My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘relationships’

The Mountains We Have Climbed

On the days when it feels like you will never get through this season, this period, this transition — please remember all of the mountains you have climbed before. Please remember all of the nights you spent convinced that the anxiety wouldn’t leave, that you’d never move beyond where you were in that very moment.

Whether you realized it or not, the time passed.

Without you having to even try, joy emerged from your days. One day, something small brought you a little ease, and then a little more. You waited. You realized that everything was going to be okay, even if it doesn’t always feel okay. You let the waves crash, and then you let them recede.

Whether you realized it or not, you found courage.

You did things you once did not believe you could do, even if those things were just finding the will to wake up and face each day. You felt worse than you were capable of feeling, you suffered loss that you couldn’t have conceived prior. You were awakened to reality, which is sometimes cold, and sometimes hard, and sometimes brutally unfair.

But also, unimaginably sweet.

Because while you were mourning what you thought would be, you also found softness. You discovered how important it is to love the people nearest to you, and how invaluable they are. You began to appreciate what you didn’t see before. You began to know that you were enough, because you decided what was enough.

Whether you realized it or not, you became resilient.

You explored the perimeters of what your heart could hold, and how much it could process. You discovered that your strength is limitless, you just don’t know what if it’s never been tested before.

And over time, what was once impossible became easy.

The life you have today is a mere dream of the past. The things you do right now were once the things you only could have ever prayed to have. The people in your life are the ones you gazed out the window for years and wondered if they would ever arrive, if someone would ever show up that made you feel so deeply understood, cared for, appreciated and loved.

You do not have to have everything in order to make the best of anything, because the truth is that goodness is something we extract from life, something we savor, something we choose to see. It’s not always something we can achieve, or find.

So when the day comes that it feels most like you will never move beyond where you are right now, please remember how far you have walked, and through what. Please remember all of the times you were stuck and were sure you would never get out from under the crushing weight of your own disappointment and defeat. Please remember all of the times you were truly heartbroken, truly let down.

Then remember all of the nights you dreamed of being where you are right now.

The days you spent working and planning and hoping that it would all work out. In one way or another, a path was made where it did not exist before. The opportunities showed up. The doors creaked open. You met the people who you’d spend years if not the rest of your life with, people who were once strangers becoming friends, family.

You discovered things about yourself you did not yet know.

You learned what it takes to feel safe, and not. You learned what you enjoy, and what you don’t. You learned what you value, and what you don’t. You learned, because you discovered, the honest truth of who you are and who you’re going to be.

You found yourself, not because you were searching, but because you were cornered. When discomfort in life peaks, we are left to look around and wonder why. Through that reflection, we discover all the pieces that are out of place, and then we find the courage to put them back together.

You will move the pieces in front of you today.

You will arrive to the horizon you’re gazing at in due time.

Instead of fearing that the road will fall out from under you, return to what life has shown you: that things can be scary, but that a way is always made. That even if you don’t believe you’re worthy, you’re always given enough. That even if you don’t believe you’re lovable, you’re always loved. That even if you don’t think there’s a way forward, there always is.

When it feels most like nothing will ever give and the mountain ahead of you won’t ever be scaled, remember how you crossed every one that’s behind you: one step, one hour, one moment, one glimmer of hope at a time.

Trust Me When I Say…

…that even if your plans have changed, even if your timeline is different, even if this year has not unfolded the way you thought it would — you are not falling behind, but instead, are right where you need to be.

The course of our lives is not contingent upon things happening precisely as we think they should. In fact, it’s often the unexpected that opens us up to opportunities that weren’t crossing our radars, ideas about life, and love, and the world itself, that we hadn’t stopped to consider. If you know that it’s time to slow down, to simplify, to take it easier, to savor your days, to adjust your course — you are absolutely right.

You are not straying from the path, you are finally finding it.

You are learning that real growth is not always just constant forward motion. Growth is also staying still. Growth is deep rest. Growth is stopping to reconsider where you’re headed before you arrive there. Growth is letting yourself settle, it’s letting yourself blossom, it’s letting yourself see how much good is already in your life before you hunger for more.

