Mass Effect: Andromeda

Hold onto your omni-tools, friends. We got some things to discuss.

So, if you’ve read any of my previous reviews of the games in this franchise (which can be found here or here), you know I’m a bit of a fan. Maybe even a bit more than “just” a fan. I love these games. I got so invested in Commander Shepard and the universe that she was fighting to save. They are easily some of my favorite games of all time. Needless to say, the expectations for Andromeda were high. And also, sorta unique. Before Andromeda, all the games I’ve played, I played after the hype. I never had to wait for them, never got to go to a midnight release, never got to experience the kinks and rough patches of a newly released game. With Andromeda, I got to experience it all.

And it was epic.

Fair warning: spoilers abound after this. Proceed with caution. 

Kill It With Fire

First off, the gameplay mechanics were absolutely fantastic. I absolutely loved fighting in this game. It felt so flawless, so clean, if that word makes any sense. I’ve never played a game and felt so badass, killing Kett and Chosen left and right. I loved the hovering affect, how you could linger in mid-air and still shoot at something (though I never really mastered this). I loved the way you could switch profiles, building different sets of skills to switch between in different situations (though I didn’t actually really use this, I did like that the option was there and I might try and experiment with this more during my next run through). The combos were awesome (I was a fan of the any fire combos, personally) and I found myself dying a lot less playing Andromeda than I ever did in the Shepard’s trilogy.

And I definitely fell in love with my Krogan Hammer.

Pick Up All the Plants

You get to explore five main worlds: Eos, Havarl, Kadara, Elaaden and Voeld. All of them had unique atmospheres, terrain and environments, all which started out hazardous thanks to the vaults you need to bring back to life (also, those puzzles to unlock the vaults? Awesomeness). The graphics were gorgeous and I absolutely adored searching inch by inch through every world I could, picking up all the resources I could find (which probably explains why it took ages for me to actually beat the game). I think Havarl was probably my favorite. The purple and blue color scheme was just gorgeous. Voeld was definitely my least favorite. I suck at driving the Nomad to begin with, but you want me to drive it over ice? Yeah, I’m sure you know how that went.

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Too Many Best Friends

One of my favorite elements of any BioWare game are my companions. I love learning their backstories, their personalities, discovering their quirks and trying to be everyone’s best friend (#Paragonforlife). As such, it’s always hard when you have too many favorites and never enough time to do all the missions bringing all your favorites along. Andromeda was no exception to this.

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Drack was my home boy. By far my favorite. I loved that he was older and called me “kid.” Plus, it kind of hard not to love the Krogan indefinitely. Jaal was definitely high on the list, too. His openness with his emotions, thanks to his being Angaran (which, helloooo new race and epic awesomeness) made him so easy to get along with and I always wanted him on my missions. I loved Liam’s humor (and goodness, I laughed too hard during his loyalty mission). Vetra is my girl who I wished I would have gotten to know better. In my next playthrough, I’ll definitely be having her tag along a little bit more. Peebee was annoying at first, but kinda grew on me. I disliked Cora the entire time. I can’t even give you a good reason why. I just didn’t like her.

Also, movie night? Hell to the yes.

Oh, and there were some awesome secondary characters, like Gil or Kesh, who I was also fond of. But not Director Tann or Addison. Fuck them.

Be Still, My Beating Heart

So, if you read this post, you’ll know that I was pretty stoked that BioWare was trying to make the romances more realistic. Again, the romances are one of the aspects I love about BioWare’s games (I’m pretty sure I still have dreams about Commander Cullen. Hello). However, I did find myself a little disappointed by it (at least the romance track I went down). I romanced Liam and the flirting was fun and the dates we went on were actually really cute. But after we became serious, nothing changed in his dialogue and no one else really acknowledged it, which was sad. Those were the types of changes I was hoping for. Where were the jokes from the crew? Because that crew would have made jokes. I wasn’t completely disappointed, but just a little bummed–yet still excited to try out a different romance later.

You Exalted What

So, the plot. The story. There are some major things going on in Andromeda.

