Stuck at 30 [unedited]

I haven’t written in a long time. I’ve been somewhere between really happy, complacent, and not happy for some time. it is an odd feeling- likely due to underlying mental health “illnesses” that dictated aspects of my life long before I could have deciphered the impacts mixed with the ebbs and flows of a romantic relationship filled with a love so strong that any turmoil that arises seems to overshadow it and the settling in of a new life and a job without an end date … or so I hope.

So, I turned 30 last week. An age I’ve wanted to be since I was 23. The age where I could rightfully, so I thought, get upset when underestimated on the excuse of my young age. A milestone birthday.

I know you can never predict your future. I know you should never predict the happiness you will ascribe to a certain event or a certain accomplishment. I know better. I know myself. I also know I’m good at fooling myself when I want to.

30 is an accomplishment. 30 is something I earned. 30 is the moment I move on from 20-29 and toward the future. Its the third round, the third act, third take.

When we learn something or try something new for the first time, we almost always need hands-on, constant assistance. We fumble and fall, and it is expected and forgiven because of its newness. We are expected to be unable to succeed at the new endeavor on our own. We are learning, observing, listening, getting frustrated, building the foundation for something bigger later on – even if we don’t realize it at the time. The act of learning and growing is seemingly solely based on self, centralized on the task at hand, and we often forget the coaches and teachers who are equally important in forming that foundation.

When we try something the second time, the training wheels are still on – just in case – but we have more confidence. A false confidence for most. We want to try our craft on our own for the first time, but the instructor is still necessary, just in case we forget the motion , the stroke, the word, the key, the rhythm or the words. We take action knowing that if we take the wrong one, we will be corrected, or perhaps ask for help… that is, if you’re that type.

On the third try our coaches, teachers, instructors, mentors – whoever it may be- tend to take a step back. How will you progress if you are not given the opportunity to make a mistake and self-correct? If you miss the basket, chances are you know why. If you don’t, you either keep missing until the day you don’t or you bury your pride and ask for the answer. The third try is tough as hell, but also fucking fun. That feeling when you make the shot on your own or get an answer right without any assistance. When you bake a cake and this time, this third time, no one helped you and it turned out beautifully… the highs Are such highs. Similarly the lows.. the lows feel so personal. Especially if in this third round you succeeded at first and then suddenly can’t seem to succeed again, no matter how hard you try. Indeed, you may discover on this third try that you don’t know why you are trying at all- that this craft, this skill, this sport – that one you thought would bring you joy, would not. No matter how hard you tried. You may build resentment at your teacher, instructor, coach or mentor for leading you astray. You may continue anyways- after all, you’ve come this far. Or, you may start over with something knew, knowing that skills are transferable. That third try, it’s key. It’s tough as hell. It’s unpredictable. It’s exciting. And towards the end of it, it can also be draining. By the end of it, it can feel like you’ll never stop being a rookie. By the end of it, you might even forget the joy and freedom that comes with the relative newness of experience.

Most of us converge on our paths during our third tries. But, no matter what direction it takes us, completing that third try means something because it is earned. The solo struggle, the perseverance, knowing when to swallow your pride and start anew- whatever it may be – you did it on that third try. You suffered through the highs and lows, and after that third try, you can move forward with pride, knowing that whatever has been accomplished, whatever is next, whatever you learned – you truly learned through experience. When you speak on the matter, you can talk knowing that you are talking with authority, knowing you earned the right to. Even if others don’t see that authority, you know when it’s there. If you choose, you can provide tidbits of advice and guidance to those still in their first, second and beginning of their third tries, because we know the difficulty of making it through and how hard it is to learn through experience. You earned it.

On your fourth try, others notice. Others know. They know, or should know, to resist the urge to jump in to correct you when you struggle and that whatever your base knowledge is, whatever your habits are, are likely here to stay. Though minor movements or approaches may be tweaked, by the fourth try, it’s up to you to be willing to change and it’s also up to you to decide that you don’t want to. Either way, you earned that right. You may have had the skill and experience to do the exact same thing on the third try, but others probably didn’t listen. By your fourth try, you hardly remember your first and second attempts, and with the memories of your third try, you forge ahead with hopes of more consistent, yet enjoyable, attempts in the future. Each effort seems less like a singular event and more like a habit or a routine. You have figured out what works for you and adjust as needed. You have pride in the work you have put in. Unlike the times before, you can assume, for the most part, that you’ll only get better with time. Unlike the times before, when you make it this far, you know your future will be full of successes in your craft because you have learned how to make the craft your own. You’ll have set backs and hiccups, but you realize that along the way, during those other pesky attempts, you didn’t just learn something new… you learned how to adapt and how to accept setbacks and celebrate successes. You don’t have to dwell on the present. You are moving towards the future.

I turned 30 last week. I started my fourth decade. I have my attempts – successful and not as successful- under my belt. I have the pride of knowing I earned what I have accomplished. I have the joy of past memories and the hopes of new ones. I have experience to point to when I am doubted or have self doubt. I am prepared for the future.

I knew that by my fourth try at this thing, I’d be excited to show off, a little sad about what I hadn’t accomplished in rounds 1-3, but mostly excited to move forward with the invaluable experience i had acquired. I had made it here, with the help of others at first, then on my own, and now, with the comfort of knowing that if advice is needed, it would be asked for instead of forced.

What I didn’t know, what I couldn’t have predicted, was once I made it here, I would be stuck. Stuck in a reality where I was ready to move forward, armed with the joy of experience, but with a world on pause.

