14 Things I’m Giving Up in 2014

The past week has been unusually warm in Manhattan. The air feels crisp and inviting, the atmosphere of the streets lively and fresh, and the people – myself included – invigorated for a New Year. I always make resolutions and oddly enough, I do actually keep them. There’s something about January 1 that makes me feel like I get a second chance (or a 26th one…) to improve bad habits or start great ones.

In 2012, I spent a lot of time holding back and not compromising. If my friends wanted to go out, I almost always selfishly insisted on the west side so I’d have an easier commute. If I was asked out on a date by a potentially wonderful man – but he suggested the Lower East Side on a Tuesday – I would have politely declined. But in 2013, I made a vow to say “yes” more – and that’s exactly what I did:

I said “yes” to Mexico in April. I said “yes” to late nights and early mornings. Yes to training for (and completing!) a half-marathon. Yes to kissing a nameless man on the corner of West 4th at 2 a.m. Yes to walking all the way across the park with Lucy in tow to the east side to visit friends. Yes to going all the way to Brooklyn for brunch — and thoroughly enjoying myself. Yes to trips to North Carolina three times, yes to new foods and new drinks, new clothes I normally wouldn’t wear, yes, yes, yes!

But in 2013, I also said “yes” to a lot of negativity.

And even more fear. I said “yes” to those really terrible thoughts that made me feel like everything that could possibly go wrong, did. I said “yes” at the expense of myself, sometimes sacrificing what I really wanted to make someone – anyone – happy. I said “yes” to thinking the absolute worst in every situation, every person, every date that left a bad taste in my mind. I did learn how to take those chances and change my attitude, but in ways that made me stronger.. and weaker, too.

What I want the most out of 2014 is to be happy. And so many things can contribute to happiness: health, friends, career, love, travel, new experiences. I don’t want to limit myself or put pressure on a timeline, but I do want to live better. I want to live with the same kind of passion, that same drive and hopefulness that made me who I am and made me a success in New York. I miss that beat in my step, that faith in my heart, that smart, sharp, kind, enthusiastic spirit that made me feel unstoppable.

And to get that firecracker Tigar back, I need to let go of some very small and very big things that are holding me back or keeping me down. These aren’t quite resolutions – just a little guide to help me along the new journey of 2014. Because really, with some of these out-of-the-way, my resolution to be happy again, might just be a reality.

In no particular order, here are 14 things I’m giving up in 2014:

1- Duck Face
Guilty as charged: if you stalk my Instagram, you’ll see so many duck face examples, it’s quite embarrassing. Sure, it can be cute. If you’re, like, 15, not, ya know, 25.

2- Investing in People Who Don’t Invest in Me
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as an adult is that friendships change. We all expect relationships to be difficult, life-changing experiences, but friendships are that way too. Even if you’ve been friends for years or just a short period of time, if someone isn’t making your life better by being in it, then get them out. People who are worth your time, will make time to invest in you.

3- Biting My Tongue
Maybe it’s my recently damped self-confidence or just the anxiety of saying the wrong thing, but in my life and in my career, I’ve had a tendency to not say what I really think. But this year, it’s time to lean in. I can’t move up – or move forward – by being silent.

4- Hitting Snooze
I desperately want to be a morning runner but snuggling in bed with Lucy is so much nicer than a 6:30 a.m. wake up call. But think of all the time I’d have to do things post-work if I got that 3-5 miler finished before my morning coffee!

5- Having Another Drink When I Don’t Want One
Sure, Saturday nights are great for having a bit too much. But a random Wednesday? With a guy I know I will never, ever want to go out with again? Forget saving feelings or following the crowd, my liver demands better. And I’d rather have less of those paralyzing hangovers post-25.

6- Judging People For Their Choices
I try my very best to be understanding and considerate, but it’s human nature to raise an eyebrow when a friend (or even a stranger) does something that isn’t quite the route you’d take in the same situation. You can’t change people, you can only be honest and caring, and thus, changing yourself. We’re each climbing our own hill and we’ll all get to the top in our own way.

7- Forgetting to Dream
I put in the hard work to get to New York and once I landed in my little apartment with my big NBC job and my big, popular blog, I sat down. It’s time to get up. I’m not finished yet – I’m merely getting started.

