When the Motivational Posters Stop Working

girls marnie - being inside my own head is exhaustingIf we see someone stressing out over something completely trivial, the first response is to tell them to relax and not worry so much. If we see someone unhappy and complaining about something that doesn’t seem like a big deal, the first response is to remind them how much worse things could be. They should be happy about all the good things in their lives.

We are constantly bombarded with “inspirational quotes” telling us that we are in charge of our own happiness. That if we cannot see the beauty in the world and appreciate the fact that we get to start a brand new day each morning, then there is something wrong with us. Just waking up and breathing is enough to be happy and carefree. By stating that happy people are choosing to live that way, it’s basically stating that unhappy people are make a conscious decision to be depressed or stressed about life.

What people fail to realize is that for some of us, it’s impossible to be completely happy. We want nothing more than to see the beauty in the life we are given and not stress about insignificant problems. Unfortunately, our minds will not allow it.

I suffer from mild anxiety. I refer to it as mild because it doesn’t affect my life on a daily basis and I have (thankfully!) never suffered from a full blown panic attack. But it is still a problem that I have had to deal with for years now.

Sometimes my anxiety will pop up in almost comical ways that my sister never fails to tease me about. Several times in the past I have had to call home to have someone reassure me that I have in fact unplugged the straightener. It’s gotten so bad where on days I straighten my hair, I will text myself stating that I did unplug the straightener. I have to include a picture of the unplugged straightener because a text is not enough proof, I need hard evidence that I will not be coming home to a burnt house after work.

In October 2013, right after my grandmother passed away, I convinced myself that I had HIV. This was a less comical side of my anxiety that I did not reveal to many people. Despite the fact that it had been over a year since my last sexual partner (and we always used condoms), my mind latched onto the idea that I was infected and it wouldn’t let go. For weeks leading up to my test, I had a pit in my stomach that would not go away. When the results came back negative (like a deep part of me knew they would), my mind relaxed for a bit before it found something new to obsess over and analyze to death.

The worst part of anxiety is that there is a part of me that realizes how ridiculous I am being. I don’t want to spend my life stressing about things that are probably never going to actually happen. I don’t enjoy not being able to sleep at night due to shortness of breathe. I don’t like having a normal day and then all of sudden my heart start pounding and being overcome with a feeling of anxiousness for no real reason.

When I see quotes and people making it seem as though a happy, stress-free life is easily unattainable, it makes me feel as though there is something wrong with me. And not the “I may actually be suffering from a mental illness” wrong but the “I’m just a miserable human being who can’t appreciate what she has” wrong. We may have become a lot more accepting about mental illness but there is this underlying tone that people with depression or anxiety could just get over it if they really wanted to.

Even I feel like this sometimes. I grew up with a mother who suffered from depression and bipolar. I myself have issues with anxiety and a brain whose thoughts I sometimes have no control over. Yet, I still sometimes think, “This is your body, your mind. You are the one allowing sadness and anxiousness to control you.”

But just how when I’m panicking over something that I know deep down is never going to actually happen, I also know that deep down my anxiety is something I will never fully be able to get rid of. There will never come a day I won’t be filled with dread anytime someone says they want to ask me a question or talk to me about something. I’ll never not think a friend or family member is kidnapped or dead if they don’t respond to my texts within a reasonable time. And I know I’m always going to live with the fact that every once in a while my heart will start racing and I will be short of breathe for no apparent reason.

So all those inspirational quotes and motivational posters are wrong, but they do have some truth to them. Sometimes we can’t just choose to be happy. Sometimes simply choosing not to stress isn’t an option. However, the only thing I can hope to do is control my anxiety. It’s always going to be there but I can work on ways to manage it. And I’m slowly working on ways to lessen my anxiety that don’t include wine and Klonopin (even though both are great options when things get too bad, as long as they aren’t abused).

Focusing on my breathing when I feel like my heart is about to beat out of my chest helps. Deep breathing is key to slowing down my heart rate. When I feel like I’m about to have a panic attack, going for a ride can ease the anxiousness. I think it has something to with my mind having a task to focus on instead of worrying.

