#AnxietyInTheTimeOfCoronavirus


Despite the world being on fire, my anxiety levels have been surprisingly low. It’s truthfully refreshing to see the world riding the same anxiety wave that I’m usually on.  I am terrified that when things get back to “normal,” I’m going to sink back into depression, continue to have no luck job hunting and struggle financially.

But there are things that have change in my since pre-Coronavirus: I’m in a great relationship. I started applying for government positions and internships, and feel like I will hear back about them soon. The student loan payment freeze is actually beneficial to my credit score and I’ve been spending more time outside, wandering around while catching up on missed podcasts and getting ample amounts of sun. I’m not alone. I have a roof over my head. I have food. I have money (at the moment). I’m not sick. My loved ones are not sick. I’m doing good- and no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay (maybe just boring for a while). There is nothing to worry about, right?

For the times that I notice my anxiety is peaking, I go through my Burning Man checklist for mental wellness: Did I eat? Did I drink enough water? Have I gotten any exercise? Enough sun? Too much sun? Have I rested? Talked to someone about my feelings? I also started focusing on the things that I can control- the food and drink I’m putting into my body, the amount of exercise I do daily, how much social media and news briefs I consume.

I also focus on living in the moment, day-by-day. Who knows what the future holds, whether it’s a few hours from now or a few months away. I’m doing the best I can to take care of myself and those around me by constantly washing my hands, wearing gloves, practicing social distancing and staying home when I don’t have to work. I have to admit, it’s hard especially when you’re someone who likes to hug. I miss my Sunday Social Rides around the east side of Austin. I’m lonely for my friends and the places that I used to frequent regularly. My life is not perfect but it is good.

To quote my favorite Oasis song, these are crazy days but they make me shine. How are you shining, dear reader? Are you scared about the present, about the future? What anxieties are you experiencing at this time? How are you staying positive? How can I support you? Remember that we’re all in this together and that I’m here for you, as well.

#Blessing

I’ve been thinking a lot about fate these days and how we are destined for some things and not for others. Maybe fate is the wrong word. The hand of God. Manifestation. Magic. Dumb luck. Whatever. I’ve been noticing how certain recent events dominoed into each other in somewhat kismet ways…

Story time: I was supposed to go to New York City for my birthday at the beginning of the month. My friend, Tom, very graciously paid for my flight to the Big Apple and I started packing for a long weekend up north. At the last minute, Tom told me that he was going to cancel my flight, saying that COVID-19 spreading and he was scared for my safety. I was upset but I understood his rationale. I ended up spending my birthday with friends, eating dinner at my favorite Italian place. One friend told us about the guy she started dating and how they met on the dating app, Coffee Meet Bagel. Me, perhaps being bitter about love, brushed off the app but Trenna insisted that there were decent, attractive guys on there. Later that night (when I was buzzed from some birthday booze), I downloaded the app and created a profile. Two days later, I matched with Amit, an engineer who recently moved to Austin from New York City. We started texting, then met two days later for dinner and clicked. We had three dates after that and decided to quarantine together when the stay-at-home mandate was announced.

Now as I lay in bed next to Amit, I think about the timing of our relationship and how things worked out. If I went to New York, I maybe would have not met him. I’d be spending this time alone with my cat, rewatching “Gossip Girl” and “Sex and the City” to savor my recent moments in NYC. I think about the other recent luck I’ve had especially with jobs. I wish that I could say that I had the foresight of today when I quit my waitressing position a few months ago but I’m glad that I’m in the position that I am in now. With work, I was devastated when SXSW was canceled. I heard from my coworkers about the mass amount of tips I was going to receive- I really needed that money. My hours were eventually cut. But that was okay. Amit and I had a lengthy discussion during date four and decided to bunk and weather out the storm together. Since then, we spend our time together listening to music and cooking, watching movies and talking for hours upon hours. If SXWS wasn’t canceled, we wouldn’t be able to have this quality time together.

I call Austin the Curse– everything that could have gone wrong went wrong since I moved here a year and half ago- cancer, job loss, loneliness, financial problems, etc. But looking right now how things turned out, maybe Austin isn’t a curse. Maybe the city is actually a blessing in disguise. I still don’t know if everything happens for a reason or if a magic wand has waved over me, I’m grateful with how the way things turned out.

