Middle fingers UP

During my nightly ritual of staring at the ceiling after three hours of tossing and turning, I began to overthink…per usual. I’m sure most people can relate to that nagging feeling of unnecessary and incredibly irrelevant thoughts that begin to surface at the worst possible times. Like a soft ringing in your ears that begins to overpower all other noises. (I might have just described tinnitus…or psychosis). Regardless, last night was one of those nights. The first thought that pushed its way to my prefrontal cortex, was this gut wrenching fear of “holy shit…did I lose the giftcards I received from Christmas?!” Alright. So. Let’s dissect this thought. First off, why am I thinking of Crate and Barrel gift cards at 3AM? Secondly, Christmas?! I’m reflecting on things from December?! I’m beginning to understand what my therapist means when he says, “you have a lot of unresolved issues.” Well no shit!

Moving on…after I got up to check my junk drawer for my gift cards (again, at 3 in the morning)…I safely recovered them all. What a relief. Hopefully with this recently acquired peace of mind, I can finally sleep. As you can probably guess…I did not fall asleep.

The second thought actually involved this blog. (I promise you I have a life apart from writing entries a few times a week). I was thinking about men (boys) of my past. I started to think about all of the guys I had dated (this is including boyfriends as well as singular dates). I wasn’t necessarily thinking about them…I was thinking about what THEY would think if my name was ever brought up in conversation. (Dream on, Sam…they are way over your ass).

I became anxiety-ridden as I thought about how harsh their judgments most likely are between my blog, my Instagram rants, my selfies, etc. I have never been one to care about what people think, but this sudden thought began to linger way longer than I had wanted it to. I imagined them laughing…or thinking they had “dodged a bullet” by not pursuing me. I wondered if they were embarrassed that they had ever taken a liking to me. I was curious how many of them unfollowed me. I was beginning to care. Way. Too. Much.  

These thoughts bogged me down like a weighted blanket I wish I had at that moment. I felt humiliated. I’m sharing such a large part of myself on social media and I began to wonder how many people in general were scrutinizing me for this.

After a restless night of burdening thoughts, I remembered the famous quote by Lao Tzu, “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” This holds such an immense amount of validity to it. We often wish to be young again, right? I think we miss the feeling of liberation. We miss how freeing it is to do as you please without a care in the world.

I snapped myself out of that absolutely ridiculous thought process and reminded myself of the importance of valuing your thoughts about yourself. I don’t care who does and does not read these. I don’t care about the criticism or potentially differentiating viewpoints. I am on this everlasting path of finding love for myself and I have no room in my restless mind to allow these stupid thoughts to overwhelm me. I am learning to make myself vulnerable, and that does not equate to weakness. Human connection is the core of our happiness. We all desire the feeling of acceptance. We all want to be part of something bigger than we are. If I have provided just one person with a sense of reassurance that they are not alone, then this post was absolutely worth it.

And to the all the boys from my past placing any form of harsh judgment, middle fingers up to you.

Trust the timing of your life

When I was younger, I used to have one of those composition notebooks. Scribbled on the front, in big black sharpie, it read “The People I’ve Met.” Human interaction connects us (obviously). But for me, it extended further than that. I felt a deeper sense of connection to our Universe. I’m not very religious and at times, it can be difficult to place your faith in anything or anyone; however, I firmly believe that everyone we meet plays some kind of role in our lives. Whether this role is significant or absolutely mundane, they were placed in our lives for a purpose. It kind of ties into that whole “everything in life is meant to be” mantra. (Which I recently learned in one of my counseling theories courses, that it can be INCREDIBLY harmful to tell someone who just endured some form of trauma, that “it was meant to be.”) Seems obvious. But keep this in mind for future reference.

Okay let me get back on track. This entry is dedicated to the concept of gratitude. Part 1: What is gratitude? According to my good friend, Dictionary.com, it is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Take note of the last three words. To return kindness. We shall come back to that. Part 2: Gratitude Made Easy!

Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, gave a wonderful presentation on the topic back in 2004. I implore you to visit the link here: CLICK. If you’re really eager to just focus on the concept of gratitude and what you can do to better yourself as a person, skip to around the 15:00 minute marker. If you’re anything like me, you will bookmark the clip at work, tell yourself you’ll read it later, and forget about it within the day. So allow me to give you a quick summary.