The number one thing I’ve learned that helps with my anxiety (and maybe it can help any of you who also suffer with anxiety) is to try and pinpoint what it is that’s making me so anxious. Sure, sometimes I feel a panic attack coming on and it seems like it’s out of nowhere. But trying to focus on what’s making me anxious and what’s brought on the feeling of dread, helps to make me feel like I have a little bit of control over something that normally feels utterly uncontrollable.

Get to Meet a Blogger and Her City

Screenshot_2015-07-28-20-08-35-1This is something new that I’ve never done before on the blog but I think it’ll be a lot of fun. All credit goes to Julie over at Julia Goolia (check out her blog, it’s awesome!). This was all her idea. But I think it’s a great way to learn more about a fellow blogger and get a glimpse into the city she lives in. And now if you ever find yourself visiting Cincinnati/Northern Kentucy you can check out this post to get some advice from someone who actually lives there. Here’s my Q&A with Julie about where she lives:

Have you lived in Cincinnati your whole life? Did you grow up there?
I actually do not live in Cincinnati, I live in Northern Kentucky (basically Cincinnati but with more free parking opportunities). I consider myself a Cincinnatian because I currently live about five minutes away from downtown. I can see downtown from my window and I can hear the fireworks from the Reds Stadium every Friday. I have always lived in Northern Kentucky (NKY) but I didn’t venture downtown until I was in college. Cincinnati used to be a somewhat scary place, and while it still has its moments, the city really has taken a turn for the better. I love downtown; I spend most of my spare time in Over the Rhine (OTR).

20150624_211133(0)What would you say is the best thing about living there? What is the worst thing?
The best thing about Cincinnati/NKY is how you can still have a taste of downtown life. I’ve been to Chicago, and while Cincinnati is definitely not Chicago, I would say that Cincinnati is a pretend “large city” packed into a small space. There’s entertainment, bars and restaurants that are amazing but they’re not around every corner like New York or Chicago.

The worst thing about living in Cincinnati is what I mentioned above. I hate that we’re not really a “large city”. We only have so many options sometimes so you tend to frequent the same places and get burned out rather quickly. Hence why we sometimes go to NKY for bars/restaurants, you have to change it up once in a while and while smelling like smoke (since NKY still permits smoking in bars) is annoying, having free parking all the time is fabulous. Plus there’s this bar called The Crazy Fox Saloon which isn’t far from my house, so my friends and I like to hang there if we want a low key night.

Are you happy living in Cincinnati or is there somewhere else that you’d like to live?
I do love Cincinnati. When I was in grade school Cincinnati was dangerous, but now I’m proud to live in the area because of how much it has grown in the last five years. We recently had the All Star Game here and it really united the city. It was a great site to see. Plus, I’m in a city where beer and local breweries are aplenty, that’s kind of awesome. If I could live anywhere I’d probably choose London, England because I’m obsessed with their culture but I’d love to live in NYC for a year as well (even though I’ve never there before).

This is a personal thing but anytime I visit a new place I look for two things: a cupcake shop and a bookstore. What’s the best used bookstore and where’s the best place to get cupcakes in Cincinnati?
Oh this is a hard one. I’m a big library user, since I used to work at one for seven years, so I tend to not buy books as much since we have such a good supply. However, I do shop at Half Price Books a lot, it’s a chain place but each store is different. They have a myriad of DVDs, books, video games, comics and music. I noticed you don’t have one in New York, you are missing out! Sadly, independent bookstores are hard to come by downtown, though apparently there’s an Ohio Book Store and Duttenhofer’s Books that I still need to check out.

My favorite cupcake place is Abby Girl Sweets Cupcakery or Bon Bonnerie. Abby’s is right by Fountain Square (which is like the central icon of Cincinnati) so it’s easy to pick up and they switch their flavors a lot which is fun, but Bon Bonnerie is an overall bakery that will make you salivate upon entering their store. Both are good, but Bon Bonnerie would be my absolute top pick. Bon Bonnerie isn’t downtown though, which is unfortunate.

What is one of the most unique things to do in Cincinnati?
Ah, good question. That would definitely be our festivals. Our most notable celebration is our Oktoberfest festival which is held on Fountain Square. It’s the second largest Oktoberfest (Germany has the largest one) in the world! Also we have a Taste of Cincinnati festival, where all local restaurants have booths and you can try local food and drink and be merry!

