Tag Archives: Self-Love

One of the Neatest Things

Since last November, I’ve lost 19 pounds.

That’s something I never thought I’d write, let alone be my reality.

It is…one of the neatest things.

Part of me wants to apologize for even writing this post, because how braggy can someone get? Yet if you’ve ever stumbled upon this blog or have followed it for years, chances are, you’ve read a post about depression and self-hatred. You’ve read about the struggle I’ve had loving myself, most particularly the way I look. You’d know I’ve been fighting this battle for a long, long time.

You understand how monumental this feels for me.

So my apologies if I brag here for a moment.

 disney supernatural sherlock marvel dean winchester GIF

Like I have so many times before, last November, I told myself, “You need to lose weight. You need to become healthy. You need to create a body that you can look in the mirror and love.” For my height, the healthy weight range is 140-165. My goal has always been to get to 160 pounds and as the years have gone by, the amount of weight I’ve needed to lose to reach that point has only continued to increase. In high school, I was around 185 pounds, but by my senior year of college, I had finally hit that dreaded (to me) point and passed into the 200 range. I had reached the point where I had to lose 40 pounds to get to the higher end of my healthy weight range. I felt hopeless and discouraged in a lot of ways. That sort of weight loss was impossible to achieve.

Eight months later, I’m at 181 pounds. One more pound shed and I’ll be halfway to my goal. Two pounds and I’ll be in the 170s. If I lose a pound a week, I could reach my goal by Thanksgiving. Of this year.

Friends, I am floored at this progress. At this milestone. Of wanting the same thing for so long and finally actually doing something to achieve it. I’m floored to actually be able to feel and see the difference. I’m floored that, every once in the while, I look in the mirror and I smile at what I see. There is still plenty I want to change, but damn if I’m not stoked at where I’m at right now. The lowest weight I’ve been since I was in high school. Shaping the body that I want.

The journey itself has been a bit of a whirlwind. There were plenty of weeks where I gained weight or fluctuated between gaining and losing the same few pounds. There have been weeks where I’ve killed every fitness and eating goal I’ve put ahead of me and weeks where the only movement I got was reaching into the chip bag while sitting on my couch. It’s been a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. There’s been times when I’ve had to forgive myself and times I knew I needed to push harder. I know that this journey will continue to change and evolve, as it’s one I’ll have for the rest of my life, because it certainly doesn’t end once I hit 160. I know there will always be hiccups and struggles and roadblocks and setbacks. That’s okay.

But for the first time ever, I’m confident that I’ll also see progress.

That is…one of the neatest things.

So thank you for your support. For encouraging me and challenging me in this journey. For telling me I’m worthy no matter what my size is (because that’s a capital T Truth). And thanks in advance for the future support and the understanding when I decline that dessert you offer or don’t go back for seconds, even though that food was bomb. It’s a lifestyle change that I’m so excited I’ve finally taken control of and I think it’ll always be a work-in-progress, but your encouragement, support and understanding is phenomenal. And I couldn’t do it without you.

Oh, and just for fun (and because I am so frugal and never spend money on anything), I also wanted to share my rewards for the next 20 pounds to lose. I think having a little extra incentive never hurt anyone, especially as I have a feeling the second 20 pounds might be harder to lose than the first.

  • 20 Pounds: New Tattoo
    • Granted, I’d already planned to get this one in August, but I’m going to cheat and count it as my reward.
  • 30 Pounds: Mass Effect Sweatshirt
    • This one might seem silly, but I’ve been eyeing this Mass Effect sweatshirt for many, many months. And it’s $60, which might not be a lot to you, but that’s always been unjustifiable to me. And I think losing 30 pounds is more than enough justification to get a kickass hoodie that I’ll never take off once I own it.
  • 40 Pounds: Die Hair
    • Again, I hate spending money, but especially on “frivolous” things like doing my hair (even though I feel so fantastic after getting it done). It gets expensive and a lot of the time, I just can’t let myself do it when I should be saving my money. But I’ve always wanted to die my hair darker professionally, even though doing so and getting it cut, too, is a bit pricey. But reaching the weight I never thought I’d reach and having my hair look amazing? Yes, please.

