The 10 Most Important Life Lessons I’ve Learned at 25

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  1. ****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 Image result for vintage black and white photosespecially. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 Image result for vintage black and white photos quotesknow 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.
  4. 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…
  5. 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 Image result for vintage black and white photoscompliment 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.
  6. 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 Image result for vintage black and white photos bookfamily 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
  7. 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 Image result for vintage black and white photos familyday. 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.
  8. 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+ Image result for vintage black and white photos quotesaggressively 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.
  9. 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 Image result for vintage black and white photos quoteshaving 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.
  10. 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 Image result for don't be so hard on yourselfcan 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.

Stubborn People Are Already Dying

You know the kind of people I appreciate? The ones where you call them out on their not-so-complimentary characteristics and/or behaviors and they actually own up to it. What is that called again? Honesty? Self-awareness? Compliant?

Naturally, we do not want to be wrong; we don’t want someone to challenge our beliefs, to question our actions, or to disagree with something that we feel quite strongly about. Flunking a test you thought you aced, dropping weights you thought you could lift, being rejected for a job you thought you would score — examples of results from events that we could have prepared better for, overestimated less, etc. However, what happens when someone questions our own characteristics? Our persona? Our morals and values?

For the millionth time on this blog, I am quoting Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck:” who you attract [or don’t attract] into your life, and who you Image result for proximity is powerkeep [or who you don’t] in your life boils down to what you value. In essence, if you value intelligence, you will attract [and keep] intelligent people around yourself. If you value sense of humor, you will hang around people who are funny (Proximity is Power! You choose your peers!). Pretty simple, right? However, we often do not realize our own characteristics unless people reinforce it to us. Comedians are comedians because people laugh at what they stay. People reinforce to comedians “you are funny,” [by laughing] therefore, comedians recognize one of their defining characteristics as “humorous.”

This goes for characteristics we are not called out on as well. If no one criticizes or calls us out on the things we do or say, we rarely recognize them on our own. Like I said earlier, we want to believe we are right; and that are morals/values are supported. If I steal money from someone and no one tells me that it was ‘wrong,’ then why would I question my actions? Why would I get down on myself if it’s not something that is criticized?

Unfortunately, even when we are told we are wrong, most of enter the ever-so-popular denial phase. Denial is surrounded by synonyms like defensive, stubborn, uncompromising, etc. Most things in life are subjective, so it’s not like most of the time we are morally wrong when someone says we are. In other words, just because someone disagrees with us, it doesn’t necessarily mean we are wrong and they are right and vice versa.

Yet, there are a plethora of topics that are universally objective (yet still not completely). For example, breaking the law, lying, cheating, drug abuse, etc. These things all have generally negative connotations and have a lower rate of conflicting viewpoints (on the other hand, think of political, religious, and social issues which are all topics with a high rate of conflicting viewpoints). If you cheat on your partner, most people will agree that it was not a ‘good choice’ on your part, however, it depends if these people will actually confront you about your decision (or if you even tell them about it since naturally we want to avoid confrontation/criticism).

When I read Manson’s chapter about self-awareness and personal values, it made me think, “what do I value? what do I deem to be the most credible characteristics? what values do I admire about myself that I want to see in others around me?”

As I mentioned above, we are aware of many of our characteristics by the reinforcement of others. People obviously do not reinforce me with the statement, “You are tall,” because I am obviously short. However, if people started to tell me that I am tall, I may start to believe that I am tall.

The most frequent characteristics that people use to describe me are: blunt, honest, funny, compassionate, hard-working, perfectionist. All of these characteristics I am proud of, and just like anyone else, I have characteristics that I am not proud of: insecure, indecisive, self-conscious, etc. I do feel lucky that I can recognize my faults, as many people obviously have a hard time doing so (cough Donald Trump cough cough cough cough). People who have a high sense of entitlement, cockiness, and pretentiousness usually have a hard time recognizing any flaws in their persona.

