on simplifying.

lately, i’ve noticed that i’m anxious all the time.  my hands shake, my mind races, my stomach hurts and i have trouble sleeping.

the truth is my life is inevitably stressful right now; i’m in limbo in every way. i’m graduating in may with a master’s degree but no full time job on the horizon or even a clear career path. i’m single and happy to be independent, but also ready for a relationship. i’m 25 and therefore a little angsty to begin with.

so lately i’ve been focusing on what i can do, and the answer is to simplify.

two weeks ago, i deactivated my facebook acount and have been more content ever since. it wasn’t adding anything to my life, and it was actually making me unhappier. i was spending way to much time comparing myself to others and curating my own image to reflect the degree of perfection i expect from myself.

in this tumultuous time, i need to take care of myself first and foremost. not every text needs to be answered immediately. i don’t have to read every blog post in my reader. i should pick up a book instead of mindlessly surfing the internet.i want my life to be more about quality and less about quantity in every single way. i feel as though i’m being pulled in a million different directions and have a million different feelings welling up inside me, so i want to spend my time doing things that matter to me, and cultivate only the relationships which nourish me.

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i’m very lucky that both my parents went through this stage in life, and can offer me wisdom from the other side. my mom recently found a folder containing just some of the cover letters she sent out after graduating with her master’s degree. in her revistionist memory she had totally forgotten her period of uncertainty, believing she had moved right from graduation to her first job. i mentioned to my parents that this reminded me of how when i read in memoirs the author will say, oh and then i happened in to this or that job, and then i happned to meet my husband, and then i ended up stumbling upon this or that great achievement–completely overlooking the fear, pain and uncertainty of the search. in retrospect i guess it all fits together and leads you to where you are, but while you’re in it it’s confusing and hard and not at all logical. however, that’s my life right now and i don’t want to go through it doping myself with mindlessness, i want to be an active participant.

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sitting in a coffee shop just now, finishing this post, i was sitting next to two high schoolers, prom dates, discussing the drama involved with picking a prom group. i rolled my eyes a few times, thinking about how silly they were being to get worked up about  this detail they’ll barely remember in five years. but then the girl stood up, caught my eye and smiled at me.

it reminded me just how much she has in front of her and how much she’ll learn before the time that she’s my age. my heart swelled and then i realized i wouldn’t have had that simple, poignant thought if i hadn’t have been anything but present.

 

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boys vs. men

a few years ago, my sister got me mindy kaling’s amazing book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? which is seriously a must read for every gal.

i remember being struck by a particular chapter titled “Men and Boys” in which she writes,

Men know what they want. Men make concrete plans. Men own alarm clocks. Men sleep on a mattress that isn’t the floor. Men tip generously. Men buy new shampoo instead of adding water to a nearly empty bottle of shampoo. Men go to the dentist. Men make reservations. Men go in for a kiss without giving you some long preamble about how they’re thinking of kissing you. Men wear clothes that have never been worn by anyone else before. (Okay, maybe men aren’t exactly like this. This is what I’ve cobbled together from a handful of men I know or know of, ranging from Heathcliff Huxtable to Theodore Roosevelt to my dad). Men know what they want and they don’t let you in on their inner monologue, and that is scary.

Boys are adorable. Boys trail off their sentences in appealing ways. Boys bring a knapsack to work. Boys get haircuts from the roommate, who “totally knows how to cut hair.” Boys can pack up their whole life in a duffel bag and move to Brooklyn for a gig if they need to. Boys have “gigs.” Boys are broke. And when they do have money, they spend it on a trip to Colorado to see a music festival. Boys don’t know how to adjust their conversation when they’re talking to their friends or to your parents. They put parents on the same level as their peers and roll their eyes when your dad makes a terrible pun. Boys let your parents pay for dinner when you all go out. It’s assumed.

talk about a lightbulb moment–i read that and was like i’m never dating a boy again! i’m only dating men! which was false because i  had just turned 23 and was deeply in one-sided love with a man child.

but now, a few years down the road, this really hits home. i’ve dated a lot of boys…and the thing is, they can totally fool you because they look and seem like men. they can be 2-5 years older than you and look really good on paper, have a great job and nice apartment and a shiny MBA and take you out on nice dates, but they’re still boys.

boys want you for what you can offer them; you’re smart and beautiful and funny and a hell of a good time. you will come home with them after the bars and you will offer to cook breakfast in the morning. you will respond to his texts and cuddle with him on the couch (futon?) on a sunday or when neither of you feel like going out. you will take his dog out in the morning and not get mad when said dog chews on your new flats. you will do sweet, thoughtful things for his birthday or when he’s sick or when he gets a promotion. but you aren’t going to get those things in return.

men want you for what they can offer you; they will cheer you up after you’ve had a bad day, they will help you take your sloppy drunk friend home and not be judgey. they will make and keep plans. they are sincere and don’t play games. they will care about your thoughts and feelings and opinions and they make you feel important and special and loved. they will go to all your family functions appropriately dressed and be friendly and supportive. they will kiss you and hold your hand. they will want to do these things for you because you are lovely and amazing and they love you.

dating is hard, and being single is hard. anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. and while singledom can be fun and liberating, the process of distinguishing the men from the boys is excruciating, but worth it.

so cheers to all of us fabulous ladies ending up with the men we deserve!