The main plot: arcs leave the Milky Way galaxy and travel to Andromeda, staying in cryo for 600 years before waking up to a new galaxy and new golden worlds. Except, of course, the golden worlds have changed since they were scouted 600 years earlier and they are not exactly…habitable. And now it’s up to the Pathfinder to fix them (which was your Dad’s job, but I’m sure you can guess how that ended up, making it your job).

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Fighting those Architects, though…

Overall, I liked the story. I liked the introduction of the Kett and the Angara, and how those two species connected (hello exaltation). I wasn’t as invested as I was with Commander Shepard and the fight against the Reapers, but naturally, I had three games to ensnare me, so I’m not surprised or disappointed that I wasn’t as invested into Ryder and her fight. I really enjoyed the twist with a certain individual and a cryo pod (whereas another certain individual and a cryo pod pissed me the hell off ((see section WTF, Mate? below)) and am really intrigued to see where that goes in a sequel ((because there is going to be sequel, right?)). The final boss fight was fun, but not as difficult as I imagined or heard it rumored to be (granted, I was level, what, 57 at the time, so I might have been a bit overpowered).

Flashbacks and the Future

Probably some of the most fun I had was finding and being surprised by all the flashbacks and references to previous games. Hearing Liara’s voice again made me tear up. Later in the game, when Dad’s memories revealed some discussion over Shepard and the Reapers, I was giddy with excitement (and when he talked to Garrus’s dad? *dies*). And at the very end, reading through the email terminal thanking me for saving the galaxy, I seriously freaked out at some of the people who thanked me (don’t know what I’m talking about? GO.READ.THAT.TERMINAL. You’ll thank me later). So that was a blast.

Also, anyone else notice the parallel of the Council never helping Shepard or believing her when she talked about the Reapers and then the Board of Directors not wanting to help Ryder, so she has to go rogue and find Meridian on her own with the other Pathfinders? Anyone else notice that?? Freakin’ governments.

And I’m already intrigued by the unanswered questions and the future of the franchise. Will there really be a DLC featuring the Quarians? What challenge will occur next? Will Shepard’s decision with the Reapers ever have consequences that are revealed or felt later? What about the evolution of the AI and the interaction with the Pathfinders? What consequences will follow that? (Also, really curious: did the Quarian Pathfinder also have SAM inserted??)

WTF, Mate?

So, overall, I really, really enjoyed this game. It’s BioWare and Mass Effect, after all. Kinda hard not to love. However, I had one major complaint, one thing that I truly do not understand.

Scott. My twin. In cryo. The entire game. 

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When it was first revealed that I had a brother, I was absolutely and totally stoked. Video game characters never have families–or if they do, they’ve already died by the time you play them, so you never get to interact with them. We all knew Dad wasn’t going to make it. But this time, I had a brother, a twin. Someone who I could explore Andromeda with. Someone to reminisce about our childhood together. Someone to make jokes with, someone to lean on, someone to add an entire new element to the video game world I’d never experienced before: having an actual family I could interact with in a meaningful, impactful way.

But the minute–no, the millisecond–that Scott’s cryo pod malfunctioned, I knew. I bloody knew.

I might as well have been an orphan.

I mean, seriously? What was the point of giving me a brother if he was stuck in a coma the entire time? Even at the end, when the Archon overtakes Scott and uses his implant to try and corrupt Meridian, I still was pissed. Scott should have been been with me the entire time, as a companion. He should have been there. I felt robbed of a neat and truly awesome opportunity.

Also, there is this part where the Archon traps Ryder and SAM kills her by stopping her heart to free her. I so wanted Ryder to actually die and then we as the player are switched to our twin, who has to pick up the mission from there to save the other companions trapped with our dead sibling, not to mention overthrowing the Archon and still saving the golden worlds. Now there’s a twist I wouldn’t have seen coming (and a better purpose for our comatosed twin). Granted, it is really dark, but hey, that’s how I am as a writer. Be grateful I am nowhere near involved in writing games for BioWare. I’d shatter your hearts.

