You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry

hulkI am filled with rage. Do I think it’s terrible that the first thing I’ve written in 2018 begins with the fact that I, right now, am a rolling pile of hostility that radiates from every point in my body? Yes, I hate that I feel that way, I hate that I’m aware I feel this way, and to be quite honest I have no idea how to fix it.

I guess I should start at the beginning. If you remember this proclamation you’ll remember that about 6 months ago I got a new job and a new apartment and there was this boy I liked and it was all fun and dandy; and it was, it really was this water shed moment in my life where I felt visible progress in this whole “adult in my late twenties” thing. I was proud of myself for my accomplishments and I felt somehow I had conquered some thing big and scary in a positive way, something that, after my depression, I was even more stunned by.

I don’t claim to know a lot of things. I’m old enough now to realize I don’t know shit and yet the one thing I do know is that change is constant and life has an ebb and flow to it when it comes to crazy life circumstances. There are moments that are triumphant and happy and great, and there are moments when things are complicated, and messy, and hard. I have learned that it’s best not to push against the ebb and flow when you’re scared or unsure, that the only way to get through the complicated, messy, hard parts is not to fight it.

Intrinsically I knew, that on the other side of all those winning moments was another low of chaos and confusion (insert Brady/Patriots analogy here) that would humble me again and give me some invisible progress in this whole, “adult in my late twenties” thing.  In my head I was prepared for another turn-my-life-upside moment but I had no idea a shit storm would come at me so quickly after.

Career drama, boy drama, ex-boy drama, family dynamic drama, a vast array of people just being their worst selves/breaking my trust around me and the never ending background noise that is our current political situation had me literally shook. In the span of September – December I spent 110% of my human energy trying to withstand the ebb and flow that is the universe/God/fate/whatever you believe in and it was hard. As a show of my growth in this whole, “adult in my late twenties” I surrendered to it and tried my best not to fight it out of fear or uncertainty and low and behold it worked! I came out the other side! I healed my heart, I stayed the course with work, I had won again! Mic Drop.

… but then the anger came, and it is not a gentle “ebb & flow” it is a tsunami of years of unprocessed anger that has literally taken over my life. I wake up angry, I go to sleep angry, 89.9% of the time at work I am angry, it never stops. It’s so intense it flows over into everything – anything! What I can only identify as a severely increased volatile state has made me feel like a different person, like a darker person. I can feel it, the anger, like poison in my body fighting tooth and nail to be seen, to be heard, to be taken seriously. At first I thought it lived only in certain situations, in the things that have happened to me over the last few months but I’m slowly coming to the realization that it goes beyond that. I am completely hulking out in my life because I have internalized anger for most of my life and it is here ready for vengeance.

I should say now that by nature I’m an incredibly passive person. Not to be confused with passive aggressive, I just all together hate being mad and enjoy keeping everyone happy.  I know that this isn’t always possible but I find, for me, confronting people never does anything but cause hurt where there doesn’t need to be.

That is my reasoning behind internalizing all my anger for so long. It sounds stupid even reading it and yet, even with rage literally coursing through my body, I feel uncomfortable and anxious with the anger creeping so close to the surface. But the truth is I’m pissed, pissed about my career, pissed about my love life, pissed about being a black woman in America and a deeper feeling that no matter how much I try, nothing ever matters.

Of course, once I realized something was off I wanted to move on to a solution. Almost anything sends me into profanity laced tirades so I thought I’d try yoga. Didn’t work, I ended up getting mad that I haven’t found the right yoga studio and, when practicing yoga found I focused more on getting there than actually being there (if that makes since to anyone but I frankly don’t care if it doesn’t). I tried meditating, didn’t work. I bought some apps and read some articles and tried to be still but every time I do the list of fucking unjust and unfair things in my life (and the world in general ) play like movie credits on repeat. I’ve tried changing my diet (as a far fetched connection to my anger) but the overwhelming stress I feel about being so goddamn angry makes me crave every carb under the sun and the extra 20 lbs. I’m already hiding on my body makes me a feel a mixture of  such sadness, helplessness, and guilt that it directly turns into even more anger.

