Goals For the Season

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.”

MARK VICTOR HANSEN

Four years ago today, I sat overlooking the Rocky Mountains on an afternoon trip to Estes, Colorado, with one of my best friends. We spent the day hiking around the lake, driving through Rocky Mountain National Park, touring the Stanley Hotel, and photographing our journey along the way. I held my mother’s film camera tightly—just like I had in London, Paris, and Italy, right before this trip to Colorado. I still didn’t understand aperture, f-stops, or what to set my lens speed to, but that didn’t stop me from snapping through a film roll. I had always wanted to understand the rawness that film captured, and at the time, I was learning to love the light leaks and imperfections my processed photos held.

Right before this trip, I had let go of my biggest goal of the season and focused on what would come of grad school and writing. Around this time, the idea for my first novel came to me in the parking lot of the Elementary school where the kids I nannied each day attended. That idea later manifested into my fascination with the love that hangs in the words of a handwritten letter and how that interest and prompt would then become the thesis for my master’s degree. When I spoke about grief this time in September four years ago, I had no idea that later I would experience my grief more than ever before.

At the time of this photo, I was in a brand new relationship with its issues. I struggled each day to see the longevity of that love. At the time, my trustfulness gave power to the process of just following what felt right. I knew little of my callowness, but I later would learn that I did know something—I was trying to navigate the same raw and imperfect emotions that I would one day learn to love. I did everything I could to make the view come into focus for photography, but I needed my personal view to focus on what I was experiencing.

What I needed to improve on in 2016 sometimes feels like the same thing that I need to improve on in 2020—allow myself to be imperfect. 

For the first half of 2020, I began setting goals and then painstakingly laid the foundation of who I want to be and where I want to see myself in 2021 and 2025, and 2030. These goals became my benchmarks for recognizing change within my life. This included goals like “make two new friends,” “get a job,” and “start paying down student loan debt.” I have kept track of these goals in my 2020 planner—something many believe was the worst purchase of 2020, but for me, it was one of the best investments because it set into motion the process of becoming the person I most wanted to be.

My planner allows space for me to track my goals and to feel productive with my time. I feel best when my day is full, where I am productive, and I am working towards who I want to be. I hold myself to this standard because I know how good I feel when I get up early and tackle the day. At the end of those days, I feel tired and sleep better than any other day. At the end of those days, I look back at all the little red checkmarks and believe I made something of myself.

But because of that, the biggest challenge I face is allowing myself the space to be imperfect and making room for error. I look at an empty week in August and wonder what happened? Where did the desire to be productive go? Why wasn’t I proactive for my future? 

My negative self-talk can be all-consuming. Sometimes, I get angry at the girl from 2016 who was learning to love raw and imperfect emotions. What happened? Where did your desire to be productive go? Why weren’t you more proactive? Why didn’t you think of me, our future, and how your impulsivity brought me heartache?

I knew I would curse that Hannah for years to come. How disappointed I was in her for just rolling over on one of our goals and forging through the warning signs that she ended up internalizing. But something I am learning to understand is just how important those decisions in 2016 were for a growing me.

What I was learning in September 2016 is the same goal I am setting for myself this autumn. The goals I have set for this season include focusing on how I spend my time and allowing myself the space to learn from the past and what I deem as “imperfect traits.” 

Journaling and tracking my days are just some ways where I feel like I can take control of what I want for my future. I have found that I lose track of time quickly—weather it is scrolling aimlessly, binging the next season of a Netflix series, or cleaning all day while I put off what I really should be doing. A goal is to spend shorter intervals of time on tasks and breaking them up into sprints instead of marathons. And with that goal comes the responsibility to allow room for rest days.

This trip to Estes feels like a lifetime ago, but it was one day that put my future into focus. When you overlook the world’s vast beauty, it changes the way you view how small the imperfections are in your life. At that moment, I didn’t think about what I should be doing to better myself for the future; I was thinking about how beautiful a moment could be. So here’s to finding the beauty in imperfections and setting ourselves up for futures we sit in awe of when we set out dreams in motion.

Honest Chat About Love

A while ago, when I was grabbing drinks with a girlfriend, I was posed the question, “what is the point of dating in your twenties?” 