Wrapping Up

So, yeah, I obviously had some opinions on this game. Andromeda was a pretty awesome experience and it was fantastic to return to the Mass Effect world on the latest gen console. I’m still a huge fan of BioWare and plan on supporting them for a very, very long time. If you haven’t checked out Andromeda yet, you probably, most definitely, should.

Cheers.


For Honor: A Review

When For Honor was first announced, I was pretty dang stoked for it. I mean, did you watch the trailer? Did you see the beautiful graphics? Was the nerd in you drawn into the idea of exploring and mastering whatever faction you chose? Did you stress for months beforehand about which faction to swear your loyalties to? Did you get chills at the end of the trailer and get stroked that your typical, “Woe is me, I’m alone again on Valentine’s Day” would be interrupted by epic awesomeness that For Honor promised to be?

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Were you also utterly disappointed?

I will be the first to admit that my disappointment was pretty much self-inflicted, as I only really watched the E3 announcement trailer before I got stoked to play it. So I really encourage you, if you’re interested, to give this game a try yourself before you make a decision on how you feel about it.

Based off that trailer, I made these assumptions: one, you get to choose a faction between Knights, Samurai and Vikings, and then you go on a campaign fighting against the other two while bringing loyalty and glory to your own faction. Two, there was this ultra baddie named Apollyon that you’d also have to face–and maybe (and just guessing here) we’d have to unite the factions to defeat her. As a fan of RPGs, I had more of a RPG vision for this game than what the game actually was: a tactical, multiplayer hack and slash.

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Don’t get me wrong: this game wasn’t bad, if you were a proper gamer unlike myself and actually looked into what the game was meant to be. And I played it a couple of times and did enjoy myself, even though I sucked at it and never mastered blocking properly. I do think the combat mechanics are fascinating and complex, and offered a challenge that I quite enjoyed (and never got close to mastering). I thought the 12 class options across the three factions was really neat, though I did feel that choosing a faction was a bit pointless if I could play as any class, regardless of my allegiance. And I quickly discovered that the “storyline” mode was really just a way to preview all the different classes, while the multiplayer option was where the meat and potatoes truly lied.

Image result for For Honor

I had a sweeping vision of this epic, open-world RPG where you follow your faction and your champion through epic battles and conquests while attempting to win this age old war. Paired with the beautiful graphics I’d already been teased with and the ominous threat of Apollyon, there was so much promise and hype for this game I had created in my head.

Unfortunately, the game they created didn’t match that vision. And thus, I was disappointed, to the point where I’m actually going to sell the game back and use some of that money to purchase Horizon: Zero Dawn–another new release that I was so stoked about, yet couldn’t afford thanks to buying For Honor and Mass Effect: Andromeda around the same time. It’s not that For Honor is a bad game. It’s just not my cup my tea, especially because I did the game a disservice and followed my own assumptions instead of their advertisement.

So if you like multiplayer games with complex battle systems and a strong reward for tactical prowess, then hit up For Honor. I think you’ll like it. But if you’re more of an open-world, customizable character and too-many-side-quests-to-count kind of player, then perhaps rent it to try it out before you buy.

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Nineteen

 emperors new groove GIF

It’s awesome when you can still feel like this during a week when you didn’t meet all of yours goals.

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Keep up working out.
    • Status: Hell yes. I worked out five times last week and it was amazing. Due to a procedure I had to get done this week, working out will on the back burner just to make sure everything is smooth health wise (and it should be, just being extra cautious). I do hope to try and go on walks, though.
  • This Week’s Goal: Eat well.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit three books, write four new books and query at least one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Research. Write. Edit.
    • Status: Made progress. I did a very small amount of research on how to write three-dimensional characters and I did finish writing my short story, so that went well. I also came up with a game plan with my fellow Muses to write more, starting today. So I’m going to destroy this rut.
  • This Week’s Goal: Complete in-depth write up of Artemis’s character.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Write review and read every day.
    • Status: Halfway. Review was written, but I didn’t read at all. Oops.
  • This Week’s Goal: Read!