What’s a food that Cincinnati is famous for and where’s the best place to get it?
We are known mainly for our chili, goetta and ice cream. I’m a weird “Cincinnatian” because I don’t like chili or goetta. However, people can have fights about what restaurant is better, Skyline Chili or Gold Star Chili. I personally don’t like chili or goetta. However, ice cream is like a second religion here. It’s incredible! We’re mostly known for our Graeter’s Ice Cream. It’s pretty much the best ice cream in the world. Yes, I am biased.

If someone wanted to relocate to Cincinnati, what are some things they should know before making the move?
If you’re moving to Cincinnati and you’re from a large city, you will either be relieved or completely distraught. We don’t have the best transportation system here, we are working on a streetcar right now, but we’re not the savviest with bus service. However, if you’re tired of big city life and want a tame taste of city life you are in business. The city is still a bit conservative (in the open to new ideas sense), but we’re working on that.

How bad are the winters?
It really depends. The last two were atrocious but three years ago there was no snow and it was the best! I hate winter so much that I try to pretend it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t work well, we had a lot of power outages, a lot of car wrecks and there were some days where we just stayed put for a weekend or so. However, many other states have it worse than us, I think we’re just terrible about organizing everything.

What are your top three favorite bars and restaurants?
Wow this is seriously tougher than I thought it would be. My top three in downtown Cincinnati (so this will be easier) are Shanghi Mama’s, because they are open ridiculously late and have good pad thai, Taste of Belgium has the best fried chicken and waffles and one of the best salad dressings I have ever tasted, and A Tavola has a yummy pizza (ask for the sea salt afterbake, you won’t be disappointed). Taste of Belgium and A Tavola can act as bars and all are reasonably priced.

Twenty-Nine is a Very Strange Age

gossip girl - I don't feel like I fit in anywhereI turned 29 February of this year and I have to say that it is a very strange time. Twenty-nine has to be one of the weirdest ages to be.

No one would consider 29 old. Sure, I may feel old at times but I’m still aware that I’m at a young age. I’m at that “Omg, how tragic, she was so young” age if I were to pass away. But I am getting older. I can see it in the reaction I get from people younger than me when they hear how old I am. There’s been way too many times in grad school when I’ve told people my age and I can just see them thinking, “Oh God, I don’t even want to think about when I’ll be 29.”

I feel like nothing is actually geared towards me. When you read those thousands of articles on the Internet written for twenty-somethings, I know they don’t really mean me. They aren’t talking about a 29-year-old, months away from entering her thirties. Those articles are for people in their early to mid twenties. Same thing goes for books, movies, and TV shows. If I find characters that I actually relate to, I get disheartened when I find out they’re only 23. The characters my age? All established in their careers, most likely married or at least engaged, and starting a family or seriously thinking about it. Where’s the stories about 29-year-olds still trying to figure it all out? I can’t be the only one.

The divide between the people my age who have their shit together and those who don’t is just getting worse. It’s as though a line is being drawn and you can only be on one side. One side is getting married, buying homes, moving up in their career, having babies or discussing the possibility of when they will be having babies. The other side still has no idea what they are doing with their life. They have twenty roommates or still live at home with their parents. There doesn’t seem to be any real in-between at this point.

I don’t go out as much and a heavy night of drinking will leave me in rehabilitation for the next three days. But somehow I wind up drinking more now than I did when I was younger. And it usually always starts with a glass of wine. A glass of wine for dinner. One or two while I’m catching up on my shows on Netflix. A bottle here and there when I’m trying to bullshit my way through a paper. For someone who doesn’t drink and go out that much, I sure do go through a lot of wine.

As much as I like to go with the flow and not stress about the future, it’s almost impossible to not dwell on it. I can’t help but fully realize that I’m getting old. Everyone does things at their own pace but it’s harder to use youth as an excuse for why I don’t have it more together by now. It’s impossible not to think about the fact that 30 is right there, waiting for you!

I care less about what people think of me than I used to but I also find myself caring a lot about what people think of me. (And even I’m not sure how that makes sense.) I don’t care anymore about what people think about the way I dress or the things I like or my personal opinions on issues. I’m way more confident in who I am as a person and if someone doesn’t like that, it’s on them. However, I still can’t help but feel self-conscious when talking about certain aspects of my personal life. Yes I am STILL single. Yes I am back in school again. Yes I had to move back in with my dad when I returned to school. I wish I could own up to these aspects of my life as easily as I do when it comes to my shameless love for superhero movies and Oreo’s.

