Quite a few followers and friends alike have asked me how I've been as of late, given the massive changes I've experienced in the past several months. This blog post is my response.
I was sitting on my fire escape when sounds of a child laughing drifted up from below.
“Red light!” a woman exclaimed.
The child’s ponytail bobbed as she played the ever-familiar ‘Red Light, Green Light’ game, her mother trailing behind her.
I sat with my knees folded into my chest, staring at the building across the way, the sun drenching its brick like a fresh coat of paint. After a few minutes, the sounds of the mother and daughter faded out until they were gone altogether.
In this transitional period of my life, I can’t help but compare the last few months to a game of ‘Red Light, Green Light.”
There are the moments that propel us forward like a slingshot— and others that stop us dead in our tracks. There are moments that ignite our insides like fireworks— and others that make us feel hollow.
The truth is, no period of life involving change will be a seamless sidewalk. Every few blocks you’ll trip on the uneven bits and stub your toes.
I’ve never known how strong I truly was until I hugged my parents goodbye and quietly shut the door of my very first apartment. I leaned against the closed door and squeezed my eyes shut. Was I excited about this new chapter? Yes. Was I also absolutely terrified? Yes.
The following day I returned home to my apartment, starving and drowning in my own sweat.
“The New York City heat is no joke,” I muttered to myself as I collapsed into bed. This sudden burst of movement was enough to pop a curtain rod off the wall, my brand new curtains sent plummeting to the floor in a sorry heap. I eyed the fallen curtains and couldn’t help but compare them to the current state of my being.
It is impossible to protect yourself from fear, embarrassment and pain without also protecting yourself from happiness. We must not miss out on all the great things just because they might be difficult.
Sure, it’s beyond difficult to admit that you’re afraid. That you messed up. That you don’t know the answer. But each time the rug is yanked out from under you, you’ll rise from the ground faster and faster until you leap over that darn rug altogether.
I pray that all of you will experience an outpouring of ‘green lights’ in this life, but when a ‘red light’ must surface, you remind yourself that it’ll turn green again with time.
Please do not give up on the person that you are becoming. Even if you get hurt. Even if it seems hard to carry on.
Seldom do we reflect on our past and think, “Darn— I wish I believed in myself a bit less back then…”
This evening I walked down the sidewalk with my dry cleaning slung over one shoulder and a bag of groceries in the other. I felt myself grin. Sure, I still have trouble unlocking my door on the first try, among other challenges, but I’m surviving and I’ll continue to. On my own.
Instead of striving for absolute perfection in every element of my day-to-day life, I simply hope to learn more about the world today than I knew yesterday. I celebrate my small victories.
Each morning I awake to the day’s first fragments of light coming to rest on my face, the sounds of my city drifting up from below, and excitement swells in my chest.
I’m working on myself, by myself, and it’s pretty sweet.
Note: The featured photo for this post was taken in 2015, my second time visiting New York City, and the first time (of many) I vowed to myself that I'd end up living here.
The sun was lazily dipping beneath the tree tops, reflecting its last fragments of light against my wine glass as I sat on my back porch, my fingers absently tracing the stem. It was a particularly steamy summer evening in June and my mother was embarking on one of her usual narratives: reflecting on the days when I was a pint-sized human and not a full-sized, city-bound college graduate.
“I remember when you learned how to use the stairs,” she said, laughing. “You’d grip onto the handrail with both hands, turn sideways and take each step so carefully— one at a time. It would take you a full ten minutes to descend three steps.”
“Meanwhile your sister would charge down them at full speed,” my Dad chimed in from the chair opposite mine.
“You’ve always been so cautious, Katy,” my Mom added. “So methodical.”
As I collapsed into bed that night, my parents’ words replayed in my head.
“Cautious,” I repeated to the blackness of my bedroom, the word leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.
In recent years, I’ve found myself analyzing every single element of my life under a microscope, poking and prodding at parts of myself that I couldn’t change even if I wanted to. I carefully consider how every life decision— even as simple as what I’d be eating for lunch that day— would affect me in the grand scheme of things.
Sometimes I even distract myself from pursuing the things that I want to, deep down, because there might be some risk involved. Better safe and free of disappointment or embarrassment than happy.
I’ve drafted more pro’s and con’s lists than I can count, plaguing my journals with question marks. I overthink to the point of exhaustion, despite the number of ways I’ve attempted to distract myself from doing so. Sucking down vodka sodas on Friday nights, I’d pray for some relief, but my restless mind has held its own.
If you’ve ever befriended me, dated me, or even spoken to me— the chances that I’ve critically analyzed every word you’ve said to me are high. (ie: “Hmmm what does she really mean by that?” “He’s bored of me, isn’t he?”)
Put simply: I don’t think I ever truly let go of the handrail that I first grasped white-knuckled as a toddler. I’m still grasping onto it to this day, squinting to examine each step below in detail.
I’m the human definition of “look before you leap,” dipping my toe in the pool of life and deciding it's much too cold to dive in right now.
"Perhaps tomorrow," I'd say to myself. I'm no quitter, per say, I just have to think about it a bit longer.
Jonathan Safran Foer of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” penned: “sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
In a similar regard, I live my life straining under the weight of two people— the person I am and the person I would be if I let myself leap before looking.
The truth is, you can’t protect yourself from all of life’s demons without also protecting yourself from happiness as well. The urge that we feel to control life has a tendency of controlling us right back.
Certainly I’ve tried to think a little less. It just seems that every time I’ve ‘lept before looking’ has resulted in a hangover or the sensation of squeezing my eyes shut, thinking to myself: “why the fuck am I like this.”
The more I overthink about my life, the less I understand.
Why can’t I find a happy medium between thinking too much and not at all?
One of the lessons that college taught me, I continuously pull out of the depths of my mind like a cherished photograph, tattered at the edges from being handled so often.
No one truly has it all “together.”
And even if it seems like they do, people never believe that they are truly finished masterpieces. Even the most established individuals wish they were taller, shorter, richer or smarter, and in fact, the majority of those who outwardly seem like they have their lives fully together and tied with a neat bow, are the biggest culprits of overthinking.
Looking before you leap is a feasible concept when it comes to jumping off cliffs or shoe-shopping, but it cannot be applied to everything.
Sometimes you must leap before you talk yourself out of it. Before you uncap your pen to draft a pro’s and con’s list. Before you take into account the possible consequences and question if you’re “ready.”
By overthinking and overanalyzing, I’m creating nonexistent problems out of thin air. Sometimes it’s not possible to understand everything that happens to you. All of life is not meant to be deeply processed. With some elements, we can only accept— not understand.
“Life is really simple,” Confucius says, “but we insist on making it complicated.”