We discussed how these ten years are the formative years of our life. The years we are meant to be growing our careers, exploring without strings attached, and living our best lives, so if no one is looking to get married until their thirties, then why date now?

There were many reasonable answers: maybe you want to date for a while before you jump into a legally binding relationship, maybe you enjoy going out and dating and keeping things casual, perhaps you’ll find someone in your twenties, and together your relationship will continue to grow.

I have heard stories about women shopping for husbands on dating apps, but I have also heard of a woman just going on dating apps for the fun of it and never actually meeting anyone. It’s this weird time that we live in because we have people at our fingertips, but what it is you could be searching for all depends on how you are feeling in the present.

My friend and her boyfriend didn’t work out. As she now deals with the pain of heartbreak, I am confronted about what this concept of love actually is. After a couple months, she was ready to lift her life off its supports and move to be with him, which feels like the opposite of someone preaching about seeing no point of dating while we are young. To me, that is too much too fast, but on paper, their “love” or their relationship looked good. Similar interests, same career industry, a firey flame that ignites. And I want to emphasize that flame because to me, I want a slow burn.

At times, I think about where I have encountered love—the way it drove me crazy in the most magical means but hurt me as it has hurt others in my life. I know you need to experience the heat of a fire to know how how to keep yourself safe, but maybe everyone needs to feel a flame like that so you know how to move forward to grow from it.

Something I have learned is the most beautiful smoke comes from slow-burning charcoal—a growing fire that warms you for nights full of infinite memories. They burn with the most delicate oranges when they begin, the translucent smoke snakes, and dances in a steady fluid nature—however, some men, like my first love, lite bonfires with kerosene to engulf the breathable air around you. It’s like an explosion, hot, powerful, but short-lived.

My last love, and men thereafter, suffocated me. His love, our love, altered the way I breathed, thought, and felt. That kind of love, whether it be your first, third, or twentieth, burns you brightly because of how quick it is to ignite. But, when it’s put out, it leaves nothing but ash in its wake. My first love burned so many holes in my skin; it made it impossible to feel whole when he went. It paved way for heartbreak to leave me doubled over in pain.

My boyfriend today has similarities with my previous boyfriend, showing that I clearly have a type, but on paper, the two of them vs myself have little in common. However, we work. the core things that I need in life and love is time, support, care, and communication. Love to me isn’t compliments every day that are spoonfed to me. It isn’t phone calls during lunch breaks or lavish dates. Its someone who takes time for me, but also is mindful of my time. Its someone who supports me, my dreams, and my ventures, and its someone who has dreams I can support. It’s having someone there to hold you and know they will come home with a hug when you need — and when times are tough, they are there to talk it through with you.

All of that takes time. It isn’t found in a fire but rather felt like the warmth of a glowing fireplace that you need to fuel with more wood, kindling, and oxygen to make sure it survives. Tomorrow is our two year anniversary. It is the third Valentine’s Day we will be spending together, and I am very happy and lucky to be with someone who mirrors and is what I need within a relationship.

Self-Love

Although most stores have had their Valentine’s Day decor, candy, and cards up since December, we just barely into the month of February. And as the shelves dwindle as loved ones buy gifts for their significant others, it leaves some of the world happy with the love they are feeling and others longing or sad over the same emotions. This time of year always reminds me of these underlying feelings of wanting to be loved and not lonely and February is an interesting month to dive into the topic.

Ever since we were children, this has been a holiday to show love towards our classmates by filling out cartoon character cards and fastening a candy to the small note. But then as you got older, the holiday became polarizing because there was no longer a day in a class dedicated to decorating a shoebox for your mailbox. Still, instead, it was “whose your valentine?” It no longer was this holiday centered around others but centered around yourself and one other person. And that can be a bit isolating, especially if someone was single, be it for an extended period or after a fresh break-up.

Ever since the holiday has changed for our adult selves, you learn about spin-off holidays like Galentine’s Day or forget about the day altogether. I recently read an article on Zoella’s website that listed 20 Things to Do in February. If you don’t know what Zoella is, or rather who, Zoe Sugg is a British Youtuber who is well known for her beauty videos, style, and lifestyle. She has excellent articles about delicious recipes and mental health, and she’s a blogger that I have looked up to.

