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?

The beauty that emerges when you are finally heard.

During the Kavanaugh hearings, I emailed the Dean of Penn Law after some truly awful remarks from a professor were said about Dr. Ford. Because the professor was tenured, she continued to be employed (and I think still is) by the school, but as an explanation, it was said that her classes were not mandatory but elective.

To put a face to what this means, in the email I explained that my Peer at Penn could have elected to take the class, but I couldn’t choose whether or not he raped me. Long story short, we had a very long and wonderful phone call discussing how this is such a bigger issue than one single incident. That mental health as a whole is being ignored in the school and that is going to carry over to life after Penn Law. That you can do everything you can to prevent rape, but if and when it happens, it’s the environment you’re already in that will help determine whether a woman or man seeks help.

Credit where credit is due. Dean Ruger, thank you for listening. Not just to me, but to the countless others who I’m sure spoke with you.

I woke up to find this this morning:

https://www.thedp.com/article/2018/12/penn-law-first-mental-health-well-being-attorney-upenn

Don’t ever give up. Keep fighting.

Deafening Silence

I’ve never known which was worse – feeling alone with a plethora of people physically around you or “in touch” with you or feeling alone because you are, truly, physically and mentally alone. I guess they’re both equally awful and equally unavoidable because let’s, or I, rather given the fact being that it is I who feels alone right now, must face it – if you are the type to feel alone, you’ll feel alone whether others are surrounding you or not.

On the campaign, there were moments I felt more full of love and joy from others than I’ve felt in my entire life. This was for about the first month. So much love. So much understanding.

Somewhere, I realized I had not put my warning labels up – that I had flashed some signs of caution.. but that was not enough. Soon enough the parts of me that are so undesirable would creep through, and ruin the experience of perfection everyone else was feeling.

It’s funny, my signs of caution in this setting would normally be seen as “get the fuck away before you’re part of the damaged goods” in other scenarios, but here, in a safe Beto space, my signs of caution were seen, as one told me, as badges of bravery. “I have been raped.” “My father abandoned our relationship.” “I experienced discrimination in the workplace.” “I quit my job and don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.” These are all things that really, in most instances, one would think would not be celebrated… but would likely incite the slow but steady walk away. You know the one – the one where the conversation seems to be going well but then you drop the bomb… the other party acts like it doesn’t matter and then steadily figuratively backs up in the conversation and then suddenly backs up physically from the conversation.

This wasn’t the case here. In Beto 2018, I was celebrated for my “bravery.” Put at ease for my uncertainty. In a cool kids club for quitting my job and saying no to corporate America.

Well, I’m not sure if this is a chicken or the egg scenario, but this sort of acceptance can only last so long. Our Mecca lasted, as long as it could have, before suddenly I knew: either I was the fraud or I was being fraudulently supported. The vibe wasn’t there. The trust. The support system. The insider feeling… it was gone. I told others outside of the campaign the second I knew. They told me give it a few days and the feeling would subside. It didn’t.

We become the person we expect others will expect us to be.

So I don’t know if it’s the chicken or the egg. I became, or at least I think I became, a scarred person who let my scars show. My scars did not seem to be celebrated – or perhaps I just felt that way. I don’t know.

I know a few things. I know my thoughts are incredibly scattered right now and I know that many from the campaign word feel that way too. I know we were warned of feeling all of these ups and downs after the campaign and to spend the time after the campaign with those we love and who love us.

I know that many people from the campaign spent every waking moment together afterwards because those were the people they know loved them. I know I have spent most of my time alone. Searching for those that make me feel loved.

Chicken or the egg. Yet again. How can you find those that make you feel loved if you aren’t capable of feeling loved – or, is it, that those in your life who do love you, which dear lord I hope exists for me, who truly love me, don’t know how to express it. Or is it that I don’t know how to accept it?

I do know that there’s been less of the expressing recently and more of the feeling alone. The doomsday feeling of alone. This is not a cry for help because I have too much pride to do that and frankly, am too self-aware and would get annoyed with random people reaching out to me. It’s just a curious musing.. at what point do you truly become unlovable? Unbearable? Are they the same thing?

What about just … uninvitable? Not a word, I know, but the person that people stop inviting to things. Either because they think they’re too cool, you haven’t shown up in the past, or because their everyday life is simply functioning without you as a true consideration? How many times have I done this to others? Infinite, I’m sure. I’m sure as I write this, there is someone out there who today thought that abandoned our friendship. But perhaps that is too self-Indulgent to think that way.

