There are two types of people: those who experienced their glory days in high school, and those who experienced an endless nightmare. People will say that college is a “fresh start” in terms of establishing your status and persona amongst your peers. You no longer have to worry about the football captain throwing spitballs in your hair, or the “Regina George” of your school making fun of your outfits every single day. Although these people may not be around anymore physically, the experience you go through from age 3 to 18 will essentially affect the rest of your life for better or for worse.
I recently finished Mitch Prinstein’s book, Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World. I can’t lie, I was considered “popular” in high school. I was one of the captains of the soccer team, I was a cheerleader in middle school, and I was in the top 6 finalists for Homecoming Queen. On the outside, it appears that I had a dandy high school experience; hanging out with the “cool kids,” dating the most popular boys in the school, and being known by pretty much everyone in my gradating class. I was pretty, smart, and athletic. If you have any of the same characteristics, you were probably considered “popular” in high school, too.
However, when I look back on my high school experience, I can’t say that I was necessarily ‘happy.’ The thing about being part of the popular crowd is that I always had anxiety circulating my mind about what people thought of me. Since most of the school actually knows who you are, you are constantly in the spotlight. Other students look at you walking down the hall, keep up to date with who you are dating, check online profiles for the most recent gossip, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely aware that my high school experience was probably ideal compared to many. I was not fiercely bullied or made fun of or laughed at. I had my moments too, though, and would come home crying when people made fun of the way I did my makeup, or call me “the anorexic girl” behind my back. When you are in the spotlight, you are held to a higher standard than everyone else. You are expected to look pretty everyday, have the nicest clothes, and have the most confidence. I, however, struggled heavily in the confidence department, so I tried to make up for it by overcompensating in the other 2 categories. This meant: waking up extremely early every day to do my makeup and straighten my hair (I don’t remember ever going to school without makeup on), and picking out an outfit styled with the latest brands like Juicy Couture, Abercrombie & Fitch, Seven for all Mankind, etc.
I know what you’re thinking, “Oh God, what a harddddd life you had. You must have been so exhausting trying to look pretty every day while the other students were bullied and harassed in the middle of every class.” Trust me, I know I had it better than others. I know that many people would have traded places with me. The point I am trying to make here is that popularity does not end after high school. What you went through in your adolescent years does not disappear after graduation. There is no “clean slate” in college. What you go through in adolescence affects there rest of your life: your career, your relationships, etc. It affects what you choose to seek later on in life – status or happiness.
However, both Paris Hilton and Donald Trump are not the most “liked” celebrities out there. They are not necessarily two celebrities who you would say #goals to (unless you are a radical, irrational, and close-minded Republican), or celebrities that you would probably want to hang out with if you had the chance. This is where “likability” comes in. Being likable is the most determining factor of happiness. When you are well liked, people want to be around you, and think of you as a positive influence in their life. Well liked people are often understanding, humorous, good listeners, and compassionate. Some well-liked celebrities are Ellen DeGeneres, Beyonce, Tom Hanks, etc (there was so much on Tom Hanks had to include another hyperlink here on how cute and awesome he is). Compare these 3 celebrities to the Kardashians, and most people will choose to spend time with the first group. This is likability vs. status.
The thing is, many people believe that just because you were popular in high school, means that you will go forward being a successful human later in life. In essence, it’s hard to have a high status and high likability factor. Many people correlate high status with characteristics like: egotistical, selfish, narcissistic, self-centered, petty, etc. Ever see previews of that show Rich Kids of Beverly Hills? Or theReal Housewives? They come off extremely pretentious, exposing their lavish lifestyles to the rest of the world, AKA, people who come no where close to their financial status. Many of these people do not have the best approval rating compared to the rest of the world. Therefore, it is a challenge for them to essentially humanize their life – make it seem like they are “just one of us.” They are put on this pedestal that has a negative connotation many times, so they have to try and show their ‘likable’ side if they want to succeed even more in life (which equates with either making more money because all rich people want to become richer – or becoming happier – since of course having a high status does not make you happy).
The likability factor in popularity is key. Many of the popular kids you knew in high school who were just popular due to their financial status (being the rich kid), their looks (best looking of the grade), or their athletic ability (senior captain, fastest player, etc) do not end up the most successful or the happiest people later on in life according to Prinstein. The thing is, having a higher status will not make you happier. Being popular in high school will not guarantee you to become a reality TV star or the most popular person at your new job. So how does this relate to the digital revolution?
Right now, we are living in a society where everything you do or say is displayed on social media. Due to the rise of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social networking sites, we have essentially become obsessed with sharing our lives with the rest of the world. Social media marketing is one of the most successful forms of advertising in 2017. Brands are learning how to infiltrate your news feeds and timelines, and you will rarely see a company that does not have a Facebook or Twitter link on their Contact Us page. Although social media is supposed to be about connecting with each other, I believe it has become a medium we use to advertise ourselves as who we want to be, not who we really are. We use social media to share our “edited selves” rather than our “authentic selves.” And no matter how much we deny it, all of us just want to be liked by others.
Therefore, the power of likability is extremely relative to how we portray ourselves on social media. We have become a society who gains instant gratification from new followers and likes on the last selfie we posted. We feel more confident in ourselves when someone leaves a comment on our page telling us how skinny we look, or #bodygoals. We are constantly seeking gratification from others – whether it be strangers online or our close friends – it’s become an unhealthy obsession.
It’s normal for us to feel good about ourselves when someone compliments us – why wouldn’t we smile and have a spark of happiness? Yet, we have become so dependent on relying on other’s for acceptance, that is has completely transformed the way we display ourselves online. We are desperately seeking that likability and status combo – we want to appear like we have an awesome life, but we also want people to tell us how great they think we are. Both popular and unpopular people go through this, as popular people seek to keep up their image, and unpopular people seek to repair theirs. Typically, the more we try to impress people with our amenities and advanced status, the unhappier we become.
I know it’s a sore subject, but how many times have you read about celebrities who have committed suicide or battled with depression? You would think the #LifestylesOfTheRichAndFamous (thanks Good Charlotte) are the ones with the happiest people since they attain everything that us plebes do not have. Do you see the pattern yet? Status does not equal happiness. Status does not equal happiness. Status does not equal happiness. If you were unpopular in high school and thought the “popular” kids had it all, think again.
In conclusion, it is important to realize that most people who are popular have a hard time achieving both likability and status. There are some, like the celebrities I mentioned earlier, who are definitely well-liked and well-accomplished. However, I think most of us automatically think of status first when thinking about success. When we think about “being successful,” we typically correlate it with material goods like nice cars, big houses, and designer clothes. In reality, most of us just want to live a life where they don’t hate their job, they don’t have to battle through a divorce, and they don’t have to face much confrontation. Whether that means living in an apartment in NYC or on a small ranch in Montana, your desire to be happy will be more dependent on how likable you are, rather than what social status you’ve acquired. In the end, isn’t happiness the greatest form of success?
Concentrate on your positive qualities rather than your impressive quantities.
For someone who has been on almost 50 first dates, I have a hell lot to say about “dating” in 2017. I’m always surprised when I come across people who tell me they’ve only been on a few dates their whole life (and they are around the same age as me: 25). This is either because they have been with their high school sweetheart for the past 5-10 years, they are legit scared to go on dates, or because they are just really fucking ugly. HA, #JustKidding. No, it’s because in 2017 – we live in the era of the fuckboy, the era of Netflix & Chill, the era of “wyd?” texts at 3 a.m, the era of “sliding into her DM’s.” Have you ever seen any of those old movies from the 50’s or 60’s? There’s this movie (that used to be my mom’s favorite) called Bye, Bye Birdie. In the movie, the high school boy has a big crush on this beautiful girl. What does he do? He gives her a pin and asks if she “will go steady” with him. IMAGINE IF A GUY DID THAT IN 2017?!