I thought all of her suggestions were both comical, like “2. Treat yourself for getting through the longest month of the year. Huzzah!” or inspiring like “14. Do something for Random Acts of Kindness Day” but overall relateable “17. Restart your failed NY resolutions. We go again – new month, new me…” and focused on relationships. This goes along with the message I wanted to get across in this post—there’s more to Valentine’s Day and February than just romance and relationships. And really it should be about caring for ourselves as well.

And although those who are coupled up tend to forget about loving ourselves and focus solely on our partners, I think there is a lot we can do for ourselves to makes sure we too feel the love regardless of our relationship status. I decided to list my own “20 Things” to hopefully inspire you to get out there and find time for yourself.

 

 

20 Things To Do for Yourself in February 

  1. Reward yourself for a small victory, be it a promotion or getting out of bed before 10:00 am on the weekend.
  2. Buy a bouquet of flowers for yourself at the grocery store and put it on your coffee table, so you are always reminded of them.
  3. Have a night where you put on a face mask and watch a movie that has been on your Netflix Watch List for years now.
  4. Write yourself a letter and talk about what you are currently excited for and proud of, keep it safe, and date it for you to open shortly.
  5. Take the time to read for 20 minutes, go on a walk around your neighborhood, or practice something creative that you enjoy.
  6. Treat yourself to a movie, and get a large popcorn and Slurpee all for yourself.
  7. Visit a store that you live and peruse the shelves or displays and find a new book, clothing item, or be it anything you like.
  8. Learn a new recipe, and take the time to enjoy a nice dinner that you made for yourself to enjoy.
  9. Put the phone down before bed and actually try to get 8 hours of sleep one night.
  10. Get up and make time for breakfast!
  11. Pick out an outfit the night before that makes you feel confident and beautiful.
  12.  Learn something new.
  13. Take time out of your day to meditate or just reflect on the day and what is to come.
  14. Tidy your space and light a few candles.
  15. If you have a busy schedule, make sure to set aside an hour dedicated to “me time.”
  16. Listen to a podcast, find some new music, or pick a new audiobook for the month.
  17. Make your bed in the morning, so you already start the day by completing a simple task.
  18. Allow yourself to take a pause and reflect on your feelings.
  19. Define three daily goals for yourself and set to it that you complete each one/
  20. Get yourself a treat or grab a bite from your favorite restaurant.

 

17 January 2018

I forgot about SYML. I forgot about In My Body – EP, and I forgot all about Wildfire. I’m sure for a couple weeks after the 17th of January, I listened to the song and EP, but otherwise, I haven’t listened to it since. Well, until now, as it loops on my laptop as I write this post.

This post isn’t about how I discovered a song, but rather what the song meant to me on this date two years ago. I was nervous about getting on the 6-train Uptown and meeting a man to talk my truth. I paced midtown for about an hour, scoping out a bar for the two of us to meet and talk. I know he was mad or upset at me, probably a little scared about what I was going to say. I had my headphones tethering my music to my ears. I believe I discovered SYML days before, so I shuffled the albums I had of theirs. As I approached the Bloomberg Tower on 59th, I looked up as the second verse played.

In good time, you’ll come to know
When you release, when you let go
You can find yourself where you belong
You’re not a curse, you’re not too much
You are needed here, you are enough
And nothing’s gonna hold you down for long

On the 16th, I finally let go. I couldn’t wait to tell him that I let go, and I found myself where I belonged because, for the first time since I had moved to the city five months prior I, felt like I belonged in New York — I felt like I was enough. For the prior five months, I felt as if everything that was happening was an omen to what I deserved. I thought I was cursed or destined to fail because I felt like the people I was meeting were the ones who were defining my worth here.

I stared up and looked at the mirrored panes and saw my reflection looking back at me. I saw me here in New York, and I watched as I let go of everything that had happened prior. And because of that, I saw the way my reflection smiled back at me as the orchestra grew louder and louder in my ears.

I met the man with the most fabulous smile and broke the disappointing news, but I headed his fear and showed him that it was the best thing I could have ever done. That nothing was clouding my mind, and I was ready to start fresh and take in everything ahead of me, including him. After grabbing drinks and snacks at the bar, I walked him back to the Bloomberg Tower and made him stand in the spot and listen to the song that I had played on repeat. I stood in silence and looked up.

