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My Dating App Checklist

” Cause I’ve had my heart broken before and I promised I would never let me hurt anymore. But I tore down my walls and opened my doors and made room for one. So baby I’m yours”

-Alessia Cara

My Dating App Experience

In this post I would like it to be lighter and a little more fun than my traditional writing. I’m in a great relationship now but once upon a time I was a part of the dating scene and let me tell you, I don’t miss it! 

Before meeting my boyfriend I had some serious relationships and some not so serious. I went on many dating app dates. I was on Bumble, Hinge and even Tinder for a little while. I went on dates from each site and basically 80% of them sucked. Most of the time it ended after one date, some went to date two and some went on for a few weeks. Very few actually turned into a relationship. I’m not saying I didn’t meet some great people along the way. I actually met some really interesting guys and reconnected with old friends. So the dating app world isn’t all bad.

Don’t Be Afraid To Be Honest About What You Want

I would like to tell you I was always looking for something serious but that would be a lie. There were times that I was looking for something more casual. What I did love about the dating apps was that you could find what you were looking for. I’ve heard people say ‘You can’t find something serious on dating apps’ and that just isn’t true. Are there a lot of people looking to hook up? Oh yes! But I found out there are even more people looking for something more serious but are afraid to say it, as if it’s taboo to want love. 

The thing about dating apps, is you will only get what you’re looking for if you are honest with the people you are talking to. Make it known so you aren’t wasting your time or theirs. I fell into the trap, I liked someone and they said they didn’t want something serious and I thought, oh that’s totally fine, maybe eventually they’ll change their mind…..STOP! If you’re in that now, end it. The chance of them changing their mind is like 5%. When someone likes you and wants to date you, it doesn’t take months, they know almost right away. Be honest with them and be honest with yourself.

My Checklist

I know it’s possible to find an actual relationship on dating apps because I have seen it. I have a few friends that have met the loves of their life on apps. I also met my current boyfriend on an app. Over the years my checkboxes of what I wanted changed slightly but for the most part my routine of swiping has basically stayed the same. 

When I would swipe on an app I was obviously looking for someone attractive. Don’t lie, you know you do too because that’s how the dang thing is set up. You see a huge picture of their face before you even learn anything about them. Then I would look at their profession. I work hard and I want someone else who does too. Then I looked at their photos. Are they close with their family? Do they have a lot of friends? After that I will actually read their information. I would especially pay attention to what they were looking for. If they posted they wanted something different than me, they were swiped left. I would look to see if we had things in common. Such as music, movies, spare time activities. If we had enough in common then I would swipe right.

What I Ended Up Finding

When I finally came across my boyfriend on Hinge, I can’t explain it but I kind of knew he was going to be a big deal. He thinks it’s a lie when I say it but it’s true. I saw his profile and in my head I knew. Sort of like a virtual love at first sight. 

I feel I got lucky because he does check off all of my boxes. Most of the things that checked off my boxes weren’t things I learned about him through his profile, they were things I learned by spending time with him. The more I learned about him the more I fell in love with him. He checks off all the silly boxes like how he listens to music all day, or how we both love the show FRIENDS. But he also checks off all the big boxes, like how he cares for other people and how understanding he can be. 

Dating apps are great for introducing you to people but you have to do the leg work too. If it feels off then it probably is. We can’t forget that love is an in-person emotion. The way we go about dating may be new but the fundamentals of love haven’t changed. I never understood why there was no solid answer on how to meet the one. You can’t look for it, you can’t force it, it really just has to come to you.

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Love Lessons

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs, that just because he may not answer, doesn’t mean he don’t care. ‘Cause some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

_ Garth Brooks

Three Great Loves

There’s a saying that has been around for a while that you get three great loves in your life. The first one is the fairy tale romance usually when we’re younger and not sure what we’re really looking for yet. The second being the tough love. The relationship that teaches us all the lessons, what works and what doesn’t. Then there is the third love, the one that lasts. Well in my life, I have had four loves. Apparently I needed two tough loves to teach me different lessons.

My High School Love

As a teen who often felt invisible and misunderstood it would only make sense that my first boyfriend would be cut from the same cloth. First friends in Junior High to then reconnecting at a Halloween party senior year. It took months of AOL instant messaging before I agreed to date him. I learned we both felt alone in our own homes and bonded instantly. Once together we each felt like no else saw us the way we saw each other. He was all of my firsts. My door into the dating world.

We got to a point where we figured this is it, we found the one. Until my defense mechanisms started to develop I kept second guessing myself and our relationship. I did things unconsciously to push him away to see if he really could take it. A few weeks before leaving for my freshman year of college, he ended it. I cried a lot but deep down knew it was the right thing to do. I didn’t know how to handle the feeling of not being wanted.

