Tag Archives: Life

On Slippery Slopes

The other day while getting drinks with a friend of mine, I told him that sex and the city taught me how to properly talk to men in a seductive way. (I didn’t elaborate then on details and I will not be elaborating now.) And embarrassingly, this was not a lie. But it and the conversation did open my mind up the already interesting conversation I was having with myself surrounding honesty and online communication in a way that I didn’t expect. Allow me to explain…

Lying is wrong

Look, it’s no secret that people lie online. Despite honesty being the best policy and probably one of the very first rules our parents teach us — aside from the obvious ones like, “the dog isn’t supposed to drink out of the toilet and neither are you.” [to be clear: this is not a lesson I had to learn but I have no doubt that kids do the darndest things.] The fact of the matter is that lying seems to come more naturally, in some cases, than telling the truth does because we want to be liked, we want to be loved, we want to be listened to, and most importantly, and in a workplace (which has turned into an online and remote community) in particular, we want to stay employed.

Now before you get on my back no this is not going to take some serious or dramatic drama filled twist about me making bold faced lies to my employer, but something that has been weighing on me is how, when I started this job, I said I was willing to relocate, but when I say that now… it comes with a lot more personal risk and would require quite a few benefits that would have to compensate for living in a place like that.

Lying is (always?) wrong

See I never thought I’d be comparing my professional life to my online dating profile, but unlike most people I know – my dating profile might be a bit more upfront and honest than I can and that I am willing to be in the workplace. For example, online I can be an open book and I can talk about anything – but at work, I can’t talk about quite a few aspects of my personal life and while that’s fair and that’s a choice I make, when it comes to the prospect of living where I work rather than working where I live now, my personal life and the qualities of my personality that I put above most also happen to be the very reasons that I wouldn’t want to relocate to a place where I can’t be my authentic self.

And worse than that, I can’t, after saying that I was interested in relocating for work, suddenly say…. Oh, well, I changed my mind because … ? Because I am queer. Liberal. And female and because I want bodily autonomy. And oh your state is a hostile place for all of those things… And before you tell me “but Rachel, you can do that, you can make that choice” I say – No! I could never say that. Because no one in their right mind would say those things to an employer that works in the state that mine does. Or to any employer for that matter because that would be crazy. And so, logically, but despite my values, I keep my mouth shut. (And yes I realize the sentence structure in this paragraph just took a turn toward absolute trash.)

Lying is always wrong, but omission is a grey area. (right?)

Ok so sure this is a true statement, obviously lying is wrong because, like I said it’s one of the first things our parents teach us as children. But as an adult, sometimes telling lies, or omitting truths can be a way to protect ourselves from very real and dangerous situations. But that’s also why I consider it a slippery slope.

See a little over a month from now I’m going to be taking a trip south to meet my bosses for the first time in person and while I’d love to tell them that that’s the first step to me moving there – I really can’t say that. I can’t tell my bosses that I want to be there because it is only a half truth. And also can’t tell them that I don’t feel safe in their state because that could jeopardize my standing with the firm, so what can I do? What should I do? Do I do like I used to and sex and the city the situation? Meaning, do I tell people what they want to hear at my own expense? Do I tell the truth and face the potentially obvious consequences? Or do I find a middle ground and speak in half truths, only to have to make excuses about why I can’t follow though? None of those sound like good options, so what would you do?

See when it comes to this stuff, you might be able to imagine why it weighs on me. Or you might not. But as an honest person I don’t like having to choose between a paycheck and who I am, and right now that choice is just a risk I’m not willing to take. Even if it could go in my favor. So I guess what I am saying is that I’ve already made my choice, and fan of it or not, slippery slope or not, it’s just one I have to live with.

And maybe you can relate.

Anxiety, Adulting, and the ‘Outerlands’

As someone in one’s mid to late 20’s there are some societal and personal expectations on where one should be in life. See, as someone living in the year of our lord 2022, as a 26-year-old cis and typically straight presenting white woman, you would think I could have hit my “prime” by now.

For example (as deemed by the internalized misogyny and capitalism): I should have found a man to love and settle down with me. Once acquired, said man and I would be thinking about a house we can’t yet afford. Then we’d be thinking about kids to fill it, and if we aren’t ready for kids, then maybe we’d start by taking some trips around the world to all the places we’ve always wanted to go. — And even if all that wasn’t the case, and I wasn’t on the path to be wed, then based on where I thought I’d be by now – I would be financially stable with a place of my own, health insurance of my own, and based on my budget, a minor amazon addiction. — But see the problem with that adolescent and anticipatory way of thinking is that it isn’t realistic. [And – not that you are asking, but when it comes to the things above only like 1.5 of those things are true.]

Truth is – growing up is hard, and it sucks, and it doesn’t usually pan out the way you thought it would when you were 16 – which is probably why my anxiety kicked in the way it did when I found myself in a big room full of 16 to 19-year-olds last night at a concert.

Before you judge – Let me explain…

Part 1: Anxiety

Last night I went to a Chase Atlantic concert and if you don’t know who they are that’s ok because I have since realized – neither do I. Truth is, I bought the tickets on a whim because they were like 35$, I had heard a couple of the groups’ songs [probably on tiktok] (they were alright) and frankly, I have been going to a lot of concerts lately because it gets me out and allows me to meet new people in a cool setting.

But early on into the night, I realized this show was different.

Now let me pause for a second and note that it wasn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ show, but, for me at least, it presented an uncomfortable vibe because if there is anything that I, at 26, still have in common with my 16-year-old self, it’s that I try to avoid spaces where underage children are passing out in the middle of mosh pits. And despite the fact that the performers handled the situation incredibly well, pausing their sets to check on and help the fans in need, the whole room was giving me – “you need to be drunk or stoned to vibe and enjoy this” and I really don’t like that.

Anyway, upon arrival, the usual line to the venue was extended around three to four city blocks — and the crowd was much younger than what I was used to. So, as you can expect, I immediately felt out of place, and then quickly realized that I was possibly the only person without a group, a friend, or a chaperone. [It’s also important to note that the other three times I’ve been to this venue in the past year there hasn’t been a crowd over 200 and this one looked like triple that. So essentially, upon arrival, my perception of the event shifted to a point where I didn’t want to stay the whole night.]

Which brings us to —

Part 2: Adulting

At the end of the day, when you boil down the generic brand anxiety that comes with life and living there is one thing that is more important than anything else. Boundaries. And the most important thing about boundaries is allowing ourselves to feel comfortable enough to make and stick to them.

