Turning 24: A Year Older and a Year Wiser?


 

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Crap.

When did this happen? When did I turn 24? Well —  technically it happened on April 26, 2013 — but I’m still having trouble accepting that I am living in a Cyberspace age like 2013, let alone that I’m 24. I’m the baby — how could I actually be this old and remember my past as recent history? Sometimes I feel like I should be sitting in a rocker telling tales of the “golden days” to the “kids” of today. But that doesn’t seem right either because I feel like these birthdays are just creeping on me without so much as a notice, and I must be actually much younger!

That’s what it is.

I thought that I’d get some sort of prepped notice every year reminding me of all the events that took place in the last year, so that when the time came to turn another year older, I would actually feel like I had lived an entire year. Somehow time isn’t that forgiving, and there is no friendly reminder — just birthdays that make you wonder where the time is really going.

So, now I’m 24. Don’t ask me how it happened, but little ol’ me, the baby of the family, reached her “mid 20s.” And taking a few minutes to actually reflect, I’m relieved to say that time didn’t just speed me through 365 days without teaching me at least a little something in return. I had 10 life lessons to share last year, but this past year has taught me some things that I’m hoping I can say have made me a year wiser. Here are a few:

  1. You have to know when it’s time to stick up for yourself without letting your ego get in the way. When I find someone trying to take advantage of me or my time, my ego tends to want to speak for me (because how dare you treat me like this, right?), but that’s never a good idea. There’s a way to put your foot down without being flippant, and finding the balance is always the key.
  2. Some people will never change, and you just have to change your expectations that they will. I’d banked on the hope that certain people or certain relationships would change, so that I could be happier. But in the end, all that investment only made me more unhappy and disappointed when things didn’t work out how I hoped. Some people have surprised me in the last year for the better, and that was a great feeling. For the rest, I’ve realized that I need to let what will be just be.
  3. Irrational anger will just eat you up and feed that pesky ego again. Blowing up about being stuck in traffic? Complaining that someone bumped into you at a crowded place? Just idiotic and pointless. What’s even the point of being angry about something so small, when it means nothing at the end of the day? I’m no one special; it happens; get over it, and move on.
  4. Most of my problems are maintained by me. Ever notice how easy it is to blame others for “making” you feel one way or another? Other people definitely contribute to trust issues, insecurities and hurt feelings, but no one can actually make you feel any other way than you want to feel. I can make everything worse if I want to, but I can also make them at least a bit better by just letting it roll off and moving on.
  5. At some point, leaving the party early or turning down plans just to stay in and enjoy alone time is really, totally okay. I used to be afraid I’d be missing out on something if I said no, and sometimes I still feel like I need to do as much as possible because otherwise I’m denying myself some great memories — but sometimes it really is just best to stay in or be alone. Now, I try to do what feels right in the moment — without fear of regret — and then accept my decision, whatever it is.

Do you feel like you can say you learn a lot year by year? Share some of your learned wisdom with me!

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Did You Just Say That? Oh, The Ridiculous Things Guys Say


Okay, I promise this isn’t a post just to bitch about “why guys just say the dumbest things,” blah, blah, blah. I really do empathize with the pressure a guy must feel when introducing himself to a new girl. He not only needs to have the right approach that’s just smooth enough without being douchey and forward enough without being creepy, but he also has to make sure to have a great opening line. Unfortunately first impressions stick, and all the so-called rules can be a lot to deal with. Totally on your side, there.

But seriously…sometimes I just want to ask a guy, “Did you just say that….out loud?”

I’m sure I heard some pretty crazy ridiculous things in college (because college guys are the best for saying the stupidest shit, let’s just be honest), but I feel the post-college guys have left a bigger impression. Maybe I’m just hearing a lot of ridiculous things back-to-back, or maybe guys are just getting worse at understanding that a simple “Hey, how are you?” is totally okay as an opening line, but why not take a look back at the best, most ridiculous things guys have said to me — at least in working memory — and reminisce a little…

Is That Really You?!

