Another Manic Monday

After a crazy holiday weekend, this Monday is a Bangles one: manic. But, as I’ve tried to do each day for several years, I’ve started each day listing something I’m thankful for. My mother taught me the trick after a severely stressful senior year of high school and I haven’t stopped doing it since.

So this morning, when I woke earlier than usual for a work day, I thought of not the things, but the people I’m thankful for. Those who make my life brighter and fuller, who challenge me and convince me to step outside of my boundaries. Some of you I know personally and some I’ve only had the luxury of knowing on cyberspace. Nevertheless, instead of complaining about being busy, I’d rather thank you for all you bring to my life.

More details to come on what’s happening on this journey and with Mr. Possibility’s return. I promise.

Thank you to some of my very favorites: 

Courting Adell

DearExGirlfriend

From Falling Water

Medaniellemarie

Tallbrewnette

Jenn’s Blog

Binary Boyfriend

Cat’s City Life

Leila Castaneda

Kternes

iTiffTaffTuff

Kacey R. Wherley

BeReal BeHappy

From the Mind of Moose

Life of Sarah

Michelle Joni

Ahuvah Berger

Alesya Bags

Kuldeep Brar

Eternally Single Kelly

The Blind Leading the Blonde

Allison Gee

Opportunity Speaks

Jenny MD

Flickery

Lexamantis’s Blog

Bookspotting

Small Things. Big Dreams.

Simply Solo

Gathers No Moss

I Won’t Go Back to How it Was

To Be Incognito

Shay Rae’s Diary

Shades of Bright

Trains and Sunsets

Ever Perceived

Little Miss Graham

Lucy’s Entries

The Good, the Bad & The Kitsch

Lynaima’s Blog

Divorcing Mr. Wrong

Live for Each Moment

Slam Dunks

It’s The Pits

A Love Train

In Search of Serene

Food Law

Ava Aston

She Who Will Be Tamed?

If I missed you, please know I still appreciate your support. Shoot me an emailand I’ll add you!

Confessional With Love Addict: Feminism

At the McDonald’s playground when I was seven, a little boy guarding the ball pit told me girls weren’t allowed to jump in. Disappointed, I returned to my mother who was sitting, reading, and waiting for me to finish running as wildly as my adrenalin would allow. Without a word, I started eating my plain hamburger and confused with my tired spirit, she asked why I wasn’t playing. I informed her of the Keeper of the Ball Pit and because I was a little girl, I had to wait for him to leave.

My mother, a woman who has never let a glass ceiling or any pair of balls stand in her way, asked me if he owned McDonald’s. I replied that I didn’t think he did. She asked if I thought he was better than me because he was a boy and I was not. I replied that I didn’t. Standing up, my mom told me to put my hands on my hips, march up to so-called guard and let him know what I thought.

And so, I did. After putting him in his place, I then pushed him off his perch, and dove into the balls, without looking back.

I didn’t know then my mother was a feminist and it wouldn’t be until college that I claimed the title for myself, but I’ve never been one to discount my value because I’m a woman. I’ve often been amazed by the women who fought (and continue to fight) for social, political, and economic equality, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger, Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner  Truth. It was an early sociology of women class that sparked my inspiration in historical and modern movements, and eventually led to a minor in sociology, specialized in women’s rights.

My background and my interest led me to start the weekly Confessional with Love Addict on feminism, with Michelle from Washington D.C.You can find her blog here. Below, we chatted about feminism and how it relates to the 20-something of today and dating.

Lindsay: Thanks for submitting such a great idea. Let’s start with the basics. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Michelle: Absolutely! I studied Women’s Studies and worked on The Vagina Monologues all four years of college, and during that time I really realized the power and strength feminism has. Identifying with being a feminist has helped me realize so many things about myself, and it’s so empowering. I feel like I truly began to love myself when I started calling myself a feminist. I don’t understand how being called a feminist can have a negative connotation in some circles, when it’s something that should be celebrated and recognized as an incredible social justice movement.

Michelle: With feminism carrying a somewhat negative connotation at times, do you think being a feminist intimidates men?

