I thought about what to title this piece for a while. I didn’t want to title it, “Suicide” or “Mental Health” or just something vague. A lot of the articles I write include these topics and/or discussions anyway. But if you are a writer, or someone who dabbles in any creative field, you know that the worst thing you can do is dwell upon the process: the most important thing to do is just start. Don’t think about it too much, just see where the pen or paintbrush takes you. From what I remember, this was discussed in one of my favorite books, “War of Art.” All creative professionals should read that book.
However, overthinking is one of the most prominent battles I face every day. It’s not overthinking texts like every single girl probably does in this age of technology – I mean, how many times have you analyzed the way someone texted you hello. Did they write hey or heyyy or hi or heya. Each of those words takes on a different analysis.
I overthink and analyze things like it’s my fucking job. It’s terrible. When I was sick, I analyzed every single piece of food that went into my body. I either weighed everything on a scale or measured it with cups and spoons – everything from a tablespoon of fat free dressing to the grams of cooked chicken breast. With my innate love of psychology and overcritical nature, I’m extremely observant and analytical (Also I’m a Virgo, duh). I can read people well. I know when people are hiding something from me or lying. Yet, it has caused me to overthink pretty much every step and move. I think about things that happened months or even years ago and struggle with wiping these negative thoughts from my consciousness. It has ruled my mind for years and years, and I’m finally coming to a time where I am functioning without regular panic attacks. I still get them occasionally, but I don’t expect to live a life without them – that’s me being realistic, not pessimistic.
This is a short glimpse into anxiety for you – especially if you never witnessed it yourself. It’s something that is often confused with “stress.” Anxiety is being in a constant state of worry of something that has already happened or may never happen. That is my own definition of anxiety. The Google search definition you can find here. Anxiety is like that little devil on your shoulder that keeps whispering negativity into your ear – telling you how terrible things will be, how foolish you once were, or how something bad is going to happen soon. The worst part about anxiety is that you have no idea what is causing it. That’s the difference between anxiety and stress. It’s that it’s normal to feel stressed/worried before an interview, first date, presentation, etc. There is a root cause of the worry. With anxiety, you often have no idea what is directly making you feel this way. And that, my friends, is a terrible feeling I wouldn’t want to wish upon anyone (besides Tomi Lahren probably). Nothing is worse than trying to help yourself when you don’t know how, because you don’t even know what the problem is. It’s a constant state of feeling helpless.
Let’s go back to what I just said. Talking about the desire to try and rid this ugly feeling from your body, but you don’t know how. So you Google things, do some research, or even ask some people what to do. Fortunately, not everyone deals with anxiety, so if you communicate to the average being about feeling anxious or stressed, they will give you the textbook answers:
-Go for a walk
-Eat a good meal
-Read a book
-Disconnect from technology
Etc, etc. While all of the above is sane and plausible advice, those are just bandaids to the problem. Those suggestions are great for someone who is stressed. Reminder! Stress is NOT anxiety/anxiety disorder. Although the above suggestions are helpful to me when I have bad episodes of anxiety, if you have truly dealt with anxiety or depression… it is almost impossible to even function, let alone concentrate on completing minimal tasks since most of your energy is drained/devoted to the disease. I’m not sure how understandable that is to someone who never struggled with mental illness, but that is exactly why they shouldn’t be giving people advice (AKA, most of the internet).
I’ve tried yoga before. I’ve ALWAYS ate healthy (my younger brother is Type 1 diabetic and my mom works for Weight Watchers. Our household is probably 70% healthier than the average home – none of us or overweight or have major health concerns). I’ve ALWAYS exercised – I was a soccer player from age 5-18 and recruited to play D1 soccer. I’ve always had a gym membership and I’ve always went. When I was first diagnosed with depression/anxiety, social media was barely a thing. I was 13, and I think (?) Facebook was just getting started. When I relapsed sophomore year of college, Instagram/Snapchat wasn’t even developed yet. I’ve tried free yoga classes at college. I’ve downloaded 5+ apps on meditation – I’ve even seen a sleep doctor to help with my thoughts before sleep. I cut out caffeine. I cut out alcohol. I’ve tried smoking weed. I did everything under the fucking sun to try and rid myself of anxiety and depression. And you know what, hun, I was still fucking sick. I was still miserable and I was still wanted to die.
As another disclaimer because let’s not let people think Kelcey’s way is Everyone’s way, but hell, I know a fuck ton of other people who tried the textbook way above and still felt like shit every morning. What worked for me and what worked for my friends? And no – before you get all excited thinking I’m just about to blurt out “drugs,” you’re wrong… kinda. I mean, yes, I’ve taken a fuck ton of drugs and I still am on medication for my anxiety/depression. But I have to say that the main thing that has helped me was therapy – cognitive behavioral therapy. I believe that these should be paired together, but if I could only pick one, I would probably pick therapy TBH.
The thing is, drugs/medication can assist with any chemical imbalance you may have like an abnormally low amount of dopamine/serotonin. This is essential. However, in many instances, the reason why we are SO fucking frustrated with ourselves is because we don’t know one thing: WHY. We don’t know fucking why we are feeling like a load of garbage every morning – not wanting to get out of bed – not wanting to wake up – not wanting to speak to people. It’s like, what the fuck! I have a great family, a great job, friends, a house over my head, the whole thing. Oh, and here’s the classic line you’ll get from fucking idiots, “There’s people who have it way worse than you.” No fucking shit Sherlock!
Jesus, nothing makes me angrier than ignorant morons who think they are doctors on the internet. But yes, during my darkest days of depression, I knew that there was a kid somewhere who just lost his parents in a car crash. I knew that when I was starving myself on 400 calories a day there was a family starving to find their next meal. The thing is, I didn’t know why this mattered so much to me. I didn’t know why someone who had such a good life had to feel so sad and hopeless. Because mental illness does not discriminate. It affects the fat, the thin, the rich, the poor, the tall, the short.
The reason why I believe therapy with a trained and licensed professional is so essential to mental illness (in addition to medication *if* necessary/accessible) is because these people are legit trained to talk your way into discovering the WHY. The big ole WHY the fuck am I like this question. As someone who is organically analytical and observant in nature, I cannot explain to you how much I tried to figure this shit out on my own. I tried to do everything in my power to cure myself without therapy and drugs. As you can tell, I’m very open about my struggles NOW because I have come to accept that this is a part of me that no longer controls me, or an embarrassment to my persona. Listen, we ALL got issues. All of us. The only people who think they don’t got issues are narcissists who have more issues than probably anyone. In the past I would hide my illnesses with all my might. I would have paid you anything for people to not find out about how fucked up I was in my head. So of COURSE I tried other options before therapy. I tried and tried and tried. But I was still unhappy.
The one thing that I do believe is extremely frustrating with seeking therapists is that you’re not always gonna find one that you just ‘click’ with right away. Fortunately, for the most part, I have always liked my doctors. From age 13 to 26 (now), I have seen probably over 10 therapists. I had seen 1 life coach, 1 nutritionist, 4-5 psychiatrists, and 10 or so therapists (psychologists). That’s a LOT of doctors. Just like every date you go on, you’re not gonna fall in love with the first guy you meet (I’ve been single for 6 years and have been on over 50+ dates, I have not even met one guy close to fucking Prince Charming and I’m still holding tight). This is where the 3rd part (after therapy/meds) of the puzzle comes in… your surroundings.
I am EXTREMELY, like EXTREMELY picky with the people I surround myself around. Hell, you might wonder if I even have any friends due to the amount of time I spend publicly by myself. But I’ve learned as I got older that it’s extremely important to surround yourself around the ‘right’ people whatever that may be to you – while ALWAYS continuing to work on the relationship with yourself. I truly believe that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time around. Stupid people hang out with stupid people. Rich people hang out with rich people. Artsy people hang out with artsy people. Assholes hang out with assholes. PROXIMITY IS POWER (Tony Robbins, thank you). You MUST learn to become aware on how others impact your behavior, mood, thoughts, etc. Your therapist will help you will this. They will see things that maybe you couldn’t see yourself. The right people will tell you to keep going, to keep fighting, to keep trying. The idiots will tell you that therapy is for pussies and that only crazy people need medication. Fuck those guys. It was hard to remove people from my life when I didn’t necessarily hate or dislike them, but they weren’t good for me. They weren’t helping me move into the direction I wanted to go. They weren’t filling up my energy tank, they were depleting it even more.
This is what helped me, and that does not mean it will help everyone. For some people, their mom is the first person they talk to about things. For me, it’s not. Everyone’s situation is different and depression does not affect us all in the same ways. For some people, it causes them to eat a lot, and for others (me), it causes them to eat nothing. Some drink, some smoke, some have sex. There is no one strain of this illness, therefore there is no one solution that will cure everyone.
To lastly mention why I was compelled to write this post, is because of the people that were posting the suicide prevention hotline number on social media after news broke about the suicides committed by both Kate Spade and Anthony Bordain last week. A fashion icon. A food icon. As noted above, mental illness does not discriminate. The rich and famous are often affected by mental illness.