(Looking at my ID)

Him:  Wow, you’re so much hotter in person…

Me: …Um…yeah..I was 18 in that picture. I had some baby fat, I guess…

Him: No, but really…you look much hotter in person. It’s not just the baby fat. You just look much better in person.

Me: Thanks…

Dear God, do you just not know when to stop talking? I know some devil’s advocate out there wants to tell me, “The guy was trying to give you a compliment, give him a break.” I understand that that may have been the intent, but I’m not even really sure. This guy was so insistent on making sure to continue to point out that I just looked SO much better in person than I did in a picture that was six years old. When you’ve already said something that could so easily get misconstrued anyway, why are you going to keep repeating yourself as if it’s helping the case? Comparing a girl to her own self and telling her that one version is SO much better looking? That’s not a compliment, and now you sound like an ass…three times over.

Don’t Be So Uptight, Okay?

(Text before meeting up for the first time)

Him:  I’ve been having a hard work week, so you have to promise not to be uptight and be laid back.

Who, in his right mind, thinks this is a totally casual, perfectly okay text to send someone before meeting up for the first time? He followed this up by saying that I also had to let him pay for the bill without any arguments, so I took that he was trying to be nice in his own weird way? Still, asking someone to promise not to be uptight because you’ve had a hard work week…that’s a bit much, especially when you don’t know each other.

Where Are You From, Really?

(A guy talking to me and my [clearly] African-American friend)

Him: So, do you know where you’re from in Africa?

Us: *crickets*

My Friend: No…I’m not from Africa. 

Him: No, I know. But I had a friend named [some very African name] who was from Ghana.

(Did he even make a point?)

My Friend: Okay, but he was obviously actually from Africa. I’m not. My name is Jane Doe.

Him: No, I know, but I just thought that maybe you know where in Africa you’re from.

My Friend: I’m not from Africa…!!

Sadly, this conversation kept going on in circles like this for a couple of minutes with the guy still arguing his point that he had other Black friends who were actually from Africa, so maybe my friend knew her “origins.” (Come on, way to be so stereotypically racist.) His other friends, just so you know, had actually recently emigrated from Africa and had ethnic ties to their respective countries, not just a shared genetic pool with other “Africans.” Yet another instance when I just can’t help but wonder why someone would continue going on and on when the first attempt to say something that could totally go hit-or-miss OBVIOUSLY missed.

Oh, the ridiculous guys things say…

10 Life Lessons from a 23-Year-Old


Life is

Now, immediately, you might read the title of this post and think: What life lessons does someone who hasn’t even reached a quarter of a century have to teach someone else? And to you  I’d say: I don’t blame you for thinking that. But didn’t a wise person once say that age wasn’t about  the number — or something like that? Most of you won’t know more than 5 things about me (and a lot of them were probably learned from this blog), but you should know that I’ve been both fortunate (and sometimes unfortunate) enough to experience more than some people  who are twice my age (all the good, bad and ugly). And through it all, I’ve come to at least learn a few things, even if they didn’t hit me immediately.

Most of my life experiences were pre-made and boxed, just waiting for me to come upon them at some point — that is, if I tell you that I don’t believe in some sort of alternate destiny, where the decisions I’ve made at every fork in the road have led me to those experiences. It’s hard to tell. On the other hand, there are many instances in my short life when it’s been easier to see a cause and effect of a decision I made, myself. Whatever the case, I’ve learned a lot and am still unraveling these clues to living wisely that were so cleverly wrapped up in an experience.