“It’s healthy for you to be angry”, most people would say, and they would be right. A therapist can probably help me to deal with my anger more constructively moving forward, but that doesn’t help the anger that already exists back from who knows how long. I fear that if I can’t address and confront those issues I may be trapped in the anger forever, and you won’t like me when I’m angry.

 

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This is Adulting

maxresdefaultA few weeks ago, I had somewhat of a realization – I hate being an adult. I know that’s a bold statement, but hear me out.

While adulating is a term us millennials throw around to suggest doing adult things while not actually being an adult, let’s face the facts, if you live on your own (relatively, not including roommates), work full-time, pay your own bills and are solely responsible for your own well-being, well, hate to break it to you but you are an adult. The thing is, once I finally accepted that this is where I am in my life, adulthood, I started to fall apart a little bit.

First came this overwhelming nostalgia for a less stressful time. A time when bills didn’t seem to multiply in my mailbox, a time where I spent substantially less time yelling at customer service reps and scheduling appointments, and seeing friends didn’t involve calendars and week-long back and forth on when to meet up for 1-2 drinks. A time when I didn’t have to go to meetings about having less meetings, 1:1’s meant a 1:1 game of pick up, and missing a deadline meant failing a class not ending up unemployed. I missed that time, I missed it with such ferocity that I spent a whole week resenting adulthood for all of its misgivings.

Because we were told something different – or at least I was under the assumption that adulthood was getting a job you enjoyed, falling in love with someone, and creating a family where mostly you paid bills but the rest was chill. No one told me about the scheduling part, the meeting part, or the endless appointments that somehow have to continuously be made (but like, why?). I never imagined that I’d have to spend so much money to pay for a degree I barely use, or that working out and eating healthy is its own, very expensive, bill. Not to mention that it’s a seemingly endless stream of trade-offs that feel more like hostage negations than life choices.

All of this dawned on me right before my 27th birthday and I had what some would call a semi mental breakdown. Being someone who has lived with anxiety and depression since I was 18 I am keenly aware of when things start to spiral out of control and since being an adult is not actual cause for a breakdown I used every tool in my toolbox to help me not lose my shit. Balancing it all, knowing that this was basically the whole thing, that I was never not going to be an adult until I was old felt unbelievably soul crushing and I absolutely hated it (this is where I started to understand why the consolation prize for being an adult was alcohol).

Of course, you’re not supposed to hate being an adult. For most of your life this is the point you’re waiting for. When you’re a kid you just want to be a teenager, when you’re a teenager you just want to be in college, when you’re in college you just want to travel more, do more, and then all of a sudden, you’re staring at 30, and then 40, and then 50 and you look up and there you are, a fully realized adult.

I’m not saying there aren’t some perks. I love being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want (ice cream for breakfast anyone?) with the only limitations being my bank account and self-motivation. Sometimes when I’m out at happy hour with my friends, sipping on margaritas, gossiping with co-workers and realizing I’m in one of the coolest cities in the world I don’t hate it so much. For that split second, that hour, that day, being an adult feels like a never ending adventure with limitless possibilities, but then I go home to a stack full of bills and the reality seeps right back in.

I’m also fully aware that as a single, childless adult, I’m living the easiest version of adulthood. I make no compromises, no sacrifices, I can be as selfish as I want and my house is free of Lego’s and sippy cups. Somedays I envy those people, the ones happily married with kids, the ones with huge engagement rings and perfectly enhanced wedding pictures, the ones buying houses and going to Dubai (how is everyone going to Dubai by the way, has Southwest extended their destination points!?). Somedays I think to myself, “that’s the version of adulthood I want, I want that.” But then my friends in relationships, married, or with children bring me right back down to earth and I can’t help but think, “oh great, so it gets marginally better but it’s more of the same. Meetings, bills, scheduling friend visits, with the added-on pressure of having to disappoint family when you decide not to visit them for Christmas.”

