Nine: Sleeping Alone in Hermosa

Fears are like assholes – everyone’s got ‘em! But what exactly is fear? It’s an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Some of the most common are heights, public speaking, spiders, snakes, and closed spaces. Many of these fears are actually evolutionary and help to keep us safe. For example, being afraid of a snake makes you less likely to get bit by one because you’re not going to run up and pet it like you would someone’s pug walking down the beach. (Side note – what if we walked snakes? Weird but I kinda like the image of that.)

Lucky for us, most people are able to distinguish between which fears are rational and irrational and don’t cross into the world of having a phobia. A good example of this is being scared of heights. This is beneficial because it keeps us from standing on the ledges of 100 story buildings, but we understand that going up an escalator to the second story of the mall is completely safe and do it without even a second thought.

I’ve talked about some of my fears before, which have to do with going out in public alone and meeting new people. These are both things I’ve worked on in the last 6 months and that I’m happy to say I’ve gotten over for the most part. Of course, I still get wicked awkward when I’m in a group of people I don’t know but I’ve learned to own me and just go for it and I must say it’s doing me well.

But this week I’m here to talk about an entirely other people – kind of similar to one of the earliest posts I wrote for TNTML. Ya see, one big fear of mine is sleeping alone. No, I don’t mean this in the “I need someone to snuggle with. My bed feels so empty when I’m alone.” No way –this girl LOVES her space when it comes to sleep. If I cuddle you while we sleep you can assume it means I really like you. I’m all about being intertwined before and after the actual sleep but I get way too hot when I’m sleeping to have someone else all up in my grill.

Anyway, I digress. So yes – sleeping alone is something that terrifies me, almost to the point of it being an irrational fear. Once in high school my dad was in the hospital for nearly a month, my mom had passed away, and my brother was staying with family in Indiana so I had the house to myself. My best friends had been staying with me nearly every night, and trust that we were getting into all sorts of trouble, but there was one night they couldn’t so I asked my boyfriend at the time if he would and you know what he said? No! First off, what dumb ass teenager wouldn’t take advantage of having an empty house? Probably the first of many signs I needed to end things with him. I remember getting in a huge fight about it and I actually wound up on the phone with him all night arguing, which was totally a manipulative move on my part to avoid having to sleep alone. Another time in college, my roommates were both out of town and I had to sleep alone? This time my tactic was to leave all the lights on and stack chairs in front of the door. That way if someone broke in, at least it would make enough noise to wake me up. I understand all of this makes me sound crazy but it’s just the truth. I’m a heavy sleeper and I’m almost positive someone could break in and steal everything in my bedroom without me even noticing.

Besides those two instances, I’ve been able to avoid sleeping alone for all of my life. But a couple weeks ago I was asked to dogsit/housesit at this amazing house in Hermosa Beach. (I’m actually sitting on their rooftop right now! Ahhh what an amazing view to have behind my laptop screen! And I’m working on evening out my farmer’s tan. Lovely.) After I agreed to do the job I realized that it meant I had to sleep alone. My first instinct was to try and convince a friend to stay with me the entire time, or find some way to avoid sleeping at the house…. Maybe just staying till bed time then leaving to my house where there would be other people.

But in an effort to stick with the theme of forcing myself out of my comfort zone, I bit the bullet and decided to sleep here alone. No craziness. Just embracing the fact that people have to do this and why avoid the inevitable? Everyone sleeps alone at some point! Well guess what? I’ve slept here three nights without being murdered! Honestly, there’s probably something weirdly wrong with me and I should go see someone to talk about how scared I am of being attacked by an intruder, but right now I’m going to ignore all that and just celebrate the fact that I’ve successfully given my fear the finger and slept alone in this big ol’ house! The first night I was really anxious and woke up every few hours but since then I’ve been able to sleep all the way through the night. YESSSSSS. I know this is lame but I’m really fucking stoked on it. Even the amount of times I play through all the possible scenarios continues to decrease. I’m such a believer in immersion. If you’re scared, just DO IT. Talking about it isn’t going to get you anywhere and this is proof that it works!