As I’ve grown in this life, the most important lesson I have learned (or at least one of the most important lessons I have learned) is that I set my own boundaries. I get to decide what spaces I am in and for how long. I get to decide that some food and drinks don’t need to be consumed in one setting. I get to decide who I kiss and how far it goes and I get to decide that being at a show with hundreds of kids, their parents, and a performer with a cat like ski mask might not be for me and then I get to decide to leave. And to be clear, while this may have never been the case in the past (giving myself permission to walk away), it’s comforting to know that my experience last night did allow me to make the call that was best for me, without feeling guilty about it.

Part 3: experiences in the ‘Outerlands’

Somewhere in the middle of quarantine, I coined the phrase, “the Outerlands.” I guess the main reason I used was because, when the pandemic hit, going out felt a lot more daunting or almost medieval in nature. Not medieval like chainmail and horses but like an arduous journey with twists and turns.

See every time I left the house I felt anxious or excited — like I was on this quest for Camelot… or more realistically the grocery store or the pharmacy (potato po-tah-to, I know). But of all the things I ditched after the pandemic (since we’re now in an endemic), the ‘Outerlands’ wasn’t one of them because sometimes, and especially on times like last night where I am rolling solo in the world – just leaving the house feels like a journey to be taken.

Sometimes this is hard to admit but, to me, the ‘Outerlands’ are sometimes scary (not in an agoraphobic way but in the sense that I’ve gotten used to my bubble). There’s so much in this world that happens outside the front door, so many good and bad things and for me, with my anxiety, it’s really easy to take the path most traveled and revisit the familiar and get stuck in ruts — but in the past few months, going to concerts and feeling old in a room full of 16 year olds, those are the experiences that need to be had because despite how often I say I am, I am not old – and even if I wouldn’t consider myself to be in my prime [YET] (not spoken pessimistically but in the sense that I am too young to have had the best years of my life) I do feel like these are the things one must do to take those steps toward their prime.

Moral of the Story

Look at the end of the day – I know I have to put myself out there. I know I need to go to the ‘Outerlands’ and have sometimes awkward and anxious experiences. And I am here for it. But I think the reason I am sharing this with you all today is that – like you – I’m human and I’m trying to adult and I’m trying to make 16-year-old me proud and I’m trying to live my life and … I’m just generally trying. And if that all and this all is something that resonates with you then that’s great, because at the end of the day (because I use those words far too much) we’re all just trying to get out and get anxious and make boundaries to live in and outside of and when it comes to adulting – I don’t think there’s anything more adultish than that.

“Unthinkable”

The dictionary defines the word “unthinkable” as follows: UNTHINKABLE, adj. (of a situation or event) too unlikely or undesirable to be considered a possibility.

An act of “Unthinkable” and unspeakable evil – this is often how right-wing politicians phrase their empty apologies every time school children are slaughtered in mass shooting events. But if I am being honest, throughout my brief lifetime there is only one school shooting, the effects of which I remember vividly, and believe deserves that particular term.

On April 16, 2007, the unthinkable happened, on April 16, 2007, a single gunman used a semi-automatic weapon to gun down 32 people and injured 17 more at Virginia Tech.

Back then, school shootings were nowhere near as commonplace as they are now. Back then, that act of violence lead me and my fellow students who attended a elementary charter school in PA to have a very serious assembly, but unlike the kids today – I don’t have memories of active shooter drills before I reached high school. And why? Because in 2007 and even 2010 school shootings were relatively unthinkable, but today and in some schools, it’s all kids can think about.

Our kids are speaking, but the ones with the power to change things won’t listen

Yesterday I saw a tiktok where a teacher was asked by an elementatry school student “are you scared, like my mommy” and the teacher answered honestly saying, “yes, I am scared, but I am scared because I care about you and want to keep you safe.” and do you know what the child [THE CHILD] said as a response, “it’s ok, that’s why we do the drills, so that when [YES, THE KID SAID WHEN] it happens, we will be ready and we will be ok.” — So if our idea of protecting children starts and ends at drills (drills that some of these gunmen have been trained with) (or arming teachers???) and doesn’t include us allowing them to be a part of the conversation that they are already having with eachother and in their heads, then we are failing them. If we prioritize paraphrased rights over young human lives, we are failing our kids. If we continue to allow semi-automatic weapons to be so readily available to a general public who is not fit to use that kind of weapon, then we are failing our kids and we are failing ourselves.

“But my second amendment…”

19 elementary school children – dead. 2 teachers who tried to protect those children – dead. One 18-year-old gunman – dead. The death toll of the recent (mass) school shooting totals 22 (not including the shooter’s grandmother). And every single one of those lives lost – they were not victims of an “unthinkable act” but an entirely preventable one.

I can see the headline now “the founders continue to fail the American public 400 years after their deaths” – obviously accountability isn’t America’s strong suit.

Now in the event that someone excessively pro gun comes accross this post LET ME MAKE ONE THING ABUNDANTLY CLEAR – I personally do not like or agree with guns in any context and I personally don’t think guns should be a household item. BUT I also firmly believe that in certain households where children are taught gun safety and firearm respect, those are not households I hold issues with – with one exception – I personally don’t believe that any household needs access to a semi automatic weapon and this is quite simply because, in my mind, semi-automatic weapons are weapons of war; and while I don’t agree with that level of violence in any context, I do understand that for every tool there is a time and place, and I can understand that tool within the concept of that specific (and only that specific) time and place. IN OTHER WORDS, I don’t like it, I don’t agree with it, but I understand a context where it does make sense.

People love the idea of freedom but most don’t understand the cost

You see – When the founding fathers wrote the original documents by which our country governs itself today, they had muskets. To them, all of the happenings today were “unthinkable” because never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined half the things that have happened. BUT flash forward to today where – in 2022 alone – (mind you we are only 6 months in), there have been an estimated 214 mass shootings (IN THE UNITED STATES). And because google defines a mass shooting as an event that takes a minimum of three to four lives in a short period of time the bare minimum toll of those combined events is equal six hundred and forty two (642) lives lost — but according to insider news the death toll due to gun violence in 2022 ALONE currently sits at Seventeen thousand, three hundred lives lost (17,300 – dead) — that’s a little higher than the definitions minimum isnt it?

But in a couple of weeks, the dust of this will settle, Texas reps will stop their press conferences and their empty apologies and we will have some quiet time to reflect until the next shooting happens… This is the cost of freedom in America. This is the cost of maintaining the value of the second ammendment. This is the debt that we pay and in my personal opinion, it is disgusting, the cost is far too high, and it is the furthest thing from “unthinkable” that I can think of.