Lindsay: I think it intimidates the wrong kind of man, yes. It is surprising to me the lack of guys who accept their positive viewpoints toward women. It is rare – even in progressive cities like New York and Washington D.C., where you live – to meet men and women who step up to the plate and call themselves a feminist. As you said, the word carries the idea of the stereotypical second-wave feminist who burns her bra and condemns men completely. But, if you’ve studied feminist theory, you’d know there are varying degrees and levels of feminism, and calling yourself a feminist in very basic terms just means you believe women should be treated equally to men and given the same opportunities in all areas of life. I think the wrong kind of guys can be scared of a woman who calls themselves a feminist because it means she’ll spark up a heated discussion if he asks her to wash the dishes. But really, that’s feminism in a nutshell – she just needs to be given the choice and not be asked to wash dishes because that’s her role or her place, but if she wants to wash, she can. If she doesn’t, she shouldn’t be told to do so because she has a vagina.

Lindsay: Since we’re talking about dating and feminism, do you claim your feminist values when on a date? Or in a relationship?

Michelle: I think that with my personality, it’s pretty obvious that I am a strong advocate for women’s rights. I definitely don’t mask my feminist beliefs while on a first date, but I don’t preach about them either. Although I am proud to be called a feminist, I don’t want it to be the only thing that defines me. I have never masked my feminist values while dating someone, and I have no problem calling out sexist behavior, but for a lot of people, they have never taken the time to think about women’s issues and the impact they have on our society. This doesn’t make them sexist–it just opens more opportunities for discussion and understanding (hopefully). I think that in a relationship, it’s necessary to talk about all kinds of topics that are important to each other, and for me, some of these topics are women’s issues. I have found that since I have structured my beliefs in those of feminism, I have become a better girlfriend. I care about the men I date, but I always have my values and goals put first–this focus has made me worry about things less, trust my instincts more, and appreciate my partner more. I feel like with my feminist values, I think of relationships less as a “I need my boyfriend! I need him to be happy!” mentality, and more so as “I really respect my boyfriend. I like how we work together to enrich each other’s lives”.

Michelle: Do you think feminism is hurting or helping women in the world of dating?

Lindsay: I don’t think feminism is talked about enough in relation to heterosexual relationships. We all know the marrying age is getting older, divorce rates are at an all-time high, and though we shy away from it in the media, domestic violence is growing too. Young girls are encouraged to believe they can have it all, but are we teaching them to fight for more than it all? To break through ceilings and to start relationships demanding what they want? Do women believe they can be in a relationship and be a feminist and attract a man who is okay with that? Or maybe, even date a feminist themselves? I’m not sure – it isn’t something my friends and I talk about consistently or something I write about, and I’m thinking needs more conversation. It doesn’t hurt the world of dating to be a feminist, but it means you’ll attract a different – and in my opinion, better – standard of men. I personally, will no longer date a man who doesn’t call himself a feminist.

Lindsay: I know I have dated a man who is the opposite of a feminist, though not for very long. What about you?

Michelle: I have actually been totally fortunate to have been in relationships with men that are respectful and supportive of feminism. This isn’t to say that I haven’t heard them say something derogatory or inappropriate about women, however. The best way to counteract that is to, of course, not ignore it. If someone you’re dating says or does something sexist, it’s important to point out their behavior and why it offends you. If you let something slip once, your partner won’t know it bothers you, and it could happen again. Honesty and respect is vital in all facts of relationship, not just when it comes to gender equality. Luckily, my boyfriends have always understood that I am a woman first, and their girlfriend second. I don’t think I could ever date someone who didn’t celebrate my fierce, independent, womanly self.

Want to have a confessional with Love Addict? Read how you can here.

Between the Me and the We

Right now, I’m sitting in a room that isn’t mine. I’m not paying the rent here. I didn’t buy the bedding I’m under or the lamp I’m using to keep a light. I’ve never worn the clothes hanging in the closet or read the books on the bookshelf across the room. I’m not in the photos and I didn’t visit the places that represent the artwork and treasures that decorate this space. My jacket isn’t hanging on the hook on the bedroom door and I didn’t pick out the window treatment.

This place doesn’t belong to me but it will be the place I come home to for the next three weeks. And once he comes back from his overseas excursion, Mr. Possibility will join me, here, at his apartment nearly 40 minutes away from my old brownstone. The inconvenience of a gap in between leases was lessened by his generous offer and though I usually prefer a bed all to myself, unless it is a California King, I can share his Queen with him for a short period, without much complaint. Or really any complaint at all.