Alright, now that I’ve lost all my cool points (like I ever had any) let’s pretend I faced some way better fear, like swimming with the sharks or learning to swallow swords. Swallow… Ha…

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Eight: Decision Making

Almost every week when I sit down to write my post, I have a solid idea in my mind of what I am going to write about. I’ve usually jotted down some notes in my phone about it. I’ve usually constructed sentences for it while in the shower (man… I should be thinking of dirtier things in the shower, huh?) or on my drive to work. But, almost every week, as I’m writing the post, pouring my thoughts out, I hit a brick wall. Literally halfway through a post I make the decision that this is not what I want/need to be writing about and cannot continue. It’s like all of a sudden something in my brain clicks and I realize there is something else dying to get out of my brain. So I save my half post and move on…

This week was no different. Today at work, I knew exactly what I was going to write about when I got home. I had a half post I wanted to add to and was ready to work on but after hearing myself say a sentence, for the second time in twenty-four hours, and not being happy about it, I decided this was what I needed to talk about this week.

What is the sentence you ask? “I’m not going to do it. But if I saw someone else do it, I would be totally jealous and wish I’d been ballsy enough to.”

What were these in reference to? 1) I was talking about buying some fun glasses to add to my rotation of frames.  2) Asking a dude out on a date via Twitter.

Let’s talk about each of these.

1) This is probably such a silly, girly thing to worry about. If you like a pair of glasses, why the hell not go for it and order them? As someone who wears glasses every single day (to help me see, not just for decoration), they have become a way I identify myself/my personal style. So I wanted to order a pair of glasses that were different than what I’m used to and literally said out loud to my friends that I wasn’t going to order them because I didn’t think I’d have the balls to wear them, but that if I saw someone else wearing them I’d be so pissed I hadn’t just gone for it. After I said this I didn’t really think about it – just moved on with my day and forgot about it all together.

2) I was joking with my friends about asking a guy on a date via Twitter. This would not only have been the first time I asked a dude on a date via social media, but it would be the first time I asked a guy out in general. I’m all about saying fuck gender roles but there’s something to be said about the tradition of a guy asking a girl out. I will do my best to make it known I’m diggin your dougie* but I’d like you to make the first move. (After that, I’ll make all kinds of first moves, though, no worries.) I decided against doing so for a multitude of reasons, but again I found myself saying that I’d have nothing but praise for a girl who did in fact have the balls to go for it. Ie: Ms. Jen Friel. But c’mon her life and my life are worlds apart. She has the luxury of asking dudes out via Twitter, I have yet to gain that.

This got me thinking (realizing I say this in almost every post) about why I don’t do things I want to do. No, I can’t make a blanket statement and say I never do anything I want. Very rarely do I allow fear to have any say in the decisions I make but every now and then it creeps its way into my mind and commands me to listen. But what I’m really thinking about is whether or not this is a bad thing. After I basically pussied out of both of those things, I was pissed at myself. But maybe I wasn’t pussying out… Maybe my rational mind was just making judgment calls and the Chelsea in the moment didn’t want to agree with them.

After trying to determine which of these was true, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a combination. As far as the glasses go, I’m just being dumb and worrying about what other people will think of how they look. But ya know what? Fuck it. I like those glasses and I’m the one who has to wear them. Don’t like ‘em? Don’t look at my face! I bet they don’t like you either. Okay I just want to clarify that I understand making the decision on what glasses to buy is really not that serious and I’ve turned it into something so much more but this absurd internal dialogue is helping me learn more about myself and you can’t blame a girl for embracing that.