So here's to more spontaneous moments. Here's to sometimes leaping before we have a chance to peer down at the rushing water below. Let's squeeze our eyes shut, leap through the air and feel the warmth of the sun on our faces, giving our restless minds a much-needed hiatus.
"If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present. Gratefully."
(above) image source: na-kim, via lalunagogh, tumblr.
Featured image In Gedanken, by Félix Armand Heullant
If college has taught me anything— besides how to get ready in five minutes even with an agonizing hangover— it’s that people scare the shit out of me.
And by “scared” I don’t mean to the same caliber of snakes, spiders, or the creepy clown at the snot-nosed preschooler’s birthday party. This breed of “scared” doesn’t evoke a blood-curdling scream or send me running for the hills, but rather, the opposite. The fear that I experience in college materializes as a dull ache in the pit of my stomach. It comes and it goes, and sometimes it causes me to stop dead in my tracks.
People scare the shit out of me.
I’ve grazed the surface of this subject many times, often opting to swiftly jerk my hand away from it like a hot stove. “Oh Katy, don’t talk about the subject of pleasing other people,” an internal voice warns. “It’s not empowering. It’s not sexy. It makes you look weak.”
Here’s the deal: I can wear the mask of “look at me! independent woman! comfortable in my own skin! doesn’t care what anyone thinks!”
I can place it triumphantly over my face, secure it with a ribbon behind my head and convince myself that I’m not even for a second concerned with others’ opinions of me. I can post photos and videos online, provoking strangers to believe that I am not afraid of anything. I can throw back a perfectly-groomed head of hair and laugh in public, wear thoughtfully-curated outfits and radiate an air of confidence with every graceful step.
But what happens when the mask falls? What happens when the facade crumbles?
What happens when I’m too exhausted to keep up the act?
As some say, when cracks form, that’s how the light gets in. For me, however, it instills a sensation similar to how I’d imagine it’d feel to be slammed by a truck traveling at 90 miles per hour.
People— and what they think— scares the shit out of me.
No matter how much I try, I do care. I choose my words wisely, rolling them around in my mouth like a breath mint before speaking. “Do I sound smart? Do I sound confident? Am I funny enough? Am I being too blunt?” By the time the words materialize after all of this silent contemplation, I’m not even sure if they belong to me anymore.
Do I even mean half the things I say? Or am I just saying them because they’re what is expected of me? Because they’re what people want to hear?
Some days I push back, convincing myself that everything I do is in fact done with personal intention. I close my eyes and imagine every word I say and action performed branded with the glossy black ink of a “PROPERTY OF KATY” stamp.
But then I find myself in a humid, crowded room, beer foam sloshing under my feet, bass ringing in my ears as I hear myself say, “ugh this party is awesome!” leaning towards a boy who— in his current state of intoxication— probably couldn’t distinguish me from a sweet potato… Was the party “awesome”? Eh, not really. You know what’s awesome? Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower overlooking all of Paris. Watching your Mom kick cancer’s ass. Getting an A on a test you spent all night studying for. All things that I’ve experienced, yet I choose to articulate “ugh, this party is awesome.” Hah.
It’s like the wrong guy leaning in, about to kiss you. You could either take it head-on or pull a Rihanna at the 2016 VMA’s and turn away. Poor Drake.
There’s one voice in your head exclaiming, “Mayday! Mayday! This isn’t right! SOS!” while another is saying “Eh, relax, it’ll be over in like 15 seconds and then you can tell all your friends about it tomorrow if he’s cute.” I imagine the first voice is the-overprotective-Mother-type in a turtleneck and pearls while the other is wearing sunglasses, smoking a cigarette in a trench coat.
I often find myself living my life in autopilot strictly because I’m scared of upsetting the balance. I don’t want to rock the boat. I don’t want to give anyone reason to talk about me.
I've ruined myself for a lot of people who aren't even worth it.
But then there’s Taylor Swift.
Her recent single “Look What You Made Me Do” upset the balance. It provoked people to accuse the songwriter of “turning cold,” “acting petty,” and “giving women a bad name.” The years of writing songs about love stories, slammin’ screen doors and wild dreams slipped quietly out the door. All that remains is a diamond-clad young woman, addressing her past demons and wielding a fiery sword at those who have wronged her.
People say that Taylor’s changed. Sure, she might’ve. (“The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? ‘Cause she’s dead.") But then again, perhaps Taylor’s “new fire” has been there the whole time, simmering somewhere deep down, but she was too busy pleasing everyone to rip off the mask.
You might not agree with her methods, but newsflash: it shouldn’t concern you anyway. We have more critical things to be debating about than Taylor Swift’s bathtub full of diamonds, alright? Let her be.
We can’t let the judgment of others extinguish our flame.
Maybe it’s about time that we start saying what we mean.
Maybe it’s about time we start doing what we want to do.
Maybe it’s about time we take that darn mask off.
Who were you before you they broke you?
Before the thought of disappointing them forced your hand?
Be. that. person.
“It was New Years Eve. I slammed the car door in his face and he ended up being my husband,” the woman seated opposite me declared, her candle-lit eyes meeting mine over the elaborate floral centerpiece as she lifted a glass to her lips.
It was the second day of a recent blogging excursion to the beautiful yet quaint town of Stone Ridge, New York, and after a long day of shooting, we were treated to an outdoor patio dinner. I was unsurprisingly the youngest blogger invited on the trip, seated ironically across from the most established woman in the room. Upon spying my name card opposite hers, I quickly gave myself a mental pep talk. “Don’t say anything stupid, Katy.”
As we ate, the sun lazily dipped below the long slanted roof of the house, a blanket of dusk settling around us. Fireflies flickered in the woods, seemingly unperturbed by the clinking of glasses and loud, trilling voices.
It was getting to be that familiarly hazy part of the evening where formalities are reduced and stories become more saturated in romance and red wine.
The engagement rings of nearly every woman seated at the table seemed to sparkle with each raise of a fork or tuck of a stray hair, as they recounted the ways in which their husbands had proposed. I sat and listened, marveling at the crinkling of the eyes of the storyteller as they recounted tender memories of the heartfelt proposal, a warm sensation forming at the pit of my stomach.
“So, you slammed the door in his face, and then what happened?” I asked eagerly, leaning in ever so slightly to the older woman.
“He called me the very next day and asked me out to the movies,” she replied, smiling.
“And you said yes?” I asked.
“Well, sure.” she said. “I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea, but I went.”
“And how did it go?”
She held up her hand, weighed down by the strain of about six diamond bands on her ring finger.
“You could say it went pretty well.”
The woman went on to recount every last detail about her engagement, wedding, and first home, delighted to tell me every chance she had that she’d “hit the jackpot.”
“The secret is to find a man who isn’t intimidated by your success, and is the first to tell you that all of your critics are ridiculous and should go to Hell,” she said.