That breakup led to many of the hooking up and partying that started off my college career. I didn’t know who or what I was looking for. I had never had that kind of freedom and now that I tasted what it was like to date someone, it was all I wanted.

The Best Friend

Between my first boyfriend and my next there were a few guys that filled the spot but none were as significant as this one. We actually had dated once in high school for about a month but all we did was go for walks and talk about the Chicago Cubs. I ended it thinking this isn’t what I was looking for. A few years went by but I always kept my eyes on him. He went away to be a Marine while I went away to college. Finally in my junior year of college I reached out. He said he was coming home on leave soon and we continued to talk until he came home. When he finally came home and we went on a date it turned into one of the best nights of life. We walked the streets of Chicago from sundown to sunup.

He was the best friend I never even knew was there all along. Our connection was instant. We dated for a few great months but then my mind started to creep in again. Is this really what you want? Are you sure you really like him? The thoughts got the best of me and I broke up with him. Two years went by and we still kept in touch everyday. He was the guy I would run to for everything. My voice of reason. When I felt alone I would always call him when I needed a friendly voice. I finished college and we started dating again. This time it was the real deal, no more messing around. I waited over a year for him to finally come home for good. I went to California and he came to Illinois every few months throughout the year.

Not A Happy Ending

I was so excited when he finally came home. Until we realized we just didn’t know how to be in the same state. So you can guess it, we broke up AGAIN! Then in good sequence we got back together four months later. Everyone knows a relationship that is that on and off can’t be right. I kept thinking he’s everything I have ever wanted but something is missing. I was awful to him while trying to figure out what I wanted or how I really felt. Pushing him away just to drag him back in. When he finally had enough he found someone else and I was devastated. How unfair of me to think he would pine after me forever. I blew up his phone and yelled and cried. Finally he deleted me from his life.

Years after I kept thinking of him as the one that got away. The one I used and abused. I kept searching my brain for what I did wrong. What was missing from the relationship? So to try and find what was missing I got into a relationship that was all about the infatuation and not the friendship.

The One That Taught Me All the Lessons

My last relationship before entering my most recent one was with someone totally out of character for me. He was a bad boy, a crush I had from early college that I rekindled with over a dating app. I never thought in a million years HE would like ME. After reconnecting our relationship took off fast. His friends instantly accepted me into their group. I was starting a whole new chapter of my life with him. I had a good job, I was happy and I was dating a guy I had crushed on for years. Everything was dandy until I started feeling a lot more than he did. I was falling hard.

Christmas of 2018 he broke up with me because he just didn’t love me or feel the same way I felt. It shocked me to my very core. I was determined that it wasn’t over. I loved him and he just needed someone to show him that love. Sure enough we were at the same New Years Eve party and he confessed that he made a mistake. He loved me and he didn’t want to lose me. Now the hopeless romantic that was inside me loved it but the girl that was smarter, hesitated. I made the decision to take him back. Things were much better this time, I even ended up moving in with him. It had happened sooner than we both thought but if he was “the one” then it didn’t matter.

I Was Wrong

Everything was fine for a few months. We bought our dog Duke together. I also worked on relocating my job to the southwest suburbs. However, the job search was far more challenging that I had anticipated. I wanted a job in my dream field and I figured with me moving this was a great time to try. He was fine with the idea until it took longer than planned. Finally after months of beating around the bush and being afraid of his response I brought up how I felt. I knew the answer deep down was that he didn’t love me anymore and he finally admitted it. Right as I found a job, right as I felt like I was getting myself back, he changed my whole life again.

When this relationship first ended I looked at it as one of the worst things that ever happened to me. But now seeing how far I have come, it was one of the best things. It helped me move out of my parents house. It got me in the right location to find the amazing company I work for now. I learned what sort of man I didn’t want in my life. It gave me my puppy who was my sole purpose for living for many months. I think the best thing it gave me was allowing me to find myself. It left me high and dry and there was nothing I could do except rise and figure out who I really was.

What I Learned

I know this was a long post. I’m impressed you made it through the whole thing. I felt that each of these relationships deserved the proper explanation in order for you to understand what I have learned.

All of this leads to my fourth love. If I hadn’t been in that first relationship I would have never had the confidence to continue to date. Without the feeling of missing something in my second relationship I wouldn’t have been trying to find it. If it wasn’t for the life changing relationship I wouldn’t be who I am today. Each one of these built me up or tore me down in all the right ways. I am broken and I have finally found someone who takes the time to understand how to appreciate me for me. He doesn’t try to change me or fix me, he just simply loves me for who I am.

