Let’s Just Take A Second to Get Our Shit Together

37EABE1E00000578-3773883-image-a-22_1473049934501 At a certain age you’re suppose to have your shit together. When that is and what that means is up for debate; but I think the general consensus is at some point, in your life, you should probably have most of your shit fairly together.

I think we can also all agree that, that point in your life will not happen in your twenties. Oh I know, some of you will say, “well that may be true in your case…” to which I will counter with, “sure, for me and the vast majority of twenty-somethings in the world right now-  but you are definitely entitled to the facts in your own life.”

In your early twenties you don’t even know what shit is. You scramble from problem to problem, making poor choices with literally no regard for the long term consequences, and you shouldn’t! Without this vital period in your life where bad decision run rampant you wouldn’t know what good decision look like, and I’m pretty sure that’s the main ingredient in having said shit togetherness.

The main reason you can’t have it all together during this stage in your life is also because you don’t realize how much you don’t know. In your mind there’s nothing too big too handle, too confusing to unwind and too expensive to not purchase. You may have experienced hard things but you haven’t experienced real shit and thus your life still exist in extremes, an all or nothing mentality that refuses to see shades of grey.

In your mid twenties you don’t even know where to put all the shit you  need to get together. You still think you’re working off a checklist that announces when you are done but no matter how much you check off it all still settles unevenly. Can pay own bills on time- check. Finally making decent money – check? Living in a place you can barely afford but is your home – check & check! Doesn’t matter that nothing makes sense and you just seem to be accumulating more and more emotional baggage every time you walk out the door. You finally realize you have to get it all together (mind & body) in order to feel your head pop up from beneath the water and stuff just can’t do that.

I hear your late twenties and early thirties is all about balancing your shit so that at random moments it appears and feels as if it’s all together. You don’t actually have any of it figured out, but you somehow become a master at pretending you do and having just enough figured out to sustain a regular existence. That’s at least what I hear, which is why I’m trying to take all my literally shit and all my emotional shit and start digging.

Because I’m a millennial, a scorpio, an extrovert, as well as a self proclaimed “Type A” person I want all my shit together NOW (well not now, yesterday preferably). I want not to feel like things are constantly slipping out of my control and , quite frankly, if they are to not care so much. I want the grey area to stop feeling so grey and if I’m being honest, I want it not to feel as intense as it does right now.

The faking it and figuring it all out is easy, but the doing the work, the actual mental, emotional, and physical work that makes managing all the shit in your life somewhat feasible – we’ll that’s something else entirely. Yet so many of us don’t want to take a second, a beat, a pause, and slow down and do the work so that it does come easily. Our relationships aren’t working out because we don’t want to be alone. Our professional life isn’t growing because we don’t know how to play the game. Our friendships are harder because we don’t want to have a long enough conversations to actually check-in with the people we care about. And don’t even get me started on family drama, I’m starting to realize that shit may never find it’s place on the “together” shelf.

We have to stop thinking it’s a checklist and start seeing it as a map to a better self, because having your shit together could mean a lot of things but most importantly it means seeing your life as whole because you are whole.

So let’s just take a second and get on that.


Whatever You Do, Don’t Freak Out

now_panic_and_freak_out__by_jweinstock-d3hvgozI’m a naturally anxious person. Though I don’t talk about it often, as someone with diagnosed anxiety it doesn’t take much to get me to freak out at even the slightest thing. Big changes, stressful situations, vague and unanswered questions always pose threats to my anxiety levels but, for the most part, I am lucky to have tools and resources that make life’s inevitable anxieties feel like passing moments. With help, I can take something anxiety worthy and stay above water – maybe even two or three things, but lately I find myself always on the edge, seemingly just a few breaths away from flipping the fuck out.

I’ve noticed myself becoming irritated easier, feeing my heart rate skyrocket over slow curve balls thrown my way. I find myself pouring over thoughts trying to process emotions with seemingly no success. People with anxiety when over thinking tend to become human transitive property aficionados – meaning they work solely off of information they know the answer to and then use that to extract the closest logical answer to something they do not yet know the answer to.

