything. On nights where I don’t have someone to go out with, I take myself out. We spend so much time trying to please others, not realizing that life is much more enjoyable when you respect and live for your own health and happiness. People always tell you to love yourself first which sounds like bullshit but is actually something to hold dear to you. Only you have the power to recognize your faults, your daddy/mommy issues, or your insecurity and actually enjoying being in your own skin. True satisfaction begins within, and that is something nobody else will ever be able to give you.

SHE

Listen, I am not cool. In fact, its safe to say that I am a total cornball. I am a firm believer in superstitions, horoscopes, hallmark holidays and morning affirmations.  I tend to write a particularly long list of affirmations around New Years, when I both expand upon previous resolutions and generate new ones for the coming year. I recently looked back to my list I had crafted this past December, which helped me recognize my mistakes in the last year and realize the type of woman I want to be (and I’m doing pretty well so far!) By having that list to look back to whenever I am in doubt, I have avoided making the same errors and have created some amazing goals that I think others can relate to.

From that list, I have created a list of highlights which I believe serve as an appropriate foundation for my new section, “She.” It embodies everything that I hope will come from this section as I delve into the complex topics of dating, love, sex, and relationships as they pertain to millenial women and strive to promote confidence and strength amongst women. While this may not be your ideal woman or your views on what “femininity” and “womanhood” means (everyone has their own definition), I hope maybe you find something to relate to and take away from it. Feel free to add your own as well.

So, who is She?

To me, above all else, She is confident and secure in her self. Be it at school, work, in life or love, she knows what she wants and is not afraid to go and get it. She is adventurous and open minded to the many opportunities that exist outside of her own life. She is not afraid to stand out or bend the rules around her when she deems fit, and never does anything that makes her uncomfortable. She can sometimes be very direct and open in her defiance of social norms, while other times she is mysterious and moves discreetly in silence. She holds true to her own beliefs but knows when to speak and when to hold her tongue. She does not believe everything that she’s told, and knows that the concept of “right” and “wrong” is not so cut and dry. This allows her to live freely and fearlessly.

She has a strong support system around her of friends and family and she enjoys being sociable and exploring the world around her. She is a great friend and does not judge those closest to her and is always there to lend a hand. She does not rely on anyone, but she is willing to ask for help when necessary. As much as she loves to spend time with others, she values her alone time and independence. She knows how to be comfortable in her own skin and is not afraid to be alone. She has had her fair share of experiences (good and bad), but she is not resentful or angry. Instead, she uses these experiences to help her learn and grow to avoid making the same mistakes twice (though sometimes she might).

She does not necessarily “need” anyone, but is not afraid to admit that she prefers a shoulder to cry on, someone to sleep next to her at night, or a partner in love. She is single or in relationships as she deems fit, and chooses to be sexually active (and safe) with partners who she feels comfortable with. She decides when she wants to be physical, and does not do so for any reason other than her own. She does not get intimate to persuade her partner, boost her self esteem or succumb to pressure. She does not hold on to dead-end  relationships, and always looks out for herself fist and foremost. In friendships and in love, she is not afraid to speak up when unhappy or discontent with a situation, and more importantly she is not afraid to walk away from anything that does not suit her.

In love, he does not give her heart out freely, but when she does she loves fully. She expects the same in return, because she will not settle for less.