One Too Many Rejections

Do you know that GIF of Emma Stone crying into her ice cream? Well that was me last night…and this morning…and five minutes ago.

You see, I’ve actually been doing pretty well this year given the sucky hand I’ve been dealt lately. Between having to do four consecutive egg freezing cycles to have any chance of having a biological child in the future, finding out my contract at work isn’t going to be renewed because of Covid-related losses, and having to navigate the depressing world of online dating at 30 years old when I would really rather be married and starting a family, things haven’t been a walk in the park. But despite all that, I woke up happy most days. I counted my blessings, approached life with confidence and hope and excitement. 

But that doesn’t mean I still don’t encounter rough patches. And boy are they rough. 

I’ve always liked the idea of being someone who bounces back from rejection quickly, who barely even let those sort of minor disappointments affect her. When I interviewed at three companies in one week and got rejected from all of them, I just said, “Oh well, none of those were the right fit for me anyway. I know I’ll find a better match.”

When not one, not two, but FIVE different guys I’d been having great conversations with on dating apps, who had reached out me and expressed interest, who I’d had great chemistry with, who asked me out on dates, all unmatched me suddenly in the days before we were meant to meet, I was bummed but I moved on pretty quickly to the next guy.

And guess what? That next guy turned out to be great and we spent two weeks texting and talking on the phone and for the first time in months I actually got excited about going on a date. I knew it wasn’t wise, but I let myself get too invested before even meeting someone. We both talked about what our ideal day in a relationship might look like, and our visions matched up pretty closely. I started to imagine sharing a cup of coffee or tea with him before work, exploring the city together, cooking dinner with each other every night. We had great chemistry over the phone and it seemed like we were both looking for the exact same things. He was so easy to talk to and we ended up chatting about pretty much everything. I even mentioned to him how I wasn’t a fan of this recent trend of people unmatching or ghosting before a date, and I’d rather someone just tell me if they’re not interested.

We were supposed to go on our first date tomorrow at a cool new exhibit in the city that I’ve been wanting to go to for months (so I was excited for two reasons). Well I’m sure you can guess how this story ends. He ghosted, and I didn’t take it great.

I know I shouldn’t have gotten so invested in someone I didn’t even know. I mean maybe in person we wouldn’t have had that spark, maybe we had some fundamental difference that would have spelled doom for things down the road, maybe, maybe maybe.

That’s the thing that sucks most. I’ll never know what could have been, because I didn’t even get a chance to explore things with him.

Actually that’s not what sucks most. What sucks most is that someone would take the time to put in all that work, would actually bother asking you out on a date, and then remind you that your feelings are actually meaningless to them when they decide to take an easy out and move on with their lives while you’re left wondering what you might have done wrong.

Well I guess all that rejection eventually got to me, because today I finally cried all the tears that I refused to spill these last months. 

I vented to a best friend, and while it felt good to get stuff off my chest and I appreciated her listening, I knew she wasn’t going to say anything that made me feel better. I mean she met her fiancé in college. She’s getting married this year at 26. I don’t expect her to get what it feels like to be in my position. She said the same things I’d probably say to a friend going through the same thing, like how you have to love yourself before someone else can love you which I agree with but there are also plenty of people out there who don’t love themselves who still find people to love them.

Sometimes I feel like dating these days is a minefield. I’ve gotten unmatched just for saying something as innocuous as, “How’s your day going?” Clearly there was obviously something else going on with that person—maybe they just got out of a relationship and realized they weren’t ready for dating, maybe they started talked to someone else they were more interested in, maybe they got kidnapped by Bane—but where do I go to meet the people who I can just have a normal conversation with, meet up with for a cup of coffee, and see again if it goes well? Why can’t dating just be that simple?

If I’m being honest, it’s hard when things like this happen. Once or twice I can handle it, but when it happens again and again, my confidence does take a knock. I start to question whether I’m worthy of being loved, whether there’s something profoundly wrong with me, whether I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life. 

I don’t want to dwell in these feelings longer than I have to. I’m still bummed but I’m not going to stay in bed all day and cry into my ice cream (even though I’m very tempted by the idea). I’m going to make my bed, make myself some coffee, and focus on what I can do from here to get closer to the place I want to be in my life. 

Even though it’ll be hard and my heart doesn’t feel in it right now, I’m going to sit down and apply to more jobs, I’m going to spend a few hours revising my novel, I’m going to keep swiping on my dating apps so I can meet my new Next Guy and hopefully one of those Next Guys will turn out to be The Guy.

