Diners, tanning salons, and Kid Snips shaped the person I am today.

All of your favorite online reads have a few things in common: they dance around the topic of self-love, self-care, relationships, breakups, and overcoming adversity. I am entirely guilty of making these my focal points as well-because, you know, they ARE important; however, I need to shake things up. I’m sitting at my desk thinking…”what is different? What haven’t people read before? What would I want to read?” It’s not as simple as that though.These thoughts don’t come to you like some fusilade of creativity. If you have an audience, no matter how big or small, you can’t cater to everyone’s needs. Some people will send one of those little automated emoji responses on Instagram applauding you AND…others will unfollow you. Do I give a shit? If you can’t tell by now, the response to that is a quick and simple, nope. The only time I seek a bit of validation (when it comes to my writing), is when other…much more talented writers can articulate their thoughts like an artist; they are the impressionists of art with their thin and light brush strokes, conveying what they want you to see but in a specific manner. I, on the other hand, am Salvador Dali (don’t get me wrong- I adore him), but my writing is abstract. Chaotic. Sometimes hard to follow.

And ironically…this is where I digress, yet again; however, I wanted to supplement this piece with a bit of a background. Is prologue the correct word? Anyway- what is mentioned above, is a part of it. Wanting to stray from the rest of writers is NOT my main goal, but it did spark some creativity.

When I was five years old, my family and I moved to a very affluent suburb of Chicago. Filled with large estates and private schools, we were surrounded by wealth. I was privileged…in many ways. I was offered piano lessons, a pretty house in a safe neighborhood, nice clothes that my mom always ironed the night before. I tried ballet (which soon taught me that I CANNOT dance). I was a “child model”- I’m laughing as I type that; my big debut was my role in a Kid Cuisine commercial. Ha! We had, what my mom referred to as, “cleaning ladies,” we always had sandwiches made the night before, and we were always reminded how much we were loved…the list of advantages goes on.  My family was the epitome of white privilege. A white, nuclear family, building a life in a safe and beautiful town, having family dinners every night together (this all drastically changed when I got older-but that’s a story for another time). Anyway, what I failed to realize, is that there was a “spectrum” in this town and we were at the bottom. MY G*D that sounds disgusting. My “bottom” is still the majority of the worlds “top.” But let me explain.

I’m going to date myself a bit here, but the trending designers at the time were Abercrombie, Coach, and Juicy Couture. And my family struggled a bit to afford any of it. I didn’t even pay attention to the clothes I wore until the day I went over to, for the sake of privacy, A and N’s house. Their beautiful, charming, yet almost uninviting house. We were so young. Instead of playing house or making music videos with the VHS Camcorder I loved so much, we gossiped about Caroline’s new push-up bra and Hannah’s dad’s new Mercedes. I admired A and N. They were a couple of years older than me, incredibly popular, and I was in dire need of fitting in. So I played along. I became a mean girl. Not overtly, but I said what I needed to in order to conform. Something I never thought I would do. N was the older sister and she was getting her license soon. Or maybe her driver’s permit? Either way, in my eyes, she just kept becoming cooler by the day. We were all in the Annie play together at our local community center. It was our first rehearsal and they were helping me do my makeup in the backstage bathroom. She pulled her makeup bag out of her big purse and said, “do you like it?” I naively responded with, “your  makeup?” “No! My new purse, silly! It’s Coach.” I gave my best fake smile and pretended I knew the importance of this…item. “Wow, yeah! It’s beautiful!” She was beaming. Her excitement about this new present from Daddy had her glowing. “What’s your favorite designer bag you have?” As these words spilled out of her mouth, I froze. Not like the cliche “deer in headlights” type of frozen. More of like- what the fuck do I say here? I don’t even know designers well enough to even fake something.” So I did my very best to make something up. I remember my mom wanting this Louis Vuitton wallet, so I went with that. “I have this cute little Louis Vuitton wallet but I keep it at home because I don’t want anyone here to take it. I love it too much.” She was, yet again, beaming with joy. It was as if this materialistic conversation brought us closer. I did what I had to do. I said what I needed to. I had to vindicate this facade to avoid any form of derision,

My mom was driving me to rehearsal one day and I asked her why I couldn’t have a designer bag. She turned around and with a stern voice, she said “a WHAT?! Sammy, you’re barely twelve years old. I didn’t have my first designer until I was eighteen…and I bought it MYSELF.” I was upset. I didn’t understand at the time. All of my friends were handed such nice things so willingly by their parents. I questioned if my parents cared about me the same way. How fucking ridiculous of a thought? T was given a car before she even received her license and my parents wouldn’t’ buy me the designer wallet I “wanted”. My thought process was vastly distorted. Like I said, I simply didn’t understand at the time.

At twelve, I was a nanny. At fourteen, I “illegally” worked as a hostess at our town diner. At fifteen, I was a receptionist at a KidSnips. I was gaining money from the memorable Kid Cuision commercial but I continued to babysit while I worked at LA Tan. I did whatever I needed to. It wasn’t as if I had bills to pay…but I was starting to enjoy this newfound feeling of autonomy.