#BadBunny

Music has been my salvation during my Coronavirus quarantine. I turned my kitchen into a makeshift ballet barre where I can get some daily stretching in. I’ve been blasting reggaeton, specifically Bad Bunny’s newest album, “YHLQMDLG” (“Yo hago lo que me da la gana” or “I do whatever I want”). I love the entire album and grew excited for the videos that would steam from each single. The latest release is “Yo Perreo Sola” (note that this is the second video for this song). I’m loving this video for it’s strong stance on harassment against women.

Bad Bunny appears throughout the video in body hugging outfits, makeup and painted nails, and breasts that revile my own. He sings and dances alone, just as the song’s title says, for all the women who simply want to dance alone and safely in the club. “I wrote it from the perspective of a woman,” Bad Bunny explained to Rolling Stone in a recent interview. I have been in the club when I’ve been danced upon by men who didn’t ask permission touch me, and am feeling this message- there is finally a man who gets it.

I was first introduced to Bad Bunny when he teamed up with Drake for the song, “Mia.” In that music video, Bunny rocked painted nails, a beauty enhancement that became one of his staple features. I love and respect that Bad Bunny has never been a fan of gender norms and uses his voice to protest corruption in his native Puerto Rico and support LGBT rights. I also appreciate his emotional vulnerability- some of his lyrics reveal his fight against depression and mental illness. Bad Bunny is championing a new version of masculinity and has this eager willingness to address many of the issues other rappers (both Latin and otherwise) seem to steer away from.

I’ve read a lot of angry Tweets about the many who vowed to stop listening to his music, disgusted with what they saw in the video, as well as those who say Bad Bunny using gay and transgender culture to only boost albums sales. I truly believe that Bad Bunny is taking advantage of his popularity to resignify the model of Latino machismo culture (aka toxic traditional masculinity) by changing the narrative and aesthetic in his music and his videos (come on- the man is a supporter of pubic hair!). He is doing want he wants and he is choosing to make the world a better and more understanding place.

Gracias por tu energía positiva, Bad Bunny. And thanks for reading, dear reader. If you need a pick-me-up (I think we all do these days), I highly recommend having your own solo dance party and rock out to “YHLQMDLG.”

#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!)

#SisterInService

The beautiful cortado that I poured this morning

I have to admit that I’ve been a little elitist lately and this is my opportunity to not necessarily check my privilege but to change my perspective… Me and my boss at my new job were having a post-shift beer (shout out to Kristen!). We chatted about our customers, one woman in particular. She came in having a rough morning. I poured her a light roast and we chatted about music and the upcoming SXSW festival. After taking a few sips, she asked my name and told me that I made her morning better. Kristen overheard our conversation and complimented me. I shrugged it off but it got me thinking.

I used to work in advertising. I went to an office every day and sat a computer for eight hours. I liked my job and I was good at it (sometimes, I miss it). Since November of last year, I’ve been job hunting, hoping to find a similar office job. In the meantime, I’ve been working as a barista/waitress at a coffee shop in downtown Austin- and I love it. Back when I was in college, I used to tell myself that I was busting my balls to get a degree so I didn’t have to work in retail for the rest of my life (at the time, I worked at the campus bookstore in their clothing department). Customer service was something that I could fall back on but I wasn’t too make it my career. I needed to do something “bigger” and “better.” I come from a family of high achievers (one sister is a lawyer; the other an engineer) and have felt the stress to do something “great” with my career. Being a barista equates the working class/embarrassment/lower status and I need to strive beyond that…

I hate how the world tricks your mind like that- you need to go to college and get that desk job. You don’t spend this much time in college with this much student loan build up only to work at a coffee shop. Being a barista is not a career path. I say, why couldn’t it be? The world needs baristas and waitresses, and good ones at that who know their craft. I like making both coffee and someone’s day. I get complimented more about my positive demeanor and creativity behind the coffee counter than at any of my desk jobs. I like pouring latte art. Yeah, I get paid barely over minimum wage and I wish that I had insurance. The hours are long and sometimes, unforgiving. But I do alright with my tips. My customers and coworkers are cool. One of my customers offered to help me with my freelance taxes- for FREE. I have met so many “brothers and sisters” in the service industry and we take care of each other- I need to use both hands to count the places in Austin where I don’t pay for drinks nor an entrance fee.

