career kool-aid

I was asked to contribute a blog post to another twenty-something blog, 20somethingsblog, that focuses on different people’s stories about finding a career in their twenties in our economy.

What an honor to be asked to share some of my story, especially because, as is evident from my previous posts, I don’t have everything figured out yet. But, mostly due to trial and a lot of error, I’ve definitely learned some things.

I’ll admit I did write the post at the start of my new job almost two months ago when my spirits were a wee bit higher and I was still in that honeymoon phase. Reality has settled in and I’m not so sure the job I now have is the right fit for me, but what I’ve written on this blog are thoughts and actions I still really believe in. If I could add something to it now, I guess it would be that we are all ever-evolving and that it’s okay to discover that what you thought you wanted isn’t what you want at all.

If you read the post, you’ll see that I talk about a sense of rightness in a job and when I wrote this, I thought I’d found that. Had I written this two weeks later you’d most likely see something very different written in place of that, something a little less assured. Already, I’m ready to exit the highway I’m on again (you’ll have to read the post to see what I mean!), although I still believe we all have the capability to find passion and rightness in our lines of work — it just may take a while to circumnavigate to that point.

Perhaps it’s a good thing the blog owner, David, posted this a couple months into my job. I could stand to revisit the beliefs that I have about how things have a way of working out. I’m in a place where, yes, I need to drink some of my motivational, pep-talk kool-aid.

You can read my post here.

For all you job-seekers, job-haters, or anyone else questioning things — I hope this helps a bit!

reconnecting with the past

Lately I’ve felt this sense of wanting to reconnect with the past. This is piggy-backing my post about my ex so I guess that is fitting. But it’s more than that – it’s with old friends from college and with myself. I’ve grown into someone I’m proud of and wouldn’t want to revert to who I was five years ago because I’ve learned so much. Yet, at the same time I keep finding myself revisiting, well, myself — and the person I was five, ten years ago. The person who had really big dreams and high hopes and believed almost anything was possible, and believed in the goodness of the world and people.

Perhaps ignorance really is bliss because as we all get older and start becoming more aware, I think fears set in. Whether we realize it or not, fear is such a propeller of not taking actions. Yet, back in high school and college, I was encouraged to dream big. And now, between trying to keep up with the pace of my life, the hectic schedule of my job, and everything in-between, sometimes I wonder where dreams fit in to the equation.

I’ve felt this overwhelming sense of wanting to comb through my old books from my writing classes, my notes, old photos, old journals, my bucket list from high school, and call up old friends. I don’t know why I have this feeling but I know that it’s important to listen to it. While we’re in constant growth, there’s a steady part of our hearts and souls that I believe truly stays the same. Maybe that’s why some say people don’t change; I don’t really know.

But what I do know is the same things I’ve always been drawn to — my passions and the things that drive me — still remain. I value people and quality time with them, learning, traveling, and new experiences. And right now, in my 8-5 job that has become an 8-6 job with working on the weekends, I feel so far removed from all of that, and ultimately, from myself.

Sometimes I convince myself that life’s too short, I’m young enough, and have no attachments (other than a car payment) so I could just quit at any time and do whatever I want. But a rational side of me kicks in and says otherwise. Sadly, a lot of that is driven by money (which I hate to admit). But if I am working so hard at a job so that I may afford to live (and like, paycheck to paycheck live), but I don’t feel like I’m actually living then what is the point of that job? This “what’s the point” is often a thought I have during our countless meetings, where people seem so passionate about a new marketing plan or new initiative and all I can think is, is this what life is really about?

For me, the answer is a big hell no.

I feel like I always need to qualify things like this post because I do feel blessed and know that these issues aren’t life-threatening and that there are so many people in our world hurting from much worse things. But what I will say is that I do think it’s human nature to question ourselves and our lives and where we are going.

We all “grow up” but I think it’s normal to sometimes want to revert to who we were a long time ago and surround ourselves with the people who knew us “back when.” I think we all, at some point, wonder what happened to those big dreams we had in childhood or adolescence when it was encouraged to think outside the box. As we become adults it feels like we are encouraged to think within a box of what society deems acceptable, like deal with the daily grind of work or have kids before age 30.