The feeling of annoyance is deafeningly loud. I mean, the feeling of being annoying. Somehow, the silence from others, the desire of meaning, the feeling of being a constant nuisance for trying to surround myself with those I Love, has turned into a deafening roar. Yet the silence is destroying me.

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.

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.

Limping through my strut

Some days, most days, I can lift myself up nowadays. This day is not one of those days. I have fallen. Sure, someone may have stuck their toe out and tripped me, but that does not make the fall hurt any less than if I had missed my own step.

I don’t know how spilling that analogy onto the page (I hand write before I type this in) somehow is the only thing that made me smile today. Because it’s so true,right? People who care about you, or who, at the very least, have incentive to care if you feel like you’re under a dark cloud or not, are always very quick to tell you to not be too hard on yourself or it’s not your fault when you get screwed over or hurt and feel down on yourself. Sure, fine. But how does that make me feel back at that wonderful equilibrium I felt before? Just because someone tripped me and you point out that fact does not put me back at that equilibrium before the fall. My knees are still skinned and my hands cracked from trying to catch myself. Maybe I’m slightly less embarrassed or feel like a little bit less of a duntz, but if I get back to my steady strut, my skinned knees are there and most likely, I’ll have a little bit of a limp that I can’t just ignore.

It’s a pretty good analogy, I think. But of course, I can’t say that to those well intentioned ones who care. Instead I retreat and take a seat for a bit til I regain my balance.

It’s too bad human instinct isn’t to just invite someone out for ice cream or a tv binge after they fall and pretend like I don’t have an ice pack on and like you didn’t go out of your way to change your plans to just be there.

But I guess I’ve been an all-star at getting through things in the past, so It’s a given I can do it again. Right? After all, why do I need help picking myself up if I’m so strong to begin with? What was I thinking? The fall was yesterday. I should already be back to a full-blown Power strut by now.

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”.

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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.

The ultimate curse word: happiness

And it’s not even four letters!

Hey there universe, it’s me, Lollie. It’s been a while. A little over four months to be exact. I started this “blog” or what was intended to be an online journal in search of happiness on June 17, 2017, with my post about “Adulting”. In that post, which I hope you read, I described my sense of misery I had been feeling as I was quote-unquote doing all of the right things to succeed in life and how none of those things were bringing me the fulfillment that I needed. I had realized that with maturity comes a responsibility to self-love and create your own path. I took the first step by quitting my big corporate job and moving back to Houston to live with my grandmother and be closer to family and friends. So, if you’re reading this, I might just be repeating that to you, but oftentimes as time passes, perspective changes our views of what was really going on when major life decisions are made, and I am here to say to you, with pride, that I stand by the decisions I made 100% and still believe they were made with the utmost clarity. Best decision I have ever made in my life.

It was incredibly touching to see how many people reached out to me after that post. Friends, Acquaintances I hadn’t talked to in forever. Strangers. It’s unbelievable that so many of us struggle with this, yet it is hard for us to discuss it. But, pushing forward, on to this next post.

I am still living with my grandmother. I am still working a job where I am overqualified and underpaid (I may or may not be done with almost all of my daily tasks by 9:15 in the morning… it’s funny how now I have to literally come up with projects to fill my time when I used to stress about not having enough hours/minutes/seconds in the day for the work piled on me). I do feel like I face judgment from some about the fact that I’m not in a “prestigious” position right now. But here’s the thing, it has almost been six months since I quit my previous job, and, at 27, I am a new person.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not that mushy gushy looks for the fairy tale ending kind of a gal. I’m a straight shooter. I stand up for myself if I feel wronged. I love logical thinking. I like to avoid conflict, but can’t ignore it. The kind of girl who probably would secretly feel incredibly special if a grand romantic gesture was made, but also be a bit embarrassed and instead of knowing what to say, would make a bad joke. While this is all a bit of a digression, my point is this: I have always had a very hard time believing that things will just magically fall into place and with a positive attitude, anything can happen. I believe that hard work and determination can help make things happen, but a little bit of luck is needed and sometimes you can be just shit out of luck. Traditionally, when good things happen I am terrified. I wonder, alright, when’s the shitstorm coming to hit the fan?