Look, at the end of the day, I don’t think we should take anyone’s right to bear arms away, but I think we should consider re-establishing what arms they have access to and how easily they are granted access to them. And the reason this article focuses on school shootings rather than the dozens of other mass shootings is because our government has shown time and time again that they won’t change no matter who falls prey to these attacks, but discussions where children are involved are much more likely to garner support. And don’t get me started on how angry it makes me that that even needs to be said or the fact that the absurd levels of inequality in this country span accross all kinds of labels and personal identifiers.

but I digress… where was I, oh yes – “at the end of the day, I don’t think we should take anyone’s right to bear arms away, but I think we should consider re-establishing what arms they have access to and how easily they are granted access to them.” —

If you want a pistol or a riffle or even a bayonet to defend yourself – I am all for it, after all that is what the founding fathers intended, but with what is happening and what continues to happen things can not and truly should not stay as they are. And to be clear, that’s not a political opinion. The stance I take isn’t because I am a democrat, it isn’t because I am a woman and because my rights have been threatened recently, it isn’t because I am anything – it’s simply because I am a person and because if I am lucky enough to have kids one day, the last thing I want is to be scared to send them to school.

In this life or any other – the last thing anyone wants is to live in a state of fear, but for our country, for the minorities in it, that’s all we and they know.

So stop claiming that very preventable acts are “unthinkable,” stop apologizing to and praying for the families who continue to lose everything without bearing responsibility for what is happening to them, stop allowing this damn country to be like the freaking wild west, and stop allowing any old person above the age of 18 to buy a semi-automattic weapon — because by now, and when it comes to gun violence in america, too many of our kids (and citizens) have not only thought of it, but they’ve lived it – and that should be enough insentive for real change to be made.

An open letter to the class of 2022

To the class of 2022, by now most of you have graduated from your respective institutions. You have done it. You have finally earned your degree. (Or at least they’ve given you the paper for it) And hopefully, you have earned the chance to pursue your career-centered dreams.

Years of sweat and blood and tears have finally led you to this moment and as glorious as it is, it’s slightly tainted by the moment where your institution, the place that has been your home for the past (+ or -) 4 years, said (in not so many words) – “congratulations, you did it – now go home.” (As closing time plays “closing time,you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here”)

Suddenly your mind races, “Home? What home? This is my home. This is my friends and my favorite/least favorite food and the place my stupid ex broke my heart before my friends (who are really more like family) put me back together again. Go home? What does that even mean?”

Maybe it hit you this weekend or maybe it’ll hit later but the moment you received your diploma everything changed. And it did, because… I guess… because it has to? See when I graduated with my bachelors degree 4 years ago, before I started this blog or even really knew who I was, I was terrified. I mean that’s quite literally the reason I continued my education and my track career – because I wasn’t ready to leave my home. And the while all the analogies about birds and nests rushed to mind more than they had the first time I left “home” I knew that this was different. This was different, because this home, felt like so much more than any other.

Now I realize this post is bittersweet because while I feel like you will identify with it, it isn’t necessarily what you want to hear right now. You don’t want to hear “everything changes” even if you know it will. You don’t want to accept that your people won’t be a couple of doors or even a couple blocks away, but possibly a couple of states or more. You don’t want to accept that this chapter is truly over, but as third eye blind once said – “every new beggining comes from some other begginings end” and if you don’t know that song then please follow the dotted line to hand your diploma back in.

Look, at the end of the day, I know this next phase will be different and it will be hard. Whether you are moving home for a bit or moving somewhere new – bills suck, work can be tedious, and last night’s drinks rapidly become all the more unforgiving when they are served by a new bartender who makes their drinks differently than you are used to. But this time will soon become the best time of your life – as will every phase to follow it. (Insert Miley Cyrus “The Climb” Lyrics) And that is the way it should be – because while the last four years were the best of your life, don’t forget that they are merely the best of your life SO FAR and that the best is still yet to come.

All jokes aside though, as a sister of a brother in the class of 2022, I cannot be more thrilled at the lives I see unfolding. I could not be more proud of the voice this generation is cultivating, and I could not be more excited to see what you all do next. The world around us is changing – and it needs to continue changing — so I for one, am excited to see what you all bring next.

Anyway!

Cheers! To the Class of 2022 – may your voice be loud and your hangovers quiet and here’s to the next best years of your life.

25 things that will never make sense

Lately, I have been struggling to make sense of the world around me. Granted, this isn’t anything new, but what is new is that some of these things hae knocked me off balance and made it so that I can’t organize my thoughts enough to talk about them clearly.

See, as an educated person I often struggle with knowing the “why”, and “how” of things, understanding how they may make sense to others but also grappling with the moral issue of how these things in an “advanced and civilized society” have ever been allowed to happen continuously. And like I said, some of these things have been really messing with my head lately so because I don’t have the full ability to make sense of them – I’m doing this list instead of a full form post this week. Hopefully this will start some conversations in your own life and hopefully once I get my wits about me I can come back and write on these topics with a cooler head.

[Some of these things will have explanations some won’t and I certainly won’t be covering them all today but feel free to add to the list in the comments. And be sure to have these conversations with the people around you because they’re incredibly important.]