Seligman believes that there are three kinds of lives- a pleasant life, the good life, and a meaningful life (I often discussed this with my patients in the substance abuse clinic I worked at). After empirical testing, data shows that the desire for a meaningful life is the strongest. We want purpose. And how do we achieve this? First, we identify our strengths and we incorporate them into our lives. We make adjustments in order to utilize the things that we are good at. The things and traits that might help others. Again, we want purpose. We want to leave lasting impacts on those we encounter. Whether it is a loved one, or a stranger. We usually want them to remember us, right? Meaning and gratitude are subject matters that go hand-in-hand. At 16:49, he discusses the Gratitude Visit. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You go out of your way to make a visit to someone where you can either deliver a letter or orally recite the list of reasons they made a lasting and positive impact on your life. Emphasis on positive. This isn’t confessional. We aren’t repenting for our sins. We aren’t asking for forgiveness or making amends for our next AA meeting. We are simply thanking an individual for their contribution in our lives. It was proven that both the individual expressing gratitude as well as the one receiving it, endured a significant decrease in depression as well as an increase in optimism. A compliment is nice…but telling someone how they changed your life?! That won’t be forgotten.

I don’t want to include my list of people (and situations) that I am grateful for because I feel as if it might be almost too intimate to share on this blog (and of course- I can’t leave anyone out)…but, I do believe that everything that has happened to me throughout the course of my life has brought me to this point in time. The place I need to be. This pivotal point in time. This time of growth and development. This time of acceptance. This time of self-love. This time of weakness…which also ignites strength. This time of reflection. This time that I can finally consider mine. I have embraced the fact that we truly don’t have much control over most circumstances in our lives…but we do have control over our emotional responses to said circumstances. As I love to say (and potentially will be my next tattoo)…”Trust the timing.”

This may seem a bit off topic…but I can assure you it’s not. Gratitude is the ability to accept and appreciate the life that surrounds you. It’s all about embracing your path and remaining grateful for where you are today.

Tell someone you appreciate them. Maybe a few people. Start to journal. Create a gratitude jar…leave a cute little mason jar on your kitchen table and each time you want to express gratitude for something/someone, make a small note of it, fold it up, and drop it in the jar. I promise you, once you reflect on these, it will absolutely change your perspective on life as it is. The bottom line…don’t take the people in your life for granted.

Over and out.

The Wonder Drug

I was toying with a couple ideas for my topic of the day…well evening now. Do I take the serious route? Do we want to keep it light? Am I currently solely talking to myself right now? Yes. This is the norm. Moving on. I’ve gotten a bunch of messages (I know…this came as a surprise to me too) about the use of Adderall and other prescription medication classified as a stimulant. It’s honestly a (primarily) American epidemic. I was recently out with this nice little British lad (shout out), and he had mentioned to me that this is something that he would read because he had never really even heard of the usage of these stimulants until he arrived in America. Ah the American dream….pop a 30 mg (high dose) IR (instant release) and watch as the magic unfolds. By the end of the day, you will have deep cleaned your entire place, read three books, and taught yourself Mandarin. (If that line makes you think of a particular TV show, message me so we can set up a date and time for our wedding).

Here are the facts. Cut and dry. ADD/ADHD is overdiagnosed and Adderall, Concerta, Vyvanse, etc. are all overly prescribed. Come on, docs. What’s the end goal here? Cleaner apartments and an increase of individuals proficient in Mandarin?

I remember the first time I was exposed to adderall. It was freshman year of college and my roommates had bought some to take before finals. *Clearing throat* humble brag…but I was excelling in school (which wasn’t very difficult at Eastern Illinois University), and felt no need to use what they referred to as the “wonder drug.” Simple as that. I was just like…nah. Throughout the rest of my undergraduate AND beginning of graduate degree, I don’t think I said “nah” to Adderall once. Needed to pull an allnighter before a huge exam? Pop a pill. Need to stay awake when you’re working night shifts? Pop a pill. Oh shit…and how can we forget about one of its most prominent qualities…it got you PUMPED at 6AM for tailgates. Oh yeah, baby. It was the most justifiable “drug” because I mean…it wasn’t heroine or anything SERIOUS…and like, it was prescribed to us, it was LEGAL (if you had a script), and it was being utilized all across campus. It was totally acceptable.