For the past 4-5 years that I have been single, I have learned a lotttttttttttttttt. I have a lot of friends that were in 3-5 year relationships, then they break up, and now have no idea how to “be single” or “date” again. What do they do? They come to me and ask what to talk about, what to wear, where to go, etc. Since I have been single for what seems like an eternity, have been on countless dates when males of all ages, and have read several books on dating, I figured that I can provide some insight on what it’s like dating in this very baffling era.
1). The chase is real, but you don’t have to ‘play games.’ Listen, I hate when people told me, “you have to play hard to get.” It’s one of the stupid dating cliches you seem to hear from everyone. The thing is, you don’t have to “play” hard to get, you just have to have your priorities straight. When we start to like someone and get excited about a possible future with them, we drop everything and make time to see them. We forget about all the other shit we prioritize like going to the gym, meeting our friend for coffee, finishing that blog piece, etc. When we get that, “Hey what are you doing tonight?” text, we tend to wash away any plans we had previously made, and make room to see this person. I have been this person for most of my dating life. Whenever a guy asked to hangout but I had plans to workout, I would tell them, “Hey! Not doing anything tonight. What’s up?” Or how about when they ask, “What are you up to this weekend?” and you respond with, “Nothing, how about you?” You’re making yourself seem like you have nothing going on in your life except making yourself available to see him/her, which translates as “easy.” It’s easy to make plans with you, it’s easy to hang out with you, it’s easy to win you over. We don’t want to be easy. I don’t know about you, but I am attracted to a guy who has shit to do — AKA, not laying around all weekend doing nothing. So when people say, “play hard to get” – don’t think of it as playing games with someone. Think of it as setting your priorities straight and not dropping other important things in your life just for this one person. This other person will likely respect that you are busy and have a lot going on – which will make you appear more attractive since it shows that they have to put in some work to win over time in your jam-packed life.
2). Chivalry is mostly dead, but not completely. What constitutes a date for you? For me, it’s dinner, a movie, going to a museum, meeting for drinks, etc. I have (swear to God) met some girls who told me that they went on a date, and when they started to explain the details about it, it was really just them going over to a guy’s apartment and watching a movie on their couch. NOOOOOO. This is NOT A DATE. There is not one person to blame here, it’s everyone. It’s that the guy probably heard his friends getting away with this pathetic attempt at winning over a girl’s emotions, *they succeeded* – and so the guy gives it a go himself – and he succeeds, too! The more we validate this as an acceptable form of “hanging out,” the more it will happen. Why would a guy pay for your dinner when he can get away with just inviting you over – not spending any money, not having to dress up, not having to get in a car and drive somewhere, etc. It makes sense honestly, so the guy is not the only one to blame. However, I have been on many dates where the guy still goes “old school” as I like to call it. For the most part, a lot of the dates I have been on have been meeting for drinks and dinner. Even if I offer, the guy has almost always paid the bill. The most chivalrous date I have been on was when a guy drove from Manhattan to Philadelphia to take me out. He did the following: came to my door when he was at my apartment (instead of texting “here” like most do), opened the car door for me, made me walk on the inside of the street (which I didn’t even know was a ‘thing’ at the time), paid for my dinner and drinks, and walked me to my door when the night was over. Whether or not this was genuine or just for show, the guy actually put in effort – which is almost obsolete in this day and age. I am telling you that there are still guys out there who will do these things for you, you just need to stop settling for the ones who won’t.#NetflixAndChillIsCoolButNotOnDatesOneTwoOrThree
3). Dating is like going on interviews, just go, no matter how much you don’t want to. I bet you have been asked out by a guy who you just felt, “meh” about. He asked you out, and you said yes, but then when it comes to the day before the date, you wanna bail and cancel. DON’T. Unless you have a legit conflict (or he’s your friend’s ex-boyfriend #GirlCode), just go on the date. Dating is like going on interviews because the more experience, the better. You are obviously not going to get every job you interview for, but with more interview experience, the more comfortable you feel. Practice makes perfect, and when you go on your first few interviews, you feel nervous as fuck. But after 8-10 interviews, it’s not as threatening as it was before. Same thing with dating. You’ll find yourself less jittery before the date and more of your comfortable normal self. The second point is another famous cliche, “never judge a book by it’s cover.” Just because you’re not crazy about this guy from the bat, doesn’t mean you know his full story. Give it a chance, you never know who will surprise you. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t get the job? You don’t like the guy? Cool, then you don’t have to see them again. You don’t have to live with the regret of what could have happened.
4). Live in the moment. Live in the moment. Live in the moment. *The most important piece of advice I have absorbed over the past year. My therapist once told me this, and I said, “How though?” Trust me, it takes time to train your mind to think this way. Females are notorious for thinking about the future: is he the marrying type? I wonder how many kids he wants? Is his job stable for our future? – Whenever we have a good date, we start painting pictures in our head with this person – don’t lie, I know you’ve done it before. This is normal, especially females, since society likes to put these strict timelines in front of us: don’t get married after 35, don’t get married before 25, if you’re 40, it’s too late – blah, blah, blah. Females tend to overthink everything, hence why we have been labeled “crazy” by the male population. We overthink things because we are insecure – plain and simple. All of this thinking about the future and questioning this stranger’s potential with us makes us fucking miserable. Because you know what? Half the time we start getting excited about the “future” or thinking ahead, it never actually happens – and then we start reminiscing about the past and questioning what we did wrong. Just live in the moment, enjoy the date – if he texts you after, awesome. If he doesn’t, cool. His loss. Continue to build up your confidence in the “now” so you do not have to question your own actions by overthinking.
5). You can blame the dude, but you can’t blame the dude for everything. Listen, I am the first one to admit that guys are assholes. I mean, I have a section on here that talks about how guys are “fuckboys.” However, we have to take some responsibility, ladies. You see so many memes and stories online of females blaming dudes for EVERYTHING in the relationship. I look back on my 2 serious relationships, and in the moment, I thought I was an angel, lol. I look back now and say, “Gosh, I was not such a great girlfriend.” I look back and realize a lot of the things I said or did, and notice the lack of clarity in my judgment or communication. Look at the quote, “Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.” Just because I made mistakes, doesn’t mean I failed at being a girlfriend. I tell everyone that I learned SO much in both of my relationships, like… SO much that I think I would be an awesome girlfriend right now, lol. My last boyfriend cheated on me, but I would never say that the relationship ending was “his fault.” I made a ton of mistakes in that relationship, essentially because I was not mentally healthy for one. AM I condoning his cheating? No. But it’s not the only reason the relationship failed. Guys are assholes, ladies, but we have to take ownership of our screw-ups, too.
6). Age is just a number. I’m not gonna lie, I have my ‘dating age range’ of guys who I would consider date-able, however for me, this is more just about having a partner that is healthy and young to still want to have kids and/or able to. So being 25, my [ideal] age range is 25-35. Yet, this doesn’t mean that I will not accept a date with a 24 year old who is mature, successful, and has the same goals as I do. I hear so many people say they won’t date someone younger than them, or they won’t date someone older than 30. Why? I have met 21 year old’s more mature than 27 year olds I have dated. A lot of people say that ‘boys never grow up’ or that some don’t become a man until they become a dad. I agree with the fact that males are typically more immature than females, but just because a guy is a dad, does not mean he is necessarily more mature than a guy who does not have kids. If you are someone who is somewhat ‘ageist‘ – chill, most of the time we cannot even guess people’s ages correctly. Most people think I am 21-22. So just give everyone a chance, or maybe don’t even ask about their age in the first place.