Without those relationships I wouldn’t appreciate him as much as I do. I wouldn’t know how to show how much I really care about him. All those relationships that I wanted so badly to work didn’t so that this one could. I know I have hurt people along the way and from the bottom of my heart I am sorry. I hope you have found happiness and have found what I have. We all deserve the person that loves us for who we are.

After reading this blog be sure to check out Maggie’s post about the lessons she’s learned from her dating life

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Dating in a World Built for Failure

“Tell me what you hate about me. Whatever it is, I’m sorry. I know I can be dramatic but everybody said we had it”

– Illenium and Jon Bellion

Hollywood Depictions

I used to sit out on the roof of my house looking at the stars wishing for a magical movie moment to happen. In the movies you see couples that have an instant connection and everything ends happily ever after. However, love rarely goes that way in real life. We are given false images of what we should be looking for in our relationships. These movies have set many of us up for failure, including myself.

I used to think it was my fault none of my relationships worked. I went into every relationship with the hopes that he could be “the one”. Everyone says love happens when you least expect it. Even in the movies, the main character falls in love with someone they never thought they could love. So in my life I was always expecting it. Looking at every person I dated as an opportunity for a relationship.

Looking back I realize this was the reason for the end of many of my relationships and even why some never evolved. I never wanted to pass up an opportunity, just in case that guy was the one. I jumped into many relationships when I definitely wasn’t ready, or didn’t even really want to be in one. Now I know that many of the failures were on my end, but many of the failures came down to the horribleness that is dating in the 21st century.

Lessons I’ve Learned From Dating

Don’t be in a relationship if you really aren’t happy with yourself. I entered a few relationships at times in my life when I still felt unfinished. In next week’s blog I’ll go more into detail about my more serious relationships, but this week is all about the ones that never stood a chance. I went into one particular relationship simply because the guy was kind. Before him, I had dated guys who just seemed to feel indifferent about me.

This guy was a breath of fresh air. Until it got more serious and I realized I wasn’t happy where I was in my own life. I was on the hunt for my dream career, and it was something I wanted to achieve on my own. I figured I can’t be there for someone else if I’m not happy with who I am. So when he asked me to go on an all inclusive free trip to Italy, I kindly declined. I could not let someone take me on a free vacation when I knew he wasn’t the person for me. In today’s dating world many people would have gone on that trip and broke up with them after. It would have been easy to just walk away and never look back.

Another piece of advice, don’t spend years hoping your friends will one day fall in love with you. I wasted years waiting for my guy friends to finally wake up and realize I was the one for them. I would hear them talk about wanting a girlfriend and I was like “hellloooooo” but it was just wasted time. If a guy wants you, he will show it. You won’t have to beg for his attention. Don’t waste your days waiting for someone who most likely does not feel that way about you because if they did, it would have happened already.

Problems with Dating Now

Dating in the 21st century is the worst! No one texts back, everyone ghosts and after one fight people move on to the next. There’s been buzz lately around how social media changes our brains and the way we look at the world, and this has leaked into online dating. When we have so many options and only interact with people through a phone it makes it easier to not get attached to emotions because you don’t see them up close and in your face. This can lead to terrible heartbreak.

I was dating a guy in college for a few months who worked in the cafeteria in my dorm. Everything seemed to be going really well until, radio silence. One day he just stopped responding to me. After a few days of nothing I finally confronted him at work and he said he would come up and talk when he got done. Instead he just never came and I never heard from him again. He completely ignored me and acted like we hadn’t been in a relationship. He never apologized when I would see him on campus. Just boom, done.

It’s easy to just move on these days without even a glance back. With this convenience comes destruction. During winter break of my junior year of college I went to a party with a lot of people from high school including a guy I had a huge crush on. My friend somehow hooked it up and we were headed back to his place. After a lot of effort on his end, we hooked up and when it was over he asked, “So is your friend coming back to get you?” I just stood there shocked. I called her tons of times but no answer. He made it pretty clear I couldn’t stay there so instead I made the awful walk of shame home. I felt degraded and unwanted walking back into my parents house after being clearly used for one thing.

This Needs to Change

We have put ourselves into this never ending cycle of disrespect. Men find it unattractive if a girl doesn’t have high self-esteem but then treats us like our feelings don’t matter. They expect us to just move on and get over it. However, each time a guy ghosts us, he only hooks up with us but won’t date us, or breaks up with us without warning, our self-esteem plummets. I have spent my whole adult life trying to build myself back up. I let too many guys make me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Many boyfriends left me because it’s “so much work” dating a girl who constantly needs to feel reassurance.