But here’s what they don’t tell you. Adderall is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance…and…for those of you who don’t know what that means. It means you’ve got a pretty high chance of abusing the drug and becoming totally dependent on it. Which, admittedly, I was. I didn’t feel guilty about it at the time. After all…my DOCTOR gave it to me. I trusted him. My college GPA went from a 2.8 to a 3.4. Why would I not continue this transformative pill. I lost 10 lbs because I never had an appetite. It was easier to party for longer durations. I was more social. And again…excelling at work and school. I rationalized it all. I disregarded the labels that warned you about “potential seizures, heart attacks, psychosis, strokes”…oh…and yeah, sudden death.That’s a thing. A REAL thing. But we all felt like we were so damn invincible, none of us gave a shit. The only time we complained…was when we were “coming down.” Oh God. The nausea, headaches, irritability. It was awful. I remember calling my psychiatrist one time and telling him “that sometimes I get so panicky and feel so out of touch with reality I can’t tell if its anxiety or if there is something wrong with my heart.” If you’re curious to hear how that conversation ended…he proceeded to fill another prescription of Clonazepam (a benzodiazepine similar to Xanax) and told me to “take that when I feel panicky. It will calm you down.” Do you see what just happened there? He prescribed me ANOTHER pill to take away the side effects of the initial pill. And just a little side note…Klonopin is probably even worse for you. Incredibly addictive as well.

I am in no way saying that there aren’t children, adolescents, or adults who truly do benefit from the effects of Adderall…but I am saying, that if you’re using it for the high, recreationally, because you think it’s bettering you as a person or because you don’t want to acknowledge any of the negative components of the drug…you need to stop. (Consult a doctor please…taper off appropriately).

I started having seizures during the first term of my graduate program. Whether that was attributed to the Adderall usage…I’ll never quite know. But it scared me shitless and I haven’t taken a stimulant since the summer of 2017. And I’m thriving. (For the most part.) I don’t need it to socialize. I got a new vacuum and I fucking love cleaning. I am NOT teaching myself Mandarin (but who knows…that might be next). And most importantly, I do not need it to function in any way. I have a 4.0 currently and I wake up excited to go to work and class every day. I’d be lying if I said I am not perpetually exhausted and I could take probably 7 naps per day, but my body is finally beginning to restore itself.

I’m not going to bombard you with statistics because you can google that shit on your own…but to me this is a topic I’m passionate about given that a.) I am going to be a therapist and b.) I worry most about our youth. They have enough pressure from society to be perfect. Why are we going to shove pills down their throat, essentially implying that they are not good enough without this.

Once again, I know there is a lot of gray area when it comes to this discussion…but in sum…let’s search for alternatives to stimulants. Hell, let’s search for alternatives to all pharmaceuticals that are harming us more than helping us. (I might be getting carried away here). Your kid may not bounce his left leg as much when he’s sitting at the dinner table, and he may actually begin to pay attention in class. Your child’s energy might be focused on something else and that pain in the ass will FINALLY leave you alone. But is it worth it? Is it worth your child suffering from nausea, sleeplessness, delayed growth, decrease in appetite, sadness, etc…

The bottom line: When it comes to any prescription drug…truly do your research. We are blessed to have so many incredible doctors assisting society today; however, you don’t need to place all of your faith in one human being. Get opinions. Read about the statistics. Perhaps see more than one specialist. Determine whether this is a quick fix, or a necessity.

PS…A medium Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream and sugar does WONDERS. Beautiful alternative.

Reach out to me and let me know if there’s anything else I should cover on the topic or just let me know YOUR experience!

Over and out.