7). Most of us are not even ready to date, yet, we do. Was I ready to date my ex-boyfriend in 2012? Nope. Did I anyway? Yes. However at the time, I had no idea how insecure and emotionally unstable I was. Like I said before, I look back now and realize how many serious mistakes I made in the past when it comes to dating. Unfortunately, a lot of people are afraid of talking about their weaknesses or insecurities. Another handful of people are living in denial, so they don’t even believe they have any flaws in their persona (the ones who blame their partner for everything). Take a look at some statistics here and here about women/girls and their levels of self-confidence and self-esteem. When we lack confidence and self-awareness, our perception is essentially distorted. We are overly sensitive and take things too personally. We lash out on others (our partners usually) because we are battling with ourselves internally. How many relationships have you heard of or seen where neither person trusts each other? Insecurity. Accused of cheating? Insecurity. Can’t be friends with the opposite sex? Insecurity. When we jump into relationships and do not have strong/stable mental and emotional health, we are bound to run into layers of obstacles and battles with our partner. Therefore, be honest with yourself: do you like the way you look in the mirror? can you rattle off 10 things you love about yourself without thinking? can you be alone for a period of time without feeling lonely? do you care about how many likes or followers you have on Instagram? If you have any hesitance about those questions, it’s probably not the best time to get into a relationship. *You have to love yourself before anyone can love you* #Cliche #IKnow #ButSoTrue
8). Fuck the movies. Whether movies are based on a true story or completely fictional, they.are.movies. Actors are “performers,” they are not giving you the 100% true reality of an occurrence. They practice how to be dramatic in order to elicit an emotion/reaction from the audience. Although some of these scenes you see in movies and on TV may appear realistic, just take it with a grain of salt. Stop comparing your love life to Hollywood’s portrayal of it, it’s no way to live your life in your twenties.
9). You can text him first and you won’t die. What is the most popular ‘dating rule’ you have ever heard of? For me, it’s “don’t text the guy first.” For the most part, I have followed this rule. According to a favorite Millennial movie, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” if someone wants to see you, they will make it happen – right? If a guy wants to date you, then he’ll ask you out. Obviously from these statements, we are lead to believe that we should just wait to see if he texts us. While I don’t necessarily think this is terrible advice, I believe that if you really had a good vibe or feeling from the date, you can reach out to him first. Since last time I checked, most humans aren’t mind-readers. What’s the worst that can happen? He doesn’t answer? He says no? Okay, so move on with your life, lol. It’s that simple. I feel like some females think texting the guy first is like committing social suicide – as if everyone will think you are some desperate sad girl. The last guy I was dating, I met him out with my friends on a Wednesday night. We had an awesome time, he gave me his number, and after 1 week of not hearing from him, I texted him the next Wednesday and asked to meet for drinks. He said yes. When I asked him in person why he didn’t text me, he said, “I was waiting till Thursday to text you.” Lol. So honestly, don’t get worked up. Sometimes they are just as nervous or skeptical about what to say as we are (which my guy friends have admitted to me as well). Give it some time after the first date. If you really felt something, text him, and if he is busy or doesn’t text back… #OnToTheNextOne.
10). Stay off his social media unless you want to drive yourself insane. Guys do it, but girls do it better: social stalking. Guys, most of us have already [cyberly] met your 1st cousins and memorized the name of the hotel you stayed at during your vacation to Cancun last summer by the 2nd date. Why? Because we want to know MORE. We want to know your history, what girl you dated in the past, what do you do on the weekend, are you a selfie-dude? etc. However, most of the time we are looking for 1 thing: the ex-girlfriend. We find the ex-girlfriend, then read the captions he posted about her, go to her profile, judge her hair, makeup, body, & clothes, and then live in misery comparing ourselves to her. We’ve all done it, and I even know some girls who have created a fake Facebook just for stalking purposes. Not.Kidding. While it’s almost like second nature to instantly check out his social media pages, try to refrain yourself from doing it, I don’t know, less than twice a day? Less than 5 times a day? One of my favorite quotes is, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” We naturally compare ourselves without even thinking about it – it’s how we are wired [especially] in the age of social media. Since like 80-90% of females have admitted to feeling insecure, looking at his ex-girlfriend(s) will most likely just strengthen your self-doubts – leading to fights, arguments, lack of trust, loyalty, etc.
Last words… This is my personal take on Dating in 2017. Summary?It kind of sucks. With social media so prevalent and invasive, it’s easy to drive yourself completely insane before, during, and after a date. Instead of phone calls, people text you, DM you, or Snapchat you – nothing seems special anymore. There are times when I have called a guy and they picked up the phone confused, like if something was terribly wrong. I doubt these current behaviors and standards of ‘society’ will actually change, so it’s all about who you choose to spend time around and what you will and will not tolerate/accept. It’s up to you to accept or deny a “netflix and chill” hangout, it’s up to you to text him first or not, it’s up to you to work on your self-esteem before going out in the dating battlefield. Most people like to just blame “fuckboys” or blame where the met someone, or the shitty day they were having that affected their mood/vibe. You are in control of all your problems, and you are in control of what you define as a ‘problem.’ This is all subjective. You can choose to answer a 3 a.m. “wyd” text, or call him out on his shit. Standards. Standards. Standards.
In order to adopt a successful dating life (I don’t mean getting a boyfriend after the first date – I mean meeting high quality people, networking, feeling good about yourself, enjoying new experiences, etc), you have to believe in your own awesomeness and set standards. Don’t let the fuckboy get the best of you 😉
****You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with**** – This has been the most important lesson I have learned over the past few years especially. I’ve learned that it is OKAY to eliminate people from your life, or take a step back from them if you feel they are not the best influence towards your goals and attitude. In the past, I did everything I could to avoid confrontation (I would just say ‘yes’ to everything). All I wanted was for everyone to like me. After realizing that (1) it is impossible for everyone to like you, and (2) confrontation is a part of life that is never going away, I finally began to distance myself from friends who had a pessimistic attitude, valued materialism and social status, abused drugs or alcohol, etc. I realized that many of these people were interfering with my personal growth and progress, and if I want to be successful, I have to surround myself around other successful people… not losers.
It’s okay to say no. Naturally, females have a difficult time saying “no.” We are the ones who constantly say “sorry” and apologize for such ludicrous things. I was the person who dropped whatever I was doing to hangout with a guy just to please him, or I would agree to go somewhere with my friends when I really just wanted to stay home. I have finally been able to say “no” when I don’t want to do something, or offer other options when I have prior plans already made.
Half your friends are engaged or married, and half your friends are just as lost as you are. Self-explanatory. It’s a pretty even divide at this age of people you know who are set on their soulmate, and others who are still swiping right or left on Tinder during their commute (I vowed to no longer use Tinder as it’s never been a successful platform for me, however, I LinkedIn request handsome men who work for companies in my building like Cushman & Wakefield. So now you can feel better about yourself for using Tinder or Bumble since I’m way more creepier. Also, so far it’s had a 0% success rate). It’s okay to be single when you’re 25. It’s okay to be single when you’re 30, 35, 40, etc. Single at 25 > Divorced at 30.
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Take risks. Sit at a bar by yourself. Go to the movies by yourself. Ask a guy out. Compliment a stranger. Wear something you wouldn’t usually wear. Whatever feels “weird” to you, do it. Nothing is worse than only doing what feels “comfortable” to you your whole life. There are so many things I used to fear when I was younger, like going to a bar by myself, publishing my blog pieces and sharing them on Facebook, uploading a gym selfie to Instagram – LOL, no joke (now it’s like a gym selfie every other day #noshame #ididntalwayshaveabuttsoiamproudofit). I used to worry so much about the possible repercussions or what people thought of me. Which brings me to my next point…
Life is so much better when you stop caring what other people think about you. I wrote a blog piece about this when I used to write for Thought Catalog. I explained that throughout my whole life, all I cared about was what others thought about me. I thrived off of the approval of others. All I wanted was for people to compliment my outfits or say that I looked skinny. After the 30 seconds of internal gratification, the happiness fades. You can’t live your life for someone else. We are all genetically different creatures, and we all will have different opinions on things. Just because something is “out of season” or labeled as “un-trendy” doesn’t mean you can’t wear it. Just because your friend said she hates when you wear purple eyeshadow, doesn’t mean you can’t wear it. Just because your parents don’t like your boyfriend’s haircut, doesn’t mean you can’t date him. You have to do what makes you happy. I spent a huge portion of my life trying to live for other people – making sure they would approve of me, and you see how that turned out?–I was almost hospitalized and sent to rehab for an eating disorder and have been on anti-anxiety/depression meds for over 12 years. In conclusion: do what you wanna do.