Relaxation:

  • Long-term Goal: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Read outside once when the weather is awesome. Figure out a new video game to conquer.
    • Status: Complete. This is a weird goal, sometimes. I didn’t read outside and I didn’t start a new game, but started playing Destiny again, so technically I didn’t do want I “wanted” to do. But I did find time to relax over the week (including watching two-thirds of the LOTR trilogy yesterday) so this goal is still complete, even if what I did was different than what I’d thought I’d do.
  • This Week’s Goal: Get outside.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Catch up on reading blogs!
    • Status: Yep!
  • This Week’s Goal: Catch up writing reviews over video games.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Only buy what is necessary.
    • Status: Success…if you ignore that lunch I bought catching up with the bestie…
  • This Week’s Goal: Get ready to pay June’s bills.

I can’t believe it’s already been 19 weeks (well, counting this week) since I started focusing on the ways I wanted to improve myself and my life. I’ve definitely met a lot more success this go around than I ever have before–and I think these weekly updates are a huge part of that. So thanks for checking out these posts and not getting annoyed with me that they happen. 🙂

Onward to another kick ass week!

Cheers.


Happiness: To Me, From Me

This post might make me sound a little pathetic…and maybe I am, a little bit. If you read my super personal post the other day, you’ll know that I rely on the opinion of others a bit too heavily. I also rely on other people as my main source of happiness a bit too much. Not saying that I can’t be happy on my own, but there are definitely times and situations where I feel like I can only be happy if X does Y. Whether it’s a friend inviting me to hang out or texting me back, a family member surprising me for dinner or a crush flirting with me, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of letting my happiness come from someone else, instead of creating it from within myself and letting any other source of happiness be a bonus, a complement, to what I create.

This might not make a lot of sense or it might make me seem like a really weird (which is accurate) and slightly sad (hopefully not true) individual. But considering my heart is a bit confused and not exactly whole at the moment, by being really sad over that, I’ve realized how much happiness came from that person…and I’m struggling a little bit to create my own happiness without them.

I realize this is something I need to work on. No matter what type of relationship you’re in, you should never rely on someone that much; to be the main source of your happiness. It puts too much pressure on them, it hurts you when you lose them and suddenly struggle to be happy and, honestly, it isn’t exactly healthy. Happiness should come from within you. Same goes for self-worth, which I also put in the hands of others too often. A friend told me that my affirmations of worth need to come from within me, not from other people. By doing that, it makes it easier for others to see how much value I truly have, instead of me struggling to find any value at all when relationships and friendships become complicated or confusing. I loved that advice. It was really eye-opening.

Obviously, I won’t be making any big mental changes in a day. I’ve had a lot of eye-opening moments recently and I still have a long way to go in becoming the person I want to be. But I wanted to try and remind myself that I can be happy no matter what life throws at me; no matter how lonely I feel sometimes, wishing I was in a committed relationship or missing my friends and family. So below, I wrote out a list of things that I can do to make me happy. As a reminder that I can, indeed, be happy alone. Might be cheesy, might be weird, that I’m posting this, but if I didn’t write this post, this list would never get written. And I think I need it.

So, without further ado:

Happiness To Me, From Me

  1. Trying out a new recipe.
  2. Cooking in general–and that full feeling you get after eating a good meal.
  3. Reading outside.
  4. Feeling the sweat drip down my face as I run.
  5. Getting my first dog someday.
  6. Buying a house! (I’m oddly really excited to do this.)
  7. Writing.
  8. Creating characters and worlds and challenges.
  9. Leveling up in a video game.
  10. Crossing things off of my To-Do List.
  11. Writing letters.
  12. Listening to a song that perfectly encapsulates your mood.
  13. That perfect fall weather.
  14. Wearing outfits that make me feel like a BAMF.
  15. Getting tattoos.
  16. A really hot bath.
  17. Finally working through that plot hole.
  18. Cliffhanger endings.
  19. Leaving the windows open during a thunderstorm.
  20. A clean house.
  21. Really good smelling candles.
  22. Eating popcorn and ice cream during a good movie.
  23. Buying a new outfit or book.
  24. Sleeping in on the weekend–or waking up feeling totally rested.
  25. Painting my nails.
  26. Nailing the side braid with my hair.
  27. Spending the entire day outside.
  28. Reading by the pool.
  29. Going on a walk without headphones and listening to nature.
  30. Having a really productive day.
  31. Clocking out before the weekend.
  32. Nerding out about Tolkien.
  33. Writing in coffee shops.
  34. Finally beating that boss (in video games) you’ve been stuck on for weeks.
  35. Decorating the home.
  36. Eventually planting my own garden!