I have realized from my many years of dating and the #singlelife encounters I have experienced, the one characteristic that I can’t quite get past is stubbornness. If someone I am dating displays any hint of stubbornness, I almost immediately mentally check out of the date. I wouldn’t say someone who is stubborn is not honest, but rather they are not honest with themselves. I do believe they lack self-awareness and mentally cannot acknowledge their flaws. I know A LOT of stubborn people: I have worked with them, I have befriended them, I have and still am related to them. Both my brothers and my mom are incredibly stubborn about certain topics that arise in life. I honestly don’t recall my mom every saying the word “sorry.” I love my mom, and I we have a very good relationship at the moment. However, we have also had more arguments and vicious screaming battles than I can count.

What is shocking to me is that many people don’t find stubbornness to even be an unattractive characteristic. I think some people pair stubbornness with passion, I.E., those people who are so set in their ways/beliefs/opinions are just incredibly passionate about them. I can see the correlation in this viewpoint, however, stubbornness brings me to another Manson quote, “Uncertainty is the root of all progress and all growth.” This is very similar to Voltaire’s quote, “Doubt is not a
pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd
.” What does this mean? Yes it feels uncomfortable to have doubts about something and not feel 100% right. However, Image result for doubt is not a pleasant condition but certainty is absurdit’s worse to think you know it all, all the time, and not question your own self. To question our beliefs and our knowledge is vital. If all we want and choose to believe is only what’s in our head, we are putting a dangerous barrier in front of our growth and success. I mean honestly, what is science? Science is the study of constantly observing and experimenting the physical and natural world. Your hypothesis is your question – what are you trying to prove or disapprove? New information arises from questioning other ideas and behaviors. How would we know so many of the thing we know today without embracing experimentation and questioning? Someone who is stubborn is closed off from embracing new information or questioning their own. For me, someone who is not willing to learn is someone who I cannot date. 

I am currently in the process of reading Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. I think EVERYONE should read this book. It has a lot of similar themes that Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck has. In Part II – Chapter 1 “Always Stay a Student,” Holiday talks about the importance of keeping a humble mind, and never acting as if you know everything. You are never a master in anything. Although you may think you know everything about making a martini, there is a plethora of knowledge you still don’t know, and that is still being questioned. Holiday quotes, “If you are not still learning, you are already dying.” If you decide to stay in your comfort zone of beliefs and knowledge, you are essentially putting yourself in more danger than you think. You are limiting the knowledge you can acquire, and we all know the very popular saying, “Knowledge is Power.”

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One of my favorite quotes is, “Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. If you really want to succeed, become a CEO, entrepreneur, meet awesome people, you must accept being told you are wrong (accept humility) and understand that people will constantly criticize and/or question your beliefs. Like I said earlier, this is not a situation of who is wrong and who is right. It’s understanding that maybe your way of thinking isn’t the ONLY way of thinking. Opening your mind to new and challenging ideas is the beginning of personal, emotional, spiritual, and mental growth.

Do not be stubborn. Open your mind. Accept your flaws and accept humility. Those who are humble are those who improve.

The Fuckboy Series: “The Vanisher”

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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 Image result for fuckboy memethat 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, Related imageummmm.. 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.^

What’s Eating You?

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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.

Each year in February, there is a week devoted by NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association, to spread awareness about the severity of eating disorders Image result for quotes about eating disordersand the mental illnesses [typically] associated with them. Many people are familiar with the two common eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. However, there are multiple other eating disorders that are rarely talked about in school or in the media including orthorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, night eating syndrome, pica, and more. Although these disorders do not share the exact same symptoms, many of the sufferers witness the same or similar emotions and feelings such as: embarrassment, guilt, shame, fear, depression, exhaustion, sadness, confusion, and hopelessness.

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.)

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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 Related imageweighed 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 side(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.

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2012

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 Image result for quotes about eating disordersconstant 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 ocnormal 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.

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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?

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2012 to 2014

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 Image may contain: 1 person, closeupanymore.” 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 Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, drink and indoorgym 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.

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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.

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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.”