So, you can understand my frustration of, “this is it!?” – this is the bill of goods that was marketed to me as the pinnacle of all that I’ve worked for? You’ve. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me

But alas, after watching 5 seasons of The Office (work place comedies are my remedy for all ailments), taking lots of walks and receiving validation from friends and family that, no I was not crazy, being an adult isn’t always the greatest, I began to see something else. What my friends and family helped me to see was that my idea of what an adult is isn’t limited to the obligations and technicalities I had described. Rather it is an ever-evolving wave of up’s and down’s, challenges and growth, happy moments and exasperating moments and everything in between. Being an adult is not all the things I hated but rather a much deeper and less soul crushing set of things that are give and take every day depending on how you look at it.

Being an adult is knowing the difference between a good choice and a bad choice, weighing the options and accepting the outcome of whatever you chose. Being an adult is finding things and people who make it all a bit more bearable and spending time nurturing and protecting that so you laugh a little more. Being an adult is recognizing that time passes faster and faster every year and learning to appreciate each fleeting moment while cementing it as a lasting memory. Being an adult is waking up every day and choosing to be happy or faking it so well that you actually become happy (because yes, you can choose to be happy and it is the hardest thing on this planet for some, and for others not so much). It’s not always perfect, and it’s not always fun but every day you continue to do better and be better you become more of the adult person you always dreamed you would be, and maybe that’s not so bad after all.

Dear Me: A Letter to my 26 Year Old Self

If you are a reader of my blog you know that, since the beginning, this blog has been an open diary into my life; my life that is, at times, extremely real and extremely difficult to write sometimes because of how vulnerable it makes me feel. At it’s best my blog has made a few people feel less alone in this journey that is your twenties, and at it’s worst has hurt more people then I care to remember in so many ways. It has chronicled my various heartbreaks, successes and random thoughts on the world happening around me. Cheers to another year as I write my annual birthday letter to myself. 

 

Dear Me,

As you’re reading this the world is burning down around you. Donald Trump is really presidents, the civil discourse is real and issues around race, gender,  immigration status, and sexual orientation will take front and center for the next year. I would say it won’t be as bad as people imagined but that would be a lie, it very much is the worst thing to happen to America and much of your year will be like everyone else’s – figuring out how to live in a world where all of this is going on.

The good news is you will grow leaps and bounds even with the political climate (and the actual climate) in disarray. The bad news is without challenges there is no growth and this year is no exception.

You’ll develop a tagline for yourself, “be fearless” and that mantra will support you wherever you apply it. There will be so many complicated and terrifying choices you’ll have to make this year but you will never let fear get in the way of making the choices best suited for your happiness. You’ll be proud to know that you a much bigger risk taker than you could have imagined and in the end it will pay off.

But it will pay off in emotional and mental growth more than anything else. You won’t find yourself necessarily flush with more money, or a relationship, or really anything else that society deems a marker of “success”, but you will find gratitude in great supply and on days that you feel discouraged you will remember how far you’ve come and a smile will effortlessly crawl across your face.

You will be grateful because you will know that you have done the work. Your introspection and dedication to doing and being better will be hard but when you’ve come to a realization and decide to make a different choices because of it, that is where the gratitude stems from.

I believe that 27 will be the year of making the conscious choice to be happy, but I only believe that because 26 was about figuring out what it is that makes you happy to begin with. Whether it be your living environment, your family life, your relationships (both romantically and non-romantically), your job, you will learn what things make you happy in each of those places and those are the puzzle pieces you will use in the future.

I wish I had more to say to you. Maybe the reason I don’t is because you will do such a great job maturing on your own. There’s not one thing I could tell you to keep in mind that would make this year easier for you other than to pay attention to who you are always, because that will get you through another year and another version of you writing a letter just like this one.

Love,

Yourself

 

Pressure Cooker

pressure-cooker-breville-settings-02592-630This is a story about an apartment, a wedding, a job, and a guy, and the 6 weeks of straight up insanity that ensued. I would like to state for the record that, at the time, all of this seemed like a very good idea and if the results are to be believed, not a bad choice among them. Still – did I make a lot of ridculous, rash, impetuous, and downright ballsey decision all made in the name of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Why don’t I tell the story and you can decide for yourself.

I guess if I could point to what really started it all, I’d have to start with The Apartment. 

