Fighting Fear

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The end of the semester is not just focused around finals and closing the residence halls, but also around staff evaluations. I have always enjoyed the conversations that happen in evaluations-it’s a chance for me to tell my staff the things that they’re good at and push them in a different way. I feel my Developer strength really plays into this-I typically say something to my staff members about themselves and they look at me and go, “Wow, you’re right.” I am often surprised at how strong my intuition is, but it never really fails me.

One thing that I have noticed through my three years completing these evaluations has really made me think about how we all perceive ourselves and how other people perceive us. So often, I have to tell people that I see so much potential that they are not using. I also have to tell them that the expectations they have for themselves are so much higher than my own, or my department’s. I had chalked it up to be a factor of our student population (first generation, blue-collar), but I’m starting to wonder if it’s actually something else.

I have been doing a lot of work recently on myself and read a book called The Universe Has Your Back, by Gabrielle Bernstein. In it, it talks a lot about how we let fear hold us back from a lot of things, not even intentionally. It made me think a lot about my life up until this point and how I have let fear hold me back from so many things…one of those things being my career. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, and it’s important work, and I adore my students. It’s just that I don’t think this is what I was ever meant to be doing. Music is my true passion, but I’ve never had time to devote to it the way that I want to and that’s because I was never allowed to pursue it fully. One of those reasons was the fear that I wouldn’t “make it”. The other was the fear that I wasn’t good enough. Another was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to support myself. Fear drove me away from the one thing that I feel is my absolute calling.

I have also come to realize how much fear has held me back personally. I’ve been afraid to put myself out there, afraid to meet new people, afraid to do things that I really want to do because ultimately I am afraid of not being accepted. I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of being told that I’m not good enough. As a result, I have let so many opportunities pass me by, and now all I can do is sit here and wonder what would have happened.

But I don’t think I’m the only one who does this. I think MOST of us do this. We’re told to go after your dreams and pursue them, but we’re also told of the consequences of doing that. “Don’t be too bossy. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t do this and don’t do that.” Often times the things we most desire are the things that society tells us we shouldn’t or can’t do. But here’s the kicker-deep down, we all know this. We know that we hold ourselves back. We are all aware that there are things in life that we can do better, be better at, things we wish we could achieve but we’re afraid of it or the consequences. And we are right to weigh the options and consider all of the outcomes. But I think that we see ourselves differently than how other people actually see us, and our self-perception plays much too big a part in our minds. Our self-perception skews our capacity to achieve.

It makes me sad that my student staff don’t see how amazing and wonderful they are. I try to tell them how much potential they have in their evaluations. Whether or not they choose to use it is up to them. All I know is I want to get them, and myself, out of our comfort zones. I want us all to push past the fear. Who knows what we’ll be able to do when that happens.

Higher Ed Plus-Fat and Job Searching

A few months ago on the Student Affairs Professionals Facebook page, there was a post from a woman who stated that she had been advised by a family friend who had worked in higher ed for years to talk about her energy levels during an interview. The reason why? Because she was plus-sized, and she should let her potential employers know that, in case they didn’t want to hire her based on her body type.

Woaaah, slow down. You mean that employers in Higher Ed discriminate against larger bodies?

Sad to say, it’s apparent that they do. This post only highlighted that.

Most people were outraged. “They can’t do that!” They exclaimed. “If they do, they’re not worth your time.”

Obviously the friend of the woman knew more than these comments.

The thing is, being plus-sized in higher ed, when you go into a job interview and are rejected, you rarely if ever know the reason. So, it’s really not apparent whether or not we weren’t hired based on something we said or did, or if the employers felt we wouldn’t have enough “energy.” How could we possibly know that? This friend of this woman apparently knows something we don’t: that comments about people’s weight take place behind closed doors and are important in hiring meetings.

While reading the comments, it became apparent to me just how little people know or understand about the plus-sized community. For all of Higher Ed’s talk, there is little to show for it when it comes to this area. People were saying things like “THIS IS ILLEGAL!” And in fact, in many states, it’s not. Body size is only a protected class in a few cities and states throughout the U.S. Therefore, someone can be discriminated against because of their body size in their place of work, and it is perfectly okay. Other people shared stories of being called “frumpy” or even being told “get off your fat a$$ and do it yourself.” In front of students. So not okay.

