Not You

I hope it’s not you. I hope you’re not that special person who can heal me. That person who is the ying to my yang. I hope your eyes don’t hold as much fear and pain as I see when I look into them. I hope that childlike smile you crack at me, isn’t the one that I will someday wake up to. I hope my feelings won’t continue to flourish for you, complicating my life and my work. I hope that I will stop being jealous when I watch another girl flirt with you, because it shouldn’t bother me.
But it does. It bothers me when someone brings up your girlfriend. It bothers me when I leave on a Friday afternoon and we have to say goodbye. It’s always awkward, we both always try to make it seem like it’s not a big thing. That we are just colleagues, who’s feelings are platonic in their origin. But I know that you wonder about me. I can feel it when you tilt your head and listen to me speak. You always listen to me. You remember things that show you pay attention, like that I don’t drink coffee. And I can tell I scare you, because I am not easy to understand. And I equally wish you were simple. Because if we were both simple, there wouldn’t be something there.
I’ve known you for over a year now. My perspective of you has changed dramatically from thinking you were a superhero, to seeing your vulnerabilities. Your intensity pushes people away. You know this and you try so hard not to be who you truly are because of it. But, people can only temper their true selves for so long. And your aggression and your loneliness come to the surface when you snap at me. I’ve learned to not try and take these rare moments personally, knowing that it’s your insecurity and anxiety that make you come off like a jerk. Many people would write you off as a jerk in a lot of cases. I don’t. Some people may think i’m stupid or naive for believing you’re better than that. The truth is, all that time I thought you were a superhero, sent here to rescue me, I never realized that you are the one in need of being rescued. You’re the one in need of acceptance and love.
My clearest realization that you don’t feel loved came last week. We were all talking about movies that had impacted our lives. Some people chose silly or cheesy movies…not you. You spoke about an italian film about love and growing up. I caught your glimpse a few times and I realized how much of a romantic you are and how you truly are sensitive. And broken. And lost. And scared.
I don’t know why you are all of these things, but I wish I could help you. I also wish I didn’t care so much about you. Men like you get me in trouble. You are wounded but also rebellious. You are reckless, but also wonderful. When we spent all that time together on Tuesday, driving in your car from one end of the city to the other, I tried to read you. You always breathe heavy around me and you kept putting the air on in the car and opening the windows. But it wasn’t even that warm. You took a few different people to lunch when they first started, never me. So, just to see your reaction, I said ‘aww man we should’ve gotten lunch!’ You didn’t say anything, shifted in your seat and looked uncomfortable. I then felt uncomfortable and almost exposed. You’re like an eighth grade boy sometimes.
But I wish it wasn’t you. I wish you and work weren’t so intertwined. I wish that I didn’t truly feel so connected to you, without either one of us even saying anything. I wish it wasn’t so apparent to others that when you get snippy at me and I get snippy back, it’s because we wish we could be together. We can try and bury this notion all we want, but sooner or later it needs to be addressed. Because, we both cherish this organization so much and it would be a shame to tarnish that in any way or form.
And it’s not subtle. I am not subtle in the way that you make me smile or the way I perk up when you’re around. And you’re not subtle in the way you stare at me at the gym. But we never tire of each other. I think that’s the most troubling thing of all. People like us, with distinct and strong personalities, we tire of others quickly. Equally, people get sick of our quirks and it becomes draining to have to keep up with us. I never get tired of you. I am always intrigued by what you do and I can tell you are by me.
I wish it wasn’t you. I wish you didn’t make me feel alive when we are alone and I wish I didn’t want to kiss all of the freckles on your nose and run my fingers through your hair. I wish I didn’t want to wake up to green eyes that feel like mine in the scars and depth they carry. We are connected and I can’t figure out how and I can’t explain it….but I just wish it wasn’t true.


