Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I Love You

I'll never understand why a three word phrase made up of only eight letters can legitimately scare the crap out of someone. But the reality is it often does. People get in relationships and they start to decipher their feelings, and sooner or later they find themselves contemplating telling the person how they really feel. And this simple little phrase is the only one that carries enough impact. Telling someone you love them is a moment of honesty and vulnerability, and it is meant to be special.

When I tell someone I love them I do it because in that moment nothing else in the world matters. I can't think about anything else. My heart is beating so hard it could burst from my chest. My mind is racing so fast and it looks like a street filled with those flashing signs in Vegas. And it is the greatest feeling in the world when those words spill from your lips and you immediately feel relief because you can finally stop keeping it to yourself. But then there is the immediate panic while you sit and wait for them to say it back. And that's fine, that's just how it goes.

But where everything goes wrong is the moment when saying it or not saying it is done in an effort to please other people. When those flashing lights say "What would my friends think?" that is when you have a problem. This idea pretty much goes hand in hand with the "Isn't it a little soon to start dating again?" problem (see my blog about the cookies). The point is it's just not right to make a decision that isn't being made in our own best interest. If we all keep living our lives in an effort to please others, we will be constantly compromising what we want for ourselves. I don't know about you, but that sure doesn't sound like a fun time to me (and I've had quite a few fun times).

The bottom line here is no one knows your feelings better than you do. No one else should have the power to decide whether or not you tell someone you love them. If you honestly feel like that person means that much to you, then you have every right to tell them you love them. Scream it from the rooftop if you so do please. No one has the right to say when it is too early to tell someone you love them and quite frankly it is none of their business. And no matter how long you have been with someone, you should never feel pressured to say it until you are absolutely sure. You have a right to own your feelings and share those feelings as you see fit. So, tell that person you love them or don't tell them. But either way do what makes YOU happy. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

I Swear This Time I Mean It

I am notorious for falling hard and fast. I put my all into something and I see it through until the very end - even if the other person doesn't. There is no way to avoid the fear that comes along after countless heartbreaks and disappointments. Each and every time you have to convince yourself that this time it will be different.

And in this moment where I currently find myself, I can honestly say that I have never been so happy yet so terrified at the same damn time. And in a moment later when he'll be on the other end of the telephone he just might say the same thing if I asked him. We are reading the same word on the same page of the same book that both of us are willing to keep reading. And that is a commitment like one I have never known.

With him there is no honeymoon period. There is no month of bliss followed by months of trying to understand what the hell I did to make him stop putting in effort. With him there is no questioning how he feels. He reminds me every single day that I am a huge part of his world. My efforts to keep his head spinning are what keep his world spinning too.

He does everything he says he will. He is honest, kind, and humble. And although I know he has the capacity to hurt me like no one ever has, I trust him when he promises he never could. And because of all of this, he deserves to be treated accordingly. He needs to know that he is one-of-a-kind and therefore deserves a one-of-kind, once-in-a-lifetime love.

When a four letter word is supposed to encompass all of the adoration you have for someone, how is it possible not to feel the slightest bit guilty for having already said it to someone else before - even if you are convinced that this time it's "different"? I consistently ask myself how it can be done. But the reality is you can sit there and say the phrase on repeat until you are blue in the face, or you can wake up every day and show that person exactly why this time it is in-fact different. And that's exactly what I plan to do because I swear this time I mean it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

To Be Blunt

You know those little ice-breakers or self-awareness activities that require you to list out five words that describe you? When it's my turn, you will (almost) always find in all-caps: BLUNT. This constant desire to tell it like it is has always been burning, and it burns even more so now that I am (arguably) an adult.

Beating around the bush wastes time and energy that I don't have. I'd much rather tell someone an unedited truth than take the time to filter it down so much that it will barely resonate with them. This quality has become a source of confidence for me, and I prize it very much. The positive impact it has had on my life has inspired me to want to help others become more outspoken as well. I am always encouraging my friends to stand up for themselves when they previously wouldn't and to show them the positive impact it can have. 

I can honestly say that I have seen the damage that results from consistently avoiding conflict. You might think that being passive is the better way to go - "no drama" - but in reality that drama will often bite you in the ass later anyways. Conflict is what helps us learn from our mistakes and admit that we are human. And if you're avoiding tension in your relationships and even other social situations, you are restricting not only your growth as an individual, but also the growth of those around you. You are enabling people to avoid taking responsibility for themselves and their actions and hindering your own personal progress in those areas as well. 

Don't get me wrong - being blunt isn't all peaches & cream. Being blunt usually requires a level of confrontation that some people just aren't willing to consider. If you want to stand up for yourself and your beliefs, it will almost always come with a particular amount of resistance. But this experience is great. It helps you grow, and it helps you determine when you really do need to step out of your comfort zone and say something when you normally wouldn't. 

This quality also requires a level of empathy - you can't just run around saying hurtful things just because you associate them somehow with "honesty." Being blunt doesn't mean being a bitch. It's not about calling it like you see it just for the sake of calling something. It's not about insulting, belittling, or embarrassing others. Being blunt is about advocating for the truth because it will provide a greater benefit, not unnecessary harm. Being blunt is about being honest with yourself and those around you for the sake of benefiting the progress of your relationships, yourself, and society. Knowing the difference between being blunt and being a hand-full of other adjectives you don't want to be can go a long way.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

As I Am, Not As You Wish

You don't have to "like" everything about someone, but if you're going to love them then you have to love all of them. You have to love their ugly cry, their nail biting, their boisterous laugh, and their annoying habit of drinking milk out of the carton. This doesn't mean that you settle for those things if they would normally be a deal breaker just because the person has additional redeeming qualities. It simply means that if you can't love everything then you'd be settling if you stayed.

Even in the most controlled dating atmosphere's like an online site where you fill out what you're looking for, you still are going to run into a few people that have too many qualities that bother you. But the goal is not to say, "Eh, they'll do." The goal is to find someone who has some not so favorable qualities, but you love them because all of their qualities, good and bad, intertwine to make them the amazing person that you admire and care for.

There is a huge difference between settling and accepting someone's flaws. Settling is NEVER the answer. Settling hurts you, it hurts the person being settled for, and it almost never works out anyways. So why waste the time? 

And for the people out there who claim they are willing to make the change - DO IT FOR YOU. Don't do it for the person who made you feel awful about it. Don't do it for the person who said they'd love you just a little bit more if you stopped the behavior. Do it because you love yourself enough to know when it is time to change - not because someone else convinced you that their conditional love was reason enough to. 

You should never have to change to please a person who claims to love you. The moment the words "I love you" spill from their lips is the exact same moment that they promise to accept all of your faults and love you FOR them, not in spite of them or because there is a prospect they will change. 

Don't get me wrong. We all have bad days when just about anyone is going to drive us crazy, especially our significant other. But if you can't seem to look past a particular quality, and if it is getting in the way of maintaining a healthy relationship, it might be time to call it quits. And if you're constantly feeling pushed down by your significant other for who you are, it is important to remember that you deserve better.

Take me as I am, not as you wish for me to be.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

1 (800) 273-8255

I am not an expert on the topic. I have never experienced first hand its complete devastation and permanence. I can't even begin to imagine the pain that is felt when a family member or close friend chooses such an unfortunate path for themselves. Today is a day that is dedicated to world-wide suicide prevention. One day out of 365. But this single day could save even just one life of the seven billion people who walk this earth. And I think even that possibility, regardless of how small it may seem in the grand scheme of things, is worth writing this for.

I took a little stroll on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention page, and I was shocked at some of the awful statistics I discovered. One of the things that stuck out so strongly for me is the fact that, as of 2013, Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.The 9 causes of death that precede it are all health problems or accidents that are in some cases preventable, but in most cases are rarely preventable at all. Let that sink in for a moment...

Suicide is 100% preventable.

One of the most fascinating things I have found in the process of learning more about suicide and suicide prevention has been Project Semicolon. Writers use a semicolon where they originally may have chosen to use a period but decided to continue their sentence instead. In that same way, those who are effected by mental illness are encouraged to be the authors of their own future and decide to choose life over suicide.