A hollow pang in my chest whisked me back into reality, bitterly reminding me that I haven’t found someone like that yet, no matter how hard I’ve tried.
As if sensing a change in my demeanor, she wagged a finger at me. “Katy, you have to stop looking for him,” she said.
I groaned. “So much easier said than done.”
I have come to the conclusion that a fatal flaw of mine is a severe lack of patience.
I’ve spent my whole life setting goals and chasing them until my legs practically give out, not resting until every box is checked.
I’ve gotten used to being the “yes, of course I can” girl, rather than the “hmm maybe I should check and see if this is rational” girl. I’ve postponed sleep, refused help and have even gone to the extent of hot-gluing decorations for an upcoming formal event in the dark with only the light of my iPhone screen while my roommates slept.
To most, I’m either a crazy person or inspiring.
To me, I fear living a life without goals and spending every waking moment aiming to reach them.
I recently picked up a book called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” by Mark Manson. (And by “picked up” I mean I went home for a week and found it propped against my pillow — thanks, Mom, I get the message.) Early on in the novel, Manson unpacks the idea of “happiness” and essentially how we give too much of a fuck about achieving it.
“There is a premise that underlies a lot of our assumptions and beliefs. The premise is that happiness is algorithmic, that it can be worked for and earned and achieved as if it were getting accepted to law school or building a really complicated Lego set. If I achieve X, then I can be happy. If I look like Y, then I can be happy. If I can be with a person like Z, then I can be happy.”
The final line to this section, which reads, “Happiness is not a solvable equation,” hit me like a truck.
Happiness is not a solvable equation.
I’ve never been very passionate about mathematics, but I admittedly have been treating my life like one of the various math equations I slaved over memorizing in high school. I thought if I did everything “right” and added the correct parts into the equation, that I would be entitled to a “perfect” result.
On-trend wardrobe, check. Good friends, check. Good sense of humor, check. Communicative but not annoying, check.
I’ve played the game, acted the part, but feel absolutely deflated when I don’t get the results.
“We have evolved to always live with a certain degree of dissatisfaction and insecurity,” Manson continues, “because its the mildly dissatisfied and insecure creature that’s going to do the most work to innovate and survive. We are wired to become dissatisfied with whatever we have and satisfied by only what we do not have.”
Ah, so it isn’t just me.
Ok, back to the candlelit dinner. After some thinking, I’ve come to the conclusion that the “hollow pang” I so eloquently described earlier was bred not from my own insecurity, but from comparison.
Truthfully, I’ve grown pretty fucking proud of my life. I’ve become fairly content with my appearance, gotten to know my strengths, weaknesses and fears, and have found solace in the constant of these things. It’s taken me forever, and I’m certainly not without bad days of deafening insecurity, but I’m getting there.
But it’s times like the candle-lit dinner in Stone Ridge that I feel most hollow and unaccomplished. Why? Because I, a human wired to be dissatisfied with what I have and satisfied by only what I do not have, began to compare myself.
I cannot speak for the woman opposite me, but she could’ve been analyzing me, a young woman free of wrinkles with seemingly endless potential, and feeling the same way.
In the moment, though, all I saw was what I am not.
But then it dawned on me— will I ever be done comparing myself? Even if I reach that pinnacle point of “Yes! I made it! My life is how I’ve always wanted it to be!” I’ll still find something to nit-pick. A grey hair. A sagging ass. A trendier, younger version of myself taking my job from me. The comparison game never ends. We’re never quite “done,” if you think about it.
The only thing that can change the way we view the comparison game is— yes, you guessed it: giving less of a fuck. Deciding that we don’t care about any of it. Others' success is not your failure.
BUT IT’S HARD.
Like, so what if I’m balancing college, a social life, heading several boards of extracurriculars and running a successful lifestyle brand but somehow find myself still ‘hopelessly single’?
Despite my successes, it’s that one, nagging “red flag” that I find myself highlighting and aggressively underlining on a daily basis. That one “flaw” has singlehandedly driven me insane in the past. It’s provoked me to do things extremely out of character.
It’s like looking at a photo of yourself where you look good but a single, annoying hair is out of place. “It would be perfect if that one stupid hair wasn’t sticking up making me look like I’m a cast member of The Little Rascals.”
I’ll never be done comparing myself.
I’m consistently haunted by the idea that I’m wasting my time living a life that isn’t how I’ve always imagined that it would be. But that’s the thing: you can’t outsmart life.
No matter what equation you try to play, life still has a way of turning you upside-down on your head and saying “Ha! Nice try.”
“Katy, you have to stop looking for him,” the older woman had said to me, her brow knitting into a concerned yet empathetic expression. And she’s right, in more ways than one.
It’s like attempting to assemble a 300-piece puzzle in the span of 30 minutes. This sort of attempt will result in a handful of broken puzzle pieces and maybe even a paper cut or two.
I can’t keep exhausting myself looking for puzzle pieces that aren’t ready to be placed yet.
It’s hard to adopt this attitude, simply because so often we’re taught that the more effort that is exerted into a task, the better the results. In most cases, however, it’s better if you don’t try.
It’s better to just be. It will all come together eventually, and even then, your life won’t ever be entirely “together.” You just have to give less of a fuck about perfection and accept this.
Stop looking for him. Stop looking for her. Stop looking for it, whatever it may be.
What you want will find you when you’re busy, hair in the wind, determination in your eyes, building an empire.
Top photo by @lukeschuetrumpf. I do not own any of the graphics.
As some of you might’ve noticed, I’ve created a new tab on my blog entitled “Ask Katy,” where my readers can pose questions and I’ll do my best (with my considerably limited relationship expertise) to answer them. Last week I received one message in particular that struck a chord within me and so—
One, two-week hiatus later, I’m back with yet another millennial rambling about sex.
“Sometimes I have moments where I'm like "fuck it, I'm young, I enjoy sex, I don't need the love" but then I have moments where I feel super guilty about enjoying sex and not having someone who loves me.
I know you said in one of your videos that you have yet to hook up with someone that you love and who loves you so I was just wondering how you keep yourself from getting down about not having that love?”
I hear ya, Bruna. On one hand, I’m that independent-creative-don’t-need-no-boyfriend-badass-bitch but on the other, I’m the hopeless romantic who constantly has her head on a swivel for love. Sometimes I feel empowered and other times I feel overcome with guilt.
This begs the question: why, so often, are we two-faced when it comes to our urges— both sexually and romantically?
By acting impulsively when it comes to casual hook-ups are we doing ourselves a disservice?
Taking the side of being pro-casual sex as a young, millennial woman is a very glorified concept these days. Swipe twice to the right on Snapchat and almost 90% of the “top news stories” pay homage to a celebrity’s breasts or “what he LOVES in bed.”