I’m sorry, but when did the the words “grind” and “work” really ever have a positive connotation? I don’t know about you, but I want to be on fire about my life and what I’m doing. Not sitting here writing about how I wish it was different. But I also hope that with these sorts of ponderings, I can encourage and empower people who have these same feelings to know that it’s okay and they’re not alone. At least I hope I’m not alone in this.

We’re all told to live in the present, and not look back toward our pasts and not worry too much about what is to come. Mostly, I think this is sound advice. But I do think that there’s a value in looking ahead and figuring out what your heart is calling you toward and looking back to see how that resonates with the dreams you’ve dreamt or who you were two, three, or seven years ago. And then, with a combination of those, putting some tangible actions into practice in the present is what’s important.

I guess I say all this to say … there has to be a reason a longing to revisit the past has set into my soul. Sometimes it’s hard to look back at, but I’m finding more than anything that it’s brought me comfort.

And hope.

a letter to an ex

Dear H2,

It’s been 3.5 years and talking to you today is like stepping back in time. I’m 22 again and falling in love with you. Except, now, I’m not actually falling in love with you (nor am I in love with you), but as the minutes go by on our two-hour catch-up phone call, I’m remembering why I did — and why, for so long, you made me very happy.

There are some people in life that no matter what happens or how much time goes by, things don’t change. Until today, we hadn’t talked in a year and had only sporadically texted. Yet, things feel the same. Our banter, our laughter, the lofty conversations of hopes and dreams and dislikes and desires. It’s the conversation of two people who almost seem meant to be together, yet aren’t. And it’s okay.

I don’t really know if I’d ever want to be with you again. Things got so messed up that everything I just said above didn’t even matter anymore. But now … now we are in a good place. You used to be, and could be again, that friend in my life that I’ve been missing, the one who just gets me and the deepest desires in my often-confused heart. Things like: What am I doing? Where am I going? What’s my purpose? Things that not everyone dares to dream, let alone say out loud. The difference is we do and always have. Though when we were together these questions seemed to get muddled up in our relationship and cause both of us more harm than good.

I’d by lying if I said I wish we weren’t in two different states. For me, seeing you isn’t a romantic longing. It’s a longing for the kind of friendship we had. I always told you that I could stare at a wall with you and have fun and that is still true to this day. I wish we could just sit face to face and reminisce, dream, complain, conspire. It felt easier to do that when we were 22 and 23. Like time worked in our favor and was pushing us onward toward everything we wanted. Now, time feels against us like a constant battle and we are both running toward it trying to grasp what we want.

It’s funny how two people who have gone on such different paths in the last three years can wind up with the same thoughts and feelings and frustrations and goals. If our conversation were a visible thing, it would be like looking in a mirror.

I don’t regret anything. But as time has gone on and we’ve both healed, I don’t want to keep not having you in my life. I cut you out so I could piece my shattered heart back together — and I did. It’s unbroken but suddenly as we’ve reconnected after all this time, I’m beginning to realize there was always a piece missing.

Remove thoughts of dating or romance from the equation, because again, it’s not about that. That is a road I’m not sure I could go down again.

But you, you have always been this person to me that no one else has ever been. You’re the closest thing to myself as me. And surely two souls so sure and unsure about the same things in life shouldn’t journey through it as total strangers.

So I say all of this to say, you are that missing piece.

__________________________________________

I haven’t been writing here, and it’s a bit hard for me to share these thoughts and feelings that are often in the depths of my heart. But I’m trying to let go of that inhibition and so tonight, this is what is on my heart after talking with someone whom I chose to keep at a distance for a very long time.

Part of me wishes he could read it. But for now, having my words live here is enough.

(Oh, and obviously H2 is just a nickname for anonymity.)

Thanks for reading.

nice + chemistry

Have you ever been single for so long that you forget what it feels like to get butterflies, miss someone, yearn for someone, love someone … so much it literally hurts?

I have.

Or, I am. We’re going on 3.5 years of true singledom here.