The apartment I moved into after moving out of my Dad’s was how I started my year. I had looked at three other places before landing on mine, a small converted victorian apartment in the heart of the Haight/Ashbury with two other women close to my age. The vibe felt right, the timing couldn’t have been better, and even though it didn’t meet all the things I had been looking for in an apartment I was grateful to find a place so easily.

The thing about moving into a new place though is that you get a brief peek at the physical space you’ll be living and maybe about thirty minutes with the people who you’ll actually be living with and the next thing you know you’re moving boxes into somewhere with essentially complete strangers. This was not necessarily a new experience for me, I had moved into small places with people I’d never met before, but in my haste to find a place I had ignored a few instincts that would have made the entire decision different.

It was a cozy place but endlessly dark outside of my roommates bedrooms, leaving my room, the kitchen, the bathroom, and hallway all without direct sunlight or natural light at all. While not having a living room wasn’t a deal breaker, my small space felt like a box I was constantly trapped in. City apartments, notorious for converting living rooms into extra bedrooms, are always surrounded by thin walls but the upstairs neighbors made it feel like I was roommates with 5 people and not 2 and were constantly elevating the noise level. And, while both my roommate were nice people in general, it wasn’t a good fit personality wise and it all started to build an anger in me so intense that I decided the best thing for me to do was to pack up my shit and find an alternative living situation.

So I gave notice. I gave notice and decided I was going to look for a new apartment without having said new apartment or anyplace else to live incase I didn’t find anything, which didn’t seem impossible with 4 weeks to look. Except I did not have 4 weeks to look because at the end of July was the biggest event I had ever had to help with – The Wedding.

My mother got engaged last summer, to her partner of two years. My mother having never been married, had decided that a giant wedding was exactly what she wanted and having our whole family present was a must, of course. But even though she had a year to plan it, my mother and all of her creative glory thought it best to start actually planning 5 months before despite my pleas to take things more seriously and also possibly elope. Between the amount of PTO I had, my hatred of Texas and my complicated feelings about the whole wedding in general it took a lot of extra strength to get it together and put my pressing life shit aside for the whole shindig. So, without much protest I dove head first into my Maid of Honor duties and tried my best to keep the four days worth of festivities running and operating on time. It wasn’t easy, especially considering mid way through the events I had to take a break because I was interviewing and preparing for The Job.

The job had been a long time in the making. Shortly before my year mark at my current place of employment I realized I was standing in a position with no growth and few avenues to take my career to the next level. I was bored, I was restless, and I was afraid that my career was stalling at a time when everyone else I knew was flourishing (and getting married and have babies too!). So I started looking with lots of interest and many phone interviews. But as the summer moved by I was making it to last rounds of interviews only to be told, “not at this time”, and “not quite a fit”. It was easy to get discouraged, especially on top of a pending move (that initially I wanted to take place AFTER a new job) but I kept at it and while each job had it’s pro’s and con’s I finally found one I was all in on, and now the pressure to make them realize I was the one for the job took front and center… Well center along with my mom’s wedding and, of course, not being homeless.

But because I’m a glutton for punishment, an explorer of stressful situations, and downright fucking nuts I decided to add a cherry onto my , “I’m just going to do this” sundae.

Que, The Guy.

Anyone who knows me knows it has been a rough year of dating. I spent the better half of 2016 being purposefully single only to crash head first back into the dating world with mixed reviews. It was all first dates and flirtatious text messages and more interesting stories than I even knew what to do with (my best friend suggests I write a book about it). As time went on it felt like everyone in my life had a personal stake and investment in my search to find someone who actually excited me. I mean fuck, I even guest hosted on a relationship and dating podcast and yet, nada.

Until I obviously gave up. As cliche as it sounds after a few week tryst with a guy who absolutely was the wrong guy for me I agreed to go on one more date, mostly to make sure I wasn’t somehow growing a tail that chased guys away. You can guess what happened next, and as much as I want to full on share every little detail about what makes this guy awesome, what makes him worth dating in the middle of all this madness, I won’t because right now it’s still in the incubator stage, the stage where we’ve created our own little bubble and have no interest in letting anyone in yet to ruin it (trust me, I have a hard enough time not ruining it myself to add other people’s opinions and judgments into the picture).