Darling, please don’t give up
Drop your hate and sing for love
Let me be the one who sings along

I looked at him and knew the second I dropped my hate yesterday I could sing for love and sing along with him. Some days since the 17th of January, I have forgotten how I felt and picked the hate back up. It fills me with confusion and fear, and I have to remember to tell myself to put it back and move forward.

Sometimes I forget I live in New York; I’ll get lost in Central Park and forget about the skyscrapers that tower over the city blocks. But now, every time I come from out of the trees and my routine, I smile when I look up and see how the city reflects in their mirrored panes.

**Play the song above while you read this post. From 2pm on 17 January 2018, until I went to bed, it’s all I listened to.

 

06 January 2018

This week, New York was quiet. Businesses closed their doors, travelers avoided the streets, and lovers stayed in their beds as nothing but the wind howled past the skyscrapers, brownstones, and buildings that huddled next to one another. The sight was peaceful to look down on from the second floor of my apartment. Individual snowflakes crystalized on the window pane. Piles of snow collected on the grates of the various fire escapes as the street, sidewalk, and cars were blanketed by the snow falling freely in the city. For a while, no footprints carved their way through the pillowy perfection and New York was a stunning sight to see.

The white was crisp, washing my face in a light that woke me in the morning. I reached out and divided the curtains, exposing the way the snow fell and remembered the beauty that came with winter. As I lied there, listening to crackling wood-wick candles and smelling the way they filled the room with a rich cinnamon and pine fragrance, I sat sipping my herbal tea. I felt the heat through the glass, escaping into my palms as I pursed my lips and blew away the steam. I caught a glimpse of the way the emerald green armchair in my room glistened. I felt the comfort of the blanket enclosed my shoulders and hugged me as I cuddled up in the pillows behind me. I dreamt of mornings like those, mornings of bliss and peace, but never did I imagine I would find those mornings with you.

Now, you are the light that wakes me up each morning. I lie and listen to the steadiness in your voice that greets my soft hazel eyes as they open. I catch a glimpse of your love lingering behind your blue-green eyes as they meet mine. I smell the way your t-shirt clings to the fresh citrus, spice, and musk of the Bearglove scent as I nuzzle closer into your arms. I feel the way your warmth drapes my body in nothing but comfort and relaxation. Never did I think I would wake up to steaming scrambled eggs, peanut butter toast, and tea being carried in on a platter by the man I met on the 6th of January after a snowstorm kept me from meeting him sooner. And at that moment I think about how happy I am to have you as a lover.

I knew when we started talking, I’d never catch a pause when it came to finding the conversation to hold with you. Because with you, the words flow out of me as you constantly push me to think deeper, with more meaning, and thoughtfully. When I caught a glimpse of you, I noticed how brightly my smile shone, and it means the world to me that the light has only brightened over the years.

Today is the 3rd January 6th that I have spent by your side and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was on this day, that I learned of how much greatness someone could bring my life after what felt like a never-ending cycle of misfortune and bad luck. Since then, you remind me how much effort and care goes into a partnership and I will always cherish the laughs, frustrations, and sleepy Monday mornings with you by my side. So, what are you doing tomorrow?

A Lick of Golden Sunlight

It’s the way shimmering golden flecks dance on the world around you––the reflection of light, illuminating the spot you stand upon. Have you seen the way the sun shines down upon you? 

It’s a harmony of chords, being plucked and strummed delicately like a song you never knew you had waited your entire life to hear. A song that speaks the soft truths that resonate with feelings you’ve never spoken out loud, but are nonetheless surprised to hear. And I hear you. 

It’s home. It’s a glowing ember that survives the night and leaves a trail of heat even as the sunrise drenches it in the morning light. It’s the soft fleece that covers your shivering body until the warmth returns to your fingers and toes. It’s delicate, but it is a haven. 

I can feel it on my lips—smooth, tender, and soft. It’s like waiting for a piece of milk chocolate to melt in your mouth. It’s the silky notes of creamy flavors that soak into every tastebud. The feelings blend and are never fleeting.  