People say that your twenties are some of the most confusing years of your life. And technically they aren’t wrong, but they are a little off. I would say that 29 is by far the most confusing year of your life. You’re in limbo. You’re old and young at the same time. You will seriously start to think about your future and the choices you’re making today that will affect it because that future isn’t that far away anymore. Twenty-nine is just a very weird age to be. Here’s to hoping it’s a little more normal for my fellow 29-year-olds. And if you find it just as confusing, here’s to hoping that it gets better with age. (That motto works splendidly for my beloved wine so let’s hope it works for people as well.)

The Number One Rule of Dating

the rules of datin - he's just not that into you
When you start dating someone, you’re going to find yourself doing a lot of questioning. “Does this person like me?” “What exactly are they looking for?” “Am I coming on too strong?” “When should I sleep with them?” “Should I have ‘the talk’ or should I just wait it out?” So. Many. Questions.

You are going to turn to every outlet available to find the answers to these questions. Do a quick Google search of “When should I sleep with the person I’m dating?” and it will turn up millions of results. And each article you find will have a different response. Three dates. Five Dates. Three months. Marriage. Any situation you find yourself in, I guarantee someone else has been in that exact same position. Some other person has found themselves dealing with a person who doesn’t respond to texts fast enough or went from texting every day to completely MIA overnight. And I bet they even wrote a blog post about it to help the next person figure out how to handle it.

Aside from the always helpful Internet, there are real life people to turn to when your dating life gets a bit tricky. I know for myself my friends are always there with a helpful, “Fuck him. I hate him and he’s not worth the trouble.” They really mean well. They just want to help you out and don’t want to see you get hurt.

Well luckily your favorite blogger is here so you don’t have to turn to the Internet or real life people anymore. I’m here to hit you with some real truth. I have got all the dating advice you’ll ever need. Once you read this you’ll never have to take another “But what does this text really mean?” quiz ever again.

Here is the number one dating rule that everyone needs to follow:

1. Don’t follow any dating rules. Don’t listen to a stupid article that describes the proper way to act with someone that you’re dating. Do whatever you feel is right for your relationship and whatever makes you comfortable.

jenna marbles - mind blown

Your mind must be officially blown right now. But what about the rules??? Well lovely readers, I kindly say fuck the rules! You want to bang on the first date, go right ahead! You want to wait until you feel completely comfortable, no matter how long that may take, then do that.

Relationships and dating are not one size fits all. In the end of the day, it’s just you and that one other person involved in the situation. If you rely on strangers from the Internet or your friends to constantly dictate how to proceed with your relationship, then you’re doing it wrong.

However I will give you just one little piece of advice, even though I just said don’t listen to strangers from the Internet: When it comes to relationships and dating, you really need to follow your instincts and do what feels right for you. Don’t overthink sending a text or asking to hang out. Don’t over-analyze ever single text you receive. Plenty of times people really do just mean what they say and there isn’t some hidden code in a “Hey, what’s up?” text. But the second you find yourself in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or badly about yourself, then you need to back away.

What the Hell is Wrong with Some People?

what the fuck is wrong with youFull disclosure, I was VERY close to naming this post “What the Fuck is Wrong with Some People?” but I backed out at the last minute. I should have went with the Fuck because that’s the exact question I ask when I come across the people I’m going to complain about below.

I’m one of those rare breeds that still believes humans are generally good. Sure there’s a lot of evil in this world and every time I read the comments on any online article, I second guess myself, but ultimately I think people are good. Maybe I’m naive but I just think that the good people overpower the evil. We just hear about the evil a whole lot better.

With that being said, you all know my blog is not known for its cutesy, feel good posts. So I’m not here to praise the good people in the world. I’m here to bitch about the horrible idiots roaming this world, making life incredibly annoying for the rest of us. There are just way too many times during the day that I find myself mentally shouting “What the fuck is wrong with you?” (I’d never actually do this out loud because I am a baby who avoids confrontation at all costs.) The majority of these “What the fuck is wrong with you?” mental shouts happen while I’m in my car. What is it about cars that really bring out the asshole in humans?

