#CuffingSeason

You said it, Marilyn.

It’s winter. It’s cuffing season. My social media feeds are filled with couples being cute and cozy, leaving us single people feeling lonely and unwanted. Usually, I’m one of those singles pinning away for someone special to spend the holiday season with but this year, I haven’t experienced that feeling. Maybe it was the last couple of months I spent dating and the heartbreak that came with it. Maybe I might be a little bitter, broken and bruised. But can I be enlightened, as well?

I wrote in my last post about my big plans to be single. I was finally going to do it! Get off the apps. Stop giving out my number. Etc. But then at the end of October, I was bored, lonely and horny and hopped back on Bumble. I met some great guys and had a couple flings that didn’t pan out for various reasons: we were not in the same place emotionally or in our life timeline. We were both playing games. I was ghosted a few times. It finally got to a point where I was so emotionally exhausted that I canceled a date a few hours before we were supposed to meet, explaining my truth: I just wasn’t dating place anymore (sorry, Jose).

I spent Christmas weekend thinking about what I learned about love this year- the love I have for myself; the kind of relationship I want to be in; new revelations about dating. I definitely know, more than ever, what I want in a partner and out of a relationship. I took a hard look at my dating and attachment styles ,and what my expectations are with meeting new people. A big part of my identity is tied to my dating history. My friends always ask me for dating advice, or who is latest dude that I’m seeing. Dating is as much a hobby for me as a low-key addiction. I do get buzzed when I match someone on Bumble. If I’m not getting “high” from it, dating then only adds a low-key anxiety to my life.

When you’re truly honest with yourself, you realize that you are an asshole sometimes and have developed a lot of bad habits. I know that I have with dating and being a girlfriend. I’ve had the wrong idea about love all along. I thought that being alone was the worst thing in the world. Growing up, I would listen to all cheesy 90s pop songs about falling for someone and how was the best thing in the world. It was the key to happiness; the end all, be all. That’s bullshit. This year, I found myself happier being single, doing my own thing. Although I really cared for the men I dated (especially for Amit), I feel lighter and more free being single.

My final breakup with Amit taught me a lot about the stigma the world sees when relationships end. I started seeing my “failed” relationships as end points- and that’s it. I’ve had a lot of successful relationships, ones that taught me a lot. I have a lot of good memories from them. I’ve been able to experience a lot. Because of those relationships, I know exactly what I want in a partner. I think people assume that breakups are sad and depressing (which they can be) but mine this year have been major pillars of growth. I found a part of my voice during my breakups.

There is still a lot of things that I need to work on with dating. My choice in men definitely says a lot about me as a person- I’ve been reevaluating the type of people that I’m flocking to and getting naked with. That goes for sex. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had partners that don’t care about my pleasure. Although I was eager to have sex and get them off, I felt like a human FleshLight to them. Life is too short for one-sided sex. My orgasm is important, too! If I’m expected to act like a porn star, I at least deserve kisses during and to be held for a while afterwards. I deserve to be savored and need to hold out for someone who will treat me that way.

I’m at the point where dating and relationships should be fun and stress-free. As much as I want to be partnered and am looking forward to one day being married and raising a family with someone, I’m happy being alone. I’ve been debating whether or not to take a break next year from dating and/or hopping on Reddit for a hook-up. I’m thinking about how much of a challenge this would be for me since I do get lonely pretty often. But being lonely and dealing with those feelings are only part of the dating experience. It’s all a learning lesson and I’m determine to be the best relationship student I can. Love can be troubling but through those trials when we grow.

How is your dating life, dear reader? What did you learn about love?

#55Days

The 2020 Presidential Election is 55 days away- are you ready?

First off, are you registered to vote? Find online voter registration for your state (as of today, 40 states allow you to register to vote via internet. If you’re not registered and don’t see your state on this list, you can register through your local DMV).