I have to admit, writing all my feelings out in this post did help me feel better. Well, I’ve stopped crying anyway so that’s a start. Here’s hoping for better days ahead!

April Reflections

Is it just me or is this year flying by?

I know I say this in pretty much every reflection post, but boy did a lot happen this month! For starters, I got vaccinated! In fact, all my friends and family got fully vaccinated in April which was super exciting. I felt like I could breathe a huge sigh of relief once my parents got their shots. I’ll be going to visit my family next weekend, and it’s the first time we’ll be able to gather without the stress of catching Covid lingering over us.

After I got the first shot, I only had some arm pain the next day, but after my second shot I had some body aches and a headache which wasn’t very fun because two days later…

I had to move! So that was my other big thing of the month. I spent yesterday moving into my brand new apartment with…wait for it…actual counter space! I wanted to cry happy tears when I unpacked all my kitchen stuff and I had space to store everything on the counters. No more taking apart my blender every time I’m done using it and stowing it away on a night stand that I’ve been using as an impromptu counter! Can you tell I’m excited? It’s especially great, because I’ve gotten more into cooking this year. I can’t wait to start whipping up new recipes in my beautiful new kitchen.

This month, I also finished my first complete egg freezing cycle. I won’t go into too much detail about it in this post, because I went into quite a lot of detail in my last post. You can read more about that here.

And my final big update for the month is that I spent a few weeks putting the final touches on my novel rewrite and sent it off to my AMM mentor for her feedback! She said she expects to send her edit letter (which is basically just a document containing all her critiques) the first week of May, so I expect I’ll be receiving that any day now. I have to be honest, even though all I wanted while I was working on my rewrite was to be done writing so I could take a long break, all I want to do now is start writing again. I definitely need a few days off every now and then, but more than that and I just find myself itching to make some sort of progress. I’m excited to see what my mentor’s got to say about my my rewrite since I changed about 80% of it since she last read it. There’s a part of me that’s worried she’s going to absolutely hate it, but my writing group has read almost half of my rewrite so far and they’ve been pretty enthusiastic about the changes I’ve made so far so I’m choosing to be optimistic.

And that was April! It was definitely a lot, and at times I wasn’t even sure how I was going to be able to handle everything, but luckily I did and now a new month is here.

So what do I have in store for May, you might be wondering?

Well, I’d planned on making the leap back into dating last month, but one week into April and I realized I was way too busy. I have a lot less big things happening now, so I can finally focus on making some time for romance. I’m definitely looking forward to that, especially now that the weather is so lovely and the flowers are blooming in the city.

I also may do another egg freezing cycle, but if I don’t, I’d like to focus on my health again. You’re not really supposed to exercise while you’re freezing your eggs, so it feels like it’s been forever since I worked out. I can’t wait to get moving again and cook up some healthy meals in my new kitchen.

I’ll also be getting more serious about my job search. I did apply to a few jobs in April, but now that I have a lot more free time, I’m going to make that a priority this month. I still have 2 1/2 months until my contract at my current job ends, so I do have some time, but I’d feel better if I secured something sooner than later.

And finally, I’d like to try and wrap up the edits on my novel. That’ll of course depend on how extensive my mentor’s feedback is. If it’s minor stuff, I can probably make all the changes in the next month or two. If it involves major changes, it’ll obviously take a lot longer. I’ll have a better idea after reading her edit letter, but either way, I’m determined to finish my novel before the end of the summer and start looking for an agent!

Well I should probably get to unpacking those boxes I stuffed in my closet yesterday (shh don’t tell). I hope everyone had a wonderful month!

Oh Baby

I’ve spoken openly about my fertility issues on this blog before and how I made the decision to freeze my eggs this year at 29. I always planned on writing a post about my experience, and even though I had my first consultation with my clinic back in September of 2020, I didn’t actually do a completely cycle until this month. Now that I’ve gone through the whole process from start to finish, I’m ready to share my experience with egg freezing.

I first asked my OBGYN to run some tests last year after stopping in for a routine checkup. My sister, who’s nine years older than me, started trying for children in her early 30s and had some issues, so I decided to get checked too just in case. That turned out to be a really good decision, because I learned I had a condition called Diminished Ovarian Reserve or DOR, which means I have a lot less eggs than other women my age.

After my consultation with the fertility clinic, we decided to wait a few months while I went off birth control to see if it was suppressing my fertility in any way. When I got tested three months later, my levels were in a better place but still quite low for my age category.