  1. The fact that Webkinz ever went out of style
  2. Starbucks prices (I don’t care how artisinal the caremel whatchamacallit crunch is)
  3. Bounce Houses especially the watter feature ones
  4. Kids born after the 2000’s – specifically kids born after the 2000’s that don’t have a healthy fear of their parents because this generation doesn’t have the same healthy fear of their parents that me and mine did and I don’t know if I am jealous or proud or…
  5. Living in the past – we’ve all done it. But it has never been as dangeroius as it is now and in the context of the conversations we are having today.
  6. Alcohol: Back in the times of the ancient egyptians beer was used as payment to workers because it provided some sort of nutrition. As someone in their 20’s I feel like alcohol is so much a part of our social lives but it also is killing us all slowly. Not saying I’m going to or need to stop indulging – but this is weird to me.
  7. Minimum wage – it took me 26 years, 10+ of which I was in one or more workplace, to realize that my skills and my time were far more valuable than what I was being paid and how I was being treated. (in some cases)
  8. Sexual harassment in the workplace this one is only speaking to my experience in the service industry. I don’t think I have ever worked in a service industry related job where I haven’t been subject to some sort of sexual harasment type lines being crossed and 9/10 times I didn’t say anything because I didn’t think I could or because I knew it wouldn’t make a diference.
  9. Anyone who disrepects anyone in the service industry or in retail – or anyone who disrespects anyone who in general is just trying to help you.
  10. Weaponizing children in times of war. The number of contradictions this world has when we claim to want to protect our youth and our future but then subject them to even a small percent of what we do is dumbfounding.
  11. Relying on the declarations of individuals who have been dead for 400 years. or even valuing old dead white men and what they said 400 years ago more than we value women today or of any time.
  12. Overturning Roe (it’s 2022 and we are still talking about a decision made 50 years ago)
  13. Disrespecting others in the name of God or Jesus or the Bible – when that litterally contradicts the very foundation of the teachings of that religion
  14. The assumption that any VIABLE HUMAN BEING could have less value than (a.) another human being. or. (b.) a clump of cells – in other words if you think a 12 year old incest and r*** victim should carry the product of that assult to term because that “baby” didn’t be asked to be created that way then you need to go way back to health class because you have zero fundamental understanding of anything relating to the creation of human life, viability, or basic human rights.
  15. Anyone who isn’t a feminist or who doesn’t believe in equal rights or believes that equality implies that one person getting more than they currently have will give you less. Life isn’t a pizza party, if anything it is a race and some people got to start at the gun and others weren’t able to cross the starting line until the first group hit mile 1 – letting them run with you won’t make the trail smaller, it won’t cause you to trip – it will only give them a fighting chance in hell of keeping up.
  16. Racism
  17. Homophobia
  18. Mysogony – internalized or externalized
  19. Transphobia
  20. Bi-phobia
  21. Disagreeing and in turn hating someone for who they are and the very things they can not change. (10-14 aren’t political items, they aren’t a topic of discussion, they aren’t things to disagree about or to quote scripture against. If someone subscribes to these they are ignorant. Point blank period.)
  22. Religious Philosophies being warped to opress others
  23. People who whole heartedly believe that the Insurection was just, police brutality isn’t a thing, that Donald Trump didn’t lose the election, and that we shouldn’t be supporting Black Lives Matter because “all lives matter”
  24. Slavery, both in the context of the 1800’s and the present day where young women are sent into sex slavery and children are trafficed in the most hanus of ways. It makes me sick how anyone could ever justify OWNING PEOPLE but it’s happened in the past and somehow it continues to happen with different storylines.
  25. Life, the Universe and Everything – if there is one thing that I will never for the life of me understand – it’s everything. I will never have a full working knowlege of how things have come to be or what is going to happen next or if a plannet will live or die. I am not a god. OBVIOUSLY. But I will also never live under the delusion that I am meant to know it all. All I can do is my best to understand others and give people and myself grace and do everything I can to survive this big floating rock for as long as I am given to live on it. I think as an adult I am meant to be confused and conflicted and fluid and learning. I am not meant to know it all at once but I can do my best to understand those around me and try to make the world a better place for those who come after me.

To Summarize

As a working list with little to no context, I understand how this may not fit the usual subject matter of the awkward and adulting brand. But in truth I think a big part of growing up is understanding that the world around us does not subscribe to the same morals as we do. That the things that other people do and believe don’t always make sense – and while in some cases that can be ok – lately, and in a lot of cases it really isn’t. There are going to be people that claim to have “opinions” on things like race and gender and identity and while I have never been someone who will blatantly say “no, you’re wrong” I am sorry but this world has taught me that there are some people that really need to check themselves and be told that they are. We can’t afford to compromise or be polite anymore when it comes to certain issues.

As a country, we are at a crossroads. Not in the sense that some people agree with others and others do not but in the truest sense that the choices we make now and the things we stand for now have the potential to define us and our country for the next 50 years. And I think the reason this has me so speechless is that we, the people, are fighting for a future that might be set off track by the ignorant few – and that, above everything else on this list is something I will never truly understand.

a now spoken rule of 4

this is the story of 4 and all its multiples

When we look at the most formative and transformative periods in our life and more specifically our young adult lives, I have found that most things follow a connective rule of 4’s. And although experience is measured with a minimum of 2 and bad/good things occur in patterns containing 3, and 5 is the best number of years to earn you above an entry-level position. 4, like most even numbers seems to be the rule when it comes to things like balance, and education, and frankly, all the walls of all the boxes we allow ourselves to be put in.

And since patterns are mostly in our heads – and since this one is most definitely mine – let me open the door and invite you in for a bit…

My unspoken rule of 4

4, the number of years it takes to survive high school (barely).

4, the number of years in college (traditionally).

4, the number of wheels on your first car (hopefully).

4 the number of people in what was once considered an atomic family. 2 parents, 2 kids, and the promise of a picket fence. But for all the things that require 4 – why then is it that we more often think of 3 as the magic number? Which brings us to 3 –

3, the number of “adult” jobs I had after college before I found lucky number 4.

3, the number of medications I tried just to manage the depression that those years and those jobs cost me,

3 the number of members in my family since April of 2010 (excluding of course those with 4 legs).

and 3 the number of 4 year periods since my family became a party of 3.

Which brings us to 12. The number of days until the same number in years since my father lost his fight with cancer. (and no I didn’t think of that when I started writing this today.)

Loss is (you guessed it) a 4 letter word

Most often, when we talk about loss, it’s hard to keep our own selves out of it. “I – lost my dad,” “I – lost someone I loved” “I,” “I,” “I,”and after a while all the I’s make it less about the life they lived and more about the life that them being gone “took” from you. So it comes with a sense of entitlement more than what it actually is – grief and loss and a massive change in perception of what life and family should look like.

See perspective is a funny thing because if you take “I” out and replace it with someone else’s pronouns the narrative shifts and you get “He never got to walk me down the isle” “He wasn’t at my graduation” “He didn’t teach me how to drive” but the problem with that is that it wasn’t something he could do or controll. It wasn’t something he could be there for – and while that in itself is another loss – it places blame that, in most cases, that person doesn’t deserve. It sucks, yes – but at least in my case, it’s not his fault and its not my fault and it isn’t about him and it’s not about me. IT JUST IS.

Because in the grand scheme of things – things don’t happen to us, they just happen. and it’s really easy to make it about us and put ourselves at the center of it but that doesn’t mean that’s how it works. There’s no one keeping score, there’s no tit for tat, things just happen and you can spend all the time you want hating it and blaming others but at the end of the day – some things are just out of our controll.

Professionals will say 7

If you ask a professional they will tell you that there are 7 stages of grief. (and I have definitely felt all of them) That you can feel more than one at once or intermittently feel them etc etc etc. But if you google it the first thing you’ll get is a 7 bullet list with a whole bunch of synonyms crammed in. Which is fairly accurate because grief puts you and your emotions all over the damn place BUT since neither number is a multiple of 4, the reason I bring it up is that on a certain level and as the above heading (Loss…) suggests, most days I feel like I’ve done the work to accept things – and that doesn’t mean I 100% have or haven’t but that after 12 years I can confidently say that while it doesn’t hurt less it does hurt different. (Which is sometimes a good thing)

Maybe its not a rule but a suggestion

Ok so maybe the whole “rule of 4” thing was bs. Maybe I was just feeling poetic and feeling like patterns could heal me a bit because frankly, I have been feeling it a lot lately. And maybe in 2 years I will look back on this and pull something crazier out of my hat like “remember when I said ‘rule of 4? well 14 has a 4 in it!” and maybe then we can laugh. Or maybe we can just laugh now.