Always stay a student. This is one of the most important takeaways I have absorbed from my latest read, Ego is the Enemy. You’ll come across a lot of people in your life who are those annoying AF “I-know-it-all” people. At work you will come across horrid managers who disregard every one of your suggestions. At family gatherings you will run into that one relative whose only existence seems to spread their ‘superior‘ political opinion across the buffet table. In order to prevent yourself from turning into a close-minded egotistical asshole, you need to open your mind to obtaining new and foreign knowledge. How do you do this? Read. Read. Keep reading. Travel. Research. Read. Just because you are passionate about your religion, doesn’t mind you can’t learn about another one. No one is asking you to change your beliefs or values. The more you know, the more you grow. Knowledge is power. Uncertainty is the root of all progress and all growth.
You choose your peers, not your parents. Similar to number (1), but emphasizing that your parents are your parents, so whatever stupid things you disagree with with them, get over it. Unfortunately I cannot say this about everyone’s parents, but most parents just want the best for you at the end of the day. When we are in the midst of a heated argument and livid with frustration, we don’t realize the reasoning behind what our parents say or do. They gave you food to eat and clothes to wear on your back – they want you to succeed. They want you to live a better life than they did. Accept that you won’t always agree with what they say, and embrace all the little (or big) things that they have done for you that often go unnoticed. If you don’t have the best relationship or support system from your parents – that’s OK – you can choose your peers, they are not picked for you. Surround yourself with the best support system who will lift you up if your parents cannot.
You’re gonna have a job that sucks, and it’s OK to quit. Do what makes you happy. It is rare that someone walks straight out of college, and lives the next 40-50 years, bounces from job to job and loves each and every one of them. My last job was absolute hell. It was quite similar to The Devil Wears Prada in many ways: it was located in the competitive heart of New York City, I worked with 40+ aggressively opinionated women, I stayed at the office past 10pm most nights, my work phone went off every minute of the day, I worked on weekends, holidays, etc. I was legit miserable. It was the first time I actually threw up from anxiety, and woke up with horrendous panic attacks. I had a condescending manager who would give me back-handed compliments or talk down to me like I was a 16 year old. One day when I had to work on a Sunday, I decided that I’ve finally had enough. I completed the assignment I had to do after 3 hours, cleared my laptop and work phone, and laid them on my desk with my badge before exiting the building. I [happily] quit. Initially I felt like a failure, and labeled myself as a “quitter,” yet my mental, physical, and emotional health was truly being compromised. I’ve never felt so exhausted in my life. My health is my number 1 priority, not some stupid entry-level job that thinks body lotion is just as important as brain surgery. The agency work-life balance has essentially become nonexistent. I took some time off, was picky in offers to accept, and now I am working at a great company with an awesome manager and co-workers. Jobs are jobs, not a death sentence.
Do as best as you can to live in the moment. All my family and friends know how much I battle with anxiety and panic attacks. Anyone who has lived with anxiety knows that: it can happen at any time, there can be no reason why you are having anxiety, it can feel like it’s the end of the world, and lastly… it’s temporary. I remember my therapist telling me in college, “The feeling doesn’t last forever. It will go away.” Whenever I have anxiety/panic attacks now, that is what I recite in my head, since sometimes during a panic attack you feel like you’re world is ending one second at a time. I get a lot of anxiety when I think about the future or the past. I think about mistakes I made, or I think about what may or may not happen in the future. This is the perfect thing to do if you want to drive yourself completely insane. I’ve learned that when in comes to your career, your friendships, your dating life [especially], just live in the moment. Stop thinking about whether you and this guy will evolve into a relationship. Stop thinking about whether you will get that promotion within the next 6 months. Live in the now – enjoy the happiness you have with this guy currently, and work your ass off in the role you are in now. I can’t tell you how much this has helped especially in my dating life. If you’re happy now, enjoy it. Don’t stress yourself out by thinking about the what if’s. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
You have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors. One of my biggest weaknesses is comparing myself to others. My whole life I wanted to be the skinniest girl out of my friend group, or the girl who had the best fashion sense. If I noticed someone else who was smarter, prettier, or skinnier than I was, I would immediately start comparing myself to them and pointing out all my flaws. Want to know how to make yourself miserable in less than a few minutes? Compare yourself to others. I have done this for the majority of my life, and I ended up with multiple mental disorders and thoughts about suicide. It is the WORST thing you can do to yourself. The reality is that there is always going to be someone who is taller, richer, smarter, prettier, or skinnier than you are. Always. The worst part about comparing yourself to others is that we only can notice a fraction of their life. Maybe a girl is skinnier than you, but maybe she’s also throwing up all her meals. Maybe your best friend has nicer clothes than you, but maybe she’s also in $20,000 of debt. You have NO IDEA what is going on behind closed doors. Look at all these famous celebrities — they appear to have it all: the clothes, the cars, the relationship, the money. Then out of the blue, you hear that they are battling with depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, suicidal attempts, etc. As cliché as it is, you can never judge a book by it’s cover. You never know the full story of someone’s life but your own. If you want to be any of the above characteristics, then you can – but you will still always be you. You will never be anyone else, and they can never be you. Once I stopped comparing myself to other people and said to myself, “Who knows what’s going on in their life,” my happiness started to peak through more and more. Comparison is the thief of joy.
Because recently I have been getting super emotional and anxious about my dating life. Apparently the type I attract are the ones who are “the vanishers” – aka – the ones who fall off the planet all of a sudden, stop answering to your texts, and brainwash me into thinking like I did something wrong.
For so long I would absolutely blame myself and say, “I shouldn’t have done that,” or “I probably came off too strong,” or “I probably should of worn more makeup or dressed nicer that night.” And honestly, when this recent vanisher stopped answering me, I did do that for a few hours. I kept saying to myself, “Maybe I was coming off too strong – coming off too aggressive – making things seem too serious?” But right now, I’m like, “Fuck this shit already.” I’m so tired of blaming myself, and seeing other girls feel helplessly confused in these situations like I have, wayyyyy too many times.
We [females] constantly think WE are the ones who did something wrong, when you know… maybe we did come off too strong or too aggressive or whatever — but that doesn’t make us WRONG. I know how much guys like to throw around the word “crazy” when talking about females who constantly are texting them if they are not answering. To be fair, yes… some girls can act freaking psychotic sometimes. There are memes and videos online making fun of “crazy girls,” and I actually laugh at a lot of them without feeling attacked or defensive. Yet from the guy’s perspective, they usually are thinking, “I mean if I’m not answering don’t you get the point?” Yeah, I totally do… even though I guess I still don’t understand the difficulty level of sending a text. Is it uncomfortable? Yeah, it usually is. So what do we do? Run from the uncomfortable because why the hell would we want to put ourselves in that kind of situation?! But honestly, if we only saw each other 1-3 times, then I get it, doesn’t really need an explanation at all since nothing even really started. That’s acceptable in my book. Cause you know what, I do that too. My guy friends actually told me, “Just ignore him if you are not interested, he will get the point.” So I started to do this, but mainly to just creepy guys DMing me on Instagram or Twitter asking for pictures or to “hang out sometime.” For the most part, they do get the point, and other times, they do not. That’s when the nifty “block” feature comes in handy.
