10 Years Later

1910448_18980488909_6196_n” This never happened. It will shock you how much this never happened.” – Don Draper Mad Men 

Ten years ago today I graduated high school. It doesn’t seem like yesterday, but it also doesn’t feel like a decade has passed. Their are a lot of expectations around what it means to attend a high school reunion, but for us, the class of 2008, the pressure to “catch up” with old friends from high school feels both redundant and unnecessary.

Even though Facebook had been available for select college students since 2004, it wasn’t until 2007/2008 that people moved from the popular MySpace accounts to the social media platform that would soon become a ubiquitous way to keep up to date with friends and casual acquaintances without ever having to talk to them. Over the past decade I have watched as we all went away to college, as we navigated the early part of our twenties, as some of us got married and some of us had kids, and now here we are and I’m not left wondering what became of these people because I already know – we moved on with our lives.

Looking back now it’s easy to romanticize the ending of high school in the greater context of what the world was that June. Barack Obama had all but formally locked down the nomination for President and we were a country of “Yes we can” unaware that we were on the brink of a financial crisis and a housing market that would crash and take out many peoples savings. We were enthralled by the FIFA World Cup and the Beijing Summer Olympics and with Rihanna & Chris Brown songs playing in the background long we were oblivious to the disturbing facts around their publicized relationship.

Everything seemed so important, and for me, I couldn’t wait to leave the small beach town I grew up in and everything that it represented. I had no idea the crazy up’s and down’s up ahead along the winding road that would lead me here.

In searching for the right photo to put with this post (which I didn’t even find!) I was able to take a picture tour through the years, which in my mind had blended together but honestly had somehow buried themselves in the hidden corners of my memory. All those memories feel far away and it’s “shocking how much it never happened”. The emotions, the learnings that felt so big after graduating remain in this nostalgic place where I looked thinner and was untouched by what “adult” life would be. Retrospectively it feels like 20 years since putting on that cap and gown and walking towards a diploma, but probably for many who graduated 10 years ago it only seems that way because we entered another era over these years, an era that we were on the border for, the mid mark for millennials but separated from Gen Z following behind.

As I write a DJ Earworm mashup from 2007 & 2008 plays and I’m reminded of riding around in my small Ford Focus with the windows rolled down not knowing that the things I didn’t know were allowing me to dream of possibilities so big that nothing seemed out of reach or unrealistic. It was all skipping class to go to the beach, sipping on Smirnoff Ice while attending bonfires, car sex, assignments that only mattered until college apps were in alongside homecoming, grad night, senior pranks, prom and grad night. It was the very best moment in time but we didn’t know it and yet we enjoyed it as if we did.

My graduation itself was on a cold foggy afternoon a week after our schools Black Graduation with my actual graduation party in between the two events. My mother, ever the party planner, threw a backyard bbq that rivaled a wedding and while I didn’t accumulate as many checks as my friends, I walked out of the party with a whopping $700 which lasted me the whole summer (those were the days). I remember my mom and dad waiting in the high rise bleachers as the rest of my senior class lined up wearing oversized caps and gowns and quivering from the cold quietly underneath. Afterwards we met some of my friends at a fancy restaurant where I basked in the glory of being done, of thinking, “now I’m an adult!”

That was ten years ago. I sit here now typing on my work computer half way between finishing something up for a deadline and texting my friends about weekend plans. A bank statement notification pops into my email inbox and I wonder if I’ve taken anything out of the freezer for dinner tonight since I’ll be home late after yoga. I’m debating on whether or not to have a cold brew or drink more water and adjusting myself uncomfortably in my work dress with my company zip-up hoody that’s a prevalent outfit accessory for those in the tech industry casually thrown over. I need to write a check for utilities, update my card for Netflix, do laundry and put in a prescription for my anxiety medication even though I won’t have time to pick it up until Friday and I have yet register my FSA card. I’m making a list of reminders to call my aunt, send a Father’s Day card and make a decision on where to travel to over holiday break this year instead of just silently daydreaming while browsing Airbnb.

When they handed me that diploma I didn’t think this is what it would look like ten years later. I had dreams of being married with a kid on the way and killing it in my high powered career. I’m not disappointed in where I am (all the time), but I imagine various conversations about the realistic mundaneness of actual adulthood as something I would not enjoy with people I’d much rather give a “like” to on Facebook or Instagram than talk to. We don’t need to physically catch up, but reunion or no reunion here we are at a strangely arbitrary milestone and it’s not that bad, it’s just different. At least now, I know to want everything but expect nothing for the next ten years ahead.

 

 

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The Person You Are When Shit Hits The Fan

Arsenio-Hall-Freaking-Out-While-Being-Shocked-ElectrifiedThis post is not about my trip to Thailand; in fact, I probably won’t write an article solely about my trip abroad because there’s a million of those out there and quite frankly my experience probably wasn’t much different than the many many millennials that frequent the country and it’s surrounding islands anyway. What I will do is talk about it in the greater context of my last year, my last 6 months, my last two months all leading to here.

