Tag Archives: Romance

Frankly, I Have No Idea What to Title This Post

There’s a line from Twenty One Pilot’s “Migraine” that says, “Sometimes to stay alive you gotta kill your mind.”

I really love that line.

I also wish they gave advice on how to do just that.

I’m an over-thinker. A worrywart, as my companions and parents growing up dubbed me. I’ve always been this way. I know I’m not alone in this, but sometimes, that knowledge doesn’t help me deal with my incessant need to look at every angle of a situation–and often situations that haven’t happened yet, but are possible–and then fixate on the worst possible one, causing anxiety, stress and depression to set in as I then obsess over this outcome. Which, nine times out of ten, doesn’t even come true.

But let’s not keep this simple. Let’s include the heart into this, add another layer of complexity.

I’m a big believer of following your heart. It’s why mine is so scarred. I’m not afraid to chase what it wants without abandon. Some believe that’s foolish. Yet that’s not something I’m going to change. I’m sure it comes to no surprise that often, the heart and the mind conflict, even to the point where the mind overrules the heart and makes it confused on what it even wants, which makes it even harder to come to a decision about what to do in X situation.

Hold on, though. Still not complicated enough. Then add in the need to please others and the reliance on your fellow’s good opinion and approval.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Welcome into the mind of Nicole.

‘Tis a confusing place.

Of course, I have a specific conundrum in mind: my love life. It’s complicated and confusing and conflicting, which I think is the most difficult thing to deal with. At any given moment, my mind will tell me to do one thing and my heart will agree. The next, my mind and heart splits. Another second passes and my heart has completely changed its tune, but now my head is questioning. And then you add in the opinions of everyone else I value–and don’t forgot the overthinking mind that doesn’t fail to look into every possible solution into every possible scenario, and frankly?

I’m just at a loss.

Here’s the situation (you might have gathered inklings about it from this postthis post or this post. Sorry my complicated love life has taken over this blog. But this blog is my outlet and I’ve never been confused like this before. Ergo, a lot of emotionally-charged posts).

Entered into a FWB relationship which actually felt and was treated like more of an actual relationship, just in secret. Not surprising that, on my end, feelings developed and complications arose. I “left” and then came back, twice, before finally deciding to leave the “benefits” side of a relationship and trade it for a “just friends” side, so I could move on emotionally and find someone who’d be capable and willing to meet both my needs and my wants. It’s been…hard, but I’m getting there. What’s been the hardest, however, is being plagued with one question:

What if? 

Because while I left because I needed more stability, more commitment and more certainty, I’ve been lost in this realm of uncertainty ever since. Because though the “relationship” is officially “over,” there are some small seeds of hope that it could still actually blossom into something real. So we could, potentially, still have a chance at having a relationship. Or I could say no, if that question was ever asked. Or it could never be asked and I could find someone else. Or I could find no one. There are so many different ways this could pan out and there are plenty of What Ifs to accompany each route.

What if we date and everything is as amazing as I always thought it would be? What if it’s everything I ever wanted? What if we completely fall on our faces and the relationship crumbles? What if everyone thinks I’m an idiot for giving him another chance? What if everyone hates him? What if I miss out on the guy “meant for me” because I gave him another chance? What if he is the one meant for me and I gave him up too early because it took a little work beforehand? What if I end up alone forever (but kill it as your ultimate dog lady)? 

Yeah, sometimes, my mind sucks.

There are just so many elements in play: my emotions, my feelings, logic, the opinions of others…all of which conflict and fight each other on a daily basis, which isn’t exactly comforting.

You got the feelings I have for the guy that everyone I care about tells me “didn’t treat me right” and constantly reminds me that I can “do better and deserve better,” yet part of me still wants to try because he does mean so much to me and I know he could treat me exactly the way I “deserve.” But then that raises logical questions, like, why hasn’t he already? What made him take so long to chose me; which, in turn, brings up some questions regarding trust. Yet he’s also made me happier than any man before him. Doesn’t that count for something?

Then I look at all the relationships I’ve ever known. All of them have had some sort of conflict, at one point or another. To varying degrees of complexity and difficulty. Some started great and got rough in the middle, only to become stronger. Some started out difficult and took work, but made it in the end. And very few have been really solid throughout it all, hardly a hiccup in sight. And sometimes, when people tell me that I can “do better,” I want to point out that every relationship is different and maybe this one is just experiencing the rough patches at the beginning. I want to ask not to be so quick to judge, even though I know everyone is just looking out for me and wants me to be happy. And I haven’t been happy, recently. So I understand that. It just adds another level of complexity.

