Perfection

9:35am On the 5 train heading downtown. Unsurprisingly, we are temporarily stopped in the tunnel somewhere between 14th and City Hall. Everyone is tethered to their phones, feverishly and unsuccessfully refreshing their tabs, angrily awaiting the return of their 4G.

9:50am Treating myself to a store-bought matcha – I’m going to need it today.

I didn’t sleep well last night, and it shows – the remnants of last night’s mascara clinging to my lashes, the puffiness of my eyes from one too many cocktails this week. I’ve been indulging, but actively trying not to self-deprecate and simply enjoy the highly social and extravagant nature of the holiday season. There is so much to be grateful for.

10:30am I’ve settled into the lounge area we have here at the office, which is essentially the home decor section of Anthropologie, the embodiment of a chic urban dwelling (with succulents and all.) Naturally, this is typically where I live during the work day – its tranquility affords me the solitude and comfort needed to focus on the dynamic nature of my new position.

But I can’t focus today – my mind is racing, still reeling from a conversation with my boyfriend that led to my sleepless night. I try not to overthink things, but somehow I’ve worked myself into an awful state of worry about my relationship as it progresses into a new, unfamiliar state. I could definitely use a blunt, but I know that’s not the correct emotional response to feeling blue.

I am currently in the longest, most serious relationship of my life. Similar to most couples, we have evolved – from the initial infatuation stage into something deeper, more nurturing, more mature. This person has become my best friend, yet I am still learning how to balance the needs of my individual self to those of a partner. At a year and a half, we have certainly surpassed past the superficial niceties and frenetic natures of casual dating. Those feelings of constant affection and adoration replaced by perfectly natural ebbs and flows.

Admittedly, I still struggle with having difficult (but necessary) conversations, with conflict, with tension, with criticism, with the less-than-perfect moments. I am getting better at navigating these things: not feeling personally attacked by his criticism, resisting the urge to get defensive or angry or worse shut down – all tactics that rarely serve me well and I’m trying to completely remove from my emotional arsenal.

I know my faults: I can be stubborn, I am naturally conflict-averse. I have this innate, irrational desire to be the perfect partner – a fruitless goal not at all based reality but in fantasy wherein my future self lives:

I want to be everything all at once: hot, smart, fun, sexy, wild, successful, alluring, insatiable.

I want to be a forward-thinking and people-focused manager, a leader, a creator by day and a hospitality scouring, highly health-conscious, well-read French enthusiast by night.

I want to travel, becoming a citizen of the world, continuously expanding my mindset through new experiences and encounters.

I want to be independent and comfortable, able to indulge in the things I love: music, food, travel, wellness.

I want to host dinner parties with interesting people from diverse backgrounds with varying perspectives – becoming fully immersed in storytelling the human experience.

I consistently want to be encircled with boundless love, knowledge, and pure good.

Most importantly, I want a partner, with their own dreams and complexities, to join me for the ride.

I hope it’s you.

Therapy

7:30am. I’ve been laying in bed for 20 mins, though not actually awake enough to get out of bed. I rarely wake up before my alarm, so I try to pinpoint where this restlessness is coming from – its not Christmas morning, nor do I have a big interview or a flight to catch – whats the deal?

Thats right – I’m starting therapy today. True to form, I’ve been repressing my underlying worry about the whole thing and its now coming to the surface in the form of poor sleep quality. I can acknowledge that my repressing of various emotions is one reason why I’m going to therapy on the first place. I’d argue that my level self-awareness is quite high, but self-awareness means nothing if you don’t use it as a catalyst for change. I make myself a hot cup of lemon water and sit out on my deck, enjoying this moment of solitude before heading out.

8:15am. Listening to Optimal Living Daily while waiting for the J. I’ve replaced music with podcasts for my daily commute, as I’ve read that you should incorporate positive, informative material in your morning routine to set the tone for your day. Admittedly, I’m only half-listening as I’m still a bit on edge about my appointment – there is something beautiful but equally terrifying about confiding in a stranger, disclosing the deepest parts of your fears, wants, and desires.

To be fair, I’ve done this before: I was 22, cursed with a proclivity for model fuckboys and stuck in a toxic work environment (surprise: they were linked!) At the only went for three sessions, but in that time I had multiple breakthroughs which facilitated my growth into the person I am now, and I’ve always been open to the idea of going back when the time came. At 26, my problems are different, but the sentiment remains the same: I need an objective person to talk to about my life, as it stands, and how to work through whatever is holding me back.

For all my trying to hold it together at all times, I can recognize that whatever I am doing right now – from meditation, to yoga, to affirmations – is just not enough to manage my insecurities about my career. Work – huge part of who I am – is very much a work in progress, and its all-consuming. Unfortunately since age 16 I’ve been possessed with an insatiable desire to succeed in entertainment and media, wherein people are  notoriously overworked, underpaid, under valued. After four and a half years and several great opportunities, I haven’t quite found my place, which leads me to wonder will I ever fit it in anywhere? Should I be worried? Am I living in a fantasy world in search of the perfect job? Does that exist? Should I go work at a fucking bank? Is my therapist going to think I’m ridiculous? These are the things I wonder as I walk into her office.

To be clear, I count my blessings daily: I have a job, a salary, and a roof over my head. I have a full life outside of work, a family, good health, and a wealth terribly cliched first world problems. These pure luxuries, for which I am grateful, cannot stop this innate feeling that I am floating through life, happy enough but barely scratching the surface of what I am capable of, wasting my tremendous privilege. No amount of “you’re doing amazing sweetie” from my ever-adoring mom, motivational memes, or words of affection from my boyfriend will help.

So, therapy it is.

 

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.