But as much as I’d like to believe that it’s just me, just my anxiety allowing situations to get the better of me causing an overreaction; I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one who’s spinning out of control with all the unknowns. As I wrote about before – we’re living in a post-Obama world with a President that is as unpredictably dangerous as anyone I’ve ever lived under in my lifetime. The pending sense of doom, the heightened awareness of what’s going on around us, the fear of what could happen is causing everyone to have anxiety. It’s not just me, it’s a society coming to terms with the most exhausting possibility – that we may not know what’s in front of us for a long time to come. Our President plays on everyones worst fear and while most of us are gearing up for a necessary political fight, we can’t ignore that big changes, stressful situations and vague unanswered questions are the new norm.

Our lives are playing in the backdrop to something much bigger now and we’d be silly to think that everything around us is happening completely detached from our currentpersonal landscape. The illusion that any of us are in control of what’s happening next is gone, and those who fluent in the “everything is going to be okay world” may find themselves with a shorter fuse for out of control circumstances.

Which is why I spent most of my morning  on Friday in my bosses office surely but steadily losing my shit and listing off a litany of concerns to something that hasn’t even happened yet. I could feel myself being the worst version of my personality – worried, fearful, dreading the idea of possible failure or worse, that literally something worse than failure could happen. Of course, I am beyond blessed to have someone in charge who realizes I’m becoming unhinged and politely figures out a way to calm most of my overthinking while making me feel as if most my concerns are valid. Ditto my family, and my support system. They validate that things may not be okay whilst offering me some encouragement and lifting the unneeded pressure I put on myself.

“We don’t know what we don’t know”, was what my boss told me. My least favorite phrase in the entire known universe but one that I am constantly reminded of now more than ever. You can chose to do a lot of things with that knowledge. You can prepare for the worst and hope for the best. You can go were things lead you and figure out how to solve it once you get there. You can dance in the uncertainty, scream in the insanity, and enjoy the fall while it’s happening. You can feel a bunch of emotions and still….persist…

But whatever you do you can’t freak out. Not now – too much relies on us making it work now.



It’s Everything

0519-1002-1710-2138_seal_of_the_president_of_the_united_states_presidential_seal_oI wrote this piece 3 days before Donald Trump’s Inauguration and, like the rest of this post, I had so many feelings that it was hard for me to actually finish it. In the coming months this will continue to be something I struggle with while working on my writing, but I love this blog and want to continue to write so the struggle will be mine to bare.

I haven’t written anything all year. No New Years blog, no end of year rant, it’s all just been nothing. Granted the year just started but I’m not suffering from a prolonged bout of writers block, something I’ve experienced before, but rather an inability to process the vast array of emotions going through my head in conjunction with the myriad of things going on in my personal life.

Of course I’m talking about President Elect Donald Trump. Every time I think I can write about something without commenting on the giant orange cloud looming above the American people I am reminded that everything ties back to it, and even the little triumphs in my personal life are minuscule to how big everything else feels right now.

I’ve even tried writing a whole blog post just about my feelings surrounding Trump and the Obama shaped hole left in my heart after the election. I tried, and I failed, to summarize in 2000 words or less what it has all meant for me being a young, black woman watching this all go down from behind the lens of someone our future President cares nothing about. I sit here and try to write and my brain stops, and just short circuits while an image of Donald Trump pops into the forefront of my mind with the words, “cannot compute” in bright bold SnapChat sized letters. It is the background noise to everything and I honestly can’t hear or make sense of anything beyond it.

Because I want to sit here and talk about moving my life into the city. I want to write about the sweet sweet lemonade I’ve made myself after the crazy disastrous lemons life handed me last year. I want to write about the insane commute and my attempts to start dating and cooking and writing again, but I can’t because all I, or anyone else, can think about is how close we are to pending doom and if that doesn’t suck the life right out of you than I don’t know what does.

I’ve wanted to be sensitive to the fact that there is just so much out there in regards to the emotion behind this election on both sides. While I’m a stanch Democrat, I don’t hate republicans, I don’t blame the people who voted for Trump and I can’t begin to understand the frame of mind one would have to be at to think putting DJT in charge of a whole country was a GOOD idea. I didn’t want to write about my disbelief or my shock or my anger because reiterating other peoples emotions is not a relief for me the way writing is suppose to be.