You know, because it’s kind of funny, every year on here or on instagram or on something I continue to tell some version of this story. It’s always true, it’s always from the heart and its always durring this month. And I used to think that I wrote it just to help some kid going through what I did and I used to think to myself that if it helped even one person that would be enough – but as much as I do still love the idea of helping others, I will never understand their loss or their story as I do my own. So maybe I was never writing for some random kid, and as predictable as it would be to say that I was writing it for me, to make my own sense of it, I can’t say that’s entirely true either. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wasn’t writing for some kid and I wasn’t writing to this version of me. But maybe I was writing to the kid I was then – the one that needed the most healing to get to where I am today; and maybe that’s progress because now, instead of being the sad, poor little girl that lost her dad at 14 – maybe I’m just me at 26, looking back with a smile and telling her that I will always fight for her (and her ludacris rule of 4)

So in honor of her victory and mine – I give you the now spoken rule of 4

4, the number of years in high school when I thought about giving up but didn’t

4, the number of years that I had with my 3 best friends making memories and learning how to heal.

4, the number of years since I graduated undergrad with my family by my side and my dad on my shoulder.

All leading to 12 –

12 days to 12 years without him.12, years I’ve grown and stumbled and somehow figured a bunch of things out about me and the world and my family.12, the number of years until I was able to realize that I didn’t have to walk away from that part of me to be happy – I just had to set a better pace to walk with it.

Great Expectations

Hello, and Happy Friday Friends! So I know in the past I have talked about the pitfalls of media and how my generation developed a certain propensity toward toxic masculinity in our teens thanks to some rather alluring vampires. And while I still stand by those sentiments – I think there is much to be said about the concept of expectations and love and how it evolves in great and terrible ways as we grow.

“Turn me on like a lightswitch” – Charlie Puth

As a newly minted 26-year-old woman who has spent far too much time putting together her own puzzle pieces in the past few years, there are few things that surprise me when it comes to self-discovery. But something I never expected when I was growing up was how high my expectations for other people were and more so, how much they would continue to grow.

For example, as a teenager I wanted a gentleman (preferably a protective vampire with old and proper values), someone who respected me and my ability to make my own choices, but also took charge because I secretly wanted someone to want to take care of me [in a respectful way]. Then, in my early twenties, that trope took a deeper twist because despite my expectations for respect instilled by the men in my family and in my life, I often found that a nice face and arms could forgive quite a few sins. Which, as you can imagine got me in a bit of trouble from time to time.

Now, luckily, this is most certainly no longer the case. But unluckily, now I find myself wanting someone who reads and can hold a conversation and is passionate and respectful and outspoken and the list could go on or I could just tell you that I am in love with Anthony Bridgerton (a fictional character, from the show Bridgerton.)

Whoever writes my life story has a flair for playing games with my heart

For any of us who gained an addiction to tiktok in the past year or two, a lot of us have developed this aptitude for complaining about the writers in charge of the plot we all have been living. Variations of this sentiment include, pretending to be a deity and pouring water into a bowl saying what characteristics (that we have) the given pour represents – usually this tackles queerness or anxiety or depression but my favorite thought is the one that portrays the idea that in each of our lives we exist under a writers room that determines where our story will go next.

And, of course, all of this rambling is just leading to the fact where I tell you that my writers room has lead me to fall for another person/character/actor that I will never meet and that even if I did and even if I managed to intrigue them – blah blah blah – In short, it’s no surprise that I’d be perfectly infatuated by a stunning gay man playing a straight viscount who perfectly portrays an enemies-to-lovers storyline rather than being interested in someone or anyone for that matter I could actually manage to date. Which leads us to — the people I could actually manage to date?

Fact: Sex Sells – but jeans and oversized hoodies shouldn’t be trifled with

While I can’t speak on behalf of anyone but myself – I can admit that throughout my twenties I have experienced a shift in how I interact with potential love matches and (let’s say) the characteristics they portray.

[I’m going to preface this anecdote with the background knowledge that when I walked into one of my favorite liquor stores yesterday I was wearing maroon supra high-tops, straight leg jeans, and an oversized hoodie and I had just gotten done with a physical at the doctors. Nothing I was wearing matched, I had no makeup on and I was in no condition to be interacting with any humans let alone plausibly attractive men]

For example, yesterday while at the liquor store I was followed around by the clerk who I was told didn’t like a certain brand of beer because it openly supported black lives matter and that brews shouldn’t have a hand in politics, among other things that the “democratic media… (ergo – strike one).

Now in the past, I will admit, that my “gossip girl” and “sex and the city” based education sought out to teach me no more than those penguins in madagascar did (“smile and wave boys, smile and wave”) and part of this is because my impression of myself and how I physically approached relationships gave me the impression that I had fewer options that I would have liked to believe I had. [newsflash, I was playing myself]. And no this story doesn’t end with me saying that I started a fight in the liquor store, I am much too classy for that. (and they’re the only place I know that carries the selection of beers I like…)

So why am I telling you this?

A few reasons. 1. I learned the terrifying fact that apparently, I am attractive to republicans [shudders in democrat] — which is not only problematic but must defy all kinds of laws of physics considering I carry a damn “alphabet mafia” card in my wallet. 2. I needed to write the story down because its 2022 and when you tell someone you can carry your own beers to your car 7 times, they really should have listened by 3. and 3. (to put it plainly) The interaction only solidified my ideas of wanting to be courted like the ladies in Bridgerton [which does not mean I want to live anywhere near the time period of corsets and non-existent women’s rights, but that if “Shondaland” was a town – I’d relocate in about 2 seconds flat] rather than mansplained Sour Beers in an isle that is no thicker than 2ft.

All is fair in love and … tinder?

Look, I have told you all before that I was giving up dating sites – and I am not going back on my promises – in fact, I have had a couple really awesome interactions with people in the past month in real life and real-time (IRL as the kids say) but that doesn’t curb my desire for something more.

Because frankly, all I have learned from apps like Tinder is that maybe my high expectations need to be pushed up a few more notches…I mean come on, what does a girl have to do for an enemies-to-lovers plotline like Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma!?

Truth is, I think the problem with expectations like mine (and constantly wanting everything and anything I cannot have) is that I can sit at my desk and create this a le carte interpretation of what I want my love life to look like, and sure it may be portrayed on a tv show where a bunch of talented writers get to toy with our emotions, but life doesn’t work like that.

I can’t sit here and pick and choose the perfect partner and manifest them into existence any more than I could have willed myself into marrying a Salvatore at 17. And that’s not because I can’t imagine what a good life with someone would look like, but because I haven’t yet experienced what I could possibly have in terms of a life with someone else

So while I can’t sit here and contend with fantasy – I can try to live and work toward a reality that meets me halfway – because in the past month I have met the kind of people who valued my mind first and called me beautiful and RESPECTED my boundaries (which shouldn’t have been as exciting as it was.