I had no idea how long the list would turn out to be–and that’s just a list of things that I can do alone to create happiness for myself. It’s not complete. I’m sure there are other things I’ll think of. And that doesn’t even include things I can do with other people.  Don’t get me wrong: I really, really love hanging out with other people. And I love how much joy I get from spending time with those that mean the most to me. There’s no plan to stop doing that (though, as I’ve gotten a little bit older, I have found that those moments are harder to come by, so I’m alone more often than anything else). But I just wanted to write down something, to remind myself that while loving others and finding happiness with them is fantastic, that can’t be my only source. Instead, my main source has to come from me, so that no matter what I go through in life, I still know how to be happy–even if it’s hard sometimes.

Cheers.


Social Media Hiatus

It might seem a bit dramatic to post that I’m going to go on a social media hiatus, as I don’t spend a ton of time on social media to begin with–especially after I deleted all the apps off of my phone, ages ago. But I still spend enough time scrolling through Facebook and Twitter that I know I’m wasting precious time I could be using for something else. But, mainly one thing:

Writing.

I’m still not sure why, entirely, I am so apprehensive when it comes to working on my own writing. It’s been months–monthssince I’ve properly written. I have numerous books that need to be edited. So many ideas that I want to chase. After writing so much last year, hardly writing anything this year and it’s already almost June…it feels like a part of my identity is just completely gone. That I’m living a lie, somehow.

Quitting my second job has definitely freed up some time, but I’ve filled most of it with working out and cooking. Which means  I need to free up some more. I don’t want to hide behind the excuse that I don’t have enough time to write. Writing is my life. It should be priority, not something that always gets pushed aside. For now, one of the easiest solutions is lessening my social media intake; lessening the hours I spend in the evening scrolling through updates and rants.

So, apologies to anyone on Facebook or my Twitter fam. I may not be there for a while.

That doesn’t mean that I’ll be completely silent. I’ll occasionally check Facebook or Twitter. I’ll still post pictures on Instagram and my blogs will still link to both locations, so I won’t entirely ghost out. But if you need to contact me or want to chat, social media might not be the best avenue to go. In fact, I have a couple of email chains going with some friends that I adore (even if it takes me a little while to respond). So if you want to still stay in touch regularly, message me sometime this week and we can definitely get an email chain going. Otherwise, I wish everyone all the best of luck, in every aspect of life luck is needed–and perhaps, sometimes, even when it’s not.

I have some writing to do.

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Eighteen

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Alternate running and lifting.
    • Status: Kicked ass. I worked out six–yeah, six–times last week, running three times and lifting three times. It felt amazing. It was amazing. Now to keep it up (maybe not six days every week, but definitely every time that I can).
  • This Week’s GoalKeep up working out.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit three books, write four new books and query at least one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Research. Write. Edit.
    • Status: Still…nothing. Lord help me, I don’t understand what I’m so scared of. Why I am constantly putting writing on the back-burner so I can complete everything else. I hate it and something’s gotta change. Immediately.
  • This Week’s Goal: Research. Write. Edit.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish The Bloodbound and write reviews.
    • Status: Almost! I did finish both The Bloodbound and Warlock Holmes, though I only wrote a review over one.
  • This Week’s Goal: Write review and read every day.

Relaxation:

  • Long-term Goal: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Play Andromeda during the thunderstorms.
    • Status: Complete! Not only did I get to play Andromeda during the storms, but I also BEAT the game. Booyah.
  • This Week’s Goal: Read outside once when the weather is awesome. Figure out a new video game to conquer.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Blog twice.
    • Status: Complete…if you count the Week Seventeen goal’s post, which, honestly, I usually do. But I was hoping to get two additional posts written.
  • This Week’s Goal: Catch up on reading blogs!