[Edit: I kid you not, this next sentence took me six minutes of staring at the computer before I could type it.] This aside, I am incredibly happy. I want to add in “right now”, as in “I am incredibly happy right now”, but I am not letting myself do this. While this may not seem like a big deal to you, dear reader, it is for me.

You see, admitting happiness has always been an incredible struggle for me. Writing this, I’m thinking of my life in terms of “before” and “after”. The event being this huge life change (or what some cynics might call my derailment from corporate America). Before, I could not remember a time where I would call myself happy. Even in middle school, I couldn’t understand why those around me were so light hearted and I was not. In high school, I would consider myself lucky if I had a single night of fun. That night would be what I would remember and think of for weeks as I felt a general dread for life. If happiness were to be put on a graph, let’s just say if most people’s baseline was right at the x and y axis, mine was somewhere in the fourth quadrant. It also didn’t help that I’m a hyper self-aware person and would just further my own frustration by knowing that I was unhappy and seemingly not being able to do anything about it.

I had a difficult upbringing. Those close to me, and probably my own parents, would probably beg to differ. But, we’re the only ones who know the entire story, right? Without going into details, let’s just say I have had more than one therapist say that they are shocked by my demeanor that certain events and circumstances surrounding my life have happened and that I have come out “okay” on the other side. That was before. Before, I let these circumstances of my upbringing follow me into my adulthood and create this looming belief that my past dictated my future. So, when I had moments of happiness, I knew they must be fleeting, because history taught me that that was the case. Why do we do this to ourselves? I literally feared thinking I was happy because I knew that what comes up, must come down.

Now, I’m going to pause for a second. If for some god forsaken reason an actual medical or mental health professional is reading this, I do know that my description of my thoughts sounds like some classic depression or other mental issue. I agree. It does sound like it. It partially was. But having spent countless hours in therapy, I assure you, that part of my life has been under control for years. In fact, it was once that imbalance was, let’s say, “balanced”, is when I was the most frightened about my mental state. Therapists assured me that I wasn’t simply a product of mental illness. That I had issues that were clearly following me into adulthood and effecting everyday life. Obviously, true. For some people, knowing this is the hard part. For me, it was acting on it. For a while, I thought that if I continued to go to therapy (something I am a huge advocate of), things would eventually, maybe get better. Better, but not great. I didn’t realize the onus was on me. Issues aside, I have had many blessings. My issues are emotional at this point – I have grown up more than privileged fiscally and was never an “at risk” youth. My upbringing set me up to have a great life if I did it right, and at least academically and socially – “doing it right” was, of course, so much easier than so many others.  But just because my shoes were always shiny and my tummy always full, does not mean it wasn’t a struggle. I can only imagine what it is like for those who have those other hurdles on top of what I have gone through.

Okay, back to it. Here’s the thing, it’s on us. The individuals. Things happen to us. For so long, I focused on things happening to me. In the past, present, what I assumed would happen in the future. But, what about things that I could make happen? How did that not cross my mind? Well, you can see when I had this epiphany in my original post. I actively made a change and a deliberate decision to be happy. So, for the first time, I am not only admitting, but PUBLISHING that I am happy. I will detail more in the days to come how this has happened, but with the progress I have made, even though I’m scared, I know that I can say I am happy and I do not think that this means the world will come crashing down around me. I am not cursing myself by declaring happiness, I am praising myself. It is a huge achievement. I made it happen. It did not just happen to me. Because of that, I can continue to make it happen and I can handle the road bumps that come along the way.

This has been a long post, so if you have gotten to this point, I commend you. If you skipped to the end, here’s the gist: for years I have been scared to embrace happiness and consequently, could not remember a time where I was actually happy. I am now. I’m scared, but prepared. My sister-in-law just told me the best thing anyone could have said to me last night – we haven’t seen each other in about 9 months and she just looked at me and said, “You’re lighter. It’s a beautiful thing.” So, from a girl who hates clichés, let me just say, drop the negativity. Drop the presumptions. Drop your expectations and expectations you think you need to live up to. Embrace your self-love.

Be light. Be happy.

Love always,

Lollie

P.s. sorry for the rambling

Lord it’s so hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.