I go back and forth about finding more “traditional work.” Perhaps in the long run, going back to advertising and marketing will look better on my resume. But I’m in a pretty good place right now. I’m happy with my job- that’s the first time I’ve said that in a long time. Who can say that anymore?

What do you think about customer service jobs, dear reader? (And what’s your favorite coffee drink?)

#TheArtOfBeingAlone

Me this Valentine’s Day 💕

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear reader. Today can be rough for some, to the point where certain words or actions can be triggering. I haven’t had a coupled Valentine’s Day in a while. In the past that used to bother me and I would do a lot of self-soothing to calm down my fear of being forever alone. But these days, I relish in the act of being alone. I like being solo. I take myself on dates. I try to treat my body as well as a lover possibly would. After many years and lots of therapy, I realized that I don’t need a partner. Sure, one would be great but I’m good doing just me.

Yesterday as Elli and I enjoyed cups of iced coffee and pots of hot tea, we talked how we both stopped actively dating. We both have several reasons why but the biggest conclusion was that we just wanted to focus on ourselves. Elli is in the middle of transitioning and starting a new business venture. I’m still in the middle of job hunting and trying to get my apartment together. We have a lot to focus on. Even when it comes to quote-unquote hooking up, we’re like nah.

I never thought I would be so comfortable with being alone. I spent most of my 20s and a good chunk of my early 30s chasing romance in all its various forms from one night stands to an engagement. Perhaps now I’m just bitter and no longer want to chase. Or maybe I finally learned that love will always come in my life. I’m a catch and worthy of someone’s devotion; and I know that relationships are like buses- if you missed out one, there’s another one right around the corner.

For the first time in my life, I have this overwhelming sense of peace knowing that I’m enough without someone significant in my life. That’s what Valentine’s Day should be about- the relationship we have with ourselves. As a woman who puts 110% into my romantic relationships, I’m asking myself today if I put in that same time and effort into my relationship with me. Am I getting to know myself? Do I know about the things that make me smile and hurt my feelings? Do I like those qualities? And if I don’t, what am I doing to break up with them and start anew?

Today may be the most romantic day of the year and I am single AF. But I’m not alone. I have me and I’m great company… I think I might take myself out to dinner later.

#Starfish

One day, a man ran along a beach littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore due to a recent storm. He came upon a little girl who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one. Puzzled, the man looked at the girl and asked what she was doing. Without looking up from her task, the little girl simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish. “The man chuckled aloud, “Sweetie, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?” The girl picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this parable this past week. Last year (which is weird to say since it’s only February), my friends were posting on social media photos of them now and ten years ago. I started thinking about who I was ten years ago and how much I quote-unquote glowed up. I was living in New Jersey then, working as an personal assistant and saving my money so I could move to New York City. I recently dropped out of college but dreamt of a big life for me. I saw the people that I worked with at the office. Some of my coworkers worked at that company for most of their adult life. I couldn’t understand why people chose that for themselves- there was a big world to explore and be a part of.

Me, the summer of 2010 in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I learned a lot since then- how to navigate the NYC subway system. How to properly flirt. How to build a resume and a website. I became a better writer. But I continued to have big dreams for myself. I always wanted something more- write for a massive magazine. Travel the world. Possibly save the world (in what way, I had no clue but I was determine to do it somehow). I kept thinking about to my former coworkers and telling myself, I don’t want to be like that. These days, I crave stability. I want the boring. I want to go to work, do a good job and come to my cat (or my future partner) and watch Netflix before turning into bed. While most of those big dreams I once had no longer feel achievable, a part of me still feels like I can save the world. I want to do and be more.

But what does one save the world? I’m not a billionaire who can donate a lot of money. I’m not Greta Thunberg. Sometimes, I wish that I had the brains and patience to go to medical school and become a doctor (I’ve been told on numerous occasions that I would make a great sex therapist). I do volunteer and protest on the micro-level. While I’m proud of my writing, it’s not appearing in “Vanity Fair,” getting read by millions. My life, despite all my adventures and the people I met, is pretty small. It’s not as big as I wanted to be and as of recently, I’m not okay with that.