Lets jump to 2013. I’m graduating high school and the college talk emerges. My parents couldn’t afford to pay for my college. They promised me they would help to the best of their ability, but they were adamant on me attending community college for a couple of years. The thought itself humiliated me. Now- I want you to envision this-I had dreadlocks in high school and I wore baggy clothes found in thrift stores. I had grown into myself a bit more (personality wise), and I was the furthest thing from materialistic. I even transferred high schools because I grew so incredibly tired of the unvarying and dull environment from my previous, wretched town. (Insert a deserving quote of white privilege). But the people who formerly surrounded me were sheltered robots…but STILL, there was a certain image I felt I needed to uphold at times, and the thought of me in some community college, isolated, while all of my friends were joining sororities at Big 10 schools, turned my eyes fifty shades of green with envy.

We found a state school that we could afford and I JUMPED on the opportunity. I didn’t care that it was only a short train ride from home and that it was in the middle of nowhere. I was just eager to leave. I wanted liberation.

That freedom didn’t last long. After a semester, I knew that the decision I had made was rash and this wasn’t the place for me. So, as it always seems to go, I made an 180 adjustment and  transferred to a community college. My eating disorder became inconceivably prominent; visibly and emotionally. I was chain-smoking 27s in the morning and trying to compensate with yoga at night. I called my boyfriend at the time, who was in a fraternity at the University of Iowa, begging him to talk to me. I was so incredibly lonely. But I knew that if I worked my ass off, I could get into a better school. And I did.

I became a Big 10 sorority girl! Seeking validation and approval all over again. It was dejavu…only at a college level, which is far worse. I was pretty and people liked me. I didn’t even need to FAKE this surface level Sam. I embraced it. My boyfriend and I were the poster couple of Greek life. But it didn’t last long. I was overwhelmed with the environment I was in. It felt staged and scripted. It was as if I was on a poorly made soap opera. I dropped the sorority. I picked up three jobs, gained an adderall prescription, and excelled in school. I was starting to have my shit together (kind of). And the harder I worked, the more excited I became. I didn’t rely on my parents at all. I finally felt the true meaning of independence. Sure, did it hurt a little when my friends came home from classes and began drinking right away with no other obligations? Or when I realized that their entire tuition was paid by their parents while I was left drowning in 70,000 dollars worth of student loans? Or when I drove around a 1989 Oldsmobile Bravada and they all had cars manufactured in 2017? Yeah, it fucking stung a bit. But I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. I finally understood what my mom meant. When you work for something…when you really earn something, it’s almost as if the value increases. You cherish it. You’re proud of it. You want to boast and brag because you have the RIGHT to. No one handed anything to you. You weren’t fed with a silver spoon. To me, that is something to be grateful for. I now understand that A and N didn’t possess utter happiness. Their father was bringing home designer bags to compensate for the 190 plus days he was traveling for work. They were lonely and the materialistic attempts to save the father-daughter relationship sufficed. I wonder how they are now.

To this day, I don’t own anything “designer.” If I do, it’s a hand-me-down or purchased from a thrift store. I have a neon yellow wallet I purchased for seven dollars at Ragstock and rather than a purse, I carry around my dad’s fluorescent blue backpack to and from work. And when I go out, I still borrow my mom’s purses. Don’t get me wrong, I do like nice things. I like my spa days and when I dress well,I do feel better. At the end of the day, the material world I grew up in, had only broadened my horizons. Rather than succumbing to the social norms of the small, rich town I was thrust into; I used it as an opportunity for growth. It set me in motion to be the person I am today. I don’t identify the consumerist community that does still surround me. By day, I’m a waitress at a sports bar. By night, I’m a hard working student finishing a Master’s in clinical mental health counseling. But my job, my work ethic, my studies…none of it defines me. These are all just characteristics of the woman my family raised me to be. I am eternally grateful for them. I am 23 years old and in one year I will have my classes finished in graduate school. My long term goal is to have a private practice by thirty. It may seem unrealistic to some, but if I continue to remind myself that with the necessary drive and the diligence I learned to possess, I can do it. I will do it. I implore you to create a list today of things you are grateful for. Apart from a roof over your head or food on the table, do not put one materialistic item. This might be your awakening of true happiness.

Over and out,

Sam

I won’t spend the rest of my life avoiding life

“Practice what you preach.” That quote is something I have always told others, but have never been able to  actually…practice. During my deepest and darkest times, I’ve sought out relief in toxic forms. Things that I am not proud of. But these behaviors have led me to a grandiose realization. I want to share with you the “rules” I continue to abide by when I feel myself slipping into that black hole; the place where we believe we can never escape. But there is  hope, and here is my reminder to you.

Be gentle with yourself. As the saying goes, “it’s okay not to be okay.” Your body hurts and your mind is exhausted. Rest. You need it. Don’t be afraid to tell your employer you need a day off. Don’t feel an obligation to go to the club when all you want is to be wrapped up in your favorite blanket. Don’t yell at yourself for not doing the dishes for the past few days. They’ll get done one way or another, silly. Do what you need to do. Stop apologizing. Be kinder to yourself

Stop faking it! There is a time and place for us to “fake it until we make it.” For example, I remember so many days at work where I just wanted to go home, but in all honesty, it made it exponentially easier to stick it out, when I put on a smile, and chugged along. But when it comes to your mental health, especially if the severity of it is becoming unbearable, do NOT think for one minute that your fake smile is going to get you through the day…let alone the hour. Faking it becomes exhausting…and guess what? EVEN MORE CONFUSING. You’re attempting to heal yourself in an authentic manner, yet your facade is only going to cause you more pain.