8- Buying Lunch Every Day
I work in Chelsea Market. For New Yorkers, I need not say more. For everyone else: imagine every delicious, decadent, expensive food you could ever imagine – from lobster to truffle tacos – a few steps away from you every. single. day. I could save so much more money (and travel so much more often) if I could plan ahead better.

9- Keeping Up My Routine
I’m a Virgo, and I love, love, love plans. I’m often the person sending out a group e-mail, trying to get my friends on-board to a new idea. But I go back to the same restaurants. I do basically the same thing every weekend. Not anymore though: I already signed up for Italian lessons and philosophy (yes, philosophy!) lessons. Time to switch it up.

10- Using the Word “Should”
It’s a dangerous word, that one. And it creeps it’s way into every worry I have: I should make more money. I should be thinner. I should have a boyfriend by now. I should live alone at this point in my life. I should save this extra $100. I should be more responsible. The only should I’ll say this year is: I should be me, exactly how I am today.

11- Getting Angry Over Things I Can’t Control
Like a long line at Starbucks. Or train delays. Or friends bailing at the last second. Or a guy with an attitude problem. Or people who don’t agree with me. Or the fact I’ll never be a size two (this girl has hips for miles). If I can find peace in every moment, I can find peace in every outcome.

12- Mentioning the Mr’s + Relying On Tinder
I’ve wasted far too much space (in my heart and on this blog) on the Mr’s I used to love. It’s time to let go of what was so I can find what will be. The archives will always be there. On the other hand, I can’t just rely on a dating app that’s basically “hot or not” to provide me with quality dating material. Bye, bye iTunes Store dating. Hello, just getting out of the apartment and into life.

13- Focusing on What’s Hard Instead of What’s Good
If everything was smooth sailing and easy, then would I appreciate the life I’ve built? If I never had to say good-bye to a friend because they moved on their own or because they were forced? If I never had my heart-broken or my dreams crushed? If I never cried out of frustration or desperation? If I never heard really bad, scary news? Life will always have it’s hard parts, but it’s never without goodness. I just have to breathe enough to feel it.

14- Being Afraid To Do It Alone
My friends won’t always want to volunteer at the soup kitchen with me. Or go to that new pub around the corner. Or sign up for a pizza making class or join a running group. But instead of dwelling in the fear of going alone, I choose to dwell in the possibility that something really amazing can come from taking a leap of faith. After all, that’s what I used to do every single day before I developed my life here.

Surely, I can do it again. Surely, I can do it with even more courage. Surely, I can open my heart to the New Year, and the new me, that’s waiting in 2014.

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A Dose of Wedded Crazy

Tis’ the season for drinking overflowing glasses of free champagne. Tis’ the season for dancing awkwardly and making awkward conversation. Tis’ the season for fasting for weeks to feast for an hour. Tis’ the season to dodge flowers flying at your face while sporting five-inch heels.

Oh yes addicts, it is wedding season.

I haven’t attended too many nuptials and I’ve only been a bridesmaid once, but for the first time this year, I’ve come to understand what all of my friends have called “wedding season.” Suddenly, Wedding Crashers makes a hell of a lot more sense to me, instead of just being funny. Mr. Possibility and I will attend three weddings together in the next month, located inNew York and in the South. I’m debating if I want to go against my personal belief system and go to a tanning bed since I’m tired of being pasty white, and I’m figuring out how many dresses I should buy or if I like what I have.  I’ve been invited to about six weddings this year; one of my best friends is engaged to be married next year, while the other is probably being proposed to by the end of 2011.

Unlike how I probably would have reacted to my gaggle of girls getting hitched a few years ago – now, I’m genuinely happy for them. I’m thankful they met someone who they want to share their life with and more than anything that they are so ridiculously smitten it makes my teeth hurt.

But I also know things will change.

Recently, my friend K and I went to see Bridesmaids. Lillian (Maya Rudolph) and Annie (Kristen Wiig) have been stereotypical friends forever, and while Lillian’s life has taken a nosedive, Annie’s career is excelling and she’s engaged. The movie is the lead-up to the big day, highlighting the bachelorette and engagement parties, dress fittings, and the heart-to-hearts wedding bring up. And of course, because it is Kristen Wiig and a starring cast of comedians, each of these blissful events are chaotic and flat-out hilarious. K and I laughed from the first sound we heard until Wilson Phillips serenaded us out of the theater.

