Love

I woke up with the urge to write. This normally doesn’t happen before 9am, so I’ve decided to go with it. Previously, I wouldn’t write anything until I had what I perceived to be a great idea, but then 3 months would go by without a single journal entry. So, no, not the best strategy for a bourgeoning writer.

We have a deck just outside my room, so after a quick shower and meditation I make myself comfortable, notebook and pen in tow. I have this brief pang of anxiety about the usual things: going to work, the state of the country, my spending habits this past weekend. Nothing particularly riveting to see here – some of these things are first world problems that are fully in my control, others are not. I let it melt away with some deep breathing exercises and “La rua madureira” by Paulize Croze.

Also on my mind, my boyfriend. We didn’t start off traditionally by any means (met on Tinder, hooked up, didn’t define our situation until months later, etc.) It took some time to get to where we are now, and it was admittedly a slow burn. But now, I’m in deep. And while I’m not afraid, it can be a bit overwhelming at times when I realize how I’ve shifted from me to we. I find myself dropping him into miscellaneous conversations with friends, creating lists of restaurants for us to try and trips to take, asking about projects he’s working on out of genuine interest though I know absolutely nothing about coding (I am helplessly right-brained.) These feelings are fantastic, but admittedly slightly unnerving at times. Despite my Drake-level softness, I try not to be too annoying about it, lest I become that girl who won’t shut the fuck up about her boyfriend. Nobody likes that girl.

I don’t want to go to work. At all. I’ve been having a bit of a rough patch as there is not much creativity in my current role, but I am trying to adopt a more positive outlook on the present, working with the situation at hand and taking the steps necessary to improve it. It all starts with thoughts, so its crucial that I adjust my mindset accordingly.

On my way to work I thought about a conversation from last weekend at brunch with my roommates. Following some drinks, it wasn’t long before the conversation naturally turned to dating in New York – as most good conversations do. Kendre, who up until now hadn’t spoken much, said “I’ve never been in love in New York, but I imagine that its probably one the most incredible experiences that one can have.”

This resonated with me, ultimately because I recognized the truth in it. Love can take many forms, but the experience of being in love with someone in New York is rare. Every single aspect of life in this city is competitive, constantly shifting, and based in pride in our autonomy. Each day we interact with countless people, the depth of these encounters varying, and some leaving much to be desired. We are all seeking meaningful connections on a singular island inhabited by of millions of people – amidst full time jobs and endless social obligations – making dating notoriously cutthroat. Nobody has time to waste, which requires having multiple dates a week and experiencing different people in various capacities to find someone you both want to talk AND sleep with on a regular basis, which is harder than it sounds. Feelings aren’t reciprocated. Expectations don’t meet reality. People don’t make the final cut.

But then, you meet someone, and suddenly everything slows down. In connecting with someone else beneath the surface, you relinquish that sense of control that comes with being single, that emotional fortress you’ve built around yourself crumbling by the minute. In a city that is often harsh and divisive, love acts as a grounding and unifying antidote. It happened to me: I am now become a walking cliche of a woman in love. Just saying that makes me want to slap myself, but here is something about knowing there is at least one person that completely gets me is both beautiful and comforting; a rarity in a city that inspires chaos and discomfort at almost every turn.

Love in New York isn’t limited to romantic love: you can find love in family, friends, work, the rat outside of your apartment eating a dollar slice. But I have the opportunity to experience this love – in all its entirely beautiful, cliched, and ridiculous glory. I need to remember not to take it for granted.

 

The Real World

Its 7:15am. Somehow I’ve managed to wake up before my alarm, which pretty much never happens. I am shockingly awake, perky even. Its gross, but I’m actually sort of into it. Given that I don’t need to be at work for 3 hours, I make myself my daily cup of hot lemon water, meditate, and get dressed for the gym.

I’ve been waking up at 7:30am on the dot every day since I’ve moved, likely due to the fact that I now have windows – something I’ll never take for granted ever again. My last apartment move was made a bit out of desperation, and I ended up in a small, windowless room above Bagelsmith. So yes, I now admittedly wake up filled with this absurd contentment over having not one, not two, but three lovely windows, the gorgeous natural light pouring in each morning and welcoming to a new day. Silly, I know, but its the little things.

Late to class, of course. I just can’t seem to time my bike ride perfectly from my new apartment, even though its only 5 minutes away from my old place. The only spot left is in the front row, which I don’t mind, but it means I am going to be that late asshole that pushes her way through the group to get there. Owning it. Luckily everyone is too busy in their downward dogs, so I sneak in relatively undetected.

This is now my fifth apartment since I graduated college. I moved because I very much needed a change but was not ready follow the masses of 20-somethings looking for reasonably priced housing in Bushwick. I hate myself for saying it, but I love Williamsburg. Though only a few blocks south of Bedford Ave, my neighborhood is far less gentrified and much more interesting: the area is an interesting mix of Puerto Rican and Satmar, and on any given evening you’re likely to see people hanging out on the street, music blaring from tricked out cars and going to the butcher. I often want to wish them “good shabbos”, but I imagine they don’t give a shit that I’m Jewish too – to them I’m just another basic, upper-middle class gentrifier.

I think I have always been a bit restless, possessed by an innate need to keep things interesting, which is both a blessing and a curse because I am hardly ever satisfied (see: apartment + job history, dating life). For the first time, though, I feel fully content with my current situation and can actually see myself staying put. My boyfriend jokes that I’m living in a “Real World House”, but I promise its not nearly as wild as that, despite being a 6 bedroom – the roommates are all 9-5ers from around the world and seemingly have the same mindset in terms of relaxing and keeping a nice home, which is what I value right now. Considering I used to value how close I lived to the bars, I’d consider this growth.

 

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.

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.