If someone asks you how you are, let them know how you are! I have the perfect example. Today, my dear friend sent me a message saying, “I noticed that you haven’t said how you are yet and sometimes forget to answer when I ask…just as long as you know that when I ask, it’s not in passing or without sincerity.” She couldn’t have been more correct. When someone asks me how I am, my initial reaction is to DEFLECT. I’ve mastered the art of avoidance. Still. Despite me being in a significantly better place, I would rather ask YOU how YOU are, then respond to you asking me how I AM. If someone is genuinely curious as to how you are, you better be honest. You better tell them that things have been better but you are working on yourself and there WILL be improvement. You better ask them for help if you need it. Above all else, you need to remind yourself that there are so many people who want to see your genuine smile again. Let them help you.

Don’t expect things to get better rapidly. This is all a process. All of it. I know you’ve heard the phrase, “life is a journey, not a destination!” (PS- That is the cheesiest shit I’ve ever thrown into one of my articles)- but there is validity to it. We live in this fast paced society where we all seek instant gratification: rapid weight loss pills, fast food, finding love online. We want it all. We want it FAST. But the quality of your mental health isn’t supposed to happen quickly and effortlessly. There will be so many ups and downs…and there are days where you will want to give up. I still have those days. But don’t let yourself quit. If you’re reading this article right now, you either: 1. Have been forced by me or 2. You have found yourself at some crossroad, seeking a sign. ANY sign. Here it is. Here is your encouragement. Here is your reminder to KEEP FIGHTING. It won’t be easy. Stop letting people tell you things will be okay. Things will be BETTER than okay. Strive for that, my love. You deserve it.

Remind yourself, it’s temporary. I find this to be one of the most important steps along the way. Do you know how many times I told my family, “this pain is never going to end.” I truly believed that…it scared the shit out of me. Was I really destined to spend the rest of my life…avoiding…life?! I was so cruel to myself. I allowed myself to think that I was a failure and I began to accept that this was the person I had become. I needed someone to tell me that this wouldn’t last forever. I stumbled upon the quote, “my current situation is not my permanent destination.” It clicked. This wasn’t going to last forever. I wasn’t going to ALLOW it to last forever. I was going to create a beautiful life for myself. I was going to be proud one day. And guess what? I am. I’m so fucking proud. I will always have my deficits. There will always be days where I want to quit. It doesn’t go away. But now I know…it’s all temporary.

My wish for you is that if you have forgotten how to smile, you relearn. And I hope that this time, that smile is genuine.

Much love,

Samantha

I am NOT the beautiful and mysterious vampire I want to be

Why do we attract the people that we do?

When people ask me if I have a “type,” I never know how to respond to that. Sure-there are certain physical traits I find appealing and might gravitate to, but it seems as if this said “type,” is choosing me.

This is difficult to articulate because it’s an odd concept; however, I think many people may unknowingly be experiencing the same thing. Stay with me here.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a vampire so badly. I remember dressing up as a vampire on several days…apart from Halloween. (Halloween was my favorite day of the year though). I had the luxury of smearing that white paint across my face and pouring fake blood all over to give off the illusion that I had just attacked- more like MAULED something…or someone. I am going to be 24 years old and I still continue to embody the role of a vampire every year.

For the record, I loved vampires BEFORE Twilight. I was watching Nosferatu at the age of 12 and by 15 I was reenacting all the scenes from Underworld. When my father permitted me the ability to walk to Blockbuster alone, I ran to rent this set of DVDs I had been itching to watch: Vampire Secrets. There was this WORLD that existed underneath us like a parallel universe, only instead of human beings, they were these pale, beautiful, blood-sucking creatures. So, as any other 8th grader would, I started Googling the HELL out of this (or Yahoo-ing, Bing-ing, or Aol-ed it).

I promise, this will all come full circle. The reason I begin this entry with my love for vampires is because I am here to tell you that I have grown up-slightly- and have come to terms with the sad reality that I will never be the beautiful and mysterious vampire you see in the movies; however, I have spent my entire adulthood attracting them. I am surrounded by emotional vampires. The kind of person that drains you until you become nothing but this empty carcass. A host for a lonely soul.

These said “emotional vampires” are synonymous with narcissists. And I, their pray, am what you’d refer to as an “empath.” An empath isn’t some mystical or supernatural being (although sometimes I like to pretend I possess special powers); rather, it is simply someone who feels things on a deeper level. Far deeper than most of us can understand.

What does it look like to be an empath?

1. We gravitate towards those in need. We have dismissed the mere thought of making ourselves a priority. We believe our life’s mission is to help others. It isn’t purely altruistic though. As draining as it can be, it’s rewarding. And that is what keeps us in motion.

2. We welcome darkness. This isn’t totally awful. In certain circumstances, we are a bit dark ourselves. Despite our emotional sensitivity, we use dark and satirical humor to hide our own internal demons. Instead of greeting them in hopes of resolving our inner turmoil, we choose to ignore them so we can focus on the darkness inside others. My closest friends often ask “why they have never seen me cry before.” How do I explain to them that it is far easier to console them when they suffering than to express my own vulnerability. It feels like my JOB to be on call: hence one of the reasons I am completing a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

3. We are tired. Emotionally and physically, we are drained of all energy. I remember walking into a Walmart my freshman year of college. I immediately ran into the bathroom and sobbed like a tired child in need of a long nap. That’s exactly what it felt like. I was so tired. I was so incredibly sad. I was inconsolable.I didn’t understand why, but now I know that these crowded places have these unexplainable effects on my being; I must remain cognizant of my surroundings. Always.