I will say one thing about why I like this guy so much…. When all of this was going on, the apartment, the wedding, the job, he supported me. He made me feel like I could do it, even if I already knew I could, in a way that made me feel like I wasn’t alone. To be able to do that and succeed within only a couple weeks of dating is something that, regardless of how things end up, will always mean so much to me.

So here we are. The end of this story is like you would imagine; I found an apartment, the wedding was beautiful, I got the job and the guy, yeah he’s still around. I don’t say this in a caviler way at all, rather the fact that I somehow pulled this off has been blowing my mind since Thursday. Of course a lot of this was exactly what an old Roman philosopher said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. I was blessed with so many opportunities that had to open up to make this all happen but I was also prepared going in, knowing that in order to get through I would have to be fearless. Because if I wasn’t, if I had wavered in my commitment, disregard setback and loss faith in myself – well there wasn’t any room for that.

I was laminating on about how I couldn’t believe I pulled it all off to my supervisor when I told him I’d accepted another job and he said something that made a lot of sense. he said,

“This is just what adulting is, making choices, taking risks, and balancing it all at once.”

So that’s what I learned (you didn’t think I survived this all without learning a lesson did you?!). I learned that you have to take risk, put yourself in the pressure cooker if it means bettering yourself or the ones you love. I also realized what it means to be intentional with your thoughts and actions and of course, I learned to

Be fearless.

Do You Even Know What You’re Talking About

question-markI’m not going to lie to you guys, this week’s Podcast is a little all over the place (mainly because of me). After taking a week off from recording I do my best to jump back in and answer your questions along with Robert Dunn, the host of The Orion Group, on seemingly a lot of questions around commitment.

Again, I’m not going to lie, questions about how to get guys to commit and just general knowledge of commitment in gernal isn’t my strong suite. In college my least favorite Poly Sci classes involved anything foreign policy wise but somehow I would show up, fake it, and leave before anyone realized I had no fucking clue what I was talking about. This is why I’d make a great PR person, because I’m the queen of talking in circles with some good points unrelated to the topic sprinkled throughout so you’re not actually sure if what I’m saying makes any sense and by the time you realize I don’t, I’m done talking.

The reason I probably babel on so much about commitment on this weeks podcast is because it’s probably one of my biggest issues when it comes to relationships. After 10 months of dating my ex, he was so scared of making a commitment to me he wouldn’t even commit enough to call me his girlfriend (which in every sense of the word I was). Needless to say I collected some baggage around feeling like I couldn’t inspire someone to like me enough to pull the commitment leaver.

It’s hard to admit but in the last year of dating I’ve come against guy after guy who would last a few dates/weeks and then somehow vanish into thin air when it was realized that we had very different ideas of where things were headed. I tried my best not to take it too personally while at the same time growing more and more frustrated that , it seemed as if the only thing most guys could commit to was themselves.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. I want to be very clear that prioritizing yourself and not jumping into commitment right away is a very healthy and smart idea (which is why, in general my opinion is you shouldn’t date unless you realize that that’s what dating leads to). But I also recognize that it’s a natural human instinct to want some level of dedication and devotion from someone you spend a lot of time with and bang on a regular basis. And just like everything in regards to a relationship, it really important to have an open conversation about things with your parter; a conversation where you talk about what point of dating you need/want a commitment, what that looks like for you, and how much of a commitment you feel comfortable with.

I would say (and based off the questions this week and my knowledge of committing in a relationship in general) that talking about commitment is one of the hardest and most vulnerable conversations you’ll have at some point. Why? Because talking about commitment means talking about how much you care, where you want things to go, a certain level of ownership you desire moving forward. Even when you’re with the right person this can be a really nerve racking experience and a deep turning point when it comes to dating.

But again, I’m not the best authority on this matter. In fact I’m simply learning as I go what type of advice I want to give to other people and myself when it comes to this topic. Which, if you listen, you will hear and wonder if I even know what I’m talking about.

Breathing & Waiting

chrysalysI’m on the precipice of something great. After years of figuring it all out in my early twenties and failing numerous times I have finally gotten to a place where things are making sense, slowly falling into place in a way that makes me feel like I’m going in the right direction. The thing I’ve learned about change and going in the right direction though is that inevitably, right before you’re about to get to something great everything else kinds of falls apart. In the past I use to see this as a sign that good things were not in fact coming but now I see this for what it is – the uncomfortable metamorphosis from one phase to the next.