So, I guess I’ll sit it out a while. Stuck at 30. Hoping that by the time I get to try this thing again, I will not have digressed. I will not forget the lessons I fought tirelessly to learn. I will not lose the joy of knowing I earned my right to be here. I’m stuck at 30 when I thought I would be celebrating advancing to the next round.

I always thought that the celebration meant showing off what I had learned to those who got me through rounds 1-3. I couldn’t wait for the newfound feeling of respect round 4 would bring me and the pride I would bring those who taught me.

I’m stuck at 30 and I would give anything in the world to go back to the day before everything stopped. Go back to that moment and instead of anxiously awaiting my upcoming days filled with others’ admiration of my accomplishments, reveling in the moments spent with those helping and teaching me. Because we’re stuck, apart, and what does it even matter if I made it to round 4 if they’re not there when the world hits the unpause button?

Break

It’s funny. My first post ever was about leaving my lawyer job for a “break.” I had no idea how long that break would last, but I knew without taking it, without that leap of faith, my already broken self would crumble into smaller pieces until I would just disappear. Take that as you will. That was on June 1, 2017.

The year and some change that followed was difficult, as many of you know, but full of many moments of.. just living. Of experiencing. Of being capable of feeling again- the good, the bad, the extremely ugly. All of the things that I had suppressed through my immersion into work and avoided through conscious avoidance. All of the things that are worthy of human experience and deserving of attention.

At the end of August of this year, 2018, I not only broke again, I crumbled. In an undated journal entry, I wrote:

“I don’t know why I’m on this earth any more. I don’t know why I exist. There is not much difference between my physical existence and the pen that is slowly moving in my hand. I am here to help others, but by failing to help myself, I have failed to help others and in turn, no one needs me or wants me. I am used to me not wanting me. But to not even feel like my perishing would be a disappointment to one person, this is new. I don’t need to be needed or need to be wanted, but I need to have meaning. Otherwise, why am I still fighting for myself? What is there to fight for? I am certainly not the light of anyone’s life at this point, and if for some reason I should become that, this overwhelming sense of darkness that inevitably overcomes me will make them walk away. It always does.”

I went on. I called a friend to come over that night and she did. I brushed it under the rug.

I joined the Beto for Senate campaign just a few days later. Everything turned around. I was needed. I was helpful. I was productive. And for a little bit, I was the light of some people’s lives.

For a little bit, the stress of the campaign was the fuel that kept my life going. Not always graceful, I pushed through with pride and joy. Somewhere along the line, however, real life… “real me”.. made my light flicker and other people took notice.

In the end I remember all of the beautiful faces of the campaign. The potential voters, the non-voters, the volunteers, and most of all the gorgeous faces of my teammates. The fellow warriors. The shared faces of confusion, love and determination.

I don’t know how much to write here or to not write here, because I think sometimes writing things down in a public manner seems like a “vindictive” thing to do. All I know is some of the highest highs I had during the campaign.. surrounded by people who I felt understood me. For the first time ever. Part of understanding me is understanding my lows. My failures. But also my deep empathy for others. I fuck up. A lot. I also trust that people are good on the inside. I know I am good deep down. I may not be great to myself, but when I can be, I am great to others.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my biggest struggles is understanding how someone so scarred could be lovable. I don’t mean always in the romantic sense, but in a more familial, friendship sense as well. I am beyond scarred. This is nothing new. When wounds have started to heal, somehow the stitches are ripped open. That being said, I have pushed and pushed to heal myself and move forward. I’ve done a pretty damn good job of it.

In the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the beauty of what was and will always be the Beto for Texas campaign 2018. We made something big. We created something beautiful. And by we, I mean every single person who is a part of the community that did this. It was an honor.

One thing I didn’t expect was the feeling I have right now. Feeling lucky to have made new beautiful friends, especially post-campaign, but also knowing that their gorgeous kindness is likely due to the beauty within them, and not because of a light within me. The light within me right now is flickering, and I’m at a loss of what to do.

During the campaign, when I lost grace, I also lost a friendship I thought I’d have for my entire life. I still can’t wrap my head around it, and I still don’t know why it hurts so badly. I think it’s because I let the friendship in and I knew I shouldn’t have. I know myself and I know better. I know I most likely did something to cause distrust, but I also know it was not intentional. I can’t be angry about it, but I am confused. It’s strange when you aren’t able to even speak to someone to express something. All I know is the worst feeling in the world is feeling silenced and helpless. I have a pit in my stomach every single day. I can’t shake it and I don’t know why. I’m “stronger” than that.

This friendship lost, other factors in my life right now, I am once again not much more than that pen I have now misplaced. Useful when those who need it need to get something done, express their feelings, or simply have a means of distraction. Aside from that, easily misplaced and of no use when the ink runs out.

On the night before Election Day, I told the out-of-state volunteers and the staff my story of how the election saved my life- win or lose. It did. Somehow during the election, with as much as I gained, I lost so much more.

Here’s to hoping.

My Walden Pond

Growing up, there were two types of kids- the kids who opened their eyes under water and the kids who didn’t. These same kids also somehow seemed to be blessed with the immense and enviable courage it took to flawlessly master the high dive.

I, not surprisingly, was a didn’t. As a kid, despite my brother’s constant nagging to “just do it” I was the kid who did not open my eyes under water. Not even with goggles. I was too scared water would leak in. This led to a lot of near death experiences when my brother would confirm I did not open my eyes and subsequently try to “drown me” by holding me under in the deep end just to scare the bejeezus out of me. Additionally, this meant I was definitely not a swim team contender.