I get both sides to this behavior. I understand the people who said, “stop posting a fucking number, that isn’t helpful.” Okay, maybe it’s not… to YOU, or even to most people. But you know what, calls made to that number jumped 25% following the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bordain. Maybe it was a wake up call to some people. Maybe it really did open their eyes to the resource available. Also, people who have never suffered with mental illness don’t have a clue as to what is helpful – heck – people with mental illness don’t even know what is helpful half the time because they don’t know that the fucking problem is. But honestly, it’s not the worst thing after all. At least it’s something. At least it continues the open conversation. At least people know it’s there – whether they choose to call or not. I know for me, there have been many times where I rather talk to a stranger (or a trained professional, duh) rather than my mom or friends.
So here we are, 3 hours later, and I’m hoping that some of you learned something, other than the fact that I curse a lot. As someone who has openly struggled with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder – pretty much every mental illness under the fucking sun (kidding), I’m going to list things that YOU (you, as in, someone who feels helpless in this current conversation, someone who is dating, living with, friends with, works with someone with mental illness) can do to alleviate any tension or uncertainty within this relationship.
–Literally ASK them questions like, “what can I do to help? is this something that triggers you? am I doing anything that is making this worse or better? can you let me know what to do next time this happens?” etc
–Be a good listener. If you’re a narcissist, this step ain’t for you. Everyone else, take time to listen to what the person says, don’t interrupt, continue to ask questions, etc.
–Research!!! Gosh I know people are like ‘college is over fuck learning/reading/bullshit.’ Those are the WORST kinds of people. Be a student for the rest of your life. Always continue to try and learn about new things, or even things that you already know about – because you will NEVER know everything about anything (Read: Ego is the Enemy). If you don’t know about depression/mental illnesses, go fucking Google it. Take 5 minutes a day. Learn about the symptoms and signs of someone with a mental illness so you won’t have to regret saying you were too late.
–Communicate Normalcy/Temporariness (<– is that a word?) – but basically, the reason why so many (not all) people DON’T seek help or treatment is because of the stigma that is attached to mental illness. I’m not sure if this is something that will ever be diminished, but as someone who has struggled with this, I can’t tell you how many times I would question myself, “Why can’t I just be normal?” I knew there was something wrong with me, I just didn’t know WHAT or WHY it was happening to me. Try to validate to them that there is nothing wrong with them. That what they are going through is not abnormal – that millions of people struggle with this everyday, and millions of people get help and feel happy again. Confirm to them that they will get through it, too. In addition, one thing that personally makes ME feel a lot better in my anxious moments is reciting, “This is just temporary. This too shall pass.” Sometimes when you are extremely depressed or going through a panic attack, you literally think that your life is going to end/worth ending. When you’re depressed, you sometimes want to feel MORE depressed so you can just end the shitty feeling already. But there is hope – this is TEMPORARY. The feeling will go away. The anxiety will not last forever. I promise you. It is so simple, but it has truly helped me to continuously recite that the battle I am going through right NOW is simply just that, right now, and not forever.
These are the top things I can think of. I’m kinda exhausted right now and I have a huge presentation tomorrow and I decided to blog instead of go over my slides. Fun fact, public speaking doesn’t make me nervous. But going to a party where the only drink is regular Coke and all the food is fried, forget it. I’ll present for 10 hours if I had to.
Lastly, here are some resources if you DO feel like you have no one to talk to. Let it be known that there are HUNDREDS of resources for you – and hey, you can even message me just to vent or talk 😉 (I’m not a professional though, so please, if you are feeling extremely uneasy, please use the resources below).
Today at work I am wearing Kate Spade pearl earrings that I ordered offline a few weeks ago. Today I carried my planner and notebook in a cream colored Kate Spade bag that i bought this spring with my overtime paycheck. Today I reached for my Metrocard in my Kate Spade wallet to take the subway to work. On that subway train was a girl with a quilted Kate Spade bag, with a thick gold chain, holding her boyfriend’s hand. Sitting down was an older woman with a black Kate Spade tote with her brown paper lunch bag peeping through the top. Standing on the subway platform was a teenage girl with a Millennial pink Kate Spade crossbody with a breast cancer pin on the side.
There will never be enough words to compose the range of emotions that individuals go through when hearing about the death of a loved one or even someone they never even met. Some may believe that it is “dramatic” to mourn the death of a celebrity, or someone you have never even met before. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but we mourn the memories and experiences that are attached with these humans, since we were not able to experience their physical presence ourselves. Without these experiences, some of our most cherished moments may have never even happened.
“My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college. I still have it. Holding Kate’s family, friends and loved ones in my heart.” –Chelsea Clinton
“When I first got a job with a livable wage, one of my first purchases was a Kate Spade. I was so proud that I could buy something for MYSELF that was a better quality and more of an investment than the bags I’d been carrying. This is so sad.” –Jonquilyn Hill
“For so many women, buying that first kate spade bag was your first grown-up purchase, your first designer bag. so heartbreaking to hear that someone who brought joy to so many was in such pain.” –Diane Pearl, AdWeek
These are just a few mentions of the memories formed with an iconic Kate Spade bag. She is [IMO] one of the few designers that never grew ‘dull’ with cliche, logo-covered bags like Michael Kors, Gucci, or Coach. I remember last year when Coach purchased Kate Spade for over 2 billion dollars, and people were weary of Coach’s bland creative rubbing off on Kate Spade. Kate Spade has always remained simplistic yet fun, classic yet innovative, colorful yet professional.
Almost all of my “work” bags are Kate Spade, and a lot of my “going out” bags are Kate Spade. Before I bought this cream colored bag, I was carrying a black tote bag by Kate Spade that I asked for this past Christmas. The Christmas of 2016 I also asked for a Kate Spade bag, and probably the year before and so on. It’s something that I have always looked forward to the most while opening presents. When I received a Kate Spade bag, I knew it was going to be loved and worn to pieces with almost any outfit for any occasion.
Kate Spade committed suicide. A few months ago, news broke that Avicii, ‘an EDM legend and creator’ as millions knew him by, committed suicide. “He really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness. He could not go on any longer,” his family issued in a public statement.
Two people who had millions and millions of dollars, success that most of us can only dream of. One tweet said it perfectly, “Mental health issues do not discriminate. By all accounts, Kate Spade “had it all”-money, success, fame. None of these things matter when you are sick. Kate was not selfish. Kate was not weak. Kate was sick.”
I can never fathom why some people call suicide a “selfish” decision. Instead of spiraling into a 5 page rant, I’ll link out to this article here, Think Suicide is Selfish? Here’s Why You’ve Got It All Wrong. If anything, people who commit suicide are typically thinking about everyone else, rather than themselves. They are thinking about how they’ve let others down, whether it’s failing to impress their boss or parents, or failing to make their spouse/partner from feeling happy or loved. Again, I cannot speak for everyone, but I know many people who expressed their feelings of concern about their family/friends way before they expressed concern about their own health and security.
I don’t want to divulge too much into this topic or my past with suicidal thoughts because it was a very short time a very long time ago. However, I can tell you that as someone who struggled with depression and anxiety for a very very long time, there is absolutely NOTHING that would make me wish these battles to arise for any human being.
I remember a time where I was at a bar with a friend in Long Beach, Long Island. It was just me and him – not on a date – just at a bar drinking beer and conversing with others. Out of no where, I began to feel extremely anxious – my heart beating faster, thoughts spinning around my head – “something is about to go wrong.” I was not drunk or even buzzed as I didn’t even finish my one drink. I had to leave the bar, and I started walking down the boardwalk by myself around 1am. Safe? Of course not. But when you are in this nightmarish mindset, you don’t think about physical danger when your mind is already occupying all the fear you could ever possibly have.
I went down from the boardwalk and started walking down the sidewalk, in the direction of my friend’s house. Since Long Beach has become more of a “young” neighborhood, it’s safe to say that was the reason why many of the cars were speeding 50mph+ down a 30mph street. I specifically remember that night thinking to myself,
“What if I just jumped in front of this car right now? I bet it wouldn’t even hurt that much – I bet it would be instant. Who would be the people that show up to my funeral? Would my brothers even care? Do they even like me? Do the people that I care about care about me, even in the slightest? What is wrong with me? Why am I fucked up like this? Why do I cause so much pain for my parents? Why am I doing everything wrong?”
I don’t know how common it is for someone to envision all the ways that they can take their life, or if people would even care if they weren’t around anymore. I know that my experience(s) are not as severe as some of the experiences that others have had with mental illness, but that doesn’t mean that mine or anyone else’s are any less damaging or insufferable. The above is just ONE experience that I am choosing to talk about. There are many other times when I have had to call the suicide-prevention hotline, when I have had to call my mom crying telling her that there was no point of me living any longer, and unfortunately, many more traumatizing experiences.
I never choose to talk about mental health or suicide awareness in hopes for people to feel bad/pity for me. I speak out to educate and spread FACTS about mental health, rather than let myths/rumors circulate around the internet. I speak out to present myself as an outlet that others can reach out to, in case they are feeling afraid, insecure, or nervous to reach out to a parent/friend/partner/professional at the moment. I will never and have never presented my words to be qualified compared to those of a health professional, and I continue to urge the importance of professional psychiatry.
However, hundreds of people have reached out to me in the past to vent or confide about their problems after reading about my own struggles that I have opened up about. I will basically talk about anything to anyone. I’m an open book – there’s no mystery to me. I will tell you about all the fucked up problems I have if you just ask. This has made hundreds of people ‘trust’ and open up to me about some of their deepest and darkest issues. I have received emails from people outside the US who read some older blog posts talking about my anxiety. I have received Facebook messages from people from high school who asked me how I got through a certain time in my life, since they are now dealing with the same thing. I had had people who are older reach out to me, and people who refused to even claim their identity. Some of them have asked for my advice, and some simply just thanked me for being so honest.