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Reevaluate finances for May.
    • Status: Sorta. 
  • This Week’s Goal: Only buy what is necessary.

So Week Seventeen, a little bit of heartbreak motivated some killer workouts–and I still managed to get some other things done, too. And though I feel pretty proud of that, I’m still upset that I’ve been unable to overcome this weird, fear-inspired mental block when it comes to my writing. I haven’t felt whole in months. So I must figure out something. A change in routine, lessening my commitments, reorganizing my schedule…something. Hopefully this week, I can figure it out.

Cheers.


The Surprising Insights Amidst Heartbreak

It’s been awhile since my heart broke.

I’ll let you in on a secret: I didn’t miss the feeling.

I didn’t miss the pain in the back of my eyes from the pressure of crying too much and too frequently, resulting in swelling and redness that I usually just tell my coworkers are allergies and they pretend to believe me as a kindness. I didn’t miss the actual pain in my chest or how my mind constantly runs down various paths of What Ifs and Whys as I struggle to understand how I ended up with a beating heart pieced together by strings that loosen with every choked sob. I didn’t miss the sudden teeter-tottering that follows for days afterwards, where I never know how long that happiness I’m fighting to create will last before a surprise reminder of what could have been–what I miss, what I want but can’t have–suddenly snaps and I go into another sad spiral.

Yeah, I didn’t miss any of this. Yet you don’t really get to choose when or how often you experience this type of pain. You do, however, as John Green penned, have a say on who hurts you. And I like my choice.

Image result for john green quote i like my choices

A classic case of bad timing and one person falling more than the other, this current heartbreak is truly just unlucky. It’s going to take a little bit of time to get over and get used to not having a crush again; not having that hope that maybe this time, just this time, things might work out and I’ll finally find that relationship I’ve always dreamed of.

Unfortunately, at this moment, this time isn’t it, either.

But this heartbreak gave me a lot of insight that I’ve never experienced before. And of course, I have to write it down, if only to find another form of releasing all of these emotions aside from crying into my pillow, running until my legs give out or sending walls of texts to my best friend.

So, here’s what I’ve learned:

        1. I am way too judgmental of a person.

That might seem a little bit harsh, but I promise it’s not your typical self-loathing or self-deprecation that sometimes happens after your heart is broken. Though I have never been in a relationship, what I just experienced was the closest thing to it for me personally (and I’m being purposefully vague to protect the other person’s privacy). And before I experienced it, I definitely had some judgments on people who also entered into nontraditional types of relationships. Judgments that were undeserved, because I certainly didn’t understand what they were experiencing or going through; the reasons why people made these choices and why my judging them is completely wrong–it’s none of my business anyway. It forced me to self-reflect and realize that I need to be more open-minded and less prone to automatically, subconsciously pass judgment on a person or situation that is foreign to me; not just with relationships, but in every aspect of life. Obviously, I won’t change overnight, but I like to think that, thanks to this pseudo-relationship and the least-judgmental man I’ve ever met, I can work harder to be more open-minded and understanding of those situations and values that differ from my own.

        2. The world of relationships is not so black and white.

I had a very black and white understanding of relationships. Or perhaps expectation is the right word. You meet a guy (guy in my case, as I’m straight; please substitute according to your sexual preference). You flirt. You get to know one another, slowly. Eventually, he’ll ask you out. You’ll go on a couple dates. You’ll eventually kiss. You’ll enter into a relationship. You’ll grow together. After a couple years, you’ll get married and the rest is a happily ever after. Black and white. Straight-forward. Simple.

(Hint: life is not like that. At all.)

The world is a lot more gray than that (^^) fairy tale; one I’d foolishly believed was the only real option for romance. Instead, there are so many different types of relationships and ways of falling into–or working towards–being with someone. And no one way is better than the others (as the judgmental part of me believed). Instead, what matters is that the people involved in the relationship are open, honest with one another and comfortable. Everything else can be worked out.

(Another hint: having all this gray is a good thing.)