I’ve never really lived with anyone before, though I’ve freelanced a few articles about the topic – something that’s interesting about the life of a writer, if you’re a good one, you can pen a piece on anything and sound intelligent with some research and interviewing. The most amount of consecutive time I’ve spent with a man under the same roof was a week-and-half with Mr. Idea, in a similar situation where I had to wait for the move-in date of my last apartment in college. This time period came at a more inconvenient time – within the first three weeks we knew each other – and truth be told,  it probably is the reason things got as serious and as comfortable as quickly as they did. I wouldn’t say it defined our relationship, but it definitely changed its course.

But Mr. Possibility and I have known each other longer. We’re better friends (and more than that). He won’t be here the whole time I will be and like adults, we’re respectful of one another’s need for personal space. Like him, I have a lot of things and probably far more than I actually need, but to keep him from tripping over my everything, I narrowed down what was necessary to a medium-sized suitcase, a bag of shoes, my laptop, and my purse. These things are neatly piled in the corner of his room, with a few dresses that tend to wrinkle hanging in his closet.

I was careful not to impose, as I already feel like I’m imposing by living rent-free for three weeks in a space that’s already small enough to begin with. I was invited and he was well-informed that I would officially transition from my old location to his today. I stopped by the grocery store, I unpacked what I felt I needed on top of my luggage, and left a few things in the bathroom – not too much, but enough to easily function day-to-day.

And yet, as I have many times before, I showered in his shower, used his toothpaste on a toothbrush he gave me, and tucked myself into his bed, something felt odd. While I know for a fact I’m no where close to wanting to be married, I thought about what a strange shift it will be when I stop labeling things as “his” and as “mine” and start thinking in terms of “ours” with whoever that “he” will be.

I’m a girly girl by nature and would never deny my admiration of all things soft, beautiful, and feminine, but unlike some of my friends, I haven’t picked out my dream engagement ring. I don’t know (or really care) about the colors I’ll use in my wedding. I haven’t Googled venues or flowers or anything of the sort. The closest I’ve come to thinking of my own wedding is flipping through engagement and wedding photos on Facebook when they pop up on my feed. But while I’ve never given much thought my wedding, I think I’ve given less thought to marriage – the reality of happily ever after.

After the glitz and the glam, comes the time when cohabitation stops becoming something you debate with your friends on if it’ll ruin your relationship, and it just becomes life. There is no more wondering if you’re imposing or having separate sleeping arrangements (unless you prefer, of course. Or if you can afford a two bedroom between two people in Manhattan). Suitcases are not used as a temporary dresser and shoes are no longer picked on how many outfits they go with, but the whole collection is displayed and stored. Apart from traveling or emergencies – you stop spending the night alone and while you may not opt for joint banking accounts, money is combined in some fashion to make ends meet.

I know all of these things should probably sound exciting and comforting to me – they don’t. Not now. Sure, I would always have someone to come home to, someone who would listen to me, someone to support and cherish me all of my days, all my lifelong. Finding The One is something all women talk about or at the very least think about, regardless if they care to admit it, instead of dreaming up this fantasy – they’d be better off to think of what life looks like with a partner. Sometimes it is cramped and complicated and finding a balance between developing your personal identity while creating a vibrant relationship is a beam you’ll teeter on continuously. Even my parents who have been married for 25 years, struggle with finding a happy medium.

One day, the reality of marriage will become what I crave and feel ready for – but today, I like the idea of visiting more than moving in. And if I’m going to be on vacation in the land of Mr. Possibility until my new humble abode is ready for me, I’ll allow myself to spread my things about just a bit. But not too much.

Not yet – I need to have some more books I’ve read, journeys and pictures I’ve taken, memories I’ve made, shoes I’ve bought, and stories I’ve written that only belong to me, before I can even think of belonging to someone else. Before I can transition from the me to the we.

The Peril of Public

I’m definitely part of the new digital era of media. I tweet, I tumble, I like, I post, I stumble, I blog, I share, and I promote. I’ve mastered the art of scheduling and I somehow manage to keep less than 20 emails in my Gmail inbox at all times. I have a full-calendar on and offline and for now, with at least some sanity, I keep it all rolling and going, and produce blogs that I feel are at least somewhat intriguing.