Sometimes the thing you think you’ve learned is not always the bigger picture. Maybe in 10 more years, I won’t have these same lessons to pass on — even when I look back at the same experiences. But for now, these are the 10 life lessons from a 23-year-old:

  1. You can never make someone love you — ever. No amount of guilt, kicking and screaming or mind-games can ever change that. If someone loves you, they just do.
  2. Being jealous or angry of what someone else has is completely pointless. Your lives are entirely unrelated, and what one of you has nothing to do with what the other person does or doesn’t.
  3. Relish your time alone. That overwhelming sense of feeling everything you’re feeling is often the best time to make sense of it all.
  4. Putting yourself out of your comfort zone over and over will only help you to understand what you want in life and what you don’t. Plus — it gets less scary each time.
  5. Keep a journal. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to time-travel (pictures aren’t the same at all), and there’s nothing like hearing from yourself during the happiest, saddest, most tumultuous and ridiculous times of your life.
  6. Have fun. Lots of it. Every opportunity you get to enjoy life, do it. Why would you pass up such precious time?
  7. Make peace with death — with your own and the ones you’ll experience. As soon as you stop seeing it as a tragedy, you can accept it as just another transition.
  8. Work on having faith — in people, yourself, love and life in general. It’s probably the single, most difficult thing to possess, but also the most powerful.
  9. Learn how to properly use they’re, their, there and you’re, your — please! People will and do (rightfully) judge you.
  10. The proper way to sneeze when you don’t have a tissue at hand is into your shoulder — not your hands! Stop the spread of germs, people!!

Learning to Let Go: My New Life Resolution


One of life’s greatest struggles has always been the ability of letting go —  of possessions, people, our emotions. Many philosophers and spiritual leaders argue that becoming attached to physical things, people and even our feelings is not only unhealthy, but can also be very detrimental to your overall well-being — for your current life and beyond (whatever you believe that is).

Attachment can be like being bound in chains — it can eventually control your every action, thought and emotion, if given that strength. It’s not difficult to recall at least one forlorn lover who withered away to nothingness — sometimes resorting to death him/herself when that great love left this world. It’s almost too simple to think of just one person whose world revolved around riches, beautiful homes and other tangible things that showed his/her level of status. And it’s an everyday feeling to hold resentment, bitterness and sadness when betrayal, lies or failures come our way. But this is the residual mess created by our willingness to succumb to attachment, and all that’s usually left is pain, hurt and, as wise ones often say, an overall unhealthy well-being.

Perhaps it’s the attachment that we should be fighting to relieve our problems. I’ve been working for some time to adhere to this new idea, and though the idea is simple, the act of adapting is a lot harder. For reasons unknown — and I’m sure many will agree — people would rather feel something, whether it be painful or not, than feeling nothing at all. Similarly, I’ve found that anytime I’ve successfully begun to let go of an attachment I’ve recognized in my life and can feel the release and peace from the lack of those chains, it’s a little scary; sometimes I’d rather just go back to my olds ways — just to feel like my old self, and because it’s easier to be that way.

And I definitely have — many times…But these are the things I’m learning to let go (or working on it, anyway).

Expectations

I’ve tried to explain to many people who I have very little expectations for my future because it’s not  a healthy way to live. I’ve been disappointed to hear responses like, “Be more positive,” and the like. Be more positive? That’s not what this is about at all… The thing is, to have expectations and to have hope are two very different things; I have hope that things will be better, but I work very hard not to have expectations. How do you differentiate without having a sense of pessimism? Good question — and one I can’t really answer until you understand the difference for yourself. Hope means having faith that things will be okay regardless of the outcome of a situation ; expectations means feeling deserving of a certain outcome and have tunnel vision for only that outcome — which we all know is never in our hands. That’s the difference to me, and the only way I can be sane and content with the way my life is now and the way my life will ever be, I know I need to let go of expectations that things will always get better; I’ll fulfill all my dreams; I’ll marry the guy of my dreams, and about a million other things in “the plan” I’ve made for my life. Expectations are unhealthy, I’ve found, and I’d rather just have hope.