If you have some goals or dreams that you’ve always wanted to achieve but never seem to reach that finish line, I really encourage you to take a scary look at what you’re actually doing to achieve them. Before last November, while the dream of loving my body was very real, the actions I was taking to make it a reality were non-existent and thus, the dream was out of reach. And trust me: you want to know what it feels like to work towards what you believe to be impossible dreams and see yourself make progress, with the knowledge that you yourself are the reason you’re achieving them.

It really is one of the neatest things.

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.


2017: Questing to Know Myself and Choose Happiness

Christmas is less than a week away, with the New Year skittering close after its heels. Though it might seem a bit early for a resolution-like post, when the mood to write strikes you, you ignore it at your own peril. I say “resolution-like” because I can already tell that I’m not going to have a nice, neat list for of goals I want to accomplish, like I have in the past. Quite frankly, I have one true goal, one resolution. It isn’t a new one, but simply a reaffirmation and a refocusing of something that I always want to strive to achieve. The start of another year is the perfect time to remind myself exactly what I want and how to achieve it.

Happiness and self-love.

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24 is a really weird age. I have more bills than I do fingers. Everything I was “certain” and “planned” to do, I’ve already done, i.e., finish school, go to college and graduate. I’m now in this mixed stage of floundering and survival, where I have goals and dreams, of course, but no longer is my path set in stone like it was whilst I was still in school. Now, more than ever, I have a lot of control in not how how my life is lived, but where my priorities lie, how my time is spent, how my values rank and where I want to steer my life.

That is both liberating and terrifying.

And on an average day, I’m pretty content. I currently average roughly 55-60 hours a week between working two jobs. One job lets me scrape by paying my bills. The other job is strictly going into savings, all of it to be used as funding for my trip to London in the fall with my Mom (and I can already tell you that trip is going to be the highlight of 2017). I’m lucky that I enjoy both jobs and the people that I work with. And though it turns into long days, I’m glad that I am being more proactive, even if my downtime has been cut down and my anxiety of never completing my To-Do List has risen because of it.

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I have two goals to help maximize my happiness surrounding my work life: stay more on top of my finances and create a weekly routine and goal list, and stick with it. I need to order a box of checks (considering the last time I bought checks was in middle school) and get a fresh balance sheet for both my checking and savings account and then form a solid habit of tracking what I spend and earn. I get easily stressed about money. And though I know I’m doing fine–I could definitely be struggling more–this stress certainly takes a hit at my overall happiness. If I was more aware of what was going on with my bank account, I think my stress of not having enough would definitely lessen. Plus, this isn’t a bad habit to form in any sense.

I also want to create a routine/schedule that I follow Monday through Friday, probably pretty rigidly. On top of two jobs, I also have freelance editing work, an internship and two free 14-week online classes over Tolkien to balance. And we’re not even factoring in normal health routines (showering, eating, etc.), my personal writing or editing, or my commitment to working out. Life is busy. And I get pretty bummed when I get into writing funks or don’t go to the gym or don’t read for a few days and I know it’s simply because I haven’t managed my time properly. So this week, I plan to map out a schedule that I stick to, with work and eating and things, and a weekly goal list of other things I’d like to accomplish not at a set time; and tape both up by my calendar, so I see them every day. By staying on top of everything during the week, my weekends will be guilt-free days for general laziness, video games or socializing (if this soul stuck in a work cave can actually navigate back to the sunlight that is having a life).

I’m also happiest when I’m writing. Not only writing, but writing consistently. If anything positive came out of 2016, it is definitely that I learned that no matter how busy I am, I can always make time to write and when I do, the results are stunning. I have a lot of projects I need to edit and new ones I want to write next year (but that will be a separate blog post, coming your way soon). These past two months, any excuse I’ve found to not put writing first, I’ve used. There’s no better time than January 1st to recommit to my craft and fall in love with writing again.