Here are just a few of the many things that make me want to scream “What the FUCK is wrong with you?”

  • When I hold the door for someone and they walk right through without even acknowledging it. My three-year-old nephew understands the concept of thank you, so should your grown ass!
  • People who do not understand how blinkers work. I am not a friggen mind reader. It takes two seconds to let someone know you’re turning right!
  • Those people who try to get on a train before everyone else has gotten off. This is common train etiquette people! You wait your turn. You do not try to shove your ass on the train before everyone else has gotten off!
  • People who listen to their music really loud on the train. Why does the person who feels the need to listen to Beyonce at the highest volume always sit next to me? I don’t want to hear your music. The train doesn’t want to hear your music. Nobody wants to hear your music. And, not to get all old lady on your ass, but lower your music before you do serious damage to your ear drums!
  • Loud gum chewers! Now I must admit that I can sometimes be a loud gum chewer. (What the fuck is wrong with me?!) But I recognize how annoying it is. Chewing gum is fine and completely socially acceptable. If you had some tuna fish for lunch, please pop some minty fresh Trident gum in your mouth. However, keep your mouth shut while chewing!
  • When I am walking down the street and the person in front of me stops for absolutely no reason. Unless a shirtless Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans are coming towards you, there is no reason whatsoever to stop in the middle of walking. (When the topless Chrises are involved, normal human behavior is out the window.) If you need to stop, move to the side or don’t get mad at me when I “accidentally” step on the back of your foot.
  • People who never eat carbs or dessert or greasy food, ever. Now, I know some of you may be thinking that this is more of a personal preference than normal manners that everyone should possess. However, I disagree. I’m all for being fit and healthy, but I think that there is seriously something wrong with a person who has gone 13+ years without eating a single french fry.
  • Litterbugs! Hate is a very strong word but I’ll say it, I hate people who litter. Garbage cans were invented for a reason people. And if you’re not near a garbage can at the moment, you hold on to your shit until you come across one.

I Am Personally Offended by This Thing That Has Nothing to Do With Me

Offense TakenFull Disclosure: Not everyone may agree with today’s post because it seems we live in a world where the PC thing to do is to get offended by anything possible.

I don’t agree with people when they look back at the 50’s and call it the “good ole’ days.” I’m so happy to be growing up in a time when people are not only encouraged to be themselves but celebrated for it. Sure, discrimination is still alive. Just look at the comments section of any article ever written on the internet and you’ll see that hate still prevails. You can’t erase ignorance and stupidity overnight. However, we have made so much progress. And I have a lot of faith in future generations to continue to become more and more accepting.

Unfortunately, some people have taken this way too far. I find myself on a daily basis reading an article and thinking, “Really? Who cares? Are we really getting this worked up over something so trivial?” Usually this happens when I read something on Buzzfeed, who likes to pull a few tweets from angry complainers and act like the whole world is outraged.

The cool thing at the moment is to be offended. If you’re not offended, then you’re an ignorant, privileged, asshole who is clearly out of touch with reality. But why wouldn’t you get offended these days? It’ll allow you to get your fifteen minutes of fame and you may even get a gift card out of it.

The latest story that has made me question if I’m genuinely missing something is the one about the girl in the Old Navy t-shirt. I’m sure by now you’ve heard about it, but if not, here it is.

As soon as I read the story, it struck me as someone making a mountain out of a molehill. A mother and a daughter made a statement about a tank top and this woman decides that she’s personally been victimized. So now we have to monitor the comments we make about clothing when we’re shopping because we may be viewed as insensitive? I feel bad for the woman in this story but not because of the comments made by the mother and daughter. I feel bad for her well-being if comments said by strangers about an article of clothing are going to send her over the edge.

If a tank top is big and someone calls it big, how is that offensive? I wonder how this story would have been perceived if it was about someone making comments about a size-small article of clothing. “This looks like it should be in Babies R Us.” “This wouldn’t go past my ankle.” Comments like these are made every day. People are allowed to make general observations about clothes while shopping.