4. We have a keen sense of intuition. With that, we always know when someone is suffering in some form or another. We can’t choose to ignore it. As much as we know how detrimental it can be to invite these individuals into our lives, we can’t leave. That would be an “emotional hit and run.” If we see it, we can’t just leave the scene.

The last characteristic I want to address, is the one that has left me empty. Time and time again. This trait has been my biggest weakness. A blow to my ego. A devastating occurrence.

5. We fall in LOVE with narcissists. We can’t help it. We don’t choose to fall for the once, seemingly, charming individuals who end up leaving us astray and heart broken; but with our empathic souls, we so badly want to find the good in people. We seek to save them. Perhaps we see ourselves in them. Maybe we want the gratification of being able to “fix” the “broken.” The end result is nothing of this sort. The end result is cold and dark. It feels unbearable. You begin to seek out vices (usually of the unhealthy category), and you grip them tightly because you’ve realized you have nothing else to hold. I dedicated my entire being to my former boyfriend. I lifted him up, I praised him, I encouraged him, I supported him. I did everything in my power to provide him with a sense of love he told me he hadn’t experienced before. In return, as I’m sure you have already gathered thus far, I received nothing. After a few months of dating, we were lying in bed and I asked him, “Why haven’t you ever told me I’m beautiful?” His response: “Just not my thing.” Holy shit. I could write an ENTIRE article on that simple yet incredibly complex sentence right there. I dedicated my life to this “man” and the fucking word “beautiful” didn’t exist in his vocabulary. At least not with me.

The point of sharing this, is to open your eyes. We might have more control than we think we do. After we can recognize and acknowledge these certain patterns and character traits we possess, perhaps we can “shake things up.” You can find a tall, dark, brooding man with a satirical sense of humor who WILL tell you that you are beautiful. He (or she) is out there. Use this entry as a guide. A checklist. Remind yourself of your worth and don’t let ANYONE take that away from you.

Backswipes, Super Likes, and Extended Time

Okay. Picture this. Here I am. In a lab, with a white lab coat on. Starch white. Like…perhaps I’m ABOUT to run some experiments and tests but for now I’m just doing some simple data entry. My coat is clean, white, and ready to be ruined. Kind of like Tomi Lahren.

Moving on…I push my glasses back up to the bridge of my nose, and I get ready to share the findings of the fact-based evidence gathered by my incredible field work.

The Lab. My bedroom.

The Lab coat. My towel (still on from the shower I took an hour ago).

The Procedure: Study the world of Tinder, Bumble, & Hinge.

The title of this experiment: How to Tell Everything You Need to Know About a Guy Based on the Photos and Bio he Uses on Dating Apps (okay the title is a bit lengthy and subject to change) Open to suggestions.

Okay, in all seriousness…one night I was lying in my bed doing the whole left, right, swipe game (why is there no ‘maybe’ option). You know, like, “Wow, you went to Harvard, you have a six figure job, your bio is so funny, you don’t have kids, you’ve never been married, but you have a receding hairline. I’ll come back to you.” I’ll tell you why there is no ‘maybe’ option…women are the most INDECISIVE CREATURES TO EXIST. Holy shit. I used to get so aggravated when my friends or family would tell me this. “No mom, I know exactly what I want, I know how to make decisions! I am so totally independent.”

Sure- we can make huge life decisions like when we are ready to grow a human inside of us or if we should bleach our hair knowing that there is no going back; however, when it comes to choosing what to eat, where to go, and who to date, I think all of us need some assistance. I’m envisioning a little Furby-esque creature on my shoulder telling me if I should swipe left or right.

So that’s why there is no ‘maybe’ option. But I’ve gotta stay on track here. Let’s discuss what kind of guys you are going to find on dating apps, and how can you tell what you need to know by a few photos and their bio (or usually-lack thereof).

There are a few things we need to establish first. Consider this your “Beginners Guide to Online Dating.” A guy who uses Tinder will most likely use Bumble and Hinge as well. Get used to seeing lots of “familiar” faces. Tinder is universally known as the more “casual” “hook-up” app. Bumble is seen as one step up. And Hinge is supposed to shed some light to personality. All of the apps are now attempting to do this by throwing in some premade questions such as, “who is your dream dinner guest?!” Or “What are your top 3 shows?!” But, as mundane and irrelevant as those questions seem, you will see the importance of them shortly.

We are just going to talk about Tinder, Bumble and Hinge altogether. For those of you who are not familiar with how this works, it’s pretty damn self-explanatory…and if you’re having issues finding yourself a partner because you don’t know how the APP WORKS, then that is an entirely different discussion for my next article. Swipe right, you are showing someone you “like them.” Swipe left, they are a no-go. If both of you swipe right..GUESS WHAT? It’s a match. They make it really exciting too. Big, bouncy, flashy letters letting you know that you and “Jeremy are a match!” There are a bunch of other nuances like Backswiping, Superlikes, find out who likes you, Extended time, etc. I’m laughing to myself. This sounds like a video game. I guess that’s what love is though! One big game. Woah, far out, man. Let’s bring it back in. So once you’ve mastered the art of figuring out the difference between a literal heart and an X, you can begin. (side note- I am pausing so many times throughout the duration of this article because I’m going through Tinder to ensure all of my facts are correct-meaning-I’m dating AND writing an entry).