There were also a lot of comments about showing your energy through your interview…but that’s problematic. Interviews are long and draining experiences. What if you happen to be plus-sized and introverted? You’re in a no-win situation there, because you may not be able to show “energy”, and therefore potential employers may assume it’s because of your weight and decide not to hire you. The REAL problem here is that fat or plus-sized people are assumed to have low energy, because that’s what society tells us. Fat people are lazy. Fat people don’t want to do anything to help themselves. Fat people are disgusting. Fat people could change their ways if they wanted to. Fat people lack “energy.”

And then there’s this thing within higher ed called #saFit. While there could be many benefits to this movement, I think that it can also be extremely harmful. A couple of the plus-sized people in the thread mentioned this movement and said they had received unsolicited advice from those who participated in order to “help” them. I also know of many offices that compete in weight loss competitions or go to Weight Watchers together. My question is, what does that do to the person who is plus-sized in these offices and doesn’t participate in these functions? And what does that say about what higher ed folks believe about weight in general?

Some offices take it too far. I know of a department where they were forced to take a “health assessment” and participate in a mandatory water drinking competition. MANDATORY.

Health is a singular experience. By that I mean that it is only the person who knows how healthy they are. Someone’s weight may not necessarily relate to their health. But we all assume it does. We want people to be healthy, sure. But only that person can tell you whether or not they are. And really it’s NO ONE ELSE’S BUSINESS.

Even if someone is “unhealthy”, does that mean that they are worth less? Does that mean they are treated like a second-class citizen? We place so much importance on this as a field, but I think that it is very misguided. We have a lot of work to do as far as this goes.

So, if you have an opportunity to hire individuals in your department, ask yourselves what you are presenting and promoting during your interviewing process. What questions do you ask? What factors do you consider during decision making? Because there are a lot of biases when it comes to weight within higher ed, as seen on that post.

NEW SERIES: Higher Ed Plus-Back to School Supplies and Essentials!

Hello friends!

I’m excited to introduce a new series to this blog-Higher Ed Plus. Being plus-sized or fat within student affairs and higher education comes with its own unique set of challenges. Even though I’ve wrote about it a little on this blog, I realized I have a lot more to say on this topic. However, I realize I come with my own set of privileges being a white, able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual, middle-class woman. I can only speak to my experience with all of that in mind. However, I think it would be great if I someday have contributors to this blog that come from different backgrounds to speak to their experience being plus-sized in the field. I think this is something that is not spoken about often enough, and we do a disservice to ourselves and to our students by being quiet about this issue.

But for now, I’m going to start this series with a Back to School haul of sorts, if you will.  Our Resident Assistants moved back in for training this week…the summer flew by! Therefore, this past Saturday was the last day I would be able to go clothes shopping before the semester started. I believe it’s time to amp up my wardrobe, and so I wanted to  get some things and be a little more prepared for my semester. However, as I will describe later, it proved to be VERY difficult, as per the usual, to find some things that I wanted.

But first, let’s start with the “wellness” items I bought.

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This year I know that I need to be more focused on my overall well-being. My work/life balance was a little out of place last year. I’ll talk more about this later but I’ve been slowly taking steps to ensure that I am in a good place to focus on that. So I stopped by Bath and Body Works, and they were having a sale on candles-$10 off! I smelled the Autumn Day one and I couldn’t resist, and candles actually help me relax. Next, I was running low on my body scrub and couldn’t find the one I love which is upsetting (it’s a summer scent though so I guess not surprising).  A Thousand Wishes is a really nice smelling scent and it can be used in all seasons. Next, I was also running low on the Stress Relief shower gel that I am in love with. They recently came out with new scents for Stress Relief, and I got the cedarwood and sage scent. I also bought two car air fresheners-one fall scented (Leaves) and the Stress Relief one (because hi, it’s August in Higher Ed). The Stress Relief one I put right in my car and it’s SO good.

Next I went to Lush. I have been wanting to try a bath bomb for a while, especially since I’ve taken to watching bath bomb demos on YouTube…don’t ask. I bought one that would be really relaxing and luxurious, so I bought one with cocoa butter in it. I’ll probably use it either right before or after opening.