        3. I rely way too much on other’s approval. 

When I first starting veering towards what was, to me, a very weird type of relationship I’d never thought I’d be in, I was terrified to tell my friends or my family, because I was certain they would frown upon it (in retrospect, it was partly because I usually frowned upon these types of relationships because I didn’t understand them and it “wasn’t how it was supposed to be done” ((see fairy tale))) and then they would advise me to stop, because that was not how you were “supposed” to fall in love (and though I didn’t actually fall in love here, I was definitely working my way towards that). And I didn’t want to stop. I was first surprised by the openness everyone responded with, which was the first slap in the face that I need to fall off my high horse and stop being so judgmental. But then I was punched in the face when I realized that I rely way too much on these opinions of others–even those closest to me–instead of doing what makes me happy–not what I think I am supposed to do or what will make my parents or friends happy. I need to start making choices for me, because of me.

(Notice how those first three tie together really well? Yeah, I have a lot of work to do.)

        4. I still don’t love myself enough. 

I never wanted to believe the saying that you can’t love someone until you love yourself, but I’m starting to see the value of it. Not because you can’t love that person. I think it is totally possible to love someone else and not yourself. But if you don’t love yourself, you come to rely on their love as your main source of self-worth. You start searching for affirmations from them until they grow tired of reminding you of the truths you should already know, but refuse to believe. Sometimes, they could grow angry. And before you know it, you’ve pushed someone good away because they spent the entire time trying to convince you to love yourself and that their feelings were true instead of simply loving you and being loved by you.

Although this isn’t the culprit behind my latest heartbreak, there were definitely signs that I need to continue to work on loving myself and creating affirmations within myself, instead of searching for them from someone else. That’s just not a healthy lifestyle and strains all types of relationships, not just romantic ones.

        5. I’m not needy, but I do have needs. 

Though I want to work on being more open minded, I do know that I need a stable, exclusive relationship to be happy. I don’t like sharing someone. I don’t like being someone’s secret, someone’s fling, someone’s fun. None of these things are bad, if that is the type of relationship you are comfortable being in. But I realized that I need more than that. I want to be able to brag about my boyfriend to my friends. I want to be introduced to his family. I want to enter into a relationship hoping that we can creature a future together. I want serious. And that’s okay to want and fight for and even give up someone you really care about because you need more. That’s okay.

        6. Love is not a checklist. 

My track record with guys is pretty nonexistent. Before this past year, I didn’t really try. And I was really, truly convinced that I would never find love; that I was meant to be alone. After trying, I’ve struck out twice, but I do believe now that love might be out there for me; that I deserve it; and I’ve realized that I can’t search for it by creating a checklist of desires or expectations and turning away everyone who doesn’t meet all of them with flying colors.

I joined an online dating website for a few months, where you could tailor your matches down to desired physical and lifestyle traits. And I know for a fact that the man I just lost would never have matched with me, based on how limited/specific my “match criteria” was. Yet he’s the man whose made me the happiest I’ve ever been (in regards to romance). My standards don’t need to be lowered, but this idea in my head that the one meant for me needs to be X, Y and Z definitely needs to go out the window. Love cannot–and should not–be contained to checking off boxes on a list. It’s about connection and growth and risk and communication and work and choosing that person every single day.

So…yeah. Right now, my heart hurts. I lost a really good guy thanks to bad timing and unrequited feelings. Frankly, it sucks. But no “relationship” has taught me more than he did in the briefest of times. By stepping out of my comfort zone and taking a chance on him, in a weird relationship and situation I never thought I’d be in, sure, I came out with my heart broken. But I also came out as a better person, with a clever vision of what I want in love and who I want to be as a person. That alone is why every tear right now is worth it and not a single regret is felt. Doesn’t mean that I’ll won’t probably be bonding with a pint of ice cream later tonight and my pillow won’t be drenched in tears for a while as I cry myself to sleep, but for this heartbreak and the experience that caused it, I am nothing but thankful–and hopeful, as every hopeless romantic is, for what my future love life holds…even if it takes me a while to get there.

Cheers.