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!

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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!

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!

20 Lessons I Learned in 2020

How does one possibly sum up the year that was 2020? I can honestly say this was the most difficult, emotional, chaotic year ever, and it was also the year I learned some of the most important lessons of my life. So without further ado…

On Life:

  • Your life isn’t going to begin when you accomplish x or obtain y. Life started the day you were born, and it’s happening right now! It’s also never going to look exactly how you imagined. Don’t let the arbitrary deadlines we as a society set for ourselves freak you out. Being a single woman in your 30s doesn’t mean you’re an old maid. You still have so much life ahead of you, so go out and dance and kiss strangers in the rain and spend all your money on avocado toast and all that other stuff that’s supposedly reserved for younger folks.
  • Fail early and often. Don’t let a fear of failure stop you from trying at all, because it’s through failing that we get to a better place. As an aspiring writer, I know better than anyone how easy it is to procrastinate. I put off writing a first draft because I worry it will be terrible, but so what? It’s going to be terrible whether I write it today or one year from now. If I write it today, I’ll have an extra year to polish it and work on my craft and turn that terrible first draft into something amazing.
  • Don’t let other people dictate your life. Friends and family can offer helpful advice, but at the end of the day it’s about doing what’s right for you, not them. You’re the one who’s going to have to live with the decisions you make, so make sure they’re the right ones for you.
  • Letting go of where you are now is scary, but it’s the only way to get to a better place. Leaving a job I didn’t enjoy was the only way I could get hired at a company I love. Leaving behind a bad dating situation is the only way to make space in my life for a much healthier, loving relationship.
  • Life is so much more fun when you let go of expectations. That doesn’t mean not having standards for yourself or other people. That simply means going into situations without having preconceived notions of what it’s supposed to look like. Let life surprise you. Being pleasantly surprised is a lot more enjoyable than being constantly disappointed.

On Dating:

  • Judge someone by what they do and not what they say. I spent plenty of time with sweet-talkers, who’d call me baby and hon, tell me I was beautiful, tell me how much they missed me, and then one day, dump me like a bag of hot potatoes. If someone isn’t putting in real effort—that means asking you out on dates, making time for you in their schedule, going out of their way to show you they care—they’re not worth your time.
  • It’s not going to work out with most of the people you date, and that’s okay. The odds are that the majority of first dates you go on aren’t going to lead to relationships, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. Pick an activity you’ve always wanted to do, eat out at a restaurant you’ve been dying to try, have fun getting dolled up, practice your flirting skills, enjoy learning about someone else’s life, and if all else fails, think of the great story it’ll make one day.
  • If someone really likes you, you won’t ever wonder if they do. And here’s a bonus lesson: listen to your gut. Deep down, we often know the truth, but we’ll go through a bunch of mental gymnastics to convince ourselves otherwise. You can ignore it for as long as you like, but sooner or later reality’s going to catch up to you, and the longer you wait, the harder it’s going to hit you.
  • Have your own life. You shouldn’t be sitting around hoping your crush will ask to see you. For starters, this just sets you up for disappointment if they don’t. It also just makes you not a very interesting person. Think about it this way: would you want to date the person who spent the last week watching Netflix and waiting for you to call or the person who went to the museum, learned how to cook duck à l’orange, dominated their friends at board game night, and took a trapeze class?
  • Have standards, and communicate them often. A relationship only works if both people are getting what they need out of it. When you really like someone, all you want to do is make them happy, and that makes you willing to sacrifice your standards. Don’t. Ever. Do. This. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Sure, it might scare off some guys, but you don’t want those kind of guys in your life in the first place. The ones who stick around will be the ones who respect you and will connect with you on a much deeper level. Believe it or not, having standards actually makes you more desirable, so if you don’t have some, get some!

On Happiness:

  • Have a life philosophy. That means knowing how you’re going to deal with setbacks, what’s going to make you happy, and how you’re going to live your life. Since I learned about Stoicism this year, it’s become my go-to philosophy, and I no longer feel like I’m just wandering aimlessly through my life.
  • Some of the most powerful tools for happiness are 100% free. Since I started regularly meditating and journaling this year, my stress levels have dropped considerably. I’ve gotten much better at not ruminating on negative thoughts, and I’m learning to be more present in each moment which leads me to my next point…
  • Forget the past and future, the present is where it’s at. You have no control over the past because it isn’t actually real, all you have are memories of it (mind-blowing, I know!). The future obviously hasn’t happened yet but the present…oh, the present is a beautiful place. You have the power to shape it exactly how you want, to make it as enjoyable or as horrible as you’d like. Right now I’m at home visiting my parents. I could spend my time moping in bed thinking about all the things that went wrong this year or I could spend it watching a good movie with my dad, cooking with my mom, laughing and having fun. The present is amazing, so enjoy it, appreciate it, and stop trying to live somewhere else.
  • The quality of our social connections is the #1 thing that determines our happiness. Money, status, flashy cars…all that stuff means nothing if you don’t have good people in your life. Go out there and meet people who are interested in the same stuff as you, strengthen your relationships with the friends and family you already have, and prioritize experiences with the people you love over material goods.
  • Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about putting yourself first. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s a priority. Ever hear the phrase, “You can’t pour from an empty cup?” Being our best possible selves also means we can show up for the people in our lives in the best possible way. So go ahead and draw yourself a bubble bath, pour yourself some wine, and get your hygge on.
  • Be grateful. It’s human nature to focus on the negative over the positive (those pesky evolutionary traits), but I’m willing to bet there’s a lot in your life worth appreciating. Nobody loves you? Your friends and family beg to differ. You’ve accomplished nothing in your life? Younger you disagrees! Practice gratitude as often as you can, even for the things you take for granted, like the home you live in, the food you eat, the fresh air you get to breathe. It’ll change your whole perspective.
  • Happiness is not something you need to chase. I can’t speak for those with depression or other extenuating circumstances, but for a lot of us, we already have everything we need at our disposal. Psychology shows that most of the tools for happiness are pretty simple: meditation, gratitude, exercise, sleep, and social connections to name a few.

On Self-Worth:

  • Rejection is rarely personal and is by no means a reflection of who you are as a person. Getting passed over for a job doesn’t mean you’re not good at what you do, getting dumped doesn’t mean you’re not desirable. You never know what experiences and ideas have shaped another person’s perspective of you and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you can brush it off and find people who will appreciate what you have to offer.
  • Be kind to yourself. I can guarantee you will make mistakes and bad decisions. You’ll do things you’ll still regret years down the road. You’re not the only one. You can’t judge yourself on the mistakes you made in the past with the knowledge and experience you have in the present. Besides, those mistakes are the very things that helped you grow and become a better person.

And finally:

  • It’s never too late to build the life you want. It doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 60, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re out of time. Maybe you’re older than you would have liked to be when making a change, but you’re younger than you will be five years from now and that version of you is going to think you’re a dummy if you don’t take action. And guess what! You don’t have to wait for a new year to start over. You can start over as many times as you like—every month, every day, every hour, even right now.

My Tiny Kitchen

If you’ve never gone apartment hunting in New York City before, lucky you.

Never in my life did I think I’d be so thankful for basic features like windows and closets, which are in short supply in many NYC apartments. A washer/dryer in the building? It’s like winning the lottery. Having one in your actual apartment? Fuggedaboutit! (p.s. I still have yet to hear an actual New Yorker say this).

Luckily, I’ve actually had some pretty good fortune in this area. My current studio is in a location I love, right by Central Park and lots of great restaurants. It even has a cool little reading nook that you have to climb a ladder to access. There’s only one part of it I really find lacking, and that’s the kitchen.

I hesitate to even use the term kitchen, because of how sparse it is. There’s my fridge, and next to that is the sink, and next to that is the stove and…that’s it. That’s right, that’s my whole kitchen. I don’t even have a counter, just a wooden board to precariously balance over my sink or stove if I need to do any food prep.

Actual footage of me trying to make food in my kitchen

I decided to overlook it, because I liked everything else about the apartment. I also didn’t cook a lot and got a lot of my meals through work, so I figured I’d barely be using it anyway. Then, of course, the pandemic came along, and while everyone else was stress-baking bread and cooking up other delectable recipes, I was trying to figure out a way to use my sink and stove at the same time.

I worried that my kitchen (or lack of) would be a constant source of frustration, but—in that wonderful way humans do—I adapted. I just sort of got used to not having that much space and learned to work around it. I counted my good graces; I was still lucky enough to have a microwave, an oven, and most miraculous of all, a dishwasher. I decided to get resourceful and transformed an old ladder shelf into make-shift storage for my cooking tools. I put a bedside table next to the stove and used it to balance my cutting board when I needed more space.

Whenever I tell others about my tiny kitchen, I always end up concluding with, “Wherever I live after this, my next kitchen is going to seem gigantic compared to this one. I won’t even know what to do with all that extra space!”

In a lot of ways, learning to navigate cooking in this apartment has felt like the times I’ve had to navigate life during its most challenging moments. Take this pandemic, for example.

While others had roommates or partners or family to spend all that time at home with, I was alone. Luckily, my introverted nature prepared me for most of the emotional struggles, but that didn’t mean I didn’t get bored or find myself craving human connection.