Speaking of falling in love, that’s also something I wouldn’t mind doing–both with someone else and with myself. But I can only control one of those and that is my attitude towards myself. Which, honestly, is my biggest focus for 2017–even more so than writing, which shows you how serious I am about this. The biggest way I know I can help myself learn to love myself fully is to pick up working out regularly again. During the fall, I ran for five weeks straight and it felt amazing. And even with so little time, I saw how much my body was changing and I loved it. I could look in the mirror and not cringe (compared to the four weeks after that spurt where every time I pass the mirror, I try to avoid catching my reflection). Even if my body wasn’t changing, I generally just feel happier, more accomplished and proud on days where I work out compared to days that I don’t. This week, I bought a pass to the gym–another sign of how serious of a commitment this is to me, because that pass, while I can afford, I can barely do so. It’s right across the street from where I live and I can squeeze in a workout in-between jobs. So after the holidays, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

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Of course, then there’s all the little things I hope to do throughout the year. Like rebuild my wardrobe to reflect my personality and style better. Get one or two more tattoos before London. Read a lot more books. Amp up my blog commitments to the three blogs that I contribute to and/or run. Query by the summer. Get my haircut regularly. After London, depending on the job, financial and timing situations, I want to look into renting my first little house, save up for a puppy and potentially getting back into the dating scene, if I’m not in it already. Do more weekend roadtrips. Collect more nerdy decor for whatever home I’m in. Find a single job that’s full-time.

And on and on and on and on…

Basically, for 2017, though this phrasing is going to make it sound pretentious, selfish or even potentially arrogant, I want it to be a year about me. Not in the I’m-the-center-of-the-universe-watch-me-flaunt-it kind of way, but in the I-recognize-my-own-value-and-worth-and-am-putting-that-first kind of way. I’m looking to grow, to discover and explore my own personality, to improve yet also be content with exactly the person I’ve crafted myself to be. Because if there was any time in my life where I had control to be exactly who I wanted and shape myself to be exactly the person I desire to be, the time is now. And I’d love your support along the way. 🙂

Wrap-Up List:

  • Start balancing checkbook regularly.
  • Create a weekly routine and stick with it.
  • Recommit to writing goals and stick with them.
  • Workout for 45 minutes 5 days a week.
  • Take care of me.

Well look at that. Apparently I came up with a goals list, after all.

Any goals, mindset changes, reaffirmations or new risks that you’d like me to cheer you on regarding? Hit me up in the comments about what these are and exactly how I can best support you and let’s hit 2017 with grins, positivity and the determination to not only love ourselves, but also change the freakin’ world.

Cheers.


Hiccups

Life is full of them; hiccups, I mean. Of course, this post is tailored to a specific hiccup in my current life–two, actually, if we want to be more precise: hiccups in running and in writing.

You see, both are commitments that I have made to myself to do consistently, because they are important to me. My stories and my ever-changing, always growing ability to tell them, mean everything to me. I started running almost two months ago as a way to battle anxiety and depression, plus as an avenue to really start loving myself wholly, in every aspect, including physically, which has always been the hardest self-love for me to achieve. Obviously, both of these things are important to me; are so much more than mere hobbies.

So when I find myself choosing to not run and going a few days without writing, I feel pretty bad about it and myself.

Like this:

Or this:

Perhaps even this:

With writing, I wrote a whole separate post as to why I think I have fallen off that bandwagon, mostly paralyzed by my own self-doubt and fear. With running, I was doing really well: five straight weeks running five days a week. Then, Thanksgiving Week hit. I knew, going home for the holidays, that I might not be able to run, but I told myself I would at least go on a walk with my dog every day. I ended up running the day before I left for home and walking the Saturday before I went back to my home, always choosing laziness, family, the PS4 or my own desire to not be in the cold over the desire to run or even walk. Then, the next week, my period and cramps from hell hit and I only managed three days when I was averaging five.