As far as the extreme flirting on Twitter, I think it was my brain exhibiting self-control. Sure, had it resulted in the dude being psyched and us kickin’ it, I would have been pretty damn excited, but it wasn’t worth the risk. Sometimes we have to calculate what we want, and what it’s worth. Worth being embarrassed the next time I saw the person? Nope. Worth dealing with rejection when my confidence has been at an all-time high lately? Nope. Worth ruining a possible friendship? No. So I let it go. Also, I think I want to take my dating life to the real world a bit more.  I’ll go into details about that statement another day but just know, asking someone out on Twitter was not the right thing for me to do today. But maybe one day it will be.

All of that being said, I’ve decided that I can’t always use the cop out that I “don’t have the balls” to do something, because thanks to my second X chromosome, I will in fact never have balls. Guess this means I’m off to order a new pair of glasses and see what happens with the cute fella. Waiting is part of the fun anyway, right?

*Diggin your/his/her/my dougie is a phrase one of my dear friends started saying about a year ago. It means someone is romantically interested or attracted to someone else. At first, I criticized her and refused to give in. I constantly made fun of her for saying it and swore it sounded like some new sex position. But lately I find myself using it and non-stop and not able to find a better phrase to describe what I mean. So this is me waving my white flag and saying you, my lovely friend stuck in a flyover state, you win this one.

Seven: A birthday and a live show

Friday is a big day for me… Not only am I going to be in the TNTML Live Show, which is a huge step out of my comfort zone, but it’s also my mom’s birthday.

With that being said I felt like there was nothing more appropriate to talk about this week than my mom, and specifically 4 lessons I learned from my mom having cancer.

First let me back track and give you some context to my mom being sick. Before middle school, I had literally the picture perfect life. My parents were so in love, my younger brother and I did well in school and participated in extracurriculars, we lived in a lovely middle-class house, we had great relationships with extended family, and things were as wonderful as you could ever image. But one day in the summer after 6th grade, my mom went to the doctor because she’d be in having some serious pain in her lower back. When she got home that afternoon, none of us expected to hear the news she had to share: She had been diagnosed with Stage 4 rectal cancer. This battle went on for the next three and a half years. My mom tried every treatment regimen the doctors knew, but nothing seemed to work. At times she was forced to wear diapers, had blisters all over her body, couldn’t eat without getting sick, had a to carry a chemo pack around her waist that dripped into her bloodstream 24/7, and this list goes on. After fighting non-stop for her life, my mom passed away in March of 2006.

But that’s not what this story is about… it’s about the fact that no matter what, my mom managed to laugh all the time, she continued to surround herself with the people she loved, and no matter what life through her way (some crazy stuff happened during these years besides her being sick), she made every day as great as she possibly could. And the lessons I learned from her have not only made me who I am today, but help me in getting out of my comfort zone and remembering to live my life to the fullest.

1. Always own who you are and what your situation is, no matter what anyone else thinks: So, one huge side effect of my mom having rectal cancer was that she had to have a colostomy bag. When she first got it, I was super embarrassed and didn’t really want my friends to know because then they would think I was weird or something like that. Ya know, flawed logic of a 12-year-old. But what I never really thought about (at the time) was how tough that had to be for my mom! I can’t imagine what that would do to your self-esteem. Can you imagine trying to feel sexy with a colostomy bag? I can barely feel sexy when I think my hair is a little too frizzy. But somehow my mom managed to own it. Sometimes things would smell funky (as you can imagine comes with the territory) or she would be pulled aside in airports for physical pat downs… but she never let this get to her. When people asked questions, she was totally open and didn’t feel the need to hide it. Having the bag was keeping her alive, so screw you if you had a problem with it. This is something I need to practice in my own life… At times I am surrounded by people who don’t necessarily understand who I am or why I do what I do with my life… There are people I would die if I found out they read my posts or freak out if they found out I kissed a boy at the bar on Saturday. But ya know what? Fuck that. Life isn’t about pleasing others. It’s about OWNING who you are.