If you’re not able to vote in person, request a mail-in absentee ballot ASAP. If you are able to vote in person, consider early voting– this is a good way to avoid lines on Election Day.

Before you go out to vote, you can find your polling location. If you need a ride to the polls, rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are offering free or discounted trips for voters in need. When you do get to the polls, make sure that you have your ID and any other required identification in order to vote.

Second, poll workers are desperately needed November 3rd.  If you’re like me  and looking for ways to serve your community, sign up to be a poll worker in your city. You will be paid for your training days and for the days you work.

Third, do your research and make the best, informed decision for you, your family and your community. Get a sample ballot. Before you head to the polls, get a sample ballot so you know in advance all the races you’ll be voting on. There are smaller races for local offices and propositions that could have an immediate impact on your life but don’t get as much news coverage. Fill it out in advance and show up at the polls prepared to make your decisions.

This time back in 2016, I was chasing after people in downtown Reno, registering them to vote. My friend, Monique, and I would be out during the drinking crawls with our clipboards in hand (and me with a shot or three in my stomach), getting the word out. This election, I’ve been avoiding others due to the pandemic but I still feel that civic responsibility to encourage others to vote. To put it blunt, our country is a mess right now and voting may be the only way we can make things better. It’s is our responsibility as Americans. When you vote, you are vocalizing what you need, want and believe in. You’re standing up and demanding to be counted. But this system only works if we participate in it. So, are you ready to vote?

#AllTheTimeInTheWorld

My weekly to-do list is at least a page long and I prioritize things in this order:
1. My day job (because, you know, I have bills to pay)
2. Job hunting (I’m trying to find full-time, 8-to-5 Monday through Friday position in marketing or editorial with health benefits)
3. My boyfriend, Amit
4. My friends (and not just spending time with them but giving them my full, undivided attention)
5. Sleep (I’d like to get a full eight hours per sleep cycle but I usually only get five)
6. Chores (grocery shopping, cleaning my apartment, beauty treatments like my plucking eyebrows which unfortunately take a long time, etc.)
7. My hobbies (running, writing, painting, filmmaking, volunteering, etc.)

Yeah… it’s a lot.

I never feel like I have enough time anymore even now with the constraints of the Coronavirus. At the start of the pandemic, I was excited for all the “free time” I had to get stuff done. But now, as life is returning to “normal,” I’m being pulled in a million directions. My work hours have increased, which I’m grateful for, but I rarely have weekends and nights off. My boyfriend and the majority of my friends work standard business hours so our schedules conflict. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve turned down multiple invitations out. I’m missing the early days of summer where I could just hop on Zoom for an hour or so, catch up and that was that. I didn’t have to incorporate travel time and other random events that popped up.

I only hang out with my boyfriend once a week, usually Sunday evenings when I can sleepover. I’m grateful that Amit is low-key and is fine not seeing each other in person every week. We text each other all the time and keep it old-school with talking on the phone almost every evening. Although we live in opposites sides of Austin, he doesn’t care that I don’t have a car (which does bother me severely- it would make my life so much easier. But I can’t afford one). Amit is happy to pick me up, even if it takes him an hour roundtrip (which it does with Texas traffic).

I’m trying to find my permanent job position (which is another blog post in itself) which takes up a lot of my free time. I know that my life will be better when I am not only making more money (to buy a car) but also have a consistent schedule to plan time for my friendships and hobbies. One of the biggest anxieties of my life right now is trying to get everything done while maintaining a positive mental health. I know that I can’t get everything done nor make everyone happy. But I’m not happy.

I’ve been trying to figure out better time management skills even though I’m not doing a good job with it. I do prioritize. I use my calendar to plan ahead and keep (most ) appointments. I try to set time limits with certain tasks (especially with job hunting. Being on Indeed all day can be soul draining and I need breaks from my computer). Yet, I have daily panic attacks where I don’t feel enough- like I’m doing enough or am a good enough person (employee, girlfriend, renter- ugh, the state of my kitchen, friend, creator, etc.). I feel guilty all the time and it’s a feeling that I can’t shake off.