I can see it grow like a tendril sprouting from the fertile soil that was turned over for the new season. My feet fumble through the rocky surfaces, but they always carry me back to these moments. 

I heard a song yesterday evening that could only be described as a lick of golden sunlight filling my mind with nothing but inspiration. Her voice is light and airy, floating into my consciousness, bringing tears to my eyes. It’s so different from any other song I had ever felt emotionally attached to. It’s so essential for me to make that distinction. This is so different, and that is the best thing I discovered this week. 

I heard the song and felt my fingers itching for my keyboard and pen. I found myself getting lost in the curves of my handwriting, and the rhythmic sound of my typing. For once, I remember what I cherish and how I love to express those feelings through prose. Those impressions are the most powerful, brooding, and intense emotions to capture––like the gaze of a barn cat enjoying the sunlight on a warm winter day, the image is unforgettable.

A Love Letter to London

A man named Harrison once believed I was in love with him, but what he never understood was he is the one person who reminded me of my love for London––he was the strongest tether to the feeling I still struggle to describe even today. 

My love never belonged to Harrison; hopefully, he knows that by now as any kind of romantic feelings towards each other have washed away with time. He was a man that I met through a dating app. We must have matched around the 27th of September, roughly eight days into my study abroad trip.

To this day, I still don’t understand how we matched. He lived in Portsmouth, and I lived in London, around 80 miles of rolling hills stood between us, but somehow he slipped into my 5-mile parameter and caught my attention.

Now, imagine spending nearly three-months of your study abroad time consistently talking to one man as you learn to love yourself—like really fall into the person you‘ve dreamt of being. We never met in person, but towards the end of my time in England, I knew I should goodbye. Before my flight took off in December, I had a few more texts left on my burner phone, so I drafted him a message and said my final farewell. His reply sent me into tears.

“Fu** me that went fast! I will definitely be keeping in touch and it’s nice to know you thought of me before you go back. Have a safe flight home and have a good Christmas IF I don’t speak to you before xx”

You are right Harrison, those three months did go by too fast. Saying goodbye to him, meant I finally was saying goodbye to London, and that was never something I could draft in a 160 character text message.

I sat at Heathrow airport, two hours before my flight, bawling into my chest as I sat on the leather seats and I stared down the departure board waiting for my gate to appear on the board. I wiped away tears on my emerald peacoat and shifted my legs as feelings of anxiety and nervousness overcame me.

I had spent the Uber ride to the airport sucking down tears, as I was sharing it with a roommate of mine I barely got to know over our three-month stint living abroad. At six o’clock in the morning, it was hard to know how much my anxiety and emotional state was due to sleep deprivation versus pure sadness, but I came to know just how depressing leaving London would be.

***

Now that I am older, and four years removed from my time in London, I now know I don’t need to hang on a physical being to feel the pull England has on me since the beginning. There was happiness hidden in every Sunday roast, pint of cider, “mind the gap” painted pavement, and brightly-colored townhomes.

Before London, my past seemed to mimick feelings similar to asphyxiation. I felt like I struggled for air under the pressure of not feeling whole––not feeling like myself. I felt out of place for so much of my young years that it was hard to feel like I wasn’t drowning in a skin that wasn’t mine. London allowed me to exhale then inhale with new beginnings for the first time.

Much like the days of my stay fell to the past, the green leaves on the trees in Notting Hill slowly faded into the colors amber, orange, and scarlet until they fell gracefully and collected at the bottom of the tree trunks. They painted the pavement with colors under the dazzling street lights, and every day I returned to my flat, I was entranced. I did not mind that this love was solely a one-way street. I could not overlook the happiness loving London brought me, thus teaching me how to love myself. 

I have only returned to London once since leaving that faithful day in December; that trip was three months later in March. That’s right, I lasted 13 weeks before getting on yet another transatlantic flight back to London. I was only there for a week, but that was enough to remind me that the city wasn’t going anywhere, and my love would continue to ignite in my chest like an ember refusing to submit itself to the ash surrounding it.