I’m not complaining. As someone who had always been in long-term relationships, this time alone has been freeing and I’ve learned a hell of a lot. I got to move to California and then Arizona without have to factor in someone else. I got out a lot of those early-20s wild nights that you can only have in a city like San Francisco, and I got to branch out and meet (and date) all sorts of people.

It’s not a relationship I miss per se. It’s the caring about and loving someone. It’s that joyful bliss and excitement that only comes with romantic feelings. Since my last relationship I’ve felt that twice (not love, but that crazy-butterfly-in lust-puppy love feeling). Both of those guys happened to do the vanishing act on me. Not sure what that says about trusting my so-called butterflies but whatever.

It’s that feeling I miss though. I believe one might call that “a connection,” yes? Because truth be told, I don’t think it’s that easy to find someone you feel a connection with. I’ve dated so many people I haven’t felt a single thing with, even though they apparently felt it on their ends. And I think I’m tired of feeling so blasé about nearly every guy I meet. My closest friends would probably classify me as picky. I like to think that I’ve dated enough and aged enough to simply have standards. I have an open mind (if you could see what I see when I look at my dating history, you’d agree) but I also refuse to settle. And recently I’ve decided upon two of my top standards: nice + chemistry.

Here’s the problem. I either get guys I have chemistry with but they’re assholes, nice guys I don’t really even want to kiss, or complete weirdos.

Where is the guy I’m drawn to like a magnet but also treats me like a human being? I mean, seriously. This isn’t a laundry list of nit-picky qualities here. These are two very simple concepts: nice/kind/sweet and cute/attractive/sparks.

My ex is an ex for a reason but before things headed south with us, he did treat me well and I was head-over-heels attracted to him. I just miss that spark.

The last guy I dated was so nice and dependable (returns texts in a nanosecond? Yes please!) but god almighty there was no spark. Delusionally, I thought maybe if I gave it some time a spark would grow, like a flower that needs watering or something. I also convinced myself that there was truth in “He’s Just Not That Into You” when that one character said guys just invented the spark to trick girls and that sparks don’t actually exist. None of these things worked. It’s amazing what you’ll tell yourself, isn’t it?

For now, I’m cool doing me. But if nice + chemistry walked into my life tomorrow, I’d pay attention. Because, despite what my engagement-congested Facebook newsfeed might display, that combo is hard to come by.

Come to think of it, I do have a nice + chemistry boy in my life. I mean, the nicest guy. Ever. And completely adorable. And totally, miserably unavailable — because I live in Arizona and he lives in Dublin (he’s actually Dutch though, which ups the adorable factor by a lot). We met once, for two glorious nights in San Francisco, and although we talk daily and we’d date in a heartbeat if we were in, I dunno, the same country, it is basically a dating pipe dream.

And that? Well, that is not so nice.

(Side note: I just watched the premiere of The Bachelor and I’m seriously concerned that ridiculous show spawned this longing for butterflies. Damn you, Juan Pablo for being the epitome of nice + chemistry.)

like an old shoe

My mom always told me that my high school boyfriend was like an old shoe – comfortable.

Familiar. Safe.

The same thing could be said about a lot of things—old habits we can’t seem to shake, and for me, right now on this Christmas night, being home at my parents’ house.

I just crawled in bed after a day of movie-watching, cooking, reading and lounging. On the rare occasions I have the time to fly home to my parents’ (most of the time it’s just around holidays), the ritual of climbing into bed always brings to mind comfort, familiarity and safety.

In that moment especially, but really in all moments where I’m home and far away from my normal life, it seems as though all worries slip away: money, my job, rent, bills, fatigue from too many work and social obligations, pressure to do more and be more. And instead, I can just be.

I can be a kid again. I can be 5 or 10 or 15, or 22—because even though 22 is just five years younger than I am now, it sure as heck is a lot different than being in your late twenties. You still feel like you have a lot of time ahead of you. Perhaps you just graduated college or are about to, and it feels as though you’re on top of the world. You can do anything and be anyone.