Never forget that no matter how small you may seem in this world, no matter how immense your problems are, and regardless of your race, gender, sexual orientation, class, occupation, and so many other social classifications - YOU ARE WORTH SOMETHING. Your life has meaning and you have the power to use your struggle to inspire, encourage, and leave this world a better place thanks to your presence. Don't let yourself or anyone else make you believe that you should choose a period over a semicolon because your life is always a story with writing; you just might have to start a new chapter.

I don't want to sound like one of those infomercials for random lawyers and medical problems but seriously - If you or someone you know might be struggling with thoughts of suicide or mental illness, please don't hesitate to reach out for help. There are so many programs and projects popping up every day and everywhere that are ready and willing to help.

This is the suicide prevention hotline:
1 (800) 273-8255

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Closing Time

Not every night out is the best night out, but you always stay a little later at the really good parties. And if you stay late enough, you are often subjected to the final song of the night. And as the song plays you reluctantly drink the last sip of your Natty, pull your friend off the frat boy, and take leave.

First comes the pregame. You prepare yourself for the night you're about to have. You throw everything you own on the floor as you try on outfit after outfit just to end up in the one your roommate suggested in the first place. Your skirt is so short it's having existential crisis and pondering it's existence because it is so mini it's barely there. You start your night off with your favs - getting pumped about the crazy night your about to have and taking plenty of pictures before your makeup melts off and you look like a hot mess. And then you venture out to find the perfect party.

Now you're at the party. You and your girls are sticking together to avoid any unnecessary contact with boys who don't know how to ASK first before attempting to rub their front-side on your back-side - also known as "dancing." You stand in the typical circle and dance around each other until one of you has one too many jello shots and then you just end up dancing ON each other which only interests the boys even more.

Now your at the "what-the-fuck-was-I-thinking" part of the night but you won't actually call it that until the next morning. Right now you think you're making the best decisions of your life. You climb on the table and dance - forgetting all about your invisible skirt, but who cares. You grab that boy who was a 5 earlier but he's clearly an 8 now courtesy of your third cup of jungle juice and let him ask for your number. You might even invite him home for cuddling - just cuddling. 

And the very bittersweet end is near. You know that it's time to go home. Your feet are so sore you can't even feel the pain anymore, your hair is in that messy bun from your 20th trip to the bathroom when you just said "fuck it" and put it up, and that 8 is a foggy 9 and you know that it's time to cuddle with him. And then it plays... "Closing time. One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer..." 

I honestly think that college is like one big, great night out. Freshman year is the pregame when you try to figure out who you are now that you've started this new chapter in your life. You try to find the best friends to spend the next four years with and you put your best foot forward. Sophomore year is the happy first half of the party and you're still learning the ropes. Junior year is the other half of the party when you've finally figured yourself out enough to know that she's boring and so you start to act out a little. And senior year is the the final hour when you realize you've had an amazing time regardless of any mishaps along the way and you're thankful for the memories. And then it plays some more... "Closing time. You don't have to go home but you can't stay here."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Carried Away At 1,000,000 MPH

Boys like him should come with a warning label: "You're about to get carried away. Hold on tight. Speed will be beyond calculation. Turns will be unexpected. Can and will end at any point without warning. Broken heart is highly likely."  Something about him made all the walls I had built collapse and I didn't know why; I just melted right in the palm of his hand. I wasn't even trying to meet someone, but once he came into the picture there really was no turning back.

Being with him was like moving at a million miles per hour. There wasn't much hesitation and I didn't really consider the risk I might be taking. It felt incredible to be with someone who I felt I could be myself around and who actually seemed to value me beyond something physical. Once we realized how we felt about each other, it immediately accelerated and there was no chance of slowing down.

Everything about our relationship felt like it was on fast-forward, and unfortunately things ended just about as quickly as they started. It seemed like his life never slowed down, and my presence created no exception. At first I admired his constant desire to live life in the fast lane, but eventually I realized how much he enjoyed being in that lane solo. I convinced myself that I needed to be more like him and to be more concerned with where we were rather than where we could have been going, but that didn't change how devalued it made me feel.

I realize that sometimes you have to be the spectator; cheering on your significant other while you sit in the stands. But the relationship shouldn't leave you feeling like you're always a second thought. You should feel like you are an essential part of their happiness and a valued part of their life. I let myself believe that it was okay because I thought it would change with time. I believed that eventually I would become as important to him as he had become to me, but he let me go and that made me realize I was wrong. And I can't blame him for letting go. I think if I was really who he was supposed to be with he wouldn't have felt like he needed to shove me in - he would have willingly made room without hesitation.

Sometimes things just don't work no matter how hard you try, especially when life throws a curve ball and changes the entire game. And that's just the way life works. Sometimes you can meet someone who you think is incredibly right at the absolute wrong time. But life doesn't slow down for anybody, and you better be prepared because getting carried away at a million miles per hour is no joke.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

But First... Let Me Take A Selfie

I know what you "selfie-shamers" are thinking about us "selfie-takers." We're narcissistic, right? Insecure? Maybe you'd even call us an attention-seeking fill-in-the-blank? But if that's really the case then I could make the same arguments about you. I mean, it would make perfect sense seeing as I could argue that you're mad someone else other than you is receiving attention, you're jealous that someone else feels comfortable posting a selfie when you don't, or maybe you're commenting on our selfies for attention. See how that works? There are two sides to every story, and there are more reasons (beyond those related to external validation) to post selfies.

Anti-Selfie Arguments: (click here to see the article I'm using as a reference)

1. No one cares.
UUURRKAAADUR. We don't post selfies because we don't know people don't care. We post selfies because WE care. If we are feeling good and we want the world to know about it, then maybe we feel like posting a selfie is a good way to share that confidence.

2. You will lose followers.
And that is perfectly fine. If someone doesn't support our posts then they are better off not following us anyways. No sense in them scrolling down their feed just to see a selfie and scoff every day.

3. The filters are a lie.
WELL NO SHIT. And that pretty sunset pic you took probably looks great with that filter too. People don't just use filters to alter the way the way they look in their selfies; they use filters to enhance their reality. This isn't news.

4. You did not #WakeUpLikeThat.
Okay, sure. Maybe so-and-so didn't wake up with six pounds of mascara on her face or a perfect contour, but is it really up to you to call her out on it? Are you really doing society any favors by trolling through instagram accounts to call out fully made up faces for not waking up perfect? Piece of advice - get a life.

5. The number of likes you get should not be directly correlated to your self-worth.
Now here, my friends, is where we agree. No, selfies should not be used as a form of direct validation. But the issue here is you don't always know if that's why the person posted the selfie. If the caption reads something like "I'm so ugly" or anything along those lines then I COMPLETELY agree that it shouldn't have been posted. You should post a selfie because you love yourself and you're proud of who you are, not because you feel awful and think "likes" are going to make you feel better.

6. You're missing out on worthy photo-ops because you're too busy striking your best pose.
Okay, so I'm not allowed to take a picture of myself enjoying my surroundings? Just because I want to document the expression on my face while I'm hiking through Hocking Hills with my two best friends doesn't mean I wasn't really soaking in all of my surroundings. And sharing it on instagram is my way of thanking those friends for sharing in those moments with me. Back off dude.

Are we done yet? I wish.

7. They make you seem self-absorbed.
So... because I'm confident and I feel like posting a selfie because I look good I'm completely absorbed in myself and have no care in the world for other people other than me... interesting. FALSE. Please take your selfie-psycho-analyzing somewhere else.

8. Everyone can see through your humblebragging.
I for one think that bragging can be a good thing sometimes. Of course, staying humble is often essential. But I think it's okay to acknowledge your accomplishments and growth - even if others see it as bragging. Maybe you just recently mastered a new makeup trick, maybe you climbed to the top of a mountain, or maybe you lost 50 pounds. Whatever the reason, you should be able to post a selfie to commemorate the moment if that's what you feel like doing.

9. Your duck face is going to get you mocked.
Oi vey... If the girl wants to do the duck face then so be it. She doesn't live to please other people. If you don't like her duck face or if someone picks on her duck face - who is the real problem person here? I'll give you a hint - it's not the duck. You obviously never read the ugly duckling.

10. You should be watching the road.
Totally in agreement here & I don't really think this needs to be explained much. Don't multitask while driving. Even if the lighting is perfect and the wind is blowing your hair. I don't care. It's not worth it.