The times have certainly changed. It’s simply no longer “on trend” to be tight-lipped when it comes to your sexuality and what you do behind closed doors.
After all, we’re living in an age where it’s legal for women to walk around topless in New York City while our counterparts in the 1940’s were considered slutty for publicly showcasing their knees.
The millennial age might as well coin the tagline “getting what I want instantaneously with the least amount of effort.” The fact that with just several iPhone taps we can order a juicy burger to our bedsides is justification enough.
We want it now and lose interest when we don’t experience that instant gratification. Think Veruca Salt and the golden egg from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For this reason, we really can’t blame ourselves for being impulsive when it comes to casual hook-ups.
The hard-to-admit truth: we rarely have the patience to wait around for the real thing so we settle for anything that closely resembles it. We hate to admit this because it makes us look easy and desperate, but it’s the truth.
Granted, we won’t hook-up with just anyone, but if they have the audacity to text us in the daytime or even pay for our dinner, it’s a totally different story. A real love story in the making, am I right?
You can stand on your soap box and proclaim, “The casual hook-up culture is getting the Millennial age nowhere! We need to stop giving into our urges!” but still find yourself at the club just one vodka cran away from an impulsive, drunken hook-up. *sigh*
So as you lay in bed reliving your latest impetuous male encounter that you promised yourself would never happen again— but did, allow me to ease your mind.
It’s not you, it’s your cortex.
(And no, I’m not talking about a hair styling tool.)
The brain’s cortex is the wrinkly outer layer of gray matter that dictates decision-making and self-control. Not too long ago, some mega smart researchers in Connecticut lead a study on 1,200 healthy Millennial brains with no history of substance-abuse or psychiatric disorders. They analyzed the participants’ cortexes and their reactions to scenarios that could potentially involve acting impulsively.
The researchers found that of the participants, those who were inclined to “seek thrills and/or act impulsively” had a thinner cortex than those who didn’t. The thickness of your brain’s cortex and your aptness to commit impulsive deeds are directly correlated.
Not to say that this should encourage you to jump off a cliff proclaiming “it’s not me, it’s my cortex!!” but at least you’re now aware that it isn’t solely your conscious behavior that propels you into bed with a stranger. It’s your subconscious.
Going back to Bruna’s question— how do we avoid finding ourselves buried in the Millennial hook-up culture rut? And if we’re going to give in, how do we deal with the regretful aftermath?
Identify your interests, your hopes, your dreams; anything that gets you out of bed in the morning and leaves you exhausted yet satisfied at the end of the day.
If your participation in the Millennial hook-up culture threatens any of the above in your daily life, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Your thinner cortex might justify your rash behavior on paper, but at the end of the day it’s up to you to consciously evaluate whether your subconscious is getting the better of you.
For impulsive people like myself, it takes a lot of deliberate, conscious “I will not do this again. I can not do this again” energy to combat my bad decisions. Every time I encounter a trigger (late night text, flirty conversation at the bar, proposition for an intimate dinner date) I squeeze my eyes shut and tell myself “I won’t. I’ll wait. I won’t.”
But sometimes we get tired of fighting. Sometimes it just feels really good in the moment to leap instead of timidly standing at the edge of the cliff, weighing our options, watching the spontaneous situation slip out of our grasp.
It’s hard, simply because casual hook-ups align with the Millennial ideal of instant gratification that I discussed earlier. If we want it now, we can have it now, low-risk and casual. What could be better?
It’s exhilarating to participate in something so spontaneous that come Monday morning will be reduced to just a story we tell our friends. “And you won’t believe what happened next…,” she said, as her friends eagerly, hungry for every last detail of her steamy affair.
Bottom line: I can’t say that I’m entirely for or entirely against today’s hook-up culture. While it’s great that we’re open about our sexuality, I do feel that some people sleep around to avoid whatever deeper issues are nagging at their hearts.
If you find yourself like Bruna and myself, struggling with our constantly flip-flopping perception of ‘to sleep with him or to not sleep with him,’ you aren’t alone. In fact, I’d go to the extent of saying that every single Millennial has struggled with this at least once.
So you slept with that guy you said you never would? You responded to that sleazy 1:30 a.m. bootycall text? You did something that has sent you on a spiraling-out-of-control journey of self-hatred?
Perhaps you just got tired of fighting and wanted something exciting to happen to you for once?
You’re not a slut. What you did last night does not define you.
Be the type of person that could be so hurt but still manage see the good in the world; to find that silver-lining. After all, the greatest creatives, artists, and musicians to ever exist had experienced a bout of sadness or two. They channelled the melancholy that they felt into explosive and colorful works of art.
You’d be surprised how massive and full of opportunity the world appears to be when you’re sitting at the bottom. Like a series of levels at the subway station, sometimes you have to go down before you can go up and find the right track. A change in perspective, even if it takes a negative event to get you there, is necessary for growth.
If an author came out with a book with zero conflict, I doubt a single copy would be sold. Conflict and rising from the ashes makes for a great story.
Remember this: no one actually knows what they're doing all of the time. No one truly has their "shit together" 24/7. It's okay to be confused about it all. No one embarks on a seamless journey to self-discovery. Take each day as it comes. You'll get it right someday and when you do, you'll look back on all of this confusion as the winding path that eventually got you there.
I pride myself in saying the things that we’re all thinking as millennials, but unable to put into words.
Call it bravery, stupidity, or simply being fed up with enduring the same old romantic patterns— but, let’s be real: a lot of us would rather admit to waxing our mustaches than publicly project our failures with “stupid” things like the opposite sex, texting, dating, etc.
Our close-knit group of friends (and whoever takes the time to analyze the memes we tag each other in) is the only audience privy to our secrets. And even then, we don’t tell them everything.
We don’t want to come across as whiny, childish or— heaven forbid— needy.
So we bottle up the bulk of our frustrations, hastily shoving them in the back of our minds like the pointless knowledge that we acquired from 11th grade AP statistics. We assume neutral personalities, swallowing our feelings until they’re reduced to hollow bones.
In result, we commit the same crimes and make the same mistakes, spinning on the same, fucked up merry-go-round that we’ve been seated on since our early teens.
In a perfect world, we’d permit ourselves to speak candidly about our pitfalls and learn from them like the civilized adults that we try to be. Perhaps if we are rational and vocal about what eats us alive, we can finally make sense of this broken world.
But why be rational when you can silently overanalyze every element of your life until you’ve pictured yourself alone in your forties with a throng of 17 cats?
For the sake of my own personal sanity, I strive to be “that girl” on this blog. I’m not afraid of the backlash. I’m not afraid of the flurry of “hey, is this blog post about me?” texts. I'm not afraid of people labeling me "emotionally unstable." Allow me to shed some candid, raw light on the reoccurring skeletons in my closet (and quite possibly yours, too).