Expect the Unexpected

I guess the takeaway from all this is that I am not going to give up on my expectations but I will continue to expect more from people than I have been given in the past. And I am also going to do a better job at meeting my expectations where they realistically live and not allowing some off-topic attitudes to sway them.

So, in other words, I won’t strive for Brigerton’s and settle for vampires, but I might aim for a Bridgeton and maybe meet someone (not a raging republican at a liquor store) living a more simple and properly respectable life. Because maybe I can learn to expect the unexpected, rather than constantly expecting the unrealistic fantasies I constantly see on screen.

The one about the goldfish being fed too much in a small tank

When it comes to all living things, we all pretty much need the same stuff to live and thrive and whatever else… food, water, shelter and love if you’re looking to break the curve. But the funny thing is – not many people seem to want to break the curve.

Lately, and always, conservatives are so quick to get on their soap-box that liberals and their “brain-washing institutions” breed these wild thinkers with crazy ideas where boys can be girls, girls can be boys, and my house plant can identify as a damn apache helicopter [but of course “we can’t say apache because that is racially charged and these snowflakes can’t handle history”. But the problem with this [there’s a lot more but this one is for today] is that “liberal institutions” like college – merely allow young people to see the world outside of the context they were raised on. And often, these points of view lead young people to believe that, “hey, that stuff they were teaching me about black women being able to handle 12x more pain and all the gays are trying to steal and brainwash my kids… maybe that’s not actually accurate.” And for the record… both the “gay agenda” and racially charged inequity in medicine are both majorly misunderstood issues.

Truth is – some of this country is outgrowing the tank it was born into, but others are so used to the tank that they have that they will continue to ignore the fact that they can’t continue to grow without cracking the very core ideals that their entire existence is encapsulated in – and as bad as it sounds, we can only hope that they just grow too big for their tank until they will have no other choice than to move out of their current digs or die holding on to the idea that they are the perfect size for where they live.

Step on a crack break…

Let’s be honest – boiled down, our country is more built on prejudice than it is freedom. Both in the literal sense of the United States exploiting immigrants and slaves and foreign countries to achieve their goals and also in the figurative sense that most, if not all of our systems are inherently broken or excessively corrupt. In short, prejudice is the foundation of our country; and while that’s disgusting to say – until we can accept the cracks in our foundation, our house will only continue to crumble around us. [But – of course- going hand in hand with the fish tank analogy, we choose to focus on what makes us “great” because we also teach a level of systemic denialism that is dumbfounding at best and lethal at worst.]

“Ahhh – she’s having one of those days… – the ones where she uses big words because she hasn’t posted in two weeks.” and to that I say, yes, but also no.

Phobia means “fear of” – but let’s call it what it is

With trans day of visibility yesterday and the supreme court hearings the last few weeks, and the now famously moronic “don’t say gay” bill being passed recently – I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about homophobia, transforbia, and the irony of certain political parties who use violence to achieve their goals while also condemning people who don’t crack down hard enough against crime. And while all these topics are light and fun and a joy to speak of on a friday morning… [smh] lately I have been less fixated on the actions surrounding these topics and more on the words that we address them by.

See my boy Willy Shakes once said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” And while I would NEVER attempt to overwrite “his” words, I can’t help but think of that concept in opposite terms because HATE, by any other term will still breed most foul and despite the fact that it is 2022 we still label hatred as fear or disapproval and call it a day.

Hate by any other name

Although it may be controversial, I personally don’t believe people are born evil. That said, I also don’t think it takes all that much to turn someone hateful or sour and in cases of the worst of the worst that mankind has to offer I do think we like to let ourselves believe people are born evil because we want to dehumanize them and further separate them from ourselves.

There’s this proverb, I believe it’s origin is from the indigenous people, and it states that we are born with two wolves, one good, one bad, and the one we feed is the one that we become.

So yeah, I don’t think people are born evil, but I do believe that we are all capable of it and that given the proper motivation and disposition anyone, no matter their age can do terrible and horrible things. [and I’d also like to note that people who specifically misinterpret text with the intention of condemning and dehumanizing others, whether it be legislative or spiritual, only broadens the basis of hate and ignorance that often does more bad than good].

Out-growing the tank

I’ve probably said something like this before in a different font and at a different time, but we are at a turning point. And this applies to the country and its individuals because more than ever before we are receiving knowledge and feeding our beliefs [ and our disbeliefs ] and we are outgrowing our tank today and everyday. So as you swim through these times, make sure you pay attention to your growth, but also pay attention to your tank – because at the end of the day, you get to decide the bounds you are held in and the people you are held by. And it may not always be easy, but sometime it’s better to outgrow your beliefs than to let them suffocate you and crack the world around you.

Taxes (blech)

Hello friends, it’s Friday and while I was originally tempted to talk about fugue states – today I want to jump on my soapbox and talk about taxes.

So, as most, if not all of you know, it’s tax season – which is fun for some but miserable for the rest of us. Why? Well, simply put the government undoubtedly knows how much they owe each of us but instead of cutting checks, we are sent to calculate a bunch of numbers and deductions and pray we don’t get them wrong, and if we do, we can get in trouble…

Anyway, this year I am using H&R Block – again – because they don’t charge me extra to do my own math online (this is not an ad). But last week I got a message that they would b charging me if I didn’t get my stuff finished by today.

And before you freak out – no, you didn’t miss a deadline – I’m just lazy and started the forms like a month ago and got so discouraged that I haven’t sent them in yet. And, while this would be the opportune time to tell you all not to procrastinate, the fact that I am using this time to write this blog rather than finish that paperwork, somewhat exempts me from being a rational voice in the conversation. And should I get busy today and not meet the deadline, I suppose next weeks blog can be about doing better with my time management.

Adulting is Hard

Look, in my early twenties I definitely had this grand idealistic mindset that lead me to believe I’d have my life together by 26 or 27. And in my head, if I didn’t reach this goal I was a failure. In my head, by 26-27 I’d have a nice boyfriend, a stable job, properly managed healthcare and mental healthcare, I’d live in a nice apartment or house or – anyway… in short, I was completely and utterly wrong. And while I am usually one to blame myself for this and everything else, what I am realizing is that it’s ok not to know everything by 27. Especially because we are so ill equipped to manage most of the things we have to figure out in our early to late twenties.

Fact: No one taught me how to do my taxes growing up – so how was I supposed to know where to start with it? And don’t get me wrong, over time I did figure it out, but it has been and continues to be a process because being an adult is hard.