2. Don’t take yourself too seriously: Honestly, this must have been one of my mom’s mantras. I will tell you a ridiculous story to help illustrate it for you. At one point in her treatment, my mom lost all her hair. I mean…she was COMPLETELY bald. At first, she was wearing wigs and bandanas to try and seem more “normal” for my brother and me, but eventually we convinced her to rock the Natalie Portman look. She always joked that she had a weird shaped head but no way. That’s a tough look to pull off, but she managed. Anyway, I digress – back when she was wearing the wig, she had gone to vote at a local polling station. Because we lived in South Florida, it was my mom and 50+ senior citizens. They all waited in line, which was took forever, when all of a sudden some OFF DUTY police officer came in and cut them all in line. Needless to say (if you know me at all), my mom didn’t take a lot of crap from people so she went to the front and asked why exactly he got to cut in line since he was off duty, and wasn’t it only fair he waited in line like the others. When the poll worker responded in a catty tone, letting my mom know she had no reason to complain and that he was a hero – my mom pulled her wig off in front of everyone and yelled “I HAVE CANCER. IF THAT DOESN’T GET ME TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL.” The entire group of old people cheered her on… This didn’t result in anything changing. She still had to wait in line, and the dude still got to vote ahead of everyone else. But ya know what? She didn’t take herself too seriously and made her point because of it. There are so many examples of this, but this just so happens to be one of my favorites. Whenever I feel embarrassed or start to take myself too seriously, I try to remember that sometimes you just gotta rip your wig off in a room full of old people!

3. Say whatever the hell you want to say: My mom never struggled with words. She expressed herself more often than most people, even before she was sick.  But having cancer and knowing that she didn’t have much time left made my mom even ballsier. She would tell people exactly how she felt! At times, this was great and made her relationships immensely stronger, other times it pissed people off a whole lot. Sometimes we bite our tongues because we are scared of the consequences. And sometimes, we’re right for doing that… Just because you think some girl’s outfit is unflattering, there is no need to tell her that she looks like Jabba the Hut. But at the same time, if you feel someone is treating you unfairly, there is no need to bite your tongue for fear that they won’t like you vocalizing your opinion. I’ve never really had a hard time expressing my opinions, and that is a huge thanks to my mom being the woman she was. With this one, I should probably take the opposite of this lesson and remember it’s okay to filter myself sometimes. But that’s no fun! And even the people my mom managed to upset still respected her for being honest and speaking her truth (right, Jen?).

4. Just because life sucks doesn’t mean you should stop living: We all know life gets hard sometimes. We all know there are days where we don’t want to do anything but lay in bed and blast Dashboard Confessional or Alanis Morisettte or that one song by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow. Oh wait, is that just me? Woops. Anyway, moving on. Sometimes life totally sucks but there is no excuse to stop living. My mom getting sick made her live life even more! The year after she was diagnosed, we didn’t all just stay home while mom got chemo and went to the doctor’s office… We went on a 6-week road trip around the country! My mom coordinated with her doctors so she could get her treatment at different hospitals so we could travel the nation and not have to worry about it!  This will always be one of my all-time favorite memories. But this didn’t stop there. One weekend my mom rented a convertible because she had never driven one before. If she was craving lobster, we’d make the two hour drive to the Keys just for dinner. No matter what, she did what she wanted to do and lived 100%. More than ever this lesson is relevant in my life right now. There are days where I don’t want to do anything because I don’t know where to go, or because all of my friends are busy, or because it’s just hard to put yourself out there… But there is literally NO excuse that makes it okay for me to waste my days when I want to be doing something. Life is for living and if you’re not doing that, you might as well give up.

As I began writing this post, I doubted myself. I wasn’t sure it would fit in with my theme of talking about my comfort zone and I also wasn’t sure how emotional I’d get writing about my mom, especially so close to her birthday. But it has been so freaking good for my soul. Getting to reminisce about her through words never gets old. And by opening up to you nerds about her, I honestly feel like I am stepping out of my comfort zone and letting you in to a huge part of my life and something that has shaped me to be who I am. If you ever wonder why I’m loud or vulgar or kinda crazy… My mom is the lady to thank! She would love this community and think it’s so rad that I’m writing for TNTML. So as I continue forward in the quest of getting uncomfortable (and maybe a little weird) I’ll hold these lessons close. And as I learn from these, I’m sure I will realize how many more she was able to teach me.