Reoccurring Dilemma #1:
“Are they into me or am I wasting my time?”
You know what’s really hot? What’s sexier than a striptease or cool ranch Doritos?
Not having to guess someone’s feelings or intentions.
Unfortunately, however, we don’t live in a perfect world so mixed signals are more common than fidget spinners at convenience store check-out counters.
Modern dating is like trying your hand at Russian roulette; loading each potential relationship into the revolver like silver bullets, spinning the cylinder, and feeling the cool metal of the barrel on your temple.
It only takes one shot to kill you— a single flick of an index finger— but you have no way of knowing your fate until you pull the trigger. There’s always that slight chance that the bullet won’t escape the revolver.
The adrenaline junkies that we are choose to ignore the rationale and assume a façade of blind optimism. Will I meet my husband at the club? Probably not, but theres always that chance, so…
There’s a chance that they’re actually into me and not just using me for sex.
There’s a chance that they’ll open my text and reply.
There’s a chance that it’ll all work out this time.
There’s a chance that I’ll finally be happy.
It’s that chance that drives us all insane.
Yesterday I was at a Rosé cafe near my apartment— yes, these magical places do exist— mulling over the trials and tribulations of life with my friends, as we frequently do. In between bites of the most delicious truffle pizza I’ve ever tasted, I couldn’t help but overhear the exasperated conversation in the booth next to mine.
“He might not have texted me back— but Kaaaaaren, he viewed my snap story 37 minutes ago,” a young woman in a striped tunic bellowed, her hands gripping the table. “What does that mean?” I couldn’t see the woman’s face, but I imagined a pair of bulging eyes clouded with the type of confusion that only unrequited love instills.
“I feel your pain,” I thought, a rush of familiarity sweeping over me. I’m no stranger to the familiar pangs of rejection followed by a surge of confusion and blind hope.
If I had to guess, I’d say that the young man in question got his fix from whatever is underneath the woman’s striped tunic and bolted in hopes of escaping the shackles of a relationship.
Nothing is scarier to a straight, millennial male than commitment (especially in the form of labels, liking your Facebook profile picture or unwanted pregnancy). The picture of their Mother on their nightstand might give off an air of “husband material,” but in no way does this mean that they are well-versed in the art of properly treating the women they sleep with.
Like I said, we don’t live in a perfect world. Instead of common decency, we get the opened-without-reply and the averted gaze in passing. We get the late night “Hey” texts and promise ourselves that we won’t reply— but we do— and slowly, without even really knowing it, we relinquish any hint of an upper hand. We trade our free will for desperation.
You could get an A+ in advanced calculus but still fall victim to such naiveté.
He gives you the cold shoulder? Yep, okay, now cue the overthinking and venting to friends between nervous gulps of alcoholic beverages.
What we want is a long-winded, fat novel of a romance... not just a handful of haikus.
But, here's the bottom line: Our time is so limited. Unlike the carton of eggs sitting in our fridge, we will never know our exact expiration date. This instills a constant state of panic within our being. Are we wasting our time trying to salvage a sinking ship? A lot of the time, as it turns out— we are.
A friend of mine once said to me, “Don’t expect anything. That’s when life is good.” Perhaps its our expectations that threaten to destroy us.
Generally speaking, if you are given reason to consider that you might be wasting your time, you probably are. If they’re into you, they’ll prove it. If they want to be in your life, they will be. Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt if they don’t deserve it.
Reoccurring Dilemma #2:
Do I like them, or do I just like the idea of them?
Although I initially came to New York City to pursue work opportunities, my brief time living in “the city that never sleeps” has brought on a considerable amount of excitement in my social life. There’s just something contagious about the electric energy of the city and those who call it home. (I’ll save the story of how I wound up en route to the club drinking Veuve Clicquot in a metallic Lamborghini for another time..)
Last weekend between pre-game pulls of tequila, a friend of mine mentioned that we were invited to a penthouse rooftop party. The penthouse belonged to a childhood friend of hers and would involve “cute boys and handles,” therefore we’d be stupid not to be in attendance. Any female with half a brain knows that cute boys and free alcohol is a combination better than even Ben and Jerry can boast.
As is customary for moments leading up to an unfamiliar situation, we took long pulls from our carefully disguised, tequila-filled water bottles in the elevator, fixing each other’s hair in the reflection of its mirrored doors. Sure enough, both a copious amount of eligible bachelors and liquid courage awaited us on the top floor.
Tom was a recent graduate from Columbia, he’d said, flashing a I’m-cocky-but-you-love-it smile in my direction. He launched into an anecdote about his budding career on Wall Street and I struggled to latch onto any shred of detail that I could relate to. Zilch. “No spark here,” I noted, as I nodded my head, simultaneously feigning interest and critiquing his choice in cologne.
I felt a hand brush the small of my back and *thankfully* it was one of my friends rescuing me from the egotistical cloud of musk I’d stumbled into.
“Katy, you have to meet so-and-so,” she said, giving me a raised-eyebrow look that equated to “please help me find out if this guy is weird or not.”
I averted my attention towards the gorgeous blonde that my friend was referring to. His firm handshake and boyish grin was enough to send any bachelorette to the moon. We came to find that the man in question is not only a graduate of an Ivy league school and an Olympic athlete, but has not one, but a string of names, with a fancy “the third” tacked on the end. Plus, his cologne was the opposite of revolting. My friend and I exchanged “holy SHIT” side eye glances and she leaned in closer to the Olympian.
The next morning, a hungover brunch ensued. Hungover brunch, a.k.a. a theatrical performance of appearing like we have our shit together for our Instagram followers but really just a feeble attempt of piecing together the events from the night before.
I sat opposite of the friend of mine who caught the Olympian’s eye and pried her for details. It turns out that in her haste of swapping the penthouse for a nearby bar, the two parted ways. I asked her if she planned on ever seeing him again and she replied with an uncertain shrug.
“Maybe,” she said. “I mean he sounds great on paper, but truthfully he was a bit on the awkward side.”
She played with the rim of her coffee cup. “Sometimes I think that people sound so great on paper that we convince ourselves that we need to like them.”
“Do we like them… or do we just like the idea of them?” I mused. Are "good on paper" individuals forever? After all, paper can tear, fade and burn...
This type of dilemma is comparable to a sunset.
Convincing ourselves that we’re in love when we’re truly only in love with the idea of it all
is like being naïve enough to think that a photo of a beautiful sunset is the real thing— and that real sunsets don’t exist outside of the rectangular photograph.