Finally, not pictured here, I went to Sephora and got the sample pack of the Glam Glow Supermud mask. If you haven’t heard of Glam Glow before, you should really look it up. It’s a mask that pulls all of the dirt, oil, and impurities in your skin…and you can see it on your face as it dries. Some people may find that gross, but I find it fascinating. It also works extremely well. After I use it, my pores are smaller and extremely clean, and my face feels so good. It’s not pictured because I put it on my face as soon as I got home, as I’d been sweating a lot lately and wanted to clean up my face.

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Next, I bought a whiteboard, some markers, and magnets. I wanted to create a vision board out of these items. I’ve created vision boards before, but nothing has seemed to stick. I wanted something that I’d be able to update and change easily if my vision changes. I believe this will help me be more focused on balance and wellness, and remind me of the things I want to accomplish this year.

 

 

 

 

But now, let’s get into the clothes.

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Don’t mind my foot…

I picked a few things up from Torrid. They were having a really good sale, buy one get two free on Clearance items, but honestly I didn’t find anything. It was really disappointing, but I did find a couple of staple items that my wardrobe needs!

First of all, I bought a really colorful peach blazer. It’s so pretty and goes well with my skin tone. I bought the flowered tank top to match with it. I figure once I get some other jewelry I can also wear some solids with it, but for now the flowered top will do. I also got a jean jacket because I love the look of a maxi dress with jean jackets in the fall. Then I bought this really gorgeous purple chiffon top. It looks great under sweaters or just by itself. I was disappointed I couldn’t find anything in clearance and hated that I was about to pay full price, but the cashier took pity on me and used a code so that I got $50 off! BLESS YOU, AMAZING CASHIER.

I tried on a few pairs of pants, and I also wanted to find a skirt, but I wasn’t able to find anything. It was a little disappointing, but for some reason the styles that I tried did not fit me. However, this trend unfortunately continued.

lane bryant.jpgAt Lane Bryant, I found some items that I have been looking for since last year! I got a sports bra because I have recently joined the local YMCA. I also got a chambray shirt, and another gray blouse that could go with the peach blazer I bought. Again, I struck out with pants or skirts. I don’t know what’s going on! It could be the styles that I am trying in the stores but I know my size hasn’t changed because I have other pants the same size that still fit me. This is the struggle, not just with plus-size brands but with all brands. Sizes mean different things at different stores, or even within the same stores. It makes shopping that much more frustrating…especially for plus-size people. To make matters worse, everything is so expensive, especially for plus-size people looking to buy work-appropriate attire. There are not many plus-size brands that have business casual clothes either. I struggle a lot to find things, and I know I’m not the only one.

But, I know that I found a lot of great items and I’m excited to use and wear them all. I am still on the hunt for more pants/skirts, but will have to look online for them apparently…and I need to wait until I get paid again to shop some more.

If anyone wants the prices of anything I bought feel free to reach out! I kept all of the receipts.

If anyone would like to contribute to the Higher Ed Plus series, you can contact me on Twitter at @dani_a_johnson.

“Before” and “After” pictures-what do they REALLY say?

In today’s weight driven society, weight-loss photos are all over the internet. People post “Before” and “After” photos of themselves on Facebook and Instagram to show their progress. To some people, it is an inspiration. The comments range from “WOW you look great!” to “Congratulations on all of your hard work!” And you know what, it is hard. It’s very hard to lose weight, and for some people damn near impossible. So maybe, yes, they do deserve a congratulations for that.

But maybe they also don’t. Let me explain.

Someone who is fat can do all the “right” things, and still be fat. Someone can work just as hard as someone else and still not lose any weight. A fat person can be just as healthy as a skinny person…but no one ever talks about that. Everyone always talks about the risks of being fat, a.k.a. “unhealthy.” But we really need to get past that as a society, because it contributes to something that writer Jes Baker calls “body currency.”