How do you manage your time, dear reader? How do you get your to-do list completed while keeping your important relationships happy and healthy without giving yourself an anxiety attack?

#TheUmbrellaAcademy

You had a toxic parent, too?

I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix this summer. I was especially pumped up for the newest season of “The Umbrella Academy” and gobbled down all ten episodes in one sitting the Friday it came out. The show is about a group of children who are born with super powers. They’re adopted by this billionaire who exploits the children and forces them to become vigilantes. The children grow up and have complex and complicated relationships with each other and their toxic adoptive father.

I can relate, being adopted by a toxic parent. It’s trauma that I’ve been unpacking for the last several months with the watchful guide of my therapist. My biological mother wasn’t fit to take care of me. She most likely drank while she was pregnant. I never knew my biological father. My adoptive mother didn’t want children but my adoptive father insisted that I stay in our family (my adoptive mother is my biological aunt). More trauma when my parents got divorced. It was really nasty, especially when it came to custody. I went to live with my mom when I was in high school and didn’t see my dad often. At that time, my mom get remarried to an abusive man. I can still remember them fighting. One night, I was watching television in the living room when my mom stormed out her bedroom, with her husband screaming her. She hopped in her car and drove away, leaving me. I ran down the block after her, sobbing. She eventually came back and apologized.

I want to say that I love my parents. I really do adore my family and am grateful for them. I know they did the best they could even though I was troubling. I was a difficult baby. I spent the first two years of my life in foster care before I was legally adopted. My parents don’t know exactly what happened during those two years but I was developmentally delayed in some areas (like sleeping. I shook a lot in my sleep, waking myself every couple hours. I continued to do so throughout my childhood and my teenage years and still occasionally do it now. I never can get a good full night’s rest). I had a speech disorder and refused to talk until I was about five years old (I still lisp every now and then). I couldn’t be alone when I was a toddler. I was mean to animals. Miraculously, though, I did well academically. I loved school. I felt my first sting of depression when I was eight years old. I slept a lot. I couldn’t keep friends. I kept to myself. I was awkward (still am). I lied a lot. I had severe abandonment issues due to my adoption (with my bio mom leaving me) and my parents’ divorce. I went puberty at a young age and was body shamed frequently. I started starving myself in middle school. Binging soon followed. I also begin self-mutilating then and had my first suicide attempt in my preteens. Despite all this, my parents continued to love me and support as best as they could.

I now know that a lot of trauma in my life has been either a direct action or inaction by my parents, biological and adoptive. I wasn’t held enough as an infant so I developed bonding and empathy issues. My body issues were caused by my mother’s shaming, which she received from her own mother. I know that some of my self-esteem issues come from my parents not saying that they believed in me enough. I rarely felt- and still don’t feel- enough in my family which has affected all of my romantic relationships and my professional life.

It’s taken a lot of time to get to the root of my issues and I’m so, so grateful for my therapist (the key to healing is finding the right kind of help!). It’s been a lot work, a lot of tears. I don’t blame my parents for everything wrong with me and my life- I certainly have made a lot of bad choices, choices today that I’m still trying to mend. Even today, I will make the choice of dealing with a toxic parent even though my siblings don’t. My mom can still be pretty narcissistic. But I remember that my mom is human and has been through a lot of trauma herself. I’ve forgiven her and do so every day. I remember to put up boundaries with her- I tell myself, this is my life now and this is the way that I’m living it.

I ask myself if I have children of my own day, will I be a good mother? I know that all parents screw up their kids in a way, some more than others. But still… Will I raise my children to be confident and kind, strong and successful? I like to think so. I hope to take the mistakes that my parents made with raising me and my sisters and give my children not only a happy childhood but a strong sense of self-worth. I want to show my kids that there is actually someone in the world who cares, cares deeply, and can provide for them all of their emotional and physical needs.