But then, I am reminded of the starfish parable and something that a dear friend said to me. I met Elli when Elli was John. We dated for a little bit before Elli realized that she was transgender. I was (and still am) all about her transition. We spent hours talking about what it means to be a man and woman, societal pressures placed on gender and of course, having sex in a new body. Elli later told me that if it wasn’t for my love and acceptance, she wouldn’t have come out when she did. Elli is this wonderful spirit who shares her kindness and joy with so many others. When I think how I haven’t saved the world, if there was something that I could have done differently, I push those negative thoughts aside and think of Elli. There’s that one starfish swimming back to the ocean depths, happily dancing under the waves.

How have you saved the world, dear reader?

#GetUpStandUp

I’m a firm believer in standing up for what is right. While you and I, dear reader, may have different opinions about what is exactly right, I will always support equality among all people, the environment and affordable healthcare. I have participated in marches and protests. I volunteer. I raise my voice and spirit for others. I stand up for everything but myself.

My coworker pointed out my lack of a backbone the other day. I’m the “new girl” at work and have been picked on a bit. While it’s petty, I know that my coworkers are testing my limits and are curious to see what breaks me. I try my best to ignore their teasing and the gossip behind my back but it stings. No one wants to be belittled at their job, especially when they’re still learning about the role and the company. However, a large part of me wants to beat them at their own game and be rude back. I won’t be- I’m going to take the higher road and do the best that I can do at my time there. But I still need to stand up for myself. I just not sure how to go about doing so…

A work place should provide a healthy environment where everyone works together towards a greater good.  Easier said than done, especially when multiple personalities and feelings are involved. There’s jealously, imposter syndrome and apathy from all parties. In the past, I was so eager to people to like me that I would agree to do anything for them. That learned behavior has been damaging and made me a bit of a pushover. It’s nice to be nice but I was being passive. I trained my coworkers (and anyone else watching and listening) that it’s okay to take advantage of me. So, I started with saying “no” at some instances. That word is tiny yet powerful. I made sure to stand my ground when it left my lips even if I felt awkward saying it- If I’m out of my comfort zone, they can be too.

But what if you advocate for yourself a little too much? At one of my previous roles, I wasn’t given the raise that I thought that I deserved after my yearly review. I talked to my supervisor about the good work that I did for the company and local stats about the increasing cost of living. Long story short: I didn’t get the money. I thought that I was being assertive, not aggressive. I was unemotional and brought forth facts. But there were other things that I didn’t consider. Timing. People have the right to disagree and stand up for their own interests. The company’s budget. Perhaps I should have negotiated better.  Still, at the end of the day, I asked for what I wanted. I saw my worth and asked to be compensated for it.

Being easygoing and likable can get you a long way but it’s not enough just to be liked. You’ll also need to be respected. No one has the authority to invalidate you- including yourself. How do you stand up for yourself, dear reader?

#NotToday

I’ve been looking for a new position for the past several weeks. I’m getting interviews, LOTS of interviews, but nothing has cemented. I’ve been racking my brain to understand why I’m not getting asked back for second or third interviews and I think that I finally figured out the culprit. Say hello to my little friend: impostor syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern when an individual feels like a failure or doubts their accomplishments, often having an internalized fear of being called out as a fraud. And I’m not alone- 70% of all people experience these feelings at some point in their lives. We get consumed with all these thoughts of inadequacy: “I’m not good enough.” “It was just luck.” “Anyone could’ve done that.” “I have no idea what I’m doing.” “I don’t deserve to be here.” These words run through my head as I stumble over my words during phone interviews. I have a difficult time talking about my professional accomplishments and about myself, in general.

The imposter has followed me throughout school (since at least middle school) and the majority of roles in my career. I think about one of my previous roles where I spent the first two weeks of the job, convincing myself that my boss made a mistake with hiring me. They would find out that I can’t write nor perform any other one of my job responsibilities because I was “stupid.” That feeling was so overwhelming and hovered over me throughout most of my time with that position. I never felt like I belonged there even if I was producing good work. Even now as I wait tables, there is something in my head that tells me that I’m a terrible server. I screams loudly saying that my customers hate the service I provide them (and won’t tip me)l that my coworkers think I’m incompetent and I eventually will trip on an untied shoelace and spill trays of food all over the floor. That is far from the truth- I’ve had some of the most wonderful interactions with my customers. I haven’t spilled anything yet and I can’t control my coworkers thoughts so whatevs.