When you know that someone else has been through hell and back, it allows us to become more vulnerable and believe that we won’t be ‘judged’ as harshly as someone else who appears to not have a struggle in the world. Gosh, if anyone reading this feels like they would be judged, please, TALK TO ME. I have been so fucked up in the past that I will probably make you feel 10x better about your life, seriously. I get into some dark stuff here, but this is not even a third of the problems I have dealt with over the past 25 years. I have seen over 10 psychiatrists and therapists, have had more bloodwork in one year than an 80 year old, and have been on over 5 different anxiety medications. Please, if you feel insecure or judged or scared, I am here to save you from any unnecessary embarrassment. I talk about these topics because I DON’T care if people judge me if I talk about this stuff. News flash: all women are crazy, and all men are stupid (maybe not all the time but sometimes). We ALL have issues and we ALL have secrets, which makes us all completely normal. I know that it’s a lot harder for some people to open up compared to others, and trust me, it took me quite some time to be so open with my past/struggles. I used to be practically emotionless during my darkest times, and would become extremely defensive if anyone questioned my abnormal or concerning behavior. Trust me, I know what it’s like to live in denial. I know what it’s like to want things to get worse. I know what it’s like to want to give up on everyone and everything. It sucks. It really does. But I promise, it gets better.
Remember to reach out to people you care about when they are acting abnormal, distant, moody, manic, or just different in general. Although mental health has been talked about more in the media than compared to the last 50 or so years, there is still a huge gap in understanding why mental illness is JUST as serious and critical as cancer, HIV, diabetes, etc. There is no cure for both sides and there are millions of deaths each year from both sides.
Please, take 10 minutes out of your day to research the signs/symptoms of those struggling with depression, anxiety, BPD, and other mental illnesses. It never hurts to learn a little more about something even if it may never affect you.
And of course, please be aware that there is ALWAYS someone to talk to – if your friends/family/partner is not available. The resources below are great to bookmark or keep in your contacts for the future. You never know when you may need help. Help is NORMAL, and help is offered everywhere. Never forget that there is always help for you.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
See more resources here: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/06/health/iyw-suicide-how-to-help/index.html
This is probably a blog post I thought I would never write.
I think it was about 3 years ago when I first heard the phrase, “Saturdays are for the boys!” It was shouted at some day-drinking fest I was at or maybe I just saw it as a hashtag on social media. I really don’t remember. But over the past 2-3 years, I have observed a quite interesting phenomenon. I like to call it “The Bro Movement” or “The Barstool Phenomenon.” Let me explain…
As much as society tries to dismiss and blur the barrier of gender roles and behaviors within society (I.E., seeing males wear and apply makeup now on YouTube as ‘beauty gurus,’ females starting to major in more science/engineering fields), there are some things that will always deem as “girly” or “for dudes.”
For example, it’s been more ‘accepted’ or normalized within American society for girls to have sleepovers together, go shopping, go get brunch, or just have a “girls night out.” Go take a walk through your nearest shopping mall – there will most definitely be a higher percentage of girls walking around with their girlfriends with shopping bags rather than boys shopping around with their friends. Although brunch has commonly been known as a meal between breakfast and lunch, it’s evolved into this upper class behavior/lifestyle of metropolitan women like you see from Sex and the City or Gossip Girl.
Female relationships have consistently been portrayed in the media as more emotional, close-knit, sensitive bonds rather than friendships between males. In movies you see a girl who is dumped by her boyfriend, so her female friends cuddle up with her in bed, eat ice cream, lend a shoulder to cry on, and tell them everything is going to be okay. With males, the media commonly paints a scene with characteristics portraying a “fuck her,” attitude. No time to sulk with it, go straight to the bar, indulge in some alcohol, and go find a new lady to take your mind off things. Basically a “boys don’t cry” scene.
However, over the past few years I believe there has been a shift in male camaraderie and overall ‘friendship behavior.’ It’s not like heterosexual males have been engaging in different activities like getting their nails done together or drinking rose in Central Park (okay, maybe some have). They are still going about their normal activities like golfing, going out to a bar on a Friday night, talking about Fantasy Football, etc. Yet, it seems like the attitude about “hanging out with just the boys” has been deemed to be more acceptable and even desirable recently amongst males. Again, let me explain…
Males go to the gym to look good for girls. Males wear a certain fashion brand to look good for girls. Males go into a certain career fields to impress girls. Males go to bars on the weekends to meet girls. I’m not saying this is 100% true for 100% of the male population, but the large majority of males do what they do for one main priority: to attract/attain women. Going back to our biological roots, the main purpose in early life and even still for most species is to meet a mate and reproduce offspring. Biologically, our minds are wired this way without even thinking about it. Again, not saying this is ALL of the population – as many people nowadays choose not to have children or even get married – but it has been the historical and traditional “goal” for the majority of human beings. Reproduction is typically the end-goal.
Although we have come to be entirely more aware of our actions and behaviors due to the vast and increasing amount of science and knowledge constantly developing, there are still many things that we do subconsciously, or without manual thought/effort. This is due to the long-term development of generalized gender roles, stereotypes, cognitive dissonance, behavioral/operant/classical conditioning, etc.
Some examples of stereotypes:
- Girls with blonde hair are dumb
- Asians are bad drivers
- Jewish people are cheap
- Irish people are alcoholics
- People from the south are racist
Some examples of gender roles:
- Females are nurses, men are doctors
- Females cook and clean, men go to work
- Females are to be submissive, men are to be dominant
- Females are teachers, men are business executives
And so on…
As discussed early, there are certain behaviors that have become assigned “normal” to each gender as well. Girls are more sensitive and intimate with their friends while men are less personable and more aggressive with theirs. However, this is not to say that men or females cannot both share a trait like “honesty” between their friends. It’s all about the delivery – which is something society/observant conditioning has taught us. If a female asks her friend, “Do you like this dress on me?” and the friend doesn’t really like it, she will deliver her feedback wrapped with sensitivity, such as, “It looks nice, but I think that other dress looked way better on you.” Females are more aware of their emotions, and are more aware of how their actions or words can affect other’s emotions (especially other females). Males, on the other hand, will typically have a much more ‘blunt’ conversation [yet still honest]. One male can say, “What do you think of this T-shirt?” and his friend will reply, “Nah, that’s ugly don’t get that one.” Both the male and female responded with honest feedback, however it was the way that each of them delivered their feedback that was different (again, this is just a hypothetical situation).
Society portrays men who expose their emotions to be ‘weak’ and ’emasculating.’ No male wants to be called such things. Therefore, they follow the “boys will be boys” mantra, masking any sensitivity and/or emotions that can be translated as ‘weak’ or ‘girly.’ Because if a man cannot “be a man” (typically the prototype of what females find attractive: tall, dark, & handsome, or a confident and muscular superhero-type stature), then he will not attract a female, and then he will not be able to reproduce, ultimately failing at accomplishing the main underlying goal in life.
There is one characteristic that has intrigued me so much over the past decade – has occupied hours and hours of my mind – that if I decide to write a book one day and conduct research, it will be on this characteristic/topic. Insecurity, insecure – whatever you want to call it, my hypothesis is that all of life’s problems stem from deep-set insecurity that we fail to recognize (or just completely deny) the root cause of.
The first thing that pops into your head when you hear a girl going through her boyfriends texts/social media is that she can’t trust him. But that’s just the outside reason. The internal reason is that she is insecure. There is obviously something deeper than just her not trusting him. I am not saying it’s ALWAYS this way, but 9/10 times it is because the female is not confident in herself. Yes, of course, there are times when the male has maybe lied in the past or been unfaithful… I get that. But I’m telling you, AS A FEMALE, the majority of us are just extremely insecure. Due to the overwhelming amount of beauty displayed in traditional media and now throughout social media, it’s hard to scroll through your feed without encountering at least 5 “Instagram-models.” Photoshop, Facetune, fake boobs, fake tans, fake eyelashes, highlight contour – blah blah blah. Compare, compare, compare. That’s all we fucking do. All fucking day. It’s exhausting. I’ve done it for 10 years of my life, and while I still struggle with it, I am happy to say that I’ve managed to not drive myself entirely insane like some other women I see beating themselves up or driving their man out the door. In one of the books I read last year (I believe it was Reclaiming Conversation), it stated that people who spend more time on social media have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and negative feelings about themselves. Shocking, right? It’s not surprising when you hear this statistic, but it’s not something that we would put two and two together ourselves. And of course, which gender do you believe spends more time on social media? You got it. Females.
Obviously females are not the only ones who suffer from insecurities. Men have plenty, PLENTY of insecurities (heck, I’m convinced some men may feel more insecure than women), they are just not as vocal and/or obvious about it. Men don’t talk about their problems or tend to show it like women do. Men go to the gym or maybe go out drinking with their friends to clear their head. Women? forget it… we already have a quote ready to put on our next Instagram picture and a tweet scheduled with over dramatic and emotional song lyrics. We are SO obvious – we wear our heart on our sleeves. Some men do as well, but most of them bury their emotions or just pretend like they don’t have any. Again, society, conditioning, mimicking, etc. Ask any female, I’m sure you’ve heard her say at least once or twice, “But he never wants to talk to me about his feelings!” Most men have been taught to never cry, never show emotion, and just “be strong” and “handle it like a man.”
