Life Lessons

Things I’ve Come to Terms with at 31

I turned 31 a few weeks ago. For the most part I have come to terms with my “old age.” The number is just going to get higher so I should stop fighting it. I did have a very small breakdown about officially being in my thirties but overall I dealt with it. Entering a new decade has definitely had its perks.

Your twenties are all about trying out new things and finding out who you are as a person. Want to move to a different place every year? That’s what your twenties are for.

Your thirties are a lot more mellow. Don’t get me wrong. I still want to try new things. There are plenty of places I still want to visit. Hobbies I still want to pickup. Books I eventually want to write. But my thirties have definitely shown me that there are quite a few things in my life that are set. I plan on spending my thirties embracing the little things that make me who I am and stop trying to change them.

Staying up all night will never happen again. This one makes me a little sad. When I was younger, “breaking night” while having a sleepover was one of my favorite things to do. Now, the idea of staying awake the entire night is torturous. A sunrise is a sunrise. I don’t need to see it. Let me sleep.

I will never dance well. This always used to be something I was embarrassed of: my horrendous dancing skills. Sadly, I was never blessed with rhythm but I am done fighting it. Next dance party I attend, I’m letting my inner-Elaine run free without any fear of judgment.

Being sexy will never come natural to me. This isn’t a self-deprecating comment. I am not saying that I’m never sexy. My boyfriend thinks I’m sexy. However, if I actively try to be sexy, I have the opposite effect. A striptease from me is a ball of awkward and will most likely end with me somehow getting stuck in my lingerie in a fit of laughter.

I will never enjoy exercising or eating healthy. I am still going to do it. Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more concerned about exercising and eating healthy. I’ll continue to give these things a chance for health reasons and all that nonsense, but I’m not going to like it. My couch will always be more appealing than the gym. I’ll always love cupcakes more than kale.

Being a millionaire is not in the cards for me. Why did we think we would be rich when we were younger? I considered having a nice car and my own home by the time I was thirty inevitable. Getting rich seemed like it was an attainable goal back in the days. Boy was I wrong. Now I just want to make enough money so I won’t have to work until I’m 80-years-old. The new American dream!

A day at Bed Bath and Beyond is now my favorite way to splurge. Partying it up all night at the latest club? No thanks, my apartment has $10 bottles of wine and Netflix. Dining out at that hot new restaurant? I’ll take my own cooked meal and sweatpants. Do you want these 20% off coupons at Bed Bath and Beyond? OMG yes! Clear my schedule. I need to spend the next several hours buying gadgets for my apartment. This toilet seat easily removes to make cleaning a breeze! (This toilet seat is a real thing and I absolutely love it.)

A feeling of impending death will always overcome me after a night of heavy drinking. My body can still handle a glass or two or three of wine at night to unwind. I can wake up from this ready to start my day. However, bring in the hard liquor and shots and all hell breaks loose. I can kiss productivity out the door for the next two to three days. That is how much time I’ll need to recover.

I’ll never pick up and move to a new place without a set plan. When I was in my twenties, I always entertained the idea of picking up and moving to another place. I still like this idea but it is a lot more reasonable. I would like to leave New York one day but not before I have a job secured somewhere. I have become a lot more practical in my thirties. That may sound depressing and boring, but do you know what isn’t boring? The ability to buy food and pay rent!

It doesn’t matter what other people think of me. I spent so many years of my twenties in a perpetual state of anxiousness. What others thought of me mattered way too much. This made friendships difficult. Relationships challenging. It made life in general rough. I am so over that nonsense. Here is something that young people really need to remember: The opinions of others truly do not matter. Life becomes a lot more free when you live it exactly how you want and now how other people want you to.

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It’s Okay to Not Feel Okay

The past few weeks I have been in a bit of a funk. I haven’t spoken to too many people about it because I really don’t know how to put into words what I’m feeling. There isn’t a specific event or occurrence that I can attribute to my depressed state.  I am not sure why I’ve been feeling the way that I have. I have just been feeling down.

When I get into a funk that has no real explanation, it always makes me feel worse. I have a roof over my head. I am relatively healthy. I don’t go to bed hungry. I have a job I enjoy. There is no real reason to feel the way that I do.