And as topics usually do on the social media wave of information overload, a study recently circulated that speculated those who are active on Twitter have shorter relationships. The study surveyed OkCupid users (a site I used to be a part of and some of my friends currently use), and claimed other findings, like Twitter-fanatics are more inclined to masturbate than those who don’t tweet. (Hmm?)

I’m not sure if I buy into these claims for studies are just that, a study of a concentrated group (those who online date, in this case), not every person on Twitter or every person who masturbates – which if you combined the two, just may be the vast majority of the population. But I will say the Internet has changed the bounds of a relationship and created what I’d like to call the peril of being public.

With so many easy ways to share information with those you know and don’t know – how do you resist the temptation to spew? Some things become sacred once you transition from dating to being exclusive and certain topics are no longer up for discussion with your friends, as you owe some sort of secrecy to your partner. Without keeping things private, a true intimacy can never develop.

But what if you’re say, a dating blogger? Someone who writes about love and relationships on a consistent, daily basis? What if your relationships, the love you find or lose, and the sex you enjoy and the sex you know could have been better – is what brings in the most readers? How do hold back when holding back would ruin the honey-like honesty of a blog you’ve worked so hard to develop and drive traffic to?

Well, just as smooth as the honey pours, its stickiness sticks.

I’m admittedly a little stuck in the peril of public myself, and though I’d never let someone else censor me – a true journalist doesn’t – I do know censoring myself is a battle I’ll have to fight. There are some things, some experiences, some identifying characteristics, and some truths about my life that don’t belong in the tangled World Wide Web. Because even if I delete this blog tomorrow – somehow, in some techie-savvy way, someone would be able to bring it back to life, and all of those words will be found and read again.

So what’s the happy balance? How do I decide what to reveal and what not to give? How do I consider my own integrity and the importance of protecting and respecting someone else’s honor, who unlike me, may not feel comfortable displaying their persona life to all who can subscribe, click a link on Twitter, or see my Facebook page?

It isn’t easy. I suppose I never expected my life to transition as it has or to be in a situation where ex-boyfriends or current possibilities would find themselves asked questions about a blog they don’t write. Or maybe, don’t even read. While I’m under no obligation to do or not do anything, I can understand their desire not to be caught up in something that while it somewhat involves them, is primarily about me.

But the peril of public isn’t just in this blog or on my social media accounts – it’s the fluidity and the ease of sharing information. Before such networks existed, I’d have to call up my friends, on a regular phone with a long, curly white cord, and talk to them. I couldn’t send a quick BBM, an email, a Facebook message, a private Tweet, a Gchat, or a text message to ask for advice. There are dozens of ways to reach most everyone we know, several ways to discover information about anyone we don’t, and continuous, reliable access to most anything we want to see, know, read, or do. And while I’m a supporter of these advancements, in a lot of ways, we’ve stopped making the relationship private. Not just online – but off, too.

Maybe my friends don’t need to know every little detail of my dating experience and I’m sure some of them could really care less, apart from the fact that most of my stories are quite entertaining. Maybe I don’t need to ask what I should do in each and every situation and realize that like I make decisions about every other aspect in my life, I am wise enough to lead my relationships in the way I decide, without clarification or recommendations from my friends. Maybe I do have many means of communication with people I know personally and many I’ve never met – but it doesn’t mean I have to use them. It doesn’t mean I have to teeter on a dangerous road between revealing too much and revealing too little.

What it means is that I can accept that my obligations are not to anyone but myself. And as easily as I can tweet, post, and blog – I can remain silent. I can log off. I can put my phone on vibrate. I can stop connecting online and start connecting in bed. I can get out of the web of the Internet and be wrapped in the warmth of someone’s arms.

And I can stop interjecting the world into my relationships and let my relationships relate to just me and a special he…privately.

Just the Way It Is

A week from Friday, my current apartment’s lease is up. Two weeks later, my new apartment is ready for a proper move-in. In that span, I also will attend two weddings, close two months of magazines, organize two volunteer projects for children’s literacy, write around 21 blog posts, submit two revised freelancing pitches for national publications, collect two paychecks and a tax return, start to pair up a buddy system I created, and well, hopefully have drinks and adventures with those I love the most. If I’m lucky, I’ll get in at least four runs a week, too.

Oh my.