In no specific order…here are the types of Dating App Guys you will find:

The Loves to Travel guy (not to be confused with the guy who actually does love to travel). This guy most likely has a photo of him on some mountain with his hands stretched outwards and some cheesy ass grin on his face even detectable from afar. He is so white…both culturally and in terms of skin color. (Oh, and this “big mountain” he is photographed on is along a tourist attraction hike zone in Arizona). The next photo that follows, is him with a couple buddies. Photo is pretty blurry or just not well taken and they are all holding plastic cups of most likely, Bud Lights. And then his bio pops up. “I love traveling! I work hard but could use some fun in my life! Let’s grab a drink and see where it goes!” The last photo is him on some kind of vacation with fourteen other individuals. You will not know which one he is, nor will you take the time to look. Personally, I think his page seems inauthentic, he seems a little bit too nice, and his exclamation points stress me out.   

The Guy Who Takes Photos INSIDE Cars (not to be confused with the guy who takes photos outside of “his” cars). This man can be of any cultural background. Camera angle tilted upwards. I’m talking POV shots here people. We are seeing nostrils, those mirrored “dad” sunglasses, maybe a little wind through the hair (but usually the windows are closed-because they realize how dumb they look-girls are so guilty of this too). But some seriously impressive angles. Like hand on the steering wheel, looking off into the distance. All that swag. I’m thinking to myself, “damn zaddy, you might not be so bad but oh wait you are taking selfies in a car with cloth seats.”

The Guy Who is Still Using a Photo from his Best Friend’s Wedding Because it’s the Last Time he was Dressed Up. There’s not much to say about him. His name is usually Ryan or Jack. Predominantly White dudes. His hair is slightly spiky-not like 2004 spike- a more fashionable (but still unacceptable) version. He’s probably wearing some tacky light blue suit because his friends are also probably tacky. I’m sure he’s a nice guy…but we all know the first thing he said to his friends after the invite was, “Dude, I’m totally gonna bang one of the bridesmaids.” The guy’s got confidence. He is most likely 28 years old, went to Western Illinois University, and works in sales. He drives a 2014 Toyota and he refers to her as his baby. His bio consists of a quote from The Office. He’s got a good relationship with his parents who live in rural Illinois but he is still most likely to ghost you.

The I’m In Chicago until Monday So Show me a Good Time guy. Hi ladies. We all know what this means right? I mean hopefully you have enough common sense to understand that this means hotel bar drinks and hotel room frisky time. (My goodness, I sound like some crazy churchgoing middle aged mom. Frisky). Anyway, you will end the night with, “we will keep in touch, I’ll call you the next time I’m in Chicago, Sarah.” And you respond with, “wait my name is Clarissa.” And he says, “bye Vanessa, and shuts the hotel room door. So unless you’re looking for a one night stand (which is honestly totally cool by me- do what you want to do girlfriend), avoid these guys at all costs.

The Guy Who is Pretty Hot but I Don’t Know How to Pronounce his Name or His Name is Just Weird as Shit. That’s about it. I’m envisioning me posting pictures on Instagram for our first anniversary and being like, “Wind River, I am so happy to be yours. Love you so much. More than the Wind loves the River” (I don’t know what the hell that was right there). But yeah, I’m swiping left for those guys too.

The Guy Who is Taking This Way Too Seriously. His bio is like a damn novel. “Hi girls! I’m a good guy with a good heart. I am looking for a girl who I can one day share a life with. I love a good sense of humor and a pretty smile. Let me show you the type of guy you deserve! Swipe right. I’d love to get to know you.” NO NO NO. Red flag!! What is this nonsense? Put a funny quote or some witty comment in your bio and call it a fucking day. Oh goodness, this is another guy that causes me to abort mission.

The Guy Who is Better Looking Than You. He’s got a chiseled jaw crafted by the Gods. Piercing blue eyes. Perfectly straight white teeth (that have NOT been edited by FaceTune). His last photo is him holding his white button up shirt over his shoulder exposing his perfect slab of abs. Wipe up your drool because he’s a total tool. Do you really want to have to worry about the way you look standing next to him all of the time? I dress like a bum 80% of the days. I wear so much pimple cream to bed I look like I have a severe skin disorder…and I also wake up smelling kind of bad? That’s recent. Let’s blame it on my broken heater. I have six rolls, not a six pack. And I DO NOT want to have to even WATCH someone meal prep, let alone hear about it, and sleep next to someone knowing that they just cooked chicken specifically to eat the next day. Next!

The Couple. “Looking for our unicorn!” That’s all I’m going to say here.

The Ugh I Thought You Were Your Hot Friend Guy. How awful is that? Like that might be my most shallow thought ever. Lol, no it’s not. I mean, I’m a pretty damn good person, but we all know that you have had that very same thought before. You see the first photo and your eyes instantly gravitate towards the tall, dark, handsome, brooding man with the perfect smirk. You scroll down. You need to see more. Oh. No. It’s the guy in the center (obviously) with the Izod shirt on that’s maybe two sizes too small.

The Strategic Sunglass Wearer. Never. Trust. A. Guy. Who. Wears. Sunglasses. In. His. Photos. That’s right. His first picture he’s looking off into the distance, showing off a sexy side profile, with those black squared Ray Bans. Next photo. He’s on the beach with a couple of friends. Tanned and slightly freckled nose. Ray Bans featured again. HOT. Next photo. Glasses are off. Who the fuck is that?! Alright ladies, you’ve been warned.