Body currency is essentially the idea that some bodies are worth more than other bodies. I think everyone can attest to the fact that society favors skinny or thin bodies (as well as straight, white, and cisgender bodies). Look at the bodies that grace our magazine covers, our t.v. shows, or heck even book cover illustrations. Rarely do we see a positive image of someone who is plus-sized, overweight, or fat. That is because as a society, we have been taught that fat people are supposedly prone to more diseases, and therefore all fat people are unhealthy. But that is a bold-faced LIE. It’s not true. The only thing that’s true is that yes, being overweight can be a risk factor for some diseases…but not always.

Jes Baker also talks about how we have assigned being “healthy” to being “worthy.” Essentially, if you are not doing everything in your power to make sure you’re “healthy”, then you must not care about yourself. I disagree with this for a couple of reasons. One, there are times in life where focus needs to be on one area. Sometimes your health can get placed on the back burner, not intentionally. Does that mean that you are less worthy of love and respect? Absolutely not. Two, there are people who have chronic illnesses that cannot ever be “healthy.” Again, does that mean they don’t care about themselves? No, absolutely not. We understand that. So, why does anyone need to be healthy to be considered worthy?

Being healthy can be a great thing. You may feel better, you may live longer, etc. But your health does not say anything about you as a person. I REPEAT, YOUR HEALTH DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR WORTH.

So, I really wonder about posting transformation pictures. What is that telling people? It’s telling people that your body changed. That’s really about it. Which if you’re proud of that, okay, good on you. But I’m proud of a lot of other things. And really, the shape of my body has nothing to do with who I am, and with who you are and were as a person. But I don’t think people post transformation pictures to show the changes in their body, because someone who gained weight could technically then do that if that was the norm…but that doesn’t happen. I think people assign meaning to “before” and “after” pictures. I think people want to say “Look at who I was before. I did not like that person. NOW look at me and how much better I look! Look at all the ‘work’ I’ve done!” And as a plus-sized person, I have an issue with that.

I’m not a “Before” picture. You’re not a “Before” picture. You are the same person in both of your pictures. You were just as beautiful and worthy then as you are now. And it saddens me and hurts me that people think that by losing weight or transforming, they have become better. It saddens me more that some people thought that they were so unworthy they thought they had to lose weight to become beautiful or worthy or whatever else they wanted. You already are whole and worthy, even when society tells you that you’re not.

Now, some people may lose weight due to injuries or other issues. I think that’s understandable. But when we assign meaning to weight loss, we are doing serious damage to ourselves and to other people. When people post and comment “Before” and “After” pictures, it says to me that the “Before” picture is one where the person doesn’t “look great”, and is something they should not be “proud” of. And even though it may not be the person’s intention, that is the message they are reinforcing. When I see someone’s “Before” picture that looks a lot like what I do now, it makes me wonder what people think about me…and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. And that thought alone, even though the person may have “worked” really hard to get to their “After”, makes it really hard for me to give them praise.

 

It’s been a while.

Well hey there readers! It has been a looong while since I’ve posted-almost a year, in fact. Time certainly flies!

It was a very strange year…It was around the last time I posted that I realized that happy feeling I had upon first starting the job was gone. And it wasn’t so much that I was unhappy with it-I still loved my job and what I did on a day-to-day basis. I wasn’t happy with me any more.

Something got lost over the summer-I don’t really know what it was. All of a sudden I felt very alone, and I no longer felt very confident. It’s like all the things that I had been battling that had been repressed came back, and I knew I needed to do something.

One particularly rainy duty weekend, I decided enough was enough and while I was waiting for the elevator repair man I looked up counselors in my area. I clicked on a few, but nothing seemed quite right. Then I came upon one that was promising, and so I found myself making an appointment. And I am so very glad that I did…because it only got worse from there.

One of my coworkers left around the end of October, which put more of a burden and pressure on the rest of us. My uncle died suddenly in the beginning of November as my second therapy appointment approached. His funeral was scheduled to be on the weekend of my birthday. Needless to say it was not a fun time. Right after that I attended the NASPA Regional Conference, which was great, but made it a whirlwind week and weekend. It was also right around this time that a couple of my staff members needed me for personal reasons, and looking back on it now I was probably too invested. I felt very alone, and it was nice to be needed.