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***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.***

One Week Later: Recovering…

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Today marks one week since my apartment was broken into. Although I may not be crying every two hours, or playing back the scene from last week in my head every time I daze off, I am still not completely rid of the fear and disbelief. Some people have said that my roommate and I are “lucky” that we weren’t in the apartment when it happened, which I can agree with. However, at the same time,
the shock that hits you when you walk into your apartment, seeing your clothes and valuables scattered across your room is something that I truly can’t even put into words. I am not sure if I have ever been so speechless in my life. The shock hit me like a brick wall. I was thinking, “I lived in West Philadelphia for five years, one of the most dangerous places for crime in the country, and no one ever broke into my apartment or dorm. Plus, half the time we didn’t even lock our door! How the hell did this happen here? In Astoria? In the busiest part of the neighborhood? In such a “safe” part of Queens

My father came over my apartment Sunday night and inserted some vertical wooden planks into our windows. This is essentially a barrier from opening the window. While this definitely makes me feel a bit safer, I am still feeling uneasy about the whole “underwear” part. It fucking skeeves me out thinking that some pervert stole a full box of my underwear? Like really? My MacBook Air was over $1000, however, I’m honestly more disturbed by the fact that my underwear was stolen and that my bed was unmade when I walked into my room. Anyone who knows me knows that I CANNOT leave my room in the morning if I do not make my bed. Ever since college, I rather be late to class or work than leave my bed unmade. I don’t know, it’s one of my “things” that makes me feel a lot better coming home to a clean and tidy room. The fact that I came home that night and my purse was thrown onto my bed, my cashmere blanket was unfolded, and my pillows were pushed to the side, made me furious. It was an intrusion of privacy that made me develop this wicked sense of anger that I have never felt before. I am typically the least controversial person on the planet. However, seeing my things contaminated by this disgusting human, made me feel like I actually wanted to attacklike some sort of animal. I never wanted to hunt someone down more in my life.

I read a blog piece last Wednesday called “5 Things No One Tells You About Getting Robbed” when I was sitting down at work, still shaking with fear and uncertainty. Summarizing the article, here are the 5 things the author listed:

  1. Your Imagination is Worse Than Reality
  2. They Will Take Things You Don’t Expect
  3. You Will Become a Worse Person 
  4. You Will Try to Crack the Case Yourself
  5. You Will Accept Communism (satire… kinda).

I can pretty much relate to and agree with all of these statements (although my scenario is considered a “burglary” not a “robbery”). For (1), I definitely thought that I was going to come home to my apartment a fucking wreck. I thought that the couch would be turned over, bottles broken, graffiti on the wall… lol. Looking back now I think this is quite funny and obviously dramatic, but the image they paint most of the time in movies and in TV is exaclty like this. It’s the same thing as house parties in movies versus house parties in real life. It’s never (at least in my neighborhood) one of those epic mansions with a DJ, expensive bottles of liquor, hot girls dancing in lingerie — it’s more like a small laptop playing music through a mini speaker, cheap beer, and mediocre girls blacking out and throwing up in the bathroom. C’mon, admit it, you’ve been to the parties I’ve been to. Same goes with the burglary, which is quite fortunate in this case. Besides my room and Aku’s room (which still wasn’t a complete disaster), the apartment looked pretty normal when I walked in besides a few small differences.

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(2) They will take things you don’t expect Yes. Like my underwear. Which will probably haunt me for the rest of my life. I literally have thought about locking up my underwear in a safe which is not only super inconvenient every morning, but uh… can you imagine the look on the guy’s face I bring over (shut up if you are making another “single” joke about me) when he sees me open a safe to a huge pile of underwear? “Yo is your underwear lined with gold or something?” Yeah, ummm… long story. On the other side of things, they also didn’t take things I did expect. It Image result for the sims burglarymade me think of the computer game The Sims (if you didn’t play The Sims growing up, what did you even do with your life after school?!). When there was a burglary/robbery in The Sims, they usually took the TV, the computer, expensive artwork, or a stereo. Fortunately in real life, it’s nearly impossible to fit a flat screen TV into a backpack. Yes, they stole my laptop, but that’s pretty unsurprising since my MacBook Air is super thin and light. But the TV was there, and our large painting in the living room was there. In this case I am happy that The Sims does not match reality (however in other cases, it would be awesome to cook dinner in less than 10 seconds).

(3) You will become a worse personor a better animal? Like I said earlier, I felt like an animal anxiously waiting to attack it’s prey. I’ve never wanted to harm someone so much in my life, like actually hit them and see them suffer. I still feel guilty typing that out, like I’m a horrid person if I’m feeling some sort of high from envisioning someone suffer beneath my feet. However, I go back running to my apartment and seeing my roommate balling her eyes out, scared to death, and seeing that ladder planted against our back window, and my evil feelings are all confirmed again.