But when a guy just stops answering me after hanging out 8-10 times, telling me “I love and miss you,” and introduces me to his closest friends and roommates, ummmm.. YES – I have every right to ask ‘what the fuck happened.’ I’m not even meme-worthy “crazy” so to say, texting and calling over 20x a day, messaging all his friends on several social platforms, etc. I sent a total of 3 texts over the time span of 10 days. Each of the texts were genuine and sweet. It’s quite funny when most men have egos through the roof about their physique, intelligence, charm, etc. However, when it comes to forming a 2-3 sentence explanation as to why they no longer want to communicate with someone, they portray themselves as an insecure, socially awkward, and immature boy.
I was recently talking to a guy who lived 6-7 hours away from NYC. You’re probably thinking, “Okay WTF Kelcey – why would you even bother trying to make that work?” One of the most important lessons I have learned from my therapist is to just “live in the moment” and stop thinking about the future. I am fully aware that Buffalo, NY is no short car drive to Manhattan, but I was really enjoying the time I spent talking to this person, and I wasn’t going to stress myself out thinking about the future when I was completely content with the present. We talked on the phone, we face-timed, we texted, snap-chatted, etc. He was different than the guys I have met here at the gym or at a bar, so I really cherished the time I spent talking to him. He was different, and I felt different about him than I have felt with others.
We had plans to see each other in February, one weekend in NYC and one weekend in Buffalo. However, after a certain message, things changed. He stopped answering my snaps, texts or calls. I was more confused than angry or upset. The thing was though, this person was 28 years old, an orthopedic surgeon, we’ve been talking for about 3 months, and we have known each other for a year and a half. He’s an established professional, and he’s not just someone I met on Tinder 2 weeks ago. Therefore, like the man that he is, he called me on a Monday night and explained to me that he didn’t feel like “we” were working out. After a 30-40 minute phone call, I was completely OK with everything – not upset, not angry, not sad. The fact is, he gave me the “why.” He didn’t leave me hanging in WTF-World, questioning everything that I possibly could about why this is happening. Since then (about 3 weeks ago), I have not had any emotional breakdowns or feelings of sadness due to this ending. I’ve realized that what gets me most upset is not that “we” didn’t work out, but that I don’t know “why” we didn’t work out.
Since he gave me the why, resulting in multiple explanations, I was not very upset or angry. Although I may have disagreed with some of his logic, I was understanding of his opinions. I did not try to argue with him and beg for him to reconsider. The fact that he had the courage to call me and explain everything speaks volumes to me, which really sounds so ridiculous when I type it out – since it is so freakin’ rare for a guy to call you now-a-days. However, in the age of fuckboys, we almost never receive an explanation, or AT THE LEAST… 1 text message letting us know why they have left us in the dust.
I started writing this piece last Wednesday when I was definitely more emotional about the situation than I am right now. When a guy stops talking to you, we automatically feel like we failed, like we fucked up, like we are not good enough. In my last piece talking about my eating disorder, I explained how “feeling good enough” has been a struggle for me since I was just a pre-teen. I have not met one girl who doesn’t automatically start to stalk the new girl their ex starts dating or talking to. We immediately judge them and compare them to ourselves – saying that they are skinnier, taller, prettier, etc.
One of the best pieces of advice my mom has told me was that “someone is always going to be skinnier, prettier, smarter, or taller than you.” When you’re trying to achieve perfection your whole life, this statement is both heartbreaking and awakening. It hurts because we are hit with the reality that we will never actually reach what we are trying to achieve. However, it is also enlightening because we can finally open our minds to the truth that we can stop wasting our time trying to attain something that is not even tangible. To be honest, the realization that has helped me the most is also looking at celebrities and their disaster of a successful dating life. Who do you admire the most? Jennifer Lopez? Emma Stone? Rihanna? These women are all drop dead gorgeous, successful, talented and intelligent. Guess what: they all have been dumped and/or cheated on. Translation: Pretty girls get dumped, too. Skinny girls get cheated on, too. Guys stop talking to gorgeous girls, too.
This is already the second mention of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck on this blog, but it has truly opened my eyes to soooooo many realizations due to it’s lack of sugar-coating and blunt nature. We are in control of what we deem as a failure in life [or a problem]. Someone could receive an A- on a test and think of that as a failure if they always get A+s, and someone could receive an A- on a test and think of it is a success if they always get B’s. We are in control of what we fail at. If we are going to start saying “we failed” whenever a guy stops texting us back or decides to end things with us, then our self-esteem and self-worth is going to severely plummet. The difference between a girl who is self-aware and one who is not is that the girl who is self-aware does not get terribly upset when a guy stops talking to them. They KNOW what they have to offer, and don’t question ‘what they did wrong.’ This is why so many people who give you that cliche bullshit you’re already tired of hearing: “You need to love yourself before you can love anyone else.”
I have been honest about my struggles with self-esteem and self-confidence, and writing these pieces helps me realize that I should in no way be blaming myself or questioning what I did wrong here – especially if they don’t have the balls to send you just one freakin’ text! I am more aware what I have to offer: kindness, generosity, humor, compassion, thoughtfulness, etc. I obtain all of these characteristics, and it’s a shame that he couldn’t see them or let them go to waste. In addition, I am not putting blame on anyone here – him or me. It’s not his fault that he stopped answering me, and it’s not my fault either. However, it is my responsibility of how I react to this situation. I can either call myself a failure or blame myself, or I can move on confidently knowing that I am a genuine person with a plethora of admirable qualities to offer to a guy who appreciates it.
…^And she just knew that everything would work out. Because it always does.^
For the past three years, I have posted about this topic on my various social media platforms in hopes to spread awareness about a disease that affects millions of people each and every day. I was quiet about my illness from age 13 to 22, so it was quite shocking to many when I first let my secret out. Although some of you may have read or seen some of the other posts where I talked about my eating disorder, I believe this one is the most in depth and informative. I believe I am in the strongest state of my recovery, and can truly reflect on the ups and downs I experienced over the past 13 years.
It’s not that I want to necessarily write about this, but I need to. It’s my responsibility, as someone who has battled with this illness for so long, and who has risen to become stronger than I ever imagined. My goal is to inform, break stigmas, and become an outlet for others to reach out to. I am aware that many people reading this piece will not be able to directly relate to the emotions and behaviors I describe, but they may know someone who does after learning about these common symptoms.
It is 2017, and eating disorders are talked about a bit more than they were in the past, however, there are still many people who are either clueless about the dangerous side effects of these illnesses, or have total misconceptions of what an eating disorder even entails.
Many of you have seen my pictures from the past, or have seen me in person when I was “super skinny.” However, many of you don’t know the severity of the symptoms that I [and others] experienced, and still suffer with today. This is never an attempt to gain sympathy or praise, but written entirely to bring attention to the critical and deadly symptoms attached to these disorders. Each year, I hope to raise awareness and establish myself as an outlet that others [struggling or not] can reach out to. I hope to combat any stigmas and stereotypes about eating disorders, and save someone from taking their own life. (*Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.)
When I was 13 years old I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, and OCD. After about two months of restricting food intake (in hopes to lose only a few pounds after the cruise my family and I went on), I lost about 15-20 lbs. I started with Weight Watchers counting points, and then started to count calories too. I treated dieting like a game that I was really fucking good at. If I lost a pound, I felt like I just scored a goal in soccer. People started to compliment my shrinking frame, so I knew that I was doing something right. I wanted to keep going. I wanted to keep receiving compliments. I felt like I was “winning” at something for once.
I was noticeably thinner, quieter, and sadder that summer. I was exhausted pretty much all day – with no desire to talk with friends or leave the house. I measured or weighed every single thing I ate from baby carrots to a tablespoon of creamer in my coffee. I was consumed with numbers; the number of calories in a piece of fruit, the number of pounds on the scale, and the number of minutes that needed to pass until I could allow myself to eat again.