I also began to date a little at this time and thought I had found someone that had all the qualities I’d been looking for. But there was no connection, no chemistry. I was confused because of how great he was. I gave it a shot but just couldn’t do it. I broke it off after our third date.

As you may imagine, I needed winter break badly. I had so many plans but I mostly hung around in my apartment because I couldn’t find the energy to get myself off of the couch. It was around this time I started to lose interest in the things that I loved to do. Playing music was hard. Writing was hard. Both of those things made me feel things I wanted and needed to block out. The only thing that interested me was reading and watching tv. So basically, when I needed to unwind, that’s what I did. This trend continued into the semester.

In February, two more of my colleagues got new jobs. That meant we were down three RDs out of ten because our search to fill the previous vacancy had failed. I decided to take on the responsibilities of another building, because like I said, I was still doing okay with work stuff. It was a good experience, but a very stressful one. My original staff also began to have a lot of issues around this time, and I felt guilty because I could not be there for them or have them sit down and fix it due to my schedule. There was a lot of drama that happened between them, which was interesting  and also disappointing to see, because they’re all great people and leaders.

Meanwhile, therapy was going okay. It was certainly helping. I was discovering more and more things about myself by the day. But I still felt very lonely and very unhappy. I felt like I was no one’s first priority, and that all of my other friends had people who were more important than I was in their life. And instead of reaching out, I shut them out.

Then, my father came forward to discuss with me his struggles with anxiety. My grandmother’s death, the selling of her house, and uncle’s passing weighed on him and essentially triggered his anxiety. I believe he’s always had it to some extent, but these events happening quickly in succession over a few years pushed it to the surface. It was a difficult thing to hear, especially when in the midst of dealing with it he realized some of the issues we had in our relationship.

So now, I’ve had time to reflect on everything that was last year. A lot of things happened. A lot of things changed. But I didn’t really deal with it as well as I could have, and now I realize something that has been holding me back my entire life-fear. I am terrified of being alone for the rest of my life and it affects everything that I do. When I feel someone pulling away, I tend to just shut them out. When I was lonely, I turned to my RAs for companionship and also blocked all of my feelings because I was scared of them. My “self-care” then required me to zone out because I just couldn’t think anymore. I needed to escape my own mind. I have this need to be viewed as “good” or “perfect”, because if I make a mistake or am not the best at something I am not good enough. I’m not worthy. And therefore that’s why I will be alone. I have essentially built this wall between who I am and who I show the world, and I’m afraid to break it down for the fear that it will not be what someone wants. I am afraid to start new relationships or meet new people because I’m terrified no one will like me and I will just be back where I was in the beginning before I met them-by myself.

I now know that I need to work on breaking down this wall. If  never take any risks, if I just stay where I am, then yes, I will end up alone. Which I know isn’t even a bad thing, but I just can’t not try because I’m afraid. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want things to change.

So that’s what I’ll be working on this year. I’m stepping outside my comfort zone. And honestly, this post makes me a little nervous to put out there. But that’s why I’m doing it. I’m a student affairs professional who is not perfect and is struggling with real issues. I’d venture to guess that I’m not the only one. As a field we do a really poor job of practicing what we preach in regards to balance and wellness. I think for me, this is the first step in the direction that I need to be in regarding that area (or really finding a counselor was-she is amazing). Recognizing where I need to grow is not a bad thing-it will only help me in the end.

Here’s to a new start and a new, braver me.

 

STOP SHAMING.

I have been very bothered recently by a video that’s been going around of sorority women at a baseball game.

The women are not really paying attention to the game. They are looking at their phones, taking selfies, and posing for pictures with each other. And the announcers are making fun of them. “Oh, does this one look better than the other 300 that I’ve taken?” an announcer mocks. They also finish announcing a play, pan to the girls and say “And nobody noticed!” They also make comments about how they should take away their phones and not give them back until the end of the game.

The number of people that have shared this mocking the women makes me infuriated. And I’ll tell you why. I’m assuming that people think this video is a representation of a. That these girls don’t care about sports. b. They are selfish, too into themselves and their beauty and c. They should not be there if they are not paying attention to the game. and d. They are a billboard for “this generation” and it is “horrible.”