You are allowed to take days to grieve, to do nothing. You are allowed to press your plans back until they make more sense. You do not exist on a single schedule, your fate is not to arrive at each set point at precisely the second you think you should. That’s not what you’re here for. That’s not what this whole thing is about.

You cannot miss the exit.

There are no wrong turns.

Life is a living, breathing thing — because it’s an extension of you.

It’s the ways in which you explore the corners and contours of your soul, the way you find pieces of yourself through love, through trial and error, through reaching, through supporting and learning and caring and doing good. Every part of our lives exists to teach us something. We are not only making progress when we are clearly, discernibly growing. We are also making progress when we take time to simply be.

The irony is that it’s often the plans that go wrong that teach us more, and show us more, than the ones that go right.

Those words even signify our perceptions of how we are meant to be in the world, that we cannot possibly do anything but what was pre-determined, otherwise we’re failing, and off-course.

The truth that I am asking you to consider is that even if all you did was wake up and keep breathing today, you did what you are supposed to do. Even if all you could manage was to take care of your most essential tasks, you have done more than many can. If you’re able to reach for something just beyond yourself, you should applaud yourself and feel profoundly grateful for your courage, your strength, and your grit.

You should not feel ashamed that you aren’t able to wake up and do that every single day.

Because you and I? We are human beings just trying to sort through the realities and imperfections of being on this planet, with all of these people, trying to coexist and make sense of it all and come out on the other end a little more okay than we were before.

Our lives are not defined by how clearly and seamlessly we reach each goal, but what we are able to savor from each day.

Who were we, and how did we show up, in the simplest moments, in the easiest ways? We are far more defined by the way we make others feel than the way we think they feel about us. We are far more impacted by learning to see what we have as enough as opposed to thinking we’re only okay once we have more. We are far better for taking time to rest, to regenerate, and seeing this not as a stagnation, but a beautiful, and essential, part of being who we are.

May this be the year that you learn slowing down is nothing to be ashamed of.

May this be the year that you realize your life isn’t on any schedule but your own — and you can amend that.

May this be the year you realize you are not only as good as your latest accomplishment was great.

You are not falling behind, you never have been.

The journey has only ever been about learning to find a semblance of peace each day, and it’s often in the quiet, in the unexpected, and in the simplest things that we are given the greatest opportunity to do just that.

Just Breathe

Hi, friends. How are you? Are you doing okay?

I realize that’s kind of a silly question, more rhetorical than anything given *gestures vaguely* our current circumstances. Whew. This year has been one heckuva decade. It’s weird to have one common, global talking point, no? This virus — systemic racism, the tumultuous state of our democracy and of course, the actual COVID virus. It’s leaving nowhere unexplored and no one untouched.

Last week, I met up with a friend and we caught up on life while taking a stroll around the park. As we walked, my face half-covered with a kitty cat face mask, sweat slowly dripping down my forehead, she looked over at me, and exclaimed: “Goodness, I cannot wait for this crazy year to be over!” I looked at her, not fully comprehending her statement in the moment, and simply nodded back. Later that week, wrapped up in a never-ending group chat, I happened to read a similar statement from another friend of mine: “2021 please hurry!” This time, I felt my interest spark: are there people out there simply waiting for 2021 to come along to make things better? If so, why?

I will be the first to admit, 2020 has definitely not been the best year of my life. I couldn’t have predicted losing a job I had started not a mere four months after I began. I never saw myself experiencing my first (and subsequent second and third) debilitating anxiety attacks. I didn’t envision the heartbreak, sadness and fear that would fill my heart, and the hearts of the world at large when Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake’s (to name just a few) lives were tragically taken, or the aftermath that would follow. And of course, I could have never imagined the advance of a full-blown pandemic that would completely alter the course of our lives forever, causing everything we had known to change.

But despite the heaviness, the challenges and the pain that this year has brought thus far, there were also moments of beauty, growth and peace that I have experienced throughout this, as my friend put “crazy year.”

For one, I fell in love. And it’s been the truest, deepest, most sincere and beautiful love I’ve ever experienced. In the midst of one of the most uncertain and stressful and scary times of my life, he has been my one constant, my light, my biggest supporter and cheerleader. And I am forever grateful for that.