The I Love Fitness Guy (not to be confused by the working out is cool and healthy guy). This guys bio literally says, “Won’t work if you don’t workout and live a healthy lifestyle.” HA. One time I really wanted to see the validity of this statement, so I sent this cute little message like, “hey you…is it really going to be a dealbreaker if I don’t work out :(“ My dating app pics are cute as hell and my bio is totally unique. Trust me, okay? So here I am thinking he’ll say, “for you…I’ll give you a chance.” STRAIGHT UP- he’s like, “sorry. I need a girl who can spend time in the gym daily working on herself.” And then he UNMATCHED me, like I was going to beg for him to keep me around. I’m audibly laughing. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. With these guys, you can expect a lot of mirror pics, close up shots of abs, and maybe a picture on a yacht thrown in there.

The “job: founder or (CEO) at startup company” Guy. Alright. I get it. It’s 2019 and people are becoming more innovative and intelligent by the minute. We are moving at rapid pace. Cars that can be charged like a phone battery. Floating cameras capturing crazy shit. Cars and bikes that deliver food and other items to you at the push of a button. This is some far out shit, man. But here’s my point. He is probably trying to create some earthy crunchy juice brand that is going to supply antioxidants and a plethora of vitamins. He’s going to offer free samples and create all of this fancy advertising and he’s going to sell this shit at Whole Foods for like 6$ per bottle. So no. I don’t want to date you because you’re a liar. That shit ain’t worth 6$. Also- I bet you do way too much yoga and would talk about your crystals far too often.

The You’re Pretty Cute but Something Seems Off About You Guy. Yeah so this is all too real. This guy’s super hot but he only has selfies, or he’s alone in every picture, and you’re asking yourself, “does he have friends?” I mean…his job title IS Engineer. We know he might be a little socially awkward. But that’s okay, we can work with that. Another example. His responses to those little bio questions are like LOL worthy, but he’s 5’9. Say it. I deserve it. Sam, you are a shallow BITCH. But I mean…think about it. We have preferences. We’re human. I’m sure plenty of men aren’t attracted to me because I have tattoos for example. I like tall guys. I don’t think that makes me THAT awful. Maybe? Okay next example. You’re talking to this guy. He is EVERYTHING you could possibly ask for. But then he lays it on you…he lives with his mom. “Is that okay?” Shit…I mean it’s not the END of the world…IF YOU JUST GRADUATED COLLEGE! But nah, he’s like 30 and gives you some excuse that his “house is being built” but red flag. I’m TELLING YOU. Huge red flag. Those are just a few examples. I get it. It’s pretty surface level and cold of me. But I’m just being realistic here.

More to come in part two of this saga.

This one isn’t lighthearted

I currently have HARDCORE rap BLASTING. It’s incredibly difficult to type while I’m listening to “b**** ass hoe” every four seconds. But I NEED it. You know how some people (most people) go to yoga or meditate to clear their heads? I blast metal or rap and SCREAM. And when I was able to drive, I used to buy a pack of cigarettes (which no no no NO NO I do not smoke anymore), I WOULD BLAST music that just makes you want to punch a hole through the wall, and I would drive fast down the highway belting along to the music. French inhaling the GOOD, exhaling the bullshit. All of it. Do you know how much bullshit is sitting in my chest now? Do you know the smoke consuming my lungs? No? Pretend you’re me for a second. And perhaps, everything I’m describing is incredibly fitting and you might actually very well be me. Well…close enough.

So here you are. You’re the person who gives yourself entirely to someone. To anyone. Everyone You’d offer your soul to the devil just out of the kindness of your heart. So naturally, when it comes to dating, you fall hard and fast. You give them every part of you, and because you’re so good, you expect the same kind of goodness in return. You expect them to devote themselves to you. Which in reality, is unhealthy. Independence is incredibly important in a relationship…so balance is critical yes…but you catch my drift. Even if you received HALF of the love you gave, you’d be ecstatic. You’d feel worthy. Because yes, you are still seeking validation. You are still craving attention. You are still letting men determining  your worth. And you hate yourself for that. It becomes a vicious cycle. You so badly want to practice what you preach. Telling everyone to go easy on themselves. To be gentle with themselves, yet as the music grows louder, you grow angrier.

But sometimes there is light. Sometimes there are full days when you begin to grow. Really GROW. You can almost feel it physically. The way you did as a child when your legs would painfully stretch like thick elastic. But in this case, it’s the best kind of pain. Your growth spurt means that you are learning. Developing. It means that you are becoming the person you need to be. The person who loves themselves. You’ve had a few of those days recently. Maybe more than a few. Yes, you have your moments where it feels as if you are slipping again, but you’ve learned it’s temporary. You know you’ll come back.

But today you fell. You broke every limb and you’re afraid you’ll never be able to walk again. It wasn’t because of the weight of his words that impaled you like daggers. It wasn’t the content that surprised you. It was the reoccurring thought of, will I ever be good enough? Here you are again, holding your legs to your chest as your head falls in your lap and you wonder if you are deserving of love. You keep asking yourself why you care so much about love and you grow angry with yourself as you realize that this is a fantasy that needs to stop being chased. “I was in love with my ex girlfriend throughout our entire relationship.” You didn’t want to cry after he said that because a part of you knew he just said it to hurt you (or at least that was a big reason), and another part of you knew it all along. The most ironic part, you were in love with yours too. You always will be. So you couldn’t be upset right? You couldn’t allow yourself to be upset.