During the past few weeks, dealing with a break up has meant having a lot of time to refocus on me. I was focused before, but I think that’s something people who go through break ups say. “I’m finding me again.” “I’m putting me first”. “I deserve better”. “It’s better to be alone than with xyz.” For the record, I will never say these things about this relationship and never have. But life is life and things “happen for a reason.”

Anyways, with this free time I decided to invest a lot of my energy into working out. Working out has always been a way to cheer myself up when nothing else could, or at least clear the dark thoughts in my head. As part of my new exercise regimen, I decided I would learn to swim laps, and … I did! At first, I attempted to do the breast stroke in a way that could only be described as arms projecting out and about in sort of spastic Macarena and legs … scissoring? Either way, each day I added five more laps to my routine and with the help of some YouTube videos, was able to improve my technique just a bit and get up to 30 laps.

Despite my embedded sarcastic tone in the phrase’s last use, things did seem to happen for a reason, as I found myself being annoyed about having to fly to Boston for a continuing education course to keep up my law license. Somehow, however, my flight was just a day after said break up. So a day of continuing education turned into 2.5 week’s of Boston fun and escape. And it has been.

Most of my time during these past couple of weeks have been unplanned and spent spontaneously catching up with friends and wandering various neighborhoods and enjoying the beauty of Boston/Cambridge. The one must on my list, however, was a visit to Walden Pond.

Walden Pond, for most of you, is likely the physical written manifestation of Thoreau’s imagination and historic prose. For me, it is a beautiful escape that I never knew existed. Growing up in Houston, we did not have these natural beautiful ponds or springs to swim in. When I came to New England and discovered with awe the beauty of these natural treasures, I was hooked. I have visited Walden Pond several times over the years, and I knew it was a must during this visit.

Yesterday was the day. My beautiful friend who graciously let me crash with her for the past 2 week’s drove the 30 minute drive to Concord, where we finally turned left into the wooded parking lot and then crossed the street, walked down the steps and across the beach to our somewhat shaded (for her) and somewhat sunny (for me) spot we would claim on the beach. I laid down and it was just as beautiful as I imagined.

Now, I’m pausing here to tell you that there is no use of metaphors in the creation of what is to follow. Why, you ask? The experience was simply too beautiful to create a metaphor. It’s beauty was too true to be a metaphor. Too literal for comparison. It was the metaphor.

(Con’t…) I don’t remember the specifics of every time I have visited Walden Pond, but I do know that my time in the water is usually minimal and spent within the confined areas – not in the designated free swim area. The free swim area was where experienced swimmers could swim across the lake and back. Warning signs upon entry stated in no uncertain terms that those who ventured out were on their own. Well, yesterday when I grew restless in my half shade/half sun spot and read those words, only one word came to mind: “perfect.”

I walked into the water and kept walking. I kept walking until my toes no longer touched the rocky bottom and I was floating. And then I was “swimming” and then I wasn’t swimming, I was gliding. Flawlessly. I was being pulled towards what can only be described as the beauty of another world. Eyes closed under water, but open as I reached the surface with my eyes only on the beautiful clouded wooded horizon with the sun somehow coming through the trees in a way only seen in paintings. I now understood the term breathtaking.

Taking no notice of the distance I now was from the beach of the lake, I yearned with each scoop of water to bring myself closer to this masterpiece. It’s a freedom they write about in the classics and proclaim in the movies.

As I came closer and closer to the center of the lake, The most incredible thing was, I think, was the quiet. For the first time in my life, I felt peace. The only noise I could hear was the calming ripple of the tide interspersed with the sole voice of my own thoughts. There were no voices in my head but mine. No currents pulling me in different directions or pressure pushing me down. I was floating and I was soaring. For those minutes, however many, I was where I needed to be and it was majestic. I was floating towards the beauty of another world.

As the tide turned I noticed a woman about 10 yards away. I was no longer alone. There was an intruder. Without glasses I could not make out much of the contours of her bobbing face, but from what I could see, we looked eerily alike. No longer gliding, we both were facing each other with our confused heads bobbing in unison. My peace was gone and the beautiful moment though captured, was finite.

I suddenly became hyper aware of the fact that if I kept gliding, we would collide. She wasn’t moving, so it meant that I either need to change directions or stop moving myself. The tide quite literally turned and I turned with it. My eyes opened to the tiny figured on the beach and, struggling to find the energy, I swam towards shore. With each awkward stroke, more cries of babies could be heard and even worse, complaints from teenage beauties about their “flawed bodies.” My knee scraped a rock and I was forced to stand. My time, my moment was done. And I was incredibly sad. I am incredibly sad. And truth be told, this was this first time i had felt remotely sad since the breakup because I had felt it was the right thing to do.

My mind, just a few minutes before completely at ease was racing a mile a minute. That experience, what was it? How had it suddenly become so easy? Was this what the brain of a “normal” person feels like? Was this the outlook on life the prescribed tablet I take like clockwork every morning was supposed to give me but has failed to do so? Was this calm other people’s equilibrium or would it have been as incredible to them? You see, when you deal with mental illness, I think people forget that you have as many questions about how other people, the normal ones, experience life as they have about someone like me.

I sit here now, reading the notes I took right after the experience, full of hope that I could go back in the water and recreate the experience. I couldn’t. I didn’t.

I lied. But I came by it honestly, I promise. I did not set out to have a metaphor, but I suppose I’ve had a revelation in the midst of typing. Well, not a metaphor, let’s say a comparison. I can’t decide if I’m happy yesterday happened. I am filled with anguish today that I know that sort of experience exists and, though fleeting, I experienced it. Just as fleeting, it’s now gone. With my breakup, I am just as torn. Is it really better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all? I hate cliches, but seriously. Every other break up I’ve had, I’ve had so many major reasons to dislike the person, the relationship, etc. But this one, this person, we knew it wasn’t right in the end. But during it, the experience, it was beautiful. I might not have had perfect form, but I felt like I was gliding. I experienced a beauty and a peace that I did not know existed. And now it is gone and I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that again. With that experience comes new expectations and a different kind of unrest.