I made time for family, for friends, for consciously making an effort to stay connected and letting the people who matter most in my life know how very much they mean to me. I began writing again, reading, having slow mornings and lazy afternoons. I found peace when I was exploring the great outdoors, and I felt like for once, I could breathe.

Long-standing issues of racial inequality, systemic racism and police brutality were once again brought to the forefront of out minds, but instead of mourning and taking a stand for but just a moment, we got loud, we got angry, we got inspired and educated and united, and we turned this moment into a movement. A movement that will continue until we see the social justice and equality and equity that we have been fighting for for so long.

This year has forced us all to take pause, to reflect, to focus on the things that truly matter.

If you are reading this article, I urge you to stop waiting for 2021. It will come, and the virus in all of its forms will still exist. But with any hope, we will be better prepared to take on its challenges, bringing with us a new found sense of strength, hope and the thought that the power to make this life a better one, for all of us, lies in our hands.

But for now, take a moment to breathe.

Reflect on all that has gone well.

Acknowledge the moments of peace and solace you experienced this year.

Live, and be grateful for this moment.

For in the end, that is all we truly have.

Stronger Together, Apart

 

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Hey, guys.

How’s everyone doing? How we feeling? I know that the past week has been heavy. And confusing. And scary and uncomfortable and there are still a lot of unknowns weighing over our minds and hearts. I actually woke up a few days ago thinking that this was all just a really bad and crazy dream,  a direct result of me eating way too much spicy Kung Pao Chicken right before I went to bed. And then I woke up and realized the really bad and crazy was in fact, very real.

Every since I was a young girl, I’ve loved figuring out the answers to problems.

Jigsaw and crossword puzzles were my jam, and don’t even get me started on my slight obsession with McGyver. To this day you cannot convince me that a toothpick, some gum and a bottle of DW-40 won’t solve any crisis.

As a writer, as a forever learner, doer and out-of-the-box thinker, I’ve gotten really good at looking at an issue, at an obstacle or problem in many different angles, analyzing and coming up with a plan of execution. Or multiple plans. Brainstorming, researching and making an action plan is kind of my MO.

If my best friend is having relationship or family issues, I will sit with him/her and figure out a way to get them past this, no matter how many bottles of PBR/wine we have to sacrifice along the way. If a coworker is struggling to find their footing at work, I will help them come up with a plan to tackle their responsibilities like the boss I know they are. If my mom is still texting in hieroglyphics, I will…..yeah, sorry mom. I think that one’s a lost cause.

I like having answers, I like knowing that anything can be solved. And I hate, hate, hate seeing the ones I love and care about in any sort of pain or discomfort.

I’m a fixer, that’s kinda what I do.

But sometimes life throws you a curve ball of a problem, one that you don’t necessarily have the answer for.

Enter in the coronavirus, or Covid-19 as you’ve probably heard it being called.

It has been incredibly hard for me the last few days, for a lot of different reasons. And I know we’ve all, in some way, shape or form, been affected by what this pandemic has created in our lives. A new normal if you will. We’ve all had to change the dynamic of our lives, making sacrifices and putting a pause on many of the things we love. We’ve all felt some kind of loss.

But for me, the toughest part of this all is this feeling of helplessness. And maybe you can relate. As I sit in my room right now, writing this blog post while practicing safe social distancing, I’ve become very aware of how lucky I am. To have a safe place to stay, to have my health, to have the ability to work from home and purchase the food and supplies I need and to have people in my life who I can depend on, no matter what.

The truth is, there are many, many people out there who aren’t as lucky. And as a fixer, it breaks my heart to think that while these people have already been dealt a hard hand, they now have an even harder one.

The great news is, it doesn’t have to be this way.

While the events of the last month have brought a lot of fear and trepidation to our collective society as a whole, it has also brought out the good, the truly good, in people. Strangers offering to buy groceries for those who can’t afford it or are uncomfortable going out in public right now. Employers granting their employees extended sick and PTO time. Community centers opening their doors to families and young children who need a place to safe place to stay, who need a warm meal. The countless men and women who are on the front lines – in hospitals, emergency care centers, health organizations and community centers – bravely and selflessly putting their lives at risk to make sure the sick and unhealthy are being taken care of. The outpouring of messages spreading hope, solidarity, empathy and love seen on social media, in the news (or the texts, DMs, or phone calls you’ve received from the ones who care about you) have been immeasurable.