I told myself I will not be in a relationship until I feel happy with where I am and who I am. Now I feel far more confident. It took years of damage control and self discovery. Even though I am better I still feel negative self talk float in. Luckily now I have a boyfriend who is there for me every step of the way. We will always have self doubt but we need to change the way people look at dating to help decrease it.

Next time you’re on your dating app and you start talking to someone, really think about what you want and be up front with them about it. If you just want to sleep around, hey do your thing, but don’t do it with someone you know truly likes you. If you want a relationship but the other person just wants to hook up, don’t lie to yourself that it’s okay. We need to be true to ourselves and true to others in order to help get rid of the broken hearts.

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Maybe It’s Not Just Teenage Angst

“My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me. My shadow heart’s the only thing that’s beating. Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me. ‘Til then I walk alone.”

-Green Day

Angst or Depression?

If you were in high school during the early 2000s then you know this Green Day song was our anthem. We blasted it on our boom boxes making sure our parents could hear it. Oh wait, was that just me?

Every teenager can relate to feeling alone and misunderstood. It’s labeled as teenage angst, the turmoil of adolescence. However, there’s real emotion and feelings happening behind that angry, silent exterior. Teenagers are developing who they are as an individual and trying to figure out where they fit in with the world around them. This can be a lot for a young person to handle, especially if they don’t have the resources and support around them to get through this chapter of life.

Anyone who knows me, knows numbers make zero sense to me. Throw a number at me and you have completely lost my attention. However, these facts were enough to catch my eye. According to the CDC suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people ages 10-24. More teens die from suicide than cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, pneumonia, stroke, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED! Maybe we should stop brushing off those angry, disgruntled teens and start really trying to hear what they have to say.

Misunderstood Teen

I was one of those teens that felt misunderstood wherever I was. I never felt like I belonged at school and I felt even lonelier at home. My family didn’t have much money when I was growing up. I watched my friends get name brand clothes and items. Most of my clothes were hand-me-downs from my cousins. When I finally did get my first Aeropostale shirt for Christmas, in sixth grade, girls made fun of me for “trying to fit in”. I carried that feeling with me all the way through high school. I figured if I just stayed under the radar and didn’t do anything, no one could make fun of me. Boy, was I wrong.

I didn’t get made fun of for my clothes or how I looked, but I got talked about as the girl who always needed a ride home from school. The phrase “the mooch” had been tossed around in our senior superlatives. I was just a little bit weirder than everyone else in the dance group. These girls were the ones the whole school knew. To the rest of the school I was one of them, but inside the group that was far from the truth.

What Actually Happened

My relationship with my dad and step-mom wasn’t what it is today. We are on the mend now, but in high school it was toxic for everyone involved. If you ever raised a teenage girl then you can attest that we are no picnic. We are the perfect combination of moody and feisty. That being said, for a new mom, let alone a step-mom dealing with a teenage daughter for the first time, it’s a lot to handle.

Imagine you’re a step-mom and your step-daughter’s birth mom was telling her you’re the reason her family is broken. Feeding lies to her about how awful you are. Then on top of that, imagine your step-daughter had also witnessed drugs, alcohol and physical abuse all at a young age. Then on the other side, picture trying to be the dad trying to make everyone happy. No one knows how they would handle that situation until they are in it. I never knew all of this was happening behind the scenes until I was older. As a teenager, it felt entirely different.

My Side of the Story

What the kids in high school, and my parents didn’t know was how much I was struggling. I always needed that ride home from a friend because picking me up just wasn’t a priority in my house. There were a lot of things my friends’ parents did for them that sadly I never got to experience. I spent many nights eating dinner alone in my room because of the amount of tension that would be at the table if we all sat down together. We fought so much that it was almost easier to just stay away from each other.

I felt like I was a stranger in my house. There were many times I so badly wanted to sit downstairs and have the life my siblings had, but that just wasn’t the case for me. Many times I thought, “would it just be easier if I wasn’t here anymore? Would anyone really be sad if I just didn’t exist?” I never thought of ways to harm myself, but not being alive sometimes sounded a lot better than feeling alone and not wanted.

I desperately needed to hear they were proud of me. Someone needed to take that step to start the healing, but no one knew how. So instead, I didn’t have my parents at every dance show. I didn’t have someone helping me get ready for prom. I felt like I was alone. It can be overwhelming being a teen trying to figure out where you belong, but not feeling like you belong anywhere. I would imagine, that’s enough of a reason for a teen to commit suicide.

Suicide Prevention

People who have similar thoughts to me, maybe it’s easier for us to pull ourselves out of it. I don’t have a magic quick fix to stop feeling that way except to keep moving forward. Eventually things have to get better. I would always tell myself, one day I will find my purpose and where I belong. One day I will have kids and I will tell them how unbelievably loved they are. Those thoughts of a positive future got me through it. Other people are not as lucky. They are in an even darker place that seeing that light at the end of the tunnel is harder to do.