And look, while I could twist this piece to talk about the rich and the poor and who gets away with less taxes and how that isn’t fair or how it’s a man’s world because I feel like I always bring up the same topics of men and mortality and yada yada. Honestly, today’s feelings are just cut and dry. Being an adult is dumb and taxes are dumb and half the time the world we live in doesn’t make sense with the way it works.

So… if you’re still here, and you’re like me – equally confused and upset about the process of being an adult and doing your taxes, know that today, you are not alone – and that, at any age, you are allowed to not know what you are doing all the time. Because Adulting is Awkward – and day by day, we’re all just trying to figure it out.

Preach Don’t Practice

Have you ever noticed that the most vocal pro-american, pro-freedom people are also the first to decide how to limit the rights of others? That these “Americans” are the first to decide who is allowed into their mostly all boys club – and that the people they let in, rarely reflect the world as it truly stands.

Have you ever noticed that as one of the largest and most formidable world powers we don’t actually lead anyone toward progress or rank well in matters concerning education or welfare?

Have you ever noticed that people are much quicker to preach, than they are to practice? And if you have noticed these things, do they ever bother you?

Does it both… Yes

It’s no secret that the world has been a mess lately. Covid got demoted to an Endemic, but still affects millions, Putin started a war over in the Ukraine because he was bitter and bored, and the United States of America continues to stand divided when it comes to our most basic promise of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for ALL american citizens. And while the first two issues get me heated, the third has been really boiling my blood.

Don’t say Gay…

In the past couple weeks multiple states have been criticized for the creation of bills that target children… and yes you heard me right… children.

So to start I am going to give you a bit of an aside to tie a couple things I mentioned above–

In the Ukraine right now there is obviously a war going on with the Russians, but one of the first things that societies do in war time is protect the women and children. They do this, I assume, because their children are more vulnerable, but they are also their future. Their children are the ones to carry on with their beliefs and practices and legacies. So in war we protect them the most.

Similarly, when we look at crime, in the United States and in the world, one of the most dangerous criminals to be incarserated as is a pedofile – because even amongst murderers and thieves, crimes against children are inexcusable and if the court won’t find justice, the criminals will.

As terrible as it is to say, in our world, there are an infinite number of ways to damage or hurt or break someone. In fact, for centuries men have been finding new ways to perfect the art of hurting one another. So much so that some of the only things we, as human beings can agree upon is that certain methods of harm and certain methods of killing are to inexcusable to use, even in war time. But for all the laws forbidding crimes against humanity and all the rules preventing chemical warfare, psychological harm and domestic violence are still issues that continue to run rampant everyday, and for what? When will we stop classifying people as worthy or unworthy of being treated with decency? That’s the question we should be asking.

Anyway… Bills, Bills, Bills

In the past month or so, multiple states have been creating bills that target LGBT children. In one iteration of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill there was even a clause where florida teachers were to inform a students parents that their child was gay within 6 weeks of finding out that they were. Other bills in multiple states forbid trans youth from getting healthcare or playing organized sports, and almost all of the bills in question focus on limiting what students learn in the classroom when it comes to race, gender, and sexuality.

Similarly, these bills will force educators to create a full school year of lesson plans by June so that PARENTS can weigh in and determine what their kids will actually learn, and if these parents don’t agree with the lessons or are made uncomfortable and the teacher still chooses to educate on these topics, then the teacher can be fined a crippling amount.

Excuse my french – but this is bull shi*

Let’s get one thing straight

LGBT concerns aside — Teaching is not a group project, even if education is.

Let me explain.

When it comes to our education as a whole – there are hundreds if not thousands of people that get a hand in what we learn. Friends and family teach us love and how to pursue our passions, they teach us about what is socially acceptable and that maybe you shouldn’t pick your nose…? Bosses teach us best practices at work and relatives teach us about our histories both shared and personal. But when it comes to the classroom – teachers are the only ones in the room who have been trained to educate us on specific things and themes.

Sooo….

Teaching is not a group project. But I am not surprised that it is the one place that people (who have zero experience in the field) think that they can reach in and do the job. Because you definitely wouldn’t try to represent yourself in court, and you certainly wouldn’t want to perform heart surgery on grandma – and in most cases you wouldn’t jump onto the field if your favorite quarterback was having a rough day – but you have no problem telling a teacher what they can and can’t or should and shouldn’t teach.

Practice more Preach Less

Look, at the end of the day I really didn’t even scratch the surface with this topic. But it’s not my job to teach you as much as it is to start the conversation and practice the kind of acceptance I preach. And while I used some pretty strong examples to try and get some thoughts across I hope in this ending I can pull it together well. So here we go.

In a world where so much has been going wrong, in a decade where so many lives have been lost already, and a modern age where we still exist amongst so much hate, the last thing we should be doing is isolating children from their identities and giving teachers one more reason to pack up and pick a new profession. So, if you got anything from what I am saying today it is that we need to stop fighting the wrong kinds of wars. And protecting our kids from the wrong things. We need to stop fighting over territory and the belief that only one type of people deserves respect and we need to accept that our history is an equal a part of our story just as we know our future is – and the more we waste time ignoring where we’ve been and limiting growth and holding ourselves back with false promises the more we are going to prevent our future from rising to what we know it and they can be.

Death, Dickinson, and Daddy Issues

Because I could not stop for Death — he kindly stopped for me — The Carriage held but just Ourselves — And Immortality.

EMILY DICKINSON

So this week I turned 26, and while my mother did not receive a goat or cow or horse in exchange for my hand in marriage, I can fairly say that it’s been a rather productive week – and I believe that productivity is, in part, due to a question I asked myself and a question I would like to ask you all (my fearless readers) now.

At what age did you stop chasing death, only to realize you had to start running from him?

I was 14, His Name is Death, and I could have loved him but I didn’t

I was 14 when I met death, but it wasn’t until I was 18 that I stopped chasing him.

I don’t remember the exact day of course because it wasn’t a stand out performance kind of day. There was no epiphany that lead me to want to stop dying inside and get to living – I guess I just finally started to find moments where living was less of something I had to do for others and turned into something I got to do for me.

That said, if I had to pick a moment it was probably around June of 2014 – I had just graduated high school and I was in Florida (of all places) on the back of a 4 wheeler, clinging to my best friend, drinking bud light, caked in mud and getting bitten by fire ants. And admission of underage drinking aside, I guess it was just a moment where the scales tipped for me. Where living felt lighter and more free than dying.

Anyway, So yeah I was 18, which I suppose is fitting, because most people chasing death are the ones who think that they have the power to escape it – but by the time we become adults with the freedom and aggression and resilience to fight the good fight — well I guess that’s when we all usually and finally realize that we cannot out run death, but we can certainly make it harder for him to keep up.