11. We all know you took 20 awful ones before the one you posted.
Picture it, you're at Thanksgiving dinner and you've all just entered the deepest stage of food induced coma when your great aunt tells you it's time to gather for family pictures (c'mon guys, this can't only happen to me...). Every one lines up but you never can take just one picture because somebody blinked or somebody was in the bathroom hiding. Sure, maybe a selfie should be simpler because it's just one person, but no body is perfect and sometimes it takes a few bad angles before you feel like it really captures how good you look and how good you feel about it. NO SHAME.

12. You should be embarrassed if you do this in public.
Okay, sometimes this can be pretty awkward if your whipping out your selfie stick in the middle of the mall. But if you want to take a selfie next to that giraffe at the zoo - you do you. If you really think the person is embarrassed, maybe you should offer to take the picture for them instead of pointing and laughing - even if it is in the canned food isle of the grocery store.


13. Your cleavage is never an accident, but nice try.
Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that girls who simply post these for attention should get praised or something. But at the end of the day this girl might just be really proud of her assets and wants to put them in the spotlight. There are pros and cons to all body types, so when someone fully accepts who they are and feels like flaunting it a little - who are you to stop them? And if the real problem here is your jealousy... well, then you and your A-cups can just sit back down.

The reality is we are all a little insecure, a little narcissistic, and a little attention seeking sometimes. The person in that selfie might not be as bad as you think. And I know this because the person in that selfie is often me. And I'm pretty sure if I didn't post it for some sort of need for validation then there are probably other people like me who didn't either. Whether or not someone takes a selfie shouldn't define them. I don't care if its obvious they  pulled their shirt down, ruffled up their shirt to show their tattoo or abs, or took a picture in their new bikini in February; that's their choice. It's not your job to be the selfie police, hiding behind your keyboard for protection. So if you don't like it, there is an "unfollow" button for a reason.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What Now?

For so long my life has been a series of dreams followed by a carefully designed justification for why letting them go was easier than actually trying. I have been consistently running away from creating dreams simply because that's been easier than facing the thought that they might end up in failure. As I started my third year at Ohio State, I vowed to change that attitude.

Maybe a lot of the things I have managed to do this year weren't on my "dream" list exactly, but I don't think I would be taking my dreams seriously without them. Becoming co-president of a club has inspired me and taught me how much I enjoy being in a leadership role. Blogging has not only given me a place to enjoy writing, but it has even helped a few of my followers. I even got my license recently which just proves that no matter how long something takes it's still worth doing if you want it badly enough. It's amazing how just a few changes in my life have made such a difference, and it only makes me more hopeful for the challenges and opportunities I will face in the coming years.

As I approach my last year of college I can't help but think of the obligatory "What now?" question that eats away at so many graduates. It sneak-attacks at family gatherings, floods the conversation at dinner, and crushes you each and every time you hear someone else answer it when you still have no idea. But while some kids take an unnecessary fifth year or start working at the only job they could find, I think I'd rather start pursuing dreams instead of settling just to avoid failing.

Lately I've been hooked on this idea that I want to move to California. I've been considering it for about a year or so, but I always follow up the thought with a "yeah, right," but I think it's time I start taking it more seriously. A lot of people think it's crazy and expensive (which it is), but I think it's something I need to do for myself.

Maybe by the time I graduate I'll completely change my mind, but I think from now on I'm done putting my dreams on some fear-induced back burner. This last year has taught me that avoiding failure is the same as avoiding a chance to succeed and find happiness. It's time that I stop letting the idea of failure stop me from actually facing it once in a while because if I don't it's only going to keep me from being satisfied with my life.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Confessions of a Chronic Overthinker

"He told me he likes me. Finally! This is wonderful! But wait... what if he just means like a little bit? What if by "like" he just means "tolerates"? Or what if he just meant that he liked me in that moment but as far as actual feelings go, he really doesn't like me? But then why would he tell me he likes me? He probably meant he likes pizza... Yeah, that's it. Oh god, he doesn't like me. I should have seen this coming. Where's the ice cream?"

Honestly, I am the queen of overthinking. You could tell me something and over the course of 5-10 minutes I could go from believing you to fabricating some sort of alternate statement that means completely the opposite of what you had intended to say at all. My personal favorite is when I overthink the words between the lines because not only did I infer what you were thinking while you were talking, but I also sat there and twisted around both my inference and what you actually said out loud. 

I won't lie. Working on this bad habit has been a personal struggle of mine. It's taken me years to realize that if you really trust someone then you should believe them when they tell you something. You shouldn't sit there and come up with reasons why what they're saying can't possibly be true. And if you feel like there is something you need or want to know that isn't being said, rather than assuming what they are thinking, ASK. If they seriously get mad about that then you deserve better. If they would really rather have you sit there in your own assumption-induced agony than tell you the truth, then they obviously don't care enough about you. 

The reality is, overthinking pisses people off. And for good reason. That same crappy feeling you get while you're sitting there second-guessing is the same thing they feel when they know they've been second-guessed. No one wants to feel like everything they say is being over-analyzed, and the more you do it the less they are going to want to talk to you about anything. It isn't fair to either of you, and it sure as hell isn't going to make the situation any better. 

Sometimes you have to take a step back and as yourself if the thoughts you are having are justified. Have they actually said or done something that you honestly think is evidence to support what you're thinking? And if so, approach them about it. Odds are it could all just be a misunderstanding. And if you are honest with the person about your tendency to overthink they will probably understand, so long as you don't do it so frequently it drives them insane. So give your brain a rest and stop overthinking. And if you're currently overthinking about overthinking as a result of reading this post - contact a medical professional immediately because you've got bigger problems honey. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Season 6 Episode 21

Lately I have been sucked into watching the show House. After the first season or so you start to notice a pattern. The team decides on a diagnosis, then they're wrong, and then this repeats until there's roughly about 5 minutes left in the episode and they finally get the diagnosis right. You'd think that something so repetitive and predictable would get old, no matter how many different medical stories they could come up with, but you'd be surprised what you can learn and it can keep you on the couch for hours at a time (Also, comments on how to cure a Netflix addiction are welcomed - asking for a friend).

The more I've watched the show the more it's made me realize not only how exaggerated and dramatic it is, but it's somehow applicable to the way we approach life. Every step we take that leads us somewhere we didn't want to end up is like a misdiagnosis. We think we've found the problem so we make a change and suddenly our situation either stays the same or worsens. Every relationship we enter, every job offer we take, every decision we make in our lives can somehow seem so right in that moment yet sometimes backfire moments later.

If we know that each step could possibly end up making us worse off, then why keep walking? Why keep hoping that one day one all of these steps will actually pay off rather than settling for where we are now? This is where the repetition comes in. We allow ourselves to make mistakes and take poorly calculated leaps through life because deep down beneath how angry we are when they don't work out we are thankful and hopeful that they will lead us somewhere better.

For instance, some people say they stay out of relationships because they don't want to get hurt. I don't think it's the pain of little heartbreaks along the way they're really afraid of at all. If you ask me, they're just afraid of  finding someone who makes them genuinely happy because the possibility of finding that and then losing it is something not even the bravest of us want to face. But the reality is, without pain, disappointment, failure, and all those other nouns we're so afraid of, we wouldn't even know what the good ones really mean to us.

So take that step you've been avoiding because even if it's the wrong one you are still capable of moving forward from it. Don't let an episode (life) full of misdiagnoses (mistakes) keep you from finding your cure (happiness). I promise you that even though it might seem like things will never look up, eventually they will, but they'll never get there if you refuse to keep trying.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Big Mouth

I can't tell you the number of times I have been asked the following questions...

"Do you realize how much you talk?"
"Do you hear how loud you are?"
"Do you ever shut up?"

Typically, after someone asks one of these I just sit there in silence - mostly because my chest sinks so deep in embarrassment that I find it hard enough to breathe, let alone speak. But after many years of hearing them and still suffering every time someone asks them - I'm finally answering. No, as a matter of fact, I don't. And to be quite honest, even if I did I would not reduce the amount or volume at which I speak just to please you.

Call me whatever name in the book you want. Hit me with that "your name suits you" and continue on your way. Try to rain on my verbal parade with "shut up" and "keep it down." And toss in a "do you ever stop talking" just for good measure. Go for it, I dare you. But no matter how many hurtful things you want to say to me about my talking, I'll still keep doing it.