Those are the people we need to protect. If you love someone, tell them. If you think of a compliment about someone, say it. We all should be building each other up in any way we can. Mankind has come too far to be treating each other with hate. Everyone has something good to offer, so focus on that, not their flaws. I firmly believe what you put into the world is what you will get back. So if we all put good into the world maybe less people will feel alone and unwanted.

If you or some you know is struggling with dark thoughts or feeling alone please call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. Also you can visit the website at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. My email is always open for you to reach out if you need someone to talk to or just to listen. You are amazing, so go out and be the best you, you can be! I’m behind you 100%!

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Shedding Light On Dark Thoughts

” When your day is long. And the night, the night is yours alone. When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life. Well hang on. Don’t let yourself go. ‘Cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes.”

– R.E.M

Heavy Topics

Last week I wrote about a pretty personal topic, but this week and next are about to get even more personal. It’s easier for me to write about what someone did to me, but it’s harder to write about what actually goes on in my head. This month is Suicide Prevention Month, and I felt like with this year being what it has been, I should shed some light on the topic. I will be breaking this topic into two parts as I feel it requires some more attention to detail.

Struggling Everyday

Every single person has been touched with something challenging over the last 7 months. Whether you’ve lost your job, you’re learning to manage working at home while your kids are E-Learning, or your social life has been majorly hindered. No matter what your challenge has been, I think we can all agree, none of us have any idea what we’re supposed to be focused on. I think we can take comfort in the fact that no one has the slightest idea on how to move forward.

Some of us haven’t even fully accepted the pieces COVID has left us with. Some days I’m overwhelmed by how drastically everything has changed for me. At the end of 2019, I had recently come out of a serious relationship that left me broken. I was working at a wedding decor warehouse putting seat covers on seat cushions for 8 hours a day. My one saving grace was working at an unpaid event planning internship. I was struggling every. single. day. Some nights I laid in bed and cried myself to sleep. I thought 2020 was going to be my fresh, clean start…

My 2020 Vision

After a few months of feeling devastated and fed up, I finally sat down and did the work. I applied to every job in my field, even if they were out of my league. Just before the start of the new year, I got a call for an interview for my dream job. All my years of random jobs and struggling to find my passion were finally over. Everything I ever worked for was mine! The sun was starting to come up on my life. I moved out of my friend’s house and finally signed a lease for my very own apartment. I had always pictured myself with a job I loved, in a little apartment, with my dog. It was all coming together. Things were starting to look up! Then, March 2020 hit.

At first, I remember being kind of happy. Right before wedding season, I wouldn’t mind a two week break. Until two weeks became two months and then it became forever. In July I had to make the awful trip to the office to clear out my desk. I cried the whole way home. I had worked so hard to get to this point and it was all taken away in one swing. I was feeling anger, confusion and defeat all at the same time.

Familiar Feelings of Defeat

I have always struggled getting my ducks in a row. Figuring out what I really wanted and achieving it was my biggest accomplishment. To see that taken away crushed me. There’s some days I still just sit and cry, and I mean really cry, because I still can’t wrap my brain around what happened. Why does this keep happening to me? When will it be my turn to live a normal life? There have been a few times in my life where I just wanted to disappear. However, this time around I just felt full defeat.

Moving forward everyday is hard. Some days I catch glimpses of who I really am. Other days I feel like I’m made of glass, like I could fall apart at any moment. I will say with time I have tried to embrace this downfall to really find myself. It has led me to this blog and it has led me on a whole new journey of self discovery.

How Do We Move Forward?

This year has been a challenge to say the least. In order for us to get through it, we need to focus on what makes us happy. We have witnessed that our jobs can be taken away in the blink of an eye, so what do you have when that is gone?

I am someone who loves fall decorations! So, I put my fall decorations up the second September hit because it brings me joy. I started taking more bubble baths, going on longer walks, reading more books and appreciating being alive. I opened myself up enough to finally find someone who has brought out a side of me I didn’t know I could show someone else. There are positive moments in every single day. Paying attention to those small, positive things will keep you getting up in the morning and showing up for your life. Some days appreciating we’re alive is the best thing we can do.

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The Game of Decisions

” All halls lead somewhere. Where there is a way in, there is a way out. Fear cuts deeper than swords”

– George R.R. Martin

Decisions and Consequences

Life is made up of a sequence of decisions and consequences. Every minute of everyday is a decision. If you actually sit down and think about that, it’s enough to make your head spin. The game of decisions is not one to take lightly. We tend not to think of every action we do is a choice. Hitting snooze on your alarm…choice. Picking up coffee on your way to work…choice. All of those choices have consequences, such as being late for work or not having money to pay your bigger bills. We would rather think that external factors is what dictates our lives. That way we don’t feel so much to blame when things go wrong. We like to blame our childhood, the people around us, or even our bosses for not paying us enough money. However, all of these things can be altered and changed by conscious decisions.