It’s easy to accept not having something when you don’t think it’s attainable. When you cannot experience it – never have, never will. Right now, wish I never experienced it. Wish I never glided towards the unknown without fear.

So what do you do. And please don’t tell me Bumble.

The cowardly fall

Funny. I thought I’d write today. It’s been a year to the day since I left my position that I had always dreamed of in Boston and a year since I simultaneously found myself and lost myself.

I won’t make a lame attempt at a caterpillar emerging from a cocoon metaphor, because I’m just, ya know, way too good for that. But also, because it wouldn’t make sense. As I read my first post on here about leaving my corporate position and moving back to Houston, I see an act of bravery, but also of naïveté. I’m one fail swoop, I believed that I could abandon my preordained hopes and dreams and instead become this kindered spirit, whole and complete, who would be able to take my broken pieces (of which there are many) and glue them together. I believed, that with my new found freedom from the corporate handcuffs, with sheer will and determination, I could create, or rather, cultivate my own happiness. I am happy. But I’m also disappointed in myself.

Let me set something straight. I am happy. Or so I think I am. Just as I have had struggles in the past allowing those who I so desperately want to love to love me back, I have a difficult time accepting happiness. Don’t you? Or many of you who seem to identify with the words I say, I would think. Because, the other shoe will always drop. When you’re me, and have this misinformed belief that your actions can actually dictate your destiny, you know that eventually the newfound elevated happiness that you have found will eventually diminish, and like a recalcitrant child, you try to take ahold of it before it overcomes you.

You try to break the cycle. Yes, ladies and gents, I’m that girl. The one who finds the way to “control” the outcome by self-sabotage. But who am I to dictate my own happiness? I know with hard work and choosing the right people to surround yourself with, you can improve your mental health and many times experience great joy, but who am I to sabotage my own hard work and dictate it’s outcome. Why can’t I ever be the person who just lets things be? A truth I have come to realize in the past few days is that letting myself just be, being me minus the sabotage, is actually pretty damn great. Why would I ruin a great thing?

I recall the one time I tried to snowboard. Now, I happen to be pretty athletic but never one for athletics. Being a nice 5’9, I was pushed towards basketball, but scared of getting hurt or embarrassed, I would always hand the ball to my opponent when they tried to guard me. Much like with basketball, when I tried to snow board for the first time, instead of accepting the risk, I took hold of my presumptive failure and fell every other minute, like clockwork, to the fresh powder, because I felt like making myself fall would soften the blow of an unexpected wipe out.

It doesn’t work that way. I still had bruises all over my body and even worse, I had to experience the mortifying escort home on a ski mobile because the mountain was closing before I could fall my way down it.

Another year has passed and I don’t want to keep falling until the slopes are closed. I can’t keep believing that making myself fail is staying in control. I have to allow the chance for failure to take hold. I have to let those around me make their own decisions about me. I can’t make them for them. I can’t make them believe I’m not worth it for fear that they’ll discover it on their own. After all, if it already causes pain, then what the fuck am I doing?

I guess that’s being an adult right? Knowing that failure IS an option and being okay with exploring the path to it truthfully and patiently. Not rushing to create your own conclusions. Working hard, in every aspect of life, to build yourself up and to build up your relationships. Knowing that even if you failed, you did try. I used to think that was corny. I don’t anymore. I’ve let myself fall into the fresh powder too many times just to say that I couldn’t do it. I’ll commit it to writing: not anymore. Cue “if I could turn back time”…

28

I never thought I’d have a birthday during which I could reflect and be certain that the year that preceded was better than the year before. A few weeks ago I was able to. I was moved to tears and filled with disbelief.

What goes up must come down is an adage I know to be true. Well, since the 4th, the marking of my survival, it has come down. It may be temporary, but the hurt is the same.

28, you are a cruel mistress. I said I wanted to know, but perhaps it was better being just a tad younger, none the wiser aNd willfully naive.

Cheers to finding out how much deeper the path will go, or seeing if I can make myself fly. It all works out in the end right? I guess that depends on how you want to market yourself.

The pick me up

Now call me controversial, but I am in the “not all drugs are bad” camp. Of course, I am not saying that I advocate heroin or the abuse of alcohol, but some addictive drugs just aren’t that bad. Shaking your head?

Exhibit A: Coffee. Gotcha!

If you don’t think coffee is a drug, you’re fooling yourself. It is addictive, alters your mood, and if you’re like me, can cause withdrawals when you go too long without it. Not into my drug talk? That’s ok. I’m not sure I’m loving where this is going either. It’s just a way to start writing as I currently sip on my non-fat cappuccino turned 1% fat cappuccino because they ran out of non-fat, or so the barista very nervously told me. (For the record, I was more than gracious and willing to accept my 1% of fat)

Note: From now on, I will be saying covfefe because it is more entertaining and will create a spell check game for me as I write this.

Anyways, covfefe is one of those things for me that I “wish” I could quit drinking it, but at the same time, is it really harming me if I don’t? Yes, I just paid $3 for a cappuccino that I probably didn’t need, but it was delicious, it allowed me to use the wifi at these awesome local coffee shop (and it doesn’t hurt that the proceeds here go towards ending human trafficking), and gave me an activity. The boost of energy also doesn’t hurt. Plus, I could quit if I wanted to… Eventually.