I’ve had this blog for five years next month and while I can’t pretend to know everything about being in your twenties, I’d like to think over the course of these five years I’ve become a stronger person, a better writer, and a more relatable human being in general. I feel the growth with every passing year and the unfolding and discovery of myself has led me to understand a lot more things than I did in my early and mid twenties. In the past year I’ve increased my Salary by 40% (I fucking kid you not), I dealt with the wedding of my mother and the new family dynamics that entails, I moved from a space that didn’t fit me to a place I’m happy to call home, have gone through work drama that left me more humble than ever before and I uncovered the key triggers behind my insecure attachment style when it comes to relationships. You’re thinking “wow!” right? How do you do all of that in a year and come out on the other side? I’m a millennial in my twenties and it feels like those kind of success are too overwhelming for me to handle alongside day to day life.”

To be fair, in writing it sounds easier than it really was. There were multiple situations and experiences where I had no idea how I was going to get out of them. In many instances my ego, and the reality of my own insecurities made me feel like, at any moment my whole life could just crumble. The funny thing is, I’ve experienced so much in my twenties that truly could have broken me and instead of breaking me each situation lit a match inside me that has only grown. My resilience to set backs burns brighter, the principles I value has guided me in every thing I do, and who I am is so strong it outshines everything else. I have learned to be fearless in the face of overwhelming obstacles, steadfast in my own worthiness, determined to grow up, fix myself, face my demons. When shit gets real it forces you to be that type of person, it forces you to believe in my motto, ” No one has ever said, ‘and then it just never worked out’.

Some might call that faith – in my mind it can be whatever you want to call it, but at its core it’s about knowing who you are when shit hits the fan. That person who brings out the very best, and sometimes, the very worst of who we are in a crisis. When things get real can you call upon that version of yourself, the part of you who, regardless of the situation you trust to figure out what to do? Because, like I said, it’s not about what you believe in, what coping mechanisms and family upbringing you’ve grown to depend on in those anxiety inducing, overwhelming moments. In the moments where the puzzle pieces of your life feel so disconnected and nothing makes sense you think to yourself, “God, I hate my twenties” do you lean on things to get you through or do you rely on the only person who drives your life – you?

I missed my flight on the way back from Thailand. In an otherwise mostly enjoyable trip my poor planning led to me missing my flight by over an hour and I was left scrambling in another country, with limited options, in a packed Bangkok airport where I didn’t speak the language at midnight. After some mild tears in the face of a checkout girl, (which yielded nothing) an angry call with an customer service rep, and a last ditch effort to catch my plane laid over for 8 hours in Kunming, China, I was left with very few options to get home. My mother, worried but determined to let me figure it out, had honestly never felt so useless. This is not a negative thing, in fact it made it even more clear that I needed to pull myself together and depend on myself to get back home. Hungry, tired, sweaty and defeated at 3am I sat on a bench, cradled my head in my hands with tears streaming down my face and sat there for 5 minutes. People bustled by me and all my luggage and yet I had never felt more alone. I was jobless and more than 8000 miles from home and the idea of being stuck in a foreign country literally terrified me. Then, after exactly 5 minutes those matches started to burn my insides. I knew exactly what to do and with a million concerns for how I was going to pull off spending an unexpected $800 dollars fell away. Every trauma, every difficult moment I knew had equipped me to handle, literally anything and it was with that thought I got up, bought a ticket, and made it home.

It took me three days mind you, and a lot of thinking about being the best version of myself, the adult version, the one who understood that everything is always okay no matter what it looks like on the surface and despite the fact that I have pretty active anxiety and what I like to call “remission depression”. I don’t talk about my mental illness enough but that’s part of me too, apart of me that is has been in survival mode for the past five year, the part of me that brought myself here, in the life I live now. It is nothing short of a miracle because three years ago I almost died, to come back from that, to see where it all lead to and not feel utterly grateful is a slap in the face to myself.

In this moment in time the world feels on the precipice of shifting entirely, society is changing, systems are crumbling, we are all connected and disconnected at the same time. Our faith in our democracy and the injustice of that democracy towards vast constituencies labeled as “other” is weak and waiting to be exposed and rebuilt. It’s easy to lose who you are these days, whether by internal or external pressure. Don’t give into it, know who you are and stand firmly in that truth. It won’t be instinctive, shit, it won’t even be easy but it is what I know, and they say you should write what you know.

 

 

 

When shit hits the fan, be who you are, because “no one has ever said, ‘and then it just never worked out’.”

 

25 Pounds of Trauma

marathonweightgain_feI’ve never really struggled with my weight. I’m one of those obnoxious girls who can stop eating bread and go to the gym and lose 10 lbs. in 6 weeks. When I was younger I was always a bit tall and a bit lanky but not extreme enough to have those adjectives excessively applied to my body type. I developed early and started cheerleading during my tween years and so my weight was just never a problem.

In college I yo-yo’d from time to time but after college, after cheerleading, after my body had, for the most part, stopped growing I rarely thought much about it. That is until now.