I did my first egg freezing cycle in February of this year. The process involved stopping into my clinic’s office about every other day, first thing in the morning, to get my bloodwork done and to do a transvaginal ultrasound. I will admit, I was very intimidated by the wand they used in the ultrasounds but it’s only uncomfortable for a few seconds and it wasn’t painful at all. While they do these ultrasounds, you’ll be able to watch on the screen as they count how many follicles you have. Each mature follicle can contain one egg, and I believe that a woman of my age without any fertility issues can expect to have somewhere around 20 follicles. The number of follicles resets every month when you get your period. In December when I went in for a checkup, I had 12. Another month, I had five.

After your checkup, you’ll get a phone from a nurse a few hours later telling you which medications to give yourself each night until your checkup. These medications come in the form of injections that you’ll be administering yourself. I was super intimidated in the beginning, but I’ve given myself so many shots at this point that I barely even hesitate before sticking a needle into my belly anymore. The needles are small enough that it’s not very painful, but they are still shots so they’re not exactly pleasant. Because of my DOR diagnosis, I had to give myself a much higher quantity of medication. Each day, I did about 4-5 injections. The first cycle I was told to do them all at night, but the second cycle I did two in the morning and two at night. There will be some prep involved for some of the medication. You might have to mix some powders and draw out medicine with a syringe, but you’ll get the hang of it. Most clinics have you do a class where you learn how to do the injections, but due to Covid I just watched some instructional videos. Eventually it’ll get to a point that it just becomes part of your routine and something to check off your list for the day.

At each checkup appointment, your doctor will monitor the growth of your follicles. Once the biggest follicles get to about 18mm, you’ll probably be ready for retrieval. That night, you’ll take a final trigger shot at an exact time the doctor gives you and then your egg retrieval will be scheduled for exactly 36 hours later.

I was definitely nervous about my retrieval, but now that I’m on the other side I have a confession: I kind of…enjoyed it. I mean, you show up in the morning, they give you some anesthesia to make you sleepy and then you wake up and it’s over! Then you get to spend the rest of the day lying in bed, watching TV and having a sick day. My sister and brother-in-law came to look after me, but I honestly would have been fine on my own. I didn’t have much pain and I didn’t even take any pain meds. That’s one upside of having less follicles. If you have closer to 20 follicles, you can probably expect more cramping and bloating, similar to bad period cramps.

When I did my cycle in February, I never made it to the retrieval because I wasn’t having a good enough response to the meds and my follicles weren’t growing as needed. My numbers this month were better compared to my last cycle.

When I triggered this time, I had six follicles. The sizes were 18, 18, 18, 11, 11, and 8. Realistically, I knew that the smaller follicles likely wouldn’t yield anything. I was right, and I learned the doctors had retrieved three eggs. Not every egg will mature and make it to the freezing stage, but I was lucky that all three of my eggs did!

Obviously it’s a pretty small number of eggs for someone my age, but since I’m only 29 the quality of the eggs will be good which still makes them pretty valuable. My doctor reassured me before the procedure by telling me that usually when people use egg donors, they get healthy eggs from people my age and usually receive them in batches of 6-8 eggs which gives them a good chance of having at least one child. Many women will only have to do one egg freezing cycle, but I’ll probably do at least one more to give myself better odds.

If you’re thinking about freezing your eggs, there’s still one big consideration: the cost. Egg freezing was NOT cheap, and that was still true even after I chose a clinic that charges considerably less than the average and I qualified for discounts on medicines due to my DOR diagnosis. If you’re paying completely out of pocket in the US, you can probably expect to pay around $7-10k.

Overall, egg freezing turned out to be a less intimidating process than I expected. At times it was hard to go through it all alone (well not entirely alone because I had the support of my amazing friends and family) without a spouse or a partner, but I just thought about how much of a badass I was for giving myself four shots a day and barely flinching and being independent and brave enough to make a proactive choice for my future.

Speaking of the future, I still don’t know what mine holds. Maybe I’ll have a baby naturally, maybe I’ll decide to go a different route like use an egg donor or adopting. Maybe I’ll decide not to have children at all. Regardless, I feel like I can breathe a little easier knowing I have some kind of insurance in the bank, so to speak. I’ve always known that I wanted to be a mother one day, so I’m confident this was the right choice for me. Finding out I had fertility issues was rough, but I was incredibly lucky that I was diagnosed while I was young enough that I still had some options available to me.

March Reflections

Another month is already here! It’s hard to believe how quickly this year is flying by.

March was an exciting month for two reasons. The first was that, after eight weeks of intensive writing, I finally finished my rewrite of my novel! I have to admit, writing was HARD in March. I thought that I’d get more motivated as I got closer to the end, but I just ended up getting more tired with each passing week. By the time I made it to the final week, I was just desperate to wrap things up.