Everything I own, which is way more than I thought it was, is in piles of boxes, bags, and suitcases scattered across my studio, and all that remains unpacked is my planned attire for tomorrow, a bag of popcorn I’m counting as dinner tonight, a few dishes, and my bedding. For the next weeks, I’ll be living out of a suitcase while figuring out how to schedule a mattress delivery and deciding if I’ll buy a new dresser from Ikea or scope out Craigslist. Considering if took me nearly a month to commit to a comforter and sheets, I should probably start researching yesterday.

All of these changes and stress, both emotionally and physically, have not only caused an unexpected breakout at quite the unfortunate time, but I’ve found myself irritable and cranky, and overall, just exhausted. With a million worries circulating my mind, I haven’t been sleeping well and I wake up continuously to scribble a new task on my ever-growing to-do list by the light of my cell phone. For a few days now, I’ve been complaining to my friends, family, Mr. P, and really anyone who will listen to my so-called troubles. I don’t have enough this, too much of that, too little fun, too much work, too little help, too much going on to manage.

And in the middle of singing my woe-is-me song to a friend who’s been in the city far longer than I have , she interrupted and asked, “Linds, I love you – really. But do you really think you’re the first person to move apartments at an inconvenient time? This won’t be your last move and really, it may be your easiest.”

Touché , E, Touché .

While my blog is about me and can come off as self-absorbed, I promise I’m not. This is a space to spew and discuss, and while I’ve never considered myself the crème de la crème of New York women – in my weeks of transitions and in thinking of the ones to come, I’ve forgotten that this is just how the city is.  Just how being a 20-something is. It is, just how it is.

People unpack and then vacate their apartments – hence why they are apartments to start with. We rent until the lease ceases and then we find another place to call home (unless we stumble across rent-controlled, then we stay put forevermore). Landlords expect cash-flow to change, they raise prices and lower them, give deals to those who are good tenants, and if we’re tenacious enough, we may find a no-fee broker to help us get through the dirty work of the search. Up until we get married or decide we don’t need a ring to have a mortgage, we will continue to be in the cycle of the move: experiencing the freshness of a new space with a clean slate, and remembering fondly or in remorse of the address we used to claim.

And as fate would have it, my friend M from college will be taking over my apartment on May 1. Just as I did, she’s moving sans job but with bountiful determination. We’re in similar industries and an entry-level salary fits the price tag of this place, plus it comes with a glowing recommendation from me. Or maybe it’s appeal is that it allows her kitten to can come along on her new journey, too. While packing up my things, I continue to think of her and remember how I felt in those days before I made my big move. I felt a lot like how I do now – uncertain and a little frightened, but more ready than fearful. This change of ten blocks isn’t as huge of a leap as hundreds of miles like moving from North Carolina was, yet any scenery development can be worrisome.

And while I’m not her and I can’t speak for her feelings, I know what those shoes feel like before New York breaks them in. As every dreamer and overachiever does, she’ll find her footing and she’ll land on solid ground, while crashing-and-burning a few times along the way. If the ideal position doesn’t open up, she’ll hostess or be a temp until her career path leads her where she is moving to the city to follow. It won’t be easy and she will probably doubt herself a dozen or so times, but in the end, it will all make sense and it will all be worth it.

To remind her to take it day-by-day and to not let a tired spirit get in her way, I’ve hidden some notes here-and-there and I’m passing down a gift that was given to me that’s kept me going when my going got tough. And though I may not always listen to my own advice or the cautions of others, getting caught up thinking I’m the only Manhattan nomad –  I will pass along something else, written carefully and with love on an index card for M to see:

“It is just the way New York is. But really, you wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Getting Over Myself

Relationships seem to come in three stages: the honeymoon – where everything is green and full of endless opportunities and butterflies that seem to swarm in each direction; the reality – when things become settled and easy, comfortable and committed, where being a couple is the everyday,and  not just the possibility; and the aftermath – the period that follows the end of a love that was, a union that separated back into two individuals, living opposite lives, attempting to forget and overcome the joint world they once created.

Let’s be honest – the latter is the most difficult to go through.

Why wouldn’t it be? When you’re filled with opportunity, you’re hopeful and when you’re filled with what is, you don’t doubt what could be, because everything and anything seems probable. But when it’s over, or as Sugar Ray says, when it’s really over – there is nothing left to hold onto. No chance of  making up for the break up or going back to the starting line – when a relationship comes to a close, most of the time, and as it should be, there is no way to make a difference. It is what it is, and what it is is, is finished. So what’s a girl to do? I mean, if feelings linger or the rose-colored glasses fade into the harshness of black-and-white, where does all that good go? How do you let what was be what it was and still find the strength to find what the world could still hold for you?