As a woman, and more specifically a black woman, I’m well aware of how obsessed people are with my appearance. The pressure to look like Beyonce or Michelle Obama’s arms, is ever present and when I’m not worried about how people are perceiving me mentally and emotionally, the physical perception is a constant. I’ve written before about how my black doesn’t always feel beautiful but lately the color of my skin plays as a background insecurity while my weight has taken center stage.

Now I will state here, before going any deeper, that I’m coming from a huge place of privilege. I can afford to eat healthy, have a monthly gym membership and afford hot yoga classes when I want. I also know that my weight problems pale in comparison to those who have been be struggling with weight their whole lives or those who’s body type can be described as naturally curvy/thick who and will always tend towards being bigger. When you break it down culturally and historically Black and Brown folk are several times more likely to be obese than their counterparts and I am no where near obese. So it is here that I am acknowledging the things I’m about to say about my weight struggles are personal and to pretend otherwise is marginalizing the experience of those with much further to go in their weight-loss journey .

I’ve experienced weight gain like this once before. In 2013, during the darkest days of my depression I must have gained 15- 20 pounds. It was unnoticeable to me but others saw such a difference that even my family wondered if I was pregnant. Looking at pictures now I see it, the pain, the trauma, but no one said anything and I lost the weight after some commitment to my health later that year. But this time is different. This time I can feel the weight creeping on me as my skin stretches and the weight distributes evenly throughout my body. I feel weighed down and the guilt I have about gaining without the same steadfast commitment to losing as I’ve had in the past causes me nothing but sadness and defeatism.

But over the last 6 months I’ve been going through trauma again. Moments of such deep sadness and hostility that eating an entire Dominos pizza is the only thing to bring me comfort. Carbs and more carbs, sugar and more sugar, cravings of nothing but fried and salty food so that every emotion and feeling could be stuffed as deeply as the food I’ve been putting in my body. I know why I’m eating, I know what the matter is, but for the first time in my life I can’t force myself to stop, I can’t flip the light switch and then magically be 5 pounds lighter, it has been a fight and I have to admit I feel like I’m losing it.

Of course no one sees it as much as I probably think they do. Sure my face is a little rounder, and my mid section seems unnoticeable underneath sweaters and drapey shirts that is a common outfit staple here in San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.  Over the fall I would squeeze so tightly into my size 6 jeans that my stomach would feel like a boa constrictor was wrapped around me. I would take them off, hold them against my body and ponder why they looked so small. The widening of my hips, a physiological joke that my body is now in it’s “child-bearing” prime, was something I accepted fairly early on. I parted ways with jeans I knew would never fit my slightly curveier lower half but the truth of my weight gain still remained, hips be damned. It became so painful to put on jeans that I would only dare put them on for dates and networking events, silently suffering the entire time. I finally decided to find more suitable pants, a size up for more comfort but within 6 weeks, as my emotional state continued to crumble, the pants too grew tighter.

Luckily dresses and leggings are also staple fashion statements of the SF #basic life. Pair some boots and a jean jacket or hoodie and I was golden. Every weekend I would tell myself, “Monday is a new day, I’ll start taking better care of myself then” but by Wednesday there I was again, burrito in hand while I tried to keep the never-ending trauma from taking a hold of me. I was happy eating, but the regret and self-loathing that came after was something I had only heard about while watching episodes of my 600 pound life. “I’m not 600 pounds, I still get out, I still can walk the SF hills and run to catch a bus, this isn’t all that bad”, I would think to myself anytime I was getting too down about it. I felt bad for eating, I felt bad for gaining weight, and now I felt bad that I wasn’t accepting myself the way that I was. As a feminist and a millennial I didn’t want to body shame myself and I definitely didn’t want anyone to know I was body shaming myself because that meant I cared about the unfair standards that our society places on woman, which to the people I roll with was way worse than weight gain.

So I was losing all around but not in the way I wanted. I was never excited to go workout and the thought of it made me tired and sleepy. Trying on clothes was a disaster and even though I was starting to feel my own sense of style developing I was simultaneously figuring out what worked well on my new frame and it was not what I had been use to in the past.

After some processing with friends, family, and my support group it became even more apparent that what was happening was that I wasn’t putting on weight, I was putting on trauma. I wasn’t dealing with my emotions and because I wasn’t out of a traumatic situation the trauma stayed on and my resolve to get it off was bound to fail. So I took . different approach, I started telling myself, “I need to heal myself and then the trauma will fall off”. I would tell myself this on the treadmill, on the stair-master, in every yoga pose and ab crunch. I started taking iron so my energy would replenish and drinking probiotics so that if all else failed my guts would take over and flush out any processed crap I was putting into it. I tried to use my upcoming Thailand trip as motivation, working towards that perfect bikini body but every time I changed my focus from healing the trauma to losing the weight I would see no results and my urge to eat would crawl back up.

So I’m taking it one day at a time; balancing between being acceptive of where I am and how I look and actively doing things to make my body happier an aid in the healing process. I’m learning how to love my body while also being at peace that right now when I look in the mirror I see myself differently because it’s still there, it’s still fresh, I can still feel the situation weighing me down. It’s going to be a bit longer before the trauma is off and healed but in the meantime I invested in the right size jeans and I wear them everyday.

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.

 

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’re 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.