Gotta love some Willie Nelson right? I used to love this lyric every time I heard it. In fact, I’m sure if it was written out in some sort of caligraphy-o-rized script on @bitches instagram or some shit like that a few years back (if that was a thing a few years back) I probably would have thrown it a like or at least an internal smirk. Funny thing is, I just re-read that lyric literally as I’m typing this and instead of an internal smirk in an “oh so true” kind of a way, I read it in a jealous, dear lord I wish I believed that to be true way.
Insecurity is a really funny thing. In my mind, it is almost a curse word… but I think that may be part of the problem. The funniest part about using the term itself is actually that those that use the term frequently to describe others, are often using it from a sort of insecure place, or really as a way to insult someone without allowing themselves to believe that they are actually insulting the person. Allow me to elaborate with the following examples.
Example 1:
Girl A at party looks Girl B up and down. Girl B is flirting with likable guy.. like a lot. Girl A to Girl C: “Wow Girl B is such a slut.” Girl C to Girl A: “Well you know, she’s just insecure. You’re so much prettier. Don’t worry about her.”
Insecure = replacement for admission of jealousy or using meaner words to say how you really feel. 
 
Example 2:
Girl A tells beautifully skinny Girl B she should eat a hamburger. Girl C tells Girl B to not worry about it, Girl A is just insecure.
Insecure = replacement for meaner words of how she really wants to describe the woman/ excuse for behavior.
Okay, here’s my example. And most of you who know me know that I don’t typically bash on certain ex-boyfriend who I lived with and this HONESTLY is not meant to do so. But I am writing this to admit to you that I am insecure. I AM insecure. I WAS not.
While I was dating said ex-boyfriend we lived together. At the young age of 23, I was quite busy in my first year of law school and to be frank, just really didn’t have a jealous or suspicious bone in me. I don’t know if that was because I had a big head and didn’t think a guy would ever want to cheat on me or if I really just wanted to see the best in people. Either way, as said ex-boyfriend and I lived together, I would frequently use his phone to play games, etc. In about the last six months of our relationship, said ex-boyfriend would consistently tell me that I was paranoid if I asked him while he was taking his phone away from me. If I asked an innocent question about where he went while I was out of town, he would call me insecure. If I made a joke that he checked out a girl (I was probably checking her out in awe at the same time) he would tell me I was insecure and had trust issues because of my relationship with my father. The list goes on and on. Long story short, I think you can see how in these last six months of our relationship, where in fact he was having relations with at least 6 other women, he had somehow convinced me that I was insecure, even though I had never accused him of anything…. he ultimately admitted it after the first time I flat out asked him if there was something I should know.
Insecure = excuse for behavior/manner of making someone else question their own logical acts
 
