Hey 2017, Thanks for Nothing

2017 was a year that the entire world couldn’t wait to begin after a tragic 2016. But little did we know that while we sipped champagne and sang Auld Lang Syne, or if you’re like me nursed a cold and binge-watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer to bring in the new year, that 2017 was not going to be that much better. 2017 brought more mass shootings, more hate crimes, more disasters, a truckload of sexual misconduct allegations, and let’s not forget that Cheeto puff who leads this country showed us just how awful he is.

This worsening of the things in the world was mirrored in my personal life. Everything that cracked in 2016 crumbled in 2017 and I find myself headed into 2018 with very little hope. This is unusual for me, I may not get into Christmas or Thanksgiving but I actually really like New Years. All that hope and excitement of a new beginning usually warms my heart. But this year a cold wind passes through me where my heart used to be.

Honestly, I’m scared of 2018. I’m scared that the Trump administration will continue to step on the necks of the marginalized. I’m scared that another disturbed person will take a gun to a crowded concert, or mow down pedestrians on the street. I’m scared that white supremacists will find new and terrifying ways to spread their message of hate. I’m scared that wildfires will continue to ravage southern California. I’m afraid that more people will die in the Middle East. I’m afraid that I won’t find hope again. I’m afraid that my depression will worsen. I’m afraid that 2018 will be just as heartbreaking as 2017.

So how do you respond when the world is a garbage can rolling downhill?

Some of us will run to our faith and hold on for dear life. Some of us will throw ourselves into some kind of human service. Some of us will turn to drugs and alcohol. Some of us will take our own lives.

How will I respond? Not sure yet.

So here’s to you 2017. Thanks for showing us that things can definitely get worse. And 2018 for God’s sake please have mercy.

Photo by Kristopher Roller via unsplash

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Cliches That Dating Apps Prove to be True

I have been single for four years.
I wasn’t purposely single but I wasn’t actively looking either. I thought that I’d meet someone organically in my everyday life, but it never happened. So a few months ago I decided to get intentional about this dating thing and enter the world of dating apps. I created accounts on Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, and OkCupid.
I told myself I was going in without any expectations, but I was lying to myself. I’m a dreamy type, so I had daydreamed about going out on coffee dates, having great conversations, sending flirty texts, first kisses, the whole nine. I wasn’t expecting to meet the “One” or my “Forever Person” because I’m just a tad too cynical for that, but I had hopes of vibing with someone. I do realize that being a cynical dreamer is kind of a contradiction but hey I’m an onion, I have layers.
Anyways, my experience has been fascinating to say the least.

“Men are from Mars”
I could never claim to understand men that much before, but I can definitely say I understand them even less now. I realized that some men hit the like button just for kicks, they have no intention of actually getting to know you. I don’t understand this, and I’ve given up trying. Also, I have been in the middle of what I perceived as a flowing conversation and then out of nowhere a guy will stop responding. It was frustrating at first, but I now just put less stock in the likes I get.

“There’s plenty of fish in the sea”
There really is, it’s a good thing and bad thing. If a guy rubs you the wrong way or God forbid asks for nudes there’s a ton of other guys to choose from. On the other hand the endless scrolling can be overwhelming, especially on apps like Bumble and OkCupid. I started logging on every few days just to keep myself sane.

“Watch out for the wolves in sheep’s clothing”
You would think in 2017 with MTV’s “Catfish” in it’s sixth season that “catfishing” would be a thing of the past. But it is not. I was texting back and forth with a guy for about a week, and something just felt off. He “spoke” like no dude I’d ever met before, it was very flowery, and romantic. And his vernacular did not match the person he claimed to be. I did a reverse image search on his profile photo just like they do on the show and very easily found his identity to be false. I was really annoyed but also proud of myself for not getting duped.

“Love is a battlefield”
The quest for love for me has been long and arduous. Even just getting to the point of meeting someone in person has taken more effort than I thought it would. I’ve given myself to the 22nd of November to get something going and if it doesn’t happen I’m getting off all my apps and will revisit this next year sometime. I haven’t given up hope completely but I can say that my hope has dwindled.

***

I want to hear from you. What has been your experience with dating apps? Which ones do you love? Which ones do you hate? And is there hope in this crazy world to find real connections?

 

Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

An Honest Poem

I was born on a chilly October night, 26 years ago.
I’m 5’6, with brown eyes, and black hair and my weight is none of your business.
I’m not a dog person, and I’m allergic to cats.
I’m kind of like a baby jumping spider, cute but creepy.
I’m a good writer, listener, and I can carry somewhat of a tune.
But the thing I’m most talented at is avoiding my problems.
I’m an absolute pro at it.
If there’s a problem, I run in the complete opposite direction.
I run to my books and hide from the world.