But really, what is there to say when you have so much to say? What is there to write when so much has already been written? All I do all day is think about how I can use my voice to speak up, but I’m at a loss for words and I’m just as emotionally drained as everyone else in the world right now.

And there are moments when I feel defiant and powerful and want to push through the noise and create real change; which is where my personal life somewhat intersects in all this. The foundation that defines who I am and where I want to go is so clear and so sturdy. I feel strong as a person but weak as an individual. I find myself crying intermittently throughout my week as I let the gravity of what’s happening wash over me. I keep thinking that the political landscape is playing in the background of my personal life when in reality, my personal life is playing in the background of something much much bigger, and I can’t ignore that.

And I want to so badly. I want to be that twenty something who just comments casually on the state of the world and gets fired up talking to distant relatives about the importance of Obamacare and then dives back into her phone world swiping away and taking Snapchats of myself with varying animal themed filters. That’s the world I intended to write about when I started this blog, and it’s also the one I’m still currently living in within a world seemingly going to hell.

And it’s all sad, and lonely, and happy, and exciting, and exhilarating, and disappointing, and infuriating, and inspiring, and hopeful, and hopeless, and everything in between. It’s heartbreaking, but filled with growth and promise but also terrifying and unstable with so many unknowns. It’s everything.

So that’s why I haven’t written in a while, and you know what, I may not for a long time. I will try to, of course, I will always try to be the honest and open me that I have always been when writing about my life in the context of LIFE. There will be stories of small personal victories along with big societal setbacks and it will be as described through my eyes, in this skin, in this time in my life.


The Not So Helpful Guide To Surviving the Holidays Single

ways-to-overcome-sadness-during-christmas-seasonAbout a week ago I wanted to write a piece about how a single girl navigates the holiday. Having been semi-single around this time of year last year (for the first time in my adult life) I somehow felt like the premiere expert in the whole “single during the holidays” situation.

For the record I was trying to be positive about my current relationship status. While the rest of my friends travel, get married, and having babies I am trying to embrace these (hopefully) last years of my late twenties enjoying things married couples and parents don’t. There are things like long hot showers, extended naps during the weekends and the general not having to confer with anyone about my plans or purchases that just feels good. I don’t mind being single, it has it’s benefits and moments where I feel uniquely empowered by the strong, independent female I have become over time.

… then the holiday season comes and it’s like the volume of being single amps up. Cue lights, cue music, cue cute couples ice skating and kissing under mistletoe. Holiday parties with offers of a +1 and family get together’s where someone is bound to ask why you haven’t settled down. Of course there are ways to survive this, there are undoubtedly articles outlining how a single person can make it through the dreaded holiday’s and into the New Year where the promise of eventually finding love always shines brightest. I wanted to be one of those people who writes those articles, declaring boldly that I am single and I can totally make it through cuffing season – no problem!

But that would be a lie. For me to sit here and pretend that getting through the unbearable festivities that constitute the holidays while being single is a breeze, would be a gross misrepresentation of the truth. I want to be proudly single, but honestly in this moment it sucks.

I keep thinking it’s just me, but I know it’s not. I don’t want to think that I’m the only one who hates being single during this time of year, and worse, that I care at all about my singleness. But I do and this time of year it becomes even more obvious and down right lonely.

I should say that personally I am probably more lonely due to the fact that my life literally consist of work, commuting, sleep, and then more work. If you call that a “life” than yes, I am pretty busy. And yes, the time to focus solely on my career is the best part of being single but during the most romantic part of the year it feels hallow without anyone to share it with. The good days aren’t made any better when there’s no one to cheer you on and the bad days aren’t any better when there’s no one to cheer you up.