The lack of reasoning results in feelings of guilt. So on top of feeling down, I also feel incredibly guilty. Clearly I am overreacting and being ungrateful. I’ll often invalidate my own feelings. Instead of accepting the things I’m feeling, I fight them. This action has a tendency to simply make me feel worse.

There’s a major flaw in this way of thinking: All feelings are valid. And sometimes feeling shitty is just a part of being alive. In fact, I may question your humanness if you are ALWAYS happy. There is no way that is healthy.

So I’ve been feeling a little down. It could be the long winter. It could be my upcoming birthday which always fills me with doom and existential thoughts. It could be a chemical imbalance. Or, and the likely culprit, it could just be life.

Sometimes life is really awesome and sometimes it’s really shitty. It is okay for your mind to react accordingly. If you ran a mile or worked a 13 hour shift, no one would fault you for being exhausted. The same thing applies to your mind. Life can become exhausting and overwhelming. Allow your mind to take a break without feeling guilty.

If you find yourself going through a funk, don’t fight it. Recognize all the things in your life to be grateful for. Don’t brush them off. However, don’t use them as an excuse to invalidate your feelings. Healthy people can get depressed. People with a roof over their head and a job can feel anxious.

Remember: All feelings are real, even the crappy ones.

It’s the Little Things in Life

Last year, 2015, was one of the most difficult and stressful years of my life.

I had to move in with my dad and share a room with my younger sister. I was working a part-time job that required about 3 hours of travel a day to get to and from. This job barely paid me enough to afford the dollar menu at McDonald’s. And I was also finishing up grad school which included writing a 60-page thesis.

It was really hard for me to focus on anything other than the bad times. I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I felt like I was unhappy and stressed out all the time. If someone had asked me about some of the good times from 2015, it would be really hard for me to think of a single instance.

But there were good times. There were a lot of good times.

New Year’s Day of 2015, the first day of my incredibly shitty year, my sisters and I created a happiness jar. We decorated a mason jar. The mason jar would hold all my happiest memories for the year. Any moment or event of 2015 that made us exceptionally happy would be written about on a piece of paper and then placed in the jar. The idea was to read all the happy memories on New Year’s Day of 2016 to remind ourselves of all the good times throughout the year.

Before opening that jar on January 1st, 2016, if anyone had asked me how my 2015 was, I would have responded quickly with, “It was really stressful and not so great.”

However, all those memories I placed in my happiness jar throughout the year told a different story. They didn’t focus on the late nights spent writing papers or the depressed early mornings spent riding on a train to a job that paid next to nothing.

The jar was a nice reminder that 2015 wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. I had a lot of great moments in 2015. From my trip to California to random lunches with my sister to celebrating my nephew’s birthday, numerous things brought me incredible joy during the year. I was so busy between jobs and schoolwork that I didn’t have time to think about all the little moments that made life great.

And that’s how life always is. It’s the big moments, whether good or bad, that get all the credit. Getting married, births, deaths, graduations, lay offs, new jobs, etc. These BIG moments are the ones that get all the focus.

However, it’s all the little moments in between that make the big moments so significant.

People often describe their wedding day as one of the greatest days of their lives. And while that might be true, there were so many wonderful random days or moments that let up to that one big day. The first date. First kiss. First time you realized you were in love. The day he came over with soup and your favorite movie cause you were sick.

All those little moments that you don’t give much thought to are what really make life worthwhile. The moments that are easily forgotten when life becomes too busy (AKA when life is life).

When the majority of life is spent waking up, getting ready for work, going to work, coming home, and then getting ready to do it all over again the next day, it’s only natural that the big moments are the ones that stand out. The nights you spent staying up much later than you should have with your favorite people can easily be forgotten. But those moments are the real ones to cherish.

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner (Don’t make a face. It’s already the end of September. 2017 is going to be here before we know it), I challenge you to start your own happiness jar. Or shoebox. Or kitchen drawer. Wherever you want to store those memories. Just do it!

It’ll be a nice reminder of the moments that truly matter. And also remind you that life is a lot more amazing than we give it credit.

The Other Shoe Is Always Going to Drop

My favorite line when I start dating someone new is, “I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Those first few weeks/months of dating someone, things are as close to perfect as they’ll ever be. You’re both on your best behavior and trying really hard to impress one another. The guy never cancels, always texts on time. The girl always has her makeup and hair done, never complains. Everyone is trying to be the most perfect version of themselves.