And then you get all of those corny quotes telling you to never pick a guy who made you question or made you guess or made you walk away. Then there’s the small excitement of meeting someone new, wondering who is out there for me and the excitement of flirting and getting to know someone; battle that against the comfort of already knowing someone and admitting there are some challenges there, but there is also certain happiness, as well. Then there’s the fear of never finding anyone else juxtaposed with the fear that I already found them, but I’m just giving them up because it takes work and everyone else tells me I should and they are proud of me for finally letting go of something less than what I deserve. But is that really what want?

Yeah, I’d love to just kill my mind for an hour now, thanks.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to two things: choice and risk.

Everything is uncertain. I have no idea if said dude will ever want to try an actual relationship with me. I honestly have no idea if I’m willing to try, if he wants to–my heart and hope scream yes at the same time my mind, my doubts and my fears shout no. I have no idea how I’d meet anyone else or what I’d say if I did. I have no idea about any of this and all this worrying and thinking I’ve done in the past week isn’t really helping.

Regardless of whatever happens, the choice is mine. And though I do recognize that I really rely (a bit too much) on the approval of others, I have to trust that those closest to me will support whatever decision I make. And I need to let myself make that decision, without basing it off the opinions of others.

Even though I’ve been searching for the right answer, through talking and blogging and praying, I think I’ve come to the realization that there isn’t one. There is no right answer. That’s why it’s a risk.

I can’t know that my choices are going to be the best ones. I have no idea how they are going to affect my future or if they are going to hurt me or make me happy. There is no guarantee that whatever choice I make is going to be the right or the wrong one. Because that’s what risk is. It’s making a choice and sticking with it even though you don’t know the end. It’s trying to decipher the feelings in your gut and learning to follow them. It’s talking with those involved and learning to trust them. It’s finding a balance between hope and logic.

At the end of the day, it’s weighing everything I’ve been describing and more, and then finally making a choice, trusting yourself to make the right one. It’s accepting the aftermath and forgiving yourself when you make the wrong one. It’s having the courage to change your choice, if that happens. Or the courage to stay, depending. Or even trusting yourself enough to believe that you made the right choice and believing that everything is good, even when it feels too good to be true.

That realization doesn’t make figuring out my love life any easier. I know that I definitely don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I’m trying my best to follow my heart wherever it guides me (even if that journey is a bit confusing, at times). I’m doing the best I can and I’ll take a small comfort in that. Because all I can do is try and follow my heart, trusting it to guide me true. Even it it leads to failure and ruin, at least I gave it my all.

Hopefully, when I look back at all of my choices, no matter how many were “right” and “wrong,” I’ll be able to take comfort and avoid regret, knowing that I did the best I could navigating this quest called life; amidst every wrong turn, pleasant surprise, lucky break, difficult choice, second chance, mistake, celebration and achievement, I tried and followed my heart.

Can we really ask ourselves to do more than that?

Cheers.


“The Real World”

I saved this blog post as an empty draft almost a year ago, after I got accepted as a part-time supervisor at the library I currently work at. I never got around to writing it, yet the things I wanted to talk about are still as poignant a year later, so here we go.

I really struggle with the mindsets surrounding the “real world” (or the adult world) and how major milestones in life are treated as deadlines you are meant to meet (usually by your early 20s). If you fail to do this, then you obviously aren’t successful. Take jobs, for example. Because apparently, if you don’t work a job from 8-5 Monday through Friday–and if you don’t hate it–you don’t actually have a “real job.” At least, that was the response I initially got from some after they learned I worked nights. And when I told them that I actually enjoyed my job…

It really makes no sense to me and made me question what qualifies as a “real” job. An adult job. A job where others respect you because of said job. Whose parameters am I failing because my hours are 6pm-12am (and if I go full-time, hopefully, 3pm-12am)? How am I lacking because I ended up getting a second job? Why is my job scoffed at because I have time to get on social media, write, read or blog during my shifts, after my other tasks are completed?

And who on Earth said that you had to be miserable at work in order to “make it”?

And that’s just one example of how I’m sometimes considered “doing it wrong” in the adult world. There are so many others. Some conversations I’ve been having with friends lately reveals just how much pressure we all feel to make it–actually, to have already “made it”, because none of us feel like we’re at where we are supposed to be. We all feel behind. You see, we should all have the traditional 8-5 job, married, 2.5 kids, house with a white picket fence. That’s success. We range throughout our 20s, age wise, yet all of us feel, to various degrees, that we aren’t where we are “supposed” to be. Career wise. Relationship wise. Family wise. Writing wise. Financially. Emotionally. Physically. Because of this, we all feel like we’ve failed, somehow. That we’re not doing it right. And it’s stressful. Ridiculously stressful.