And now, I started another job, making the ideal running time to be 6:30 in the morning. Before the sunrise. Operating on six hours of sleep due to getting off of my first job and getting home at 12:30. In single digit temperatures. Not to mention that I am not a morning person, I usually need eight hours to function properly and I hate the cold.

Yeah, not exactly the recipe for success, here. It’s become real easy to talk myself out of running. But worse, it’s become even easier to feel like absolute shit because of it.

But you know what? A little hiccup in the middle of a journey is nothing to be ashamed about, feel guilty over or beat yourself up because of.

Instead, it’s something to embrace.

Hiccups, mistakes, bumps in the road, even failures…none of these things are even possible if you don’t get started. They are only possible through attempts, trying, making an effort. The fact that I am stumbling in both my writing and developing a running habit is only possible because I have made a decision to commit to both of these things and have put forth the effort to try–and have proven myself that I can succeed. So what if I’ve had a hiccup along the way, messing up my rhythm or ruining a streak? A bump in the road is a sign of an accomplishment, even though my brain tries to trick me into believing it is something to be ashamed of.

More so? It’s natural.

I chose to start a running regime when I can’t afford a gym membership in November, meaning that I’m trying to develop a habit during my least favorite time of the year, weather wise, when the biggest requirement–aside from turning off the silly voice in my head trying to talk me out of it each day–is the weather being nice enough for me to take the trails. So perhaps not the smartest move on my part. But that happens. On a day where it rains and I can’t go run, I shouldn’t feel guilty–not any more guilty than on a day where my cramps hurt too bad or if I simply choose to skip.

Because that mentality–that guilt, that hopelessness, that I’ll-never-get-back-to-where-I-was–isn’t going to do me any favors in the long run. And the long run is where I want to be, both physically and with my writing. I’m not looking to shape my dream body before X date or Y event, setting up the mindset where, if I don’t reach my goals by these deadlines, then I’ve failed. I’m not looking to get published tomorrow and land my dream job of being a published author. Again, setting deadlines with these two aspects are not my focus, even though I’d love to wake up tomorrow, published, living the dream job and loving my body for the first time. I want to create habits that turn into lifestyles. I want to set reachable goals, like writing X amount of words this week or adding five more minutes of running. I want to train my brain to turn away those negative thoughts until eventually, there is never a battle, forcing myself to run or write, because I already want to, I already plan to and I already need to. But most importantly, I want to learn to forgive myself for every hiccup, whether it happens once every full moon or lasts for months at a time. Hiccups are just another part of the journey, a reminder that you’ve started something great already, you just lost your balance for a bit; a challenge for you to do better; a marker of growth; a reminder that you are capable of achieving what you want and you can work towards it again. Hiccups are a good thing.

Here’s to hiccups, forgiveness and trying again.

Cheers.


Teeter-Tottering

Shit got emotionally real with yesterday’s post, The Soft Craving, where I talked about my belief that I’m going to be eternally single, how my desires are the exact opposite of that and I questioned why this juxtaposition is even happening in the first place.

Today, I want to talk about why I’m going to be okay, even if this proves true and I turn out to be the dog lady I always tell people I will be.

This turn around, this emotional bounce back, this teeter-tottering between being completely distraught that I’m going to be alone to being content with my singleness, does not erase the craving that I so distinctly feel. Hell, I definitely still feel that. I will always feel that, until I find that connection that I dream about.

But that doesn’t mean that craving needs my complete attention.

I’ve had a whirlwind of a past month, emotionally, as I started talking to a gent I met online. We went on a couple dates. I was kissed for the first time. And things were going fantastically. We connected on so many levels. I could talk to him so easily. And then…nothing. He ghosted. Of course, my insecure brain kept pointing to every instance of where I potentially messed up, when I said something wrong, when I was being too real, too honest, too intense. Yet those insecurities kept butting heads with everything that was going right and I was left in this pit of confusion and drowning in this fear that when I finally started to trust that I would be able to experience the beginning of what I’ve always dreamed of having, I would lose it. And then I did. And I still don’t understand it, not fully. But I can’t change it, so there it is.