(4) You will try to crack the case yourself. I don’t want to sound disrespectful in any way although I am sure some people will be offended by this (#2017), but the cops really didn’t seem like this was a “big deal” to them. They even mentioned, “we see this stuff happen all the time in this area.” Well ya know what, ‘sir,’ this shit doesn’t happen to us everyday, and we are shaking in our fucking boots. I spoke to my friend who is a surgeon, and he mentioned how cops (and even himself in his career) are essentially “desensitized” to these occurrences since they cannot become emotionally invested or attached to a certain case.  They must act Image result for trying to find fingerprintsconfident and strong in these scary situations – which ya know what, I get that. But, the thing that pissed my roommate and myself off so much was that they didn’t take it very seriously. They joked that we should just poor ourselves a drink and relax, and one of the cops even saved his number in my roommate’s phone as “Anthony Handsome ~cop emoji~.” Duddddddddeeeeeeeeeeeee… this is NOT the fucking time to flirt with us. We just got fucking robbed. My sex drive is at an ultimate low. I have no desire to flirt and play kissy games, man. Just find this fucking dude and get our shit back. Therefore, since they didn’t seem to be super proactive in this case, my roommate and I were using our phone lights, searching the apartment for prints, foreign hair strands, or things left behind in order to come closer to catching these dudes. Also, when I have been leaving the apartment, I have been pretty much walking backwards like a weirdo, watching our house like a hawk. We are constantly watching out for suspicious activity; I’ve never felt more cautious.

(5) You will accept Communism. Lol. This is what the author wrote which I can laugh and say, “sure” to:

I have come to grips with the fact that I don’t actually own anything. I have no personal possessions. None of us do. We all just have some stuff that is ours until some highly motivated and unscrupulous individual decides he wants it for himself. So, yeah, just like communism.

So, all in all… I am recovering OK. I am doing OK, but still not 100% Kelcey, which is expected. I have been feeling really blessed that so many people have reached out to me on social media about this, especially people who I truly didn’t expect to. A girl from my high school reached out to me and I probably haven’t spoken to her in 5-6 years? But she was so kind and thoughtful, it really made me feel loved and cared for. My parents, who are typically super unemotional and insensitive, have been checking up on me more than usual. My younger brother even texted me! I think this was the first time he initiated a conversation with me?! My boss and co-workers have been fantastic as always. I am always so grateful how understanding and trustworthy they are.

Lastly, my roommate is feeling a bit better as well. It was truly heartbreaking to Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, drink and indoorwalk into the apartment, seeing her face flushed with fear and discomfort. We really try to look out for one another, and it’s great having a roommate who isn’t just “a roommate,” but a close friend as well. We genuinely care for one another, and it’s disheartening for both of us to see each other so flustered with panic. But this experience has definitely made us more cautious of our surroundings, and of course a lot stronger emotionally and mentally.

We are getting better day by day, and taking every action to make sure this never happens again. Thanks to everyone for all your kind words and support. ❤

Kelcey

What Do I Do Now?

Due to the numerous amount of emotions I have tangled up inside my mind right now, I am not sure how coherent this blog piece will eventually be. Usually, I’m feeling some sort of dominant emotion – sad, happy, angry, heartbroken – which translates into a cohesive and easy-to-follow piece for the reader. However, right now, I don’t even know what feeling is taking over my mind the most. Every emotion I am feeling right now – anger, frustration, confusion, fear, sadness – just seems like one big ball of, “What the fuck is going on?” I still almost feel like I’m sleeping right now – that this is all one big nightmare. You always hear about these types of situations on the news, or you watch it happen in the movies, but you never think it’s going to happen to you. You never think that someone will actually break into your home and steal thousands of dollars worth of items. You never think this will happen to you, until it does.

Last night I worked later than usual. I typically get home from work around 6-6:15 p.m. However, last night I did not arrive home until 7:40 p.m. I had a personal training appointment at 8 p.m., which happens to be with the gym located just down the block (about a 1-2 minute walk). My roommate also wanted to head to the gym tonight since she just signed up a few days ago. She arrived home just a few minutes after I did, around 7:45 p.m., and we were chatting a bit before we left the apartment. We left the apartment at 7:55 p.m., and I locked the door. I heard it click. And we were off.