Childhood Decisions

For a long time I blamed my childhood for the way my life turned out. It wasn’t my choice to see my birth-mom get abused by multiple men. It wasn’t my choice to watch drug addiction unfold in front of me. I rationalized that every mistake I made, my childhood was to blame. I could have made the choice to tell my dad and step-mom what was going on, but I made the choice not to.

Some would say I was just a kid and wouldn’t know any better. I would say that’s fair, but what if I had told my dad that my birth-mom was high when she picked me up for the weekend. Would I have shielded myself from the things I saw later down the line? When I was 17, I finally made the decision to stop seeing my mom. I decided I didn’t want that lifestyle to be a part of who I was. So I changed my path with one major decision.

Consequences Are Not Always Your Fault

Even though I made that life altering decision, it didn’t mean I was in the clear. There were still years of personal decisions to be made. Drinking started off as something kids just did in college. Getting attention from guys was new to me, and I didn’t know how to handle it. Then one series of decisions I made, changed all the innocent drinking and sleeping around, into a lifestyle.

I made the decision to go out with a guy who I had met on a dating app. We talked for a day or two, he seemed fine, so we went out. Then I made the next decision of agreeing to sit in his car with him in a dark parking lot. But, I did not make the decision to have sex with him, he made that decision for me. The decisions I made in the following year were all in response to this one guy stealing one decision from me. Drinking until the world got dark. Sleeping with guys I didn’t remember. My life became one big numb mess. Soon, I started losing respect of my friends and I started losing respect for myself. I didn’t choose to be raped that night, but I damn sure wasn’t going to let him decide the rest of my life.

It took awhile to jump off the roller coaster I had strapped myself into. I started to make little decisions here and there to lead me in the right direction. I stopped drinking myself to darkness, and started actually going on dates with men I knew and could trust. Life became more about setting myself up for life after college and loving myself. I started focusing on my future.

Still Making Conscious Decisions

As an adult I have made good and bad decisions. I left multiple jobs for various reasons. I broke guys hearts who didn’t deserve it. What I can say is that I’ve learned from every single decision and mistake I have made. I think about how different my life would be without some of those decisions. Then I realize how I wouldn’t appreciate how far I have come. I wouldn’t have learned what I had. I definitely wouldn’t be writing this in hopes of helping other people.

Even though everything we do is our own decision, it doesn’t mean we should sit and dwell on it. Putting energy into things we can’t change takes away energy we should be using to change what’s happening now, and in the future. Reflect on the consequences, think of how to change them and get to work. Start making decisions to get you to that better outcome. Whether it’s working out everyday, or purchasing that GRE book to go back to school. You create your life, so start making choices that lead you to better consequences. Don’t let the past block you from you future.

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My Exposed Path to My Creative Space

“I find my holy redemption when I put this car in drive, roll the windows down and turn up the dial”

– Maren Morris

Traditional Therapy

As a kid who witnessed drug, alcohol and physical abuse, it was inevitable that I would go to therapy. Any good parent would say it’s probably a good idea. Except, I was no ordinary kid. I wasn’t going to open up about what was happening on the weekends with my birth mom. I either was too clever and knew, if I told that lady what I saw, I wouldn’t get to see my mom again. Or, I didn’t even have the vocabulary or mental capacity to explain what was really going on. So instead, I manipulated my childhood therapist into convincing my step-mom to buy me sugary cereal.

Unfortunately, this pattern continued when I went to therapy over a decade later. I got her to help me break up with my boyfriend instead of telling her what I had actually gone through. Don’t get me wrong, I will try therapy again and this time tell them this is something I do. But through my life, I have found forms of therapy that have helped me through my darkest moments. I found ways to express myself and to heal myself on my own. I’m not arguing that therapy doesn’t work but there are some people who benefit more from non-traditional therapy because they can be motivated to do it from within.

Non-Traditional Therapy

Something helpful I did learn from therapy is that children who have been through trauma are more likely to suffer from ADD, ADHD and a multitude of other disorders. I couldn’t focus on one topic longer than 15 minutes. It made it harder for me in school, at home and it made it harder on my parents. The one thing that would occupy my brain for some period of time was, dance. There are tapes and tapes of me dancing around the house. Bless my step-mom, who signed me up for my first dance class when I was 7 years old. To this day, I thank whoever lives in the sky for the decision she made.