All of this angst and pressure we feel, this disappointment in ourselves, it makes me wonder not only where it comes from, but why we feel this way in the first place. Whose standards are we unconsciously–and at the same time, with very acute awareness–are we comparing ourselves to and finding ourselves lacking? Who decided that there was a “right” way to live life, some way that the rest of us must subscribe to and mimic in order to full accomplished and successful?

That mindset has gotta go, friends.

Life is hard enough as it is without putting unnecessary added pressure to hit all of these expectations or markers by some made up deadline and then base your worth and success off of how many checks you can cross off that list. Hell, when I was in high school, my vision of success was by the time I was 24, I’d have a degree, a full-time job, a husband and a home we shared. By the time I was 28, we’d be talking about starting a family and I’d definitely be published by the time I was 30.

I have no idea where half of those ages came from. I do know that I picked most of them not because I thought I’d actually do any of those things by that time, but because I assumed that was when I should have done those things by. Worse, as these things haven’t happened, I still catch myself adapting my deadlines to match how my life has panned out, trying to figure out my new “supposed to”. Now, in the back of my head, I actually think, since I missed my “deadline”, I’ll never get married. So I’m teeter-tottering between what age I should start applying to adopt (because even if I never get to experience love, I’ll be damned if I never get to be a mother). Is 30 too early? 35 too late? Should I buy my own house and live alone, or live in apartments forever? Should I get a dog now or wait a few years? Published at 40 or never?

Yet who says because I missed the deadlines of when these things were “supposed” to happen, according to my brain, that they will never happen? Or that I failed? Or that my entire life should already be figured out in the first place (or ever)? Or that I can’t continue to work on what I want to accomplish, no matter what age I am or how different my version of success looks like compared to society’s?

Who says I’m still not successful and adulting well even if my life isn’t a cookie cutter of what society says it should be?

I think we need to work on more forgiving mindsets in terms of what a successful life “in the real world” looks like. There is no one path to success. There are no deadlines, no timeline you are expected to meet. Just because you haven’t reached X point in your career, said “I do,” had X amount of kids or not accomplished any other major milestones by certain points or ages in your life doesn’t mean those milestones are now unreachable for you. Nor does it mean that your life is not on the right course for you. And I think it is important to remember that; that each person’s life has a different timeline where milestones fall.

Personally, for me, my life in “the real world” is working 55 hours a week at two jobs, continuing to work on improving my fitness and my writing, being complicatedly single, living in my own apartment, paying all my own bills, trying to work in traveling internationally once a year and genuinely being happy 95% of the time. My career is still questionable. My love life isn’t where I want it. Starting a family is not in my near future. I’m financially struggling. I’m in debt for the next 10 years. And I’m 24 years old. Not already 24, not only 24–those words insinuate that I’m either missing something or moving too quickly in life. No. I’m 24 years old and my life is being shaped by the choices I make and the effort I put in, alongside the mentality I maintain. I’m immersed in the real world as I know it. And where I am at is perfectly okay.

Cheers.


My Purposefully Ignorant Wait to Explore Andromeda

There is no doubt–not a shadow, not a sliver, not an inkling–surrounding my excitement for the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda. I’ve been ready since it’s announcement. Ever since I bawled my eyes out at the end of playing Mass Effect 3 (very late, granted, compared to the rest of the crowd, but still), I’ve been eagerly waiting. In fact, this is the first video game where I’m not slipping onto the bandwagon years after it started, but instead, am waiting in anticipation for what happens next, with plans to use as much vacation time as necessary after it releases to truly enjoy it in all of its glory.

And I’m not really sure how to respond.

Obviously, I watched the E3 announcement trailer. And the N7 Day Celebratory release trailerAnd the official gameplay trailer. Each one has only increased my excitement tenfold, to practically unhealthy levels. This game looks beautiful. When discussions began to arise concerning the evolving romance storylines, I had to read those articles. One of my favorite aspects about Mass Effect (and BioWare’s games in general) is the ability to pursue a romance. The jokes about Dragon Age where the first three games should have actually been titled the “Alistair, Fenris and Cullen Dating Simulators,” respectively, hit the mark perfectly. I’d be lying if I claimed that I didn’t do a replay solely to experience the romances again, for both franchises. So of course I had to read about how the romance is evolving (and I’m so excited about these changes and that BioWare is taking fan comments to heart; not that I expected anything else).

Image result for mass effect andromeda

Yet the information about Andromeda just keeps coming.