I hope you see that, too.

Because it proves that while we may not have the answers right now, there are so many things we can do to help, to be there for one another, to lessen the burden, to make this heavy, and confusing, and scary and uncomfortable time a little less heavy, and confusing, and scary and uncomfortable.

And I hope this continues, too. Long after we’ve moved past this odd mark in our history. Maybe that’s the one thing we can all take away from this experience. Maybe it should be the one thing we should all take away from this experience.

Stronger together, *apart (*at least for right now).

I love you all, and am here. If you ever need to talk, or vent, or simply sit in silence.

We will make it through this.

I promise.

xoxo,

Wendi Jo

It’s okay to be human

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It’s one of the first pieces of advice I can remember receiving — maybe my dad said it, or maybe I only imagine he did and ascribed the wisdom accordingly because I was little and when you’re little, you live in an insular world like that: “Don’t say you’re bad at something unless you’re going to try to be better at it.”

We live in a society that prides perfectionism as the be-all of virtues, and has bred generation after generation of people succumbing to its pressures. Everyone’s expected to scramble to rise to the top — we just never take the time to tell people which top that’s supposed to be. Of course, the unsaid there is to allow for room to decide exactly what that top is, where it is, what we define ourselves as the best. And when you’re a frustrated little kid who doesn’t understand why you can’t get something right on the first try, you’re bound to let out a few sentiments here and there about how you’re lamentably bad at something.

And as we grow up, we begin to learn that being bad at a few things isn’t awful — it’s human.

It’s refreshing to have flaws, and sometimes, it’s fun to be terrible at things, to revel in ridiculous karaoke sets and botched doodles, to laugh later over that time you tried to make a five course meal and wound up ordering tacos via Seamless as a Hail Mary. Being bad sometimes makes for the best stories. There’s freedom in admitting that your prowess can’t and won’t extend everywhere. There’s something refreshing in an adult who doesn’t just admit their shortcomings, but owns them.

But when kids are little, they’re also shuttled from class to class, sport to sport, extracurricular to playdate, and we begin to form ideas that we’re supposed to be the best at everything. The best friend, the best all-star, the best in science and English and the star of the school play and the kid with whom everyone else wants to trade their lunch. We’re told to excel, to never settle for second place — not just in what we love most of all, but in anything. In everything. Fault isn’t seen as natural strength and weakness, it’s seen as an Achilles’ heel to be rectified. We don’t embrace anything we’re not the best at. We sink in humiliation until we change or feign being at least slightly above average and overall okay. Often, we give up before we have the chance to be better. We write ourselves off before we try to see what we’re capable of.

Being “bad” at something doesn’t take away from the fact that it was your best effort.

Part of owning your flaws is admitting that maybe there’s space to get better. And besides, “bad” is a subjective perception. One person’s “bad” is another person’s extraordinary advancement. Regardless, it’s okay to be at a personal “bad” now and again. Virtuosos are rare, and anyway, they’ve got their own newly heightened standards to live up to and to beat. And for every Beethoven who composed his first masterwork when he was still stringing together how to read words on a page, there are untold hundreds of thousands of people who were crappy at first. Who couldn’t even dream of even so much as touching that sort of rare talent. But no matter how bad they were, they tried over and over. And that is how they got better.

Saying you’re bad at something isn’t the problem. That’s identifying where you have room to grow — so in fact, it’s good to admit it. Especially when what you’re measuring is your own improvement. The problem is getting caught in feeling bad without a desire to change, and what’s worse is having that desire, but not taking the next steps to change. The problem is accepting being “bad” as a limitation. As a sentence. As if there’s nothing in our power to right what we perceive to be “wrong.” And that’s simply not true. Saying you’re bad at something without action is, often enough, little more than wallowing.

Because at the end of the day, the only thing that’s really “bad” is our attitude about how we perceive ourselves.