The point of the matter is, covfefe gives me a sense of comfort. No matter where I am, the state of mind I’m in, or the state I’m in for that matter, drinking a good cup of coffee gives me a sense of belonging. Belonging to that moment in time and to my routine. When done right, it is a relaxing moment in time that is just for me. When done wrong, it is a rushed chugging of burnt shit that will likely give me a stomach ache, but at least gives me a bit of a  boost. I guess not as comforting, but still comfortably part of my routine as well.

About ten minutes ago, I was sitting here at this covfefe shop, talking to the barista (because let’s face it, I talk to everyone) and giving him my unsolicited life story. Part of said unsolicited life story included how I just finished my three-month stint working in-house counsel for a company and am now looking for a new legal position. He talked a little bit about his wife being from Maine and we bonded over the bitter cold of Boston. I took my covfefe with 1% milk fat and sat down at the bar to begin my job hunting research. About two minutes later, this beautiful woman close to my age looked over to me and asked if she heard correctly that I was looking for a job in the legal field. I said yes, to which she stated that her boyfriends firm is looking. I sent her my resume and our conversation changed to talking about different yoga spots.

This conversation with this woman (who is still sitting next to me.. #meta) was so comforting for my soul. After a rough Friday which spilled into the weekend, a strangers kindness, even if self-motivated, was just the boost that I needed.

The thing is, in today’s American world, I constantly feel like we are taught that we don’t need anyone else to have worth. That if you love yourself, you’ll do great, and love and support from others is an added bonus. Well folks, maybe we don’t need it, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt to have it. Like covfefe, it’s comforting, it feels natural and it’s reassuring. When you drink a cup of covfefe, for me, it feels like my day might turn around. It gives me hope that this boost might be just what I needed.

The kindness of the beautiful woman next to me just gave me that same hope. In a way, it was a nod of approval that I belong in this “community” of humanity. As much as I was fooled by the last guy, this woman’s smiling face sent me the comfort I needed today. She may not follow through and I’ll probably never see her again. Human interaction is addictive. You might say I don’t need it, but I think it’s only natural that we seek approval from others. It’s just a matter of finding it in the right places. So thank you covfefe shop woman, for taking 4 minutes out of your day to give me your email address, some yoga recommendations, and a much needed smile.

understanding the unlovable

“He jokingly said I should come with a warning sticker. I replied that I agreed, and that it shouldn’t be the one with red writing. Red writing creates fear, and I didn’t want to scare anyone. The message I needed to get across was “proceed with caution”, so maybe something a little less alarming, like sunflower yellow or clementine orange” – YettiSays

I just “discovered” the blog YettiSays. If you have not read it, read it. I found myself tearing up at the beautiful yet simple prose that seemed to string together the mixed emotions that have filled me at some point or another. Her writing is honest, pure… let’s say, it is raw.

One post in particular really stuck out to me – the one I quoted above. It is about feeling unlovable. About feeling like your past is so checkered with impurity that you can’t imagine someone else would want to love that. Here’s another excerpt:

“You see, I come with a lot of pieces. I know that. Some of my pieces are damaged but still functional. Some are renewed, and honey? Better than ever. Some are completely untouched. And some are what they are: painfully broken. I own behaviors that are questionable, and a past that sometimes haunts me. I attend therapy on a weekly basis, and have scars on various parts of my body that memorialize my past battle with self-hatred. I’m secretive out of self-preservation, and have a mouth on me that’s trained to destroy out of protection… and sometimes out of spite. I’m typically an annoyingly happy person, but when I have my down days, they’re bad. They’re ugly. I perform a balancing act between my ambition and my sanity daily, and more times than not, my ambition will win.

I can’t think of a better way of wording these feelings, so I will not. I will just add. I was, I am and I always will be broken. I think when you experience certain life events, you can heal wounds, but you cannot hide scars. For so long, and to a lesser, but still significant, degree today still, those scars can make you believe you are unlovable. Those who choose to fight to love you will try to convince you of otherwise, and for fleeting moments, they may succeed, but there is this lingering buzz in the back of your mind that is inexplicable. It just is. It says don’t trust it. They think they love you or care for the real you, but they don’t know everything. If they did, they’d run away. There’s the other part of you that when you do believe it, that someone could love you, wants to save them from loving you and wants to push them away to save them from getting to the point where they see your wounds and accept your pain as their own reality and bring it into their own lives. It’s as if the scars of experiences past are contagious, and if you let them in, they’ll catch the disease.

If you are a woman who has experienced this, this last paragraph, I hope, makes sense. If not, it may sound like a load of confusing horse shit. That’s alright.

Several times in my life, I have mentioned to friends things that have happened in my past. I don’t know why. Sometimes it’s as easy as ordering a pizza and other times it feels like trying to break out of a maximum security prison el chapo style. When I do tell the details of my scars, I don’t know why, but somehow I always tell the stories in a very matter-of-fact, blunt way. As if I am answering a deposition about the facts of my life. I think, because of this, and, like Yetti, my ability to have my ambition shine through, many times I don’t communicate these experiences well. One thing I’m very good at though, is regretting revealing my truth. I fear that I have scared someone away or just gave them the heads up that they should run pretty soon. When anything negative happens in the relationship in the future, be it a friendship or otherwise, I think I had said too much. I clamp up and my vulnerability is gone. I harden.