This past weekend, as the last blog post attests, I was pretty down in the dumps. Honestly, I don’t think I truly was able to process and make this emotional turn around until I did two things: write that post and run this afternoon. Somehow, I remembered some things that I’ve always known, between the two: that I can be happy, even if alone. That there are so many aspects of my life that I already enjoy and love and cherish and I can still feel that way even if those aspects would be heightened if I had someone to share them with. And the advice that people had been giving me, that I had written off because it didn’t seem to make sense, suddenly did.

It’ll happen when you least expect it. When you’re just at the point of giving up, that’s when the magic happens.

I’ve always wanted to reject that advice, because a weird part of me felt that by giving up on the hope of finding someone, I was giving up on love. And love is what I believe in most. I was also apprehensive to not actively search for love, because how else would I meet people? What if by not searching, I missed out on finding someone and then I blink, and suddenly I’m 60 with four dogs and never found anyone because I never put myself out there?

And yet…

When I was talking to Sir Ghost, I was so insecure. I thought this kid was so out of my league and I was so focused on saying the right thing and over-analyzing everything. It was honestly exhausting. And it shouldn’t have been that exhausting. I should have been more trusting in myself, in my own worth, and more trusting in him and his words surrounding his interest (even if he disappeared despite such claims). Perhaps, with a bit more confidence, our ending could have been different. Regardless, despite the darkest days where I actually trick myself into believing I’m not worthy of love and being loved, that’s actually false. I am worthy. And I should believe that.

So.

After a shit-ton of reflection, asking advice from so many people and thinking about my desire to live this upcoming year fearlessly, I’m sitting here with a renewed hope and a renewed plan, for as much as you could plan for life. I want love. Of course that’s true. Of course I’m tired of being lonely. But I also need balance. I need self-love. I need to know, without a doubt, that my happiness isn’t tied to my relationship status. I need to choose and work at happiness, every day, as I’ve always believed, but had forgotten, pining after someone who had no interest in me.

So I’m going to work on me. I’m going to do things that I love: write, read, blog, game, edit. I’m going to work on improving my insecurities, especially physically. I’m going to keep running and start challenging myself to improve. I’m working on my damaging mindset I have about myself, shutting it down until such a mindset is only a memory. I’m going to continue to get tattoos and stop fearing that my love for ink is going to prevent me from finding the love of my life. Because that’s just not true. I just might treat myself a little more, too. I may splurge on a new outfit or getting my hair done more often than I have in the past, i.e., never. I gave myself permission to do both, before my date and surprisingly, they also made me feel really good. I wouldn’t mind feeling that way more often, even if it tightens my bank account that much more.

Does this refocusing mean that there won’t be nights where I throw all of this by the wayside and just want to be loved? Of course not. I teeter-totter between being confident and content being alone and craving so longingly to be loved all the time. Welcome to human emotions, friends. And though I want to focus on myself now and have faith that my man exists, is out there somewhere and somehow, we’ll find one another, eventually, I’ll put myself out there again, if I don’t stumble upon him. I’m still not completely sold on the “when you least expect it, it will happen” philosophy. But first, I want to love myself as fully as I am able; focus on knowing myself and appreciating that woman as much as I can. Perhaps by then, the universe will be ready to allow me to experience a love that people write novels about.

And if it doesn’t, then at least I have discovered how to love and find worth in myself in the process.

Cheers.


The World Ahead…

Friends! Today* is my birthday!

Birthdays are crazy things, especially as you get older. I turned 24. My age is only reflected in the amount of bills I owe and the amount of “real world job experience” I have on my resume, as physically, some people still mistake me for a high school student (why? just why?), emotionally, I have the spirit of a Grandma while most of my interest and hobbies will always remain in the realm of a teenage gamer. But, the reality of it is it, I was born in 1992, 24 years ago. And it has me all contemplating.