Have you grown up with a toxic parent, dear reader?

#FallingInLove

Over the weekend, my boyfriend and I were having a “discussion.” One of the things that I love about Amit is how we talk about the things that bother us. For the first time in my relationship history I’m trying to fix problems, not my partner. It’s a difficult trait to change in myself but I feel like I’m a better girlfriend because of it. At the end of our talk, I was so filled with emotion and Amit was smiling at me in the most goofy way. I just blurted out, “I love you!” 

I knew that I felt this way about Amit for the last couple of weeks. Our relationship has been an interesting one. We talk often about our future as couple and what that looks like. For the majority of my life, I thought that relationships like this: You meet. Date for a couple of months. Fall in love and express it to each other. After a year of dating, move into together. Live together for a year and get engaged. Plan your lavish wedding and get hitched. Two years later, have a baby. And a few years later, have another. And during that time, you are completely devoted to one another, absolutely happy and in love with each other.

Well, that “perfect” relationship doesn’t exist.

I’m letting go of a lot of relationship “truths” these days. I thought the perfect relationship had to look a certain way (ie: that you have to be head over heels in love with your partner all day, every day and be together constantly as a pair, or that a relationship has to be completely and totally equal, with equal give and take). But there is no wrong way to have a good, strong and loving relationship.

After I told Amit that I loved him, he didn’t say it back. Instead, he told me that he really cared about me and was happy to be my boyfriend. Old me would have been upset with him not saying that he loved me back. But new me is feeling secure with his response and where our relationship is headed. I’m no longer putting my expectations on to a timeline. I just want to enjoy hanging out with my boyfriend and not put rush into anything. Of course, I want him to love me. But I know that he needs to feel it- and say it- on his terms. I know that our relationship isn’t perfect but that this moment, it’s perfect for us. 

How is your love life, dear reader?

#FiveYearPlan

My little sister is pregnant and I’m having a hard time being happy for her. I have to admit that I’ve always been jealous of this particular sister. In high school, I was envious of how she was skinner than me, had a cute boyfriend and seemed to be known and loved by everyone. She eventually pursued a career that I thought about chasing myself, got married and resided in city that I have dreamed of living in. As I’ve gotten older, I sat with these feelings and learned where they came from (my own insecurities, unnecessary parental pressures and judgements, etc). These days, I’m wise enough to know that I can’t compare my life to anyone else’s but this news still hurts. I want that life. My life is supposed to look like that… but it doesn’t.

I’m still in the middle of job hunting and I spend each morning asking myself interview questions to prep. My “favorite” question (and note the quotation marks) is where do you see yourself in five years? As much as I practice the answer to this questions aloud, I still have no solid, concerete idea. If someone asked me this question in 2015, I would have never have thought, “I’d be in quarantine from COVID-19.” Although I can’t exactly see where I am, I can imagine the way I feel in 2025- I’m feeling supported and successful with my job. I’m happy and in love in a romantic relationship. I’m enjoying the comforts of my apartment, the companionship of friends and feeling mental and physically strong.

It’s halfway into the 2020 and I know that the majority of the world threw out their yearly plans with the rise of Coronavirus. I know that I have. I feel like I have thrown away most of my plans since arriving to Texas almost two years ago (ask me why I call Austin, “the curse”). I recently figured out while it is good to have plans and keep planning for the future (especially financially), life happens. Epidemics happen. Job loss happens. Break ups happen. Bullshit happens. And that’s okay. I had this exact plan of how I wanted things to develop this year. None of those plans came to fruition so I’m just letting all of that go. As much as I love planning every single detail of my life, I’m just going to be for a while.

I know what I will- one day- get the job I’m desperately seeking, that dreamy relationship, my future family, etc. It will most definitely won’t go the way I plan but I feel like I’m half way there to what I’m envisioning for myself- I’m here in Austin where there are a lot of opportunity and I have a solid group of friends here and around the globe. Regardless of what my life feels like it lacks, my life is full at the moment and it’s only going to feel fuller. I just need to relax, be patient and keep ever so slowly pushing forward.