My mother eventually took me to a nutritionist who broke the news about all the above diagnoses. At that point, I knew there was something wrong with me – I just didn’t know why it was happening. “I didn’t choose this,” I thought. I started to see the nutritionist every week along with a psychologist and psychiatrist. I was put on Zoloft to help with the anxiety and depression I had towards my body image, food, and life in general. Everything about me was robotic. I felt stripped of emotions, feelings, and life. I was only 13 years old and seeing 2-3 doctors a week, taking anti-depressants, taking birth control (since I lost my menstrual cycle), and weighing myself at least three times a day.
For some reason, the memory that sticks out the most from that summer was a random morning when I was the only one in the house. My parents were working, and my brothers were at camp. I got out of bed around 9 or 10 a.m., and was walking to the bathroom when my vision started to fade. I remember waking up on my bedroom rug and wondering why I was laying on the floor. Did I trip on something? Did I bang my head? Why am I here? How long have I been here? I pulled my body up slowly and rubbed my eyes a few times. I walked down the stairs and remembered that I planned to eat a small breakfast that day (I wrote down everything I ate and the number of calories the day before) so I can have a snack with my lunch. My breakfast that morning was a peach and a zero-calorie diet ginger ale. After that, I would anxiously watch the clock for three hours until I could eat again. (*Most teenage girls eat anywhere between 1600-1800 calories per day according to the American Heart Association’s Dietary Recommendations. I was eating around 900-1100.)
After about 6 months of nutritional counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (full of emotional breakdowns, screaming at my mom and doctors, refusing to eat with my family, barely seeing friends/family members, freezing all the time, wearing only sweats or clothes that exposed little to no skin), I started to finally gain weight. I was put on a meal plan and had to get weighed every week by my nutritionist. Since I was a competitive soccer player, I couldn’t really limit my exercise as that was absolutely out of the question for me or my coach (no matter how small I was getting). Throughout the rest of high school, I was maintaining the healthy weight that I achieved and was finally going out with friends. I started to drink alcohol, I had a boyfriend, and I committed to a Division 1 university to play soccer at. Life was improving. I wasn’t measuring everything I ate anymore, but I knew in the back of my head that my disorder would never completely vanish.
Fast forward to the end of freshman year at college. I was truly enjoying life – made a best friend at college, went out all the time, had a super attractive boyfriend, and was doing well in all my classes. However, toward the end of the school year, I started to develop bad anxiety again. I was off medication at the time since my mother and doctor said I was doing really great at school and I could be weened off over the winter. I went home that summer, and I slowly started to restrict again. When I went back to Philadelphia in September for fall semester of sophomore year, my friends from school all said they noticed I lost a bunch of weight. For me, that was the best compliment of them all. It’s like I would get a high from someone calling me skinny, small, or thin. It’s all I ever wanted. And it was happening, all over again.
The more compliments I received, the more weight I lost. I thrived off the approval of others. I kept thinking, “Finally, I’m the girl that everyone likes. I’m the girl that people want to look like. I’m the girl that I always wanted to be.” But of course, I was never satisfied. When I reached 105 pounds, I said, “What’s another 2 or 3 pounds? I can make it to 102.” And when I got to 102, I wanted to be 98. When I got to 98, I wanted to be 95. From what I can remember, my lowest weight was 89 pounds. “I’m finally out of the 90s!” I said to myself as I looked at the lowest number I’ve seen yet. The excitement and joy lasted for an astonishing 15 seconds. After that, I was back to planning how much I was allowed to eat that day, and how much I had to workout.
Since most girls who suffer from anorexia are notorious perfectionists, I amazingly achieved all A’s in school even though I was functioning on less than 600 calories a day. I started to see a therapist at college once a week after I had my first real panic attack during class in sophomore year. I went back on anti-anxiety medication, and was put on birth control again to trigger a menstrual cycle since that disappeared for the second time since I was 13. I was living in a constant state of denial and fear. I was afraid to eat pretty much anything other than salad, apples, yogurt, and diet drinks/coffee. If I was going to go out drinking one night, I would pretty much starve all day. When I had to get weighed, I would go to 7-11 and fill up one of those extra-large Slurpie cups with Diet Coke and chug it all before I had to hop on the scale at the doctors. I told my mom I was getting my period even though I wasn’t. My jeans were size 0-00 from Hollister, and I even had to roll some of them up to fit my waist. I had the body of a 14 year old boy. I can only speak for myself in this situation, but I never once thought I was “fat” or “chubby.” I think some people have the misconception that girls who suffer with anorexia think they are fat or overweight. I knew I was small. I knew I wasn’t fat. I just thought I was not thin enough. “Why can’t I be good enough.”
When I was in my third year of school, I started dating someone who was my most serious boyfriend to date. He was passionate about the restaurant scene and always wanted to try out new places to eat in Center City. In order to appear “normal” to him, I would barely eat all day, drink a shit ton of coffee, and do cardio for about two hours so I can have a decent meal with him later on. I knew it wasn’t “attractive” to be the girl who eats a salad on a date, so I ended up ordering a normal protein-based entree and pretending like I wasn’t calculating every calorie on the plate in front of me. Eventually, I opened up to him about my struggles since he started to notice my lack of confidence and constant worry about my image. We fought all the time for multiple different reasons, but he saw the raw parts of me that no other person has seen before. I never opened up to someone about my eating disorder besides my family and my doctors. He even went to therapy with me in order to help with my recovery. In the back of my mind, I knew that he wasn’t “the one” for me though. I knew that I wouldn’t be marrying him in the future, but I stuck with him since I truly believed that no one else would accept the broken and damaged girl that I was inside. I hate typing this out, as I truly feel like I hurt him more than I hurt myself sometimes. I remember one night when we were spooning in bed, and I thought to myself, “You need to hold onto him as long as you can. No one else is going to love a fucked up girl like you. No one is going to want to date the ‘crazy girl’ like you.”
We obviously ended our relationship after trying so many times to make it work. It was toxic and unhealthy, and I was actually getting thinner during our relationship. At the time, we ended on horrible terms – blocking each other on social media and basically telling each other to go die. Fast forward to now, we are friends, and have hung out multiple times since our breakup. We text each other on Christmas and on birthdays. We both know we will most likely never date each other again, but I am forever grateful for his presence in my life. The end of this relationship started to make me question if I really want to live the next 50-60 years of my life alone. Every relationship teaches you something about yourself, something about life.
After the relationship heartbreak (crying all the time, stalking his new fiancé on social media, staying up all night questioning if that’s the last time a guy will ever say “I love you” to me), I started to go back to hanging out with my guy friends from the wrestling and crew teams. For obvious reasons, I did not see them much during my relationship, which caused many many fights between my ex and I. Since I was now single, I started to hangout with them again. I remember clearly my two close guy friends, individually said to me at different times, “Get off the fucking stair master and start lifting.” That, of course, is paraphrased to what I translated their statements to be in my head. For some reason, it finally triggered something in me. I realized that I was destroying my body for 10 years and I still wasn’t happy. I still wasn’t satisfied with my image. So, maybe this whole thing isn’t about my body at all? Maybe this nightmare is about something deeper, and not about a number on a scale or how many ribs I can see when I wake up every morning? Maybe an eating disorder isn’t even about the food I’m eating? Maybe an eating disorder is about what’s really eating you?
During this emotional realization, Instagram was becoming the new and hip social media platform (2011-2013). As more adults (parents) started to flock towards Facebook, teens and Millennials escaped to Instagram. I started to discover the new evolution of female bodybuilders and lifters. Eventually, this got nicknamed to be the “Fitspo Movement.” Instead of girls displaying their size 0 waists and thigh gaps, these women were flexing their biceps, squatting with the #bros, and portraying how “strong is the new skinny.” I was instantly inspired, since all I knew was hours of cardio, low carb dieting, and a 23 inch waist. Slowly but surely, I started to make my way to the intimidating free weight section of my university gym. I never did anything like squat or deadlift, but I started small with dumbbells, barbells, and assisted machines. I was in shock that I could gain weight and people would actually find me attractive, or even more attractive?