Dance turned into my everything! I was always choreographing new dances alone in my room or with my friends. I probably had a dance to every single one of Britney’s songs off her first album. When I grew up, I was going to be a professional dancer, I was sure of it. I wanted to be signed up for every possible class. At one point, I was cleaning the studio in order to substitute payment for classes because there were so many I wanted to take. Ballet was my favorite by far. It took all my focus and concentration and that was exactly what I needed. When I went to high school, all I did was dance. I would skip classes to be in the dance room, rehearsing dances over and over until they were perfect. I didn’t know how to explain what was going on in my brain or in the world around me but when I was dancing it all made sense.

Evolving Into My Creative Space

If you know anything about dancers, you know they are very creative people. If I wasn’t creating with movement, I was creating with art and writing. There would be nights where I would sit at my desk for hours drawing. I would draw random things I saw in books, or that popped in my head. If I wasn’t drawing, I was writing. I dug through the attic this past weekend and found all my old short stories. There were stories of old coke bottles, professional dancers, pregnant teenagers and random poems. Through all my creative work, music was always involved. I would get lost in lyrics that felt similar to how I felt, or tempos that were unique. I craved all things art. Any outlet that allowed me to express myself without words was my safe space. When I was creating, the world was quiet.

As I got older, dance somehow found it’s way out of my life. Though I did dance a little in college, I never became the professional dancer I thought I would be. I stopped drawing because there was less time. I stopped writing because it didn’t seem like the “cool thing” to do in college. That’s when I learned how things can go south fast. Without those outlets, without my creative space. Drinking became my outlet. Parties became my creative space. I was lost without my personal therapy. As the years went on, I signed up for more dance classes, worked out and made time to do creative things. I started having moments of clarity and peace. I started to feel like myself again and slowly started putting my life back together. Traditional therapy is great for some people, but my true therapy happens in my creative space. So for that, I thank you for reading and being a part of my therapy.

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Uncategorized

First Things First

“So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself”

– Ed Sheeran

Taking the First Steps

Over the last week, I have been so excited about this new adventure! I can’t wait to share my story and hopefully start helping others. But, before beginning the journey of exposing my life to the world, there are some things I need to do. When deciding to do this blog, I knew going in, I was going to be showing myself in all sorts of lights. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’m not afraid to be raw with all of you. However, I am not the only person in my story. My story would not be a good one if there weren’t other people involved. There are other people’s good, bad and ugly moments in my open faced diary. I want to do right by them and explain some things before I begin.

Everyone Has Their Side

I have this memory from when I was a younger, running around the pond behind our school with a group of kids. It was a blast, until smack, I was hit in the back with what I found out was a crayfish! I ran away crying when I noticed the boy I liked, laughing and pointing at the situation he just created. Why!? Of course all my friends said, “Oh, he picks on you because he likes you!” That logic made no sense to me until I learned the reasoning behind it. People respond in unusual ways in new situations. As time goes on, we evolve from those responses, like throwing river creatures at a girls, to educated behaviors, like just telling a girl she’s pretty. However, there are some situations that aren’t so obvious. There are situations where nothing prepares you on how to handle them. In turn, mistakes can be made and people can get hurt.

Each one of us is our own individual person and each one of us is fighting an internal battle, day in and day out. We all see situations through our own personal googles, filled with our own personal problems. As the saying goes “There’s three sides of the story. Your side, their side, and the truth”. We all experience things differently based on what is going on in our own minds. I’m explaining all of this because in my blog there will be times when I may bring up some hard truths and things that will make people in my life sound cruel and harsh. You need to know there are no villains in my story, only people who made mistakes and are doing the best they can.

Let’s Clear the Air

All of this being said, over the last week I have taken the time to talk to the main characters in my story. I told them of my plan and to my surprise they were up for the challenge with me. I want to know all sides of my life especially their sides. Opening my heart and sharing with all of you is just part of the journey. The other part is finding answers to questions I never got answered, until now. As I get older and learn more about myself, I have learned to forgive and love the people that have hurt me in the past. Writing all of this has given me the opportunity to talk about the hard topics that have been pushed under the rug for years. While I write, I will tell my story and what happened to me because that’s my truth. However, I will not ignore the people who were also battling their own truths while dealing with mine.

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Uncategorized

The Dating Lessons That Brought Me To Here…

I love talking about dating. On my Instagram and on my blog Playing the Game I discuss the ins and outs of dating and relationships. The “rules,” the etiquette, texting, dating apps. One thing I haven’t talked about is past relationships, how they effect us, shape our next relationships, how we move on. I also have not divulged much of my relationship history to my followers. My relationship past is important though; it led me to where I am now. It gave me the confidence to start a blog, to move to LA, to understand more about who I am so I can be better in my next relationship.