Friday I will have both a beer and a cupcake in her honor! Let’s party!

Six: Phoneless

This week I made the decision to turn my cell phone off for 24 hours. To most of my friends, this didn’t seem like a big deal but I’m sure the nerd community can understand what a crazy thought it is to be disconnected for that long!

So, Monday 6:30 pm came: I sent a text to my dad letting him know I would be unreachable and gave him my roommate’s number in case of an emergency. After that, I resisted my urge to warn all other friends (since that seemed like it would defeat the purpose), held down the off button on my iPhone, did the Power Off swipe, and put my phone in a safe place…

Within the first hour I checked my phone a handful of times just out of pure habit. I even picked it up before I went to the bathroom (because let’s be honest, that’s the best time to catch up on Huffington Post headlines or your most recent DrawSomething game).

The night’s plan was to disconnect and be less available… I actually planned to make lunch for the week, paint my nails, write this week’s post, on a totally different subject, and do some reading. But things quickly changed when I grabbed a scalding hot pot and burned the shit out of my fingers! Right away, I wanted to call my dad and ask him for home remedies or text my best friend a picture of my sad fingers, but I stayed strong. By strong I mean I bitched endlessly to anyone who would listen and held my hand in a cup of ice water for over an hour. But hey, at least I didn’t turn my phone on!

Because I was quite literally unable to type for the night, I ended up disconnecting not only from my cell phone but from my computer, too. How did I spend my night? Well, I hung out with my roommates, bathed my burns in lotion, and went to bed embarrassingly early.

Now that this is over and my phone is back on, I’m rather confused with myself, since I did this with no real reason or foresight. Just decided to turn my phone off and did it! In fact, when people asked, I couldn’t really articulate why…all I knew is that I felt too available. This might have to do with a string of dudes bailing on me (c’mon – grow some balls and just say you’re not feelin’ it) or maybe that I caught myself using my phone as a crutch when alone in public.

My phone, or more specifically technology, has been a huge tool in helping me come out of my comfort zone. From online dating to meeting Jen and writing for the site, from finding random things to do in LA to making friends on Twitter and then meeting IRL, I must thank technology for helping me out! But, at the same time it holds me back. After every first date, I update friends from back home and get their advice. It is impossible for me to send a text (or an OkCupid message) without overanalyzing every single word. I check my phone countless times while not so patiently waiting to hear back from my most recent beaux. And when I find myself sitting alone, so quickly I turn to checking Facebook or Twitter.

This mini-experiment proved to me that I can, in fact, disconnect. You guys might think I’m crazy at this point, but you don’t understand – I’m COMPLETELY accessible by my phone. There’s rarely a call that goes unanswered or a text that I take more than 10 minutes to reply to. Most of the core people in my life live on the other side of the country, and I don’t want to miss out on anything or have them feel as though I’m not there for them. Distance does a good job of that on its own, so the way I look at it, at least I’m available digitally! Herein lies another major problem, though: Instead of realizing I’m a strong, independent lady, I go back to my comfort zone to help with everything. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s incredible that when I’m having a bummer of a day and need nothing more than a good best friend talk, I can FaceTime with any of them in a minute. Or when I’m making my dad’s famous pancakes and forget how many eggs to add, I can shoot him a text and not even be done cracking the first one before he responds. But when a dude texts me, who waited a ridiculously long amount of time, and asks me out for the night…I need to realize it’s okay to make him wait. I don’t have to be so available for everyone all of the time.

Here’s an easy example: Why would I bother looking around for cute boys at a bar when my phone is buzzing time and time again with new guys who want to meet up? I wouldn’t because my phone is my comfort zone. Technology is safe. But this needs to change! I need to get away from safe!