You repeat to yourself “I am worthy. I am successful. I am wonderful. I am beautiful.” Fleeting reminders that don’t last nearly as long enough as you need them to. You wonder if you’ll ever fall in love with yourself. You wonder if you will ever be able to practice what you preach to the fullest extent.

You wonder if you’ll find someone who truly loves you. Flaws and all. You’ll question everything. Every single thing. Past relationships. Things people have promised you. The way he looked at you. The way he said your name. When he called you beautiful, did he even mean it? Was any of it ever true? But you recite those affirmations again. And you pick yourself up off the ground. Still suffering from a lesser, but still severe, pain and you say, “it’s temporary. I will come back.” But this time you add something. You say, “…and I will come back stronger.”

Let your armpit hair grow girl

I remember sitting at a small diner with my boyfriend at the time, back when I lived in Iowa. It was the first time we had been “out” in a while, and this was supposed to be our way to sit across from one another, looking at each other with the love in our eyes that we once had. Let’s just say…he became distracted. Not by the large breasted woman sitting behind me. Not by the crying baby causing such an immense amount of embarrassment to her parents.

No, not by any of that. He was distracted by the female waitress serving us. She was a cute girl in a black tank top, but as she reached across the table to set down the plate, my ex and I looked at one another as we noticed her crazy amount of armpit hair-side note- it was quite impressive. I wonder what mine would look like? But personally, I DO NOT want to find out any time soon.

After she had walked away, he said “I do not want to eat that. I bet her armpit hair fell in that.” And do you know what I said? Do you know how shallow and uneducated I became (mostly out of his influence)…I said, “ugh these overly liberal feminists are driving me INSANE.”

I am a woman…who was dismantling the beliefs of feminine equality. My simple comment that day began to extend much further than that. I started saying things like “women aren’t funny.” Or…”no wonder why it’s so difficult for us to get equal rights…we are always bitching about something.” It is taking a LOT for me right now to admit this. I feel this great amount of guilt. I feel ashamed.

I don’t want to defend myself here, because I don’t know if my harsh thoughts and beliefs deserve ANY justification whatsoever…BUT…I will say, it was 2015, I was just beginning to explore the topic, and my first encounter with what a woman defined as “feminism,” was a posting on Facebook about how she had been collecting her PERIOD BLOOD for a year. I’m sorry, but what in the hell are we trying to prove here?

It wasn’t until I began my MA program that I started to understand what it meant to be a feminist. In layman’s terms…it is the ability to advocate for women’s rights. After years of inequality, we finally have activists making true change. We have movements. We have protests. We have a VOICE…

I began to educate myself on the topic. Which…I understand sounds quite ridiculous..as a woman, I had to EDUCATE myself on the topic of equality FOR WOMEN. But admittedly, as someone who grew up in a household with three boys, sharing a tiny bathroom, and having an overabundance of male friends, my introduction to the movement was so poorly executed.

I began reading articles about the struggles of queer women, Muslim women, women existing in marginalized communities and backgrounds, nonbinary women, women who endured an abortion, women of color, trans community, Native American women, gender violence…the list goes on. (I don’t mean to disregard any other cultural backgrounds-so if I didn’t mention how you identify yourself- please don’t take offense-I haven’t had my coffee yet).

What women endure in society today is…just…incredible. And I chose that word because of its many meanings. It’s unbelievable. The violence against activists is tragic. The slut shaming is appalling. The hatred is disgusting. But above all else…what I want to focus on…is the strength we possess. We continue to fight our fight despite the pressures of society. We continue to empower one another. More and more, I see women on social media expressing praise for one another…and NOT solely based on physical appearance. I receive messages such as “your strength is admirable.” I send messages such as “I am blown away by your intelligence.” We are beginning to lift each other up and it is the most beautiful part of the movement…at least in my eyes.

Once I stopped focusing on men and took initiative to focus on myself again, incredible things happened. I found my place in a community where we radiate positivity, hope, intelligence, beauty (in all forms), pride, strength, resilience, and unity. We are in this together…and it is beautiful. I want to thank each woman who has made an impact on my life. Even if it’s in the tiniest form. I want to thank you for teaching me that beauty is found within. I want to thank you for encouraging me to remain strong when I felt weak. I want to thank you for your unconditional positive regard. And in return, I want to give that back to you. I am in NO way saying that men don’t face significant pressures of society. I am in no way expressing hatred towards men. I am in no way saying that men can’t be feminists…However, what we as women face, goes a bit further than simply pressures of society. Every single day, we are fighting a fight. And I just want to say…it isn’t going unnoticed. I am so greatly appreciative for the women in my life. I WANT TO SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS (hence all caps- that’s me shouting).

I will continue to educate myself. I will continue to read about the Indigenous feminists who face violence I am too damn privileged to even understand. I will continue to promote positivity. I will continue to remind people of the importance of equality-which- come on- it should be pretty damn obvious.

So, girl, don’t shave your armpits if you don’t want to. YOU DO YOU. And embrace every part of it.

Over and out.

How do I tell my bumble date I can’t go to an EDM concert with him?

I feel like what I’m about to say might resonate more with men…only because ladies are STILL denying that they take shits….but have you ever had that like indescribable and totally unbearable pain when you’re sitting on the toilet and your toes are like all clenched, you’re sweating profusely and your head is in your hands while you’re audibly screaming, “please G*d make it stop!”