So, instead of saying goodbye in March, I knew that I will always feel the love I have for the city. The coordinates from the photo above hang around my neck with the words “Bloom & Inspire” engraved into the gold. For me, that spot in Regent’s Park, in London, was my time to shed everything that felt wrong hanging off my body and rebloom into the dreams that have always inspired me. This blog would have never exsitied had it not been for London, so I keep the city with me in my heart and feel the warmth of my time there until I visit there again.

There are very few cities that I have had such a tremendous effect on my life, like London, but I am looking forward to talking more about the growth I experienced in the town, no matter how short or long my experience there may have been. At times I can feel brokenhearted, as I leave so much of myself behind when I move on to another chapter. But, I am forever indebted to these cities and I wonder will ever be my home once more.

 

Trust. /trəst/.

trust /trəst/ verb 1. belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of. “I should never have trusted him.”

Trust is fragile; I’ve known that for what feels like a lifetime.

As a baby and child, you trust that your parents will keep you safe and healthy. From an early age, you look to them for food, shelter, and warmth. They were my providers for so long, and I trust them to always have my best interest in mind when they make decisions for themselves and for me. I trust their strength and knowledge. I trust that the truth will always come with validation and honesty.

Growing up with a sibling, you learn how to gain their trust. As the younger sibling, you enter as a foreigner into someone’s home. Children begin to see the attention they once had from their parents divide and focus on the new child. There is animosity built alongside a love that needs to be tended to and grown. That is true, at least in my family. I never doubted my brother’s love or trust, but the ability to trust another comes more-so over time. You show that you won’t always be a tattletale and that you can keep pinkie-promises. You show that you can stand your ground and stand up for them. Siblings learn to trust through their mutual agreements and growth as individuals and becomes a trust you take with you through life.

When you enter school, you trust that your teachers know what they are saying and your schoolmates will keep your secrets. Eventually, you will learn that sometimes teachers don’t always have all the answers, but they always try their best, and not every girl and boy keeps your secrets. Drama is spread fast between loose lips and eager ears. The whispers hurt as your insecurities grow. You will learn to find who will keep your intimate details, intimate, but for many, this is the first time you will struggle with trust.

It stings when a friend, a close friend, betrays your trust. You wonder how you will ever confide in them again, and struggle with the reality of a now distanced connection as you forcibly replace the trust with space and nondescript conversations. In the back of your head, you will think about stories you want to share or advice you need to seek, but your lips don’t budge, and you hide what it is you are really thinking in fear that someone else will know your truth.

Then there are relationships, romantic relationships. Where you meet someone and immediately believe in their reliability, truth, and ability, in order to find in the strength of the match. The person could be familiar, a fellow classmate, a next-door neighbor, a friend of a friend, or friend the family––someone where trust lingers between your undoubted and harboring trust. But then there is a chance the person is a stranger, someone you’ve met at a bar, bus stop, or meet up. The person is a blind date, a match on an app, or a random follower. The trust is new, foreign, and needs to be tended to.

When you first fall for someone, you typically have no reason to believe they aren’t reliable, truthful, or able to be in a relationship. It takes time and investment for you to grow and learn about who this person is––could they be family, someone with your best interest in mind, or could they be reckless with your unhindered belief in them?

Trust is necessary for a relationship, but very quickly destroyed because of its delicate nature. With love, lust, emotions, and attraction on the line, many lines are crossed, and a lot can be released. You overlook the red flags, look past the warning signs, and drive more in-depth into the destruction of a one-off relationship.

“I should never have trusted him.”

“How could she do that.”

“Why did they hurt me like that?”

Losing trust in someone is scary and takes time to build back. There are lessons I have learned from loving those who have damaged the trust in our relationship. At times I felt on guard and nervous because loving them can cause some internal anxiety. Communication is something you need to grow, and that communication requires honesty. Honestly with everyone.

If you feel like you need to hide your relationship, you aren’t honest. If there are aspects to your relationship that hurt you, you need to be accurate. You, as a person, need that to survive. If you are hurting, be honest with yourself and seek what it is that you need.

When you can learn from the times that you have lost trust, you can grow more as a person. Sometimes it is hard to see through the mirage which is a vision of a failed relationship, but soon the veil will lift, and you’ll be capable of thriving in a new relationship.