People

This is the toughest one for me because I love people hard — and of course, not everyone is like that, so it’s rarely reciprocated to the same extent. So many relationships — friends, family, etc. have changed in an instant, and every time it hurts the same. I’ve realized that it’s a pattern in my life, and perhaps it’s my inability to accept change, and this is where attachment has especially really hurt me. I’ve tried to close myself up and be less of a good friend or be less open to new relationships hoping that if and when that one ended, it would just catch me off guard less. The thing is though, it’s not that easy to change who you are, but I’ve learned to [try] let go of the attachment. Loving people but not letting your happiness be dependent on whether they love you back is important to understand because I’ve learned to let go. I don’t have to change who I am, but I can just change the way how I understand the situation.

Similarly, when a loved one passes on, it’s really helped me come to peace with it or — or at least the thought of it. It’s the way of life, and to let yourself be consumed with grief is a tell-tale sign of attachment. To grieve for someone’s death and be sad is, of course, due respect; however, to let yourself die a little with that person is only a way of killing yourself, too. And this is not the natural way of life, otherwise you wouldn’t be alive either — that’s just the way I feel about it.

Emotions

Bitterness and resentment can eat your soul bit by bit, whether you’re harboring bad feelings over failures in life, people who betrayed you or whatever. I’ve found that being bitter and resentful towards the circumstances in my life have only attached me to those circumstances, and the feelings keep me bound from moving on. It’s not easy to let go of these poisonous feelings once they’ve been planted in your heart, but I know personally how unhappy I am when I’m thinking about a certain unhappy situation, whether it be today or 10 years ago, and I find myself bitter or resentful. Not one of us has control over the outcome of any situation in our lives — only the paths we take to deal with the situations, and even those only present themselves in mysterious ways. Whether people are betraying you, you’re failing in life or you’re just unhappy for reasons you don’t understand, I know that — at least for me — deciding to let go of the bitterness and resentment is the first step.

Learning to let go has now becoming my life’s resolution because I know it’s not something I’ll accomplish in a day or in a year, and I’ll probably waver many times even when I’m making progress. I’ll probably never accomplish true detachment because, let’s face it, I’m only human — but hey, there’s no vanity in trying, right?

Love You Like a Love Song: 8 of the Most Romantic Ballads Ever


Cover of "Wicked Game"

If there was something I definitely could not live without, it would be music (also, lotion — really neurotic about this, but I’ll save it for another post…) — it keeps me going for almost every minute of everyday: getting ready in the mornings, on my way to work, at work, shopping, on the way home from work — and even as I write this post. Music is the spark that keeps my embers burning. For me, it’s more than a distraction from the incessant buzz of the outside world; its words, a hypnotic beat — a mantra, even, (if it’s that type of day) pulsating through my body, creating an unbroken connection between the music and me. The song doesn’t have to be deep for the connection to happen, but this is what music is for me.

Given that deep down I’m just a hopeless romantic like any starry-eyed girl out there, there are a handful of love songs that I’ve come to really love over the years. You know, the type of songs that when you hear, you can’t help but just melt a little because they make your heart flutter a bit?

I should warn you, they’re not all happy love songs — but no less, they’re pretty romantic — I promise! Here are my picks for the most heart-clenching, romantic love songs:

1. “Push” — Sarah McLachlan

Okay, I know Sarah McLachlan gets a lot of bad rep for being the woman who makes people think of homeless and sick animals, but forget (the also beautiful song) “Angel” if you can for a moment, and listen to this song. It’s probably my favorite on the list, and the lyrics paired with Sarah McLachlan’s soulful vocals makes for a simply beautiful ballad that couldn’t be more romantic — and happy, for that matter, aka completely opposite of “Angel.”

2. “Back at One” — Brian McKnight

Oh, whatever happened to men like Brian McKnight? This guy was a staple in the 90’s and early 2000’s, and his smooth voice and sweet lyrics make me melt every time. (I’m a sap — told you.) Plus, who can resist a man playing the piano? I’d have to argue that R&B music of this era was the best, and Brian McKnight was in the throne, leading the realm with this sweet melody…

3. “Wicked Game” — Chris Isaak

I’d probably seen the episode of Friends when Ross and Rachel have their first date and get frisky in the planetarium about a million time before I finally got hold of this song. (Yes, that’s where you’ve heard it.) More than this song is romantic, it’s incredibly sensual — can you honestly resist that voice?! But once you listen to the song, you’ll be hooked to the music, lyrics — everything! It’s a one for the books, I promise. This is a song that rarely, if ever, gets skipped on my iPod/iTunes when it’s on shuffle.