When something bugs me, I speak up about it. When I have an opinion, I want it heard. When I think something is funny, I burst out in laughter. If you want to go through life constantly reducing who you are just because other people are intimidated, annoyed, or simply want you to be like them then go for it, but I won't. I will not minimize who I am to make others feel better about who they are.

If you're a talker like me - don't change. Don't let the people around you make you feel like your voice is too much just because they're probably paranoid that theirs will never be enough. And don't feel like you need to walk around with a constant filter. I am proud of myself for always being the one to tell it like it is, and if you were blessed with this talent then you should embrace it too. Be your loud, obnoxious, blunt self and don't apologize for it. Just don't be hurtful because then you're just like the people telling you to "shut up."

People won't ever silence me, no matter how badly they want it or how determined they are to do it. I have always been and will always be a big mouth. And to be quite honest, I wouldn't want to be anything else. My name is Gabby, after all.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Friend Zone

I think we can all agree that we have claimed on an occasion (or two) that we have been sent to The Friend Zone. The friend zone is this horrible place that most would agree is some sort of awful purgatory for people who are denied relationships due to being "too good of a friend to lose." We can't ever seem to understand why the person who values our friendship couldn't want us to also be something more, right? WRONG. If you've never been to the friend zone - spoiler alert - it doesn't exist. It's just some made up name for some fictional place people created when they just couldn't stomach rejection and they needed something to call it so they could feel better.

Being a friend who is consistently denied the "next level" is a very real thing; however, the idea that this denial is wrong is, well, WRONG. If someone is your friend, it doesn't matter if you spend every waking moment of every day frolicking through flowers together, if you exchange compliments and sweet sentiments, or even if you're convinced they love you and are just in denial - that person is not obligated to give you the "chance" you apparently think you deserve.

Ask yourself, when you became friends did you do it purposely with the hope of dating them? If so, that's your own damn fault for feeding yourself some sort of false hope and allowing  yourself to have expectations that you shouldn't have ever had in the first place. And even if you just stumbled across your feelings after already having a pre-existing friendship, you still don't have a right to make them feel obligated to date you.

That "chance" you think you have a right to simply for being their friend and for caring about them is exactly the reason they shouldn't give you that chance (or even be your friend to be totally honest). Friendships are not some sort of bargaining chip. You don't just enter someone's life with an agenda. Now I am all about the argument that you can't help who you like, but you can help who you tell and you can help how you make them feel about it.

Telling a friend about the feelings you have for them, when done right, can be completely appropriate and even sometimes rewarding. The problems arise the moment they reject the idea and you feel like it makes them a bad friend. NEWSFLASH - they are not a bad friend. They are doing you a favor and keeping you from dating someone who isn't interested in you. They are literally being an ideal friend right now and you're pissed about it. Let that sink in.

Sure, caring about someone who looks you right in the eyes and tells you that you can't have them is literally the equivalent to getting the wind knocked out of you - times ten. But no matter how horrible that rejection makes you feel, you have to remember that you were never entitled to any sort of friendship with them, let alone a relationship. It is a privilege to be a part of their life and the moment you take that for granted or start to believe you deserve something more is the moment they deserve better.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Half There & Gone Day

People used to tell me I should feel lucky. I got to have two dads while a lot of my friends only had one, or worse, none. I spent my childhood constantly having to distinguish between which dad I was talking about. I didn't want to offend one dad if I called the other dad "dad" in front of that dad. It's just about as complicated as it sounds. I was envied and I could never understand why.

My step-dad was not a perfect person. He yelled on more than one occasion and he wasn't always the nicest guy. I used to hate how he'd play favorites with my brothers since they were biologically his kids. But I still don't think I ever appreciated him enough for all of the things he did right. Pete taught me how to throw a football. He was there when I fell behind the stands during cheerleading and cut my knee. He bought me the Britney Spears barbie I wanted (the one in the red leather suit from the Lucky music video). He took me to my softball games sometimes (for the whole one year that I played). And sure, maybe he never came to a choir concert and maybe he said "no" to a lot of things and it pissed me off, but my step-dad took care of me.

And then there's my biological dad, who spent the majority of my childhood in foreign countries in the Army. Phone call here, email there. Chad was the "cool" dad, always buying fancy gifts and sending foreign souvenirs. There are a lot of elements to our relationship that have created the wall between us, and I will take blame for the bitterness that still exists on my end, but there are many reasons why I'd still argue our relationship would have been better had he actually put being a father before money when I was growing up.

I never really had that "daddy" connection with either of my dads. I would get really uncomfortable when Chad would come visit because he seemed to have this bond with me that I just didn't have with him - I still feel this way sometimes. He'd just come back home on leave and expect to play dad for a week or two and then leave again. I got used to it as I got older, but I still feel like that's something a child should never have to "get used to." And Pete never really felt like "daddy" because I always knew that he wasn't my biological dad and I wasn't sure if I was even allowed to feel that way because my biological dad was still in my life.

And then Pete passed away, and my whole life flipped around. The two-dad lifestyle I had that everyone envied so much came to a screeching halt and became a nightmare no one wanted to live through. Chad missed out on my childhood and now Pete has to miss out on my adulthood and all the while I'm left here to figure out how I'm supposed to feel about it. People think it's great that I still have a dad left, but what they don't realize is I still lost one and that still hurts.

No matter what, I will always appreciate both of my dads for the things they do and did, but I would be lying if I said I appreciated them both the same or as much as anyone else appreciates their dads. It's hard to celebrate someone who is half-there and someone who isn't there anymore. And I refuse to only celebrate my biological dad more simply because he is alive. A simple "Happy Father's Day" text and a "Happy Father's Day" prayer will do.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stand Up & Brush Your Knees Off

Let's be real.We all have days that make us feel like life is one big joke. We feel like we are the newest zoo attraction on display and the whole world is just waiting for us to do something. We cry, we scream, we bury our faces in pillows and shove our spoons into ice cream. These strategies are just a temporary fix to the bigger problems in our lives that we either ignore or just haven't had a clear enough mind to uncover. Eventually you have to realize that nothing is going to change until your attitude does.

Sometimes you just get dealt a really shitty hand of cards, but complaining endlessly about them isn't going to put them in the hands of someone else. And as far as social media goes - posting for support is one thing, posting for pity is another. It's not right to expect the world to absorb your problems, especially if you aren't doing all that you can to combat them - attitude adjustments included.
You have to be willing to put your best foot forward and approach tough situations positively, and you can't do that if you're constantly focusing on the negative.

Learn to live by the motto: "Control what you can. Accept what you can't." Don't let something that you have no influence over regularly influence your life and your attitude. The more you sit around moping about what is going wrong, the less you will be appreciative of what is going right. You have to ask yourself if you're doing everything you can to make this situation better or if you're choosing to complain instead of taking action.

It's also important not to let your current situation keep you from doing the things that make you happy. Ask yourself, "When is the last time I *insert thing you love here*?" If you struggle to find the answer, maybe it's time you allow yourself space from the things that are causing you anxiety and give yourself the opportunity to embrace something you love. I know you want to make the excuse that you won't be able to enjoy it because of your other worries, but instead of simply refusing - do yourself a favor and try. You might be pleasantly surprised by your ability to put it out of mind and you might actually enjoy yourself for the first time in a long time.

Life is never going to be perfect. Not even the richest, the happiest, or the smartest people have it together 100% of the time. We always want to think our problems are the worst problems and that we don't deserve them, but you just have to remember that you are capable of overcoming them. In the end of it all you will most likely be a better person as a result of the difficulties you've faced, but for the time being just stand up and brush your knees off - it will all work out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

She's Caitlyn - Get The Hell Over It

If your son or daughter or any other loved one told you they're meant to be a different gender, they have feelings for people of the same gender, they don't have feelings for either gender, or any other possible feeling they might have that doesn't fit the category of "normal" - would you still love them? Would you still care for them the same way even though you have to define them differently than you did just moments before that conversation? What if you found out they never even had the courage to tell you and lived their whole life feeling uncomfortable in their own skin - or worse, what if they choose they can't live anymore as a result of the discomfort?