I tried to make the best of things. I hung up Christmas lights around my room and treated myself to a fairly pricey new pair of flannel Christmas sheets, adding a tree scented candle and a tiny live tree on my night stand I found from Trader Joes. Even reading it back now it sounds like a desperate attempt at making a lonely situation marginally easier. You know what does help? Eating my feeling in the form of pastries, pies, and cookies that happen to be so plentiful through the myriad of office gatherings and potlucks. I shovel down as many frosted holiday treats down my throat as possible, taking solace in ever carb and ignoring my expanding waistline because hey – who cares right?

And the engagements…. don’t get me started on the engagements. Photo after photo of hashtags and ring pictures give me so much anxiety I’ve decided this year to just stay off social media, which instead of making me feel better has made me feel even more disconnected from the happiness I’ve convinced myself everyone else is feeling.

The truth is there is no survival guide for making it through the holidays for anyone. The pressure and the stress of getting through December without losing your shit isn’t just a #singlegirlproblem it is a everyone problem. I am constantly reminded of how hard these holidays tend to be for people who have lost a loved one. Even though my grandmothers passed away 13 & 11 years ago respectively, the impact of how much their presence would mean to me in my life right now fills me with a deep longing and sadness.

So how am I going to survive? How am I going to drag myself to the holiday work parties without wanting to crawl out of my own skin? Where exactly can I scream when another one of my not so close friends flashes a huge ring with the words “I said yes!” appears on my news feed? What do I think would make me feel better while freezing cold rain blurs the red & green glow of the lights and jolly music plays while couple in mittens hold hand walking through the romantic San Francisco backdrop? The answer is I don’t know, probably my car, and all the wine. That’s my survival guide, but I’m definitely open to ideas.



Dear Me: A Letter to my 25 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. It has been an emotional few years for me and it has taught me how to have a stronger voice for those who do not have the words to express their own emotions. Below is my annual letter to myself and I think it’s my most important yet. We are all prone to struggle, but the theme of this letter is one of redemption, and of perseverance, and of resilience when all else is lost. 

Dear Chelsea,

I’m crying writing the to you now. Some out of sadness, some out of joy, and some disbelief that you made it even to 25. But now that you are,  I wish I could tell you everything that’s in store for you in this next year of life. But even if I could there’s no way you could even imagine it. Right now your story is just beginning;  you’re still in the ending, desperately trying to hold on to a life that just isn’t meant for you. You’ll continue to struggle, but only because you grow defiant in your misery, trying to push a boulder uphill until it rolls back and kills you.

It does, it almost does kill you. There will be many more days of darkness, nights of begging on your knees for it to get better, weeks where you just want to give up all together. But you won’t because this is where your strength comes in. It won’t feel like that’s what’s going on at the time. You will see it as survival, you will see it as an attempt to keep it all together, and it is all of those things that, at their core, define strength. I’m so sorry that you will continue feeling so much despair; you will handle more than most in terms of adversity and just all out shitiness. But it shapes you, it grows you into one of those select group of people that dealt with hard shit and came out from within it. Because not everyone does, believe me baby girl, not everyone does.

Professionally, well there really is not any professional stuff for a while. Instead you will spend most of this year getting by with one job or another. You will hate it, but you will  end up meeting people in these places that help you to stay a float. They exist so that you know you are not alone. The exists to make sure you keep your chin up because, believe it or not the biggest part of this year are the friends you surround yourself with. I know I told you last year that friendships will save you, well that doesn’t change at all in this year. You will somehow manage to make your existing friendships even stronger, even if you aren’t in the same place. You will also attract new friends, people who you just get and who just get you. These women, these strong women, will affirm what type of person you’ve become – a fighter.

Once the sunsets on the ending, well, the beginning is magnificent. The beginning will hold the strongest percentage of happiness that you’ve felt in a while. It all starts to make sense, you start seeing the whole picture and with your new found strength you find another superpower – perspective.

This perspective helps you in lots of ways. It helps you to lean into the happening of the moment. If it’s a hard time, know that it won’t last forever, if it’s a uncertain time, know that everything always workout for those who keep trying, moving, flowing with the changing tide instead of pushing against it. You will learn to take your que’s from past experiences and make different choices and it’s the thing that will make you feel the most mature.