My normal routine at the gym is to lift for about 30-45 minutes, then head over to the stair master or treadmill and finish up with some cardio. While I was still lifting with my trainer, my roommate walked over to me and said that she was going to start heading home. It was about 8:45 p.m. when I was about to start cardio and my roommate texted me saying, “The door was unlocked :/.”

“Wait… wtf,” I said. I was positive I locked it. I always wait to hear the ‘click’ since it’s actually a pretty tricky lock to figure out. We walked out together, so I knew she wouldn’t let us carry on without locking the door. I was seriously confused. “Was she accusing me of not locking the door?” I thought. But then my texting screen disappeared and an incoming call came through from my roommate. All I could hear was her hysterically saying, over and over again, “We’ve been robbed.” 

“Maybe this is just a mistake. Maybe the landlord came in and needed to check on some things. Maybe we left the extra key with our friend Willy. Maybe she’s just joking around. Maybe… no, no, this is not real.”

I jumped off the stair master, grabbed my phone and my Beats, and ran to the locker room. My hands were shaking as I tried opening the lock to my locker. “What’s the fucking combo again?” My mind was racing and I couldn’t even remember my locker combination. Finally after the 3rd try, it snapped open. I threw my sweatpants and sweatshirt into my bag, threw on my winter jacket, and slammed the locker door.

I quickly pushed through the glass doors and sprinted out of the gym. It was still raining outside, and I was praying to God, “just don’t fall.” I wanted to grab one of the random guys at the gym and make them go with me, but I decided to just handle this on my own. I might be small, I might be short, but my anger and adrenaline made me feel like I was a pro football player running down the sideline. I was begging my roommate was okay, since I had no idea if anyone was still in the apartment. “Please God tell me she’s okay. Please tell me they didn’t hurt Aku.”

I walk through the first door, unlock the second door, and the third door (the front door of our apartment) is open with Aku crying, mumbling out words on the phone. I could tell she was still speaking with the cops and trying to utter out the facts: our names, our address, what’s stolen, etc. I looked in the apartment and realized immediately that things were pushed around. Our liquor bottles on the bar were moved and the second shelf was much more spacious than it was before. The items we had on the windowsill were moved to the top of the bar. And then, when I looked at the window behind the bar, I saw something. This is what ignited the shock in me where the blood started to rush to my face, my body felt numb, and my throat grew dry. A ladder was prompted up from the ground to our window. Someone climbed through our window, stole our stuff, and exited through the front door… all within less than 50 minutes.

Immediately after knocking out of my ‘deer-in-headlights’ coma, I ran to my room. My drawers were opened. My clothes were scattered across the floor. My Michael Kors purse which is always hanging up on the side of my wardrobe was thrown across my bed. My pillows were all disorganized. I felt like I was going to either throw up or faint. I wondered why I stopped crying already, but then again, I didn’t think this was really happening yet. But then I checked inside my drawers, and my laptop was gone. I checked my bed, and my iPad was gone. I checked the top of my dresser, and my rings were gone. I checked my bookcase, and my coin jar was gone. And lastly, I checked the drawer underneath my bed, and my underwear was gone. So not only is this person a criminal, they are a very disgustingly pathetic, perverted criminal.

This isn’t happening. This is Astoria. This is one of the safer places in Queens. This is actually a “Dad-approved” place to live. I never heard of this happening here. Why us? Why why why why why why why….

I stepped out of my room and looked at my roommate. Her face was covered in tears. Her eyes and cheeks were slowly turning to a darker pink color. I was still standing there, without any tears, and asked myself, “What is wrong with me? I can cry over a fucking Folgers commercial or some stupid Rom-Com movie but I can’t cry when I was just fucking robbed? What is going on?

I asked her what was stolen from her room. She had her wad of cash stolen – $600 she was saving for rent. Her laptop was stolen from her desk. All her change/coin purses were emptied and stolen. Her three pairs of sunglasses were stolen. Her hard drive with her acting monologues were stolen. Her backpack that hung up in the corner was stolen. And lastly, a small vintage camera from her grandpa was stolen from our living room shelf. Some of these things can be replaced, but some of them, cannot. 