The discussions over the lack of certain races not returning and the introduction of others. The Ryder twins (speaking of, I really hope my human ((or alien, I’m not picky)) boyfriend can be as attractive as Ryder himself, because hello, I should not have such strong emotional stirrings from a video game character). Your mission as the Pathfinder. Apparently there is also articles being posted describing your confirmed squadmates. Those articles I refuse to read and have sparked my decision to not read any further announcements that don’t include the release date printed on my purchase receipt.

Reminder: this is the first time that I’ve really gotten to play a new game from a franchise that I love that was still in development and hadn’t been released by the time I caught up with the other games. And perhaps I’m not doing this right, but until I have a copy of Andromeda lodged in its home of my brand new PS4, to be bought purposefully (and at the cost of my internal organs) for this game specifically, I’m not reading another article. I’m not watching another trailer. I’m not doing anything but waiting.

Image result for mass effect andromeda ryder

Look at him! *drools*

Why?

Because I want Andromeda to be as new to me as the world of Mass Effect was when I finally listened to the hype and sat down to play it (translate “sat down to play” into “let it consume my soul, social life and every waking moment for a solid three months). I loved discovering Shepard and her badassery. I loved learning about all the different races and forming opinions about them (I will forever be loyal to the Elcor and their speech patterns, the Krogan and their fierceness, and the Turians and their pick-up-lines). I loved exploring the galaxy, doing every and all quests and never being content, i.e., always wanting more quests so it wouldn’t be over, hating the Mako and being so damned impressed and terrified of the Reapers. Mass Effect was the first game that I ever played in the science fiction genre, always being a fantasy girl myself. And it was the first game that I ever sheathed my sword for a gun, instead. It was a blast. I got addicted to the characters and the world, the lore and the cultures, the chilling dialogue and the fantastic score, and seeing how often I could headshot a husk.

What did I know before I started playing that trilogy?

My friend Leif, a huge advocate for this game, told me: “Commander Shepard is the biggest badass you’ll ever meet. You have to play it.”

That’s it.

That’s it.

With Andromeda, the first game in the Mass Effect realm that I’ll get to experience with a next generation console and amongst the hype instead of years after it, I still want that blissful ignorance, that giddy surprise, that I went into the other games with. Sure, I’m more familiar with the world and the mechanics, but this is an entire different time and an entirely different story. There is so much to discover…including everything that is being revealed to hype everyone up. I’m already hyped. I’m already ready. And even if this isn’t how “real” gamers prepare for their new favorite games, I’m purposefully going into Andromeda as ignorant as I can, even though I could learn so much already. So please, if you can, save the spoilers until after we’ve discovered a new home for humans and then we can rave about it, in detail. Oh, so much detail.

Just have to wait for the game to be released, first.

*goes back to (im)patiently  waiting for Spring 2017*

Cheers.


As Is

Yesterday, I started reading this fantastic romance, Seven Secrets of Seduction, before work. I loved it and will discuss why I did so on my book review blog later today (as we all know I stayed up until 3am last night to finish it). Not only did it have me swooning in all the right ways, but it had me connecting with the female love interest on a really true level. She could have been me, she had the same personality, quirks and questions regarding her worth. So to see her fall in love was magical and gave me hope that one day, the same might happen to me.

Also, it gave me a bit of surprising confidence.

Later, during my work shift, a conversation with coworkers led to some reconnecting with friends on Facebook. During this reconnect, I noticed my friend was friends with a pretty attractive gentleman that caught my eye. Innocently, I creeped on his profile and determined that yes, he was definitely attractive and yes, he was single. What a surprise.

Now, normally, that would be the end of that. I would move on and continue living my life, berating myself for being creepy and odd and weird. Yet something made me pause. I figured, what would be the harm in mentioning to our mutual friend that an introduction between us wouldn’t be opposed of by me, if such an instance arose? The worse thing that would happen is that, well, nothing happens and I continue life as usual. Or, a connection could spark and who knows what would happen after that. All because I took a leap of faith and put myself out there, instead of waiting for someone to find me.

So I mentioned something, casually, trying to be smooth but feeling totally out of my element, to my aforementioned friend.

And nothing happened.

*whistles as she goes back to her eternally-single life, carrying her “Participation (But Not Really)” medal*

Except something did happen immediately after I sent that message to the cute stranger and I’s mutual friend. I felt the need to do two things: go to the gym and find a better Facebook profile picture, lest the creeping got turned back on me after my friend checked their messages. I stared at my profile picture, immediately picking out every potential flaw, as the gym was impossible to reach at that moment. I tried to think of where I could find a better photo, how I can make myself look more appealing, more beautiful, more attractive.

Only a manner of seconds passed before I realized how truly messed up that was.