Luckily I had my AMM community to keep me motivated. Seeing my fellow mentees make progress on their novels made me want to work on my novel, too. I honestly don’t know if I could have stayed as disciplined without the program and my writing group to keep me accountable. This is why it’s super important to have a support system as a writer.

My novel’s definitely not in perfect shape yet, but I am SO happy with how it’s turned out so far. I feel confident that I’ve addressed a lot of the issues my writing group pointed out in my previous draft. They’ve read about 10 out of 40ish chapters and they all agreed that it was a great rewrite and I was definitely moving in the right direction. Hearing that gave me a much-needed morale boost.

So what happens now? I’ll spend another two weeks cleaning up some chapters and then I’ll send it to my AMM mentor to read. If she doesn’t have any major feedback, I’ll spend another few weeks polishing up the prose and then send the whole draft to two additional beta readers, along with my writing group. At that point, if everyone gives me the thumbs up, I’ll start the process of querying my novel and trying to find a literary agent for it. It’s hard to believe that I rang in this year fretting about whether I was a strong enough writer to implement my writing group’s feedback, and now I’m here less than three months later with a strong new draft! Go, me!

The second reason March was exciting was that I signed a lease on a new apartment! It was love at first sight when I saw my new place, and not just because they were offering four months of free rent as a Covid concession and my new building has some amazing amenities like an indoor tennis court and gardening room (okay, those things were a pretty big part of it too). The funny part is the things I’m most excited for are features I’m sure most people would find pretty boring: actual counter space in my kitchen, a bathtub, a washer/dryer IN the unit (my fellow New Yorkers will understand what a big deal this is).

Everything happened so fast with the apartment. Within a week, I’d seen the listing, viewed the apartment in person, and signed my lease. I’m making the big move on April 30th, and I can’t wait!

March was very productive, but it was also pretty laidback. April, on the other hand, is going to be a different story. This month I’ll be:

-Getting back into dating after a four month break

-Doing another egg freezing cycle

-Working with my AMM mentor on revisions

-Doing an orientation for a new volunteer opportunity

-Job searching because my current contract will be up in a few months

-Moving

I should also be getting my Covid vaccine this month! My friends and family have all gotten at least one dose by now, so I’m the holdout. But I’ll finally be eligible in two days! If all goes well, I’ll have my first shot by the end of this week!

Now that I’m not writing 2000 words a day of my novel, hopefully I’ll have more writing stamina to post more regularly on this blog. I’ve missed you guys!

I hope everyone else had a great month. Here’s to another great month ahead!

February Reflections

February was one of those months that seemed to last forever but also pass by in a flash. I wasn’t the most productive in all the areas of my life, but I was very productive in a few important parts of my life. Here are the stats:

Number of days I meditated: 16/28

Days of the Chloe Ting 2 Week Shred Challenge completed: 11/14

Number of days I journaled/practiced gratitude: 23/28

Chapters I revised for my novel: 15/41

Books I read: 0

Times I ordered delivery/ate a meal that could be microwaved: 1 (I was tempted by a packet of Top Ramen while visiting my parents’ house. I regret nothing!)

So as you can see, not quite as productive as last month overall, but a great month for my writing. I set a very ambitious 8-week schedule to revise (actually rewrite 80%) of my novel. That means writing about 2,000 words every weekday. It’s doable, but definitely not easy. I’m proud of myself for making it to the end of week 3 in February without skipping a single day!

What makes it an even greater accomplishment is that I was doing it all while also starting my egg freezing cycle. That meant 9 days of giving myself 3 to 4 injections a night, going to the doctor every other day for blood draws and ultrasounds, and navigating all the hormonal and emotional challenges of trying to freeze your eggs as a single 29 yo woman with fertility issues. I’d planned to write a whole post about the process, but my cycle unfortunately got canceled after the 9th day because I was responding poorly to the medicines and not getting the results my doctor wanted. That was a huge blow (jabbing yourself 25 times in the stomach and then finding out it was all for nothing is never fun) but people have different results on different cycles, so I’m hoping for better results next time. I’ll be sure to share a detailed post of the entire experience when it’s all done.

Starting my egg freezing cycle meant I wasn’t allowed to do some things like exercising, hence why I exercised way less this month. It’s also why I meditated a lot less. The funny thing about my meditation practice is that I’m great at doing it when things are going well in my life, but as soon as the going gets tough I just can’t get myself to sit down and focus, even though that’s when I’d benefit the most from it. That’s something I want to get better at going forward.