Grip

I have been told that we are our own worst enemy. While I believe it is with purpose and progress that we try to become better every day, my number one competitor is myself. I compare myself to the person I was in the past often. I look at pictures from when I was five, fifteen, nineteen, and even a year ago, and I try to recognize that girl.
We are constantly in flux. Nothing about us set. Not our weight, our age, not our eyesight. At five, I smiled behind a pixie haircut, clinging to my mother, not knowing how much this period of time would come to haunt me later. At fifteen, I was a braces-clad high schooler, looking to find anyway to fit in. But I never did. I could hide it so well, the feeling deep down that I didn’t belong at the posh private school my mother sent me to. I was surrounded by perfection or at least a good show of what wealth and privilege could produce in material things. At nineteen, I was a confused college student. How could this man my mother brought into our lives hurt her in such a way? How could she stay with him and choose him over her own children? How was I going to cope? Nineteen was the year I chose to break out, to find any way I could to never return or need him in my life.
A year ago, I was naive. I am not saying that magically in a years time I have become some beacon of wisdom. I don’t have many of life’s answers. I probably have less of a sense of why things happen the way they do now then I did a year ago. I was fresh out of college, full of hope, and ready to take on the world. I was excited, so positive, and not really equipped for everything I have endured since then.
And that’s okay. My biggest asset in this life is my strength. I know I am tough and I am strong. I have endured more than my fair share of pain, misfortune, and strife. But through it all, I still have a smile on my face. And I genuinely want to help people. I am growing every day into the person I want to be.
It is so hard though. I am haunted and conscious of the past. The letdowns and the apologies from my father, that I am just finally letting go of. The misguided view of love my mother filtered for me. Her erratic attempts to control me and keep me in her life as I find my place in adulthood is both uncomfortable and draining. As a person, I struggle with self-esteem issues, ADHD, and intimacy. I go through periods where I believe in myself, then with one move, everything shifts. I become sleepless, restless, a flood of terrible experiences and disappointments shift into my frame of mind. The little voice that I hate in my head, the bad one, starts rationalizing why I will never be good enough to have amazing things happen. Why I can never be in a functioning relationship, why I will always be stupid, why I will never be skinny. The voice berates me, with taunts about my knobby knees, my hips, my non-symmetrical eye line. And I will hang my head low, in shame, thinking that this voice is right, things will never go my way, maybe I am not worthy of the things I so hope for.
But, I can’t lose my grip. That voice doesn’t have to guide me, it doesn’t have to be my reality. I have purpose in my work, in the people I can see I make happy, in the transformation externally I have made into a woman from a girl who had just donned a cap and gown. I can’t be on a run and let that voice tell me I am slow and fat and that I will never be the tan and skinny girl who hit on the man I harbor so many feeling for. She is no better than I, and I no better than her. I need to stop justifying people putting me down, because I will never get anywhere in life if I continue to believe that certain comments and actions by others that hurt me are okay.
I cannot give others permission to take away the parts of me that made me that naive and hopeful girl. While I can say I am not as green as that fresh-faced girl who believed that everyone should be forgiven when they hurt you, I am not jaded either. I no longer believe that I need to forgive everyone. I no longer believe that forgiveness is necessary. And that’s not out of bitterness. I wish no ill to those I don’t forgive. I just know that forgiveness won’t free me from the pain they have caused me. What frees me from that anguish is releasing them from my life completely and finding other people to replace their hurt with joy.
This is my manifestation who I am, right now, in this moment. My grip on life is shaky, not sturdy. I long for companionship and safety, financial security, and consistency in friendships. I crave dependability in people I surround myself with that I feel I have been robbed of.
I am not a victim, I am not a martyr. I don’t want sympathy or empathy from people. I am no hero either. There are far more people who triumph disease, war, poverty, and deserve these emotions.
What I want from my life, myself, my actions, is to be proud. I want to be proud of my strength and garner it with prestige even more so than right now. I want to continue to find resilience, fire, passion, excitement, possibility, and truth in corners and places I never imagined.
Most of all, I want to surprise myself…. I want to silence that little voice that terrorizes me in the dark of the night.


Confidence

In my end of the year meeting with my boss, I asked politely for constructive criticism. I am becoming more open to criticism that is healthy, and learning to distinguish what’s constructive and what’s not.
“Be more confident. You are very intelligent, clearly very smart, or you wouldn’t be going to where you’re getting promoted to. It’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. You know what to do, your way may be different than mine but that doesn’t make it wrong.’

And with that, in that moment, I could see glimpses of an entire 12 months chock full of moments of triumph and heartbreak. It was not an easy year, my first out of college, but god have I learned. I have learned more than any textbook taught me, any test I didn’t do well on in school ever could have. This year I learned about life and how confidence can make or break your work and your spirit.

I have said this before and I will say it again, confidence is a mirrored action. My mother lacks a great deal of confidence, so she criticizes herself on her appearance and her intellect and lets her husband subconsciously belittle her for her talents. She projected this lack of confidence heavily on my sister and I growing up and though she would tell me I was smart or pretty, I never believed her. I always felt (as horrible as it is to say) that she was only saying those things because she felt obligated to do so.

My dad has the greatest confidence in his professional abilities. He sees innovative ways to make companies succeed, recognizes his gift, and manifests it in a way that has made him hugely successful. But, for a long time, he wasn’t comfortable with a lot of his upbringing, the demons he carried. So, he turned to alcohol and other substances to find solace that he could never quite reach. My mother didn’t help. As he kept climbing the success ladder, she craved more. You see, she stopped working when I was born. A huge blow to her self-esteem. She’s always been bitter about that and it’s completely understandable why. That being said, if my parents were mature and healthy communicators about their mutual insecurities, they could’ve saved themselves and my sister and I a world of pain. But, hindsight is always 20/20.

My sister has no self-confidence. She has gotten better as far as being dependent on my mother for emotional support and safety, but she still has no sort of guiding light. I think it’s because she hasn’t found her purpose yet. She’s extremely intelligent and speaks of lofty goals that include making millions and buying nice things, but I honestly think she feels a moral obligation to my mother to achieve this. I want her to be happy, but I see her living in this unrealistic dream world in order to drown out everything she doesn’t want to deal with.