Are men wrong? Are women wrong? No, and no. I am not writing this piece to bash either gender. Both men and women have the ability to be honest or the ability to be insecure. The way each gender embodies these characteristics is just different, and again, neither is wrong nor right. However, my ideas about insecurity is what I find correlates to the growth of the “bro movement” and greater camaraderie between men over the past few years.
“Saturdays are for the boys” has become the equivalent of a “Girls night out” (queue “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “Man, I Feel Like A Woman” playing – two amazing songs BTW). I really don’t want to compare this to woman empowerment or politics or any of those topics since I don’t agree that this movement started out trying to “rival” female friendships. I don’t believe that men have said or are saying, “Fuck girls! Hate those bitches! Let’s show em that our friendship is better than theirs!” Lol, no. I believe this movement arose from the increasing amount of time and dependence females started to have on social media – which dug a huge internal hole filled with insecurities and doubts.
I have a career in social media and Mark Zuckerberg (even with all his mistakes and fuck ups) is still someone who I admire each and every day that goes by. However, I believe that social media affected females attitudes and behavior in more negative ways than males… by a long shot. Females spend hours on end scrolling through a feed of [often photoshopped] “instagram-models,” celebrities, their boyfriend’s ex girlfriends, influencers, etc. I wrote my senior thesis on how Instagram paved the way young females present themselves, therefore I’m not going to delve much into this topic here (senior thesis PDF on my LinkedIn). However, I have continued to believe as time goes by (5 years ago I wrote this thesis) that males have taken on social media in much of the way that it was intended to be used – networking, connecting, building camaraderie, etc, while females have used social media to compete with other females and prove their worth/status in comparison to society.
In part TWO, I will continue briefly talking about the psychological analysis of male and female social behavior, but then shift to introducing the “Barstool Phenomenon,” I.E., how founder Dave Portnoy capitalized on creating the “average guy” digital community that was missing from the extremely edited, scripted, and ‘fake’ emergence throughout various digital platforms.
I was watching Queer Eye on Netlfix this past week (which by the way, you NEED to watch. I cried after almost every episode, but they were happy tears, don’t worry) and I remember one of the Fab Five members asking, “What would you tell your younger self knowing what you know now about life?”
Maybe because it was the first time in weeks I was watching a show and I had no desire to look at my phone or browse on social media. My mind was completely absorbed in the show, the emotional, mental, and physical transformations of these contestants. I was really starting to think about this question myself. What is one thing I would change about myself if I could rewind 10-15 years?
I try to think about the most impactful moments from the past decade – the most traumatic moments, the moments that I think about almost every day. I’m confident that a lot of females my age, or those who have suffered with anxiety in the past would agree with what I would change, because it [regretfully] took a toll on my happiness for tooooo long.
If I could tell my younger self one thing – or for that matter, tell any girl who is 10-15 years old to concentrate on one thing as they grow older, it would be to not concentrate on what other people thing of you – work on what you think of you.
I do believe this is what drives most humans ‘crazy,’ what leads to increasing rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses. We are so entirely consumed with social media in this era – always perfecting how we appear to our immediate community, but also to complete strangers. Increase brightness, decrease shadows, increase sharpening, tint the background. Some people take hoursssss critiquing a picture they are going to upload to their social feed. It becomes so obsessive that people sit by their phone, hitting the refresh button until they are satisfied with the number of likes/comments [engagement] they are receiving on that post. And what happens if the number of likes falls short of 100? Delete. Re-upload at another time. Text friends to like their picture or leave comments. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
Am I a victim of this behavior? Of course. I have refreshed a picture to see how many likes I was getting after 12 minutes of uploading it. I have played around with filtering an image for minutes so it would make me appeal the most attractive, but still realistic. I’ve never deleted a picture because it didn’t suffice the number of likes I was looking for, but I know PLENTY of people who do this. I know people who have made fake Instagram accounts just so they can increase the likes on their main page. Some of you may be laughing or shaking your head envisioning the people you know who do this, and some of you make think I’m completely bullshitting you. Trust me, I wish this wasn’t true.
I was going through a job application the other day and they asked, “Define social media in 3 different ways.” I thought, “Interesting.” This is something that nearly every person on the planet [who has access to the internet] uses every single day. When you type in “social media” on Google, the definition that generates states social is “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” Can’t argue with that, right? But when I think about social media in reference to just one individual, I think of it as “websites and applications that enable a user to create their own self-presentation and image to share/engage with others online.” Because can you honestly affirm that the person you portray yourself online is the exact representation of how you portray yourself in real life?
I definitely cannot. I’m wayyyyyyy cooler on social media than how I am in my day to day life. Everyday is pretty monotonous for me:
- Wake up exhausted
- Shower quick to wake myself up
- Apply makeup to my extremely dry and chapped winter skin
- Run out of time to make lunch, scurry over to the subway that 6/10 times I’ll miss
- Frantically make my way to my desk with still semi-wet hair from my shower
- Work a 9-6 boring day
- Go to the gym if I’m not entirely lazy and unmotivated
- Watch YouTube beauty gurus and pray I fall asleep before 1am.
That is a typical day for me. On Instagram, I am this social “Manhattenite,” taking pictures of the most glamorous sceneries and restaurants in NYC as if I live in any of those areas (nope, I live in Queens unfortunately). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like any of these pictures were not taken by myself or that I photoshopped any of them, but it’s merely the ‘highlights’ of my life, not a true depiction of what my everyday life is typically like.
Why do I do this? Why does everyone do this? Why don’t we share the moments that aren’t so fun, exciting, and wonderful? Because we care too much what others think about us. We want to portray ourselves in the best light possible. We want people to think we are cool and hip and fun and positive.
But is that so bad? To care what other people think of you? Who wouldn’t want people to like us?
Well, we take it too far. Wayyyyyy too far [IMO]. My whole point here is not to tell you that you shouldn’t take into consideration what other people think of you [at all], but to essentially calm down your thoughts about [social] appearance in exchange for approval of others. We now look at likes and comments as the highest form of praise/accomplishment. Isn’t that, kinda weird? I bet if you upload a picture of you in a swimsuit, all greased up and tan on the beach, it will receive more like that the picture that uploaded of you standing in sweatpants with your college diploma. Mine sure did. More people “like” a picture of my ass in a bikini than the fact that I busted my ass for 5 years to receive my Magna Cum Laude diploma from a top100 university. Sex sells though, right?
But WHY? Why do we care so much if people like us? It makes sense that we want our family to think about us a certain way, but how about acquaintances? Vague co-workers? College friends from 10 years ago? Why does it matter to us what they think?
I, personally, believe that many of us have struggled with years of mental and emotional discomfort, and have never tried to seek change or therapy. I believe that we live in too strong of a “blame culture,” that dictates we should blame/assume our faults to be someone else’s responsibility (Think of #ThanksObama memes). It is generally assumed in our society that if you seek help, especially psychological help, that you are weak. This is a problem. A big problem. People put off asking for help, and therefore bury their issues deep down, and never seek a solution to the problem. Later on in life, these problems will arise in different areas whether it’s in their relationship, career, social life, etc. I do my part in urging the importance of mental and emotional health, but unfortunately, many people still believe that it is ‘fake’ or unimportant. These are the people who are extremely opposed to asking for help in any aspect of their life, since asking for assistance is seen as a sign of weakness to them, as they should be able to accomplish anything with their own ‘strong, superior self.’ ~Eye roll.~
Moreover, I believe a lot of us are fearful of change, plain and simple. We seek familiarity in life. Whether you want to believe it or not, we actually tend to mimic people that we like. We tend to mimic their gestures and facial expressions, as it delivers us a sense of comfort having people around who are similar to our own look/behavior/habits. You ever see a couple that looks like brother and sister? It’s because we actually have a higher attractiveness to people who look more like ourselves. That’s right, you narcissist, you unconsciously choose to date someone who looks most similar to you [in most cases].
Okay, so what does this have to do with wanting people to like us? As discussed earlier, I believe a lot of us have struggled with some sort of mental or emotional discomfort. Therefore, this has led us to feel insecure, not confident, and unworthy. A person who is so sure of themselves would never care of how many likes they get on a picture, right? If you are so confident in yourself, then why would you care what other people think of you? If you know you are a good person, you shouldn’t feel the need to upload dozens of pictures of all the community service you do, right?
The things that we post about the most, our highlights, are often the things we feel the most insecure about, and therefore seek further approval/praise from others. For example, have you ever been friends with someone superrrrrr into fitness? Most of them have tons of posts of them flexing, half-naked, posing, etc. You would think that if they are posting their half-naked body on the internet, that they must be confident about their body, right? Nope. Most of these fitspos are super insecure about their physique – constantly criticizing the already minimal amount of fat they have. When they post pictures of themselves on social media, they are typically seeking what they wish they could tell themselves: “you’re so in shape” or “you are so lean” or “you look amazing! I wish I could look like you!” These people are still feeling insecure about their appearance, therefore they seek praise from others so they can feel better about themselves. The problem is, you will never be satisfied unless YOU yourself are happy. You cannot depend on the approval of others until you approve of yourself internally.
“Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.” Ever hear of that phrase? It’s something that I tend to remind myself every few weeks. I sometimes get down on myself when I see people my age  (or even younger) going on extravagant trips overseas, wearing expensive jewelry and clothing – things that I WISH I could afford. I’m like, “What the heck? How can they afford this? They don’t even have a full-time job? They don’t work nearly as hard as I do!? Not fair.” Something that my mom would always tell me when I was younger, “Most of the time, the people who flaunt how much money they have, are typically the ones that don’t actually have it.” It’s safe to say that these people are insecure about their financial [or lack there of] security, and try to reassert to the world that they are in fact not broke by flaunting lavish and expensive things/behavior. Obviously this is not the case 100% of the time, since the Kardashians and Hiltons have no problem flaunting their lavish lifestyles and fashions, and it’s doubtful that either family is swimming in pools of debt. However, think of people like Tom Hanks, Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, etc. These three celebrities are some of the most successful personalities of the past century, and I can’t think of the last time any of them socially documented anything more than ‘average.’ Yet I’m 99% certain each of these three don’t make the ‘average’ paycheck that you and I are making each week.
You might be asking yourself, “Well okay, obviously it’s normal for people to have insecurities… what are you suggesting we do about it?”
Here is the thing – I believe that most people tend to live in denial of their weaknesses and insecurities. It isn’t until one day they wake up and realize how unhappy or depressed they are. That’s when other issues occur: depression, alcohol/drug abuse, overeating, anxiety, manic episodes, anger issues, etc. How many people do you know that have fled to alcohol, food, or sex when they are in a bad mood? Often times, this pattern is not broken, and that cycle of abuse tends to ruin our lives.
My suggestion? Get help. Obviously, that is vague and not very easy. I know that some people have a harder time than others opening up about their struggles, but we as a society need to come to the realization that opening up about our weaknesses is not WEAK. It is not WRONG or STUPID. If you are insecure about your weight or your finances or your education, the answer shouldn’t be to post on social media to trick everyone into thinking this is actually not something you are insecure about. You need to talk to someone. We are evolving into a community of heads-down, constantly on our phone, unsocial humans. Social media has made a lot of us unsocial and awkward. If you are insecure that you have $1200 in your bank, you shouldn’t be posting photos of your Louboutin shoes or Prada bag to mind-fuck yourself into thinking you’re super well off – in denial about your finances. DO SOMETHING.
We avoid change like we would avoid a bubonic plague. We don’t want change because we know it’s hard. It’s easy to stick with the same job for 10 years, to buy the same groceries and maintain the same group of friends. It’s hard to try and meet new people, learn a new language, or start a new career. Change is hard, but in my opinion, living a lie is harder. Living a life filled with insecurities will make you unhappy, and when you are unhappy… you will start to question, “What is the point of living?”
Instead of trying to convince your social following of how awesome your life is, go out and live your awesome life instead. Deep down, there is something we are all individually insecure about and we have a problem accepting it. So instead, we create this edited self online that masks what we are truly insecure about, so others don’t see the weakness that we see inside ourselves. Wouldn’t it be nice to focus on improving this insecurity instead of hiding behind our online profile?
“If the whole world was blind, how many people would you try to impress?”
(Started this last week but of course, didn’t finish. Pretend like this was last week, k? 🙂
This week I watched one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to sit through. I cried more this week than I’ve cried in years – on the subway, at work, in bed, in the bathroom… everywhere. I decided to type out this piece on a day that starts on a more positive note so I wouldn’t cry – it’s finally Friday, I got a raise/promotion yesterday, and I’m literally just hoping that my tear production has become so exhausted that I can’t physically cry anymore.
I’ve talked about one of my closest friends Megan a few times in my blog pieces. I reference her in my piece about reading especially, talking about how she was my inspiration to read more and appreciate the vast amount of knowledge we have access to. Megan was my college roommate for 3 years in a row, and she has remained to be one of my best friends since 2009.
There is one thing I say to people when I talk about Megan: “If you have a problem with Megan, there is most likely a problem with you.” I hate to say that there is a “problem” with anyone, but I tend to use this blunt statement specifically to portray how incredibly friendly and likable Megan is. I don’t think I know anyone who has ever got in a fight with, or stated that they disliked Megan – I mean, I just wouldn’t believe it. Megan walks into the room with the brightest smile and most joyful giggle. Physically, she is youthfully adorable yet exquisitely beautiful at the same time. If you only knew her from seeing her outward appearance, you would comment about how lovely her long blonde hair is, or how stunning her smile is, or how admirable her athletic and toned body is. As beautiful as Megan is from the outside, it’s almost incomparable to how insanely gorgeous her heart and soul is.
Megan is that girl that instantly puts a smile on your face when you come into contact with her. It’s rare that she isn’t giggling or smiling or doing some insanely cute gesture. She has to be one of the most likable humans I’ve ever met in my entire life. I talked about the power of likability in another piece here, discussing the difference between being popular and being likable. It’s of course possible to attain both of these statuses, however, being likable is what drives more cases of happiness, success, and triumph (Think of celebrities: Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton both have status, but they do not have overall likability. Ellen DeGeneres and Tom Hanks both have status AND likability). Megan is the epitome of a likable person: easy-going, open-minded, kind, generous, positive, fun, and compassionate. She was there for me during some of the hardest years of my life, and stuck by my side when others disappeared.
There are people in your life who wear their heart on their sleeve, i.e., you can automatically sense when something negative happened in their life. They walk around with a pout on their face, it’s the only thing they talk about, they start behaving in unconventional ways, etc. And then there other people that don’t talk about their problems or express any form of deviant behavior. I’ve been told I’m a little bit of both. Some people tell me that they were shocked when they heard I struggled with anxiety and depression, because they found me to be such an outgoing and fun person to be around. Yet in other cases, there are times when hands down I’m just a mess – I can’t control my feelings or emotions and it’s just plastered across my face for days or weeks. Megan is definitely not someone that wears their heart on their sleeve – and not in a negative way, but in a way that is just so fascinating and unbelievable.
There have been times where Megan was going through personal problems, relationship problems, or even something with her family, but she was never someone to bring up her problems on anyone else. Everyday she continued to walk into the apartment with a smile on her face, asking everyone how their day was, and rarely ever talking about herself or venting about her own problems. I don’t know how she puts on the most poised and unperturbed display, but you would never know Megan is hurting on the inside from her appearance on the outside.
This week was different. It’s not like I’ve never seen Megan cry before, but this was a different type of cry. The countenance she had on when I watched her walk over to the podium and make her statement was something I’ve never seen before from her. In addition, I can’t even coherently address what I was feeling as I watched this video. I felt anxious, even though I knew [to some extent] what words would be spilling out of her mouth. I felt scared, even though I knew that the worst was already over. And I felt guilty, because I couldn’t be there with her as she made her public statement, for millions of people to discover.
Megan was one of the hundreds of victims abused by former US Gymnastics coach Larry Nassar. Even as I type this out, my body feels warmer and my hands feel unsteady. Last week – forget about it. I couldn’t even get through maybe an hour at work without crying and envisioning myself swinging a baseball bat or giant hammer at this guy’s head. And then when I started to wipe away the mascara pouring down my face, I stopped and thought, “This is how I’m feeling right now. I can’t even begin to image how Megan is feeling.” And then, a stream of tears started to trickle down and over my clenched jaw all over again.
When I first opened the link Megan sent me of her making her public statement, I was initially thinking, “Okay, she looks okay, this isn’t going to be that bad.” She was smiling so politely – that perfect Megan smile of hers – dimples and bright white teeth. She looks great – articulate, professional, and poised. She spelled out her name for the Judge, and then she started to recite the most disturbing and heartbreaking encounter I’ve ever had my ears to witness.
It took me a few tries to actually get through this whole video. I was experiencing so many emotions – anger, heartbreak, guilt, sadness, shock, and frustration. I knew details about Megan’s past, but never did I think that something so horrible happened to someone so wholesomely ‘good.’ I wanted to legit murder this man after I heard everything that Megan talked about. I wanted to hold her in my arms. I wanted to tell her everything is going to be okay. I wanted to tell her that the worst is already over. But I couldn’t. And there is just no single word to explain how much that fucking sucks.
I started to write this piece since I was struggling to function the whole week after I listened to that video. I would cry, and then be okay, and then cry again after I saw a new news article pop up on my feed about this disgusting monster. Even though this entire thing is 0% about me, and everything about Megan and the other strong survivors, I needed to write to let go of everything I was experiencing. I know that I should essentially be happy – happy that Megan and these women can finally receive some closure from their haunting past. I know that I should feel proud of all of the women who had the strength and courage to step forward and talk about this traumatizing experience. I know that I should feel relief that Megan has an amazing support system with her during this time. But I rarely felt these emotions. I was being selfish through this experience – I wanted Megan all to myself. I wanted to be the one there for her. I wanted to comfort her, hold her, and cry with her when she needed support. But I couldn’t, and I realized that this was making me cry even more. Because Megan is one of the few people in my life who has never left my side. She was there for me when I found out my ex-boyfriend cheated on me. She was there for me at 3am when I saw that he was engaged on Facebook. She was there for me when I found out my dad was diagnosed with leukemia. She was there for me when I saw nasty emails my mom wrote about me to my doctors. When I was struggling with chronic depression and an eating disorder. Megan never left, and many others have. Others told me I was crazy. Others told me I was a burden. Others flew from my life. Megan always stayed by my side, and I was mad that I couldn’t be there for her when she needed support more than ever.