And if we’re going to call it bad, then we’ve identified what we’d like to change — and it’s now up to us to decide to actually do something about it. To change how we perform, to change how we work, to practice, to change how we structure our day to appropriate our time as needed. Most of all: to change ourselves. And to change our idea of why we’ve been lead to believe “being bad” really is that bad. You can be bad at things sometimes. There’s nothing wrong in that. But dwelling on it will only make it worse. And complaining for the sake of self-pity will get you — and everyone else — absolutely nowhere.

Say you’re bad at something every now and again. Admit to being human. Revel in that if you want to. But don’t declare yourself personally dissatisfied with your ability unless you’re going to personally work to change that. It’s self-respecting at the end of the day, and everybody has to learn to take it for themselves. Or at least, from someone else — as I from my dad, and as, hopefully, you from me.

Fear? Psh, what fear?

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We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down. – Kurt Vonnegut.

Fear. It’s a funny thing, guys. It’s also a very necessary thing. If you go back in history, fear was what enabled the cavemen to identify a dangerous situation. It’s what heightens your senses, pumps adrenaline into your system, and it helps you survive whatever it is that’s scaring you. But life isn’t that difficult anymore — there are fewer stakes raised, and we live in a pretty safe, comfortable environment – relatively speaking.

Because of that, our fears are the things we now manifest inside ourselves. The things we let fester, the dreams we never pursue, the chances we don’t take, the places we never move to, the people we don’t admit to loving, the jobs we never apply for. There are so many things to be afraid of, but most of these things reside inside our own head.

Because what if we fail? What if we never recover? What if, what if, what if?

But what if we don’t?

What if we do the scariest thing of all — what if we actually get everything we ever wanted?

One of my track coaches used to always say that “you should get uncomfortable, because being uncomfortable is where you begin to see changes.” And it’s true — not just in the biological sense that your body responds to harder work by adapting and becoming stronger, but because your mind becomes stronger, too. You begin to withstand the scary things, the things you never thought you were capable of. And in this, you become more resilient.

Because being scared is fucking uncomfortable.

Being afraid is supposed to be fucking uncomfortable — it lights that metaphorical fire under your ass in order to tell you to work towards being more comfortable. But there are two ways you can do this: either retreating, and avoiding the scary thing in the first place, or working through it to the other side. Riding out the uncomfortable and the scary until you’re stronger and things aren’t as scary anymore. Fight or flight. Do or die.

And of course, in order to really understand how to withstand the scary things life throws at us, you have to get to the bottom of why you think it’s scary. Why it gets under you skin, why it terrifies you, why it dregs up memories of all the other times you faced scary things and didn’t come out stronger on the other side. There’s a whole host of reasons, really, and each will vary from person to person, but I think one of the things that connects this fear we all experience isn’t all that unique.

We’re most afraid of being happy. Of having a good life.

Not that we don’t want to — oh, of course we do. But we wonder if we deserve a good life, if we ought to have one, and so this doubt creeps in and we’re left second-guessing ourselves when we have to stand up to the thing that is in the way of our happiness. Of whatever it is we want. After all, what would happen if we wound up getting everything we wanted? What if it all got taken away?

But that is a risk with everything you do. So you might as well face the scary parts head on, because chances are, the outcome you want least might happen anyway. Whether or not you tried.

And if you don’t try, the what if — the magical, fantastical, best-case-scenario — will never happen at all.

My life has had its fair share of missteps, mistakes, ope and oops moments and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Because it’s in that vulnerability, the scrapes and bruises and scars that you grow, you learn, you prove to yourself how strong you really are.

Do the things that scare you.

Get uncomfortable.

Stand your ground.

Speak up, and go after the things you want. Apply for the job, ask for that promotion, buy the plane ticket, take the trip, climb that mountain, tell the person you’re crushing on that you love them – that you’re in love with them, move to a new city.

Take the risk.

And if you do wind up with everything you ever wanted, it’s because you did that work. You put in the effort, you found the grit within yourself, you realized that the scariest things in this world can sometimes be the most wonderful.

We’re scared of change, is all. But change is good for us. Change is how we learn.

And there’s nothing more fulfilling than that.

The Fix

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A few times a month, I’ll receive a message either on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or via email asking me for help. For advice. For an opinion on what they should do.

Y’all, social media is a funny and crazy and daunting thing, but it also has this weird way of bringing people together.