I just googled how to keep a man

So I had this brilliant idea that I could crack the code of men and totally crush this entry. But, like, I just spent fifteen minutes doing “research” by googling “how to keep a man.” It’s safe to say that I’m the last person to give advice on how to avoid attracting the wrong people. I am some kind of magnetic field that attracts the damaged ones and repels the stable ones. That sentence right there is pretty much the most accurate depiction of my entire persona. I am going to be a licensed clinical counselor. I thrive off of “fixing the broken.” But, if there is one thing I HAVE learned throughout my history of dating, it is to keep “therapist Sam” (as my exes loved to call it) separate from “organic Sam.” Essentially, I’m learning to leave work at work. It isn’t like I used to come home diagnosing my boyfriends and prescribing them medication (although, popping a xanax could have done most of them a lot of good). My issue, is that I am never able to overlook emotions. You’re upset? Okay let’s talk about it. You don’t want to talk about it? Well too bad, “suppression of emotions leads to a very chaotic release of emotions later down the road.”

Yeah. Unfortunately, I was that girlfriend. In my defense, it came solely from a place of love. I knew they just wanted to be heard. They trusted me and knew I was entirely nonjudgmental. When they needed me, I was there. But when they didn’t need me, I was still there. That was the issue. In the midst of rage-fueled arguments, my boyfriend (whoever it was at the time), would just storm out of the room (which was probably for the best-he totally saw his name on my hit list). That’s like hanging up on someone when you’re in an argument. THE AUDACITY. Hell no. I had more to say. I was JUST about to psychoanalyze your emotions! Com back! Ugh! Okay….no. In all seriousness, I was never able to grasp the concept of space. “Space? You need space? Are you going to have some magical fucking revelation about our relationship while you’ve just finished your second bottle of 5 Hour Energy and its 3AM and you’re still playing Fortnite?” I never got any laughs when I used that line.

There was some validity to the importance of space. You have the ability to calm down. You can think more rationally. Sometimes conversation isn’t always needed immediately. Most importantly…you learn independence. I had become so close to my partners that when they would leave (even if it was temporary), I felt abandoned. (I’m not talking about them going to the grocery store for a couple of hours and me engaging in some dramatic meltdown). The point being, I never learned how to function independently. I followed my high-school sweetheart to college. I moved to Iowa fucking City to be closer to him. I started dating another guy 2 weeks after we had broken up. Then one month following that, I fell into another serious relationship and four months after that I was entangled in another chaotic web of love. I hated being alone. I craved the comfort of another. Always.

It wasn’t until after my last relationship, that I realized I needed to learn who “organic Sam” is. When am I my most authentic self? This was the question that replayed in my head like the Pink Floyd record that is currently playing quietly in the background. This is perhaps a strange analogy: but I’ve always felt most beautiful when I wake up in the morning (alone) with nothing but my white sheets wrapped around me. It is my most raw, vulnerable, and exposed self. Now, I need to apply that to all realms of my life.

If you’re wondering what I think the secret is to attracting the right person (man or woman)? Confidence, security, and pride. Own it all. Own your flaws. Love your flaws. Find strength within yourself. That is independence. And I think it’s critical in a relationship.

That’s a brief summary of my journey with love. My journey isn’t over. It’s just taking a little space while I find myself again. (See what I did there?)

Over and out.

International Women’s Day: Saying no to him and YES to yourself

When I think blog, I think public diary. But when I think diary (despite it being public), I think raw, gritty, dark, exaggerated passion. I want to use REAL names. I want to swear. I want to write a list of the people I plan to kill this year. Last year I just wrote the names on a sticky note and lost it so I was unable to hunt them down. Have you caught on to the sadistic and sarcastic sense of humor yet? If not, you should probably stop reading here. And you should also clear your search engine to ensure no murders are linked to me.

Talk about a tangent. So now that I’ve explained to you what a diary looks like to me, it brings me great sorrow to inform you that we aren’t diving into the deepest of waters. I’d say we’re at  like… waist level. So bring your waders and join me in this adventure.(Jesus…maybe I should add my own name to my hitlist).  

