The Importance of Likability

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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.

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Ugh, this dress. Forever regretting how badly it washed me out.

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 Image result for 2000s fashion popularwrong, 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 Image result for popularity quotesand 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.

There are two types of popularity: status, and likability. It’s nice to have both, but one is far superior than the other. Let’s take status for example. Someone of status can be someone like Paris Hilton or Donald Trump. They were both born into wealth, and what we all know, money = power. The more money you have, the more “power” you are assumed to have since you have access to many things that 90% of us do not. You have more financial freedom to do the things you want to do, and do the things that many others could only wish they could do.

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 Image result for tom hanks likablethat 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, Image result for ellen degeneres likablehumorous, 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 the Real Housewives? They come off extremely pretentious, exposing their lavish Image result for rich kids of beverly hillslifestyles 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 Image result for edited selves on social mediathe 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 Related imagedependent 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. 

 

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Authenticity in Social Media: Influencers, Paid Media, & Relentless Marketing

“Social media is more about sociology and psychology than it is about technology”

Brian Solis

You love it. You hate it. You run away from it. You run back to it. It’s made your life better. It’s made your life worse. Social media is… complicated.

As someone who has: read a handful of books, completed a 40 page senior thesis, conducted a focus group, researched for hours, and obtained a career in this fieldsocial media is a topic that I have been consistently intrigued by. It inspires me, but it also drives me crazy. I think that is how we all feel about social media at the moment. It’s almost impossible to drag ourselves away from logging into Facebook or Instagram every morning – it’s pretty much the first thing we check when we wake up. It has built relationships, but it has also destroyed relationships. It has made some things in our lives easier, but it has also made things more complicated. Social media is more about how people behave and communicate rather than an evolution in technology.

Do you remember when you first created a Facebook profile? Or the first tweet you sent out on Twitter? Or the first picture you posted to Instagram? Social Media has been around for almost half my life. I think I created my Facebook in 2007, about 3 years after it was created by my idol… Mark Zuckerberg. Say what you want about him (The Social Networkmy favorite movie – explains the history and lawsuit he was involved in while Facebook was evolving – very messy), but you have to agree that the 5th richest man in the world has to be an extremely intelligent individual.

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According to recent findings, the top 4 social media sites are: (1) Facebook (2) YouTube (3) Instagram and (4) Twitter. Facebook was the first main social media platform that excelled in user growth astronomically. Most people you know DO have a Facebook profile nowadays, whether or not they use it as much as they once did when it first became popular. Due to to the rise of the other platforms listed above, and other apps like Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, etc., Facebook’s popularity among Millennials and other age groups tended to fade a bit. This is when Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat’s appeal grew. There is one phrase that comes to mind when describing those 4 platforms: “Short, sweet, and to the point.”

A lot of people have drifted away from Facebook due to it’s “messiness” – AKA, the Event Invites, the Game Invites, the Birthday Notifications, the Video posts, Image posts, Status Updates, Advertisements, People You May Know… and the list goes on. This is not necessarily saying Facebook is a “bad” social network or that it is too complex, however… Millennials now tend to gravitate toward the more simpler platforms where a post can be easily explained with visual cues – a photo or video.

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YouTube is a collection of videos. Search the topic you are interested in, and
browse results until you find what you are looking for. Twitter is feed of status updates under 140 characters. It’s basically the headline or summary of any specific event, feeling, occurrence, etc (Twitter is #ShortSweetAndToThePoint, which also makes it the fastest moving platform with a constant conversation flow)Snapchat is a photo and/or video that disappears in 10 seconds or less. You can send these photos/videos directly, or post them on your “story” visible to the public or your friends which disappears 24 hours after it was posted. Instagram is a feed of images or short videos posted by people you choose to follow. Similar to Twitter, you have a # of people who follow you, and you have a # of people you choose to follow. Unlike Facebook, the relationship does not have to be mutual. You can choose to follow people who do not follow you and vice versa.

When I was in my senior year of college (2013), Instagram was the “it” platform. Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion – an incredibly smart move (#Biased cause of love Mark Zuckerberg but c’mon, it was a good move). Personally, Related imageI still believe that Instagram is the ‘favorite’ platform to use for Millennials – if not Snapchat. Both of them are dominating the social scene right now. The rise of “social media influencers” and social advertisements on these platforms has increased drastically throughout the years. You can now make thousands of dollars just from posting a sponsored advertisement on Instagram or Snapchat – crazy, right?

That leads me into my next point – social media influencers who are they and what do they do? When I type the word “influencers” out on my keyword, it is underlined in red as not even a real word. Social Media Influencers are the new celebrities of the digital revolution. They are people who have grown their social media audience to add up to millions and millions of followers – mainly from the Image result for social media influencerscontent they post online to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Basically, their rise to fame was not from a reality TV show (more of a 90s/early 2000s trend), or being a professional athlete, singer, actor, etc. They gained popularity primarily through what they share on social media. This can be anything from their singing abilities, makeup tutorials, or their incredible body.

When companies discover these influencers, and see how large their audience is, they say, “Hey, if we can get this person to share our product/service to their millions of followers from just making a Facebook/Instagram post, this will save us a ton of $$$, and it will reach millions of people – how awesome!” This is now what we call social media advertising/marketing.

Many companies and brands are *awesome* at social media marketing. A lot of Image result for best brands on socialcompanies, when they first start out and have a low budget, typically market their product/service on their own pages which usually costs them little to no money. Other companies will send their product to an influencer (or let them use their service) for free in order for them to share it to their audience. Influencers typically disclaim that they were sent the product for free (but they do not have to from what I can recall), but that they “would never share a product or service that they did not genuinely like.” ~Eye roll.~ I know, I know… I seem petty, but maybe it is my guilty conscious, but if a company sent me a crap ton of stuff
Image result for sponsored posts on social mediafor free, I would feel a bit bad for going online and calling it shit. I believe that a lot of influencers feel the same, so they go online and state how much they genuinely love the product/service, which will most likely lead to more free stuff in the future, and a positive networking relationship in the future. In my opinion – networking is A MAJOR KEY in life – one of the most important skills to become an expert in (…as my dad’s voice goes off in my head, “it’s all about who you know“).