It’s humbling, every time I receive one of these messages. From strangers, from friends, from strangers who become friends. And it’s flattering to think that someone somewhere might think I have some answers, or was enough of a catalyst to help someone try to find help for themselves. I don’t think it has much to do with being inspirational so much as it does that most of the issues I talk and write about are things I have struggled with, am struggling with, and am honest about struggling with. Trying to navigate work, relationships, my incessant yet incredibly annoying habit of thinking that ‘perfect’ is and should be this obtainable goal, and adulting in general are all things that I have and will always be open about. Life is hard and confusing as hell sometimes. But from my experience, there’s comfort in knowing you aren’t alone in this thang.

And when you’re a peer, an equal, another regular person who faced any given monster and is doing okay, sometimes that’s less intimidating than a therapist or a doctor or a parent or anyone else in your immediate life who might unknowingly judge you as they try to help. One of the things computer screens have given us is a little piece of illuminated hope, the kind of hope that doesn’t ever touch your real life unless you want it, and the kind that allows you to be anonymous. When you’re struggling, knowing that you’re letting that hope in on your life is sometimes the most blessed thing. It’s empowerment. And who doesn’t like a big ‘ol slice of that every now and then? I know I do, preferably covered in cheese and pepperoni.

But I hardly know what to tell people, in part because I am not an advice columnist, and because I don’t know their lives, and because I am scared to take the ownership of giving bad advice. The truth is, my life is still messy in places. I don’t have it all figured out. I’m trying, and each and every day I learn something new, and grow, but I’m still a work in progress. I think we all are in a way. Nine times out of 10, I’m making my own answers to my life up as I go.

I suppose this is an apology, in part, if you’ve ever asked me something and I didn’t respond. I probably didn’t know how. That’s hardly an excuse, because I could have tried, but I am human too. And humans get scared sometimes. Of our emotions, of our history, of our struggles and our scars. Sometimes we’re scared that if we poke the box where we packed all those bad things away, the memories of those struggles will peep their ugly heads back out. Sometimes giving advice feels like that.

But one thing I do know is that I can cheer you on. I can ask questions. I can tell you that deep down, you know what you need to do, you just want someone else to tell it to you because that’s the easy way. I can be rhetorical and tricky and universal, and it would probably seem personal because when you seek advice, you latch onto whatever you can and call it yours. And I will do all of these things, if that is what you want and need. Because I really do hope that the people who find even the smallest amount of inspiration in my own story know that someone is cheering for them. Someone always is.

But though I can root for you and tell you that if I made it through, so can you, I cannot fix you. I don’t have the answers. None of us do. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have, but the Internet and the transparency and immediacy of communication means we can do it together.

I cannot fix you. But then again, I shouldn’t. That’s not my job. The only person who can and should and might fix you is you. Trust that you’ll be able to do that.

You’re more capable than you think.

Disconnect to Reconnect

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One of the struggles of the digital age is constantly feeling like you need to create, to be ‘on’ 24/7, to be connected in a tangle of internets, interwebs, networks and sites.  That if you’re not tweeting and Instagramming and writing another article, another post, another piece, you’re losing out on precious time or views or likes or followers or whatever metric it is that you want to call “success.” I mean, hell, Harper Lee didn’t publish a second book for DECADES.

That’s how starved we are for constant content.

But the thing is, when you’re so busy making stuff, you can sometimes forget how to live your own life. You know, offline. Remember that place? It’s the one where none of those numbers and hearts and stars matter.

Believe me, I know how tough it is. My day-to-day life is filled with notifications and posts and tweets and thinking critically about how to maximize all of the stuff that does not and cannot exist offline. And don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my job! And sure, there are ways to sign off and let a computer do its thang, but even then, I have to keep one eye on it because an algorithm cannot make a critical judgment call.

It’s the nature of the social media beast.

Trust me when I say that to work in social is to never not be working. And at my last job, I spent the bulk of my time writing nearly all day long, every. single. day. There was no overarching editorial schedule, just that I knew I had to write something. That freedom was both amazing and terrifying. And I was chasing numbers and page views, and though I was rather good at making those numbers happen, eventually, I burned out. You always burn out eventually. You run out of things to talk about. You run out of ways to write the same story for the 20th time.