When you first catch wind of the “well shit… do I like them, or just the idea of them” sensation, you begin to see the edges of the photograph tear free, revealing the true sunset that exists in a much larger scale elsewhere. But it’s all a bit hazy. You can only see the greater picture when you step back, squint and turn your head to the side a little.
More often than not, we know the truth. We know there’s something greater out there for us, but we choose to remain where we’ve convinced ourselves is “comfortable”. We root our heels into the sand of the “love story” we’ve manufactured in our minds, refusing to let go of a “love” that is truthfully just a mirage.
Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we’re obsessed with the idea of finally “getting it right.” We just want to land Prince Charming ASAP and be done with all of the messy bits— the waiting, the pining, the awkward flirting and potential for rejection.
I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that we just want a partner that we’ll be infatuated with, our friends will be drooling over, and our parents will be impressed with. (let’s be candid, okay.) So when we land someone who satisfies the latter two qualification points, we convince ourselves that we’re infatuated when we’re not. We ignore that nagging “maybe this is isn’t working” feeling in the pit of our stomachs and trudge on, hoping it’ll get better someday.
Not once, but twice this past year, I was exceedingly guilty of this, myself. I knew for a fact that something was missing, but I was sick of searching for the right guy. So, I settled. I was so in love with the concept of finally being “done,” that I ignored my instinct. I silenced my gut. I held up my white flag with a sigh.
But guys, there wasn’t any chemistry. And when there’s no chemistry— even if the guy looks like frigging Liam Hemsworth and has his PhD— you bolt.
When it comes to wondering if you’re in love or just in love with the idea of it all, trust your gut. Trust the butterflies, the ease and general excitement of being with him or her, even if it’s just in an aisle at the grocery store.
If it boils down to catching yourself in a union without chemistry, don’t feel too discouraged. Don’t feel as though you’ve failed or that you’ve wasted your valuable time on lust.
Sometimes you just give the wrong people the right pieces of your heart.
- to be continued -
The Universe has a funny way of tricking us into thinking that we have our lives under control, and then one day, without any proper warning, pulls the rug out from under us.
That feeling of “Damn, life is good” contentment that we all spend tireless hours chasing seems to disappear as quickly as it arrived. It only takes one “we need to talk” text or appointment reminder from the Dentist to completely soil our fleeting moment of triumph.
So you’ve screwed up? Whether it’s for the first time or the eleven-billionth time, the feeling is quite the same. It’s that punch-in-the-gut “FML” sensation of discovering a typo in an important email, sleeping through your alarm or hitting a neighbor’s mailbox with your car.
Sometimes it only takes a few seconds to royally fuck up a part of your life that you spent days, months or even years cultivating.
In the sprawling White Mountains of California there is a tree called the “Great Basin bristlecone.” With it’s leafless, weathered and twisted limbs, the Great Basin bristlecone is a contraption straight out of a horror film or the Wicked Witch’s castle in The Wizard of Oz. Despite its looks, the Great Basin bristlecone has been named “the oldest tree in the world” at a mere 5,062 years old.
“5,000 years ago,” aka roughly 3300 BC, was a time known for Mesopotamian civilizations, “an eye for an eye” and any modern female’s comparison to the last time they shaved their legs. (“I haven’t shaved my legs in like 5,000 years. Holy sh*t.”)
All the while, the Great Basin bristlecone has been around to watch humankind royally screw things up (ie: two World Wars, the leaning Tower of Pisa, Steve Harvey at Miss Universe circa 2016 and Chipotle charging extra for guacamole…).
The Great Basin bristlecone has endured 5,062 years of growth, yet could be snubbed in just a few minutes with the right sawing equipment.
Putting it bluntly: It simply doesn’t matter how long a dream/project/relationship of yours has been around, or how many hours you’ve spent watering it. Similarly to the world’s oldest tree, it could potentially be eliminated without a second thought.
The earliest known time that I, myself, screwed up was back in the second grade.
In Elementary school your level of “coolness” was based on the number of neon pens in your pencil case or your position in the school lunch line.
One day, in my haste to ensure that I was the first in line, I’d chosen to ignore my screaming bladder. Within minutes, my body publicly betrayed me and my favorite pair of flare jeans with butterfly iron-on patches (my first ever D.I.Y. project, I will add) became soaked in the crotch. Embarrassed and convinced that my life was over, I proceeded to hide behind a potted plant until my Mother came to my rescue with a new (not nearly as cute) pair of jeans.
Although that was the first (and hopefully the last) time that I’ve ever peed myself in public, I experience the same sensation quite frequently.
Quite frankly, I’ve adopted “screwing up” as a normal part of my weekly routine. With each spilled coffee, parking ticket and overdue library book, the act of screwing up doesn’t really surprise me anymore.
Life could be going exceptionally well and I’ll have my head on a swivel, thinking, “Okay, Satan, when will you appear in my life today?”
You aren’t alone in thinking that the Universe is out to get you. We’ve all been there.
A lot of us— myself included— ruin the greatest parts of our lives by worrying about when the next shit storm will roll through. We overanalyze and try to perform damage-control before the damage has even been made.
This type of behavior, however, is like carrying around an umbrella on an impeccably sunny day— bulky and unnecessary. We can't keep living like this.
The truth that we've all heard but refuse to believe: screwing up is essential for growth.
J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel was rejected by 12 publishers.
Walt Disney was refused 302 times before he received proper financing to construct Disneyland.
Vincent Van Gogh only sold 1 painting in his lifetime out of the 800 pieces he created.
A lack of failure in your life is genuinely more concerning than excess of it. If your life lacks “screwing up,” it can be assumed that you don’t take nearly enough risks. You haven't done nearly enough living. After all, we aren’t around forever. You might as well learn to dance in the rain with the time that you’re allotted. Success is not a path for those who are afraid of failure. Beyond popular belief, it isn’t a path paved with gold.
It’s like rummaging in the bottom of your bag to locate your headphones— 9 times out of 10 they won’t be retrieved tangle-free.
A massive misconception about recovering from failure is the idea that we aren’t allowed to feel any degree of sadness. There are numerous quotes circulating the Internet that offer post-failure advice along the lines of “don’t cry, put on some lipstick and get over it.”
I agree that failure shouldn’t be dwelled upon, but I’m also an advocate of not suppressing emotion. Margaret Atwood said, “I’m not sure which is worse: intense feeling, or the absence of it.” I believe in the latter.
We aren’t robots. We’re wired to feel things— and many of these things we feel quite strongly.
When failure creeps into our lives, it is natural for us to react. Don’t you dare beat yourself up for feeling something.
So often we don’t allow ourselves time to cope with the failures in our lives. We sprint recklessly from one pitfall to the next because we haven’t allotted ourself enough time to process things.
When the Universe sticks its foot out to trip you, lay in the dirt for a moment to take in the view. Take a deep breath. Allow yourself to learn something from the set-back. Then, pick yourself up, shake the dust from your clothes and walk it off like a champ.