Healthy confidence is a losing battle for many of us. We all have our traumas, the memories of the boy who called you fat, or the pants that just wouldn’t fit over your hips. I am using my few weeks off before going back to my promotion to work on my confidence. I have gotten so much better with my confidence levels, however the biggest lesson I have learned this year is that in order for me to succeed in any avenue of life I want to, I must believe in myself. It’s a daily task for sure, but part of growing up is realizing how much more capable we are than we ever imagined.

Remember: we all have our flaws, our weak moments, our bad hair days. But at the end of it all, we also have our gold medal moments, the memory of the first time someone told us we were beautiful and we believed them.


Flawed

I can still remember the first day I met you. You had a tan and a little bit of a five o’clock shadow. You were wearing a white dress shirt with one button unbuttoned and no tie on. You seemed so confident, so sure of who you were. I think in that first moment, our first encounter, I fell for you. And now I sit here like some fool, wondering why I feel that way.
You hurt me. Though we don’t talk about it, you know you did. Because I know that you know, that I know what you did. And it was wrong. It left me with a metallic and sour taste in my mouth. And it rips me apart inside because I can’t seem to comprehend it, even still.
Three weeks ago there was a shift. I felt it. It was like the minute you mysteriously were no longer my manager, after you sat in my performance review and said maybe two sentences, you could breathe. I also noticed that you didn’t go to visit her again. And you weren’t facetiming her in the morning or disappearing to call her. And then that Friday that you asked me what I was doing that weekend and before I could let you offer something about your weekend or try to make plans in some way with me, I cut you off. I’m so confused.
Then two weeks ago, the hurt. I could feel your eyes on me when I walked in the room that warm Friday night. I didn’t make any moves to give you attention though. I want you to come to me. And while I know you want to, it’s still always ever-real that we both like our jobs and can’t reconcile whether we should ever try anything. So I bet you were mad. Brought your friend there, nudged him when I walked in, then felt like an idiot when I didn’t throw myself at you. I put myself in a cab about two hours later, knowing I was too drunk to go out after the event we were both at.
What I woke up to the next day…. is a moment in time I can never bury. Why her? Why my friend? Did you think I wouldn’t find out..? As the pieces of the puzzle began to come together, I began to move away from anger towards you to something else. Almost relief… you weren’t perfect and you clearly weren’t in love with your girlfriend (if you were/are dating her). But did it also mean you had nothing in your heart for me? I’ve gone over the scenario 100 times in my head if it was me. I may do what you tried to. But I guess this situation has given me so much insight into who you are.
You are immature. And lonely. And confused. And you just want someone to appreciate what you do and who you truly are. And that Monday, I completely and blatantly ignored you. And it killed you. I saw it. You’re not a bad person. You’re not this scumbag. I honestly and truly believe this to be true. So I am working on forgiving you. And I also still believe you have feelings for me. We now have an even more bizarre relationship than before, with more unprofessional moments.
And God, I want you so badly. I understand you. But you’re unstable. And I don’t understand your relationship status. I just want you to be free of your demons, I want you to stop punishing yourself. I see it now, in the moments when you walk with your head down or the times where I look at your chomped down nails.
It’s scary really. I hide who I truly am to so many just like you, so well. People think we’re both these amazing people, who are smart, attractive, focused. But, even though you’re five years older, you and I are still working on finding ourselves. We both punish ourselves when we mess up. We both mess up a lot. We both fear that no one will ever truly understand us and that ultimately there will be no one to call home.
I probably shouldn’t, but I keep trying to get closer to you. And it’s working. Because I can feel you getting closer to me. And I don’t know that this is a good thing. You’ve stuck your neck out for me so many times and had my back so many times, but you did hurt me once. And I can’t forget that.
But I can’t get rid of the thought of your big grin, that I only see. The endless conversations we share, that only end when they are interrupted. You’re not bad and once you see that, and that I see that, maybe we can walk together and conquer it all.