Relationships.. well we already know you’re heart is broken, and it will stay that way until the bitter end. You will continue to get let down by men who can’t be what you need them to be. This happens in small flings here and there until it finally clicks that you need to be the person you need right now. The flings will stop, and you will process slowly that you know exactly what you want in a partner, and anyone who doesn’t fit that will fade away always. I expect that this will go on for some time, past the year of this letter.

You need this year. You need the final lessons it will teach you. You need the growth in empathy, and compassion that may have been lacking in the past. You will need the fortitude, resilience, and determination that you were forced to have in order to make it through the hard shit again. Whatever happens know that you will make it through the lows and the highs. Again, know the lows will always end and that the highs aren’t going to be void of problems. It’s a giant circle and you will learn that sometimes in a circle you just have take your foot off the gas and just glide.



Trust Issues: The Real Reason Behind The Hook-Up Culture

youre-a-realtor-when-10For the first time in my adult life I am truly, and honestly single. When I say single I mean full sweatpants, messy bun, pizza and wine type of single that, on it’s best days feels like an never ending series of “Treat Yo’ Self” decisions and actions, and on it’s worst days feels like misery and jealousy every time I scroll through my Facebook news feed. The time between Wedding Season and Engagement season feels ever shortening and I find myself constantly pondering, “how did these people do it?! How did this, similar batch of friends and casual acquaintances find this all elusive ‘relationship’ while the rest of us fade in and out of meaningless thing after meaningless thing?”

Because that’s the perception , right? We are living in a narrative deemed “the hook-up culture” which the media states is our generations inability to connect; only proven true by the declining marriage rates and superfluous swiping apps. This narrative, overwhelmingly perpetrated by women, tells the story of swiping, meeting, causally having sex, and then slowly but steadily fading out of one another lives leaving one or both a tad scarred from the whole experience.

This was something, I had for the most part, never fully experienced. After ending my three year relationship I ended up in two season long relationships with guys who could not be further from my type before entering into, a 10 month long back and fourth relationship that smoldered and burned down my entire life, leaving baggage and scorched earth behind it. Afterwards started my slow but steady crawl into the real thick of the “hook-up culture”, except I had no idea what I was in for.

Over the course of four months, a little after my break-up, I was able to have every type of dating encounter I had never had. I had a couple meaningless tryst, a few “we-met-in-real-life” attempts, and finally found myself on a string of 1st and 2nd dates that seemed to go no where . This would happen every few weeks like clock work, and with every failed attempt at finding someone I remotely wanted to spend my time with, I became more and more frustrated with the dating game in general.

Oh and it is a game. For those of you who’ve done any casual to semi-casual forays into the online world of dating should be all to familiar with the rules. Don’t act too excited, don’t be too available, pretend you don’t care until you do care and then bail. I never questioned if these tactics worked I just did my best to abide by them and hoped something would work out. It was amazing how predisposed I was the idea that guys were going to screw me over, and the only way to combat that was to play the ultimate game of hard to get and see who blinked first. This charade , of course, always has its flaws. Someone will start to push away the other one, the other one will cling out of desperation/ pure confusion. This will go on for a while, and most likely ends after the band-aid solution of sex before teetering out, usually by ghosting.

This is somewhat similar to what I experienced throughout my time casually dating. Sometimes the scenario played out just like that and sometime it played out in different versions with always the same conclusion – you can’t trust anyone with your heart. The cyclical view that no one in our generation wants a true connection, and that the majority of men are commitment phobe’s while the majority of women are all crazy, is rampant. First dates are fine, but the moment someone becomes emotionally vulnerable the belief that the captain goes down with the ship makes everyone want to be the first to bail.

The trust  just isn’t there.

Women don’t trust that men are interested for the right reasons, and believe that eventually someone else will come along and they’ll be old news. They hold their true feelings and desires in, in order to “win” the so called game and end up either pushing someone away or holding it in so tight that eventually it boils over into crazy land. Women in the “hook-up culture” believe that every man is about to ghost them and that every hour without a response text is the nail in the coffin to trusting him at all.