They say “time heals all wounds.” I agree with this in some aspect. As someone who has had chronic anxiety for 10+ years, and suffers through panic attacks from time to time, there is nothing worse than the few minutes or even hours of that suffrage. The only thing that helps get me through these moments is reciting, “this too shall pass.” I don’t know why, but this phrase just resonates with me. I remember when I was going through a terrible anxiety attack in college, and I had to call out of work to go see my therapist. I was freaking out because I ate too much the night before (you truly don’t understand how frightening this is if you’ve never experienced an eating disorder. When you have a fear or gaining weight/fat, eating too much is literally correlated with “I rather die”). I clearly remember my therapist telling me, “This feeling is temporary. This will pass.” And even though this is something SO incredibly simple, it finally clicked with me. When you have anxiety or even depression, in your darkest moments you sometimes feel like this is how your life is, permanently. I sometimes feel like the dark cloud over my head is just something I’ll have to live with forever. As with any mental illness, everyone experiences it differently, however… there is one commonality that [I believe] most of all of us feel… which is confusion. Many of the times we don’t know why we are feeling a certain way. I wake up on Sundays many times and have this overall feeling of worry that I truly cannot understand. I say to myself, “What am I worried about? Do I have somewhere I need to be? Something I forgot to do?” It’s a constant worry of what could happen or what already happened. It’s terrible and destructive. But now I know that time is all I need… since this feeling doesn’t last forever, and “this [feeling] too shall pass.”
I desperately hope that Megan can see this traumatizing experience approaching an awaited termination. I hope that she realizes time is on her side, and that day by day, the darkest days will become brighter again. I know that my feeling of guilt will fade once I see how much support Megan has with her now. I know that I will see her soon when I have the opportunity to visit again in California. I know this separation is temporary. But I know that in order for time to pass, I need to take action as well. I need to show my support, I need to write, I need to pray, and do whatever I can to help myself for Megan. Because I am my best support for Megan when I’m at my personal best. I need to be OK so I am OK for Megan. I can’t show that I am weak when I need to be strong for her. Even though Megan has already displayed unmeasurable amounts of strength and grit, this sort of experience and trauma is not easy to recover from, no matter how old or healthy you are. But at least I know that each of us being strong on our own will help us be stronger together.
The most common question I’m asked at least 2-3x a week. Yesterday, my psychiatrist asked me this. I’ve noticed that I tend to switch answers every time I reply to this question, depending on my mood. In my head, I have about 20 reasons why ~I think~ I’m single. However, no one is going to listen to more than maybe 2 reasons why, and if I even dared to respond to the question in a text with multiple reasons, forget it, I’m “crazy.” Anything more than 3-4 sentences at once is just too overwhelming for people I’ve noticed…
Yesterday my answer to my psychiatrist was, “I guess I haven’t found someone yet.” The most plausible and rational answer to this question I believe. I’m 26, I’m young, I have a few years left until I want to get married and have kids. I believe that I was put on this earth to be a mom. I literally cannot wait to have babies. I know, I know, I probably sound naive since I have ‘no idea what I’m talking about,’ or that I haven’t even witnessed all the sleepless nights, babies vomiting, crying 12 hours every day, etc. To be honest, I feel like the negative aspects of having kids are more heavily portrayed online and in the media than the wonderful ones. I haven’t lived a life of rainbows and sunshine, I’ve had more complicated childhood and college years than most people I know. So even though there is an overwhelming amount of negativity associated with having kids, I am doubtful that I can’t handle it with the wonderful support system I have around me. I’ve never hesitated once about having babies.
Back to this whole relationship/single thing, essentially I’m just so excited to start a family, that I am really, really, just dying to meet someone and give them all of the love that I have to offer. Of course, I can have a family without marrying someone or having a partner, but seriously, I’m young… and until I’m 35 and still single, I’m not toying with that option. I WANT a partner, someone to share my life with, someone to wake up next to, someone so create memories with. People ask me, “Why are you single?” as if I chose this life for the past 5 and a half years. Going to bed alone for 5 years. Eating alone for 5 years. Having no +1 for 5 years. But, didn’t I choose this?
I’m a big believer in taking control of the things that you can control in your life. You don’t like your job? Apply to a new one. Not happy with the way you look? Go to a gym. Eat healthier. Etc. I’m not someone who sits at home complaining about how my life is unraveling and does nothing to change it. I HATE those kind of people. I don’t have the highest paying job right now, and I wasn’t going to be the one complaining about buying people gifts during Christmas like it was a chore. I love to buy people gifts whether it’s for Christmas, their Birthday, etc. I have an organically creative mind, so I tend to view gift-giving as a creative challenge; what can I do to make this gift special and unique? Something different and memorable? So what did I do, I got a second job during the holidays so I wouldn’t be stressed about finances. The holiday has become filled with negative energy due to the financial constraints of many Americans. I get it – I live in NYC and have been busting my ass trying to make extra money and cut back on expenses. However, I don’t want to dread such a magical and holy time of the year when I have the control to make it more or less stressful.
There are some things you can’t control: when a family member gets sick, the weather conditions, the stock market, etc. So I try to make the most of the things I can control: my health (obv not genetics) exterior appearance, career, and my relationship status. Isn’t the status of being single or not a choice? Didn’t I choose this after all? How can I say “I didn’t choose to be single” if no one else is making decisions for me?
I did choose this life, this relationship status, or lack there of. I did choose and am choosing single right now. We live in a blame culture where we tend to blame people for things that don’t go our way #ThanksObama #ThanksTrump #ThanksAmerica ~sarcasm~. Impulsively, I sometimes say that I didn’t choose to be single since I want to blame the overwhelming amount of assholes who send me dick pics, the flaky guys who don’t show up to our date, the creepy guys who cat-call me on my commute home from work. I want to say, “Well I mean look at the guys who hit on me, it’s their fault I’m single! This is why I’m single! It’s because they’re all assholes!” Not like this statement is false or anything, they are assholes, but it’s not their fault I am single. I am just choosing not to date them, because well… for obvious reasons.
I sometimes forget to make myself aware of this, because no one wants to hear you rattle off reasons why you’re the victim, and why everyone else (men/society) is to blame for you being single. It just sounds like you’re not taking responsibility for your own situation. For the first 3 years of being single after my last relationship in 2012, I was very self-aware of my choice to be single. My ex cheated on me in Vegas and then got engaged to the girl he cheated on me with 3 months after we broke up. That, um, took a toll on me, lol. That was heartbreaking, not the actual breakup, but the ultimate disintegration of trust and loyalty. Of course he lied to me when I first confronted him about acting different when he came back from Vegas. The worst part of the whole thing was being lied to, face to face, and having your throat grow dry and your stomach feel hallow as you finally lock eyes, and BOOM. You just know it. There’s something that can sense the slightest difference and unfamiliarity in someone who you thought you knew, who you thought you could trust, who you thought you could depend on. And then it’s all gone with a blink of the eye.
After the breakup, I genuinely wanted to be single and have zero commitment with a guy in the near future. I was like, “Fuck this relationship crap for a while. I ain’t going through that pain again anytime soon.” After I graduated college, I was working full time M-F and part time Saturday and Sunday. I was working 7 days a week – legit exhausted and miserable. As someone who was still recovering from an eating disorder, I was still working on parting ways with my anxious mind and getting back to the behaviors of a mentally stable human being – not forcing myself to workout 6-7 days a week, not weighing and measuring everything I ate, etc. When you’re dealing with a mental illness, your hormones are out of wack, your perspective of life is skewed and often irrational. I didn’t have much sex drive during this time [when I was sick and recovering] since I’d rather go to the gym than take a rest day and go on a date, consume unnecessary/unknown calories, and leave me panicking the rest of the night and upcoming week.
Therefore, I really didn’t even have a desire to get into a relationship until I mended the relationship I had with my own anxious mind. I’m aware that this is going to be something that I will have to continue working on for the rest of my life, however, only until 2 years ago did I really feel ‘healthy’ enough to get into a relationship again. Even when I first dated my ex ~6 years ago, I was no where near healthy or mentally stable to get into a relationship. Yet I was young then, I was 20, and I wasn’t as self-aware as I am now about my anxiety and behavior. From ~August 2016 until now, I’ve finally felt “ready” to be with someone else as I’ve learned how to love myself first. That’s the good ‘ole cliche phrase they tell you about in therapy and self-help books anyway, right? As much as I hate that phrase, it’s true. It’s necessary.
Since I was 13 I have been working on my self-esteem, anxiety, OCD, self-confidence, and body image with my therapist and support system. So now, 13 years later, after I finally learned how to love myself, why doesn’t someone love me?