While the selling point of this movie is definitely to laugh – as most things do, it got me thinking: why do weddings make people so crazy?

I haven’t attended my best friend’s wedding yet or held the coveted and dreaded MOH title, and I’m definitely nowhere close to planning my own, but if Bridesmaids portrays anything, it’s that there is something about saying “I do” that can make a bride or her maids say “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

I think the reason behind the delusions and the outta-control behavior has nothing to do with being jealous of the blushing bride, but more about change. From long-term cohabitation and the end of boy-scouting at bars, to discussions turning away from Prada sample sales to questions about pregnancy and fertility – marriage brings a new dose of reality to the couple, and also to the pair’s friends.

Will our friends still be the same after they become wives? Will we get along as well? Will they worry about our “poor” single selves? Will we be able to talk as candidly and open? Will we hate the new group of friends their husbands bring with them? Will our friendship be as strong and close-knit?

A few days after the movie, K and I were passing the day Gchatting aimlessly when the conversation of varying roles people play in our lives came up. There are certain things a man can never give that a woman can. There are words your girlfriends say that would never make sense to our boyfriends. And if in the case of K and I, while a man may have connected you, it isn’t the dude that makes you friends.

So while weddings bring on madness and transformation, and often come in bulks at the start and the end of your twenties, they aren’t the end of a friendship. A wedding band may put an end to one-night stands but it doesn’t damper the connection between a woman and her ladies. And if a man tries to come between a duo, even if he is the groom, there isn’t much hope for him. Because we’ve been promising in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, since the day we named our friends our best.

In celebration of wedding season, remember to celebrate something else – your girls. Married or single, engaged or jaded, go see Bridesmaids, sans men. It’s worth the trip, the ticket, and the giggles. Just a word of advice though, don’t eat Brazilian food beforehand.

PS: Have a crazy story from being a bridesmaid? Tell me and you could win a prize pack from Bridesmaids. 

Judge Me, Judge Me Not

Most children are raised to have a conscience. To grow into upstanding citizens who care about the Earth, their neighbors, the less-privileged, and those in need. We’re encouraged to expand our horizons and test our boundaries. To seek a higher education and to join the work force in an effort to contribute to the goodness of mankind. We’re told to develop our own perspectives, opinions, and tastes, and to have the strength to stand by them when faced with adversity. We should be kind and giving, humble, and forgiving, but also tough and independent, intelligent, and curious.

And when our tongue feels like dancing or our hands raise to whisper, we’re reminded secrets don’t make friends and we can’t judge someone because we’re not them. You can’t understand a stranger and at times, you can’t even understand the person you think you know the best  -so judge them not.

Right?

Like all of the lessons that are important to learn, being completely non-judgmental is a not so easy task. As much as I pride myself on being an open-minded, understanding, and rather gracious person – I know I’m guilty of thinking less of others. I’ve walked on the opposite side of the street because I felt unsafe due to a person dancing wildly and it made me uncomfortable. Was he threatening? No. Was he sober? Probably not. Did he say anything to me? Nope. But still, I felt the need to distance myself.

When a young woman in the laundry mat with a wide-eyed baby talks to me about how she hates the food stamps she’s on and how she wishes she could go to NYU like some of the other 18-year-olds she knows, I have to make an effort not to wonder about her parent’s influence or cursing them if they don’t help her. Do I know her background or will I ask? No, but I still find myself blaming her upbringing for her current circumstance. Maybe its nature vs. nurture or debating the idea that we are where we come from or we make our way as we go. Nevertheless, the judge in me I wish I didn’t have, always seems to find its way out.

Or at the bar when I rounded the dating circles, I was quick to rule out any guy who I wasn’t instantly attracted to, who wasn’t over 6’0″, who didn’t strike me as engaging or funny, or who was obviously and sloppily intoxicated. I’d judge them by characteristics they can’t change, like their height, and for being shy or difficult to talk to, when their reasons for being reserved may be due to something that happened or just the result of an off-day. How many men have I passed up because I just didn’t meet them at the right time on the right night? Or because I was only noticing their wrongs, instead of their opportunities to be right.