Yes, the gentleman in question is an attractive dude; probably out of my league, if such measuring system possibly exists. Yet that shouldn’t matter. The size of my hips? Shouldn’t matter. The fact that it is obvious I’d rather get a second helping than work out 24/7? Shouldn’t matter. That my profile picture leans more towards cute instead of drop dead gorgeous? Yeah, shouldn’t matter, especially as I happen to really like that picture. That’s why it is my profile picture (and those of you whom are friends with me on Facebook know how often I change that thing ((hardly ever)).

Why, when I felt an odd courage to put myself out there on the dating marking, did I feel the immediate need to change myself; to subscribe to a predetermined ideal of what is considered beautiful, immediately doubting that someone I found attractive could look at me as is and have the same reaction? It’s no secret that I long for a relationship. Yet that doesn’t mean I want a man who is going to look at me and only see the things he wishes were different. I don’t want a man who I can’t be comfortable around, always wishing I was something that I’m not; something that, nine days out of ten, I don’t actually want to be. I want to be me: human, flawed, imperfect, but damn if I’m not trying. I want someone to love me as me, as that is something I want to do.

After putting myself out there, immediately feeling like I need to go and change–improve, as it were–myself isn’t the way to find a man who will love and appreciate me as is.

I always tell myself that I’ll try and actively look for someone once I’m skinnier; after I’ve been to the gym for a few months; after I learn to love myself fully; after I am financially fit; once I’ve moved into my own apartment; after I deal with this bout of depression. After, after, after. Though the small leap I took yesterday with a rare showing of courage may not look like much, it was a major step for me. And though nothing changed for me romantically, something changed for me mentally.

Perhaps…I dunno, perhaps I don’t have to wait until I have a body I love perfectly to go searching for love. Perhaps I don’t have to wait until I get my life together. Perhaps I don’t have to love myself entirely before I pour so much love into another soul. Perhaps I don’t have to wait for love because I am waiting until I have “improved myself enough” to deserve it. Perhaps, I am just enough as is; as me.

Perhaps, after 23 years of waiting for love, I can go and search for it. Whatever the hell that looks like.

Cheers.


Measuring Worth, Recreating Mindsets and Dealing with Desire

Y’all ready for a personal post?

Brilliant.

I’m sure I’ve shared snippets of this in previous blog posts, so feel free to peruse and search to your hearts content if you want to know more (also, apologies for beating a dead horse) but recently, I’ve been struggling with body image and how that translates regarding self-love, worth, desirability, etc. I say recently because it has been heavy in the forefront of my mind, but that does not mean this is a recent battle I’ve just started fighting. I’ve been fighting it since I was kid. When I was in middle school and started noticing other girls were wearing jeans and dresses and skirts, their faces enhanced with make-up, I started to compare myself, a tomboy unintentionally-raised who didn’t wear jeans until the end of high school–same with wearing my hair down–and still doesn’t wear make-up to this day, at all. Around 7th and 8th grade is when I started to notice the choices I was making that made me different, regarding my appearance. It wasn’t long after that I started to notice my large, soccer-sculpted thighs or the first shadows of the muffin top; started noticing the lonely nights and the lack the dates; the pressures and bodily expectations of young girls and women (and young boys and men, let’s be honest) in society.

Very quickly, I realized that I didn’t fit into those expectations. And so began a dark spiral down into the depths of depression and self-loathing, simply because I wasn’t thin or skinny or, in the terms that society has labeled, pretty. I don’t know when I started to measure my own self-worth in terms of my jeans size or how accurately I fit into the mold required to be a beautiful woman, but it reached a point where I didn’t think myself worthy of anything because I was curvy, I was fat, I didn’t prescribe to make-up, didn’t wear heels.

And that was 50 pounds ago.

This battle with depression has had its ups and downs. Since dropping out of grad school and moving back home, entering into the job-world post-college, I’ve mentally tried to switch my beliefs that a person’s worth is not associated with their body image or body size. Because that is what I have always ascribed to, myself. Never with anyone else–I may notice a person’s size or lack-there-of, but I’ve never thought of a person’s worth based on that observation. Only my own. Very hypocritical and harsh, I know. So I’m trying to mentally switch my brain to a much healthier–and much truer–mindset: a person is so much more than their body and should not be defined by their curves, their edges, their narrowness, their chubbiness, their style.

And I’m finding that transition in mindset to be very difficult, because of how aware I am of everything around me.

//:

Obviously, the standards upon which beauty is measured by our society is, in the most blunt sense, very fucked up. For both men and women, the standards and expectations are not only unhealthy and unrealistic, but they are also inescapable. The billboards, the commercials, the magazines, the social media debates, portrayals in art, literature and film, the fad-diets, the pressure, the undertones, the overtones; inescapable. Everywhere. It is impossible to ignore and impossible not to be aware of where you fit in this spectrum, particularly in the summer time. Bathing suits and shorts: the horrors that have plagued a lot of my summers, as I purposefully avoid invitations to pools and only buy capris, temperature be damned.