So, I realize how roundabout this whole post is, but this is the funny thing. I was not insecure then. How do I know that? Because I truly, honestly I  am now. How did this happen? Did it happen when I found out about the first girl? the second girl? The fourth and fifth? Did it happen when I had to admit to people what had happened and people consistently asked how I found out? Instead, did it happen in the three years that followed as law school beat me to a pulp, I never really figured out dating and then fell into a job that convinced me I was less than nothing?
Several thousand dollars of therapy later and I honestly can’t answer that. I can say one thing. I was not insecure then. Sure I had my moments, but in many many ways I was a very confident young woman. But I also hadn’t experienced a lot of the life challenges that I have now. Call me an asshole for saying this but I hadn’t had troubles getting guys to like me. I really didn’t have a hard time with school. Aside from 20 pounds I’d like to forget my freshman year of college, staying in shape came pretty easy. Does my life suck? Absolutely not. Those 20 pounds went away and I still have a wonderful education and ultimately, am blessed for my work experience.
I find it pretty funny when people ask me if I’m “over” my ex-boyfriend. First of all, the ones who normally ask are people who have no business asking such a personal question and if I said no, would likely not be willing to help in any real meaningful way (aside from one unbelievable former educator, who had a lovely conversation about this with me the other day). Second of all, what does that even mean? Look, if my ex-boyfriend asked me to date him in any capacity again I would literally put water in my mouth just to have water in my mouth and spit it out when he asked because I was laughing so hard. Yes, in that sense I am over him.
SO HERE IS THE THING PEOPLE DON’T TALK ABOUT. When you are cheated on, you get over the person, but it is really really really hard to get over the situation. I’m talking REALLY hard and I am a damn strong woman. One day you are living your life with one reality and in a split second, everything you believed to be true no longer is. One day, you think you are the apple of someone’s eye and later that day you are that person’s worst fear. You are the person that they are scared will find out the truth. They are who you think is the closest to you in the world and instead you are the one person in the world they don’t want to let in. This is what I know about being cheated on. I also know, that in some twisted, fucked up way, when you are cheated on, at least for me, when the scorned ex drifts into your past and all you are left with is yourself, it is not them that you are left with being angry at, it is yourself. He’s no longer around. I can no longer walk in the other room and ask him if there was a seventh girl… and even if I could ahhahahahha dear lord I would not. But I am still here. I still live with myself. I am here questioning myself, my ability to read people, my ability to trust others, my self-worth and my reality. That’s the truth.
So here’s the time where I contradict myself and, spoiler alert, there’s no beautiful ending to this long-winded post that will bring it all together. A few weeks back I was hanging out with friends in Philadelphia when I made what seemed to me like a normal comment and my friend who I have not known for that long, very kindly said to me that “we need to work on your confidence. I feel like you think you’re not worthy and it’s just not true. I was the same in my 20s, but you deserve to know now that you’re not less than anyone.” He said it from such a place of warmth and love that I actually had to excuse myself to the restroom and actually cried a happy tear. I agreed with him, but to hear it from someone else was such a symbol of pure kindness, and I’m not quite sure why it was hard for me to believe that someone had that much kindness inside of them.
So, I had that conversation. I had the conversation with my former educator who says that he’s known I’ve been insecure since I was a child (probably true but in different ways) and that we need to figure out how to deal with it. Until a few days ago, while these words had been hard to hear, I knew they were true and honestly felt like yes, something I obviously need to work on, but in the end it was only myself that I was hurting.
Wrong. The other night, a close friend wanted to set me up with a friend of hers and invited me to a house-warming party at her place where said set-up would be. He was nice as can be… tall.. good looking… I mean, dream set up. It was a party, so of course it was a casual set up and it was not like I was his date or anything like that. During the party, he was nothing but kind to me and I realized at some point (through the haze of some pineapple vodka drink that has me on a temporary alcohol ban at the moment) that he was talking with another woman a lot. Call it flirting, call it whatever you want. It really doesn’t matter. He was/is single, it was a party and he had every right to. Well, in that moment I pulled him aside and COMPLETELY out of jealousy and nothing else, I said something really awful about the woman he was talking to. I don’t even want to repeat it because I’m ashamed. He appropriately thought my comment was disgusting and very nicely told me that (I believe something later like “that was  a strange comment” .. I deserved a much harsher criticism). Later that night I half-ass told my friend who was doing the setting up that I messed it up and she told me that she heard what I said and that she knows that’s not me, but I need to stop being insecure. So fuck me, what I said before was wrong. She was right and she was a good friend. I am insecure and I let it get the best of me. If I could have just trusted that whatever happens happens, that I’m worthy of being loved and if it is with this guy or some other man who comes along so be it, then I could’ve saved myself, my friend and the guy some embarrassment.
So if you’ve made it to this point then you’ve made it past whatever I’m going to reread for typos and you’re a fucking champion. I guess the reason I’ve written all of this is because over the last 24 hours I’ve been thinking about this insecurity and how it really has gotten the best of me. About a month ago, right before my first blog post, I also made a promise to myself to hold myself accountable for my actions. My flaws make me beautiful but negativity does not. So, I’m really dedicating myself to addressing this issue. Part of this is practicing self love. Focusing on my strengths and what makes me a good person. Knowing who my true friends are and also knowing how wonderful these people are and they would not be friends with me if there wasn’t something positive about me.
Ultimately, I stand by my statement at the very beginning of all of this that being labeled insecure can be an insult and most of the time, when we call others insecure, it is meant as an insult. If you are not saying it from a loving place, don’t label someone as insecure. It’s a real thing and it does hurt. On the opposite site of the spectrum, if you do realize a friend is insecure, tell them. Let them know you love them and they have no reason to be. NO ONE has a reason to be. We are who we are. If we aren’t where we want to be, let’s help each other get there. In the meantime, I’m going to work on being my own biggest fan.
So I’m sorry Willie, I am humble and I’m not perfect in every way, but I think I can try to find some sort of compromise where I learn to love myself in every way.
Would love to hear your experiences/thoughts/suggestions in the comments below. xoxo