I don’t think I’ll be turning my phone off again anytime soon, but I will definitely be keeping it in my purse more often and maybe even leaving it at home every now and then. Living in the moment, here I come.

And in case you were wondering…

What I missed most: My alarm clock, the ability to take pictures of random things throughout the day, venting to my best friend via text, being able to candidly read the NSFW stuff on TNTML at work, and having my phone in the bathroom (though I definitely pee’d much more quickly without it!).

What I didn’t miss at all: Being alerted for messages that only say “Hey” on OkCupid, getting work emails on my computer and on my phone simultaneously, waiting for people to respond to texts, and accidentally scrolling to the top of my Twitter feed when I’m halfway through reading new tweets.

Five: Three Girls and a British Pub

Nothing I love more than life deciding to remind me of something in the strangest of ways.

Last week, one of my favorite people in South Florida and I planned to go get a drink. This friend, who I will call Babs, is someone I always have fun with. I really do wish she lived on the west coast because I know we would have the wildest adventures together. Whenever I’m in town, we make sure to set aside a night to catch up on each other’s lives, specifically our current boy situation. You see, Babs and I both got out of serious relationships at the same time and find we continue to have weirdly similar life experiences.

So after our usual hour of banter over beers, we ended up at a really cool spot in my hometown. One of Babs’ friends (we’ll call her Macy) decided to meet us there for what ended up being a wicked fun girl’s night.

Let me set the scene… Three young girls sitting at the corner of the bar at a British pub, being waited on by young, handsome bartenders. Due to the fact that it was pretty late on a weeknight, there wasn’t much of a crowd at the bar. Honestly, the only other people I remember seeing were two middle-ages couples gettin’ freaky on the stools next to us. As a beer noob, I ordered a beer sampler and asked the bartender to surprise me with what he thought I would like, letting him know I have a tendency to prefer Hefeweizens.  Babs was having weird food cravings and ordered a large side of celery, nothing else.

Needless to say: The lack of customers + our not so typical orders + copious amounts of giggling = LOTS of attention from the bartenders.

Halfway through our beers, and some discussion of Macy’s current romantic situation, we all realized the cutest bartender (we’ll call him Turk) was flirting it up with Macy. Logically the next step was for Babs and I to encourage Macy give Turk her number! Neither of us had ever done that, so in a weird way I think we were trying to live vicariously through their already obvious spark.

After the note was written, Turk walked back over. The series of events here is really important: He grabs the receipts (one of which is folded) and then starts to talk to us about his ex girlfriend. Yep, that happened. And when I say, “talk” I don’t mean casually reference… I mean POUR HIS HEART OUT. He told us how he was still in love with her and how girls at the bar always flirt with him but he’s not in the place to date any of them. He opened up about a death in his family, about how he fucked the relationship up, and about how badly he wanted her back. This conversation goes on and on. When it wraps up and we leave the bar, Babs and I literally erupt into laughter, even though Macy was obviously embarrassed. After flooding her with questions as to why she didn’t take the receipt back and exchange it for the other copy, both girls tell me I must go inside and tell him that she wrote it before the hour-long therapy session, and that they both would love to come back while he’s working without it being totally awkward. Being the good friend I am, and because I know it’s almost always better to acknowledge the elephant in the room, I obliged and Trey actually said he was quite flattered (duh).

This seems like a lot of rambling about a story that might not be as funny in words as it was in person but I promise there’s a reason. It got me thinking… Sometimes going out of your comfort zone is scary. Sometimes you take a leap a faith only to fall flat on your ass. But regardless, you always end up learning something from the experience. I think Macy learned that she was ballsy enough to let a dude know she’s interested in him, rather than waiting around for him to make the first move. And ya know what? That’s rad! I mean, yeah, it’s not the biggest deal. She didn’t do anything other women haven’t done before. But it was new for her and took her stepping out of her comfort zone!