In books, things happen for a reason.
The plot is set, the character’s path predestined.
Real life isn’t like that.
I could have never predicted the path that my life has taken.
I barely recognize myself these days.
I’ve abandoned everything that used to define me.
So if I’m no longer the student,
the youth leader,
or the devoted churchgoer.
Then who am I?
That is the million dollar question.
Sometimes I feel like I’m 10 different people from one day to the next.
Which one is the real me?
Or are they all me?

I’m prone to melancholy.
Have been for as long as I can remember.
I’ve daydreamed about wandering into a field during a thunderstorm and being dissipated by a lightning bolt.
Like the end of the movie “Powder”.
My therapist calls this a suicidal fantasy.
I call it what happens when I’m alone too long in my thoughts.

I feel broken.
But I’m a Christian and we’re not supposed to say that.
Isn’t that why God sent his son?
So that I can be whole?
Well me and God aren’t really speaking as much as we used to.
I try not to dwell too long on the state of my faith.
If I do, a pain so deep radiates through me that I can barely breath.
I’ll just sum it up in one word, unraveled.

I attempting to date.
Me, the perpetually single girl.
I was always waiting to be better, more prepared, more successful, more perfect.
I always wondered if anyone could ever truly understand and love me, with all of my chaos.
So far it’s been a huge bust.
I was catfished, but isn’t that a millennial rite of passage?

My name is Tawni.
I love indie rock, Mexican food, and spending time with friends.
Even though I don’t know if I really have anything in common with any of them.
My hobbies include:
fighting my inner demons,
pretending that I’m fine,
and overthinking everything.
Nice to meet you.


A week ago I stumbled across Rudy Francisco’s spoken word piece “My Honest Poem” on Facebook and it moved me. You can watch it here and read it here. I thought to myself, I should do one too! It was definitely harder than I thought it was going to be but at the same time oddly cleansing.

 

Photo by Anders Jildén on Unsplash

I Am My Own #Goals

Life has literally taken a bat to everything I held dear, so while I am rebuilding, all of my goals are under construction. 

When my friend Terasha thought up this blog challenge “I am my own #goals” I inwardly groaned. The phrase brings to mind someone who is out there getting things done personally and professionally and doesn’t need to look to social media for their goals in life. Personally and professionally I’m flailing and I have been guilty of coveting the lives of people on social media who seem to have it “together”. Life has literally taken a bat to everything I held dear, so while I am rebuilding, all of my goals are under construction.

I’m trying to be okay with being on this undefined road. They say there is something to be learned from every season of your life and I want to give myself the chance to learn from this experience. What I’m learning is that just like seasons change, goals change too. You could be moments from the finish line and realize this wasn’t the right race for you. And that’s completely okay, there is no definite map.

I’m discovering that comparing yourself with others is pointless. We scroll through our feeds seeing our peers sailing through life, living out their dreams or so it seems. Social media only shows a slice of that person’s life, not the whole pie. That person may have fought, cried, and bled to get to where they are. They could be terribly unhappy while still smiling in their Instagram post. I can’t compare my entire life to a slice of someone else’s. I have to figure out what is right for me, and what I want to accomplish and I won’t find that on social media, I am my own #goals.

Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash

An Unexpected Gap Year

I’ve made peace with the fact that my education will be on hold for a year, and I have something now that I haven’t had in awhile, a lot of free time.

In spring of this year I experienced one of the worst bouts of depression and anxiety in my life. I was struggling to balance a full-time school schedule, increasing responsibilities at work, responsibilities at church, and just life in general. As summer began I decided to end my work with the church and with no school I felt like I could finally breathe. I caught up on all my tv shows, read a lot of books, and rested when I wasn’t at work. But there were still things to be done, as much as I didn’t want there to be.

There were 3 exams I needed to take in order to be fully admitted into the Teacher education program at my university. I wanted to study for them, I did. I bought the practice tests and the study guides, I scheduled time in my week when I would sit down and study. But when those times came I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The thing was I dreaded returning to school. I was not ready to jump back into the hectic life of a working student. So I put off my exams as long as possible. My choice had consequences. I would have to wait all the way until next fall, a full year, before I could be fully admitted. At first I was upset, what a mistake I’d made! I was afraid that this dream I had of being a teacher would never come true.