The cops arrived quickly after Aku placed the call. Two gentleman came over and immediately started questioning us. We answered every question, over and over again, to each and every officer who came over. At one point, there were probably 8 officers in our apartment. We were strictly advised not to touch anything as it could be used as a print. That was the part that gave us some hope. There were obvious finger prints on our bar, the TV stand, and my dresser. The prints had a white residue (so we knew it wasn’t our prints) that we assume was caused from the ladder outside — chipped with white paint and rust. We used our phone lights in addition to the flashlights the cops were using to check the area.

It was an hour or two after the cops arrived, and I looked to my right and my older brother was standing there waiting to get into the front door. Anddddddd, there it was, there came the waterfall of tears drenching my face. The innocence and and concern on his face cut my heart like a hot knife to a stick of butter. He was still dressed in his overcoat and suit from work. I pushed over the officers and ran to give him a hug. I was crying on his shoulder and in shock that he came.

How did he know? Well, when everything first happened, I called my father who was in the same amount of shock that I was. However, I did not approve of my dad’s reaction when I said that we were robbed. My dad’s immediate response was, “Uh huh? How do you know?” And then… I lost it.

HOW THE FUCK DO I KNOW DAD? MAYBE CAUSE ALL OUR SHIT IS GONE – MY LAPTOP – HER LAPTOP – HER MONEY. MY ROOM IS A MESS WITH SHIT EVERYWHERE OF COURSE SOMEONE WAS HERE! ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY IS ‘UH HUH?!?!?’ GOODBYE.

Dramatic? Yes, since obviously not everything was gone. But of course he was just as shocked as I was. He called my brother and told him to leave work and go to my house. My brother was there when all my friends who I called weren’t answering or giving me blasé answers like, “Oh darn that sucks for you.” HAHA, no shit right?! Yeah, this all is just “darn” until it happens to you.

My brother stayed with us until the last two detectives left around 11:30 p.m. Before they left, they took mine and Aku’s fingerprints so they could make sure it wasn’t a match to the samples they swiped from the furniture. As the detectives were packing up their things, I said, “So what are next steps? Do we call you tomorrow? Do you call us tomorrow? When will you let us know what’s happening?

Their answer: “There’s not really any ‘next steps’ right now. It takes a few weeks for the fingerprints to get processed back from the labs. If it’s a match to someone in our criminal database, then we will have a better chance at catching them. But until then, there’s not really much we can do. You can call the precinct if you haven’t heard from us in a while and would like an update on the case. Just stay safe and really try to observe your surroundings for now.

Oh. So basically, what you just said, is that I just get to live in fear for the next few months of my life – correct? Since there’s absolutely nothing else to do right now except stare at the fucking wall all night since how the hell do you think we are going to sleep tonight?!?! What the actual fuck?!?!?!!

No, I didn’t say any of that. But that is exactly what I was thinking. I don’t know the ‘process’ of these things, and I never even watched any of those CSI shows or something. I honestly thought it takes just a few days or hours to match a fingerprint. WEEKS YOU’RE TELLING ME? Jesus. OH! And both of us are single as fuck – WHY CAN’T I HAVE A BIG, STRONG, MUSCULAR, PROTECTIVE BOYFRIEND FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE?!!?!?! I promise you, God, I’ll go to church every Sunday, I’ll stop drinking so much, WHATEVER-YOU-WANT, but PLEASE, just grant me some giant, muscular athlete to help me feel safe for a few months. I promise I’ll return him, but please, just let me feel safe again. 

So here we are now, 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, and I’ve pretty much just zoned out for an hour to write this. I’m questioning what I even do tonight: do I go home or do I stay out? Do I wanna go home to make sure no one comes in? Or do I stay out because I’m scared of my neighborhood? Or because I’m scared of sleeping in a bed that has been polluted with some perverted villain’s hands?

What do I do now?

How do I feel safe again? How do I sleep again? Where should I go after work? Should I take off work? Should I call the precinct? Should I wait for them to call me? Do I cry? Do I scream? Do I even believe that this is really happening? 

I will pray. I will be hopeful. I will continue to believe in Karma.

I will do the best that I fucking can to be okay, and that is the only thing I can do right now.