Jen talks about facing your biggest fear all the time. For her, it was skydiving. For me, my biggest fear isn’t quite as tangible. I know the idea of doing things alone has always made me shit my pants and that’s why I continue to force myself to face that fear on a weekly basis. I know I’ve always said no to situations where I thought I might feel uncomfortable or awkward, but no more. So that’s why I continue to force myself (though sometimes unsuccessfully) to say yes.

With this in mind, and Macy as my inspiration, I’m ready to do at least five things I’ve never done before in the next two months. I already have a couple planned out that are going to be equally terrifying as they are fun. Of course, I’ll keep you all updated on my progress!

When’s the last time you did something that made your adrenaline pump and your palms sweat? Tweet me! I’d love to hear about it.

Four: Four Year Reevaluation

Hello everyone! I’m writing to you from sunny South Florida. While this vacation could not have come at a better time, I’m home for a reason. My little brother (not little at all, he’s almost 6’ and I’m barely 5’) is graduating from high school. One year ago, before I moved to Cali, I promised him I’d come home for this no matter where I was…. So here I am!

One weird thing about being home is that you start to remember people, events, etc. that you haven’t thought about in years! Just right now, sitting in my old room, I see: dried roses I saved from my ex-boyfriend, a photo taken when I was in 5th grade with two friends I still consider sisters, and a shelf of miniatures my grandma moved into this room when I went away to college.

All of this reminiscing is making me think of my own high school graduation and about the changes I’ve made in the last 4 years (almost to the day). But in order to process and actually learn from it, I need to write it out… so here I go!

Friends: My senior year of high school, I had a big falling out with the group of friends I spent most of my time with. Lucky for me, I’ve always had a core group of friends who are there no matter what, including my three best friends. These people are the ones who were there at my door the day after my mom died, the ones who I’ve gone months without speaking to only to hang out and feel like no time had passed, the ones who I know I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life. This other group of friends changed multiple times growing up, and were always considered temporary. Today I find myself still close with that core group of friends, more confident in our relationships than ever before. But I’ve also made some new, incredible friends who don’t feel as temporary as those in the past. In fact, I don’t feel I have any friends I’d be able to lose touch with and just move on without truly missing. Realizing that feels great… it means I’ve weeded out those who don’t matter and am only surrounding myself with people who add to my life. Score for you, 22-year-old Chelsea!

Family: As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always been really close with my family. After years of struggles with my dad, by senior year of high school we had a great relationship. I went away to college and my relationships with my dad and brother just seemed to get stronger. As someone whose mom was sick for four years, only to pass away just before I turned 16, I’ve always understood the importance of family. The only big changes that happened in my family life over the past four years are that I’ve lost two of my grandparents, my dad now has a girlfriend, and I no longer fight with my brother about dumb shit. Oh, I also live on the opposite side of the country and therefore am constantly reminded of how much I love them.

Romance: I imagine this to be pretty normal, but my 18-year-old romantic life is incredibly different than that of my 22-year-old self.  This time four years ago, I was head over heals in love with my high school sweetheart, who I’d been dating for over two years. The plan was to go away to college, do long distance, and then one-day end up together in the same city. What ended up happening was I went away to college and we “broke up” within a week, only to really break up eight months later. Today’s Chelsea is 100% single, and definitely ready to mingle. I’ve gone through some highs and lows in the last four years, and though single might not seem like progress from having been in a relationship four years ago, TRUST ME it is. Even though I would have told you I was independent then, I wasn’t. I was a girl whose emotions were so easily manipulated by a dude. I’d given so much of myself away; I often forgot exactly what I wanted. Or what I deserved, as a matter of fact. So while I would love to be in a relationship, or even see one of the horizon, I truly appreciate being single in this season of my life. And as tired as I am of online dating and asshole guys, I’m learning more about myself from each and every one!