I did start a new stoic adventure in February, but I didn’t post about it yet because it’s still an ongoing process. It wasn’t the most exciting adventure, but it did involve me getting over a personal fear in my life. I can’t wait to share that one with you all soon!

In the meanwhile, here’s an update from a previous stoic adventure:

Stoic Adventure #2 Update: Applying for a Writing Mentorship:

If you haven’t seen my update already, I got in! I couldn’t believe it when I saw my name on that list. The whole day was an absolute whirlwind. My normally dormant Twitter notifications blew up with congratulations from friends and other people involved with the program. I also got added to a Slack channel with all the other participants who were chosen and I had a great time getting to know them. We had a virtual happy hour, and everyone was so great and fun to chat with. I also connected with another one of the mentees whose novel intrigued me. We decided to become critique partners and set up a way to share our work with each other for feedback.

I also exchanged a few emails with my mentor who is wonderful and has her debut novel coming out next year! She’s currently busy with her own revisions so we planned to work together starting in April, which worked out great for me because I told her I wanted to do my own heavy revisions based on the feedback from my writing group before we started working together. In the meanwhile, she sent me a fascinating video about raising stakes in your writing that helped me add a lot of extra tension that strengthened my revisions.

The best part of the whole experience was all the extra motivation it gave me to throw myself into my writing. Chatting with my mentor and seeing the other mentees share their own revision plans spurred me into setting up an intense two month revision schedule. I’ve got one month down, and I’m excited to wrap up my current revisions by the end of March. I submitted the first few chapters of my new draft to my writing group, and I was thrilled when they told me they had no feedback because it was a strong revision and they loved the new direction of my opening section.

In March, I plan on continuing with my revisions and enjoying my last month of my self-imposed break from dating. I haven’t gone on a date since December, and I have to say…it’s been pretty great. I won’t pretend I’m not excited to get back into the swing of things next month though. Combined with the warmer weather and the speedy vaccine rollout happening here in NYC, I’m thinking spring in the city is going to be a fun time.

I’ll also most likely be starting my new egg freezing cycle (possibly as early as next week), so I want to take things easy and practice some self-care while doing all that.

Overall, February was a great month, and I can’t wait to see what March brings!

January Reflections

Wow, how is it already a new month??

January was an exciting month here in the U.S. (a little too exciting at times in the political sphere but that’s a whole other blog post). To me, January felt like a month of hope, growth, and positive change. I didn’t do everything I set out to perfectly, but I still moved in the right direction. Here are some stats:

Number of days I meditated: 27/31

Yoga workouts completed: 23/30

Number of days I journaled/practiced gratitude: 19/31

Hours spent writing my novel: 20/20

Books read: 4

Times I ordered delivery/ate a meal that could be microwaved: 0

The most important lesson I learned this month is that perfection really is the enemy of progress. In the past, if I was on a streak and missed a day, I’d just write off the whole rest of the month. For the first 15 days of my yoga challenge, I didn’t miss a single day. When I did end up missing a few days, I wasn’t too hard on myself, and that made it much easier to come back to it. Instead of trying to be perfect, a better goal is to just do the best you can. Sure 100% is amazing, but 70, 80, 90% is still amazing! In fact, pretty much anything other than 0 is great.

Out of all my goals, I’m most proud of how much healthier I’ve been eating. Ordering food is so easy and tempting when you live in a big city, but I started learning how to cook (better late than never!) and I’ve really enjoyed taking the time to prepare my own meals, looking up new recipes to make, and eating foods that are both good for me and actually taste good. Since I started cooking, I honestly haven’t felt as much of a temptation to order out. (To illustrate how big of an accomplishment this is for me, when I told my friends I was going to try not eating fast food for a whole year, they actually laughed out loud).

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that I started doing stoic adventures this year. I’d originally planned on doing one each week, but honestly I’ve kind of struggled to come up with ideas, especially with the pandemic going on, limiting how much I can do outside of my apartment. I’m still going to aim to do a few each month though. Here are some updates on my stoic adventures so far:

Stoic Adventure #1 Update: 30-Day Yoga Challenge:

I definitely hit the ground running with this one. For the first 15 days, I didn’t skip a single workout, even on days I really wanted to. A big part of my motivation had to do with using the WOOP technique. Tracking my progress after each workout in my WOOP app was so satisfying.