Despite pretending not to be bothered by my touching thighs, back fat or muffin top, these things are always on my mind. When I walk past my mirror in the bathroom, I purposefully try to not look. When I put on clothes, I come up with outfits that do the best job of covering up skin, even in the summer months where they don’t make sense. Walking past someone on the street, I wonder how they perceive me and that carefully-constructed outfit. How do they judge me? Where do they find me wanting? Because I am obviously wanting. And then, of course, there are the evenings, where I am alone and the sun goes down, and all I can think about is the fact that I am alone, and wonder if I didn’t eat that extra helping of mashed potatoes or would have walked for another ten minutes, if my body would have changed enough for a man to find me desirable.

Even on the days where I love the way I look or it isn’t on the forefront of my mind, the reminders–everywhere and ever-constant–don’t stay ignored for long. From the whispers of society to the natural urge to compare myself to the people surrounding me (and always find myself wanting), it is truly difficult to switch my mind to not worrying about my body and how it is perceived; the only aspect of myself I hate. Because how do you ignore all the reminders? How do you ignore the constant complaints of those around you, claiming they are “so fat” and “need to lose weight” and “wish they were skinny,” when in your eye, they already are? How do you not jump to the conclusion, listening to them, that if they think they are fat and grotesque and they are smaller and prettier than you, what must they think of you? How do you get yourself to accept and love your body as is when you are constantly bombarded with other people not loving theirs; when you are constantly bombarded with standards you should be meeting, with reminders of why you aren’t?

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Of course, I take it one step-further. Not only do I devalue myself because of my size, but I also have a very intense desire to be loved. Not loved by family and friends. I have this aplenty and am grateful for it every day. Loved by a man. Desired by him, cherished by him, chosen by him. This desire is spawned from multiple things: my natural belief that love, in all forms, is the most powerful force in the world. My age is definitely a factor: being 23, a prime age amongst my friends to be moving forward in their relationships, with marriages and proposals. My relationship history, being that I’ve never had that relationship, that first kiss, that first date, those nerves meeting/introducing the parents and friends, the double dates. And, just like the body image standard, seeing people in love all over, in films, reading books, on the street, amongst my friends.

These are the two things I think about constantly, that empower my depression: my body size and my eternally-single state. And how the two must correlate. And thus, spawns the slowly growing fear that eternal is the perfect descriptor to attach to my single status; the growing fear that no matter how my body looks, no one will love me the way I desperately crave to be loved. I’m meant to be alone forever.

Okay.

There are so many things wrong with my mindset, I’m not even sure where to begin. And this post is already long enough as it is. But, ever onward…

One: Your Worth Isn’t Defined By Your Body Size

I know this. I know this. Yet it is a hard mindset to switch into believing constantly, when I have believed the opposite for too long. And it is so hard to find a positive present concerning body image, regardless of the size of the people I surround myself with. Everyone is so focused on finding fault. Then, of course, I always think of my non-existent romantic life. Sure, I haven’t been romantically involved in anyone, but that does not mean my body size is the direct cause of that. Perhaps it was a missed moment. Perhaps I simply haven’t met him yet. Perhaps I’m unwilling to date anyone who isn’t willing to love as completely as I plan to love them. Perhaps my standards are too high (newsflash: they aren’t). But even if I never find him, my worth isn’t devalued because of my singleness. My worth isn’t devalued because of my curves or my rolls. I have friends who support me and friends who love me. Family, too. Coworkers, sure. Random people I have connected with on the internet, you bet. Some of those people know my size. Others, don’t. Yet I really, really love myself. I love the woman I have become and the steps I need to take to continue working on who I want to be.

So why do I let my body size get in the way of loving myself completely, especially when if I take how others perceive me out of the equation, I actually don’t mind my body. Would I like it to be bit slimmer and a bit tighter? Yep. But if I don’t think about how others respond–or how I believe they are responding, rather–or how I am “supposed to” look, I’m actually quite content with my body. I can go on walks with my dog. I can play a pick-up game of soccer and feel like I’m going to die afterwards, but still have fun. I like my eyes and my collarbones and the way my biceps flex sometimes. I like my tattoos and my hair when I put effort into it (and the new messy up-do I’ve adopted). I could be perfectly content with my body if I could just stop worrying about how others perceive me or stop convincing myself that everyone who sees me believes me to be ugly or unattractive.