How are you taking a step back, dear reader? Do you have a five year plan?

#i2i

It’s okay if you don’t see “i2i…”

The last couple of weeks have been difficult ones. We are angry. I’m furious. I feel helpless. I started posting images of the various Black Lives Matter protests around the world on my social media accounts. Signs that spoke truths. Fists in the air. Looks of exhaustion from the participants. As I expected, I lost some followers and Facebook friends after I posted. What I didn’t expect was some of the direct messages and comments that followed. 

It is a tense time in the Untied States and during times like these, we all need a reminder of how to stay respectful and kind to each other. It’s okay to express your opinion. It’s okay to stay quiet. It’s okay if you don’t have an opinion. These days, I honestly tell people that I don’t have an opinion about current topics because I haven’t been following the news (it’s okay to be a self-called “news junkie” but stop listening to/reading the news for self care). I want to be able to make the most informed opinion possible but I’m not staying up-to-date to do so. It’s okay have conflicting opinions with your loved ones. It’s okay to think someone’s wrong. But it is not okay to send harsh words and threats. I have to admit that in my past, I’ve sent some mean messages about what I strongly believed in, political or not. While it felt good to get those frustrations out, I now know it was wrong to do that. It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to learn new information and form a different opinion. And it’s okay to seek out forgiveness for these past judgements that you’re unlearning. 

The world is a mess right now. It’s a lot between the protests, COVID-19, the uptick in unemployment and other issues that I can’t fathom right now. Fear and anger are running rampant and it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling at this moment. It’s okay if we all don’t see eye to eye right now. But we all need to do our best to respect each other- our bodies, our rights, our thoughts and our feelings. 

And yes, dear reader, Black Lives Matter

#ChaChing

What can I do for you? is a question that I’ve asked a little too much in my life- and it’s starting to bother me.

I realized that most of my relationships are transactional. Not necessarily in a financial way but I’m always trying to do something that counters my partner’s kindness. Example: My ex took me out to a really expensive dinner one evening on his dime. I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu but still felt bad. Later in the weekend, I deep cleaned his kitchen as a way to say “thank you” despite saying the words a thousand times over dinner. The same has happened with friends- when I was in college, I didn’t own a car but I hated accepting rides from my friends. I always insisted on paying them back for their time or for gas money and did everything in my power to return the favor.

Perhaps it’s the guilt that I feel most of the time. I have a hard time accepting help and generosity. Maybe it’s my lack of self-confidence and my constant questioning of why people want to be my friend or date me (even though my feelings of positive self-worth have steadily grown over the last couple of years). But I don’t have the ability to just let a relationship be and evolve from that.

I’m trying to rewire my brain into rethinking my relationships and its benefits (or lack of benefits). Old Andrea used to think if a relationship is not mutually beneficial and not close to a 50/50 give and take, it’s not a true relationship. A transactional relationship is one where both parties are in it for themselves, where partners do things for each other with the expectation of reciprocation. People tend to date a person because of what they get out of it (sex, date nights, whatever). There are some relationships reach where people do things for each other just to make the other person happy. Some relationships transcend selfishness and reach a place where both partners are happy in large part because the other partner is happy without getting anything else out of it. So, how do I do that? How do I fix my brain to be more accepting?

This makes me wonder if these relationships are genuine or are we all just using each other in some way. I like to believe the former because I truly care about the people in my life and I would do just about anything for anyone. So, why can’t I believe that those same people would do the same for me just out of the kindness of their hearts?

How are your relationships, dear reader? Do they feel transactional or more genuine?

#LoveInTheTime…

I’m in a bit of pickle. I’m trying to determine if I’m settling (or not) with my boyfriend.