I’ve had to remind myself I don’t know the life of every person who walks this city or this planet, and without having a scope into their life, I can’t make an assumption or develop an opinion on who they are or why they do the things they do.

But then again, do I even know why I do the things I do? If I stop looking outside to see where I’m being judgmental and beating myself up for being even the slightest pigheaded, and look inside, I see that the person I’m the most critical of is myself.

Yesterday morning, going through my weekend errands of laundry, running, grocery shopping, and making a pit stop to measure my new room in my soon-to-be apartment, I caught myself breathing an air of negativity. Not only was I down on myself for a random breakout cluster that I don’t find attractive, but I was disappointed at my running time, crunching the numbers of my checking account, and realizing how unprepared I am to move and for Mr. Possibility‘s return this week. While I had accomplished many of the tasks I needed to this weekend, it somehow still didn’t feel like it was enough.  There is always more I can do, more effort I can put in, more money I could save, more people I could meet, more care I could take, and more life I could have lived.

Why am I so careful not to judge anyone else and yet so easily judge myself continuously?

Is it because I compare myself to others? To the girls with the legs and the clear skin, with the fancy job titles and the bank accounts I can’t imagine yet. The ones who wear designer clothes and have countless men waiting in line to be their soulmate. The ones who have it all, though all I know is very surface-level and based on first impressions, not conversations. Or is it because I know I’m judged by others? Because I can feel when someone is sizing me up in the subway, in jealously or because they don’t like what I wear or where I decide to stand. Or because I hear or I can read those who judge me by what I write about – who consider me less intelligent or immature because of the content of my blog. Though they forget (and maybe at times, I do too) a blog or a job do not define a person. Or those who make assumptions based on things they don’t know or things they don’t ask.

But judge me, judge me not – it doesn’t matter. The only critic I should be concerned with is the one I see staring back at me. And maybe that’s why being our own greatest fan is a lifetime task, a journey that will never end. Because while we walk past people on the street, developing conclusions we can’t support, and wondering if they are making calls about us we’d never claim, when the public is gone, the private begins.

And it is there, in those private moments, standing carelessly on one-leg, hair tossed messily on top of my head, applying mascara carefully while wearing a make-up stained towel, that I come face-to-face with the judge I am. The person who sees the flaws daily, who makes an effort to be a better person or be better looking with each service paid or mile ran. The person who notices the signs of stress and result of nights with too little sleep, wearing on my face that’s far too young to be wrinkled.

The person looking into the mirror, mirror on the wall, has to decide that it is me who is the fairest of all. Because without justice for myself, how can I be just to anyone else?

PS: Want to guest blog with Love Addict? Read how you can here.

I Don’t Want to Write About Love

Today, I move to Step 7 on this journey. I never have a profound reason for going from one step to another, just when I sense the feeling that it is time to push forward, I do. Those moments or experiences where I “just knew” it was time to progress have come in varying forms and based on personal reflection and conversations.

But this transition didn’t involve anyone else other than my lifeless fingers, my tired eyes, and my blinking cursor on a blank page. Oh and this repetitive thought: I don’t want to write about love.

Sure, I still have thoughts about relationships. I’m positive I’ll continue to share those sentiments in days to come. As things progress in my love life or something springs up or I’m frustrated, or all of the above, I know I’ll be more inclined to write about men and sex, love and relationships, and how those four things don’t always work together as cohesively as we’d all prefer. By the time I’m finished penning this post, I may have an epiphany or an awakening into what I should write about – but at this time, in this paragraph, I don’t want to write about dating. Or the sex I’m having. Or the love I’m flirting with. Or the relationships I’ve had in the past that failed or changed me or moved me. I don’t want to write about lessons I’ve learned or what I’ve taken from each and every single little experience with each man I’ve ever encountered.

To me, that says maybe I’m starting to adapt the greatest lesson of all: my life isn’t shaped by dudes. I don’t want to write about love because I’d rather write about life. And for this woman who’s often blurred the line between life and love, making each incomplete without the other, this feeling of accepting that life is, in fact, content with or without love…changes my perspective.