Adult

So that was the moment. Watching my friend, with her knees pushed and knocking each other, eyes rolling back in her head. She struggled for her balance and I was so very embarrassed for her. And it hurt my heart to see her sway in the dim light of the bar. Her ankles were about to roll until I grabbed her under the arms. Then the bouncer shined a bright light on us and sternly exclaimed ‘she’s out, gotta go. NOW.” Without hesitation, I escorted her out. Shockingly (or not so?) all of the other girls we were with suddenly evaporated into the crowd.
It was in that brief monologue of my friend, twenty-two years old with a bachelors degree and a management position, that I truly saw it. I guess for years I have been searching for it: the ability to not be that girl. Not be the shitshow. And on Saturday I wasn’t. I wasn’t the girl who couldn’t walk in heels. I wasn’t the girl with too much makeup on. I wasn’t the girl who kept pulling her too short dress down. I wasn’t her.
We become adults when we say we aren’t. We think we’re adults when we say we are. But life is mystical and the way we define chapters some times eludes even the deepest parts of ourselves. I have been responsible, wise, and independent for a long time. But, I was always a party girl too. Vodka, combat boots, and heavy eyeliner were my specialty. Crop tops and too tight dresses, half open eyes and banged up knees. No I wasn’t the most rebellious, but I thought the only way to make myself happy was to get really fucked up and wake up with black eyeliner on my pillow in the morning.
Hobbies? They consisted of working out, getting drunk 4 days a week, eating too much dessert and undoing the workout, most likely crying over a boy who didn’t know how to love me, networking, drinking, driving to the beach and crying by myself, and giving way more to others than I ever received.
To feel free slowly but surely from everything that holds you back is a scary place. You want so badly to be happy, to finally feel like you have a clean slate. You want to believe that the potholes and road blocks are surmountable. And I can’t sit here and say I don’t still have terrible days where I leave work and cry in my car, or moments where my actions are immature. But, part of being an adult is recognizing your flaws.
I also have learned to recognize my worth. Have faith in my abilities. Know my capabilities. I have hobbies now. I read educational books and try to learn about the world. I genuinely listen to people that I have nothing to gain from. I have never been a selfish person; but I am less selfish now. I prefer long skirts to short and tight dresses; even if I weigh less. I don’t wear heavy eyeliner, in fact I rarely wear eyeliner. I stopped tanning. I prefer Wine to Vodka.
In many ways, I am a different woman. I can now recognize my own strength and beauty when I look in the mirror. I don’t find it unfeasible to have a healthy relationship with a man.
I have so much more work to do on myself. Life is an ever-progressing work-in-progress. I can’t wait to keep becoming the woman I dream about.
I have forgiven. I have moved forward. I am slowly releasing the gravity of the demons who have held me back.


Intensity

I think part of the reason I have trouble finding a guy that suits me stems from two gleaming personality traits I embody. One isn’t really a trait, more of a theme. I am my own worst enemy. I doubt myself, stress myself out to my core, and second-guess my abilities too often. I am growing out of this for sure, but it’s still there. The other is my intensity. My laser-focus on things that makes many question my sanity, my insatiable need to push my own limits in many ways, and also challenge others. This is very off-putting to many of the male suitors who at some point thought chasing me would be a simple game. Unfortunately, it’s never that easy with me. And I guess I make it that way to protect myself. I make it so easy for the ones I know will never get me, give them all of me physically, but almost nothing of my mind. And for the ones I truly and intensely feel for, I do my best to pull away from them just enough to feel like I have the upper hand, and if I do by some measure show that I may in some form, cherish them more than a friend or acquaintance, I retreat. I find a way to withdraw, to leave. Fight or flight my friends.
Now this all sounds so cliche and contrived, I know this. Everyone can talk a huge game as to why they are not attached, why they always find themselves alone at events or in their bed on a Friday night. We can preach and pick apart what we do wrong and why our lives are the way they are. But, do you believe in the universe’s power to control our fate? Not in some crazy extra-terrestrial or astrological way, but in the idea that people walk into our lives for a reason. That our paths intertwine with people to create meaning. That sometimes, familiar pieces of someone we used to know, or something that reminds us of safety, suddenly manifest so boldly in someone that you never expected to find.
Am I romanticizing Jim? Probably. But, I don’t give him enough credit. I thought he was so simple for so long. I really thought I would get sick of him, I really thought one day he would do something that made me snap out of the dreaming glances I give him, and big smiles. I assumed that the day I found out about his girlfriend I would feel inferior. I thought that at some point it would get old.
But, he’s intense. I think anyone who doesn’t understand him thinks he’s a douchebag or miserable and flat-out gives up on him; throws in the towel. So, I think he has learned not to overwhelm people with himself. Which is too bad. I see so much good in him, so much passion, so much heart. So much intensity. And I think if he had someone by his side to help him channel all of this, his big personality, his masculine energy, he wouldn’t get so frustrated at work. He wouldn’t retreat from those around him so easily. Because, he would know that above all else, he could leave for the day and feel like the person he got to see outside of work would get it. She wouldn’t question him or judge him. And it doesn’t take a genius to see that when someone stays until 7 o’clock on a Friday night, regardless of where their significant other resides, they’re not all in. It also doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if someone can still get so nervous around a female even after 8 months working side-by-side with her….his feelings are probably more intense than that of his other colleagues.
It was funny on Friday. I stayed late to finish something up that I didn’t want to forget to finish this morning and he was organizing things near my desk. His fashion sense is so terrible it’s cute. It’s not horrible, just so unrefined. He and I were chatting, me trying to look more interested in the computer than him, and we were discussing my ideas for getting a third job. I mentioned that I wanted to go back into a restaurant and he started prodding me about where I wanted to work etc. I had no clue, this was just an idea that I had done no looking in to. “Well I could talk to my managers at work….I’m a bartender on the waterfront. Maybe when it gets warmer, you’d make great money.”
I was very floored. He is pretty private when it comes to his personal life. And that’s definitely part of his personal life. Plus, he already sees me for eight hours a day anyway. And the fact that he would be willing to spend more time with me wasn’t surprising, but just intriguing. I didn’t want to think too much of it, but at the same time how could I not? I doubt he had ever offered to vouch for anyone else who worked with him and wanted him to get them a job at his place. I wondered what his goal from working at another place with me was. I wanted to know if he thought that seeing each other in a different setting would bring us closer together.
I want to know so much more. It’s like an endless saga that I just wish I could control. I wish I didn’t feel so much intensity and energy when it’s just the two of us. I wonder if it’s worth it to see him in my future in a bigger way. I want to know how much she means to him.
Few people truly understand me. There are only a handful who get to see my flawed insides, my bitterness about certain things in my past, the haunted look I get when I find the memories I don’t want to talk about. My inability to articulate the love I feel for some. How I never want people to think I am stupid, or incapable, or cruel. And I am so mad that I don’t let more people in. I am so mad that I don’t fight harder to keep people closer to me. But, I guess, I still believe in my heart that the universe will cross my path with someone who I’ll never feel like I need to hide from.
If you find someone who handles your intensities, for whatever you focus them on, and does it with grace and ease, don’t lose them. If you find someone who tries to hide their imperfections, their fuck-ups, and you still see so much beauty anyway, don’t give up hope on them. You see, love takes time. Some of us fall in love quickly, while others, we need our love to grow. We need to be able to appreciate someone, but also acknowledge that they are so flawed, so wonderfully human.
Let your intensity out, because the right one will never question it.