So you find ways to recharge.

You close your laptop. (Dear God, I hope you do this regardless! It’s good for your health and your sanity.) You meet up with friends. You swipe a few times on Bumble or Tinder or whatever the latest hot dating app is, and maybe you go on a date. Or five dates. You go for a run, for a hike. You grab a coffee, you talk to the barista and see how their day’s going, you buy yourself flowers at the farmer’s market you swear you’re going to visit more regularly. You live your one, singular, unrepeatable life.

Disconnect to reconnect.

I wear a bracelet with that reminder everyday to drive home how important it is to step away from the digital screens and i-phones, the apps and the websites. And I will be the first to admit how hard that can be sometimes. But the truth of the matter is, these things will still be there tomorrow. And the next day. And three weeks, three months from now.

That dinner with your family, that road trip with your best friends, that night spent camping under the stars or midnight laughs shared sitting on the kitchen floor over a pint of ice cream? Those moments only happen once. Promise me you won’t get too caught up trying to “connect” that you completely miss out on what it is you’re trying to connect to or with.

The One Before the One

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I have recently come to terms with what it’s like to be the girl before the girl, y’all. And it’s not fun. In fact, it sucks ass.

The in-between, a practice run, an incredibly dysfunctional cupid.

#ItMe

Not following?

Let me explain.

Last week, I got a call from an ex — a man I truly believed I’d one day see in a tux smiling at me from the end of a churchaisle. He’s been dating the same girl since we broke up two years ago, and the crushing words that came out of his mouth were ones I had secretly prayed I’d never hear: “Wendi,” he said, “I’m going to marry her.”

I promptly burst into all the ugly snot tears.

See, this isn’t the first time I’ve been the girlfriend before the girlfriend who
becomes the wife. It has happened — you’re not going to believe this — eight times (and I’m only 30)! It’s like I’m prepping guys for marriage to someone else. If you look on Yelp, my reviews are a solid 5 stars across the board.

The in-between.

Practice run.

An incredibly dysfunctional cupid.

By definition, I am the girl guys are with in-between serious relationships. They turn to me at vulnerable points in their lives without really realizing it. I’m a space-filler, a safe place to go because I am consistent and that’s what they need or are looking for at that particular time in their life.

I’ve heard all of the names: rebound, hookup, friend with benefits — but none of them seem to fit.

Until this.

It starts out as something innocent. We figure it will be a one-time thing, especially considering he just got out of a relationship. Or he’s just not looking for something serious. Or we’re friends trying to test the waters, figuring out if we’d be good as more than that.

But then it happens.

We develop those pesky feelings.

And things begin spiral beyond our control.

We officially enter the grey area.

In relationships, that damn grey area is the worssssst. Are we friends? More than friends? Or just complete strangers who shared this undeniable spark, if only for a mere days, weeks, month?  We’ll share laughs, smiles, inside jokes. We see the what could bes, and are swiftly moving in that direction. But then something happens that knocks me on my ass.

We’ll have an awkward encounter – or worse – a shitty text convo,  and I’ll feel seasick on dry land because I have to face the music that I’m just the in-between girl. The end result usually being the inevitable droppage of the, “It’s not you, it’s me,” bomb.

After a lot of introspective thinking, and ice cream (just so much ice cream), I’ve come to  realize that he’s actually right. It’s not me. It really is him.

It’s all of the hims who’ve said goodbye to a great relationship in place of another one. It’s not me.

It’s all of the hims who were unsure, confused or just not ready for a commitment. It’s not me.

It’s all of the hims who were perfectly good guys, just not the perfectly good guy for me.

The truth is, there is no manual for this, no “Dating for Dummies.” We’re all trying to figure it out as we go. For me, it’s been quite the trial-and-error process. There have been a lot of ups, just as many downs and quite a few in-betweens.

But maybe that’s all part of the process. Maybe we go through these trials in order to figure out what it is we actually want and deserve.

Maybe it’s all worth it?

 

Because one day, I promise you, someone will choose us first.

Confessions of an Over-thinker (Who’s Crushing Hard Core)

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It’s no secret that I tend to be one that overthinks thangs *from time to time.