Quick back story: we met in the beginning of March on a dating app. The first couple of dates went great and we decided to quarantine together, jumping feet first into a relationship and holing up in his apartment. Flash forward to today: we celebrated our one month anniversary and now, I feel lost.

I like to preface what I’m about to write with that I always find something to sabotage my relationships with. I have to fight my desire for instability. I suffer from perfectionism– I need my relationships to be perfect and can’t accept them just being good. The relationship that I’m in right now is good– he is sweet, smart and unbelievably handsome. He thinks that I’m amazing. We get along well. I should be happy. But I’m not. We don’t have much in common. I’m learning that he doesn’t have much hobbies outside of dining out. We have opposing views on serious topics like immigration. I’m questioning if I’m settling because of the current state of the world. Would we be together, as a couple, if we weren’t stuck being inside and alone due to COVID-19?

But I should give him and myself some slack, right? We didn’t expect this (COVID-19) to happen and we are both trying to the best that we can. It’s difficult to jump into something brand new during this time. I keep seeing this Instagram post floating around that says, don’t feel bad about not being productive during the era of Coronavirus. Productivity aside, I shouldn’t feel bad if everything in this relationship isn’t perfect. The world is far from perfect. I don’t want to put that much pressure on our new relationships during this strange time nevertheless. We are not our best selves at this time, right?

I think about this scene from “The Five Year Engagement,” where two of the main characters talk about choosing the right life partner. Emily Blunt’s character is unsure about her partner while her sister (played by Alison Brie) argues that you just chose someone and see what happens. I used to think that there was that one special someone that you were destined to be with for the rest of your life- I don’t think that anymore. I think people come in and out of your live for certain reasons and that most people have a lifetime of soulmates. But I do think that if you want to make a relationship work, you have to choose that person every day and let your actions reflect that choice. We choose to love and be in love. We choose to settle.

The older I get, the more I feel like I’m okay not being in a relationship. What is the benefit of being in a relationship these days, anyway? I can get companionship from my friends and something physical with a friend-with-benefits (which I have done in the past). I think about the elderly version of myself without a spouse or children to take care of me- if I got my finances in complete order, I wouldn’t need to think about a husband or a family as I could afford a nursing home and hospice care. I could make it through life alone and maybe without any disappointment caused by interpersonal relationships.

I think I’m just bitter. Or depressed. I should just ask my boyfriend for a snuggle. Or maybe I just need some alone time with my cat.

How is your relationship surviving in the time of COVID-19, dear reader?

#TwoTruths

Why, hello! It’s me!

Have you ever played the game Two Truth and a Lie? It’s popular when you’re trying to get to know someone (at least that’s what Hinge says…) The version that I’m playing is Two Truths and Then I’m Lying Down to go to Bed (I need to be up at 4am).

I’ve been thinking a lot about two different ideas the last couple of days. I turn 34 later in the week and I already had a panic attack about what I haven’t accomplished during my time on the planet. I have to admit that I have this anxiety attack every year. The older I get, the better I get about self-soothing and reminding myself that I have done A LOT with my life and that I’m okay. This past Sunday reminded me of this. After a morning of tears, I decided to hop on my bike and meet some friends for a drink. We toasted with tequila to my upcoming birthday, somehow managed to find slices of cake (sorry to the baby shower we crashed), rode our bikes through my favorite neighborhood and shared grilled cheeses. I made new friends, flirted a bit and had fun- it was the perfect end of the day and start of my birthday week.

As I biked home that evening, I thought to myself how I obsess so much about getting the “perfect” life with that job and that relationship and buying those things. My life isn’t perfect but it is pretty good. I let perfection be the enemy of good and I need to start focusing on all the good stuff in my life- my friends, my job, the fact that I live in such a beautiful city. It’s time to celebrate that. Sure, I can still work on my goals. There is still a lot that I want to achieve, especially this year. I can be driven and hungry and want a bigger, better life but still be happy.

Any new revelations with you, dear reader? (And happy March birthdays!)