Matter

The last week there has been a recurring theme in my life; what people value me for. On Thursday, on my nightly phone call with my co-worker bestie she said some things that felt like shards of glass running across my skin. “Yeah, but that intern was hot. Bill will definitely want her in the office this summer. You may not be queen bee for very much longer…they like you because you’re pretty and young.” There are so many things I could’ve said and I wish I had let them manifest from my lips. But, I didn’t. I let her say that and get away with it. Maybe, because I was so dumbfounded. Bill’s my boss boss, not just my manager. He and I have a great relationship, and we’ve developed a good joking manner and just work well together. He is the same age as my co-worker crush, so 28. The fact that my so-called ‘friend’ thought that she could discount me so quickly was definitely brutal.
But, it got me to thinking. Soul searching. I went in to work on Friday and tried to observe the way Bill and my other manager/crush/co-worker interacted with me. Was Bill really only impressed with me because I am pretty? Did my co-worker crush only do things to help me and listen to me, because I’m young and hot? It was driving me crazy. Do I get special treatment? I pondered that one and kept turning it over like a coin in my mind. My coworker crush, let’s just call him Jim from now on, always has that delighted big grin on his face that dudes get in 7th grade when they see the big tittied overdeveloped middle school girl walk by. Bill, is more mature, and while awkward, he says things like ‘No one’s better than you!’ Or ‘you’re the best, like the absolute best.’ I welcome these compliments but also don’t revel in them. I don’t like too much praise, it makes me viciously uncomfortable like that wool turtleneck my mom put me in when I was little.
And the other girls at work don’t like me. My so-called ‘friend’ and this group of girls…I can tell. They see me as some post-grad who literally gets smiles from all the males and gets away with things. I see the way they smirk at me, uninclude me, most likely talk about me and the way I dress. Girls never grow out of being catty when they find a target and the mean girls are alive and well at my non-profit. My mom calls it jealousy and at first when she said that, I disagreed. I’m socially awkward in big groups, often dumb myself down around people I think are more qualified and competent than myself, and still stutter on occasion. Clearly, I have many enviable professional skills. But, she insisted they were jealous of me because of how I present myself. And now, especially after Thursday, I think she’s right. But, it still sucks.
It sucks to walk into a school and when you tell people who you are, they take two looks at you and say you aren’t qualified. Not only because you look young, but also because you’re a female working in athletics, and you’re feminine to boot. So you must not know who is seeded highest in PAC-10 for college basketball and you can’t possibly know what you’re doing. So, people sell me short a lot at the schools I walk into. And one particular coach, took advantage of the one time I was too naive to see that he was bad news. I talked about him in November, but on Sunday I received a text from him, asking if I was ok since he hadn’t seen me around lately at school…. NO. Just no. But, at the time I was actually getting ready for a date.
Ah yes, another part of this theme about what people value me for. I chatted with this really cool guy on Friday, and he asked for my number. On Saturday he texted me and asked me to brunch. On Sunday we had a great brunch date. Or so I thought… We talked a little bit after the date but I haven’t heard from him since. And I am not stupid, if a guy wants to talk to you, he will. I think on Friday, I was just enough for him. I was witty, tipsy, and looked great. He was intrigued and even called me charming. But, on Sunday, he got to see a little more of me, the stuttering, the rambling occasionally, the inability to finish a story because of ADHD. And maybe he would’ve preferred if he could’ve just had the girl from Friday back. The pretty girl.
I sense there’s something I don’t know when it comes to Bill and Jim and how they feel about me. Lately, Bill has been working more one-on-one with me, which I know bothers Jim. Bill called me today to come meet him at a nearby conference room. When I arrived nearby, Jim looked confused as to why he wasn’t included in the meeting and paroused by the glass conference room, with almost a look of jealousy. Looking back, I think Bill uses me as an ego booster. I laugh at his jokes even when they aren’t funny, I re-establish ideas he has come up with, I help him in a way that shows I care. But, I do this because he is my boss and ultimately these are things any good subordinate does. Bill never looks jealous or mad when I meet with just Jim, or come up with a good idea with Jim. But, that’s because Bill has no real feelings for me. Bill has a picture of him and his girlfriend on his desk, and I think they’re very much in love. Bill likes me because I come in with a smile every day and always look presentable. Bill likes that I never complain, that I work hard, that I am a team player. He appreciates my physical beauty, but I believe more so he likes my professional talents.