I’ve made peace with the fact that my education will be on hold for a year, and I have something now that I haven’t had in awhile, a lot of free time. It feels like I’m an artist sitting in front of a blank canvas, I can do anything with this time. I can focus on things I haven’t had time to before. So what will those things be? Maybe I will focus on my writing, finish that short story, or join a writing group. Maybe I’ll buy that camera I’ve been wanting forever. Maybe I’ll resume learning to play the Ukulele. There’s literally a ton of creative endeavors on my to-do list and I finally have the time to do them. It’s exciting and overwhelming as I try to figure out what to do first.

All choices have consequences but not all consequences are bad. Sometimes they open doors you never had before.

Maybe You Should Go and Love Yourself

I’m finally starting to feel at home in my own body. Gone is this mythical future me who has my ideal body. She has been replaced with me the way I look right now.  

Every woman has an ideal body type. Mine from childhood was always a hourglass with a flat stomach and toned limbs. I didn’t care for my apple shape, it came with broad shoulders, an annoyingly large chest, a flabby tummy, and flat behind. I would look in the mirror, sigh with disappointment and envision my adult self with a perfect curvaceous figure. I’d say to myself “Right now I may be struggling with my style and I may be a little dumpy, but one day I’m going to get all that together.” Years past and I found myself firmly planted in adulthood  still not “together.”  I came to the realization that while I am going through the ups and downs of trying to live a healthier lifestyle I could be this size for the rest of my life. I need to be able to be okay with that and love myself anyway.

Mission Love my Body started by following a lot of plus size models on Instagram. These were women with a similar body type as me loving their bodies with all its rolls, cellulite, and stretch marks. They were fashionable, beautiful, their size was not a hindrance it just simply was. I then scoured the internet for tips on best dressing my body. Next I pushed through self deprecating thoughts and posted full body pictures of myself on social media. And I finally started to feel at home in my own body. Gone was this mythical future me who had my ideal body. She was replaced with me the way I look right now.

Some people may call me plus size, others thick, others curvy, some may call me overweight, or unhealthy, and some may call me fat. Some of these terms I like, others I don’t, but the fact of the matter is that how society sees my body is not as important as how I see my body. I’m the one whose living in it, looking at it every single day. There might always be a little jiggle in certain areas, I may never have that flat stomach and my cellulite is probably here to stay. But I walk out the door feeling just as beautiful, just as worthy as any other woman.

 

In the River of Life

The last time I posted to this blog was February 1, 2017, and though that was only 3 months ago I find myself a different woman today than I was then. In the past 3 months anxiety and depression have bit into me like never before, my faith was thrown onto its axis, I was questioning whether I wanted to continue in my friendships and I was beginning to hate everything I was once wanted.

What could happen in 3 months that could change my life so much?

Honestly, things had been changing in me for awhile, it’s just that in the last 3 months it all kind of came to a head. I’d always had highs and lows mood wise but my lows were getting scary low. The thoughts that went through my head were things I never thought I would even consider. I was struggling with feelings of being trapped by my Christianity. I felt disconnected from my friends, I didn’t trust them with what I was experiencing. I just didn’t want to do anything, I hated everything, I wondered if I really wanted everything I had been working towards.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it all fell apart but I think it was a combination of the stress of my studies, the stress of my job, and what I learned in my Intro to Religion class. I had to admit to myself that things were not alright, I was not alright.

I started seeing a therapist which altogether was a positive experience, it helped a lot. I wish I could tell you that it solved everything but it hasn’t and it wasn’t supposed to. I wish I could say that everything is alright now, but it’s not. I am better, but I am still working through some things.
I am learning that life isn’t a race to the top of a mountain where when you get to the top everything is perfect and you can finally be happy. No, it’s more like a great river. Rivers don’t stay the same as they flow down a mountain or through a canyon. There are big drops, sharp rocks, raging waters, but there are also parts of the river that are calm and serene. That’s how life is, sometimes it will be constant rough waters and you will think there is no end in sight but then there are parts where it’s smooth sailing. The river won’t ever end at this imagined place called “happiness” because happiness isn’t a destination it’s a fleeting emotion.

I used to, and I sometimes catch myself still, daydreaming about the one day when everything will finally come together and I will be happy. I’ll have the perfect job, partner, family and I will not have a worry on the planet. I’ll just sit at the top of my mountain and wait to die. But it doesn’t work like that. Life will still be life with all its twist and turns.
Now I strive to be better, better than I was yesterday. Make better choices, handle situations better. I remind myself that perfection is impossible, and to not be so damn hard on myself.
I don’t want to go back to who I was 3 months ago, that girl was a repressed ticking time bomb. But it is a strange feeling knowing that you’ve changed but to everyone else you look and for the most part act pretty much the same. I think it’s the changes that are not apparent to the outside world that are the most profound.

 

image by Joao Branco