Courage

But at 27, reality has sunk in. You learn that finding the right job isn’t as easy as you thought. You learn that life isn’t fair, people can disappoint you and there’s this pressure, whether from society or within yourself, to have it all figured out… to find someone to settle down with, to have an amazing job, to be able to afford nice things and vacations (or hell, just normal things like your prescriptions), to keep your body looking as fit as it did just a few years ago, to get enough rest yet constantly do more.

At least, to me, this is how 27 feels. And being home is a reprieve from these thoughts. It’s a chance to be taken care of again, when you’re so used to taking care of yourself and doing it all on your own. It’s a chance to slow down, play with the dog, bake cupcakes, sit on the couch, get lost in a book. Really, it reminds me of all the things I used to do when there wasn’t pressure.

And I know that this pressure is life. It’s a part of growing up. And I don’t discount how grateful I am to even have had a loving home or the blessings that I have now. But sometimes I look back on the last three years since I graduated my master’s program and wonder what have I been doing and why I haven’t done certain things. I wonder why I haven’t met that special someone, or at least one that sticks around. I wonder why I’m still living paycheck to paycheck. At 22 or 23 or 24, these thoughts didn’t seem so scary. But as the big 3-0 nears, the illusion of time becomes a ticking reality.

It makes you think about where you’re going and how long you have to do certain things before it’s too late. What about that gap year? What about seeing the world? If not now, when? But now… now consists of working to live and making ends meet enough to call yourself independent—but not totally freed.

Lately, I’ve just been in my head a lot about why I’ve put off what I know in my heart I should be doing, which is writing. Yes, I’m an editor by day so I can’t complain. But I’m talking about those dreams you had when you answered the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” as a child, or the dreams you had upon graduating high school or college. Those dreams that, as years go on, become nagging thoughts that go unfulfilled. These… these have been eating away at me to do something meaningful and find a way to work that reflects the lifestyle I want to live and my priorities. And my priorities are not to be too busy or too broke to fly to see family and friends who live far away, nor are they to leave this Earth without even seeing a fraction of it.

Another priority is to allow myself to do what I’m capable of with my writing. To stop thinking and dreaming and start doing.

You find that in the solace of home, these nagging thoughts can become larger-than-life. Perhaps it’s being back in that mindset of childhood, where you’re nurtured and surrounded by supportive people, that allows you to stop focusing on biological needs like food and shelter and start focusing on higher achievements like hopes and dreams.

I’ve been thinking about why sometimes it’s hardest for all of us to go after our heart’s deepest desires. For example, why has it taken me three years to even attempt to publish my novel? Why has this blog (and others) been so difficult for me to stick with? These sorts of questions are hard to ask yourself because you have to face a reality that is probably a weakness.

For me, I think the answer is fear that is borne out of perfectionism. Both of these can freeze a person. Am I so afraid of failing that I don’t even try? Am I so perfectionistic that the mere idea of trying is overwhelming? I hate to admit it, but yes and yes.

Don't be afraid

I’ve realized fear has become a common thread in my life as I’ve grown older. And that is not the person I am, although when I was a child, I was beyond fearful. I think I need to quiet this fearful shadow of myself because the 27 year-old me is more than capable of taking the reins and if I fail, at least I’ll have tried.

But being home for the holidays, among familiar furniture and food and smells and people, it somehow quiets this fear and the stresses of daily life, and allows the child, the teenager and the college student who thought anything was possible to come back out and sit with me for a while.

It’s comfortable for sure. And I realize, too, it’s actually familiar. And safe. I just haven’t given her a chance in a while.

Awkfest

So, I just got home from a very mediocre date. My second POF (Plenty of Fish) guy. I still need to write about guy #1 (Peru). We’ll call this one “Awkfest” because he seemed to like making things super awkward leading up to the date and adding a bunch of undue pressure on it when there was already pressure. I mean, hello? It’s a first date. A BLIND first date. From a dating website. Isn’t that awkward enough on its own?

(I’ll preface the ridiculousness that’s about to ensue – so you know that I don’t just go out with anyone, although it will SURELY sound like I do – that he was totally normal and charming online and via text at first and on the phone when he called. He just got super Awkfest-like as our date approached. So, basically, for four out of the five days we communicated.)