I spend a new relationship just waiting to see when this blissful period will end. Because it always does. It tends to end in the most horrifically dramatic way possible. The guy doesn’t just stop canceling, he stops making plans altogether. He stops texting right away and instead takes 3-5 business days to respond with an “lol” or an “ok.”

This is never fun and it’s the reason why I always enter a new relationship with skepticism. I know the other shoe is going to drop. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when.

However, there is something that I need to realize: the other shoe is always going to drop and that’s OK. What matters is how it drops. If it drops but I’m able to pick it up, slip it back on, and keep on walking, that’s alright. It’s when the shoe drops and breaks so badly that it’s cheaper to just buy a new pair than take them to get fixed, that I need to worry about it.

The other shoe is always going to drop. That new period in a relationship I just spoke about – the one where everyone is on their best behavior – is nice but it’s not sustainable. Perfect bliss in a relationship isn’t real.

Relationships are messy and complicated because people are messy and complicated.

You shouldn’t want that perfect bliss to last forever because then you’re never really seeing the person you’re dating for who they truly are.

Now this isn’t to say that a person should do a complete 180 when you’ve been dating a few months and stop trying. But this is saying that a person shouldn’t be afraid to show different parts of themselves, even the not so great ones.

I’ve come to realize that I look forward to the other shoe dropping. Show me what makes you YOU. I want the authentic version. Not the version who is on his best behavior because he’s trying to impress me.

What makes you sad? What makes you angry? What are some of your annoying little habits that you kept in check our first few dates?

I am not looking for the perfect version of you. I’m looking for the real version of you.

This is exactly why not only do I realize that the other shoe is always going to drop but I look forward to it.

The Steps Every Girl Goes Through When Cutting Her Hair

Now when I say cutting her hair, I do not mean getting a trim. I’m talking about when you decide to take the plunge and cut off several inches of your hair. Or if you’re feeling really bold, decide to shave off everything. (For the sake of eyes everywhere I will never be doing this.)

The movies would have you believe that chopping off all your hair is simple. All a girl needs is a traumatic experience, a hotel room mirror, and some rusty scissors. A few snips and she’s walking out of there like she just stepped out of a Pantene commercial and ready to kick some ass. If I find myself in a hotel room with a rusty pair of scissors, the best I’m walking out with is a trip to the ER for a tetanus shot.

There is a lot that goes into finally deciding to cut your hair.

It all starts when you realize your hair is getting too long. You’ve started washing your hair every other month because styling the Godforsaken mop on top your head requires 10 free hours and the arm strength of The Rock.

You know that a cut has to be scheduled sometime in the near future.

You start doing research for cute hairstyles. There are so many adorable short hairstyles and everyone looks so good. (You don’t take into account that all of these females you’re looking at have had their hair and makeup professionally done because you’re an idiot.) You think, “I can totally pull of a lob.” (A lob is a long bob for those not paying attention.)

You save several photos that you really like and start showing them to everyone you know. Obviously they all tell you that it’s adorable and you’d look great.

You finally decide to call your hair salon and make the appointment.

The day of the appointment comes and you’re feeling excited. You’ve got all those photos on your phone ready to show the stylist. You also rationalize that you’ve got to lose at least 10 pounds after the majority of this mess is off your head.

You sit down at the chair after your hair has been washed and the anxiety starts to kick in. The stylist asks what you want done and you falter. “Maybe I don’t want to cut it short. Maybe just a trim. I could always cut it another time. If I cut it now, I can’t change it.”

You go back and forth with the stylist about just how short you actually want it. Shoulder-length. At the collar bone. Right below the chin. You’re like a deranged auctioneer trying to sell off as little of your hair as possible.

After much haggling and debating, a length is finally decided. It’s not quite as short as you originally planned but still several inches shorter than what you’ve got going on now.

Fear starts to seep in when you see all your luscious locks start to fall to the floor. That’s right. The mop on top of your head suddenly becomes a luscious mane and the monster with the scissors is taking it all away.

You eventually calm yourself down. The hair is already cut. This is what you needed. It will all be OK.