Like I’d done with my kitchen, I forced myself to think of the positives of the situation. I still had my health and a job. I had access to food, running water, Netflix. People who lived through past pandemics definitely didn’t have access to all those things. After I took a moment to count my blessings, I decided it was time to get resourceful. With all my extra time, I caught up with friends on video chat, I turned my living room into my own fitness studio, I used my free time to write, cook more, learn how to knit, and even bought a ukulele (that last one was an impulse buy).

If you’ve been following this blog, you know there were also other struggles during this time. I figured, if I could overcome all of that and learn how to enjoy being on my own, generate my own happiness from within, and never get bored in my own company, then everything that comes after this pandemic will just feel like the cherry on top of the sundae.

We let hard times bring us down, but maybe what we really need to do is treat them like a challenge or a training period. It’s like athletes playing practice games before a real game or a writer crumpling up dozens of terrible drafts before creating something beautiful.

Living good lives and being happy, that’s something we need to practice. If you can get it right when everything’s going wrong, you’ll never again worry about what life’s going to throw at you next. You’ve been through the worst, and you handled it. You’ll handle whatever comes next, too.

Little Talks

Growing up, I was painfully shy. A friend in high school told me she thought I was snobby the first time we met, because I refused to make eye contact with her. Snobby? Moi??

To someone who was so lacking in confidence, the idea that high school me would think she was better than anyone was laughable. Striking up conversations with strangers was terrifying, even making small talk with acquaintances was a nightmare situation I did my best to avoid.

I don’t know when exactly it happened, but over the years things started to change. I realized, one day, that I could go on a date without getting nervous, answer questions in a job interview without my head going blank.

Though, even now, I wouldn’t say I’m quite on the opposite end of the scale. There are still situations that make me sweat through my best blouse: public speaking, karaoke, looking like the tin man come to life in a dance class.

In the longest study ever done on the topic, researchers discovered the one thing that most accurately predicted future happiness: the quality of our relationships.

It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, young or old, the people who are happiest are the ones who have the most fulfilling relationships in their lives. In fact, their relationships impact all other areas of their lives, including their physical health and how many years they’ll live.

Unfortunately, more than one in five Americans report feelings of loneliness (and that was before the pandemic). As a lifelong introvert, I can definitely say I’ve spent a lot of time experiencing such feelings myself. I find myself envious of people I perceive to have more fulfilling social lives, wondering constantly how I can connect with more people.

I think this is a problem a lot of people in their 20s and 30s deal with. After you leave college, how do you make friends? Sure, you’ll probably make a few friends at work and you might get friendly with your roommates, but it’s certainly not as easy as when you were in school.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, particularly because this is something I want to work on next year. As I’ve continued to study the psychology behind happiness, I’ve seen the importance of social connections emphasized over and over again.

Sure, I have my wonderful family. I have some great best friends. I have my writing group. Yet, I still feel like my social calendar is relatively empty each week.

All big changes start with a bunch of little changes, so I decided to challenge myself. I don’t need to become best friends with everyone I meet, I just need to connect with them for a moment. So, I decided to ask everyone I came into contact with today how their day was going.

Such a small thing, right? Earlier today, I had a a checkup at the fertility clinic where I’ll be doing my egg freezing, so I asked the receptionist, the nurse who drew my blood, the doctor. Everyone’s smile grew a little when they heard the question. Some of them told me about their days, some said it was good and then politely asked me the same question.

But my absolute favorite interaction? The one I had with my Uber driver.

Like most people, I’ll usually just give the driver a friendly greeting and then busy myself on my phone or by staring with my eyes glazed over out the window. Not today! And I’m so glad I asked, because the driver absolutely lit up when he heard the question. He said, “It’s so nice of you to ask. Nobody ever asks me anything like that. Thank you for being so sweet.”

We ended up talking about his life in Jamaica before moving to the city, his pet cockatoo who he had to give away over the summer, his mother who passed away a few years ago.

The conversation was fascinating, and it was fun! The drive passed by in a flash—certainly preferable to sitting in lonely silence—and when he dropped me off, the driver thanked me again for chatting and wished me a wonderful week ahead.

Okay, so the Uber driver and I probably won’t end up becoming best friends, but this is how friendships start, relationships develop. With something as simple as an ordinary question. And even if it doesn’t go anywhere, the happy glow from a great conversation (and your bravery in initiating it) will stay with you and the other person for hours to come.

From now on, I’m going to keep asking strangers how their day is going. I challenge you to do the same. I think we’ll all be pleasantly surprised by the big things that can come from these little actions.