Another excerpt:

“[O]ur pieces are beautiful, and defining, and multidimensional, and interestingly jarring. So we may come with a warning sticker. It may be a little difficult to peel our layers. But with each layer you reveal, you’ll experience the rarest form of love known to mankind. You’ll experience a love we’ve fought hard to find and give…I’m secretive out of self-preservation, and have a mouth on me that’s trained to destroy out of protection… and sometimes out of spite. I’m typically an annoyingly happy person, but when I have my down days, they’re bad. They’re ugly. I perform a balancing act between my ambition and my sanity daily, and more times than not, my ambition will win. I’m petrified of the dark. Not because I was trained to sleep with a nightlight, but because someone else was trained to not take “no” for an answer.”

Yetti, thank you for this. The one thing I do know,  is that when I love, I love hard. It may take me a while to get there. To trust. I may not always believe. But when I allow myself to trust and decide that a relationship is worth holding onto, I am that person you want on your side. I am the one who listens. Who understands. Who wants to heal your wounds before they turn into scars. Who only judges enough to give you the advice that you need and keep you in line. Who means it when I say that no favor is too big and no story is too long. Sure, I’ve been trampled on when I’ve loved too hard. Yes, This creates more layers.

At a certain point, you have to stop believing you can heal scars. You can heal wounds, the scars remain. I have punished the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. I have acted out in fear of finding someone who will keep me safe. This self-preservation though, is just that. I am preserving all parts of me and my complexities are a part of me. My imperfections, my scars, my memories, are a part of me.

From those of us who have been conditioned to believe we are unlovable, a sincere thank you to those out there who know that our complexities are a gift and use this knowledge to give us the gift of love.

#metoo

How to go from SOLO to YOLO

(so sorry for the title…)

So, part of why I moved home to Houston was because I missed my family and friends here. While ultimately, I have many beloved friends from my time in the chilly northeast, that wasn’t always the case. Many days, when I finally would have a day off, I would find myself alone and without friends to necessarily look to to fill my time. This meant that (1) I had to find a way to be comfortable enjoying parts of life on my own that, in the past, may have felt uncomfortable doing solo and (2) finding ways to make friends and create my own social sphere. Sure, I had my undergraduate network and Penn Law crowd to lean on, but I would have to say that some of my best friends came from actively pursuing friendships and putting myself out there. I frequently am asked how I know so-and-so and my answer is just “around” or something of the sort, which oftentimes results in a look of shock. So, dear friends, I decided to put together a list of ways to not only be happy when you don’t have those friendships developed yet and want to enjoy a day outside of the house as well as unconventional ways that I have made friends outside of the work/school environment. For many of you, this may seem like common sense, but for us younger folk, some of this can be a challenge to do solo. You can do it!

Solo Activities and Adventures

  • Market Yourself. Always wanted to learn to cook? Already know but want to try that new recipe you found and have been putting off? Find a fun recipe that probably requires going to a specialty market and go on an adventure! There are so many amazing middle eastern/Asian/Italian/etc. markets out there waiting to be explored! Even if you are not cooking, heading out and perusing the aisles makes for a great afternoon and if you’re one of those millennial instagrammers I’ve heard so much about, it can make for some great eye candy.
  • Lose Yourself. At least for a couple of hours! Lose yourself and immerse your mind into the fabulous world of the cinema! Can’t find someone to see that movie you’ve been wanting to see? Who the eff cares. Go see it! I promise, after you try it once, you’ll never be scared to do it again. I especially love doing a matinee at smaller, independent theaters. In Boston, I love the Coolidge Corner Theater, the Philadelphia Film Society Roxy Theater in Philly, and the River Oaks Theater in Houston. These wonderful places are made for those who love the movies and can allow you to get out of the house. Yes, you can Netflix at home, but believe me, it’s not the same when you need a mental break.
  • Send Yourself Flowers. Or at least buy yourself some. Having something to add life to your home never ever hurts. I personally love going to Trader Joes and taking a stab at making flower arrangements.
  • Think it Out. Journal! Don’t know how? Just start writing. Best thing about it is, you can journal from anywhere. Home, coffee shop, subway.. great way to get out of the house and have some alone time! When I was particularly bored, I purchased this book which provides great writing prompts. Highly recommended!
  • Stretch it Out. The best solo yet surrounded by other people activity there is. Simply put. If you’re nervous about trying yoga, I highly recommend places like Black Swan in Texas, which focus on community atmospheres.
  • Get Lost. Go on a day trip on your own! In the city, in the country, wherever! By foot, by car, go on your own. You’ll see more than you could ever imagine!
  • Dine like You’ve Never Dined Before. Never try a place because you heard it’s impossible to get reservations or the line is too long? Well, if it’s just you, I bet you you can get that solo seat at the bar and dine like royalty.

So You’re Sick of Yourself and Ready to “See Other People”:

  • Be an Alcoholic. Just kidding. Go to your local bar on your own. Go just at happy hour or at a slower time of day where it’s quiet enough to talk but there will likely be others sitting at the bar. Nurse a drink. Keep your ears open and if there’s a break in the conversation or you hear something of interest, don’t be scared to chip in. A “pardon my interruption, I’m bored” mind if I join, surprisingly works. Just don’t say it in a creepy way. I literally have an entire friends group from doing this. Also, don’t be scared of chipping in in group conversations. If you get the vibe you’re not wanted, no worries. Back off. But, most of the time, people are more open than you would think. Just don’t be creepy!
  • Talk too much. This is a kill two birds with one stone scenario. For those who have always wanted to work on their foreign language skills, language exchanges like Conversation Exchange or Language Exchange Community offer a great way to meet someone new AND to improve your language skills. Here’s how it generally works: You sign up online and indicate what interests you have, what languages you speak, your availability, and your proficiency level. Then, most sites will help you match with someone with similar interests and proficiency level – but in the language you are trying to learn. You then meet up, you know you have something in common, and you talk about it! Half in your language, half in his or hers. Boom! New friend opportunity and learning!
  • Be a Book Worm. Join a book club. Just do it.
  • Be a Dog. Have a pup? Hit up your local dog park. Talk to someone! Human someone I mean. It’s a great way to have conversation, even if it ends at that.
  • Alumni Associations. Become involved with your local chapter of your alumni association. It’s a great resume booster, great way to meet people you have something in common with, and surely will keep you busy. No association in your area? Contact your alma matter and see if you can start a chapter!
  • Expand Your Network. Sure, most of us dread networking events. A lot of us bring a “wing man” so we don’t have to suffer through them alone. Don’t! Go on your own! If you’re not looking to change a job immediately, see if you have anything in common with anyone there. Whether it be a mentor or a new friend, no time like when you’re not looking for help to make connections and work on these relationships.
  • Add Some Sporty Spice to Your Life. Social Sports Leagues are a great way to meet people that are looking to make friends as well. Leagues like Better Off Bowling and ClubWaka are chalk-full of others who are ready to drink some beer and “play” sports. Teams are always looking for “free agents” and it’s a great way to get out of the house and have a weekly event to look forward to.

Some rules when it comes to trying to make new friends:

  • Never bond over negativity .I fall into this trap way too often. I’m at a party or event, not thrilled to be there and just want someone else to talk to and we end up bonding by either making fun of others or complaining about our surroundings. This is not making friends, it’s making negative energy. It will not ultimately lift your spirits and it certainly will not make for a healthy, long lasting relationship.
  • Show up.
  • Lose that Insecurity. I know I’m naturally an extroverted person. That being said, I get nervous doing this stuff too. But, when it comes to turning strangers into friends, the worst that can happen is you fail. You know what that means? They’re still strangers.
  • Follow Through. Just like with dating. Meet someone you like? Don’t be scared to say, “hey, it was great meeting you. Would it be alright if we go on a “friend date”” sometime?” And then call them! Make concrete plans. Brunch, meet at a dog park, whatever!
  • Don’t Settle. Most importantly, you know your worth. You know that even if you can’t find close friends, you can be happy on your own. If that isn’t true, work on this. If it is, don’t spend all of your time with “new friends” just because you finally met new people. If they’re not meant to be your friends, don’t force the situation.

I hope this list can help some of you get started! The point is, if you’re feeling down about being alone, there are solid, concrete steps you can take to better your situation. It is OKAY to enjoy being alone. It is also OKAY if you hate it. Either way, you.can.do.it.

Draining the Reflection Pool

It’s funny, I usually have a lot to say on New Year’s Eve about the past year and hopes for what is to come. I won’t act high and mighty about the person I am today versus the person I “was before” and say this year is so different. The fact is, it is different, yes. But, I truly believe I was a good person in past years and was highly self aware. I knew what accomplishments I had made and what I struggled with. I do know that this year I’ve made a huge change and that in many others’ eyes, this change probably trumps most others I could have made in the past.

I’ve been struggling a bit during the past few days with some of the comments I’ve been receiving on my posts. All have been so truly kind and have praised me and my openness. Many stated that I’ve seen the light and am going in the right direction. With the intention solely to be to air my musings and not at all to belittle any of these kind comments, I do want to say a few things about why they’ve made me uncomfortable.

For me, at least, this big change in how I live my life was brave yes, but a “seeing the light moment”… maybe not. I truly believe that if I had been even mildly happy at a firm in Boston or even one thing had been just not quite as bad, I’d be laying in my luxury high rise apartment procrastinating bringing my dog out in the freezing weather and being stressed about whether I really needed to go out for NYE tonight. It was the fact that every single thing happened the way it did, the fact that I had no one and no thing to hold onto anymore, the fact that this slow progression into misery had suddenly accelerated over the course of six months that I knew I needed to make a change. Almost a year earlier, when studying for the bar, I distinctly remember someone Asking why I wasn’t also taking the Texas bar. I responded I would never in million years (or at least the 5 I’d have to wait out before waving in) return to houston.

So, anyways,It wasn’t necessarily seeing a light or corporate lifestyle vs happiness and I chose happiness, it was I had no other option if I was going to keep going. I’m not saying suicidal, at all, but I, for the first timE, could truly understand how someone could be. I saw that Houston had a support system that Boston did not. I do think if I could have somehow been offered a similar position in Houston that could’ve happened immediately, I probably would’ve taken it. And I probably wouldn’t have been as happy as I am now, but I wouldn’t have been drowning.

So, the thing is, for some I do think it’s happiness vs corporate/money. For me, it was misery vs. life with some speckles of joy in it. In the end, I, thus far, have been given the gift of a life bursting with joy. I think the reason I’ve been struggling with the comments is that come this new year, I’ll be applying for positions in big firms again. I’d be glad to be making money again. My hours probably won’t be great, at least for now, but the rest of my life is. Before I moved home, if one little thing had been different, I would’ve been able to stay. But one little thing wasn’t different, so I needed to leave. That required changes to every single thing in my life.

As I digress, I simply mean to say that I think the reason I have been uneasy with all comments saying that money isn’t everything etc etc, is because if I choose to go back to a more corporate work environment, I don’t want to feel like a fraud or like I chose to give up my happiness. I know I can’t have it all, but I can also start a career with a different mindset. A job where I have boundaries. I have broken the golden handcuffs. It will be different knowing that misery isn’t the only option. If I make mistakes this year, they’re my mistakes to make. In the past, I’ve made mistakes and gone down paths because it felt required, not because I chose to.