So if you have NO idea what I’m talking about (well you’re probably a fucking liar) but also this is now extremely embarrassing and I am going to pretend I learned that very vivid bowel movement scene from Bridesmaids or the laxative scene from Dumb and Dumber…not from personal experience.

Okay- so that whole little bit on taking a shit, was a beautiful way to transition into my topic of choice. That was all one big metaphor. Allow me to explain. I know I often discuss my neurological condition (I know, I know-iit gets old), but today is the WORST it’s been in a while. I don’t ever know how to explain it to people when they ask “what are your symptoms,” but because they have been so incredibly persistent today, I’ve been able to jot down some of the prominent feelings.

So here’s a small example: I attempted to go on a walk. And for a little while I was okay. Until I got to the crosswalk. I had to look left to right and that’s when my hands went numb and began to tingle and I became disoriented. I had to close my eyes, count to three, and then focus on the direction I was headed in. When I walk now, I have to clench my fists as tightly as possible in attempt to “ground”myself and if there is something I can hold onto nearby, I might grab on to that too as I walk. It’s not vertigo, I’m not dehydrated, I’m not severely anemic, and I eat more than you do. What once was extremely manageable, is now becoming debilitating. Physically AND mentally. Because the physical symptoms are so relentless, I have this irrational fear of leaving my apartment. Hell, I don’t even want to leave my bed. This is where I tie the metaphorical piece back in…I sat in bed with my head in my hands today, sweet little tears streaming down my face, asking “G*d why me? Why me?” Do you know how guilty that made me feel??? How SELFISH?

Last night, I went to get a tattoo. It says, resilience. It’s something that I would often talk to my patients about when I was a substance abuse recovery counselor. I’d ask them what the two crucial things of recovery are. Resilience and gratitude. Without that, we aren’t even HUMAN. Without that, we have nothing to assist us in finding peace. I told myself after I got out of the hospital this most recent time, I would get this damn tattoo as a reminder to keep moving forward. I won’t give up…I don’t have the ABILITY to give up. If I’m not taking my meds religiously, eating properly, getting my routinely blood tests, and practicing all of the safety precautions necessary for this condition, things wouldn’t be looking too hot for me. Last seizure, I landed on a slab of CEMENT. ALONE…during my last grand mal. I came out of the hospital with a black eye and a bruised knee. That was the first time in a long time I recited my gratitude to G*d throughout the entirety of the day. Month. Year! And once my seizures started becoming controlled…that’s when the guilt kicked in.

“It could be so much worse.” Who has heard that one before? I forget if I’ve already talked about that in the past…but it has become my LEAST favorite phrase. Hell yes it could be worse! I have a roof over my head and family/friends who would do anything for me. I am eternally grateful for them. But that doesn’t mean that what I’m going through isn’t any less valid. It doesn’t mean that what I endure daily should be ignored because in the eyes of many-this is melodrama. “Isn’t a migraine just a bad headache?” “If you don’t go unconscious anymore think of yourself as LUCKY.” And again, if we are keeping things in perspective, I am LUCKY. But there are a lot of days, where I don’t feel so lucky. Some days I just want to forget that I have this condition and I pray to live a normal life. Other days, it is a constant and lingering reminder.

Some examples:

  • A guy I was talking to for a bit had a passion for cars and hitting up the racetrack. I absolutely LOVE driving. I love opening my sunroof, blasting my favorite sing-alongs, and speeding down the highway. It is so incredibly liberating…but I haven’t been approved to drive a car in two years…how do I explain that one to him?
  • When people ask why I left Iowa City’s graduate program when I had been so excited to be apart of it, what do I say? I just wanted to transfer? In the middle of the year? And still pay rent for an apartment I didn’t live in? Makes TOTAL sense.
  • Or…Why is your bag of pills bigger than the selection at the pharmacy?!

I don’t find it to be particularly sexy to people that I’ve foamed at the mouth a couple of times lol ew…and that my hands shake, or how I twitch spastically in my sleep, and sometimes the symptoms can be so debilitating, I won’t leave my house for days. Wife me up, right?

I know. It could be worse. I am not in a wheelchair. I still have full function of my body parts. I can live as an independent adult (for the most part), and again, my support system is incredible. But I’m still scared. I live every fucking day in fear. “It’s going to happen here. I’m going to fall here and no one will find me.” or since I live alone… “I am going to have a seizure in my sleep and what if I don’t wake up?” I know so many of these fears are irrational but they are still saddening and they gnaw at me every single day. These are the times where I ask, “why me? I’ll do anything to make this stop.” It haunts me in my sleep.

But, I’ve learned that, in a sense, I have “survivor’s guilt.” All of these children battling brain tumors, and these families trying to cater to the needs of their child with Cerebral Palsy. I survived when maybe another individual was killed at the wheel during a seizure while driving. This is the reality of it all.Why was I lucky enough to continue?

My point here…there are varying levels of severity when it comes to any condition. It isn’t a competition. We stand together. Please don’t pity me. Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t remind me of my strength. I’m only showing you want I want you to see. I have no doubt that any one of my friends or family members can endure this just as well…if not better.

At the end of the day, the importance of this entry is to remind you that no matter where you are at in life, don’t feel GUILTY for a certain pain you’re experiencing. Don’t invalidate your feelings. DON’T become someone you’re not. Admit your weaknesses. Rely on others when need be. And hey…maybe we can all say a prayer next time we’re sitting in the stalls of a hospital bathroom together, crying out, “Oh G*d, why me?!”

Over and Out