I spent my afternoon reading post after post trying to figure out why people really hate Caitlyn Jenner's transformation, her story, or the publicity surrounding it. I came across a few thoughts that simply just don't add up in my mind and I thought they would be worthwhile to address. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, which is why I'm sharing theirs and then giving my two cents.

1. "She's not a hero. Members of the armed forces - now those are heroes."
Hero (n.): a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. So you're trying to tell me that a person who stands up for gender equality and acceptance by sharing their transformation story after 65 years of feeling like they were stuck in the wrong body and their new-found comfort and confidence in the process is not heroic? I understand that there are men and women who fight every day to protect this nation - my own father risked his life too. But that doesn't make me unable to observe when others are being heroes as well. They don't only wear uniforms and carry weapons - they walk among you and I. They are activists, they are mothers, they are fathers, they are doctors and nurses. Heroes are everywhere. Just because you don't identify someone as your personal hero doesn't mean that they aren't still heroes to someone else. Anyone is capable of doing something great in this world and being a hero, you don't have to fight in a war to contribute to the progress of our society. She's a hero. 

2. "Due to excessive photo-shopping of the Vogue cover she is going to make transgender people feel as though they need to look a certain way."
NEWSFLASH. Society already has high expectations of what men and women should look like. It doesn't matter what gender you are or if you identify with one at all - everyone faces these expectations daily. Her choosing to pose on that cover isn't so she can prove she's the hottest transgender woman, it's simply to say "Look at me world. I'm finally who I was meant to be all along and I am feeling great about it." Instead of commenting on what she's wearing or how much make-up she has on, look at that amazing smile on her face (even if it was touched up) and admire how genuine it is. Admire how happy this woman is to finally feel like she is who she is meant to be and allow it to inspire people. Don't try to drag it down just because it's been enhanced just like every other goddamn photo. She's beautiful inside and out, we all are.

3. "Another rich, famous person buying their way to look how they want. Another publicity stunt."
Oh, because if you were rich and didn't feel comfortable in your own skin you wouldn't choose to use money to help you feel better? Oh wait you wouldn't know unless you're her that's right. Let's be real, even if you are 100% complacent with your looks, if you had the opportunity to enhance them (or in this case completely transform them) let's not assume that you would automatically say no. You never know what you would do in someone's situation because you aren't them - plain and simple. God creates everyone in His image, but that doesn't mean by changing our looks we are defying God. We are simply becoming who we feel God intended for us to be. If that means getting a pair of boobs, then so be it. And as far as this being a publicity stunt you can just sit back down. The reality is, even if Caitlyn isn't doing this with a pure heart with the hope of helping society, she doesn't have to be. She is still creating a wave of inspiration that can't be denied. Just because actions don't always come from a place of selflessness does not mean they cannot still benefit others.

At the end of the day Caitlyn can now rest a little easier knowing she isn't a woman trapped in a man's body anymore. She is free to be herself, express herself as she pleases, and identify with the gender to which she truly belongs. Who are you to tell her who she should be? She's Caitlyn. So get the hell over it already.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mr. Least Expected

People always tell me, "You'll meet someone when you least expect it." I always roll my eyes and accept their advice as if I haven't heard it a thousand times already since becoming single. I can't say it's been easy, and I won't pretend like I haven't seen or spent time with different people along the way. But nobody really stuck around long enough to leave a positive impression. Either they didn't want to make the commitment, or I didn't have enough interest in them to bother. At least, until now.

I'm kind of scared to admit that I might have found someone worthwhile. Someone who makes me nervous for all the right reasons. Someone who enables me to be the authentic, bold version of myself who I've grown to love so much. Someone who never tells me I talk too much, but instead loves the fact that I do. Someone who calls me endearing - an adjective with which I had never even considered to describe myself (truthfully, I didn't even know what it meant before I met him). 

Before this I had been having the worst luck with guys and quite frankly was sick of even trying. I had become so fed up with everyone and everything about dating that I just didn't see the point anymore. But then I met him, and I couldn't help but think to myself that he might be different. He's respectful, ambitious, and direct - something I'm not used to. I suppose at some point I admitted to myself that he's the Mr. Least Expected that everyone had been telling me about.

Now, I'm no stranger to the reality that this could all end up a big bust and I could run home crying to my mom, but at least now I know that the advice I had been given wasn't a total load of crap. I really did meet someone special when I wasn't really trying to.

There is no part of the advice that says that person will be "the one" or any other type of guarantee that might make you feel more at ease about starting a new relationship with someone, but it's not supposed to. What fun would life be if everything was guaranteed? So even if Mr. Least Expected becomes just another name on the list of Mr. It-Just-Didn't-Work-Out's, it's still wonderful to know I met someone when I least expected it.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Super Woman

I remember it pretty fondly. It was this old, navy sweat jacket (as my mom calls them - although most would yell at me and tell me it's a zip-up - whatever the hell that is). She used to wear it all the time. I remember one night when she headed off to work she didn't wear it and I curled up in it waiting for her return. It felt good to try on Super Woman's cape while she was off being even more super somewhere else. Although the sweat jacket became worn out, the woman who wore it is even stronger than she was the first day she put it on.

My mother is one of the most incredible people to which I can say I am related. She wins the award every year for most likely to tell you when you're being too selfish, settling for less than you deserve, making a dumb decision, or when you're doing all three at the same time (and she will proceed to prove how that's possible). She is right 99% of the time. And even though I only follow her advice roughly 70% of the time, she still openly provides it.

My mom lives by the motto "I'm not your best friend; I'm your mother." As I started getting older and we started to have a more adult relationship, I wanted to argue otherwise. I mean, she tells me when my lipstick is tacky, we laugh about what people in Walmart are wearing (or worse, what people think they can wear when they aren't at Walmart), we share stories, shoes, and clothes (some of which I don't think she always enjoys sharing, yet she does). I think somewhere along the line my mother seemed like a best friend, but I think it only seems that way not because she actually is a best friend, but because she's the best kind of mother.

She saves you when you need saving, but makes sure that you first try to save yourself. She won't help you with your homework until you've tried all of the other problems first because she wants you to know that one bout of discouragement shouldn't keep you from doing the best that you can. She doesn't rush to the store to buy your favorite food when you come home to visit because she taught you enough about independence that you've probably been eating it the whole time you were away. She treats you and all of your siblings equally, but not the same, and by the time you're old enough to recognize there is a difference you will also understand why she does it.

I have heard some of my mother's stories. I have been an eyewitness to many of her trials with which God has challenged her. And each and every time she approached them with such bravery and determination. I am sure she had moments of weakness, as we all do, but in the end she has been victorious and I could not be more proud to call someone of her character my mother. She isn't superhuman, just an amazing and beautifully flawed individual. She loves me, and whether or not we have always been able to get along there was never a doubt in my mind about that.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

He Won His Battle But We Lost Our War

She came into the equation before I even was able to acknowledge that she had. She quietly creeped into our relationship like it was a cracked door just waiting to be pushed open. She gradually took him away from me. I never even saw it coming; things just changed. I became the after thought while she directed his every move. I couldn't compete with her. She was alluring, powerful, and controlling. She was Depression, and I couldn't stop her from taking him away.

I still don't really know the whole story, and I know I never will, but I do know that depression effects more than just the person who suffers from it. My ex and I most definitely had a rocky relationship, but his depression made it all the more unmanageable. For a long time I tried to convince him that he needed help, and for a long time he ignored me and the same problems persisted. Sleeping through dates, skipping class, mood swings, poor health habits... Eventually it all became too much.

I couldn't sit by and watch the person I loved fall apart and not be able to do anything about it. When I met him he wasn't depressed; he was a happy, healthy, funny, charming, responsible, and driven college kid. As our relationship progressed I felt more and more responsible for the changes in his behavior. Believe it or not, things did improve toward the end. We started getting along better and he started being more like himself, but it just wasn't enough.

I had lost myself in his battle. I was so caught up in the fight that I forgot what I had been fighting for in the first place. And the resentment I had toward him overruled all of the love that had once been there and took it's place. All of the responsibility I had placed upon myself to care for him eventually took it's toll. I couldn't save him anymore; I needed to save myself.