As I try to unpack where exactly these feelings inadequacies steam from, I don’t want to do another phone interview where I feel like I’m lying about my talents and my skills. So, how do I beat this? I battle the feeling by reminding myself that not only am I smart but I am capable of doing the work efficiently and effectively. If I don’t know something, I can learn how to do it. I’m a worthy hire and a goddamn good employee. I’m great; I know my stuff and I can do this.

I believe my own experiences stem from the “need to be the best” and the fear of failure. But I’m learning how to recognize the imposter and push it out of the way. I started talking myself up before interviews as if I was my own personal cheerleader. If you’re always telling yourself that you’re not good enough and that you don’t deserve anything, then you’ll never feel worthy of anything life gives you. If you say negative language to yourself often enough (like me), you will start performing in a way that hinders you, possibly hurting your career and furthering your illusions. Sure, I know that I’m not the smartest, most skilled person in the room but I am still pretty brilliant in my own way.

Talk is great but taking action can work wonders, as well. I need to own my achievements. I recently updated my website to reflect the amount of work I’ve had published. Sometimes, its takes a visual representation to convince yourself- wow! I’ve done a lot of good work. There is the proof! I am able to see that I wrote one solid piece and people continued to hire me for my writing. Better yet, people still read my pieces!

But now, if you could excuse me. I have an interview to prepare for. (Wish me luck!) How do you battle your imposter syndrome, dear reader?

#ChasingAFeeling

Forever chasing the sun ☀️

Well, I got them. I got them rave blues.

It would be an understatement to say that I fell into a depression after leaving the cruise ship last week. I didn’t want to go home, back to my problems and cloudy Texas skies.  I had this overwhelming feeling of dread and my heart hurt as if I was going through a terrible breakup. The Tuesday morning I got back home, I laid in bed for a while, anxious and trying to figure out what I could do to keep those feelings of complete bliss going. How could I elongate this happiness?

I’ve been thinking a lot of about happiness this week, especially about what makes me happy. I have to admit that I’m not a happy person. I wouldn’t say that I’m a “Negative Nancy,” per se. But I’ve been around the block or two. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve experienced a lot. I know how the world works and the world isn’t kind. I’ve spent most of my life just trying to survive and now, I’m stuck in survivalist mode. I’m a realist. However, I’ve always been envious of those who know that the life can be hard and still wake up every morning with a smile on their face. How do they do that? How could I do that?

I started on the physical components of what would make me happiest. This past week, I begin to incorporate things that I did on the cruise to my daily routine: eating good food consistently, drinking lots of water, dancing and listening to certain music to pump myself up, getting in 10,000 steps every day, being social and remembering to be gracious with saying “thank you.” So far, so good- I even ran twice this week. My body feels great. It’s feels strong and flexible. Mentally, it’s been a tougher path. When I think back on moments of the cruise, my thoughts start turning sour and I want to cry. Instead, I’ve been throwing myself into projects that will only better me: updating my website, applying for jobs, researching flights and online Spanish classes, writing and reaching out to some friends. While I haven’t managed to emulate that exact Groove Cruise feeling, I’ve gotten pretty close. I’ve been noticing each thought, each pattern in my head. I focus on the positive ones and how they make me feel. Like when I received a funny WhatsApp message, I think about the friend who sent that message and our memories together. I then send them light and love across the universe and tell myself that they send it back to me- we all want each other to be happy and thrive. My heart then feels full and my body relaxes.

I know that I will not be able to replicate that exact feeling every minute of every day. Life will always get in the way. Happiness is a fleeting emotion just like sadness is. It comes and goes in waves. It’s a balancing act. But I am determine to stay this happy. Quite frankly, though, I don’t know what I’m doing. When you’re depressed for so long, you forget about the things that made you once happy. I’m still discovering the things that currently bring me joy but I feel like I’m on my way to becoming that radiant ball of glowing sunshine. It just take a little extra effort and hey, I’m trying.

How have you been feeling, dear reader? Are you happy?