So, I think I’ve done enough reflecting that I don’t need to do anymore just because it’s New Year’s Eve. I’m going to the lakers/rockets game tonight with my boyfriend and cooking some crab cakes. We might be asleep before the ball drops and that’s a-okay.

Happy New Year’s from my family to yours!

29 Things I wish I could teach my 92-year old Grandmother

Aka my roommate

Aka my roommate

  1. The cashiers automatically print Powerball tickets as cash option, you don’t have to remind them three times, twice a week.
  2. You don’t have to use a cell phone to call another cell phone. You won’t be charged a long distance fee if you call a cell phone from a land line.
  3. It’s okay to go on a date once every fifty years. Or not. Dating kind of blows anyways.
  4. It is not polite to stare at someone’s cell phone screen and comment and/or ask about every single thing they’re doing on their phone.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help from those who love you. You’re not bothering us. We exist to help each other and we would never think less of you because you ask. It shows you trust us.
  6. You pet a dog, you don’t pat a dog. (Also, the “love taps” to my face kind of hurt)
  7. In the past when I haven’t been in a relationship with someone, it is not because I’m stubborn or there is a problem with me. It is not because I didn’t try or because I didn’t want one. It is because I am me and I owe it to myself not to settle.
  8. On that note, chivalry, as you know it, is kind of dead. (side note: just because I have a boyfriend that somehow defies this statement does not make it less true. But yes, you did “tell me so”. I found a unicorn. Shout out to that dude). Guys are not necessarily straight forward with their intentions. They won’t assume you are exclusive because they took you to drinks twice. On that note, I should not demand a full dinner-date the first time we go out. Most girls don’t get picked up for a first date or called on the phone when they are asked out. Texts, or whatever you call them, are our unfortunate new normal.
  9. I know you can move more. Walk more, you’ll feel better. I believe in you.
  10. I’m really not that fast at getting ready. I just don’t think you need an hour and a half to put on your makeup to walk to get your mail. Also, it’s okay if I forget to put lipstick on.
  11. You don’t believe it, but you’re my hero. Your kindness is overwhelming. Your words speak the truth. Your criticism is always from a place of love. Your wisdom is quirky and unparalleled. You are a maverick of your generation, but still the epitome of class. (One thing I don’t need to teach you: how to rock a pair of pants)IMG_6838
  12. Just because you can’t find something doesn’t mean the movers stole it during your move 6 years ago. They probably didn’t sell a picture of your brother on the black market.
  13. Wearing hearing aids is not a sign of weakness. No one even notices. If you are able to participate in a conversation, believe me, the only thing people are paying attention to are the hilarious things coming out of your mouth.
  14. 65 degrees does not warrant turning the heat on at 75.
  15. How to use on-demand.
  16. If I ever express feelings of hurt by any of your actions, you are not a failure. You are my favorite person in the world. If I get upset, it’s not because you have a fatal flaw. It’s because we are both human. And by the way, I notice when you listen to what I say and make huge efforts to make it better.
  17. Life could have always gone differently. It won’t go as planned. Forgive yourself if you think you messed something up along the way. I assure you, we all think you did a pretty damn good job. I mean, you gave us our existence, literally.
  18. They dropped the “the” from “The Facebook” over ten years ago. Similarly, I wouldn’t reference the internet as my internet. If anything, it’s probably Bill Gates’ internet.
  19. You look good for your age. But, you’ve looked good at every age. You were, you are, and you always will be beautiful.
  20. You don’t need to remind me, I do know you have the best fashion sense around. And yes, it’s all about having the eye and make sure it’s a good fit.
  21. You don’t need 37 extra bottles of detergent. If it’s been on sale that many times, it probably will be on sale again.
  22. The Bar Exam was really hard and it was not guaranteed that I would pass it, no matter how smart you think I am. But thank you for thinking that.
  23. There’s a mute button for the tv. It has the magical powers of allowing us to hear what we’re saying when we scream a conversation at each other.
  24. I know you’ve borrowed a few stories. Never stop telling them.
  25. You are as smart as I am and you are as capable. I grew up in a different time. I was given different opportunities.
  26. Physical therapy is not the same thing as working out.
  27. At some point, it is nice to sit on the nice furniture instead of just staring at it.
  28. Whenever I called you to “check up on you” every day for the ten years I lived away from home, it wasn’t for you, it was for me. Also, thank you for reminding me what I said the night before. I accidentally had 2 cocktails instead of the one I *normally* drink.
  29. How to make a foot of room in one of your four closets for me. Eh, you know this already. Nevermind. I’ll go get another hanging rack at target.

I have solely you to thank for allowing me to believe that my voice is worth listening to. That my accomplishments mean something and that I am loved. Thank you for being the encouragement that I didn’t know I needed, for expressing how proud of me you are when I think I’m just doing what is normal and expected, and for bragging about me to a point of embarrassment. Thank you for literally taking notes when I tell you about an accomplishment, so that you get every single detail right when you get to tell the nasty woman at the beauty shop about it. Thank you for crying when I left after visits home from Boston and Philadelphia and for showing me the purest form of love. You are my best friend and my favorite topic of conversation. You have filled my heart with your love and allowed it to open up to others’. Your sense of self is unparalleled, even if it means you offend people sometimes. We all know that “they should know”.

IMG_0802
Who’s grandma is awesome enough to commission an “L” necklace for law school graduation. I know you are “too classy for a poster”, so thank you for letting everyone know that Lollie graduated Penn Law in 2016. And you are her grandmother.