I can’t get down and dirty because, well, my parents are loving these posts.And now, they’re beginning to share them with our extended family, their friends, their friends’ families etc. etc. Jesus. When does it end? I have been working on a personal memoir for years. Adding chapters as the timeline of my life progressed. But then I realized…if this book actually becomes published, and I actually become recognized, my parents would never look at me the same way. I mean, come on, we all have things we’re not proud of. Some more than others. *insert uncomfortable clearing of throat.* And please don’t reach out to me explaining how I can be an anonymous writer. No shit. Nice try but not going to work. Even if I changed the names, places, and states throughout the book, I don’t think there are many little girls who pulled out a few strands of hair from a ginger classmate to cast a spell on her during the night of the full moon. (I had an entire chapter dedicated to my belief of being a witch). If you stumble across a NONFICTION book that discusses this very scenario, I’ll give you all of my savings. (Jokes on you. I’ve got negative money).

So. Can you believe that everything you’ve just read has been one long opening line for my main topic of the day? Ha! Suckers. Now you have continue reading. It’s National Women’s Day (as it should be every day), and there are SO many subjects I could cover but there is something I’ve been wanting to discuss and it revolves around the sex (Borat voice). Mom and dad, everything I said prior was like the rubbing alcohol before the shot. (Or in my mom’s case- her infamous numbing cream-that literally did absolutely nothing but I always pretended it helped simply to appease her. Sorry again, mom.) Don’t worry though, I’m not going to talk about MY (nonexistent) sex life, I want to have an open conversation about learning to say NO.

Far too often, I hear girls asking each other if “they should at least give them something. I mean he bought me dinner.” Or, “I don’t know. I was drunk, let’s just not even count it” and what was even worse, is when this particular person followed the statement with “and I guess I hold myself together pretty well… I mean he probably didn’t even know I was blacked out like I probably asked for it!” No. You were drunk. That is in no way considered, CONSENT.  I am all for women owning their sexual preferences. It is THEIR body and THEIR choice. If sex is something they desire, then who is anyone to judge? If sex is something that makes her uncomfortable, then back the fuck off. Bottom line: end slut shaming and accept/respect other’s needs. But it should ALWAYS be consensual.

Here is where it gets slightly personal. Respect is essential. In any form of relationship. In many ways, respect is earned. As is trust. It is a bit traditional to view sex as this sacred right of passage to ‘seal the deal’ of marriage. (By the way, how well has that been working out for you, husbands and wives of America)? But I do believe that it is something to be earned. Anyway, my point is that I feel myself constantly thanking partners or apologizing to the individual I am with. “Thank you for being so patient with me!” Or, “I’m sorry to make you wait for me.” If you are someone like me, can you imagine what it would feel like to set BOUNDARIES? Can you imagine how liberating that would be? To be able to simply say “no.” No explanation needed. Just. No. I admire those of you who exude the strength and confidence needed to establish these boundaries. Sometimes it can be difficult to even identify the kind of boundaries you need, let alone put them into place. Sternly. I want this to be an open discussion. Have you ever felt guilty for saying no? And if so, how can we empower one another to rid ourselves of guilt and begin to radiate power and control?

Please reach out via instagram, email, or the comment section below! This is a topic that needs to be addressed and there is so much more to say. I’m eager to hear the thoughts of others.

But for now,

Over and out.

So why are YOU seeking validation online?

This is a topic discussed by hundreds of thousands of people. Parents, educators, Instagram influencers, peers, significant others, and of course…the internal conflict with yourself. Two questions are usually posed when it comes to sharing things on social media: “Why do you feel a need to post that?” or “Why did I feel a need to post that?”

Throughout majority of my high school years, let’s just say, I wasn’t the easiest on the eyes. I was roughly 40 lbs heavier than I am now, I had started forming dreadlocks, my clothes were baggy, my jeans were always ripped (in the most unfashionable and least trendy way), my eyeliner was either thick or my makeup was nonexistent, and the braces and glasses definitely did not aid in my situation. I could get incredibly Freudian and attribute my lack of care when it came to my appearance as a form of rebellion. My mother was (and will always be) absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. She never discouraged me from being the person I wanted to be; however, I know there was a part of her that wanted me to take more pride in my appearance. Perhaps the rebel in me strayed from this desire of hers because I simply could. In a sense, it was empowering. I loved my personality. I was unique and kind…and it didn’t go unnoticed. My senior year of high school,the yearbook superlatives didn’t list me as having “the best smile,” or “most likely to be president” (HA, could you imagine?). But I was voted as “most interesting senior.” During my 17 years of existence at the time, that was the best compliment I had ever received. THAT was something I took pride in.