This whole process was extremely emotional and difficult. Gaining weight was my biggest fear in the life for years. I remember one day I thought, “I rather die than be fat.” I am deeply ashamed by this statement, but it’s an honest recollection of one of the many painful thoughts I had circling in my head every single day.
After college, I continued lifting and even paid for a personal trainer to help me improve my form and confidence in the gym. In the winter of 2014, my menstrual cycle came back after four years of being without a period. I was a hysterical mess that night, since my mind translated having a cycle with, “I’m not skinny anymore.” After going to my therapist and taking some time to write in my journal, I looked at the bigger picture. My close friends and family members all know that I cannot wait to be a mom. I love babies, kids, puppies – I LOVE to take care of everyone. I tell everyone, “If the only thing guaranteed in life is death, and I had to choose a second one for me, it would be that I am destined to be a mom.” So getting my period meant that I will [hopefully] be able to have kids in the future since my reproductive system is functioning normally again. Although this was incredibly hard to accept, I am so happy that I can live with more hope of having my own children in the future.
During 2015-2016, I had a bunch of difficult experiences that caused my eating habits, anxiety, and depression to spike at certain times. After speaking with my therapist and mom in February 2016, we agreed that it was time for me to go back on medication and STAY on medication for a while. In the past, I was always put on medication, and then when life started to become brighter, I would ween myself off it – and then BOOM – life knocked me right back down again. We worked up to a dose that is good for me over that spring and summer. The summer of 2016 was the first time I went out in public wearing a bikini since the summer of 2013.
Since August/September of 2016, I have been the absolute happiest I have ever been in my life. I moved out of my parent’s house and currently live in Astoria, Queens. I took a risky swing and paired up with a random roommate from Craig’s List, and it has been nothing but a home run since we moved in together. I have awesome co-workers, a great boss, and a balanced work-social life. I go to the gym when I can, sometimes only 2-3 times a week (instead of 7 days a week or twice a day), and I don’t cancel plans when I’m feeling “fat” or “ugly.” I’ve ate things that I haven’t ate in years like New York bagels, full slices of pizza, *real* bread, and more. Although I still have moments where I’m feeling super down on myself, and critique every little imperfection on my body, I am strong enough to not let it ruin my day anymore. I thought that guys wouldn’t date me if I wasn’t supermodel-thin, but now I’ve realized that most men appreciate a girl with curves and confidence. I’ve removed the belief from my head that “guys aren’t going to want to date a “crazy” girl who had an eating disorder,” since I’ve experienced more praise and respect from men who listened to my story and appreciate how far I’ve come. I have a stronger relationship with my friends and family members, and most importantly, I have a stronger relationship with myself.
To this day, I am still hesitant to believe that any person recovers fully or 100% from an eating disorder. Since eating disorders are mental illnesses, there is no cure or magic pill to help rid each sufferer from their own unique demons. However, there is help, and there is treatment. I still have days where I want to starve myself, spend hours in the gym, and even look at my stomach over 50 times a day in the mirror. I’ve come to accept that mental battle rather argue that I “need” to change my body weight in order to be accepted. With the help of my therapist, my close circle of friends, my family members, medication, and the time I spend reading and writing, I am able to live my life to the absolute fullest.
An eating disorder is never about food, it’s about controlling an aspect of life around you since you feel like you cannot control anything else. Since we cannot control what people will say or do, what the economy will be like, or what genetics we have, we learn that at least we are able to control what we ingest and how our body looks on the outside. In the era of rising Instagram models, Victoria Secret Fashion Shows, and continuous magazine tabloids, it’s easy for people [females especially] to correlate these images with happiness. These celebrities on social media, on TV, and on magazines are wealthy, skinny, and smiling – why wouldn’t they be happy? Why wouldn’t we wish to be like them?
Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way, that thinness does not equal happiness. Size zero jeans does not equal zero problems. And a few pounds shouldn’t feel like pain. My mind was miserably consumed with what people thought about me and if they approved of me. I believed that skinniness was the golden key to approval and internal joy. All I wanted was for other people to like me because I didn’t like myself. That’s what was eating me.
I’ve discovered that people don’t like me because of how much I weigh or what jeans size I wear. People like me because I am funny, generous, compassionate, diligent, honest, and loyal. Those characteristics weren’t able to shine since my mind was only focused on destroying my body. Although it took me over 10 years to figure this out, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this experience. Recovering from an eating disorder is still the accomplishment I am most proud of, and it has made stronger emotionally, mentally, and physically.
I recently finished the book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” by Mark Manson (strongly recommend to anyone BTW). Manson stresses how vital failure and struggle is in shaping our values and what we deem as important (i.e., what to give a fuck about). I honestly don’t believe I would be as happy or successful as I am today if I didn’t struggle with my eating disorder. All of the excruciating feelings I suffered through made me a more passionate and honest person, which is something I value so much in others. Manon includes one of my favorite quotes of all time – from one of the Founding Fathers of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”
***If you know anyone, or you feel as if you may be dealing with some of the emotions/feelings/behaviors described above, please reach out for help now. Please visit NEDA’s website, email info@NationalEatingDisorders.org, or call their Toll-free Information and Referral Helpline: 1-800-931-2237.***
Here we are again, back to writing about my amusing and confusing dating life. I actually enjoyed writing about the burglary since it was somewhat therapeutic to type out the words and emotions I had tangled up and trapped inside my head. Finally, I was able to somewhat communicate about how I was feeling, which was essentially everything. From shocked to sad to angry to confused, I felt it all. But today marks three weeks since the nightmare, and I am almost feeling back to normal Kelcey. Just needed to take some time off and enjoy the presence of my friends and family (and wine).
I came across an article from Elite Daily a few days ago posted on my Facebook news feed: “5 Struggles of Realizing You’re Actually Really Good at Being Single.” Of course, I click on it. Who knows more about being single than me? My friends and family joke around about how I’m alwayssingle — I.E., my last relationship was almost five years ago and we dated less than a year (actually, I’ve never even dated anyone longer than 10 months… #awk). I’m the girl who has a bunch of guy friends but never a boyfriend, the girl who goes to weddings without a +1, and the girl who’s been on over 30-40 first dates, but rarely a second or third. Now, this may come off depressing or dark, but it’s really something I have learned to cherish. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life, and no, it’s not because I found a boyfriend. I have taken so much [needed] time to work on myself, for myself, and have solely contributed to all the joy in my current life.
From time to time, my friends and family make fun of the fact that I am always single, a commitment-phob, a closet-lesbian, etc.. After some kidding around and making jokes, I get the more serious question of, “No really. Why are you single? Do you even want to be single? Don’t you want something serious after all this time being single? You’re funny, cute, smart, and laid-back… what’s up with you?”
Most of the time when I am asked questions like this by friends or family members, I just typically laugh and say “I don’t know, guess I just haven’t met the right person yet.” Yes, I know, what a clicheeeeeeee answer. But I can’t argue that I disagree with this statement. Although I am unsure if I believe in actually “falling in love,” I definitely believe that there is someone out there for me who is a better match than all the other assholes that I’ve dated or talked to… AKA… I’m not going to settle for what’s easy and convenient for me.
This is where the Elite Daily article comes in. This article is making the case that there are five “struggles” to being good at being single. I thought, “Struggles? Really?” For me, I feel like these ‘struggles’ are my strengths.
What I want to portray through this piece is why I’m single and why it’s actually pretty awesome being single. ‘Being single’ gets a bad rap and I don’t know why the F why. Yes, it’s awesome to have a cuddle buddy every night, or have someone text you, “Good Morning Beautiful” every morning – but it’s also awesome to kick ass and move forward in your career, treat yourself to a new pair of shoes or dress, etc. There is something about buying a new piece of jewelry that I worked so hard to earn, compared to someone buying that same piece for me. I feel some sort of high from knowing that with consistent diligence, I can do everything by myself, and for myself.