Jim is a completely different story. Jim and I get each other. We don’t even have to say it, because it’s like an unspoken truth. No matter how many dates I go on, how many guys I kiss, I keep coming back to him. When I told him about the coach texting me, he was confused. And mad. I could tell, because he started breathing heavily. But, he used his words carefully and listened to me like I was telling him the greatest secret in the world. I kept shifting my glance as I told him that I was frustrated with the coach and that I am a 23 year old female and this guy was a respected disciplinarian and coach in the school. I re-arranged the sticky notes on my desk and could feel Jim’s glance piercing me. When I finally looked up into his eyes, him leaned over the counter of my desk, I again was re-assured at what I know to be true. When I made the comment about being a 23 year old, he looked at me like I had left something out. His eyes, while stern and to the point with others, were soft puppy dog eyes in that moment. And I felt it. I feel it every time we both let our guards down. But, I can’t let that permeate me right now. So, even though I sensed he wanted to say more and wanted to let me be vulnerable and feminine for longer, I just sort of cut the conversation short and said ‘ok thanks for the advice.’
I guess the more I get to know Jim, and the more he becomes comfortable and trusting of me, the more I also worry. Jim and I are scared shitless of each other. Even if he doesn’t admit it, even if he keeps driving two states over to see her, or she comes here, he doesn’t look at me like Bill does. He respects me and values me, but there’s definitely more to it. On a conference call with Bill last week, he made two huge mistakes, in terms of trying to cover up how he sees me. Jim, Bill, and another colleague were determining how many sports programs I should run in the spring. The other colleague said flat out ‘no more than 3’. I had just asked to do 4. Bill agreed and said ‘3 is ideal, Jim what do you think?’ Jim skirted around the question, but finally said ‘I love you ____(my name), but I think 3 is what’s going to work best.’ Just say 3 bro, just say 3. And then as I asked a question on the conference call, the response from Jim was astounding. ‘Don’t count on it babe.’ Jim looked at me for a reaction but I was so shocked he had said that, that I couldn’t speak. He could see it wasn’t well-received and tried to play it off.
Jim calls me hun a lot. I mean if it were someone that was like my dad’s age, or a mentor, or someone who uses affectionate terms with other female co-workers, no harm, no foul. But, he’s a 28 year old guy that is often seen as a tad grumpy and stern with most of the people he works with. So it’s definitely concerning. I fight so hard to not care that he looks at me for too long, that his gaze doesn’t make me weak in the knees. That while I am vulnerable for a few minutes, he makes himself vulnerable when he slips and says things that show there’s more to the story with how he feels.
I want more. I want exchanged words in the corner of a dive bar. I want smiles at midnight, intertwined hands in the hot summer breeze. I want to hold him and I want to listen to him. I want to run my hands through his hair, I want to give him more reasons to smile than he has now. But, we both love work so much. We are both so passionate about the organization. If this were to happen now, or in the not so far future, it would be sticky.
I can’t let go though. Ever met someone who honestly makes you feel like you matter, always? Someone who makes you feel at your best, who pushes you to be that person that they see you can be. And they handle you like you’re worth a million dollars, even when you’re bloated or tired or cranky. They still show that you alone matter. He does that. And I know he has the same fear I do with people, never giving himself completely to someone for fear that they won’t be able to handle him. That it won’t matter that he can be sweet, that he is a little rough around the edges, that he has freckles on his nose even in winter, but that he can be very intense. That he doesn’t handle being in the passenger seat well. That his sense of style could use work. That he is secretly not sure of what he’s doing at work. He doesn’t need to see her everyday, because he knows if and when he does, he will have to face all the things that will never add up for them.
We all matter. We matter for our acts of kindness. Our fears. Our contributions to the greater good. Our creativity. Our unique quirks. People will make you feel like you don’t matter more than a few times in your life. They will leave you, show you how little they value you, make you feel so small. And the silver lining to that dense dark cloud is this: you are then given the ability to distinguish when someone sees your tremendous worth and value. You matter.