The worst part about people asking you, “Why are you single?” is the constant feeling of failure [IMO]. Like, “Why are you single? You’re pretty, smart, athletic, kind – I don’t get it?” If I’m all of these wonderful things, I must have done something wrong – I must have failed or made a mistake somewhere that is causing me to go to bed alone every night, right? I’ve been learning that the most frustrating part of this whole question/experience is the way that people view “being single.” There’s obvious misconceptions portrayed by those who are naturally dependent or possibly even insecure with being single. People who don’t have that organic independent nature have a hard time comprehending that, I don’t know, I can function without another person’s hand holding mine? Okay, that was petty, butttttttttt… I seriously run into so many people who ask, “But don’t you want someone to go to the movies or dinner with?” Um, fucking obviously Karen! But I don’t NEED someone to go to the movies with me, to dinner with me, or to kiss me on the forehead before I go to bed. That would be nice, yeah, but it’s not necessary. ~ I don’t need no man. ~
I’m not gonna lie, I bitch and vent to my friends a lot about being single, but mainly cause I don’t have any other single friends, lol. I love to go out, I love to meet people, but a lot of my friends… don’t. I don’t have the “partner in crime” or wing-woman friend to go out with, so it leaves me by myself most of the time. It’s okay, because like I said, I’m used to being alone after all the years, but of course it just gets old sometimes. It’s always easier to “do single” when you have someone else doing it with you.
Here are the answers I would give before when someone asked me, “Why are you single:”
- There’s too many options (dating apps, dating websites, dating events, etc) to [want] to commit to just one person
- People in NYC are too busy to date
- The guys I meet don’t want to commit
- The guys I meet are assholes
- No one likes me
- I’m not skinny enough
- I’m not pretty enough
- I don’t have time to date
- I don’t have money to date
- My standards are too high
- I must be too picky
- I just haven’t met someone I really like yet
…and… that’s it, I think. While all of the above points are things that I wouldn’t claim as “false statements,” cause yeah, there are guys who are assholes, I am picky, I haven’t met someone I really like yet, etc. Yet these statements are not answers to why I am single. The answer is because I have chosen to be single. I have chosen not to commit to someone who I wasn’t really crazy about. I have chosen not to commit to someone who didn’t have enough time to devote to me. In these cases, I assume I could have dated them, but I chose not to. Being single is a choice, and so is being a relationship. If you aren’t happy in your current relationship, then leave. No one is forcing you to stay in a relationship that isn’t making you smile each and every day. No one is forcing me to be independent and go home alone every night – I have chosen this life. I have chosen to remain loyal to my standards, and not let them drop just because I’m sick and tired of going to bed by myself every night. I have chosen to put myself before any guy that tries to mess with my confidence and mental health.
Why Am I Single?
I choose to be.
Since it’s the first day of my monthly !You’re!Not!Pregnant! 5-day nightmare, and I have cried 3 different times this morning reading cute Buzzfeed articles, I figured I needed a good ‘ole writing catharsis. I haven’t wrote in a while since my full-time work days are now 9am-8pm, Monday-Friday, and my part-time work days are two 9 hour long shifts on both Saturday and Sunday. I have a few hours to spare when I’m not working, but honestly, drinking a martini or watching SNL clips in bed sound 10x more desirable compared to writing right now.
On average, I am working 70-75 hours per week. I’ve been a psychotic workaholic since as long as I can remember. I’ve never related to the whole “Millennials are lazy, entitled assholes who do nothing and expect everything to be handed to them” comments. When I was in college I took 18 credits a semester and worked part time 16 hours a week at Comcast HQ. Since graduating college 3.5 years ago, I’ve had 3 different part-time jobs that I held all during the same time I was working another full-time job. I think it’s part of the near-perfect work ethic my father instilled into my head when I was younger. I think it’s also part of my organic Virgo nature – being a perfectionist and trying to take on as much as I can. And I think it’s also because New York City is fucking expensive and I really don’t want to swim in debt for the rest of my life.
Yet there is one more reason why I work so much that may not be as obvious to the outside spectator. The thing is, I’m not very good at relaxing. I’m constantly seeking a new challenge or adventure to take on. I’m always looking for ways to better myself whether that means going to the gym or reading another self-improvement book in Starbucks. I go grocery shopping, photographing Manhattan, or even just reorganize my entire room when I’ms stuck at home with nothing to do. I’m physically unable to take naps unless I spent the whole morning day-drinking Bloody Mary’s with my friends (alcohol is typically the only thing that puts me to sleep instantly as depressing and concerning as that sounds). I don’t like going to the movies (unless I REALLY want to see it) because I feel like I could be more productive rather than sitting/starting at a screen for 3 hours. This is a small glimpse into my anxiety, as people with anxiety have a hard time “living in the moment.” People who suffer from anxiety disorders are constantly worrying about the past and the future: something that has happened already or something that has never happened (and may never even happen). We are unable to focus and enjoy the current moment because we are too caught up on the “what ifs” and “could be’s.” As much as I have progressed with my anxiety over the past 13 years, this is still a huge struggle of mine.
But since I am someone who has suffered with anxiety for more than half my life now, I’m strongly acquainted with the factors that can either trigger or prevent my anxious mind from unleashing. Anyone who has suffered with any mental illness for that matter can understand that your mind is your own worst enemy. As much as we like to blame society, family, or friends for feeling the way we do, we are the only ones in control of our own thoughts. When we let our anxious mind control the majority of our thoughts, our perception of reality becomes more skewed and less clear each and every day.
I realized that constantly filling my days with work and things to do occupied more of my mind for less anxiety to creep in. It’s like my body needs constant stimulation for my mind to feel completely still and unbothered. Ask anyone who has suffered from an anxiety attack or depressive episode: being completely alone with your thoughts can be the most harmful and dangerous thing when you’re not mentally stable. The things we tell ourselves are often the most destructive things we will ever hear. When people are trapped with their own harmful thoughts, the consequences often require serious medical attention or possible hospitalization.
To put this all in “Millennial” terms, I’m not much of a ‘Netflix & Chill-er.’ I have a hard time concentrating during movies and TV shows, since my mind is wandering off creating a visual To-Do list of things I ‘should’ be doing. It’s not normal to have this lacking desire of relaxation and serenity – I know that, and I have known that for years. Yet thankfully I’m in a place where my physical health is stable and my mental health has been a lotttttt better than it has been in previous years. I think that’s the problem with others who suffer from mental illness: they are always seeking something that will completely rid their mind from the personal destruction, yet I have come to accept that working to minimize the struggle has been more successful than seeking to destroy it completely.
This year has been a tough one for me, and I’m sure for many others as well. My apartment was broken into in January, 6 different dates bailed on me an hour before we were supposed to meet, the 2 guys I *actually* grew to like had a girlfriend on the side that I later found out about, this is my last year of health insurance under my family’s policy and I’m petrified about affording medical insurance next year, I suffered through a relapse in the spring and ended up crying on hold with the suicide prevention hotline on a Friday night, I wasn’t able to visit my friends in Philly or LA nearly as much as I have in the past due to financial struggles, and the list goes on.
This may seem like “third world problems” for some people, and it may seem like a nightmare to others. I know I’m blessed by God in so many ways – ways that make all of this seem like over-dramatic nonsense. My dad is almost 5 years healthy and free from cancer, my boss and co-workers have been an amazing support system through every battle this year, I have not self-harmed in many ways that I have in the past years, and lastly… even though it SUCKS so bad to discover the guy that you are falling for kissing some other girl online, thank freaking GOD I am not that girl – the one who tells her friends how “faithful and loyal” her man is to her. Seriously, thank God I am not in her shoes.
When the shitty stuff happens, I turn to work. I turn to spreadsheets and numbers and PowerPoints to take my mind off the burglary, fuckboy problems, and family illnesses. It’s a way of avoiding the problem sometimes, I know that, but from the moment I started working full-time when I was 19, I said one thing to myself that has consistently stayed with me: “No matter what is going on in my personal life, I will never let it affect my work.” I am so driven, so determined, and so hungry to succeed independently in my career, that it’s something I will never choose to let go of. I believe that sometimes the only way to recover from something is to fill the mind with something else to concentrate on. A lot of people don’t get over an ex until they meet someone else. Some people can’t give up smoking unless they find something else to fill that void. I don’t think it’s the absolute worst thing to do, especially when that replacement is 5x better than it’s precedent. I know when I’ve reached my limit when I start to get sick or haven’t seen my friends/family in weeks – I know when I need to step back. But at least my career is something I have control over when everything else in life seems to be spiraling out of my control.
“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” – Lady Gaga
Disclaimer: Before you start to assume that this is some anti-male radical feminist piece – it’s not. This is a piece about common human decency.
I am the only girl of two brothers – one older, and one younger. I started to play soccer when I was 5 years old, and found myself gravitating to more “masculine fashion” in grammar school – AKA, I was a tomboy. I liked to wear my brothers clothes and hang out with his older friends. I would play Zelda, Mario Cart, Super Smash Brothers – any Nintendo64 game you could think of – with a bunch of dudes after school. They were always nice to me, and never did they say I couldn’t ‘play’ with them after dinner with my brother. I remember my winter jacket in 4th grade was a Tommy Hilfiger yellow and navy bubble jacket from the little boy’s section. I wore a lot of baggy T-shirts to school paired with my Adidas shorts I wore to soccer practice.
I was really good at soccer – so good that when I was 17, I was recruited to play for a Division 1 university. When I was younger, I would always try and play soccer with the boys at recess. When you are an athlete, you have this organic competitive nature that is constantly seeking a challenge. I started playing soccer with the boys at recess – lightly monitored by school aids – and I would end up being pushed and shoved with my knees bleeding and dirt stains on my shorts. Yet I would get back up, rub down my muddy knees, and get back to playing. I started to get mad since some of the boys would complain that since I was a girl, I wasn’t allowed to play with “them.” I would tell the school aid that this wasn’t fair since I was just as good as them, and they would reply, “Boys will be boys.”