*Read always. I always over-think thangs.

I also tend to turn into a **goober whenever I develop a new crush on someone.

**Read biggest. I turn into the biggest goober ever.

Combine these two stellar qualities and you get me, the World’s Most Awkward Dater everrrrr.

I tried contacting the folks at Guinness but apparently I was barely out-awkwarded by Mr. Avocado. I see you, buddy. And just know that I do not go down without fighting. Challenge accepted.

Here are just some of the things that happen when you’re an over-thinker who is crushing hardcore on someone.

1. Deny, deny, deny. You try to convince yourself you actually don’t. Because crushes are a damn commitment! And you certainly don’t have time for *feelings* and all the worrying that goes along with them. Nope. Noooo. You absolutely do NOT have a crush.

2. ….And then you see that perfect face and your heart is instantly pulverized into a mushy smoothie—Fine. Whatever. You might have a teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy crush.

3. Making eye contact becomes a huge conscious effort. Because there’s some weird part of you that thinks, somehow, they will look at you and just KNOW. Your eyes will totally tell on you—“Hey you. Yeah you in the corner over there drinking PBR while watching the Brewers/Rockies game. I’ve got some juicy gossip. See this person? The one looking at you through me? He/she is soooo totally into you.”

4. You practice conversations in the shower. Or on your drive to work. Or just chilling in bed on a lazy Sunday. Basically any place that you’re guaranteed some privacy. You’re coming up with interesting topics to discuss, things to say to impress him/her, and testing out the perfect tone to casually (but not too casually) say: “Heyyy!”

5. But then you begin to worry that “Heyyy” sounds weirdly excited, “Hi” is too robotic and formal, “Whazzzupppp?!” is too Budweiser and “How are you?” is too invasive. You end up settling on a simple head nod.

6. Arggghh. You gave a fucking head nod??!!??

7. Investigate your crush online. And spend the next hour convinced you accidentally liked an Instagram photo from 56 weeks ago. You consider deleting all traces you ever existed on any social media account. EVER.

8. Orchestrate the perfect way to just accidentally run into this new crush. Oh, you go to this coffee shop/bar/grocery store too? That’s so weird. I had noooo idea.

9. But when you do see your crush, you totally clam up and don’t say anything. Mayyyybe squeak out a “good” when they say “What’s up?” and immediately want to die. Oh. My. God.

10. Realize that you definitely should have gone with “What’s up?” You gave a fucking head nod??!!??

11. You look for any possible sign feelings could be mutual. I mean, seriously, ANY sign. “He DEFINITELY lingered when handing me my coffee cup,” or “He said my name and kind of smiled when he said it, so that for surely means hhe likes me, right?!” 

12. Plan. Plan. Plan. The overthinker is crippled by the thought of anything remotely spontaneous. There needs to be something set in motion. And a Plan B. And C. Because oh my God, what if it all falls through? Many, many nights are just spent thinking and scheming.

13. If you happen to run into your crush while out with your friends, you work EXTRA hard to act cool and collected. Shut up, Wendi, don’t you dare give it away. Don’t giggle. And don’t you even think about doing that weird hair flip thing you do when you’re nervous. THEY WILL KNOW! Everything is fine. It’s easy breezy. Didn’t even seem him over there looking all ridiculously cute. Nope.

14. You create a playlist of songs that you imagine one day listening to together. Like a soundtrack to magically fall in love to. Would you like some macaroni with all that cheesy cheese fest, amiright? 

15. You spend an embarrassing amount of time scoping out anyone attractive who has commented on their pictures. Because it’s probably his sister. It’s his sister. Just tell me it’s his goddamn sister, okay????

16. You remember any little detail they provide. A favorite musician? You stored that info away for good. It’s in the vault. You probably even decided to check if there were going to be any shows in your area. That way you can casually mention it. Oh what? You already got tickets? And you have an extra one? I mean, yeah, it’s not a big deal though…

17. You become paranoid that they can actually hear your heat thump-thump-thumping in your chest. Or see the gigantic butterflies pterodactyls flying around in the pit of your stomach.

18. You stress, daydream, and above all else, remember that having a crush can kind sorta make you feel a little out of your mind—but for all of the right reasons.

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