I don't own any of the images in this post.
Plain and simple, talking sh*t is a practice that dates back centuries. Although Brutus didn’t start a group text with his Roman senator friends to talk about Caesar behind his back, it can be assumed that there was some hush-hush gossip involved.
It is said that as Caesar saw his BFF-turned-conspirator Brutus approaching him on the day of his death, he simply pulled his toga over his head and mumbled “You too, Brutus?”
The truth of the matter is, we’re all Brutus at one point or another. We all find other people’s names in our mouths, whether we’d like to admit it or not. But why? Why do we feel so personally offended by the actions of others, when it has nothing to do with us?
Although 21st century back-stabbing isn’t quite as literal as it once was, you’d be lying if you said that you have never, ever spoken about someone without their knowing. Sometimes it happens without you even intending for it to.
Additionally, there are different mediums in the art of talking sh*t— either to simply share unbiased information (“Did you hear that Rebecca got a nose job?”), formulate biased opinions on said information (“Did you hear that Rebecca got a nose job? Good for her, her old nose was hideous”), or downright rash comments about an individual (“Fuck Rebecca. She’s the WOAT.”).
A prominent reason why people feel the need to talk about others is rooted in our human desire to be “in the know” and let everyone else and their mother know that we are indeed “in the know.”
We all love having information to share. Whether it’s tagging your friends in a relatable meme, or being the first to alert your group chat that the couple you’ve all been secretly obsessed with broke up, everyone loves to share.
After all, why do you think that so many different news outlets exist? CNN, ABC, MSNBC, E!…The world is far too large for just one exceptionally tight-faced news anchor.
I distinctly remember a third grade teacher of mine proclaiming “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Not to allow politics to enter the safe space that is my blog— but the current leader of our country doesn’t have the nicest things to say about everyone, and he’s sitting in the White House.
Chances are, our names have all been in other people’s mouths at some point in time, without us even doing anything to provoke it. People who hardly know us have probably screenshotted our Instagrams to send in their groupchats (“lol look at Katy, she thinks she’s soooooo coooool”) and some of them don’t even have an explicit reason why. I’ve learned that a person could hate your guts but still check your Instagram and Snapchat religiously.
While talking sh*t isn’t necessarily a skill that a person is inclined to add to their LinkedIn profile, it’s just a part of life. Is it really such a big deal?
While we can’t stop the “locker room talk” from occurring altogether, we can adjust our personal perception of it all. Phineas T. Barnum, the 19th century circus owner, is famous for allegedly saying “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” Despite the many flubs in his circus business that generated quite a bit of talk amongst 20th century America, he still died a very rich and accomplished man. He died doing the thing he loved most— performing. (He quite literally had a stroke during one of his performances and died.)
Ironically, Barnum’s circus competitors, the Ringling Brothers, bought out his business after his death in 1907. However, the quote is still a valid one. Perhaps all the sh*t talking doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
People ask me all the time, “Katy, how do you deal with the negative feedback that you receive on your social media and videos?” Personally, I know that for every hate comment that is tangibly written on my social media platforms, ten more comments were made intangibly behind my back. The truth of the matter is, if you do something even remotely “different” or “avant garde” with your life— in terms of occupation, religion, romantic preference, hair style, etc.,— be prepared to receive criticism. Most of this criticism will also take place behind your back by perfect strangers. Some of this criticism won’t even be deserved; it will be unnecessarily mean and hurtful.
If knowing that you’ll get sh*t on stops you from pursuing a dream, whatever it may be, then I genuinely feel sorry for you.
No one in history has ever chased a dream without a little bit of push-back.
I’ll say it again: it’s just a part of life. A (sometimes) pretty fucked up part of life— like having to pay taxes on clothes and Chick-Fil-A being closed on Sundays— but a part of life, nonetheless.
Sh*t talking has ignited movements, won peace for suffocated Nations and fueled change. It’s not all bad.
In summary: Sh*t talking might’ve killed Caesar, but despite what’s been said about us, we’ll all be just fine. I promise. As the late Winston Churchill said: “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
“I’ll see you around,” he lied.
“Yeah for sure,” I lied right back.
The hand that had once dragged itself lazily across my cheek clutched the metal knob of the door. Sparkling bits of dust swirled in the early morning light as the door swung shut, an air of stillness settling over my bedroom.
I gathered my duvet closer to my body and stared blankly at the plastic stars on the ceiling. One stubborn star was freeing itself from the glue that adhered it above my bed, hanging on helplessly by a thread.
I laid there, replaying the entire encounter in my head, flagging potential flaws in my behavior, the stupid words I must’ve said, where I must’ve ‘gone wrong’…
“I’ll see you around.”
He didn’t look into my eyes as he spoke. If it wasn’t for that small, fleeting detail, I might’ve believed him.
It was the most classic phrase in the book of “What To Say To A Girl You’re Done With.”
I might be stupid when it comes to choosing between Dominos pizza or a college-aged boy at 2 a.m., but I’m not stupid when it comes to “I’ll see you around”’s.
I combed a hand through my messy hair and swallowed back the “oh, please do’s” and “let’s hang out again soon”’s that I’d been guilty of saying in the past— my feeble attempt of not becoming the victim of yet another one-night-stand.
As he disappeared behind the closing door, all I could think was: “Well this is some pretty fucked up déjà vu.”
Does it get better, or do we just get used to it?
I know what you’re thinking. How could I be so naïve? Shouldn’t I just stay away from the things that constantly seem to come crashing down around me?
Guys, guys, guys. I wish it were that easy.
People get drunk.
People hook up.
People act tough.
People smile through the pain.
It’s all very intoxicating; the thought of actually, finally ‘getting it right this time.’ In fact, the feeling is so intoxicating that even the most intelligent and thoughtful of people go mad over it.
Just look at Romeo and Juliet. “Here’s to my love! O true apothecary,
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.” (act 5, scene 3).
Even the most relaxed of people become obsessive.
They try to distract their hearts, doing anything and everything to prevent themselves from missing someone; from missing what could’ve been.
It frustrates me on a daily basis, simply because I know the truth but refuse to accept it. Like I said in my last blog post, what we want hardly ever matches up with what we allow and accept.
Here is the truth: Looking for fulfillment outside of yourself results in pain, self-hatred and exhaustion.
But, here is why it is so hard for us to grasp this…
The feeling of warm, strong arms around you, the symphonic thud of heartbeats in unison, fluttering eyelashes against skin. For me, the intimacy aspect is what entices me to run right back into the trap every single time, like clockwork.
The good morning texts, the bragging rights among friends (“oh, you guys wouldn’t believe his abs!”) the social media photos… the reasons behind craving a significant other are different for everyone, yet the same in principle.