4.  “Forever and For Always” — Shania Twain

There’s got to be something said about a country gal singin’ a love song — there’s nothing like it (unless you’re a country fella). Shania Twain is not only beautiful, but her music is timeless country-pop music, and just like this song — it always makes you feel good — and that impresses me much!

5. “Broken” — Lifehouse

Ah, here is one of those sad love songs I was talking about, but I couldn’t resist because it’s a great song, and the lead singer’s voice is irresistible. The song is relatable to a lot of people in one way or another, and you don’t have to be in a million pieces to think it’s a great tune!

6. “Halo” — Beyonce´

You didn’t honestly expect a list of the most romantic love songs and this song not be on there, right? Beyonce´ singing OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder’s lyrics would have made for one helluva amazing love song by itself, but the music production behind this composition was also ingenious. Who expected the piano, drums and synths combo? The song was a little over-played for a while, but you have to admit — it is one. great. love song.

7. “A Thousand Years” — Christina Perri

Yes, it was Edward and Bella’s wedding song, but I promise that had nothing to do with its place on the list. I don’t even remember the song in the movie (yes, I’ve read and watched all the books/movie — guilty, as charged!), and heard this beautiful ballad for the first time when Christina Perri performed it live on Ellen. Forget the Twilight mumbo-jumbo, and take a chance — her voice, the lyrics, the piano — it’s all very sweet!

8. “Ancient Love” — Anoushka Sharma

To round out the list, I picked a song most of you have probably have never heard of and by an artist that is a favorite of mine. This one also has no words — surprise! There is something very sensual and romantic about the snaky flutes, slow sitar picks and tabla beats that I absolutely love about this piece. If you’ve never heard of Anoushka Sharma’s music, today might be the day. Maybe you’ve heard of her famous family: dad and famous Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar, or her well-known half-sister and blues singer Norah Jones?

What did you think of my picks? Leave me a comment and let me know, and tell me what your favorite love songs are!

Growing Up Sucks: 7 Reasons Why I Miss College Like Crazy


Ladder stile in SnowdoniaIn my head I’ve always pictured school as this tentative ladder we were all climbing — it started from Pre-k and went up to college (for the general population). Some people’s ladders broke before the end, and some people’s got more rungs added as time went on, but for the most part — this was the time line that you grew up expecting to follow.

So, what came after we reached the top of the ladders? My mental picture showed an open, weightless space into which we all took a giant leap and gracefully floated off to our separate ways to take our places in the “Real World.”  (I guess I was a pretty visual kid)

Well, I reached the top of my ladder last year, and I took the big leap into the weightless space. I hate to say that I was right all these years about what the metaphor of school and life would be like: I floated off into my separate way just like my friends did, and honestly — it sucks. But truthfully, it wasn’t that literal;  it’s not that I lost touch with everyone that makes me miss college like crazy.

It’s more like these 7 reasons here:

  1. I actually miss learning. Don’t get me wrong — I  will never miss studying or taking another test again, but when you’ve been mentally stimulated for 17 years of your life, you miss learning something and running home to your parents/roommates/friends and telling them, “Did you know…?” or “Guess what I learned today…”
  2. Going out needs an expense account, and partying will never be the same again. There’s no more conglomeration of 300 people in one huge house party or bar district, and forget about “college town prices.” Everything requires a cab, DD, and/or  triple the amount of money as it did in college.
  3. Everyone is getting married and having kids left and right — or is it just my friends? People still think I’m 15, and yet 90% of my high school friends (and I’m sure soon to be followed by college friends)  are domesticated. I just want to be in college again, when people were too busy hooking up and recovering from hangovers to care about wedding dresses and diapers.
  4. There’s no sense of intense camaraderie or pride anymore. Being in NYC is an exception, I guess, because New Yorkers are hardcore about their city, but even so — I just miss the football games, pep rallies, parades and college events that brought the entire university together. This is when I really feel like I’m floating off in my own space.
  5. The “future” is the present, now. I used to talk about “what I wanted to do when I grow up” and “what kind of guy I hope to marry ” and blah, blah, blah, but all of that is staring me in the face now, and sometimes it’s just too much! The transition between college graduate and adulthood is a nanosecond, and I really think we should send around a petition to make it longer.
  6. The weekends got shorter — by an entire day… They don’t start at noon on Friday when classes are out; they start at 7 or 8pm when you’re finished with work, and even then  — you’re tired as hell and barely want to do anything. By the time you make plans and follow through with them, it’s Saturday — which is the only day working people get to call a “day off” because Sunday means laundry, groceries and chores galore. Apparently, Fridays get cut with the rest of your paycheck…
  7. My friends were my family. There’s just nothing like walking down the hall of your dorm or the street and seeing anyone you want, and once you’re out of college, you realize how much you miss the accessibility of seeing your friends — who literally become family for that very reason. No matter how close you are, the Real World means you have to try that much harder to see each other — and floating around in your own space doesn’t make it that easy to do so…

Honestly, I would never trade in my college years for anything. I had some of the best and worst times, and they were absolutely, ridiculously, phenomenally the BEST 4 years of my life.

If you’re about to start college, take my advice: enjoy every. single. moment. of. it. Even if you’re not the party girl/guy, find your niche and do something that makes your college years some of the most memorable times of  your life because after these times, you’ll be like me — just floating in open space and missing it like crazy.

Tell me, do you miss your college years?

5 Things I Want You to Know About Me Now


Dance 1948 Shore Club

In recent years I’ve come to realize that people are a little surprised when they meet me because I get very comfortable with them — and very quickly. It’s just the way I always have been — a personality quirk — you could call it. But, alas, it’s the way I am and how I’ll most likely always be. I have very few formalities with people and that’s just how I like things to be.

Since I just uprooted myself to a new city, I’ve been meeting people by the hoards. And on that note — while I might not have many formalities with strangers — I often forget that normal people have a natural phase that they go through with people they meet before they  let their guard down and reveal their real personalities. It’s not that I strive to be best friends with everyone I meet; it’s more that I  naturally connect very easily with people.

In the spirit of opening up today (as if my blog wasn’t enough of an open book), here are 5 more things you should know about me right away — whether we’ve met, will meet, or know each other really well already:

  1. I care what people think about me but only in selective situations. I am who I am, so if you judge me because I’m weird, honest, and because I talk a lot (yes, I do — sorry) or for any other stupid thing, then I really won’t care. If you have a bad opinion of me because of a misunderstanding — or, worse — something that’s not even true, then it’ll probably eat me alive.
  2. One of my favorite things to do to go out and dance — and I mean actually dance — not get groped and wedged in the middle of a half-clothed orgy. It’s just not fun for me. What’s more is that I don’t like turning  guys down when they ask because it makes me feel like a bitch. I’m not trying to be, but I just want to dance. I’m sorry — don’t hate me! (See, refer to #1.)
  3. My relationships are really important to me, and it really offends me when people give me stupid reasons like, “I’m bad at keeping in touch,” or something equally childish and think they’re acceptable excuses for being absent. I take it personally because I work hard at my relationships, and I’m not bad at keeping in touch. Oh, that also goes for canceling plans on me last-minute and thinking that’s okay — it’s not. (If I’m ever guilty of this, you’ll probably have to tell me to stop apologizing.)
  4. Deep down I really do think things fall into place a certain way for a reason, but I think I lost sight of that for a while and hindsight really helps me put things into perspective a lot.
  5. People call me bossy, but I would prefer to say that I’m a delegator…or a leader sounds good, too…

What would you tell people right away if you had the chance to give them a disclaimer?