I was once shopping at Forever 21 and overheard these girls make the following statement about leggings, “These are for those skinny bitches with no ass.” Well this skinny bitch with no ass was looking through those leggings so I can buy a pair. If I had known better, I should have taken a picture of myself in those leggings and posted a thesis about how I was personally victimized by the comments made by random strangers; comments that were not directed towards me but towards clothing. I probably could have gotten myself a lot more traffic to this blog and maybe a $50 gift card.

This woman being happy  and confident in her tank top is awesome. Women are bombarded with enough Photoshopped bodies that feeling comfortable in your own skin is an amazing thing. I applaud her for that. However, she could have done so without trying to bring down a mother and daughter who probably weren’t even aware of her presence in the store. I’ve seen comments calling the mother a horrible parent. Again, I have to ask, how does calling a big shirt big make someone a horrible mother? If I ever have a child, I’ll be sure to have them refrain from making comments about inanimate objects so I don’t accidentally offend someone.

Do I Call You My Ex? The Case of the “Almost Relationship”

Almost Lover A Fine FrenzyAs someone who dates a lot but never actually ends up in a relationship, I often come across what I like to refer to as the “almost relationship.” This happens when you meet someone and there is intrigue and attraction. You can tell this isn’t going to be a one-date deal. You start to get into a routine. You talk almost every day and see each other a few times a week. It definitely seems like it’s leading to something and then after a few weeks or a couple of months, it starts to fade. Plenty of times nothing is actually said to end the “almost relationship.” You just start to talk less and less.

I am the first to admit that the majority of the times my “almost boyfriends” have turned into someone that I used to know (try reading that without singing, I dare you) is because of me. A huge part of it is my insane fear of commitment. I always think I want to be a relationship and I genuinely don’t want to wind up alone for the rest of my life, but the second I see things starting to get serious, I put an end to it. I’ll usually find something about the guy that I don’t like. Something that I just cannot put up with so clearly I have to put an end to this whole thing before it gets serious. Most of the time it’s a completely superficial thing. It’s just my way of ending things before they get into territory that scares me.

Twice I have found myself on the other end, and the second time came last night. Let me just say that it’s a horrible feeling. It’s not so much losing the person. Sure I liked the guy but three weeks is a short amount of time. I’ll easily be able to get over him and move on. The worst part of these “almost relationships” ending is the way it makes you feel. This person is just getting to know you. They’ve only seen the preview of you and have already decided that they’ve had enough and need to back away as fast as possible. That is a really shitty feeling. It doesn’t matter how nice the guy is about it and whatever reason he gives, you will wake up feeling like assballs. At least, assballs is what I felt like this morning when I woke up.

Coming to terms with the ending of an “almost relationship” is never fun but having been on both sides, I have learned a few things. When someone ends something with you before it even starts, you’re going to feel like it’s all your fault. Clearly there is something wrong with you. And here’s the thing, a part of it is you. This person did decide that they don’t want to be with you. But it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you.

Overall, it is all about the other person. There can a million reasons that someone decides they don’t want to be in a relationship. There are plenty of guys I’ve let go that were great guys and would make great boyfriends. They just weren’t right with me. Actually, I’ve had to deal with the regret of ending an “almost relationship” prematurely. There is one boy in particular who I always regret ending things with. And there is nothing I can do about it now because he’s in a relationship with someone else. See how that works. He was the one who probably felt crappy at the end of our relationship and now he’s doing fine and I’m pining away.

For anyone dealing with end of an “almost relationship,” I know it sucks. It’s a major blow to your ego and you’re going to need a few days to wallow and feel sad. Do it. Complain to your friends all you want. But remember that you’re going to move on very quickly. This person wasn’t in your life long enough to even make a dent. Moving on will be easy. And you have to realize that there is nothing wrong with you. Think of all the people that you came across, lovely people, who you realized that you didn’t want to be with. We’re not going to want to date every person we meet. There’d be no fun and excitement if that were the case. One day you’re going to find yourself in an “almost relationship” that will seamlessly flow into an actual relationship. It may just take a little longer than you hoped for. At least, I know it’s taking a lot longer for me.

Because I’m feeling melancholy today and it fits with the theme of this post, here’s one of my favorite sad songs:

And, don’t forget to leave me some love in the comments. Comments always make me happy. And a happy blogger means more upbeat, funny posts in the near future.