What I don’t understand is that obviously there was not much going on important in the game, otherwise THE CAMERA WOULD BE ON THE GAME AND NOT THE GIRLS. So why are people so angry? If there’s a lull in the action, why wouldn’t they check their phones?

And hey, have you ever gone to a concert and taken a selfie with your friends during the concert? Have you ever gone to an event and had a few adult beverages and now can’t remember exactly what happened? Have you ever answered your phone while you’ve been out with friends? Have you ever taken a picture of yourself IN GENERAL? Then technically you’re doing the same exact thing that the women were doing, and you should not be shaming them for that. And you know what? The women were paying customers. That means they get to do WHATEVER THEY WANT during the game. If they choose not to pay attention, so be it. Maybe they wanted to experience the atmosphere and not necessarily watch the game. But they should be able to do that. Because they PAID to.

I guess what bothers me most is this video and the comments that people are making perpetuates stereotypes. “Girls don’t understand sports. Girls love taking selfies. Girls shouldn’t be able to go to a game and not pay attention. Sorority girls are dumb. This generation cares about nothing other than themselves.”

The College Panhellenic Association at Arizona State University, where the womresponseen were from, had a beautiful response to the comments going around.

In case you can’t read the photo, it states, “…(We do) not condone the sexist and misogynistic comments made towards the women in the Panhellenic community…We support the women of Alpha Chi Omega who have been subjected to inappropriate an inexcusable media attention. We believe the comments are undermining women’s confidence, projecting negative stereotypes intended to demean and diminish the worth of our fellow sorority women and ASU students, and continue to promote a sexist environment within professional sports.” It then goes on to list the many accomplishments of the women in the sorority and the great things that they have done. The final paragraph states, “We cannot sit silent nor idle as our fellow women are treated in such a chauvinistic way. We want to take this opportunity to educate all those who have participated in these negative comments on the importance of respecting women and how their words have a greater impact on breaking the glass ceiling of women’s rights.”

I found this response on Facebook posted under the video of the women, and thought it was perfect. Apparently other people did not though, and went so far as to question why you “can’t call a girl a girl these days.”

FIRST of all, they are not “girls”, they are women. SECOND of all, things that perpetuate stereotypes like these or even jokes made about women that are “not harmful” are actually indeed harmful. These ideas contribute to an environment where people think it is okay to think these things about women and continue to escalate the cycle of privilege and oppression. So to some people, I’m sure I’m “overreacting.” But I’m tired of hearing that women are vain. I’m tired of hearing they can’t be into “manly things” such as sports. I am tired of hearing that this generation is doomed because we are glued to technology. Because you know what? It’s not just this generation that’s glued into technology; Everyone contributes to a society where technology is so valued as it is today.

I am grateful that I work with college students, because although I do have to deal with negative situations, I also deal with extremely positive ones. I have watched students help each other. I have watched students fight for their rights and the rights of others. I have watched a group of women in a sorority put on events that are philanthropic in nature and contribute positively to society. I have watched a group of young black men hold an event to talk about stereotypes and share their voice in order to break the cycle of oppression. I witness sisterhood. I witness brotherhood. I witness random acts of kindness. And I get to see these things every day. So I may be privileged in that regard, because I don’t think this generation is doomed. It may be, though, if people continue to spread things that demean others and continue to hold them back. But I won’t sit idly by and watch it happen, because I know we can do better.

Embracing the Single Life.

*snaps*

I’ve got a confession to make-I’ve never ever ever been comfortable with being single.

I’ve been single for my entire life, but I have always hated it. (Well, hate’s a strong word I guess…regardless). I’ve always wanted to be in a relationship, wanted someone to share this life with. I’ve been so impatient, believing that someone’s going to come around the corner one day and then I’ll be able to say Oh, there you are.  Here’s the thing: I’m afraid of being alone for the rest of my life. Not many people have really shown an interest in being with me, and that has contributed to my fear. I can honestly say it is the thing that worries me the most…because I’ve done the single thing for my entire life and I’ve never been satisfied by it. To face an entire lifetime of it FREAKS ME OUT. I know that there’s more. I know that I have so much love to give. I just don’t know why no one wants it.