Learning from Friendship

One morning while my stomach growled and my boyfriend slept, I stayed tucked in under the duvet and scrolled on Instagram like I do most every morning. It’s a trait I wished I didn’t have, an addiction maybe. It’s like my thumb mindlessly goes to the folder on my phone and selects the app that I numbingly scroll through for an hour, looking at the photos my friends posted while I was asleep.

Something I realized during those mornings is that my friendships span time zones. That means I’m never without a new post from someone, but also that means I don’t see my friends very often. Some of the people I consider best friends are here in NY, while others live in different states, countries, and continents. Social media makes it so there is always something to see, like, and comment on because my friends are updating their feed. But, if you look at mine, I’m barren.

I last posted in January, and before that was October, and before that was August of 2018. You would see that its cold in New York, that I love pumpkins, and I moved to the city nearly two years ago, but then again last time I posted was in January so for anyone else that follows me, but doesn’t speak to me on a regular basis, they may have no idea where I am at the moment.

I used to post weekly when I lived in London. That was the one time I was consistently updating social media with photos. I loved refreshing my page with my travels and adventures, yet here I am in August 2019 knowing that I’ve gone on three cross-country trips, traveled to 11 different states, to two different countries, and graduated from my Master’s degree. Could you even tell that from the look of my Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter? No. All incredible feats and adventures, yet all I show are a few photos of my time.  

I’m okay with that, most days. I’m okay with adding the photos I have taken to my photo wall in my apartment; growing the memories for myself as opposed to showcasing it across social media. My partner took the leap in February to get rid of all his social media; deactivating and deleting everything. Sometimes it feels freeing for him, the societal pressure lifted, the popularity contest of likes is eliminated, and people stalking are gone, but sometimes he misses out on the things his family and friends share; the people he cares about the most. Sometimes I feel inclined to show him what is going on with all of them, but at the same time, I wonder if the solitude is what he needs.

However, it’s those people, the ones who tag us on social media when they post a photo of us or find a meme that reminds them of us, that has me keeping my account dormant. When I look at the photos I am tagged in on Instagram, I see the photos my friends posted with me in them. Some were from the day we took them, others flashbacks and appreciation posts. They commemorated our accomplishments, fun times, birthdays, and life-changing events. There were posed photos, candids, and selfies. There were shots taken in Naples, Florence, Boulder, London, New York, and more. There were in dorm rooms, at sorority events, concerts, sports games, and plane rides. 

Seeing all of that made me think of friendship and the connections we share with other humans. It made me think about the memories I have with others and how people impact our daily lives. It’s rare that I go a day without talking to a friend or two. My phone gives me this untethered, but a tethered connection with people all over the world. Reading these heart-warming captions about how much these people appreciate me does a lot for a person’s self-esteem. I feel lucky that people from elementary school and middle school still appreciate me as much as my most recent college and grad school friends do. It’s nice knowing you can from these core relationships at such a young age.

I am lucky my hometown friends still ask when I am coming home next or want to travel with me elsewhere. I am lucky that my college friends are inspiring and are continually encouraged me. I am lucky that I live in such a small but huge city that constantly introduces me to people of all backgrounds and interests. I meet people that matter to me and they are constantly impacting my life for the better, but I am also learning from those who help me grow as a person.

Some of my friends make me grow for all good reasons. They are my cheerleaders; the ones who encourage my dreams and are there for the nightmares. There is so much I could say to thank those who have impacted my life for the better, because I know that are the reasons why I feel connected and loved. But this post is about the “friends” that teach me about friendship and what I could do to be a better person; not just a friend, but as a daughter, girlfriend, sister, and stranger to the people I pass on the street.

I encountered a situation the other night that helped me realize that I have grown with my ideas and knowing what is good for me. Sometimes friends can let us down. Sometimes their words and their actions can belittle us into thinking we are worth less than what we are. They can blow us off, ignore our calls, and never see how their actions can hurt. I try my best to never be that friend, I try to engage with my friends anyway that I can. I like writing them letters when I can’t see them, I like FaceTiming instead of texting, and giving in ways money could never provide.