I’ve never been the most active person. I’m about as flexible as C-3PO, and I’ve only gone to a handful of yoga classes in my life. It goes without saying the first few weeks weren’t the easiest. Downward dog, which is apparently supposed to be a relaxing pose (ha!), was the bane of my existence. Every part of me ached after each workout. But about halfway through I felt myself get a little stronger. I wasn’t as sore as I was in the first few days, and I was sure I’d hit a turning point. It was all going to be uphill from here! Wrong. My arms and shoulders ached, I’m pretty sure I strained a muscle in my chest, and I was scared I was going to do some permanent damage to my wrists.

Since I hadn’t had any rest days yet, I decided to take time off to let my body recover. During this time, I researched the proper technique for yoga poses and found ways to take the strain off my wrists and shoulders. After my break, I felt much better. I was a little concerned that I’d be back at square one, but surprisingly I made even more progress than I had up until that point. I found myself actually enjoying downward dog and, for the first time, I could bend down and reach all the way to my toes!

I want to continue doing yoga and improving my flexibility, though I’d like to mix it up with some cardio and strength training going forward. Yoga with Adrienne is such a great resource for those looking to get into yoga, and Adrienne has such a calming presence. The one thing I would do differently going forward is take more regular rest days. Even once or twice a week would have allowed me enough recovery time to avoid taking as long of a break as I did, and rest days are important for avoiding injury. Overall, I completed 23/30 days. Not perfect, but still pretty good!

Stoic Adventure #2 Update: Applying for a Writing Mentorship:

Unfortunately, I don’t have an update on this one yet, because the results haven’t been announced yet. I’ll know this Wednesday!

I was still determined to make progress on my writing, regardless of the outcome, so I set myself a goal of writing 20 hours in January. I took a break the first half of the month after completing my last revision, but I ended up writing about two hours a day when I got back into the swing of things. Getting into the program would be amazing, but even if I don’t, I’m in a great place with my writing.

I’ll have more updates for you on this one later this week!

So that’s January all wrapped up. I’ll be carrying a lot of the same goals into the next month. Some I’ll be adjusting, and some I’ll use the lessons from this month to improve my progress in February. It’s importantly to continually take stock of and adjust your goals as things change. For example, one of my resolutions was to read 100 books this year. If I were to set my mind to it, I’m sure I could do it, but I also realized that trying to read that much was taking away too much time from my writing, which is a bigger priority to me in 2021. I’ve set my new goal to 50 books. That’s still a lot of books, but it’s a much more reasonable goal given what I want to accomplish this year.

Now, on to February!

Be a Target, Not a Victim

I had an unexpected moment of weakness today. I was going about my day, watching YouTube videos about getting rust stains off stainless steel pans (adulthood is so exciting), when I was struck with this sudden urge to FB stalk my ex. In the two months since things ended between us, I haven’t once been tempted to poke around his social media, but I just felt this random longing to see what was going on in his life. Luckily, he’s never been the most active person online, so there wasn’t anything new for me to obsess over or pick apart, but just seeing him again stirred a distant sadness inside me.

I had been doing so well with not thinking about him. There had been weeks where I was so occupied with other stuff in my life that he barely registered in my mind. But somehow, I got so over my hurt and sadness, that I actually circled back to only remembering the good times with him and then missing him again. Thanks for nothing, brain!

When I saw his pictures today, I admit I got little misty-eyed. I started to feel sorry for myself, and then I had a realization that I’ve kind of known all along. I like feeling sorry for myself.

It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s something I have to acknowledge and accept. Letting myself wallow in all the bad things that happen to me is a guilty pleasure, almost an addiction. On my first date with my ex, I remember telling him about the person I dated before him even though that’s a big no-no. I told him about how the way he ended things hurt me and how I didn’t want to go through that again. I justified my first date faux pas by looking at it as a way of protecting myself.

Then I kept bringing him up even after the first date. I would tell him how the other guy was never very affectionate or how he would be cold when I tried to have important talks with him, deliberately leaving out any mistakes I made in these situations. I will admit, I wanted him to feel bad for me, I wanted him to acknowledge the hurt even though he wasn’t the one who caused it. I wanted to believe I wasn’t responsible for any of the things that happened to me, that I was just a victim of circumstances.

But I wasn’t a victim at all. I’d had plenty of autonomy the whole time. I could have chosen to walk away from the situation sooner rather than continue to invest my time and emotions and hope things would change. I could have dated other people. I could have told him exactly what I wanted from the get-go and asked him what he wanted to make sure we were on the same page.