Loveless

Oh Valentines Day. Every year this day and I seem to be at odds, either subconsciously or very blatantly. In my teen years and college years, I acted too good for Valentines day. “Whatever…being single is so much cooler.” I blew smoke out my own ass just to make myself look and feel better. But, I didn’t actually even know the meaning of the word single. Singlehood is both a beautiful and scary thing.
I try to look at Valentines Day now as a day to celebrate all types of love. The love I feel for those closest to me, even if they’re not a significant other. Or at least that’s how I spin it if someone dare ask if I have a valentine. It’s the one day of the year any person has the right to know about your romantic life. And that is both disturbing and annoying. Fuck off world, just because none of my conquests have worked for me up until this point, doesn’t mean I am a loser for not having a valentine. In actuality, no one has asked me if I have a valentine, but I am always dreading they will. If I say I don’t is it assumed that I am the undateable and there’s something inately wrong with me? And I do this weird stutter blinky thing when I am nervous so it’s likely that’ll happen too when someone asks me.
Most days, I have learned to stop wondering about my future valentine. If he is already in my life or if one of these days he will just appear. Given my superior intuition, I am not really sure where he is at. Or how long it will take me to meet him or for both of us to realize what’s meant to be. I am at an age where it is still acceptable to be single. Still, as horrible as it sounds, sometimes I wish I could make the males that surround me wonder about my super boyfriend. I know they’d be dying to meet him. Because, they love me. They all (not just my co-worker crush), get to see me at my best, which is pretty damn good. And if they see this, they would expect someone pretty kickass to be with me.
But alas there’s no one. There’s about four guys I could text right now and get wrapped around my finger in three minutes. But, that’s nothing to brag about. And it’s nothing to be proud of. Those boys (not men), appreciate me for my body and ability to be a wild child, not my kindness and positivity.
They say people meet the people they belong to in places that aren’t bars or clubs, but in spaces where there is common interest shared and a bond can be formed…
I wonder if I am loveless every once and a while. Like that I am so crazy and hard to understand, that no one ever will. That my natural affinity for chaos and craziness is preventative in the long run for me finding love. That I am too hard to understand, too hard to love.
And that kills me. It makes me feel low, alone, hopeless.
But these are small moments.
Life is a beautiful, amazing, love-filled, struggle.
The people that break our hearts, make us ache for them, build us up, and maybe break us down, help us become the loveable people that ultimately will bring the love we deserve. Whether that means them or someone better suited for us.
I am a firm believer that we all have a key to the lock on our hearts. Regardless of your age, never stop searching, never settle.
Happy Valentines day to the lovers and the fighters,
may you find yourself and the love you deserve.


Do you think of me?

I wonder in the moments throughout the day when you glance back out of the corner of your eye, at me at my desk. I wonder when you offer to buy me breakfast, then wink at me when you see that I already have some. I wonder when you look like someone just stabbed you when I tell you you gave me false information and now I have to start something from scratch.
I wonder when you have me smell the scent of the espresso you brewed and lower your voice to see what I think of it. I wonder when you act macho and almost like a jerk when our male co-workers are around. You even call yourself a jerk, then look at me for a reaction. But, I can’t give you one.
No, it’s not to make you wonder more…I just need to protect myself.
I wonder if you smile with your crooked smile, a full smile; at her. I wonder if she lets you go when you’re ranting and angry. If she lets you do so, exuding aggression, but remaining calm. Because, when you do that, it’s never actually personal. It’s just you. What attracts me to you is that you’re the only other person who is as crazy as me. To anyone who doesn’t understand your motivations, your drive, your dedication, you’re probably an asshole. And sometimes you are an asshole. But, I can be cranky and rude too. We are all flawed.
I wonder if she sees you at your best. I wonder if she appreciates who you truly are or spends too much time trying to dull you down and fit you into a box that she approves of. I wonder if she smiles when you smile; I wonder if she makes you smile.
But, do you ever think of me? Does it ever cross your mind that when we converse it’s like electric currents surging through the lines? When our eyes meet and I feel a flutter in my soul, do you feel it too? When you’re not at your desk and you don’t get to see my face, do you wish you could?
I think too hard about you. While I have gotten better at seeing all the reasons we should never be more than two people who share common interests and the same passion for our organization, you keep giving me reasons not to lose hope. I want you to take that picture with her out of your desk and put it up. I want you to make small talk with me about how excited you are to see her this weekend. Because, I want you. I want you too much. I want you in ways that I can’t even fully grasp.
You’re the only weakness I have at work. Everything else I can handle, every other mundane task, I am capable of completing. Burying my feelings for you? I am still learning that one.
And I know I give very few signs that I feel how I do….but can you blame me? What am I supposed to do, shamelessly flirt with you or throw myself at you? While being unprofessional and inappropriate, it’s also not my style.
Nah there are some things I know. The way you look at me. The way you genuinely listen and remember everything I say. The smile you uncontrollably have when you see me. Do you like me because I am young? Because I am physically attractive? But if it were that simple this could’ve stopped many moons ago.
There’s tension. Your boss, who’s also my boss, I think he can sense it. Maybe he knows. Maybe you told him. There’s something I don’t know. I hate not feeling clued in, but I also hate when you call me hun and I can’t tell if you’re doing it because you feel bad for me or because you care about me.
I want to be your friend.
Life could be so much easier. While it is unusually complicated that you are my manager, but make every attempt to act like you aren’t, I wish we could be friends. Maybe if we were close friends you could tell me about her. Maybe you would explain why your relationship status still says single on facebook. Could you tell me what you love about her?
Do you love her?
I am entangled by your words. How we seem to be making slow progress towards knowing each other. How it is still hard to breathe when you first come near me. But, I am more entrapped by your actions. Are you trying to be the hero and rescue me for the sake of your ego? Am I just the underdog? Your voice softens when it’s just you and me though. And you light up when I inject the positivity you need back into the day.
You think of me. In my gut I know it. But, I don’t know how much longer I can think of you this way. You see, I want to learn and grow with the organization. I don’t know how accepting they would be if anything ever happened between us. But, I know you wonder. i know you look at me just enough when you walk by me, that I can tell.
I wish you weren’t with her. Any fool can see you don’t love her. You barely mention her, you hide a picture with her underneath junk in your drawer. There is no evidence that she has impacted your life at all. Hasn’t created something positive to add to it.
She’s two states away.
Are you going to spend the rest of your life going back and forth to see someone you once told a colleague “I see her enough!” Or mention her negatively when talking about her inability to find a sports bar to watch the game.
I see it, so do you. The question really is how long I am willing to hold out hope for you and how long it will take you to realize what you should do. Is it worth a try?
If I had to choose, I would say yes.