How do you get over it?

I can’t say – I don’t really have an idea, to be frank. My prescription for mending a wounded pride or broken heart is not intelligent or strategic – it just involves an oversized bottle of wine, the company of friends who know how to bullshit and make you feel fabulous, and the remedy of attention from available (or unavailable) men who make you remember why you’re desirable. Given, this may not be healthy – but then again, I am writing a blog about overcoming a self-proscribed love addiction, so who am I to advise?

Regardless, one key of having successful relationships or releasing the pain of the past has nothing to do with getting over a man, but more about getting over yourself. Or over those unrealistic notions we’ve developed since we were children. Or maybe just those qualifications we started demanding once we discovered that some guys, or most guys, don’t measure up to what we want. Or what we think we need, anyways.

But if we think and if we reevaluate what it is that means the most, we find that what matters isn’t why a relationship didn’t work, how tall a guy is, how much money he makes, or what he does or doesn’t do in bed – but rather, the person he is. And to really see someone for who they are, flaws and immeasurable qualities and all, the first person to see clearly is ourselves. Even if the reflection we realize is ours is far from what we thought it was.

A rather new friend of mine, K, sheds an interesting insight on my perspective of dating. Not just in Manhattan, but in general. She is someone who has played the field as frequently and with as much fire as the game has been played on her. She’s loved and lost, found what she wanted and changed her mind countless times. Our conversations are deep as far as Gchat is concerned and usually, a blog or two comes out of the words she easily spews (as a writer like me, should I expect any less?). Unlike the majority of my friends, K is tall – towering at 5’10” ish, and though I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel, she accepts guys of all shapes and sizes, as they are, lower or higher than her measurements. My co-worker H, around the same stature, has the same liberties in the dating world.

Hearing this, I found myself flabbergasted. Here I am, made up of 5’4″ and 125 pounds, and I’ve never dated someone shorter than six feet. Maybe it isn’t something I would never settle for, but as far as height is concerned, I’ve always had a thing about the build of a man. I’m a fit girl who takes care of herself and therefore, should feel not only cozy in her own skin, but sexy and confident. And yet, because the first man I truly was intimate with, Mr. Curls, was rather skinny and scrawny, which made me feel larger than I was, I’ve found myself going for, chasing, and being attracted to guys who suffocate me. Not in the emotional way, but when we lay together, or walk side-by-side, I feel small and protected, petite, and feminine.

But do I need a man to make me feel that way? Or is that I need to get over my own insecurities to realize it isn’t a guy who can give me security, but it is myself? And that some of those hardened rules I’ve developed need to be softened to allow me the chance to see and to discover possibilities I’ve so frequently ruled out? As K gave as reasoning to why she doesn’t discriminate based on height, if a guy was to judge or reject her because she was taller than most women and that would make her feel inadequate, why would she turn around and do the same thing to a different man? Isn’t that a double standard?

If so, the question remains – how do you get over yourself? How do you allow yourself the freedom to be who you really are and indulge in those desires, those things you found inappropriate or unacceptable by the rules you’ve enforced on yourself? How do you say ‘yes’ instead of constantly engaging in the ‘no‘? How do you spread your spirit and your mind and if the wind blows in such a way, spread your legs to accept that you too, are a sexual creature, and maybe from time-to-time, casual sex is in your cards?

I haven’t gotten over myself – I haven’t come into my own, if you will. I haven’t fully embraced who I am and allowed myself to be vulnerable and liberated, completely open-minded to my own longings, and enchanted by the idea of the person I could be, instead of being stuck developing the person I am. But if I was a guessing person -which perhaps I am – the first step to getting over yourself, and thus getting over the world – is living.

Be thoughtful and careful, understanding of the consequences of your decisions, and the road you’re taking -but take it anyways. Know that choices you make may affect your future, but make them anyways. Realize that you may not always agree with what you’re doing or what you did or what you hope to do – but do it anyways. It may take months and years to let go of who you were in an effort to become who you want to be, but get over yourself anyways.

Because if you can’t get over yourself, you’ll never get over anyone. And if that’s the case – will you get yourself anywhere?

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?

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