I still battle, even today, with what happened while we were together. I don't know if I'll ever be the same person again; his depression changed me. At some point during the process, I wrote the following poem:

I would trade a forever alone for one more day of you and me
I'd give up my smile if it meant I'd see yours again
The real one, not the one you wear to try and hide your pain
I would take every breath and breathe it into your lungs
If it meant that you would start to live again
I would take every selfish thought and set it aside for you
I just wish I knew what you've been thinking
While you've been living life as someone else
Who did I fall in love with? Who has that man become?
I wish I could erase my memory even if it meant losing the good ones
At least then I wouldn't have to remember you as a liar
At least then I wouldn't fear that our love is a lie too
I would give every day I've spent with you up
If it meant you could be who you were before
If it meant you could be happy again, motivated again
The truth is I'm not strong enough to tell you this
I'm not strong enough to let you go
But deep down I'm afraid it might be the only way
Deep down I'm scared to death of losing you 
But even more scared to keep you 
What do I do anymore? Shh, keep quiet
My worries will only wake you
My confusion will only make matters worse
The silence feels worse when you're alone
Fighting a battle you didn't ask for; a war you didn't want to wage
But you chose your army, you chose the silence for yourself
You chose the secrets and the solitude
And in the end we all suffer
In the end I had to spill your lips for you to save you
But there was a piece of me who did it for myself
A piece of me who was sick of the secrets, the lies
I would not take it back if I could
So ask yourself, who did you fall in love with? 
Who has that woman become? 
Ask me yourself and I still couldn't tell you
I lost myself in your silence, I died fighting your war
And here I sit, still quietly fighting back
With words that will most likely remain unread
Like the thoughts you've locked away in your mind
Like the drive to live happily that you've so easily ignored
I remain ignored, I remain unhappy and locked away
But am I the one keeping myself there? 
I remain lost, I remain confused
Yet I still remain silent though I know words have always saved me
Why have I become like you? Afraid to speak
And even more afraid of what might be said in response
I used to be stronger than this
Who am I? What happened to that girl?
I will not fight for you anymore
I will not be your prisoner, forced to fight when you feel weak
I will stand you up and make you fight with me
I will not let you cower in a corner
I will not develop your bad habits or let yours remain
I will not remain silent
I will not choose secrets and solitude
I love you, I will always love you
But I can not promise you that if our love is your anchor
Holding you here in this place where you've fallen
That I won't let you go, because I will
I will only be your anchor if I'm keeping you safe
Keeping you held in a place where you know love
A place where you know happiness and motivation
I will help you through this
Even if it means I have to let you go

I didn't know when I wrote this that I was helping the man I loved fight through depression, but I know now. Finding this poem in my journal really helped me create the bridge between how I was feeling and the knowledge that he in-fact had depression. Gradually I realized that although I had been the one to help him through it didn't mean that I was the one meant to be with him thereafter. And I am happy to say that although our relationship didn't survive the process, he is surviving depression, and that is still something I couldn't be more thankful for.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Thank You for Being a Friend

As the end of the school year is approaching, I just want to take a second while I have all this energy from caffeine to thank a few people who have really been there for me this year. I know this won't be a comprehensive list, so if I forgot you I give you permission to write a nasty blog about me.

To my IATG girls: You ladies are the reason I am standing here today as a confident, passionate, and inspired woman. Each and every one of you has helped me become such a strong person and I honestly could not have done it without all of you.

To Shannon Gardner: Thank you for teaching me to embrace my womanhood and enabling me to embrace other women. You have inspired me in more ways than you know and I have no idea where I'd be without you. I could go on for days about you - but I'll just keep it at that. Love you.

To Liz Lyle & Hannah Russell: For the last 8 months you have put up with me and I am so thankful. Thank you for listening to me complain, letting me vent endlessly, and for pulling my head out of my ass when I think a douche bag is a nice boy (and for still loving me when I don't listen). You guys are such lovely human beings. And Liz, thanks for making my bed sometimes and being my mom even though I want to hit you for it at times. Hannah, thanks for always saying "Go to bed, girl!" when I complain about being tired. Oh, and for bringing home muffins from work.

To Jocelyn Smith: In the short amount of time I have gotten to know you, I am so thankful to have you in my life. You're so adventurous and crazy, and I love that about you. I am so sad that you are graduating, but I am also beyond excited to see where your passion takes you.

To Melanie Hlahol: We both know I could go on and on so I'll keep this short. You're always there to bring my head back down from the clouds and make me stop over-thinking things. You are such an amazing support system and I am so thankful to have you in my life.

To my homies Jamison, Karebear, and Kates: Thank you for making this long distance friendship thing so worthwhile. I love seeing your beautiful faces when I come home and I hope to soon see them here in Columbus visiting my ass. Love you all.

To my family (and that includes you too, Don & Brian!): Thank you for always driving my ass back and forth from Columbus. Erin, thank you for taking care of me when I was sick - I don't think it was just the tea that did the trick, but also a little sisterly TLC. Brian, thank you for treating me as if I am your own little sister. Jarrod and Colin, thanks for being the best pains in the ass a girl could have for brothers. Mom and Don, ya'll know you're the best so I really don't need to go on for days about that.

To my McFam: You guys have been there for me so much these last few years and I don't know if I would have survived work (or life) without you. You guys make pouring coffee refills and bagging food a good time. I'm going to miss all of you dearly this summer.

To anyone else who has crossed my path this year: Thank you for helping shape me into who I am meant to be, teaching me lessons, and for making this year of college my best one yet.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Insecurities Are Flammable

When you break up with someone and you let them go, eventually you realize all of the things you were missing - all of the things you wanted, but just weren't getting. The problem is the time that spans between that realization and when you actually find what you're looking for can really break you down. What creates an even more painful situation is witnessing the person you let go willingly give all the things they claimed they couldn't give to you to someone else.

The worst part is up until this point you felt like you took out the trash, but now you realize that trash is now someone else's treasure as it once was yours too. You find yourself staring at pictures wondering what she has that you don't, wondering what makes him want to give her all of those things that for you were just empty promises. You begin to question why you ever broke things off and you might even want to tell him how you're feeling.

You forget the fact that your relationship ended for a reason. You forget all of the things he did wrong because right now all you can do is miss the things he did right once in a while. The thought of someone else being in his arms makes you cringe, but you forget that's the very same cringe that made you leave when you realized how blind you'd been. You blame the struggle you've had finding something meaningful on this false hope that maybe what you had with him had been your something meaningful all along.

But the truth is you have no right to impede on his happiness. You can have as many opinions and reservations about it as you'd like, but you don't sit in a place that has any right to share them. You gave up; you let him go. And even if you have your reasons, no matter how great they may be, there will still be days when you fall back to old habits sometimes and miss those brief moments when he wasn't letting you down. But unless you plan on rekindling and maintaining the fire, step away from the matches.

Those days of insecurity are your matches. Those moments when you feel like begging him not to move on and to still hold you in his heart are the most flammable of all. But do him and yourself a favor - don't light that fire unless it's one you don't plan to put out. The truth is right now your life is just experiencing a drought - you're feeling lonely and you know he would be there if you asked him to stay. But once it passes and you have enough water - enough security in who you are and what you want - we both know exactly what's going to happen to that fire. And that boy may never see it coming and it may cost him the only person whose made him happy since losing you.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Let Cool 20 Minutes Before Serving

Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies (and if you don't... well, whatever). And most people - no matter how convincing the back of the box tries to be - don't wait for them to cool before they indulge in their ooey gooey chocolaty deliciousness. So if we can't even handle following a simple rule for cooling cookies that was decided for us by someone else, why should we follow society's dating rules that say we have to wait a certain amount of time after a break-up to start dating again? (Please tell me you knew this post wasn't going to be all about cookies...)

Dating is a lot like eating freshly baked cookies. We allow ourselves to enjoy the company of another person, we give ourselves to them, and sometimes we may even love them. And we don't always wait the right amount of time or maybe we indulge too much - but it isn't our job to decide the right time or how much is too much for someone else.

And don't sit there and pretend like you've never looked at someone and said (or at least thought) "Isn't it a little soon to start dating again?" Even I have thought it or said it at one time or another. But who are we to tell someone else when they should or shouldn't date? Who are we to dictate for someone else when they are "allowed" to move on with their life? The truth is we aren't, and our opinions about it need to stop.