When it comes to Death, I look to Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was a prolific writer but she was also an outcast for much of her life. Mostly because her vision and her ideals existed far outside the limitations of her time. AKA she was super wacky.

Now, while I certainly cannot compare my writing chops to Emily’s I could argue that my friends and I have a similar strangeness to us. Why? You may ask. Well, because like young Emily Dickinson – Death is a popular topic of conversation between one of my friends and I. And before you call a therapist, please allow me to explain.

For many, death is a frightening topic because we, as humans fear the unknown, I mean look at all the time spent creating narratives to explain what we can’t and know what we may never know.

ANYWAY – I find it strange that in a world that mostly clings to a fear of uncertainty — the thing we fear the most is inherently certain and unarguably unavoidable.

three things cannot long stay hidden, the sun, the moon, and the truth

TEEN WOLF

Truthfully, death doesn’t scare me because I used to chase him before he thought to chase me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he did scare me at one point, but, in most ways I am more afraid of what happens to the ones I love after I am gone – but in terms of whatever the universe has in store after I am, I’m not all that concerned. Which again, is why I believe that Emily Dickinson’s poems always resonated with me – because like her and like Wordsworth, I realize that there are more paths to immortality than those that have to do with escaping and avoiding death.

His name was Death, hers Dickinson, but in their love story — everyone just blames the Daddy Issues

I think we all reach a certain point in our lives where we become desensitized to loss – and don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t stop the hurt, but it does – slowly – begin to hurt a bit less.

We begin to fear it a bit less. Because Death is not a bold or dangerous man.

Now, personally, I experienced a lot of loss at a young age. And because one of those major losses was my father, people assume I must have “daddy issues” – but I don’t (at least, not in the traditional sense of the term). These days, media plays the game of selling girls with daddy issues as commodities, and while I believe myself to be quite valuable, I am also not for sale.

Yet another reason that I exist in multiple states of inherent contradictions. But that’s besides the point.

And arguably I lost the point like three headings ago so here it is.

In all of our lives there is a time when we realize we have been taunting death – most blame youth for this, but I’d argue the opposite. I think this fear has a trickle down effect. That those closer to death, fixate on it more and thus they hide it from the ones who are younger – which in turn allows them to forget that he exists – and so in those moments we chase him and the ones he takes – because we are too young, by comparison, to be taken too.

When we are kids we believe we can live forever because everyone around us is big and grown and free and alive – so we chase that dream. But when we grow, the ones we love die and because we have always followed them we lose all sense of direction. And then by the time we find it again – we turn around and chase death again. So when did you start running? And who will catch who first?

No Buts

I know it’s ok, but…

I know it’s ok, but I’m not where I thought I’d be by now.

Its psychological you know

When it comes to expectations, we approach them from what we already know and what we see and experience around us. So, we can’t actually picture what our life will look like – yet society and pinterest tricks us into planning it all out and pretending that the best we can do is white weddings and trips to the hamptons with our two and a half beautiful babies. Big houses, and little league and – clearly I grew up very lucky because I know how much privilege comes with those dreams.

And it’s funny because these expectations, they aren’t unlike how we view happiness because subconsciously we all have a level of happiness that we can rise to, before we believe it’s “too good to be true.” So we expect what we already know to happen again, just as it has, and when it doesn’t, it jars us. We grow up expecting what we think we deserve, but at any age we are still learning what we deserve based on our own developing definition of worth so — in short, we can’t fathom what the future looks like, but we honest to goodness believe we can. And then we get disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

Back then I had it all figured out

Or at least… I thought I had it all figured out. Typical youth dilemma, I know.

Anyway…

Lately I’ve been excessively retrospective, telling my friends that “I had a better idea of what 26 would look like when I was 16, than I do now.” Which is somewhat a lie, because back then I didn’t think I’d make it this far but also true in that – when I skipped to this part of my story, being an adult and having freedom etc. it did look a lot less complicated. But back then, so did life.

A decade ago, in 2012, my future looked a lot less complicated and a lot more straight-forward. And despite what you may assume, it wasn’t because I was young. It’s because the world we know now, was just getting started.

[Insert HUH?]

Let me explain…

In 2012, I was 16 years old, just over 3x the age of the first iPhone, which was made in 2007. And this was also the year, most of us thought the world was ending, not because we had real proof, but because at least 4 movies came out saying that it was going to based on a calendar that was thousands of years old. In 2012, the music industry was much harder to get into. Like a lot harder, and it wasn’t because the talent wasn’t there but because the technology needed to make an EP was much less accessible than it is now. In 2012, I was still watching the Disney channel… and all the shows were still irrefutably iconic and High School Musical wasn’t a remake it was still a story being told for the first time. In 2012 I was binging the vampire diaries, and writing the first draft of my novel. I was grieving, and living with it, and praying to a godless sky that I could find answers that I knew wouldn’t come. In 2012 I had no possible idea of what my 20’s would look like beyond fiction and fantasy – but in that way, I suppose a part of me then, knew more than I do now. Because that’s exactly what the concept of our twenties is before we actually get there… it’s fiction, and fantasy, and excessively hormonal teen dramas with all the sex and none of the quarter life crisis that we all inevitably go through.

So yeah, a decade ago I had a more clear picture of what 26 would look like, but 5 days out from my 26th birthday – I have no recollection of what I could have been thinking at 16.

I know it’s ok… but – no buts

I know it’s ok, but yeah, I’m definitely NOT where I thought I’d be by now… and that’s hands down the best gift I could have given myself this year because when I say “I’m not where I thought I’d be” it’s not a feeling of inadequacy, and, surprisingly, it’s not even a feeling that I’ve fallen short of my own expectations, because frankly those would have been with me, buried 6 ft in the ground or scattered across the lake that my dad and his siblings grew up on. Truth is, if I had ended up where I honestly thought I’d be now, at 16… well let’s just say I’m really glad I didn’t. And this life, it’s not a fantasy, and it’s not a show on HBO and I don’t have a super sexy vampire boyfriend [or girlfriend] – but I am figuring it all out, day by day, and on my own time.

So yeah… when I say, “I know it’s ok… that I’m not where I thought I’d be,” I mean it. Not because I never wanted to be somewhere else, not because I never wanted someone else’s life, not because I wish I had become the princess of Genovia living in a castle with Sandra O answering the queens calls [although, that would be pretty damn cool]. I say, “it’s ok” because I’m here. Because I made it. Because I kept picking points on the path to run to and telling myself, “Rachel, if you make it there, you can stop. If you make it there, it’s not giving up… but also, keep going.” And honestly, the more I think about it, I love that I am not where I thought I’d be in my imagination ten years ago, because when things get hard now, and when someone tells me it’ll be ok… I believe them. And the rest? Well, that’s all just part of the ride.