I sit down around the same time every few days to write a stock of blogs, as scheduling in bulk saves time and gives me a few days to come up with new material. For whatever reason, yesterday I found myself glued to my computer, attempting to write about what I’m feeling. This space has always been an open forum for me to express what I’m experiencing and the thoughts I’m entertaining. Usually, this process isn’t hard and never takes more than an hour – but what I noticed was that I’m not uninspired or unmotivated or uninterested in love. I’m not against being in a relationship and I’m very much pro-incredible-sex-and-multiple-orgasms, but the whole game isn’t in the forefront of my brain. Blame it on Mr. Possibility (I’ll get around to giving all the details about him soon) or on my changing mentalities, but I just don’t spend as much time worrying about bliss in love as I used to. When I do the thunder catches me off-guard and if I happen to become a little melancholy, I shake it off faster than it shed upon me.

Lately, my life hasn’t been about falling in or out of love or stressing about any of it, at all. Sure I’ve indulged in a little fantasy here-and-there and I’ve sent countless emails to Mr. Possibility while he’s been away, but I’ve been so focused on other things that sitting down to write about relationships and dating, almost seems dishonest. Yes, I’ve thought all of those things, done all of those things, and written about all of the things in my life – but what about the rest of me?

You know – the part of me that isn’t focused on overcoming a self-prescribed love addiction? What about that woman? Who is the Lindsay outside of this journey? Does she shine through?

I don’t think so. At least not so far, that is. Because there is a lot more to me than my thoughts about dating.

What about my new apartment – nestled closer into town and with three amazing girls who I instantly clicked with? Or my job that continues to give me opportunities to write frequently and meet up-and-coming entrepreneurs I’d never have the chance to shake hands with otherwise. Or the causes and the foundations I’m passionate about – the charities I donate to, the time I dedicate to helping children who want to be writers? Or women who have suffered great emotional and physical distress for nearly all of their lives? Or the financial savvy I’ve developed in a short period of time? Or the friends who are the only reason I survive as happily and beautifully as I do? Or the out of town adventures I consistently go on or the runs I have or the freelancing I’m vigorously going after to excel my career? Or the sleep I’m not sleeping, the packing I’m procrastinating, and the décor I’m designing?

Step 7 is about releasing all of my negativity toward the shortcomings of love and truth be told, my direction is already pretty positive. I still have worries of being alone forever-and-ever or of never finding the place of sassy independence that I so long for – but I’m quite self-assured as it is, already. I have a ways to go, but what I never considered about the journey to self-love is that somewhere along the way, I’d stop needing or even wanting to write about relationships.

Because if you’re learning to love yourself with or sans a man, then why would you feel the desire to write about one every single day? Doesn’t quite make sense, I suppose – but what did I know seven months ago, anyways? Now, I find myself wanting to take a different direction both contained and beyond the pages of this space. Maybe it’s the urge to just go or the fear of getting stuck in a God-awful rut, but could it be that some things, or most things, are more important than having a boyfriend or not?

And that the journey to finding peace as a single-something is learning that your life isn’t defined by your relationship status. Or by the number of love stories you write. In fact, it isn’t defined by anything except the terms you agree upon for yourself. And those terms, are always up for a rewrite or at least a second draft.

You Probably Think This Post is About You

I’m overly analytic of nearly everything in my life, which is probably the reason why I’ve been able to consecutively blog for such a long time. My friends always comment on how they’re amazed how a single moment can cause me to spew a 1,000 word post in twenty minutes. I can’t explain it other than I feel like I was born to write because it comes easier to me than anything else and I’m lucky to have it as my day and night job.

So, with idle time this weekend after finally finding the perfect apartment for me (more details to come), I spent some time in the back-end of this blog, figuring out what I could about the people who visit and the readers who comment. Always interested to see what works and what doesn’t, I went through the posts to see what topped the list. As trite and overly cliché as it seems, I was under the impression that the most read and most liked daily journals would be the ones I considered empowering and demanding. The ones that slap you in the face with their boldness and their dedication to being fiercely single and satisfied. The posts that I wrote when I felt completely content being alone and celebrated the fact that any opportunity was around the corner, and if it wasn’t, I was more than okay stomping to the beat of my own Louies, while telling the man of the hour or the man of forever to hell with himself.

And as I usually am when I think I’m right about something – I was totally wrong.

Apart from the blog that made it to the homepage of WordPress (and is primarily the reason many of you are reading), “Frankly, I Do Give a Damn” – the most read posts have to do with one thing and one thing only: Mr. Possibility.