There’s nothing like feeling the world seemingly shifting beneath your feet to make you think you need to hold onto something in order to survive.

But I’m getting into the weeds a bit here. The post is not technically about my metamorphosis, it’s about what I feel right now, before that.

Which is stressed. I hardly ever feel stressed (anxiety being a tad different than just being stressed) so it was difficult for me to identify at first. It doesn’t help that things are building in terms of tension and the very clear fact that I need to get out of a few avenues in my life that I have long outgrown and no longer make me feel happy. Everything I’ve slowly come to realize within the past 3 months is right on the surface, taunting me, daring me to engage and thus lose ground on all the things I’ve already learned. I have to actually take into practice the insights I’ve had and the tools I’ve learned to navigate certain situations, conflicts, and happenings. And it’s hard, and stressful.

I find myself having to repeatedly take a moment an asses if I’m losing it. I feel over everything and my patience wears thinner everyday. It’s hard to remember the growth I’v had when people are persistently ticking you off. You get lost in your current circumstances and it stalls everything.

So what am I doing about it? What could you do in a similar situation? What’s even the point of this particular post?

The morale of this story is that everyone has had those moments of large transition and it always feel the most stressful the closer you get. A move, a new job, a new relationship, an upcoming travel adventure; those are all big things that signal some sort of great self-idenityt and advances your personal and professional growth. In those moments we all find ourselves in discomfort and tension because that is what cocoon is. It’s an incubator where, the larger the caterpillar gets to turn into a butterfly the space that holds it is no longer the right size(this may be the cheesiest metaphor ever btw’s) but I’m sure while that butterfly was waiting the stress was palpable (this fucking guy I dated used this word a lot to ironically describe the frequent tension between us and now it’s rotating in my own vocabulary though I actually hate this word because it makes me imagine spit which is the grossest bodily fluid in my opinion). And that’s where I am now, and that’s where everyone will be at some point in their life and when it happens you just have to breathe and wait. chrysalys

 

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

IMG_3233Another week, another podcast; and I have to admit, while I’m becoming more and more confident in the advice I have to give this entire podcast was a lot of me giving sage (some would say… no one has said it yet but you know, I try) advice to myself.

I spend a lot of time talking in this podcast about fears, insecurities, and the possibility of love while doing my best to squash my own fears and doubts in my most current dating situation. I’m still learning how to date with anxiety, how to allow myself to eb and flow in the process and not allow myself to be the own roadblock in a potentially great relationship. Realizing that the majority of the reassurance I think I need to confidently move forward with opening up to someone else comes from within and that clinging to the idea of something working out only creates the problem I’m most afraid of.

I also spend a lot of time talking about how learning someone new is a lot less romantic than we are all predisposed to believe. In the beginning your partner doesn’t know your communication style or how you express love and affection and a lot of times those two things aren’t the same as your partners way of communicating and expressing affection and you have to learn to deal with that. That’s the deal when you have feelings for and care about someone – you resolve to learn more about someone over time and the idea that someone’s just automatically going to get and understand you is unrealistic.

But of course I can say this and actively be learning how to do it myself at the same time. It’s always easier to give perspective to people who aren’t yourself. I’m working on it, I’m trying to take my own advice and I’m trying to let go of my own since of panic and uncertainty and find room to move intentional and slowly to ensure a solid relationship foundation.

So listen, subscribe, and know that this recording is steeped from a sincere place that many who write in struggle with and maybe that relation is exactly what people need to hear – that we’re all going through this love/dating/relationship stuff together and it’s normal and expected and you control how you move through it and choose to see the best possible outcomes instead of allowing your fear get the best of you.

Oh, and here is the link to the Love Language quiz I talk about substantial in one portion of the podcast. Knowing how you express and communicate early on and talking about it will allow you to see things from your partners point of view and will allow you to learn more about your partner at the same time which will create a deeper bond.

As always thanks for listening!

Xoxo,

Chelsea