Thankfully, I grew out of my tomboy phase and started to study fashion and beauty magazines in high school. Now – at age 26 – putting on makeup is actually something I look forward to in the morning. Shoes are essentially my favorite thing to buy, and every Christmas I ask for a new designer bag to take to work each year. I just started working at a second job for extra money – Anthropologie – and I’m actually concerned if this job will even be profitable. With a 40% employee discount and a 60% ‘business wear’ discount each month on certain pieces, this has my wallet growing smaller even thinking about what I plan to buy.
The thing is, as much as I love fashion and beauty, it has been more of a frustrating process to go shopping lately. When I go shopping, I have to worry about a shirt being too low cut, a jacket being too cropped that it won’t cover my butt, and shorts that are too tight on my legs. I have to worry about the way my hair is when I leave my apartment, wanting to wear red lipstick, and walking out in heels that are too loud. I have to consider all these things since it will essentially heighten the chances of me being cat-called. I don’t remember the last time I went a day without having a man shout names at me, whistle at me, pucker at me, lick his lips at me, or approach me when I was commuting. And NO – this isn’t me being cocky or flattering myself. This isn’t me bragging that I look nice or I must be ‘just so pretty’ that guys approach me like this. This is me complaining – not bragging. This is me EXHAUSTED from the constant harassment I have to deal with everyday #CommutingWhileFemale.
Sexual Harassment is nothing new, but it is being mentioned now more than ever for appropriate reason(s). Over the past 2-3 weeks, Harvey Weinstein has been one of the most talked about topics in the media – no matter which news channel or blog you get your information from. Multiple celebrities are currently speaking out about their horridly inappropriate experiences working with Weinstein, strongly claiming that he has been sexually harassing women the the past 3 decades. According to ET Online, “Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women over sexual harassment claims from 1990 to 2015.” However, these past encounters are now resurfacing thanks to Ashley Judd, “the first big name star to go on the record,” with her allegation against Weinstein for sexual harassment.
You might be thinking – but why now? Why is Kate Beckinsale just speaking out NOW about her inappropriate experience with Weinstein – after 27 years have passed by? For attention? For press?
I can see why you’re thinking that, however, it’s a no and a no. It’s not for attention and it’s not to gain press. People like Beckinsale are just speaking out about this now because when you are 17 years old and just being introduced into this extremely competitive and fast-moving industry, you’re first thought about meeting a powerful producer is not, “I have to worry about being sexually harassed.” It’s typically, “I will do anything to make it in this industry,” or “I really hope he likes me so I get this part,” or “I have to make sure I make a good impression.” As she stated, “It did not cross my mind that this older, unattractive man would expect me to have any sexual interest in him,”
To think that females [as young as 17 years old] need to start considering sexual assault as a likely possibility throughout their schooling and career is absolutely pitiful. You would think that anyone’s first reaction is to tell their parents/friends/management that this is unacceptable – right? I’ve seen men say this online, “well why didn’t they just go tell someone if it was such a problem?” News flash, idiots – most of the time these women will have their careers destroyed or be threatened by the accuser if they even think about opening their mouth. As you see in many movies and television shows including sexual assault and/or domestic abuse, the abuser will threaten the victim in more ways than you can imagine: threatening to kill them, kill other people, beat them, take the kids, ruin their life, ruin their career, etc. So to the men who say, “well why didn’t she just tell someone,” I would like to see how easy it is for you to report a case of assault or abuse when your abuser threatened to kill you or ruin your career if you even uttered a word about the occurrence.
Going back to the everyday sexual assault that I witness commuting to and from work – it would seem the most plausible to just keep quiet and keep walking. Sometimes in life, the best thing to do is ignore the noise and continuing walking in your own path. Yet I have ‘ignored the noise’ for the past 5-6 years. With all of the stories of sexual assault arising in the news today, and the heartbreaking stories I read every morning on my social media, I’ve had enough of ‘keeping quiet.’ I don’t want to put myself in a scenario where I can be threatened or chased, but I am disgusted and exhausted with this behavior occurring. Maybe if I speak up against this behavior the next time it happens, I can prevent it from happening to the next girl walking behind me.
For HELP and More Information on this serious matter, call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
I am a bookworm. My mom is an avid reader, however, we have entirely different interests when it comes to reading. I started reading for leisure purposes in high school. I’m pretty sure the first series I read that got me interested in books was Twilight – I know, judge me. While this writing wasn’t anything exceptional in my opinion, this novel-turned-movie sparked the world’s (and my temporary) obsession with vampires, oddly…
I read a few other light reading books such as Five People You Meet in Heaven, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, etc. Reading wasn’t something that was a priority for me, though, since I was already reading so much material in high school and college, constantly falling asleep in my 600 page textbooks and barely finishing those summer reading novels. It wasn’t until my 3rd year of university that I started spending hours wandering around Barnes & Noble.
My roommate Megan is who I thank for this developed passion. Megan and I were roommates for 3 years and she is still one of my best friends to this day. Megan is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, like… if you have a problem with Megan, then there is a probably a problem with you #SorryNotSorry. She is bubbly, enthusiastic, loving, thoughtful, and optimistic. I was in therapy all throughout college, and although I absolutely loved my college counselor, I said that sometimes the best therapy was just surrounding yourself around the right people. To this day, my favorite quote is, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. ” Being around Megan’s positive and effervescent energy helped me look at things in a brighter light even on my darkest days. I was starting to believe that I could actually achieve happiness rather than just daydream about it. Megan was recommending certain speakers and authors to me that helped [even] her with certain mental and emotional battles she was fighting against. This marked the beginning of my true investment into self-care and self-improvement. I am forever grateful for Megan’s impact on my life, and helping me seek the power of reading.
Self-care is something that is truly undervalued and underestimated in today’s society. I am a victim of putting other people first and myself last. I used to say to my therapist that making other people is what made me happy (since I truly didn’t know what made me happy anymore in the depths of my anxiety and depression). Although making people smile and laugh does deliver a great amount of joy to my mood, it is not something that delivered long-term happiness. I would be so elated for those 30 seconds after a friend opened my gift, or if a little girl smiled at me when I opened the door for her at the mall. After 30 seconds to a minute, I was back to my normal “bleh” attitude. I put other people’s happiness before my own, I bought things to please other people instead of buying what I actually needed, and I cared more about what other people thought of me than what I actually thought of me.
This is a huge commonality between males and females, especially in the digital age. We have a constant stimulation of new information and people thrown at us everyday. We are endlessly trying to keep up with all the superficial positive reinforcement online from friends, family, and even strangers. We have become obsessed with what other people think about of us, which has caused us to fall aloof of what we think about our true selves, and how we want to think our true selves When we prioritize other people’s opinions of us first, we become slaves of their approval, and therefore forget to take care of what we really need, want, believe, etc.
I started studying psychology initially in high school when I took AP Psychology. In college, I took so many psychology electives that I’m pretty sure if I took one more it would have qualified me as a psych minor. I became immensely intrigued in the thought processes of the human mind. I read pages and pages of data just out of my own genuine interest. From a young age, I was always hearing from my doctors, “It’s all in your head. Your thoughts are not reality.” I was confused at the time being a young teenager, but the pieces were starting to fall together the deeper I dived into psychology. I was realizing that my thoughts controlled my behavior, and my behavior was destroying me inside and out. My thoughts of being too fat and not good enough would cause me to not eat. Not eating caused me to feel cranky throughout the day and lash out on my family and friends. Lashing out on my family and friends caused me to feel alone and angry at everyone. I was self-sabotaging myself, yet the whole time I thought it was because people thought I wasn’t good enough. But the only person who thought that was me.
“What consumes your mind controls your life.” One of my favorite quotes. When I started to read these self-improvement, I started to see a brighter light ahead of me. I was reading books that weren’t just a dump of data and charts, but REAL people who wrote about their REAL life experiences — that were exactly like mine! I was finally able to recognize that I’m not the only one battling these mental thoughts, and MOST people feel pretty negative about themselves from time to time. However, the crucial difference is that most people do not change or take action to transform these thoughts. Most people do not seek guidance, as they find it to be a form of weakness. I can relate – that was totally me. But after a long long long time of suffering, I realized that it is beneficial to everyone in my life to seek help. Many people look at “self-help” books as a form of desperation, which is why so many people are unhappy with their life; they do nothing to change, even if it’s just reading a book. I’m sorry, but the fact that maybe your partner cheated on you or that you lost your job is not #ThanksObama worthy. We live in a blame culture that is toxic and contagious. If you’re unhappy and you do nothing about it, how do you expect to achieve your goals? Do you think people are going to consistently do things for you? Or even continue to help you? Luck only goes so far…
To this day, I have read over 30 or so books on self-development and self-improvement. I don’t like calling these books self-help due to the negative connotation. When people refer to these books as “self-help books,” or even ask, “Why do you read so many of those depression books?” – I respond back with something along these lines…
“It’s a self-improvement book, since last time I checked, I’m not perfect and neither are you. I like reading about how I can change my thoughts to become more productive, more optimistic, more driven, and more successful. I honestly just want to continue to be more awesome tomorrow than I was the day before.”
Typically after that response, they have no more naive questions :).