In reality, we have no idea what someone's relationship was like. We only saw what they wanted us to see or what they could show us in the presence of others. Outside observers don't always get to see the details of other people's relationships (which is a good thing), but that means our opinions are garbage because we never have the full story. The person in the relationship may not even realize how unhappy they were until they get out of it, so how can you tell them that they have to feel sad and miserable when they may have spent the entire relationship feeling that way?

Even if someone walks you through every moment of their relationship, you still may not feel the same way they do about the situation because you didn't live through it and your perceptions about it will always differ. No person is the same and no person goes through things the same way. So when you try to create a mold for everyone to fit, it's never going to work. Don't be agitated when people don't fit the mold and do what YOU think they should be doing - be proud of them for doing what makes them happy and consider doing the same for yourself.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Car Rides With Mom

I think I have been given some of the best advice sitting in the passenger seat of my mom's car. In one trip to Target I could end up saying all the things I needed to say and hearing all the things I needed to hear. None of which would be possible without my mom (and her car, of course).

My mom tells it like it is. She never beats around the bush and she never simply says things to fill the space in conversation. She makes every word count and she never hesitates to share the cold, hard truth. When I'm away at school I don't get these talks as often as I used to, so once in a while it's nice to come home and get a little dose of my favorite medicine - car rides with mom.

Today's advice I heard loud and clear. It's not like it was something I hadn't already heard or didn't already know, but hearing it in that car seemed to let the reality of it all sink in. I think we could all learn a thing or two from car rides with mom. 

Lesson number one. Don't let love be defined by the way you feel in a bedroom. When all is said and done, the person you grow old with has to be more than just someone you're physically attracted to. It needs to be the person who is going to be there to help you do all the things you can no longer do on your own. It needs to be someone who you're going to love even when neither of you can express it in the same way you did when you were young and crazy. 

Lesson number two. It's okay to be young and reckless sometimes, but be cautious of the damage it may cause along the way. Don't assume that just because you're the one in the driver's seat that you always have your best intentions at heart because you just might not be thinking all that clearly. Don't let the repercussions control you, but don't let the freedom ruin you. 

Lesson number three. Don't ever settle. Don't let someone make you believe that they love you "enough" because you will always deserve more than that. Someone should love you for more than what you have to offer, they should love you for all that you are. 

Lesson number four. You can't love anyone until you first love yourself. I know we've all heard this a million times, but when it comes directly from your mom's mouth it seems clearer than it's ever been. You can't possibly give yourself to someone if you haven't even taken the time to figure out who you are and what kind of love it is you need. 

The list of lessons could most definitely continue, and I don't think it's anywhere near complete. I think for as long as my mother is in my life her advice will continue to keep me going. I know I don't always listen to it (even though I probably should), but I do appreciate it. Sometimes you should just drop what you're doing and get in that passenger seat because one day when nothing is making sense you're really going to miss car rides with mom. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Soon Came... & Soon Went

I don't understand it, and I guess I never will. But that still doesn't keep me from wondering why. Why you came into my life again, promising me that this time it would be different, if you really knew that it wouldn't be. Why you said that you regretted the way you left things before, yet didn't do a damn thing to make up for it. Why you still won't even apologize for leaving me feeling this way.

I kept telling myself to have hope. I promised myself that you were worth the struggle and the patience. I let myself believe that "soon" was finally in reach and you would be mine this time. Optimism went from being one of my greatest qualities to being my fatal flaw. It consumed me, it weakened me, and eventually I broke. Eventually I woke up and realized that nothing's changed.

Most people would say, "I guess I really only have myself to blame." And maybe I am partly at fault, but I still blame you. I blame you for not being brave enough to say what you wanted or how you were feeling. I blame you for putting me on a back burner and manipulating me into thinking that I wasn't. And I blame you for letting what I thought could have been everything become nothing - you lit the fire and left me standing there to watch it burn while you ran in the other direction.

You were like a hit and run - no responsibility for your actions, no remorse for the damage you caused. Maybe I'll never find out what motivates you to come and go as you please with no thought to your impact, but I do know that I'm done letting you impact me. I'm done being the welcome mat that innocently invites you into her heart. I'm done and, to be frank, you can take "soon" and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

His World Doesn't Revolve Around Me

I used to think that I could expect a guy to call me every night, miss me every day, and literally drop the world for me. He needed to be there for me no matter what was going on in his life, no excuses. If he didn't do something I asked it was as if the world had ended. Truthfully, I think my expectations have lowered over the last few years, and obviously for good reason.

Sometimes I wish I could sit down with the girl I used to be and have a conversation with her. I'd tell her to pull her head out of her ass and realize she isn't the reason the sun shines in that boys life. I'd tell her that sometimes she needs to be her own hero, her own motivation, her own support system, and her own best friend. He isn't just someone to lean on, someone to control, or someone's lap upon which to lay your problems - he's in your life to enhance it not give it meaning because you were incapable of doing so on your own.

It's okay to want attention and affirmation. It's even okay to need it sometimes. The problems arise when you constantly expect it and sometimes without committing to doing the same for the other person. If you wouldn't do it for them, why should they do it for you? Relationships are all about give and take. You can't expect to be handed the world if you would only keep it for yourself.

So let some phone calls go unmade, some I miss you's left unsaid, and let his world be of his own control and creation. And when all is said and done, if you're still unhappy, let go and find someone who is willing and able to give you more of what you need. But don't expect the world unless you're willing to give it too because I can promise you that you'll be waiting for a long time. And remember: he can't be your other half until you've learned to be whole all on your own.

Friday, February 20, 2015

50 Shades of Fiction

He didn't ask her to sign a contract before he threw her down the hallway. He didn't receive permission to send her to work with a hand print across her face. She didn't tell him it was okay to call her those names or to make her feel worthless. She didn't use the safe word - she begged for her life. That's domestic violence.

(If you want to know what I think about 50 Shades, here goes. Otherwise, stop reading.)

This movie is about a girl who wants love, but settles for less because she wants Christian more. This movie is about a man with a past. A man who decides to spend his life as "the dominant" rather than a husband or a lover. He doesn't make love, he fucks. And that is his choice - a choice that he is 100% honest about. A choice that he reiterates time and time again to ensure Ana's understanding.

Ana reminds me a lot of myself. I can't count the times I've put myself in situations with men where I wanted more but settled for less. I'd fight through tear-filled nights and wake up as if everything was fine. But the reality is in being with someone who honestly tells you they can't love you, you are not a victim if you continue to see them knowing the truth. You have a right to feel heartbroken, but they also have a right not to feel remorse because they told you that's how it would be.

This man has every right in this world to make a choice to do whatever he wants with his life. And maybe he is a little screwed up and maybe he needs a little therapy, but that doesn't make him any less human than you or me. That doesn't make his desires inhumane or wrong. And it doesn't make Ana a victim of domestic violence if she stares him right in the face and says "punish me."

For those of you who want to look at this movie as a representation of domestic violence, you are actually making so light of such a devastating situation. For those of you who want to say that what Christian wants is "wrong," then your necessity to let societal pressures define what sex and relationships have to mean for everyone is just as wrong as the pressure of an unwarranted hand against the skin of someone's body.

Domestic violence isn't a movie. It isn't a book. It isn't some fictional story about some tortured male soul who can't seem to navigate love and therefore chooses a life of erotic, sexual pleasure. It isn't a story about a curious, virgin girl who looks a man in the face and asks to be shown his world. It is the realistic manifestation of a nightmare that women (and men) all over the world are forced to live through every day. So if you want to be angry at someone, be angry at the REAL people laying their hands on those who don't ask for it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Moments of Weakness

It's the morning after. This is the point where the guilt usually sets in. The point where I start to feel bad about making a decision I know I shouldn't. I lead him out of my room, show him the door, and lock it behind him. The shameful look on my hungover face must paint the story pretty accurately.

We're all human, and we cannot be strong all of the time. We often face moments of weakness and we often make mistakes. And sometimes our mistakes can come at a heavy price for our hearts. We let the wrong people in. We say and do things that we shouldn't. We ignore the warning signs and the red flags. We end up getting hurt even though it could have been easily avoided.