This fear started very young. Every single place I’ve ever gone, I think “Oh, maybe I’ll meet someone there.” It doesn’t matter where it was-the mall, the grocery store, even church camp-I found myself fantasizing that I would meet someone and I’d live happily ever after. What a crock. Not the fact that that happens, but the fact that I literally would fantasize about it every. single. time.

Name the dating site, and I’ve tried it. I’ve gotten NOTHING. NADA. Well, I actually shouldn’t say “nothing”. I got one date with someone who I was not very attracted to, but wanted to give a shot because hey, he was willing and he seemed nice. The most recent try has frustrated me to no end. I feel like most of the people I come into contact want one thing and one thing only…and that’s not something that I am going to give them right away. I want romance. I want to be wooed, for God’s sake. Are there no men who want that as well?!

Do I have too high of standards? No, I don’t think so. I think the man that I want and need in my life is out there…just not anywhere around me apparently. I used to be afraid that no one would want me because of the way that I look, and sometimes I still think it turns some guys away, but I think that everyone has their “thing” that they’re not attracted to, and I can’t fault people for that. I can fault them for not being open-minded enough, but anyway.  Am I too independent? I mean, here’s the thing: when I show interest in someone, it’s not because I need them, it’s because I WANT them. I haven’t necessarily said that aloud to anyone, but do I give off the vibe of not needing anyone? Is that turning people away? I’m not sure.

So why does this all matter? I mean, I know that I can be happy being single. I am the happiest I’ve ever been right now. I’ve done so much growing over the past three years. I’m more confident, more sure of myself, and I’ve done things I never thought I could do. I’ve been able to travel a lot, and discovered I love it. Living by myself has been a really great experience, and I’ve learned to depend on me. I freaking packed up and moved my life to Virginia for two years, for goodness sake. I would have never been able to do that had I been in a relationship-or it would have made my relationship ten times harder if I had been. Actually, it was one of the reasons why I decided to go to Virginia: besides family and friends I had nothing holding me back, so why not take the opportunity?

Even though I’m so grateful for everything I have in my life right now, and I know that I am so incredibly lucky to be where I am, something still feels like it’s missing. I don’t feel right, and I don’t feel whole. I’m not satisfied. I don’t want to believe it’s a relationship. I don’t want to think that I need a relationship in my life to feel complete. I know that in order for any relationship to work I need to be complete and whole first. But something feels just off-kilter for me right now. I want to fill the hole…I just don’t know what will fill it.

Therefore, I have decided to stop disliking my single-ness and just embrace it. I don’t think I’ve ever really done that before-as much as I want to believe I have, I know it’s not true. I’ve constantly looked for a relationship, or I’ve thought about being in a relationship, or planned for what I want my future relationship to look like, or thought about why I’m not in a relationship yet. I will say that I have adjusted to being single-moving to a new place with no one else I knew around me forced me to get used to doing things alone. I’m now comfortable shopping, eating in restaurants, and even taking mini-vacations by myself-and I know not many people can say that.  But I don’t think I ever fully enjoyed it-I always wished I didn’t have to be or wondered what other people thought about me while doing those things.  I just need to become more comfortable with my single-ness and truly enjoy it, and not worry about being single. I tell people all the time-“You’re still so young! You’ll find someone!” But I have never told that to myself-partially because I never believed I would. But I know that someone is out there who will be everything that I want…yet perhaps I’m not quite ready for it yet. It could have to do with this discomfort I’m feeling. I may think I’m ready for a relationship, but maybe I still have more work to do. Maybe that’s what Life is trying to tell me. So you know what, Life? I’m going to listen.

I’m making a commitment to not focus on relationships or dating, and just focus on me and myself. I will probably still feel lonely sometimes. I will probably still wish that I had someone next to me. But I’m not going to hone in on those feelings. I’m going to feel them and let them pass-because I have a different focus right now. And who knows-a lot of people say love happens when you’re not looking. Well, I won’t be looking-but it’s not the reason why I’m not looking. I need to figure out what will satisfy me, and become my own person without wondering who I’d be in a relationship. And maybe in embracing my singleness I’ll find I’m truly and finally ready to enter into a relationship-but at the end of all this if I’m not, I also need to know that I’ll be okay.