When all the hair has been cut and your new short hair has been styled, you look in the mirror to view the results. It looks great! It’s so healthy-looking. You’re so satisfied with your haircut that you over tip the stylist. It’s all good. She deserves it for dealing with your mane.

For the next three days you constantly check yourself out in every mirror that you pass. You look good. You feel confident. You love your new hair.

Then you wash your hair for the first time and realize you’ve made a terrible mistake. You want to find the animals who claim that short hair is the best because it’s so low maintenance. Who invented this myth? Who do I have to punch in the throat? Short hair is so far from being low maintenance. How did the stylist make it look so beautiful? How did she get it to bounce the way that it did? And OMG I can’t even just throw it up in a ponytail without looking like a crazy homeless person!

But eventually things start to settle down. You learn how to style this hair and make yourself look presentable. The short hair starts to grow on you.

However, you vow never to cut your hair short again. That is until the next time your hair grows to unmanageable lengths and you repeat the process all over again.

And now here’s a shameless selfie from someone who recently cut her hair and knows all too well what each of these stages feel like.

me

Rejection Doesn’t Mean You Failed

Some of you may feel as though the title of this page is incorrect. How could rejection not equate to failure? Well, not to be rude but some of you people are completely wrong.

Rejection does not mean that you failed. Rejection means that you tried. Rejection means that you took a chance. Rejection means that you stepped out of your comfort zone. Rejection means that you went for something that you wanted. Even if you didn’t get it, the rejection doesn’t negate all the risks you took going for it.

Failure is never taking a chance. Failure is living a life of comfort because you’re afraid of trying anything new. Failure is never allowing yourself to love for fear that you may get your heartbroken. Failure is thinking of everything that could go wrong when an opportunity presents itself so you talk yourself out of it.

But most importantly, failure is allowing rejection to cause you to never take another chance again. To stop it from pursuing your goals and what you really want in life. That’s what real failure looks like.

Rejection and failure are what make life worth living. If you go through life never facing rejection and failure then you probably don’t live life to the fullest. Life is all about making the most of it. Taking chances. Living on the edge. Avoiding all that life has to offer because you want the comfortable route or don’t want to fail is no way to live.

Some of the most successful people in the world have faced rejection. Kerry Washington, Emmy-nominated actress of Scandal, was fired from two previous pilots before things clicked. Oprah Winfrey, yes THAT Oprah Winfrey, was fired from her first TV Job as an anchor. Walt Disney himself was fired from a newspaper because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Stephen King’s classic Carrie was rejected by 30 different publishers causing him to almost throw in the towel.

Rejection is a part of life. The thing that turns rejection into failure is how you react to it. Here are a few quotes that remind us all that rejection could potentially be the best thing to ever happen to us.

  1. “I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Once you’ve lived through the worst, you’re never quite as vulnerable afterward….You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney
  2. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
  3. “Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” – Gena Showalter
  4. “When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” – Ellen DeGeneres
  5. “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” – Chris Bradford
  6. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
  7. “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki
  8. “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling
  9. “I think you have to try and fail, because failure gets you closer to what you’re good at.” – Louis C.K.
  10. “I don’t understand a way to work other than bold-facedly running towards failure.” – Cate Blanchett

I wrote this post with a special person in mind. A person who took a huge chance and while it didn’t work out needs to be reminded that great things are sill to come!

Dating Advice From Someone Who Is Horrible at It

As you all know, I’m not so great at this whole dating thing. Never have been, probably never will be. I don’t see myself becoming the next host of the Millionaire Matchmaker anytime soon. (Actually, considering that the host of a friggen matchmaking show is single maybe I could!) I spent a large portion of my 20’s dating and making a lot of mistakes. But along the way I learned a lot. I’ve always been better at giving other people advice but not being able to give myself the same advice.

As it always seems to go, a lot of my friends have come to me for relationship/dating advice. I never understood it really. It’s like asking the vegan what’s the best way to grill a steak. But I liked it. Hearing others’ experiences in dating and giving my own perspective, has also helped me learn a lot about my own dating life.

So I have decided to bestow some of my words of wisdom to you, my loyal readers. Please keep in mind that I do not claim to be an expert at dating. (I admit to being horrible at it right in the title.) But these are just some of the things I’ve learned along the way dating and hearing about the adventures in my friends’ dating life. Also, all of this stuff is coming from my personal experiences. I am not excluding people on purpose but I feel as though I can only give proper dating advice to girls dating boys. It’s all I know.