I soon learned, that this was a very fleeting feeling. Pressures of societal standards of beauty began to consume me. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a desire to be beautiful (externally), it just wasn’t a priority…at the time. But after graduation, it extended far beyond a priority. It became an obsession. Fad diets, hair extensions, uneven spray tans, layers of makeup, and a disregard for the intellectual being that I had once prided myself on. I was hiding behind a mask and I was losing sight of the person I was.

It wasn’t just the pressure of society that led to my craving of physical beauty. I fell in love with a boy. I wanted to be perfect for him. I wanted him to be proud of me. I wanted him to show me off. And he did. It felt amazing. But the same way I had once felt before, was just as fleeting. So. Incredibly. Temporary. And when that egotistical high began to wear off, I felt this deep void accumulating within me. An existential identity crisis. (Perhaps that is a bit dramatic…but drama might as well be my middle name).

I am going to attempt to remain chronological throughout this post, but I have learned that this journey is the furthest thing from linear. So let’s fast-forward a bit. It’s 2013 and the age of social media is BLOOMING. Instagram is becoming prominent, Snapchat is emerging, and people aren’t using Facebook anymore to post song lyrics as their status or to connect with family and friends, but instead, they are posting their acceptance letters to differing Universities (which by the way- I ended up at community college for some time).  Everything was becoming a competition. This is where I thought I could finally thrive. I can use what I deemed as my strengths, and share them on all of these different platforms of social media. Selfies, twitter updates, and snapchat stories that provided me with the title of “Snapchat Queen.” (Sincere apologies for whoever endured that phase of my life). I wanted everyone to know what I was doing at all times. Why? Because I was seeking validation in any place I could get it. My life seemed exciting online. Despite my inner turmoil and the difficulty I was facing during this time period, my social media pages told an entirely different story. One that no one else would ever know.

It’s 2019. And not much has changed. Full disclosure: I have refreshed my instagram page three times in the duration of writing this post. “Has anyone commented on my most recently updated photo?” “How many likes have I gotten?” “Should I look into buying likes?” It’s truly sickening. How little do I think of myself, that I need the approval of others? I am constantly comparing myself to Instagram models. Their beauty, their lifestyles, their following, and their seemingly consistent positivity that radiates from their breathtaking photos. But it’s all a fallacy. A common misconception that to the average follower, we cannot entirely grasp.

I am in no way suggesting that you delete all forms of social media and go off the grid entirely, because let’s be realistic, my Instagram will remain very much intact. The difference between the person I was then and the person I am becoming now, is that I am doing majority of this for myself. Hell, does it feel freaking fantastic when your long term secret lover likes your photo or your girl crush tells you how beautiful you are? F*CK YEAH! But I will no longer let it determine my worth.

It is almost an innate quality to crave attention from others. At a young age, we desire secure attachment to our caregivers, and this is something we carry throughout our adult lives. We want to feel special and HEARD. We want people to care about the opinions we voice and the way that we present ourselves. I, admittedly, do love attention…but that isn’t my sole identity. My friends love to give me grief for my excessive Instagram stories. But I find it kind of bad ass if you ask me. It is a FREEING feeling to not care what others think (to a certain extent).

The point of this post is to tell you that you don’t need to delete your social media to feel liberated. You don’t need to pull an Alexander Supertramp to find yourself. Because as he learned…”Happiness is only real when shared.” What you DO need to do-is stop comparing yourself to the unrealistic lives of others. Stop refreshing your feed in hopes of more likes or comments. Stop determining your worth based on the opinions of others.

START using social media as a platform to voice your opinions. START caring less about what others think. POST THAT PICTURE OF YOUR MEAL (even though literally no one gives a shit about it). The bottom line is, if it makes you happy and provides you with a sense of fulfillment, embrace it. Identify the reasoning behind what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and in that, you will find a sense of liberation.

I would love to hear your guys’ feedback on this post and if it resonates with you in any way. Per usual, leave a comment, send an email, or directly message me on Instagram.

Much love,

Over and out.