Here is a wee sampling of the sorts of things he would text me:

“You ready for the awkwardness of the first date? haha” – I replied by saying he was making it more awkward.

“Hopefully after the date you still think it was a good idea lol” – Um. I didn’t reply to this. Why? Because I don’t want to make any promises to someone I don’t even know at all before I’ve met him and can tell if this even has a chance of going anywhere.

“Can you not judge me on how dirty my car is though? Lol” – I don’t judge, especially on things like this. But, dude, why call it out? It’s not like he was picking me up and I was riding in his car. For all he knows, I wouldn’t even end up seeing the car so why the fuss, man? Why? Well, turns out he hasn’t washed his car since he moved to Arizona. Which was over a year ago. Because he “hasn’t gotten around to it.” Um, how long does it take to drive through a car wash?

“So do we shake hands, hug, just say hi, something else?” – In reference to us meeting outside the restaurant, which would be our first time to meet in person. I thought he was asking this as a cute joke. Turns out this was a serious question because when I said, “Hmm this could get interesting” he said, “Why is that?”

“Have another date before me? Lol” – When I asked if we could meet at 7 instead of 6. I get that he’s probably trying to be cute, okay? But really, this is just insecurity masked in a not-so-funny joke.

“Hey” – Enough said.

“I have green dye on me and it really won’t come off… will that be held against me tomorrow?” – You could just not tell me this. Stop worrying about how the date’s gonna go.

“You gotta rest up to make a good impression tomorrow” – ??? In reference to our upcoming date. I didn’t reply so he then said that it was a joke. Well, what’s not a joke is the fact that I was thinking his impression is the one that needed some work.

“Gotta make sure I’m not some big creeper first? Lol” – In reference to  me not telling him where my happy hour was. And yes, sir, what utter fool would disclose their location a person they have only talked with virtually?

“The pressure keeps building” – ONLY BECAUSE YOU KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT!

“Are you just expecting the worst so you can’t be let down? Lol” – How the hell am I supposed to answer this nicely? The truth is at this point I have little to no expectations when it comes to men.

“So I just turned on catfish… that’s not gonna happen to me on Sunday, right? Lol” – OMG.

“So have you been on many dates from that website or do I have some strong competition now? Haha” – Fo reals?

Talking about me remembering his bday… “You’ll only have to remember if we are still talking this time next year” – And guys think girls come on too strong? Please.

“But I have to ask… a pretty, educated female with what sounds to be a good job.. what are you doing still single? I would imagine guys are hitting on you all the time” – just EW with the “still single” bit. And calling me a “female.” What happened to a simple ‘woman’?

“How would you feel about Sunday? If you aren’t sick of me by then?” – Just be a man and ask me out without the follow up question that showcases your insecurity (I’m sorry, I know we are all insecure sometimes but I had already said yes to the date; we were just picking the actual day so no reason to assume the worst). Don’t assume I’ll be sick of you or make me feel like I have to reassure you.

And perhaps the worst offender of all: “I’m still waiting for your deep dark secret as to how someone like you is single lol” … “And not complaining right now that you are” – There we go with the “single” thing again. The most backhanded compliment and awkward thing to answer. Thanks, Awkfest.

If we're being honest, this is how I really felt. We've all been there.

If we’re being honest, this is how I really felt. We’ve all been there.

So this is all just pre-date. On the actual date I learned Awkfest is still living in Frat City. He openly told me he usually sleeps all day on Sunday and drinks the most in his family.

Look, I’m all for having fun and getting drunk with my friends. But, I’m 26 (and so is he) and slowing down with all that. Plus, no matter what I did I wouldn’t share info like that on a first date when trying to make a good first impression.

I mean, I asked him what he does and the consensus seems to be consume alcohol. I’m still looking for new hobbies and things to get involved in myself, but this dude had like zero interest in anything besides sleeping and drinking. Plus I think he was still hungover on our date.

He lives with a guy from college, he hangs out with the same group of guys from college and goes to the same bars every weekend. I don’t know… it’s just like, grow up already. Make some new friends. Try new places. Get out of bed for God’s sake!! And don’t send awkward ass text messages pre-date that make an already awkward situation even weirder!