Naturally, another year older, I looked back at the year I lived as a 23 year old. It was definitely a crazy, emotional and eventful year for me: graduated from college; went to grad school; move out of state; dropped out of grad school; moved back home; wrote four books; read hundreds more; became a more dedicated gamer; got my first post-college job; got my first apartment and the bills that follow it; became a bit more introverted and a little bit more of a loner as an adult. So many life changes, so many adventures, so many challenges, so many regrets, so many memories, so much happiness and heartbreak and stress and relief.

Of course, now that my birthday’s over, I’m thinking about what the future year might bring and I am utterly clueless. How many jobs will I end up working? Will I advance in my career or stay stagnant? How many books will I write? Will I query at all? Will I become represented? Will I renew my lease or have a change of scenery? Will I fall in love? Will my dreams come true? Will I cry myself to sleep? Will I…?

The list is endless.

I do know this, though: I want to be better to myself. I want to be more genuine in reflecting who I really am. I want to be fearless.

My life, like anyone’s, has been built upon ups and downs and has been shaped by so many aspects. Along the way, it has taken a really, really long time to discover myself and who I truly believe I am. The past few years, especially, I have discovered leaps and bounds about myself; about what I want in life; about who I want to be. And it’s taken me a long time to realize that I shouldn’t hide that woman from the world, nor should I apologize to the world about who exactly that woman is.

Because, truthfully, I love her.
Yet, just as truthfully, I have spent so much of my life hating her.
Hating myself.

A year from now, if I live to be 100, I’ll have lived a quarter of my life. A quarter of my life, gone and lived and in the past, like a blink. I refuse to spent the rest of it degrading and damaging myself simply because I refuse to fit into a mold society wants to me to fit, thus supposedly deeming myself lesser, unworthy, not good enough, because of that deviation.

No bloody longer.

My name is Nicole. I’m 24 years old. I’m a writer by birth, a storyteller by trade. I am weird, odd, quirky. I claim the title nerd with honor and pride. I am a walking juxtaposition in so many regards. And as early as middle school, I have hated myself, mostly influenced by my physical appearance, but also because I didn’t think the person I was, the person I have grown into and become, was worthy of anything; even though deep down, I knew that I loved myself. I wanted to love myself. But how could I, when society constantly spoke otherwise; when I allowed myself to be ruled by numbers on a scale or on clothes; when depression reared and loneliness overruled?

This is my life and I am so tired of being ruled by fear, being boxed in by societal expectations and categories that I don’t fit, of hating myself when all I want to do is love. My body is curvy and my face is plain. My opinions are stubborn and my views spoken. My hobbies are passions that are expressed with enthusiasm. My soul is old and my beliefs traditional. I love fully and intensely. My skin is inked. My conversations are in-depth. My standards and expectations are high.

All of these aspects of myself, I have hated, feared or questioned because of how the world responds: with distaste, with dissatisfaction, with disapproval. There are plenty more that didn’t make it into that list. Yet they are also all aspects that, if I am so totally and utterly honest, I actually love about myself. Deep, deep down, I knew this. Yet I never gave myself permission to fully accept and embrace this self-love; to express myself without apology or explanation for who I am to my core and ooze confidence powered by love.

Dammit, I am 24 years old. I think it is high time I allowed myself to love myself.

I have no idea what my 24th year will bring; what my future holds, how my life will change or twist or contort or challenge me or reward me or break me or mold me. But I do know this: I am sick and tired of hating myself when I am worthy of love. Not only love from my friends–which is felt–or my family–which is cherished–or from a soulmate–which is craved–but from myself.

Which is deserved and desperately overdue.

Cheers.

* So I posted this technically on the 4th, even though my birthday was on the 3rd. And regardless of when I posted it, you could be reading this at any point, so the statement is pretty much null and void no matter which way you look at it. So sue me.


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.