In his book about modern stoicism, William B. Irvine talks about the concept of being a target vs a victim. Everyone will experience bad circumstances outside of their control at some point in their lives. At that point, they can choose to be a victim and wallow, asking themself “why me?” They can continue to feel powerless and move through life believing their happiness is out of control. OR they can be a target, and accept that this thing happened to them and realize that while they don’t have power over the circumstance, they have power over their thoughts and actions. Targets tend to bounce back from hardships faster, because they know they can play an active role in shaping their happiness.

In my life, the area where I tend to wallow the most is dating. It’s easier to feel sorry for myself when I can’t find someone to connect with rather than take responsibility. Obviously I can’t control anyone’s feelings towards me, but I can control my thoughts and actions. I can put myself out there more, I can work up the courage to strike up a conversation with a cute guy or join activities where I’m more likely to meet people. I can choose to love myself and accept that not everyone is going to be into me and their opinions shouldn’t dictate my self-worth. Putting the burden of responsibility back on myself means I only have myself to blame, which is a scary thing, but it also means I have all the power.

When you’ve spent as much time throwing pity parties for yourself as I have, it can be a challenge to make this shift in your mind. I still struggle with it, like I did today, but I also catch myself a lot faster. Instead of breaking out into a full on ugly cry into my Ben & Jerry’s, I just made myself lunch, put on some good TV, and moved on. Because here’s the thing about feeling sorry for yourself: It’s completely pointless.

It accomplishes nothing and only makes you feel worse about your situation. So the next time you feel inclined to feel sorry for yourself, do literally anything else instead. Dance around to your favorite music, treat yourself to something sweet, or throw on that outfit that makes you feel like an absolute goddess. And remind yourself: you’re the only person who gets to control your happiness. Don’t give that power to anyone else.

Stoic Adventure #2: Applying for a Writing Mentorship

Hello from NYC! After a month of lounging around my parents’ house in NJ, getting spoiled with three home-cooked meals a day, taking as many relaxing baths as possible, and getting a much-needed break from the sweet chaos that is New York City, I’m finally back in my apartment!

I’m happy to report Stoic Adventure #1 is going great. I officially hit the halfway mark yesterday, and so far I haven’t missed a single day. New Year motivation really is a magical thing, because there were definitely some days old me would have skipped, like yesterday when I spent the whole day binging Bling Empire with my sister and brother-in-law. Instead of ignoring that little message from Netflix that’s basically saying, “Uh are you okay? You’re watching A LOT of TV. Maybe you should go outside or something…” and forging ahead to the next episode, I asked if we could take a break so I could work on my practice. I’m still by no means an expert yogi, but I can feel my body getting stronger and I’m just feeling more zen overall. I’ll be writing a more in-depth post about the experience at the end of the challenge.

Which brings us to my next adventure of the year: entering Author Mentor Match. For those who aren’t familiar, this is a program that pairs inexperienced writers with writers who already have agents or have been published/are soon to be published. You have to have a completed manuscript to enter, because the whole point of the program is to work with your mentor to get your manuscript ready for the querying stage, which is when aspiring writers try to nab an agent.

It’s quite a competitive program, with over 1500 applications this year. You’re only allowed to submit to four mentors, and I’ve seen mentors tweeting about how they’ve each gotten about 200 submissions. That means my chance of getting selected is roughly 0.5%.

There are lots of these sorts of online publishing contests out there, and you would think as someone who’s dreamed of being a published author since she was 12, I’d take full advantage of these opportunities. Ha! That would be entirely too reasonable. A reasonable person would think to themselves:

“What’s the worst that could happen? So maybe I won’t win, but I’ve got nothing to lose. If I do win, it’ll be a great experience, so I might as well try.”

Here’s what I think to myself:

“What if they think my writing is terrible? What if I find out I’ll never be an author? What if I lose? That’ll be the worst thing ever.” *insert heavy sweating and hyperventilating*

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but rejection seriously freaks me out. I will do everything in my power to avoid it…which is why I knew applying to this mentorship would make for the perfect Stoic adventure.

I was fortunate to receive a lot of support from friends when I told them I was thinking about entering. My writing group helped bring my submission materials up to par and another friend copyedited my application for me. Usually I don’t tell other people when applying to stuff like this, mainly because the idea of having to tell them I didn’t get in is not very fun, but I was heartened by how much effort everyone put in to help me out.

The day I submitted, I looked over all my materials about five times before hitting submit. It was terrifying, but also exhilarating. Once it was out of my hands, I felt a little calmer knowing I’d done everything I could. Whether or not I was chosen, I was proud of myself for putting my work out there and taking advantage of a good opportunity. I already felt a little braver…

That was, until I got an email in my inbox a little over 24 hours later. It was from the program, letting me know that at least one of the mentors had enjoyed the first 50 pages of my manuscript enough to want to read the whole thing. They asked if I could send my full manuscript for their consideration. Abuzz with nervous and excited energy, I sent my manuscript their way.