This discovery not only annoyed me but confused me: why is he the breakout star of my blog? Why do I receive more traffic when I write something about what he does or how I feel about him? Why does he matter so much in a space that’s supposed to be about declaring independence and breaking away from whatever bounds restrict us to the need to feel completed by a dude? In a blog that’s about the journey to learning to love myself, why is everyone so concerned with who I possibly could be falling for? Why does Mr. Possibility get all the attention?

Equally intrigued and irritated, I painstakingly went back through all of the top 20 posts, 13 of which mentioned, referred or described Mr. Possibility in some fashion, and re-read them. I looked for trending topics and themes, the style of writing and the language I used. I tried to pinpoint my tone or the overall conclusion I reached by the end of the topic-of-the-day. I read through comments, I checked the links I linked to, and even Gchatted a few friends to see if they would join me in my rather unimportant research.

Could it be that everyone loves a love story? I suppose if there was a “Mr. Big” of the blog, Mr. Possibility would hold that title. We did see a Broadway show starring Chris Noth, so maybe that analogy isn’t so far-fetched. Nevertheless, is it the possibility that something more could unfold, that I could find happiness in romantic love while blogging the e-pages of the endless tangled web of WordPress? Is it the ups and the downs we’ve experienced, the drama that’s unnecessarily unfolded, and the fact that the ending is undetermined as happily ever or undefined? Is it that we relate to a character who shows promise, who grows on us, who we give a second chance to, or even just a first if we’re so jaded that we often refuse to give anyone a window into our hearts? Is it from the lovers who want to see love, or the haters who would like to see me crumpled on the cold New York pavement, that so many hopefuls like myself, have found themselves, in the decades before?

Or is it the honesty? Is it the willingness to go on record (even if it is just my own) and say how I feel before a world of strangers? In front of people I’ve never met and most likely never will? Is it that while you can share your name on an online space that belongs to you, there is a sense of anonymity in blogging – real names, real emails, real anything not required to begin, comment, or share? Is it inspiring, entertaining, and comforting to read about the dating dilemmas we all have in common? Is it that we’ve all felt the same things at different points in varying towns from California and Georgia to South Africa and London? I mean, isn’t any man a Mr. Possibility until he proves to be the right guy or another in the long list of Mr. Wrongs?

Or is it me?

In re-reading through the posts, trying to take an outsider’s perspective on my own experiences, I discovered that somehow, along my path to self-love, I took a different direction. Instead of being a single gal parading about town, dismissing guys as quickly as I tempt them to buy me a drink, I found myself pretty connected to one person. And while my blog was always about finding self-love, with or without a relationship, when the prospect of being a couple doesn’t seem so scary or so far away, things change. Along with priorities and perspectives. And hype is built, along with hopes and plans of what a future could hold regardless of how likely or unlikely such a thing is. Somehow in those pursuits, I found myself swept and carried away, writing and rambling about my love life because that’s what I’ve always done. That’s the pattern. When someone new and exciting who brings me joy in a way others haven’t before, I get excited. The only difference now, is that I have a record showing the progression and the story I’m writing with Mr. Possibility merely a click away. There is no hiding from a published post, no matter how hard you try.

And so I realized again, as I tend to realize quite frequently these days, that I’m human. That when I like someone, I don’t hide it. When I’m upset, I write it. When I’m pleased, I proclaim it. When I’m tired, I damn it. When I’m hurt, I walk away. And when a Mr. Possibility is a possibility, I pour so much into the post, so much of that brutal honesty that readers seem to click.

I may have been so vain to think this post, this blog, is about me and maybe I was right. But popularity apparently is not based on the blogs that entice independence and make me look powerful in my super high heels. It is tracked, however, by the ones that get – and deserve - the most attention because they get to the heart of the matter. The heart of the person writing. The heart of the person who is dwelling in possibility or in impossibility, depending on the day or the time or the guest star.

And Mr. Possibility is currently deserving of that role, even if the length of his stardom is undetermined. My guess is though, should he lose, gain, or denounce that title, and another man takes it – the clicks will be just the same. I mean, he, just like me, can’t be as vain to think this post is about him. It’s about every Mr. Possibility who has ever been a possibility for any Lindsay or any anyone who has ever saw a glimmer of love that could make a someone into a something.