Men on the other hand don’t trust that women won’t behave like this. For whatever reason they keep ending up with women who have already vilified them without even having perpetrated a crime. The good ones find themselves apologizing time and time again for something some other guy did and the bad ones (though bad is a greying term) end up feeling like giant assholes for not wanting something more. They deal with same battle women do, of being vulnerable, and of being easily replaced, but have the added pressure of seeming unattached and nonchalant as per the societal view that men don’t feel emotion the way women do. Men in the “hook-up culture” believe that every women is going to judge him based off of what he is or isn’t and what he does or doesn’t do.

We need to stop looking at the “hook-up culture” as the problem and accept that it is only a symptom of something deeper, something rooted in fear and loneliness and misconception. We’re so dialed into the game we cease to realize that reality looms someone underneath, buried behind our mistrust of anything organic and real. We get that connecting with another person takes work yet we can’t break out of the cycle that perpetuates the very thing we hate the most.

Trust isn’t easy, especially when you’ve spent that past number of year or months basking in the glow of adult independence. Dating takes time and time, for a generation always balancing a busy calendar, is the new common currency. We have so many different options and so many different intentions that it’s a numbers game of meeting someone you genuinely like and are attracted to you that has the same intentions  (and time!) as you. Hooking up is  the benefit of being single, and having no attachments, but in order to have something more you have to be willing to trust the process and not run away from it.


271041270I have always loved music. Anyone that knows me can easily vouch for the fact that I’m almost always playing my music too loudly in some portion of the house or blasting it irresponsibly in my car and ears. I could write five million pieces on why music is my life; I have extremely eclectic taste and have at least a few songs in my library that anyone in my presence would appreciate. Depending on my mood, I could be belting out Tswift, rap battling it out to TI, J-Zay, or Eminem, or twanging it up with some Jason Alden or Rascal Flatts. Of course I can always go hard on my R&B legends (I love me some Mary J. Bilge), my Hip Hop crossovers (Miguel, J. Cole) , and my pop divas (All hail Queen B!). It’s not uncommon for me to be dancing it out to a Disney or musical show tune, (my knowledge of the Frozen soundtrack borderlines on creepy) or simply enjoying the sunshine with the greats in a mix of the best decades (Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, etc…).

In between are a collection of songs I’ve heard on TV, in stores, or even just in someone else’s car that wouldn’t even fit into just one genre of music. Sometimes, after a while, those one off songs will trend in a certain artist direction. It then turns from liking the song, to liking the album, to liking the artist, to becoming a fan. I’m a fan of a lot of people but over the course of eight years there’s been only one band that has truly stolen my heart – NeedToBreathe.

A small band started by two brothers in rural South Carolina I would describe NeedToBreathe as the quintessential mix of modern bluegrass alternative (made popular via Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers)  rock alternative (i.e. The Fray, Coldplay, The Killers), and southern soul & gospel. They manage to straddle the line between those sounds in different ways with every album, because they are ever evolving, ever experimenting, and always playing authentic music.

I started casually listening to their second studio album, and first crossover success, my freshmen year of college with the song We Could Run Away, and then Washed By The Water. They were great songs, forever repeating on my iPod Nano over that summer as I started actively liking them more and more. When I found out the they had a new album that was hitting in August, I was ecstatic. The Outsider’s was when I fell in love with this band. Every song, including the album inspired song, The Outsiders, played on a continuous loop during my early college days, staged in front of a Washington DC still buzzing from the arrival of President Obama and my arrival into the “adult” world. I remember listening to Lay Em’ Down at the top volume while whizzing through the DC Metro tunnels. I was able to time listening to Something Beautiful while walking up the steps and into the front doors of the Longworth Capitol building when I was interning there. It was, and still is one, of my favorite albums of all time.

The album cemented the “fan” part of my love of NeedToBreathe. Then right before starting my senior year of college NeedToBreathe came out with another album, The Reckoning, and my fandom grew sky-high. I was hooked as I transitioned in my life to post college and everything that comes with being in your early twenties. Drive All Night became my anthem when I was zig zagging across the country during the 2012 election, and Devils Been Talking was an easy favorite as well. When NeedToBreathe went on tour in 2013 to promote The Reckoning I was excited to finally have the chance to see them live. I’m not much of a concert person but their music had touched me and I wanted to experience it in the flesh.