I had a stunted dating life. I grew up at a dance studio and was a professional dancer. To be honest I didn’t really start dating until the end of college. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic though. I would fixate on the cute plots, the Hollywood endings, the two souls who found one another. I chased that for awhile. I thought drama equaled love. My first couple relationships were not real relationships. They were with guys that I worked with and would frequently hang out with but we didn’t really date. The idea of being friends first has always resonated well with me. There’s something to be said for having that foundation. Was I properly courted? No. But it was fun while it lasted. I had my summer fling with the “hot” Chicago bartender that I was infatuated with. I should have known better with that one.

My first real boyfriend wasn’t until I was 24. I loved him. Or at least I thought I did. The whole thing moved too fast. We met and became inseparable. I know now that in the beginning you don’t need to spend 4 nights a week with someone when you first meet them. You should talk about being exclusive instead of assuming that you are. You shouldn’t feel like you can’t be yourself around them. When he saw the less than perfect version of me he kind of shamed me for it. I always thought something was wrong with me. When we broke up I was devastated. I realize now how naive I was. 

I dated other guys from the ending of that relationship until 2018. In the next period of my dating experience I met a man who became, and who I can only define as “my best friend” at the time. Writing this now, I see how young and naive I was. The lesson from this relationship was that if a guy is your best friend, he will become somebody you inevitably want to be with. But think about this, no matter how good of a friend he was it doesn’t mean it will lead to a “relationship.” The caveat of “best friend” made me overlook major fault lines and flaws. (It brings up that age old question, can a man and woman JUST be friends.) It depends on the man and the woman, and that old thing called chemistry. But the complicated thing about that relationship is that with some friends of the opposite sex you may feel the desire (and the desperation…) for that relationship to blossom into something more. Or not.

The other problem was because of this friendship, I rarely dated other people. (Holding out hope?…) Because here’s the thing, we also had all the drama and histrionics of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. Late night calls, late night texting, dramatic fights, yelling, the tears. I wanted something and clearly he did not. Or did he…? The whole point is, it was the relationship that didn’t want to be born. But I stayed in it, because I was hooked on the drama, and I had feelings for him, which I thought could overcome any of the fault lines and flaws.

Time is an amazing thing. It rubs out, erases, and puts a fog over feelings. It allowed me to reflect. I did a lot of emotional unpacking. I moved. And through this, I realized what our relationship was, and what it wasn’t. I realized all the negatives actually did outweigh the positives. The drama, the tears, the yelling on the phone, the chasing, none of it was worth it, and none of it is what true best friends would ever do to each other. It taught me that what we need is someone who is our equal, a partner, someone who doesn’t do drama and doesn’t want to put you through drama either. 

So I am here now, in LA, dating again. Like someone who is learning to walk again after having a broken foot, I am rethinking dating and the whole process. I’ve learned now that I’m deep into my twenties, I want to get to know somebody, take things slow, and make sure we’re on the same wavelength.

I am learning a lot out here in LA! Feel free to read about my dating insights here.

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Purpose

Memoir for the Everyday People

“Sometimes I’m right, and I can be wrong. My own beliefs are in my song”

– Sly & The Family Stone

How Did I Get Here?

So I’m here, writing this blog. All the times I’ve thought to myself, “Damn, this moment would be a good chapter in a book”. I never thought I would actually be sitting down, creating a blog, to one day turn it into a book. I had a unique childhood that could be its own book entirely. There were also some questionable decisions that I made in college. Then there are the years of figuring out life as an adult. Everyone has those moments in their life that would make great stories. Well, unless you lived under a rock then maybe you wouldn’t have so many stories to tell, but honestly, even that book, I’d want to read.

Why Am I Doing This?

Our stories make us who we are. We can tell these stories just for fun or we can use them to help other people who may have similar experiences. We can use our memories to unite, to know we’re not alone. That is the reason I want to share my story with whoever will read it. I don’t have an audience in mind. There’s no theme of an underdog or the end set in stone. I am not someone who has accomplished all my goals or has everything figured out and that’s why I wanted to write. There are so many self-help books and memoirs that show someones turning point in life or when they finally reached their goals. But, what about the people who are still working everyday to reach that big goal? Or the little goals that are reached everyday? What about people who just keep pushing through everyday because that’s what you’re supposed to do? I want to write a book for those “just keep going” people! I’ll teach some lessons along the way that I have learned, but my main focus is to make sure people know they’re not alone. You put your pants on today? Cool, me too! You didn’t get up from your couch today? Yeah, I did that yesterday. We need more books for the everyday person and hopefully I can be the person to help with that.