I’ll know whether or not I made it into the program a few weeks from now, on February 3rd. Even though it was an encouraging sign that someone wanted to read more, I know based on how many people applied, the odds still aren’t in my favor. Still, I already feel like I got some great things just out of the experience of applying. I remembered what a supporting group of friends and writing community I have in my life, and I also learned I could be brave and that putting my writing out there isn’t the scary thing I’d made it out to be.

While I wait to hear back about the results, I’m not going to put my writing on pause. I received a lot of helpful feedback from my writing group, who read my manuscript over the holidays. I’m going to be delving straight into my revisions, so that even if I don’t make it into the program, I’ll still have made some progress and I’ll be in a good place with my writing. And then after that, who knows? The funny thing is, now that I’ve entered one contest, I want to enter ALL the contests. Might as well…what have I got to lose?

Stoic Adventure #1: 30-Day Yoga Challenge

I knew going into the new year that I didn’t want to just set a bunch of vague resolutions like I did in years past. Life is unpredictable (as 2020 was so keen to teach us). I’ve learned that despite your best intentions, there will always be circumstances out of your control, circumstances that will hinder and even erase progress you’ve made towards your goals. I’ve also learned that goals can change. I don’t want all the same things I wanted last year, because I’m not the same person I was then.

As readers of this blog will know, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about happiness and what it truly means to be happy. Science has shown that wealth, fame, beauty, and all the other things we as a society mistakenly chase, don’t necessarily make us happier. It’s ultimately our attitudes and how grateful we are for our circumstances that make a real difference. This is a concept many of us haven’t quite grasped. That’s why we’re so moved when we see a video of a school janitor bursting into happy tears when a group of students sings happy birthday to him or when we read about a guard at Disney World who asks little girls dressed up as princesses for their autographs. On the flip side, we’re shocked when celebrities who seem to have it all take their own lives. These stories don’t fit our idea of who’s supposed to be happy and who’s not.

I’ve been thinking about life lately and what it means to be a living, breathing person who occupies our little planet. We’re alive for a certain number of years and then one day we’re gone. That’s just a fact, but what are you supposed to do with that time here? If being wealthy and famous and having a six-pack doesn’t matter when you’re on your deathbed, what should you aspire to?

It all sounds a little nihilistic and there have been days where I’ve felt a little morbid thinking about it, but the strange thing is, I’ve also found a lot of inspiration in the idea that life is fleeting. I’ve started to think of my life as a story or a canvas. Books end, paintings are finished, but it’s up to the artist to fill it up with as much excitement and beauty and adventure and twists as possible. When you look it at that way, there are no good things and bad things. There are only experiences and, while I haven’t quite figured out the meaning of life just yet (sorry), I have decided that for me a meaningful life means getting to experience as much of it as possible.

I want to do things that scare and exhilarate me. I want to flirt with handsome strangers and travel to amazing places and learn new skills and meet interesting people. I want to fail and learn from my failures and do things I didn’t think I was capable of doing. I want to have adventures both big and small, and I want to collect good memories the way other people collect rare coins or stamps.

In one of his books, modern Stoic William Irvine talks about the concept of “Stoic adventures.” This means regularly subjecting yourself to trials where there’s a high chance of failure or rejection. Going on these Stoic adventures teaches you to be more comfortable with failures, and that there are elements of every experience that are in and out of your control.

I loved this idea. I’m a big believer in the importance of failing, but being the hypocrite I am, I also do everything I can to reduce my odds of failing. Even if that means not taking a chance in the first place.

I don’t want to live that way anymore. That’s why this year I’m going to spend every week taking on a new Stoic adventure. Some will be small things and some will be bigger things, but they’ll all be things that are hard or scary or I have a chance of failing, but will improve my life in some way. I’ll be posting about each adventure on this blog to keep myself accountable.

The first adventure of the year is doing Yoga with Adriene’s 30-day yoga challenge. This might not sound very scary but if you knew how bad I was at working out regularly, you’d understand that this is no easy feat for me. I don’t think I’ve ever worked out for 30 days in a row in my entire life. Having said that, I’m excited to share I’ve already made it to day 9 with no days skipped so far! I’ll be posting a final update once I make it to the end of the challenge.

I hope you’ll join me as I embark on this adventure (or 52 adventures). I’m a little nervous, but mostly I’m just excited. It won’t be easy, but if I can pull this off, I know it’ll be a year to remember.