But there is beauty in moments of weakness. Moments of weakness represent times where we ourselves are willing to admit our imperfection through action. We follow our hearts instead of logic. We are willing to accept happiness for a moment, even if it is followed by consistent sadness. It might not make sense, but it isn't supposed to.

I find it most ironic that we even call them moments of "weakness" because of how much they exemplify our strength. It takes a strong person to do what they want to in a single moment, without fearing the repercussions or the regret that might follow. And it takes an even stronger person to admit that it happened. They may display shame on the surface, but deep down they know that moment meant something to them and they needed to do it for themselves.

I'm not saying that doing the "wrong" thing all the time is a good idea. I'm just saying that sometimes its okay to do something that might not be deemed right as long as it feels right. If we constantly lived our lives according to the standards of everyone around us, no one would be happy. Our happiness is defined by our individual needs, not someone else's. Don't let your moments of weakness consume you, but once in a while it's okay to let them take control and learn from whatever lesson it may have to offer you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Don't Call It Losing Weight

I know, I know - who wants to hear the skinny bitch talk about weight problems? I can't say I really know how overweight people feel because I've ever really had to experience that, but I do know a thing or two about the importance of a positive body image - no matter what size you are.

I literally hate the terms "losing weight" or "dieting." I actually find them kind of derogatory when I consider the way they can make people think about their bodies or their lifestyles. I always correct people who say "I want to be skinny" or "thin." So if you find yourself saying any of these things - STOP. I will personally hunt you down to stop you if necessary.

Instead of heading straight to what we think our problem areas are and trying to change our bodies, we first need to change our attitude! Having a positive attitude is a crucial component in making a healthy lifestyle change. You need to believe in yourself, and you can't do that if you're constantly being a Negative Nancy.

Start by replacing those negative expressions in your life with a new one. "I want to look healthy, eat healthy, feel healthy, and most of all I want to be confident." The media is constantly surrounding us with ideas of what they think we should look like, and it's time we start taking back control and formulate our own expectations for ourselves instead of letting society do it for us.

We need to start loving the things about ourselves that we can't control. The reality is, no matter how many squats you do, no matter how many miles you run, or weights you lift - you're body is always going to be built in a particular fashion that you have no control over. Eventually you have to accept what biological cards you were dealt and embrace them.

So, stop counting calories and start counting reasons to love yourself the way you are.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Relationships Are Not Hobbies

Disclaimer: When you see the word relationship in this post I mean the full-on shebang, girlfriend/boyfriend relationship not that crap college kids think relationships are.

Would someone please explain to me the significance of committing to someone who you can't even see yourself being with in the future? Honestly, is that really how little you value your time? Don't get me wrong, it takes time to decide if someone is meant for you. It's not a decision that happens overnight. But for the people out there who continue to see someone even though they know full well that things will never work - I just don't get it.

I find it really sad that people these days are treating relationships like they're hobbies - only interested until a better option comes along. I will never understand why someone would agree to a relationship simply so they don't have to be alone. Why would I continue to commit myself to someone who I can't even picture my life with and waste time on them when I could be single and off finding the person that I should be with? 

You don't have to be in a relationship. And simply feeling lonely isn't reason enough to start or maintain a relationship with someone. For all you know that person could consider you part of their future and you can't even picture yourself with them next week. Is that really fair?

I think we need to stop being so selfish in this respect. Not many people enjoy the idea of spending life alone, but being in meaningless relationships is not the solution to loneliness. If anything, it's only going to make matters worse. You will constantly be letting people in and when each one leaves the empty space will grow. The void will never quite be filled until you stop trying to fill it and start listening to what you're heart actually wants and needs.

Everyone deserves to love and be loved for all the right reasons and with all the best intentions. We need to stop letting relationships become our crutch. If you don't know who you are or what you want, wasting time with someone else is never going to help you. So only invest in relationships with purpose and intent, otherwise let them go. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015


I recently started writing a song about patience, and it got me thinking. 

I am not a patient person. I have improved over the years, but I will most likely never say “I’m patient” with 100% confidence. And that's okay, but I think it's important to know when you should really try to be patient.

Throughout these last six months I have discovered things about myself that I never knew simply because I never took the time to be patient. With everyone around me graduating, getting married, having kids it really started to get to me. I felt like my life wasn't moving as quickly as everyone else's. But now that I have taken a step back, I realize that my life doesn't have to move that fast. I can be patient and wait for the right person, the right opportunities, and the right time to do things for myself. I don't have to rush just because everyone else might have it figured out already. 

We have to learn how to be patient. If we spend all our time trying to rush through life, we miss out on important opportunities to learn more about ourselves. What's the point of finding "the one" if we aren't even ready for them because we never took the time to figure out who we are or what we really need? That's pretty unfair to the other person if you seem like you have it all put together when in reality it's only because you never challenged yourself to grow. 

So take your time. Be patient with life and what it has to offer. It's not about how fast you reach the destination, but about all of the things you experience along the way. What kind of conversation can you have with someone when they ask "Who are you?" and the only thing you have to say is "I don't know, I ran so fast that I forgot to figure that out along the way."

Enough is Enough

When you start seeing someone new, start investing time and energy into your "relationship," and devote yourself to them, it can be a little upsetting when you come to find out that it was all for nothing. After all of the effort you put in, you realize it never meant half as much to the other person as it did to you. It's unfortunate, it's painful, but it happens. 

I spent the fall semester trying to convince myself that I just wanted something simple, something casual. I eventually found myself in a "relationship" with someone who was constantly tossing me back and forth. One minute they were supposedly thinking about dating, the next they wanted nothing to do with it. Eventually I just couldn't take it anymore and a big "fuck-off" was in order. 

As it turns out, casual really isn't all that simple after all. Once you start realizing you have feelings for them you have to come to terms with the fact that it's about to get a lot more complicated. You also have to consider the fact that the feelings might not be mutual. Or if you're as unlucky as I am you find yourself in a situation where the feelings are mutual, but your priorities aren't. And once your feelings are known and your relationship leaves the realm of "casual" there really is no going back. 

I speak from experience (no surprise there) when I say that no matter how many times outside observers tell you that you're wasting your time or that you'll only end up hurt - 9 times out of 10 you still won't listen. I am a firm believer in the "enough is enough" rule. But the key to the rule is realizing that everyone's versions of "enough" are different. Some people can keep themselves on an emotional roller-coaster for months, others can't survive days. In my opinion, I'd much rather deal with the pain that comes along with "enough" rather than moving on too soon and meeting enough's best friend "what if." It is up to you to decide which you'd rather live with. 

But eventually you owe it to yourself to say I'm done, I deserve better. You have to be willing to wake up from your fantasy and realize that someone who can’t give you what you’re willing to give them is not worth your time. And this is easier said than done in almost all circumstances, but eventually you'll find your threshold, draw your line in the sand, and learn how to keep your standards where they belong.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' Self-esteem

After spending 20 years as someone's child I've learned a thing or two about how much a parent can impact your life far beyond year 18. And I'm not talking about financially. I'm talking about the way their behavior and treatment can impact your transition into adulthood.

I can honestly say that although my mother and I have our differences, I thank God every day for the way she raised me. She taught me to have thick skin, to be kind and courteous, and to speak my mind. My mom pretty much nailed the parenting thing (not flawlessly, but who does?).

Over the course of my first few years of college I have learned that not all people have been so lucky. Sadly, I've heard stories of parents belittling their children, having high expectations of perfection, and constantly hovering over every decision they make. 

In life we are all faced with some pretty tough choices and unfortunate circumstances. We struggle through loss, growth, and change. But if we are constantly controlled by our parents we will never learn how to stand on our own two feet and face problems with courage and the proper coping mechanisms. And we sure as hell aren't going to learn self-confidence by hearing the people who are supposed to love us most tell us all the things that are wrong with us.

And for the record, I can't really speak for kids who have parents who pay for their education. I don't know what that pressure is like, but I do know that it isn't fair to use that to control your children into adulthood just because you like the taste of power. Because I will tell you one thing for sure, if you are constantly pushing your kids down and holding things over their heads then you aren't a parent at all - you're a bully. Parents are supposed to be providers of unconditional love above all else. They are supposed to support their children, even when it might be difficult. 

And if all of this doesn't say enough, just remember who picks your nursing home.