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.

 

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.

 

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 Struggle

In a city where there’s always something to do at any given moment, you can never say you’re bored. Nor should you ever be, as if you live in the most expensive US city you’d better be making it worth every penny (I’m convinced the high cost of living is due to the fact that everyone wants to be in close proximity to the action, and that’s what we are playing for). The lovely thing about NYC is that there is so much to do, and luckily some of these things are free. Most, however, are not. There are concerts to see, bars to try, festivals and showcases to attend, and most importantly food to eat…and lots of it. Unless you have the hook up, which I can sometimes get by turning on the charm, there will be money involved and its not for the faint of heart.

Though my mom suggests “finding nice men to take you out” (she is an OG, I have not really jumped on this advice just yet). is the best Whilst in the throws of job searching, I have been doing everything I can to explore what summer in the city has to offer, and I refuse to turn down an opportunity or a good meal (even if my bank account hates me afterwards…which it does often). I spend the hours that I am not working at my restaurant gig exploring various neighborhoods and enjoying the simple adventures and stimulation this city supplies. Also, happy hours.

Harlem Tavern, where I spend all my money.
Harlem Tavern, where I spend all my money.

Going from a highly structured environment (college) to a completely structureless one has been somewhat of a struggle. I feel like I am on an endless vacation and find myself exhausted at the end of the day even though all I really did was make breakfast, workout, apply to jobs, read, make dinner, and go out. It’s odd but fun waking up in the morning and not knowing what to expect and acting on a complete whim. I know I can’t live like this forever, but there is something luxurious about this lifestyle. I often wonder how I am going to adjust to a real job where I have to be somewhere ON TIME at 9 am 5 days a week. It is completely different from going to school, holding an internship, or any other work-related obligation that most people my age have needed to do, as its no longer “part time” it is essentially every day for the next 30-40, possibly more, years of life.

 I want to build a future for myself and put in the work necessary but also focus on thriving in the present. In that sense, my struggle lies in enjoying my life right now but also wanting/not wanting to work. Luckily after talking to my friends, I know I’m not alone in this and not completely insane (just extremely optimistic). Everyone wants to make their passions their career, but this is even more the case for me as I cannot work in a place I hate or that does not inspire me/motivate me to be at my best every day. Though I do not expect my first job to be my last, nor do I want it do, I am holding out for a job that is the absolute right fit, as I want to give it my all. Until then, I’ll be reading for fun, drinking on Sundays, and having a great damn time.

Living alone and being unemployed affords me an incredible amount of flexibility to do various things, such eat candy for breakfast or go to out on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays (aka the weekend for New Yorkers). It is freeing, scary, unpredictable, and it tests my willpower and strength daily. It also tests my wallet, as I am the absolute worst when it comes to budgeting (which has to change). I certainly can’t say that I’m struggling, but I can say that I’m having the time of my life. I do need to start cooking more though. This going out to eat every night shit is not going to fly forever.

Harlem Summer

After months of apartment hunting (which, by the way, is the most stress-inducing task outside of job hunting), I have hit the jackpot. Somehow the New York apartment gods have blessed me with an amazing space in Morningside Heights, where I will be living for at least the next three months. I knew before I graduated that I needed my own place closer to the many job opportunities and excitement this city has to offer, as living on my own the past two summers has given me a taste for the independent life that I now crave. Not only am I lucky to be staying in Manhattan (I thought I could only afford Brooklyn) but I am living with a friend I have known for over a year. Considering that I was about to move in with a stranger, saying that I have gotten extremely lucky with this one would be a complete understatement.Image

Morningside Heights is an incredibly historic and cultural area in Upper Manhattan. To the direct north is Harlem, to the west is Columbia, and to the south is Central Park North. I am only a few steps from the nearest subway, and within moments I can be at either Morningside Park or Central Park for a daily run (something I thought I would have to give up after moving from 79th street). Though my mom remembers a time where this area was not exactly a place you wanted to live, the neighborhood is now an up-and-coming cultural and residential area. Frederick Douglass Boulevard is lined with businesses, shops, and restaurants, and it is only a few blocks to 125th street, if you’re ever looking to do some shopping or some very interesting people watching.Image

Its incredible to walk around this area and see the rich history, which is clearly visible in the notable landmarks such as the Apollo Theatre as well as the “old New York” architecture (I lust after the brownstones on Lenox daily). Though only 20 minutes from midtown, it is a completely different world up here. The buildings are noticeably lower than the towers that compose the New York skyline further downtown, and instead of luxury condos the blocks are filled with uniquely colorful apartments that house families and young adults like myself.

My apartment is vastly different from my old home on 79th street: There’s an elevator (NO MORE WALK UP!!!), my room is huge (out of town friends, come visit!), and my roommates are lovely. While I enjoyed living by myself, it is nice to know that my roomies are just a few steps away. We have a beautiful kitchen, natural light, and there is a washer and dryer right in our apartment….which is UNHEARD OF IN NYC. It’s a miracle and sometimes I need to double check that I’m not dreaming.IMG_5784

I will certainly be taking more photos of the area, as I am falling more in love with it every day. I do need to check out spots in the neighborhood as I have still been going downtown in my free time to familiar places and to meet friends and family, so I need to broaden my perspective as this area has so much to offer. Its wonderful to be from a city where nothing ever gets old, and you often feel like snapping pictures on your walk home no matter how “touristy” you look, and I will continue to do so over the next few months as I continue to explore this crazy place I call home.

There is nothing like a New York summer and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

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