Personal: Yes, I’m much happier with the person I am today than the person who walked across the stage four years ago. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned is what I want from life. Of course, this is always changing but as of right now I know I am exactly where I’m meant to be. I have a job I totally love. I know I am pushing myself out of my comfort zones as often as possible. I realize the importance of embracing different sides of myself. I no longer let the people I surround myself dictate what I do with my life. Of course, there are areas of my life that have not changed nearly as much as I’d like to. For example, my health. I’ve always wanted to lose weight but thanks to these last four years it’s no long motivated by an extrinsic desire. I now am focused on this because I want to get healthy and not be limited in what I can do with my life. But as far as confidence goes? I own my body and if people don’t like it, that’s their loss.

Writing this out has been cathartic for me. I hope you nerds take some time and look back at the one-week-ago, one-year-ago, and one-decade-ago “you.” I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Just remember: Change is inevitable, so we can either learn to embrace it or be left behind!

Three: Problem without a name.

Dating is a totally new thing for me. But before I dive right in to my current situation, let me give you some background…

Growing up, I was always the girl dudes wanted to be “just friends” with. Time and time again, I helped boys I was hopelessly smitten with figure out the right things to say to the girls they liked, who were usually my friends. As much as it totally sucked at the time, it helped me develop a thick skin, and learn to deal with rejection. So I’m thankful for it!

When I was 16 though, I got into a pretty serious relationship that consumed me for the next 3+ years. After that, not knowing how to deal with the fact that my ex had already moved on, I rebounded with a dude who was NOT the right fit for me. Once I managed to escape that situation, and trust me, it felt more like an escape than a break-up, I entered what I like to call the “Perfectly Lonely” phase. (Anyone get the reference?)

For the next two years, I was totally content being single. I went through college without even having a crush on someone. It was a period of focusing on myself, and trying to get over all the relationship baggage from my past. First loves aren’t easy to let go of….as we ALL know.

So, when I moved to California, I hadn’t even thought about dating. It wasn’t until some of my friends proposed the idea of online dating that I realized… Hmm, I might actually enjoy spending time with a male in non-platonic setting! So, I set off into the OkCupid universe, with my best photo forward and the wittiest description of myself I could muster up.

Dating has proven to be a more growing experience than I ever anticipated. What I expected to happen was: Go out with dudes, not really like any of them, make out at the end of the night, then delete their numbers and move on. But in reality what happened was: I went with really awesome guys, who seemed totally into me, and for the first time in my life I was dating multiple dudes at once, flirting (something I totally suck at), and having no idea how to handle a problem I kept running in to… My “problem without a name.” (Another reference, anyone get this one?)

For the record, I’ve spent the last few months trying to figure out why this keeps happening to me but I have no idea. So nerds, please help! I’d love to hear your insight!

I’m getting ahead of myself. Before you can understand my problem, you have to understand what led up to it. And what is that, you ask? Oh, it was GOOD DATES. Yeah, I know, how crazy is that? All of my first dates were awesome. Many ended in a goodnight kiss, even! Guess what the next step leading to this problem is? A GREAT SECOND DATE. Yep, you read that right. I found myself going out multiple times with really great dudes, who definitely seemed to be picking up what I was putting down, and who made the effort to contact me each time after our rendezvous.

Now this is where the trouble hits. Two out of three times this has happened after the second date, the third time it happened after nearly a month of seeing each other. The guy will call or text to make plans. Not passive, trying to drop the hint that I’m not into you plans…like…very specific plans! For example, “Let’s go to a movie Thursday night, I’ll call you later this week to confirm it.” But then I never hear back! They never give me a reason why we didn’t go out. I just straight up don’t hear back from them.

I’ve come to attribute this to LA guys being flakey, but c’mon, that’s not a good enough reason. This has happened with three guys who are not originally from LA, but from totally different parts of the country! And while I’d love more than anything to blame it on them all being assholes, who don’t know what they want; the reality of it is that I need to look inside and figure out what this means about me

Why am I attracting these guys? What about me makes me equally as appealing as I am disposable? What can I do to change this pattern? What keeps leading me to this weird place?

Guess it’s time for more reflection. And more dating. Ya know what they say, when you fall of the horse it’s best to get right back on!