I know a lot of people don’t understand me, and they are not able to comprehend how I like to do so many things alone, especially since I’m such an outgoing and sociable person. However, I hope that maybe someone who reads this can open up and see why it’s actually awesome to be “good” at being single — and not a “struggle” as the Elite Daily piece titles it. The sub-titles below are all from the ED article, yet, I am writing my own blurb about it with a more positive twist.
(1) You’re comfortable doing things alone. One thing that people need to understand is that being single does not correlate with being alone or lonely. Although it is definitely intimidating to do certain things alone when you’re used to doing them with your significant other, this needs to be something you must learn to “grow some balls and do it yourself.” In more elegant terms, basically… the only person who can guarantee their commitment to you is yourself. Although family members and boyfriends and friends say this shit all the time like, “I’ll never leave you” or “I’ll always be by your side,” you just never know. You never know if you’re going to get unexpectedly dumped one day, or if a friend goes behind your back and blackmails you, or if a family member unfortunately passes one day. YOU need to always take care of YOU first. When everyone else is gone, who are you left with? Yourself. You need to learn how to do things for yourself and enjoy time with yourself. Whatever it is – grocery shopping, working out, paying bills, etc., there may be a time in your life when you are expected to do all these things on your own because you won’t have anyone else to do them for you. Of course, this may never be the case, but like I said… you never know. I’m grateful that I am content with doing so many things alone, because in a way I feel like even through the toughest times, I know I will be able to have my shit together. I am independent and capable of doing things without the dependence of others. It truly is empowering to feel this way once you start.
So take a day to do things that you normally do with others — and do those things alone. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it also may feel even better than before.
(2) You’re independent to a fault. When people ask me what character trait I am most proud of, I always say it’s my independence. For me, it’s actually quite frustrating to hear some of my girl friends say that they don’t know how to do certain things since their boyfriend or their parents always do it for them. Going back to what I said in (1), unfortunately… your parents and boyfriend aren’t always going to be there for you. There are some things you just have to get up and do yourself whether it’s changing a tire or doing a load of laundry (I am 25 and, yes, I still know people my age who don’t do their own laundry). I think independence is one of the most attractive qualities, and yes, I know I probably sound pompous AF saying that. But seriously, both me and my guy friends discuss that finding someone who has a life of their own and isn’t insanely clingy or dependent is attractive. No one wants that person who seems desperate for your attention all the freaking time. Meeting someone who is completely comfortable with doing things on their own and spending time apart to build their own life is insanely important to me. Unless someone is so independent that they become somewhat standoffish towards others, I truly can’t find any faults with this character trait.
(3) Everyone just assumes you don’t want a boyfriend. I mean, I can understand why this can be annoying AF and a “fault” so to say. This is usually something that people ‘assume’ when I say that my career is the most important thing to me at the moment. Apparently, you can’t want a career and want a boyfriend at the same time? Weird…
But honestly, I don’t even think this assumption is that bad. Because when we go back to typical guy behavior, guys always enjoy the chase — AKA — they want a challenge. For them, if they see or hear of a girl who doesn’t want something serious, it gives them a challenge to pursue — maybe I can change her? maybe she will change her mind when she meets me? I’ll show her how awesome I am and she will probably reconsider. So when they come across a female who is confident and “doesn’t need a boyfriend” to be a badass at work or enjoy her life, they are amazed. They see it as a challenge, and most importantly, a rarity. According to the HuffPost piece linked above, both men and women place value is something they deem as unattainable, or rare to acquire. Guys will swoon over you if they see you as a rare gem; the girl who doesn’t need a boyfriend and is completely okay with it (because she realizes she doesn’t need a guy to make her happy #duh).
(4) Relationships remain unknown, despite how much Googling you’ve done on the subject. This one has mainly been a change of mindset for me. How many of you can admit that when you had a really great first date with someone, you already were thinking of your future together with them? Already envisioning yourself eating your next meal together? In bed together? Meeting his parents? Etc. The thing that screws us the most is thinking too much about the future and not enough about the now. Elite Daily says under this sub-title that, “relationships slowly become this thing you know you’re falling out of touch with.” In my opinion, this is exactly what we need to do! We need to wipe away the social constructs and definition of a “relationship” and “rules to dating” since how the fuck are they really helping us anyway? Honestly, it just makes us more anxious and psychotic in the end. How many times have you wanted to text the guy first but that is against “dating rules” that girls can’t text back first?
Then they say, “What do you do with a boyfriend when you get one?” Seriously? If you just upgraded to the boyfriend/girlfriend status, how the hell are you even questioning what you should do with him? The key to successful dating [I believe] is meeting someone who evolves into not a boyfriend, but your best friend. With your best friend, youdon’t think of what to do or what to say since it should be an organic and natural bond. Stop thinking about what you should do, what rules to follow, or what happens if he doesn’t text you tomorrow — just LIVE IN THE MOMENT. I can’t stress how much this has helped me with dating and with life in general. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket with one guy after one date. Stop thinking about whether he will text you or invite you to his friend’s party he was talking about at dinner. Just live in the moment, enjoy the time spent together, and take it day by day. Try to mold this phrase into your mind and apply it to everything in life, just not with dating. I was the Queen of Overanalyzing, and all it did was make me more and more anxious. Live in the now, enjoy the present.
Relationships should be “unknown” since every relationship is different, and it cannot be objectively defined.
(5) You want a partner in crime. You don’t want your other half. This is probably the only sub-title in the list that I can somewhat agree with. I agree that you shouldn’t be looking for your other “half,” or someone who is essentially a carbon copy of yourself. Yeah, it’s nice to meet someone who has the same interests as you since you can enjoy doing the same things together. However, I think it is entirely more interesting to meet someone who has some different interests from you as well. Having a partner introduce you to something that they are so passionate about, and is close to their heart is a sign of trust. If they are opening their arms for you, allowing you to be part of one of their favorite hobbies, it most definitely is a good sign for the future. I’m sure some people have “hidden hobbies” that they don’t expose to just anyone, so if they are willing to show you that side of them, they are most definitely willing to make you their partner in crime.
Essentially, I still think that the best phrase for this is that you want tofind ANOTHER best friend (which I guess they call a ‘partner in crime’). I’m single, and I have amazing best friends — I just want one who I can be intimate with, lol. So yeah, that is the part of being single that they considered being a struggle, but I still have fucking awesome best friends at the end of the day and I am in no where “struggling.” If anything, I have become closer with many of my friends due to being single — and not being one of those girls/guys who ‘falls off the planet’ when they get into a relationship. I’ve made girlfriends who have been my “partner in crime” for when we go out to bars, which has made some of the best [drunken] memories.
For me, my best friends are the ones I laugh the most with. Humor is the most important quality for me, so I am looking to find someone that makes me laugh just as much or even more than I do with my best friends. I want someone who can poke fun at me, and I can poke fun at them. I want someone who I can sit in a room with without talking and feel 0% awkwardness. I want someone who I don’t need to think about what I have to say next or “what to do with them” to make them happy. These are the qualities that my best friends have, and what ‘my [future] guy must have as well.
I started writing this piece about a week ago, and I just finished it today… on #ValentinesDay. I think towards the end it gets a bit foggy, lol, but I really just wanted to publish this today and convey that especially on Valentine’s Day, being single is still awesome. I know some of you may hate this day, and all you have been seeing on your news feed is couples kissing, and surprise bouquets of roses (trust me, I saw like 20 posts already). Just know that you’re not alone, and just because you’re single today, doesn’t mean you will be single forever (unless you wanna be of course… which is awesome, too!).
Cherish the now, work on your career, grow independently, and stop worrying about what others say and think about you.
Would you rather be single and happy, or miserably with someone?