I listen to these friends, the ones who cancel on plans last minute, rant about others, and fuel the anger in their emotions, and try to learn from them. I see how they act and treat others, and I try to do my best to listen and talk kindness back into their lives. I try to encourage through my experiences and remind them that we can change what we choose to change. I think I do it because I have had people in my life who have impacted me in a positive way and left me as open to opportunities as growing points. I listen to them and hear the negative speech and wonder “why would you just give up?” 

I know I forget to text back sometimes, I know I forget birthdays and anniversaries, and I know that I have let people down in the past. I know I can act like those who speak negatively, the “friends” that I want to learn from. Sometimes when life is hard, all you want to do is rant to someone, someone who wouldn’t judge and knows what you are going through. I guess I write these posts, or journal entries, to do the same; to get out my thoughts about something, but something I have been trying to do recently is to find the positives in negative times and try to follow up negativity with something that makes me happy.

I think about the people who feel lonely and don’t want to be alone, but feel like they have no other choice but to be alone. It saddens me to think there are people who don’t feel supported or loved. It worries me that there could be someone I know, talking so negatively about someone who doesn’t deserve those words and judgment. We worry so much about our image, the one we put out in the world whether we say we do or don’t. We are aware of the implications that come with putting ourself out there and feeling the pressure of a bully saying they don’t like it.

I want more people to be cheerleaders. I want more people to donate their time to something that helps those that are struggling. I want more people to hug one another and help each other through difficult times because I don’t want anyone to feel like they are alone. If you are reading this, and feel like you could use someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me here, I will always try my best to be there for you, even if you feel like no one can be.

 

Loved You First

In the midst of a proper heartache, I steadied my voice and told the man I once loved that I was glad I loved him first. He was my first love before any heartache. However, there was trepidation in the way he loved me back; I wasn’t his first. He allowed for the past heartaches of ex-girlfriends to dictate how our relationship would play out. Slowly, and in every action, I became them. He was able to predict the future, and therefore “we” would never survive because “they” didn’t.

While I treaded through the heartache, I was always told: “you will fall in love again; the second time will just be different.” That meant nothing to me a few months out from free-falling into a world of depressive attitudes and anxiety-riddled days. I found myself wondering if I imagined it all; if he even loved me like he said. I made myself believe we were great together until I saw him with someone else so quickly.

The thing was, he never truly heard the depth to my words. There was a surface he remained on. He had spurts of being cautionary, however, his impulsivity got the best of him. He moved on immediately, and I took the time to heal. When I said I loved him, I meant it. When he said it, he felt it at the moment and moved on from it. His words held no value.

Now that he is single for more than a month, I am currently loving my new relationship. Recently I was suddenly reminded of my past words. What he never understood was, our relationship would not have lasted had I not loved him first. There was a naiveté in my love. I took him and all his faults and loved him as deeply as I could. I was just being me, and he wondered how it was possible for someone to love in the way I did.

I used to be able to hear echoes of him in the man I currently in a relationship with. I was timid to be with someone again. Part of me worried I was still longing for my ex. I used to think they were so similar, and one day before we were together, I communicated that to my boyfriend. His response was the only thing I needed in order to see how vastly different they were.

Since the breakup, I had several men disrespect me. I was a bit of a mess for the most part until I just took time for myself to fully heal. I had matured, but with that maturity came some faults. Our breakup force fed me anxiety and I am still trying to defend my way through it. My boyfriend is careful. He headed my fears and talked me through them during that moment. My ex would have never been able to do that. He wouldn’t have responded.

I used to sit in silence, craving communication, and all he gave me was self-doubt and insecurities when something felt wrong in the relationship. If my ex ever spoke it was argumentative and accusatory. Had I loved him second, he would have pushed me further down and I would have known to leave. His life and interests came first. If he wanted a new toy, tattoo, or had any time in his day, it went to something other than me. He struggled to strengthen our relationship because there was always an excuse that came first.

It’s the little things that trip me up in my new relationship. He cares, he communicates, and he makes me happy in ways I can’t quite describe. The happiness I remember once feeling towards my ex still lingers in my memory, but the kindness and compassion this new relationship exudes are the reminders that there is someone there that will remind you that you deserve to be heard, cared for, and loved. He shows me he’s thinking of me when we are apart — he picks me up when I am upset — when we are together, he shows me we matter.

Love, and love deeply, but remind yourself you deserve the love you are giving everyone else.