However, as influencers gain more thousands and millions of followers, they start to become greedy. They don’t care as much about getting free stuff, they want the money money money. Paid social media is one of the most successful marketing Image result for sponsored posts on social mediatools used today. You have probably noticed that when you scroll through your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds nowadays, you see a lot of posts that say “Sponsored” at the top. This means that that post was specifically planted on your feed (based on your demographic, web browsing history, etc) to garner your attention. A cost is incurred depending on the type of ad planned; for example many ads incur a cost per click. There is so much to say about paid media in terms of these brand-made sponsored post, but the point is: since companies/brands realize that more people are spending MORE time on social media, so they are putting their money where you are. If their target market spends the most time on Instagram out of all social platforms, then they are going to appear on your feed there in a Sponsored post, hoping for you to click (companies also track engagement here – likes, shares, retweets, etc.) on their ad and make them some more, more money.

Influencers can be part of sponsored posts as well. Let’s look a Kylie Jenner – one of the most talked about celebrities in pop culture – with one of the most insane bodies #curvesgalore (and also labeled as #SlimThick which is the new “look” apparently), with almost 100 million followers just on Instagram (on JUST her personal account – not included her makeup line account, etc). Let’s take a look at Image result for fittea sponsorthis post here. Kylie Jenner takes a selfie with a weird sanitary pad-looking wrap on her stomach. This is apparently a ‘tummy fat loss wrap’ made by the Queen of Social Media Scam Companies – FitTea. FitTea is known for using beautiful, skinny, fit, and trending social media celebrities in their marketing campaigns on Instagram specifically. Why Instagram? Because Instagram is all about the image – it is a platform solely based on a picture and the story it tells. Therefore, FitTea uses the most social stars with the most incredible bodies, and pays them to talk about their product. Do these stars actually USE the product? My belief is no, but I am honestly not sure. I guess if I was getting a product for free and getting paid to advertise it, I would give it a try. But then again, me being someone who researches everythingggggggg – I would also hesitate to use something that is essentially a liquid laxative marketed to “detox” the body, when your body already detoxes itself naturally.

Depending on the amount of followers the influencer has across all major platforms, the brand will offer/negotiate on a price to pay the influencer for posting about their product. Sometimes the price can be $5000, and sometimes it can be $20000 or more. Each brand is different, and sometimes they may ask the influencer to use certain keywords to explain their product, or if on YouTube… talk about their product for a certain amount of time, at a certain point in the video, etc. (2 minutes at the beginning of the video, for example).

At this point, we can go back to the quote that I introduced the article with:

Social media is more about sociology and psychology than it is about technology” 

I believe through all of my extensive research online, public seminars and workshops, interviews, and books read on the topic… social media is the Image result for psychology of social mediaobservance of human actions/behavior, and the portrayal of their mental state. Social media strategists are the psychologists behind these new social media campaigns that are targeting YOU. They are researching how you communicate, what you communicate, where you communicate, when you communicate, etc. They are looking at your organic behavior and your reactive behavior. They are keeping track of trends you follow, who you follow, and how you interact with what you love and hate. This sounds kinda stalkerish and/or creepy, right? Remember when you were shopping for shoes, and then 20 minutes later when you logged onto Facebook you saw an advertisement for the SAME shoes you were just looking at? Your actions are being recorded online ev-ree-where….

Most of this piece talked about how brands/companies use social media to study their consumer and how to successfully market to them on the platforms where they are most, what messaging to use to them, what voice/tone to speak in, etc. However, we can use social media to also analyze people with our own knowledge Image result for psychology of social mediaof psychology and sociology. As someone who has been interested in psychology since my mid teens, it was a no-brainer for me to jump into the social field when it gained huge popularity (and while journalism sadly grew less popular *hint: I was a journalism major) while I was in college. As said before, I studied the way college females use social media to help shape their self-presentation as my senior research thesis.

I read and read and read and read.

I read about the word “selfie” for 4 weeks. I read about how females use social media differently than males. I read about the importance of platform selection and post time when crafting your post. All of these things dig dip into the human Image result for editing ourselves on social mediapsyche, rather than justifying social media as just a way to communicate with people. Social media is also how we communicate ourselves to the world, which is
typically our “ideal” and “edited” self rather than our authentic selves
. We share the best parts of our lives that are exciting, beautiful, memorable, unique, etc. Everything about our social media feeds – the captions we use, the type of photos we post, the language we use – is all an analysis of ourselves and how we want to be portrayed. It’s more than just communicating a friend, it’s about how we want our friend to communicate with us.

With the ability to freely edit everything about ourselves and/or our brand(s) on social media, how are we to believe who or what is authentic anymore? These posts are a compilation of what we want to hear, what we want to see, what we want to read – is any of it genuine anymore? How are we to believe who is real and who is fake? How are we supposed to know which brands are trustworthy anymore?

I can talk about this for hours – so I’ll wrap it up here before this becomes another 40 page research paper. What are your thoughts on influencers and authenticity on social media? 

 

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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.

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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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.***

5 Reasons Why it’s Good to be Single AF

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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 always single — 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. 

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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. Image result for being singleThis 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 knowYou 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 Image result for being singleand, 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 subjectThis 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?

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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, you don’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 to find Image result for being single is awesomeANOTHER 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?

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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