Two: Everything is Subjective 

Nothing is truer than that statement right there and nothing do I need to remember more. I recently realized that truth in regards to writing and it helped me deal so much with the rejection process. How did it take me so long to realize this in regards to everything else in life, especially body image and size and the perception related to that? My bathroom mirror never changes. Yet on the days when I accidentally see myself in the mirror, some of those days, I actually think, “Damn, girl,” and pause to admire my curves or the way my stomach is shaped or the length of the legs. My mirror hasn’t changed. My body either. It’s just my perception in that current moment. Or I’ve gotten into the lazy habit of putting my hair up into a bun-type situation where my curls fall down the side of my head, looking like a mix between a waterfall and Medusa unleashed. And half of the time, I love the way it looks. Some outfits, I absolutely adore.

But as soon as I think about what others might think, my response immediately switches from praise and approval to reprimand and calculation, nit-picking everywhere fault can be found.

Of course, some people are going to think I’m unattractive. But not everyone. It’s just like how I think the most attractive men on the planet are Kit Harington, Sam Claffin and Olan Rogers. Half of my friends don’t understand my celebrity crushes and pit up their own contenders. That is just difference of opinion and difference in taste. That disagreement doesn’t mean that one person is right and the other is wrong. Likewise, just because I believe someone might perceive me as ugly doesn’t mean that they will and, if they do, that doesn’t mean they are right. It is their opinion, their subjective opinion.

Another example is how you can be a size 16 in one store but a size 12 in another; an XL at Target but an XXXL at a designer store. For so long, I refused to wear XL clothing because I hated being associated with that size. I wanted to be smaller, so I wore smaller clothing. Which, in turn, looked worse on me and didn’t fit right, as opposed to XL sizes, which fit properly, looked better and actually made me feel confident. Instead, I was being ruled by letters and numbers prescribed by society as a labeling system. That’s all they bloody are. Letters and numbers to help you know which clothes will fit better. Not a value-measuring-system.

A friend also brought up a great point: Aphrodite, the goddess of love and passion and beauty, reflected the ideals of her time period of what a beautiful woman looked like. And it is not at all what we ascribe to now. Her pictures and statues from that time period are complete with rolls, with curves, with fat.

Before, a beautiful woman was a woman with weight–because that meant she could afford to eat–and who was pale–because that meant she didn’t have to work outside to earn her living. Today, we have transitioned to starving ourselves, harming ourselves and transfiguring ourselves to reach an impossible standard. Go back a couple 100 years and I would have had the beauty of the goddess. Today, I don’t even met the bare minimum.

How’s that for subjectivity?

Three: It’s Okay to Crave Romantic Love

I have been struggling with accepting this for a long time, now. Like I said, I crave a relationship. I crave to find a man to love me and accept me. I crave to find a man I love and accept. Yes, I obviously crave the physical benefits being in a committed relationship includes. Who doesn’t want someone’s hand to hold when they are walking along the road or someone to kiss when they say goodbye or someone to snuggle with before they go to sleep? But I want the emotional connection just as much, if not more. I want that person who I can confide in, who I can depend on, who I can count on, who can challenge me and appreciate me in ways that no one human has been able to; the way only a boyfriend or husband can.

Yet I’ve always felt guilty praying for this man to appear in my life. I’ve always felt guilty for wanting a relationship so badly. People always tell you to appreciate your singleness. You need to be independent and not depend on anyone else, especially a romantic partner. You need to love yourself first–only then can you love someone wholly. And maybe there is some merit in those ideas. But I believe that I can be an independent human and still have someone else to depend on. I can be a broken soul who struggles to love herself and yet still love him all the more for it, totally and utterly. And I believe, though I struggle with it, that it is okay to desire romantic love, a romantic connection with every core of your being.

Lord of the Rings:

This post is by far the longest I’ve written. I applaud you for reading this far. It is filled with ramblings, with musing, with struggles and personal outpourings of doubts and fear. It is very vulnerable and uncomfortable and heavy. I don’t have any neat way to wrap it up or any conclusion as to what needs to happen next; as to where I go from here. I think this will be struggle I deal with no matter what body size I have, how many people I’ve loved or what societal trends arise. But writing about it helps. Talking about it helps. Who knows, perhaps it might help you if you struggle with the same things or make you wonder who in your life does. Perhaps this post opens up a dialogue, opens eyes or serves a reminder of things people already know, a reflection of what you’ve already experienced. I dunno. If you need to talk about issues related to this, I’m here. I’m ready and I’m listening.

Life is hard, friends. But life is so, so good. Love each other and by God, accept and respect one another. Make one another feel comfortable in our own skin. Listen and be heard. And while we’re at it, how about we start destroying the body standards we are supposed to subscribe to, huh?