They played at Grand Canyon University in Glendale Arizona. My boyfriend at the time had bought me tickets for my 23rd birthday, and back then, they weren’t too expensive. It was general admission and while I was a fan, it was by no means a packed show. We found seats up in the stands instead of trying to slum it down with the crowd of intoxicated college kids. I’m not sure what I expected but it was all of that and more. Every song was better live and the small changes they made to the way it sounded versus how it was on the album, showcased their musical and vocal skills. I was especially enamored with Bo’s harmonica playing, which he did an almost 5 minute solo of during a great rendition of Girl Named Tennessee. Tears welled up in my eyes as my entire four years of college put to music danced across the stage; their music mirroring my emotions through that time in my life with every song.

And this, this is where I realized I love this band because even though they came out with a new album later that year, I kept discovering new songs on the first 3 I had been obsessed with. Their lyrics, always so strong, spoke to me differently depending on what I was going through and last spring when they released Live From The Woods I rediscovered my love for them all over again. It made me want to see them live again and the opportunity to see them at the famous Red Rock Amphitheater was more than I could handle. I procured two tickets, 1 for me and 1 for the guy I was seeing to see them play at the end of July. I was excited and spent a lot of time playing that album all the way through during my first full summer in Colorado. I sang it the whole down the green mountain slopes from Denver to Durango for 4th of July. I listened to it with my balcony door wide open while it down poured in 90 degree weather. For some reason it held me together just knowing I was going to see them live again soon.

But that never happened. My depression hit a breaking point and instead of going to the concert I was in the hospital suffering from a nervous breakdown. All I remember about that time, and the subsequent months was the darkness I felt all around me. I rarely put on music and when I did it felt softer, less all encompassing of my thoughts and feelings. I was anxious all the time and it felt like my life line was broken.

I was further depressed having missed the concert. It had meant something to me, symbolized this idea of finally having it all. It represented everything that was college and my early twenties and it was good, bone crushingly good, music. To see them live in place that makes amazing artist sound epic was all I wanted, and I had lost that too. “I don’t know when they’ll come back… I’m not even sure I’ll get to see them live at that venue.” I would say to everyone. It brought me to tears every time.

But listening to them still made me feel good, normal even. They were the only band on my phone that I could toss on an album an some how feel better. They still do. I could be angry, or mad, or sad, or happy and turn on NeedToBreathe and feel ten times better than before. Their songs changed meaning for me again as I began dealing with and accepting my depression. Their music made me stronger.

6 months later when I decided to move home I was feeling nothing but sadness and nostalgia when I listened to NeedToBreathe, and overall in life. I felt knocked down and kicked around and just simply, tired. Then NeedToBreathe released the single off their soon to be album Hard Love called Happiness and it was like I was back to the first time I ever heard them again. The song encompassed everything I felt, it was hopeful and inspiring and even in the title made me feel like the best was yet to come, happiness would come again. Weeks later they announced another summer tour and, you guessed it, they were playing at Red Rocks in September. I didn’t know where I was going to be or what I was going to be doing but I knew that I was going to this concert.

I struggled moving home and welcomed the releasing of a few new singles every month to hold me over until the album release in July. I wasn’t making enough money waitressing to pay for a ticket, hotel, and concert tickets to see them play but I still knew I was going, someway, somehow. The day the album dropped I was offered a dream position with a non profit in San Francisco and that was that.

I was going to the concert.

The day I bought my tickets to the concert and booked the rest of my short stay in Denver was the most full circle thing I have ever done. 8 years was being tossed around a lot because of the Presidential year and it also made me realize I had been a fan for 8 years as well. It isn’t lost on me that this time last year I barely wanted to live…. The weight of how much going to this concert means to me can’t actually be stated in words. But, like always, NeedToBreathe is there with a song that speaks for me when I can’t breathe the words myself.

” Hold on tight a little longer, what don’t kill you make you stronger, get back up ’cause it’s a hard love. You can’t change without a fallout, it’s gonna hurt but don’t you slow down, get back up ’cause it’s a hard love.”