So, in sum, as my friend Kelsey so aptly put it, why doesn’t he just say he’s a lazy alcoholic? (Lol)

* The “lol” was sarcastic, in case you couldn’t tell.

finally unstuck, i hope

I can’t be the only one who ever feels stuck, right?

….. right?

I’m returning to my attempt at blogging after a hiatus. Two months ago when I started this I swore to myself I’d be better, I’d write regulary, and that somehow this blog would amount to something. I think the blog and I had a honeymoon phase (as most things in life tend to do) and after a couple weeks the newness wore off. As much as I love writing and am dying to just be able to make my living as a nomadic freelance writer, it’s pretty damn hard for me to sit down and actually stop the rest of my life in order to focus on my writing life.

I blame perfectionism. And I blame analysis. So pardon me if this post (and the next and the next) aren’t perfect because I’m trying to just let it flow. Or as Hemingway so profoundly said, “sit down at a typewriter [computer, thank you] and bleed.”

In the last two months a lot has happened and there’s been a lot on my mind. Last time I wrote, I complained about #texting as it related to a certain someone. Well, he’s no longer in the picture but his stories are still certainly entertaining. So much so that sometimes I wonder if God is writing the script of my life to get a good chuckle. Maybe he’s forcing me to go through a thousand shitty guy situations (plus a couple awful jobs) and he’s okay with it because he knows I’ll end up just fine. Well, I’d like to be as confident, GOD, because last night after my third date with Peru (yes, Peru will be his name; he’s from there. Also, he’s my first guy to meet from Plenty of Fish – more stories later), I’m pretty sure I texted three friends letting them know I was going to die alone.

I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason and sometimes when I’m truly feeling doubtful watching everyone on Facebook get engaged, married, and pop out a kid while I’m still “swiping” guys on Tinder, I tell myself that I’m going through all this dating mess because I’m a writer and I’m supposed to “live life” and get good stories to one day use in the Great American Chick-Lit Novel that will then turn into the Chick-Flick of the Year. Or so I tell myself.

At times I feel the crazy pieces that make up my life are all intended to be written down.

Yep, at times I feel the  pieces of my life – whether crazy, silly, quirky, or sad – are all intended to be written down.

I know I’m not the only one; so many of my good friends are single. I honestly enjoy the freedom that singlehood gives you to be totally selfish and do what you want, when you want. But I’d be lying if I said that: 1. I don’t miss having a person to do lame things like sit on the couch with, 2. I’m tired of meeting guys that aren’t even remotely close to what I want, or 3. I’m over meeting guys who I think could be IT only to have my heart shattered before it’s even fully given itself.

Not to sound uber-depressing, but I just feel like I’m at a point of questioning in my life. It’s the typical twenty-something saga of who am I, what am I doing, where am I going, who am I going to meet. And there’s a lot of contradiction involved:

I like being single, but why can’t I find a decent guy who’s ready to commit?

I like my job and my boss, but why am I underpaid and actually doing more work than my boss?

I want to write more and publish my book(s), yet why are they still just in a word doc on my computer?

I want to travel so why did I just incur a monthly car payment?

I want the guy I’m dating to text me, like, all the time but the only ones who do are the ones I want to disappear.

This guy is nice enough and really cute, but why is he annoying the crap out of me?

And then there are slightly more stupid things like: I’m working out but why am I not losing weight?

Sometimes it just feels like I look back on the last couple years and the goals I’ve had for myself and think, is this – this life, this job, this place – is it what I want for myself? And at what point do you know that the answer is “yes”? Sometimes I’m afraid I’m the type of person who always searches for more, for new, for better, which is good and healthy to an extent but can also be a detriment. In my 26 years, I’ve witnessed both sides of that equation.

No one gives us a map for our lives. There’s no iPhone app to give us route options and how long it will take to get there. We can all see, yet in a sense, we go through life blind. We hope for the best and work toward whatever it is that we think we want, even if it’s not what’s meant to be, because somehow, despite my questioning, I do believe we end up with what we’re supposed to have. Or I hope we do.

I guess that’s why they call it faith.