Sex is and isn’t a big deal. When you’re first dating someone, a lot of emphasis is put on sex. Just do a quick Google search of the phrase “when should I sleep with the guy I’m dating?” You’ll get a million hits. And every single article will have a different time frame. As confusing as this may sound, my thoughts on sex when it comes to dating is that it’s a big deal but in the same sense, it isn’t. When you’re dating someone new, sex is just another part of getting to know them. You should never be using sex as a way to get something that you want in a relationship, i.e. him making things official. But sex also does change the dynamics of a relationship. If you’re already liking someone, the feelings may very well get deeper after you have sex. You need to be prepared for that. In the end, no one can tell you when you should sleep with someone except for you. Just do it when you feel comfortable, and ONLY when you’re comfortable.

Do not get trashed on a first date. This is coming from someone who loves her alcohol. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. However, getting drunk on a first date is never a good look. And this goes for both guys and girls. Have a drink or two to settle your nerves but keep the sloppy drunkenness for at least the third date.

If there’s nothing there, you can’t force it. This past year I implemented a two-dates and then I’m done rule for myself. I do believe that you can sometimes be unsure about a person after a first date. You feel like there may be something but you’re not sure. There’s nothing wrong with going on that second date to find out. However, if after that second date you’re still not sure, it’s best to just end things. You cannot force feelings. If they’re not there, they’re not there. Forcing it is unfair to the person you’re dating and to yourself.

Don’t string someone along cause you’re bored and/or lonely. This is just wrong on so many levels but I feel as though we’ve all been guilty of doing this at least once. Even if we lied to ourselves and claimed we really liked the person. No, you just like the attention they’re giving you. I’ll go back to my previous point: if you’re still not feeling it after the second date, cut ties.

Go into your own wallet every once in awhile. This may be an unpopular opinion and you all may not agree with me but I’m going to say it anyway. I think the guy should pay on the first date. Even if the girl does the whole “would you like some money?,” it’s just to be polite. She doesn’t actually want you take her money. Now with that being said, your man shouldn’t be paying for every single thing, every single time. If you’re both working, there is no excuse for you not to dip into your wallet even once the entire time you’re dating.

There’s nothing wrong with meeting a potential spouse online. I have this friend who is obsessed with the perfect love story. She wants some epic tale of how her and her husband met that she can one day tell her grandkids. It’s a great idea but usually doesn’t work that way. Do you really think you’re going to fall in the middle of the street and right before a taxi runs you over, a Ryan Gosling look-a-like is going to scoop you up in his arms and save your life? Sorry, this isn’t a Nicholas Sparks movie. More and more people are meeting their significant others online and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The majority of single people these days probably have at least one dating profile, most have more than one.

Rejection is just a part of dating. I am going to be blunt here: not everyone is going to like you. Have you liked every person you’ve ever come across? Have you ever come across a guy who seemed really cool and even thought he was cute but felt absolutely nothing for him romantically? These things happen. And they are going to happen to you. You shouldn’t take it personally. Just move on because there is a guy out there that will realize just how amazing you are.

Having standards is one thing but being too picky is not good. Keep your standards. Don’t settle for a dud just because you’re scared you’re going to wake up one day at the age of 50, alone, with a dozen cats. There are some things that you shouldn’t compromise with in a relationship. However, there is a such thing as being too picky. The guy you’re dating isn’t perfect and neither are you. Don’t drop him the second you discover something you don’t like about him.

The “What are we” talk isn’t all that important. You’ve been dating a guy for a little while now and things have been going great. He texts you and makes time to hang out with you when he’s not working. It’s obvious that he’s into you. The only thing that hasn’t happened yet is the “Where is this going” chat. That’s fine. There’s no need to bring that up when it’s early in a relationship if it’s pretty obvious where you stand.

But if you’re feeling unsure/uncomfortable about something, speak up. If you find yourself constantly questioning where you stand with a guy or feel that things have suddenly changed, then speak up. You have the right to know if you guys are on the same page or if you’re wasting your time. A conversation like this can be scary and you may not always get the response you’d like but it’s always better to bring it up sooner rather than later.