Cheers.


My Lady Quicksilver: A Review…ish

Did you know steampunk romance is a genre? I didn’t know until very recently and I am floored that it took me so long to discover such a fantastic genre (plus, all of the puns that can result from one word: steam). Yet I’m so glad I did, simply because I eventually stumbled upon Australian author Bec McMaster and her London Steampunk series, currently consisting of five books. Let’s see if I can convert some other souls into reading her fantastic work with this review. 🙂

My Lady Quicksilver is the third book in the series. The series begins with Kiss of Steel, which, let me tell you, I read in one sitting, it was that good. I was so drawn into the world–London, complete with vampires and werewolves with a lovely (and deadly and sexy) twist to the canon, not to mention great political structure and drama that interested me almost as much as the romance plot did. I also loved the time period and how seamlessly the mech technology blended in with traditionally historic London. The characters are lively and complex. The women are strong and vulnerable, a contrast which I particularly enjoy. The men are desirable and haunted. Pairing these types of characters together, not to mention adding in the fascinating world and the brilliant banter, and it is hard not to fall in love with these books. And hard not to read them in one sitting. I had checked out the second book in the series, Heart of Iron, at the same time I did Kiss of Steel, so I quickly moved on from the first to the next, finishing Heart of Iron in two evenings.

Then, the real drama started.

I went to check out My Lady Quicksilver from the library, eager to read about the Captain of the Nighthawks and his pursuit of Mercury. Except the library didn’t have it. Nor did they have Forged by Desire. They did have the latest–and fifth–book of the series, Of Steam and Silk, yet I couldn’t just jump two books. I’d be missing too much. So, the next weekend, I went to a used bookstore and searched there. No luck. Determined (as I was also looking for another book), I went to Barnes and Noble. Surely, they couldn’t fail me as well.

Spoiler: they did.

Finally, I resorted to my fail safe: ThriftBooks. And, to avoid this predicament again, I ordered the third, fourth and fifth book of the series, so that when I finally got them, there would be no frantic searching for the next book. I could power through and read to my hearts content, stress free. A month later and they arrived. Finally, I could return back to the steampunk world that had captivated me so thoroughly and figure out what happened between Lynch and Mercury.

Of course, I’m not going to tell you what happened. You just have to read it for yourself. 😛

But here’s why you should read it (and by it, I mean this series. Definitely start with Kiss of Steel): this isn’t “just” a romance novel. I’m not an expert in the genre nor have I read a ton of romance. But some of the romance I have been exposed to–and still enjoyed, despite what I’m about to say–is predictable and the plot impossible without the romance factor. That doesn’t make it bad, by any means. But when you find a series that does more than that, like McMaster’s does, then that series stands out a bit more, resonates with you a bit more and you crave to read just a bit more. My Lady Quicksilver–similarly to the previous books in the series–stands out as a romance novel because there is more going on besides “simply” romance. There are political gambits and intrigue. There are twists that aren’t predictable. There is a believable world with fascinating technology and characters that you can relate to, yet also be stunned by. Take out the romance and you still have a compelling story.

But add in the romance and you get something greater.

I won’t drone on about how much I love the romance. Despite the strong, various plotlines, it is the romance plotline that keeps me up until three a.m., inevitably finishing the book within 24 hours of starting it. The pace is quick and the writing crisp, which makes this feat even easier to accomplish and this book even harder to put down. And because I can always relate to the female protagonist in some fashion, when I’m reading the steamier scenes, I can’t help but get a certain amount of chills; feel a certain amount of breathlessness, as she slowly falls in love. My top scene in My Lady Quicksilver involved a chessboard, a game of truths and buttons. And that’s all I’m going to reveal about that. 😉

I know my reviews are unorthodox, because they don’t break down the aspects that are great and the aspects that could improve within a book. They don’t spell out the plot and the cast of characters and have large print to warn against the spoilers looming in the next paragraph. Instead, my reviews describe the experience I had reading the book and the reasons why I felt that way. For My Lady Quicksilver, I got chills, often. I chuckled at the banter, smiled at the quirks and got giddy at the cameos of characters from other books. By the end, I was surprised by some characters and grew more fond of others (in particular, I was very excited when I called the next couple to be highlighted in Forged by Desire). I also was impressed by the plot development regarding the political unrest between the humanists and the Echelon. Some of the results were quite…gruesome. And I loved that.

So if any of that sounds interesting to you, I suggest you give McMaster’s series a look up and a consideration. Though I am new to the steampunk romance genre, I think this series will stay as one of my top favorites. I hope you all give it a try and enjoy it, too! 🙂

Cheers.