It’s a feeling so intoxicating that we can’t see straight.
It’s like the feeling of finally zipping up the pants you swore you’d never fit into ever again.
The feeling when you ace a test after weeks of studying.
The feeling of looking at your bank statement and actually having enough to buy a round of margs and not go hungry.
Feeling like you’ve finally ‘got it right’ is a sensation that tops any other.
When it disappears as quickly as it arrived, we feel deflated.
For lack of a more eloquent phrase to describe the feeling: I need to chill the fuck out. I know I do. I need to distract myself. Go to the gym more. Drink some green shit. Write more. Read more. Go for a walk or two.
I need to do anything that I can to distract myself from my powerful need for the gratification that intimacy and male attention gives me. Because up until this point, chasing the feeling of finally ‘getting it right’ and ‘getting the guy,’ has left me both utterly wrong and alone.
That’s what happens. You let people in, and without them even knowing it, they destroy you.
But I stride confidently into the situation every single time, almost daring them to hurt me. It’s like taunting a starving dog with a piece of meat, knowing the chance of getting your fingers nipped is high.
I do it willingly; dangling what they want most in their face and still having the audacity to hope that they won’t just take what they want and run.
I do it to myself, really.
Let it hurt, but then let it go. Take a shower. Wash your sheets. Go for a run. Move on.
Someday, you won’t have to do all of this. Someday, it will be right. That “Someday” just isn’t today.
Sunday: a day for bottomless mimosas, hangovers masked by dark sunglasses, and a rather concealed section of the Times that can be described as either the best— or the worst— by young bachelorettes: “The Vows.”
If you don’t frequent the starched pages of the New York Times, you might not be aware of this particular section, which documents the “I do’s” of New York’s finest. To me, it’s a hidden gem. To some, it’s a waste of ink. Quite frankly, after leafing through the foremost pages’ politics, crime, and turmoil overseas, “The Vows” serves as a palette cleanser of sorts.
Last night, myself and a few friends clustered in a twin bed to read this Sunday’s “Vows,” devouring every word. Between paragraphs we’d discuss everything from our dream spouses, to bridesmaids’ dresses, down to every last detail such as cake flavors and invitation fonts. “My future husband…” this, “My future kids…” that.
Halfway through this late-night Times session, I reached for a ballpoint and scrawled into the margin of one of the pages: “why do we settle for anything less than magic in our relationships?”
And in typical fashion, this fleeting thought of mine has inspired a blog post.
Even if we don’t have it written out in pen and ink, each of us has some sort of mental list illustrating what our ‘ideal life’ looks like. Granted, I’m all about accepting the unexpected in life and not being afraid of the unknown, but I, too, have a picture of how I’d like to be living my life, tucked out-of-sight in my brain somewhere.
Side note: It’s normal for our ‘ideal life’ list to change as we grow, and sometimes things that we “never in a million years” would want, becomes a cherished blessing. But this is besides my point.
In the words of my favorite poet, R.H. Sin:
“What we claim we want rarely matches up with what we allow or accept.”
It’s almost like we know what we want and deserve, to an extent. We’re not stupid. But, we accept something else, just to not upset the balance. If we lash out too quickly in a feverish expression of “wait, this isn’t what I want!!! I don’t deserve this!!!!” we could potentially scare the shit out of everyone we know. So, we stay rooted right where we are. Even if it isn’t ideal.
It is quite alarming when I consider the sheer number of my personal friends and family—myself included— that have ever felt “stuck.”
Stuck with an emotionally abusive boyfriend.
Stuck in a major that they strongly hate.
Stuck in a battle over their appearance.
We’ve been so stuck in this unwanted quicksand that life has dealt us, and instead of grabbing a nearby vine and hauling our asses out, we’ve settled. We’ve accepted that this is ‘just how it goes’ and that we’ll have to ‘suck it up and maybe things will get better’.
A prime example: toxic relationships and feeling “stuck” with people.
A lot of us sometimes feel trapped in our relationships and we don’t quite know why.
I’ve known friends who have been cheated on repetitively, and still refuse to leave the relationship in the past. I used to be angry on my friend’s behalf, thinking, “how on earth could you stay with a cheater?!” But then it dawned on me that perhaps it isn’t their stupidity that causes one party to stay with a cheating second party— it’s their optimism.
The reason why we can’t let go of people sometimes, is because deep down we still feel hope.
“Maybe if I stay, things will get better. He’ll stop. He’ll love only me,” we think to ourselves, desperately, searching for any shred of hope that we can latch onto. We replay the “good times” in our heads like a vintage highlight reel.
But riddle me this: has any child ever dreamt, “when I grow up, I want to be with a man who is repetitively unfaithful. I want to be with someone who I put up with, simply because I’m either too in love— or too afraid— to leave.” I certainly hope not.
However, it’s much deeper than this simple concept, and we all know it.
Quitting cigarettes is one thing, but a completely separate beast is trying to quit a person, cold-turkey.
It doesn’t even have to be as severe as cheating. There is a feeling that creeps into relationships sometimes (with boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, etc.) in which we just don’t vibe with it as much as we used to. Call it “falling out of love,” “boredom,” or simply a sensation of “blah.”
So why do we stay? Why do we remain where we are not entirely happy?
Are we lazy? Busy? Or, rather, just so deathly afraid of the unknown?
More times than not, it’s fear that binds us to certain unwanted elements of our lives.
I don’t know about you, but in ten years I want to smile stupidly to myself in a moment of pure joy— opening sleepy eyes to see my loving, strong husband in bed next to me, hearing the sounds of the electric city below, the sun reflecting off of the exposed brick of my ideal apartment in SoHo…
Ten years from now, I want to be able to say that I had a hand in cultivating my life, and didn’t settle for the cards that were thrown my way.
If you find yourself living a life that doesn't feel like it belongs to you, change it.
At one point in my life, I so desperately wanted to sprout a six-pack of abs overnight.
A nutritionist told me, “you can’t expect to see change in your appearance if you keep eating the same way you always have. Abs are made in the kitchen.”
So, I traded my cool ranch Doritos for kale.
The same thing goes for your life. If you want to start living a beautiful life that you wholeheartedly deserve, you can’t keep living the way you’ve always lived. You can’t keep tolerating the same things that you’ve always tolerated.
You can’t keep accepting dirt when you deserve diamonds.
It’s like ordering the prime rib and settling when the waiter brings you a questionable-looking slab of meatloaf by mistake. “Ah, it’s alright, this is just how it goes!”
You aren’t stupid for being optimistic about parts of your life that aren’t going well. However, if you know in your heart that you are in a place, or with a person, that isn’t working, you’d be stupid to stay.
Photos used in this article do not belong to me.