Pretty

You’re not always going to be pretty. There are days when you will not look or feel your best. When you’re self-conscious you have a muffin top, when the words that stream from your mouth don’t make you look pretty. There will be moments in time when you won’t look pretty. When salty tears cascade down flushed and swollen cheeks, because you have finally been broken. When you wake up in the arms of someone you don’t love, your eyes holding little semblance of last night’s smoky eye.
There will mornings you look in the mirror and think to yourself ‘how could anyone ever love me?’ You will spend too many days perfecting your eyeliner or mascara, hoping someone will find you pretty. You will put on a pair of jeans that hug you in just the right way or the way you think you should, just so someone will check out your backside. You’ll have pimples in inopportune places; dark circles from sleepless nights.
When you yell, some may not find you pretty. When you hold your ground, people will be insulted that you can actually speak eloquently. They will be floored that you are attuned to their motives and agendas. And they will no longer see your delicate and beautiful face. You can have a degree from the best college in the world, but if you’re pretty, that’s the first thing people will see.
If you’re pretty, some will assume its because you come from means. Many will think if you’re pretty, you are not very bright. Some will feel bad for you. “Just another pretty face.” And some who are pretty on the outside aren’t so pretty on the inside. A woman can be breathtakingly damningly beautiful, but any man who has any sense of human decency will leave her if she is cruel. Because, pretty can be evil.
We are brought up in a society that glorifies physical attractiveness. That puts people on a pedestal because of their ab muscles and their symmetrical faces. At the same token, if someone is at the appropriate level of beauty, they are often chastised by many.
No you’re not always going to be pretty. There will be days where your makeup is too heavy, your cowlick too prevalent, your pants too tight. There will be seconds in time when someone sees you for who you truly are and sadly that may not be so pretty.
The truth of life is this: beauty fades. While it is a gift and a wish to age gracefully and maintain a level of beauty, we are only young for so long. I think it’s so funny how people of the millenial generation are so easily coaxed into things because of how someone looks and interacts with them. I grew up in an awkward ugly duckling stage for about ten years. It ranged from a terrible masculine haircut, to terrible buck teeth and personal style to four years of braces. Boys didn’t give me the time of day. By the time my braces came off in high school, I had so little self-confidence and self-esteem, I didn’t see any chance any boy would come near me.
It was in college, after I gained and lost about 20 pounds twice, that I started to see how differently I was treated. And not simply because I was smaller by the end of college, but because of the way I held myself. While society is fucked in it’s perception of the ideal waist to hip ratio and physical attributes, it is also the confidence we have in ourselves. I had never felt truly beautiful until I graduated from college. I guess it was the moment I fell in love with my job and found my passion that I truly began to feel beautiful. Because I was confident. Because I could get all eyes in the room to focus on me without trying. And not because I look like Jennifer Lawrence or am conventionally pretty. But instead because I am unique and driven and outgoing.
I work in inner-city high schools with many kids who have never interacted with a white female within their age range. Many of the boys are fascinated by me. A pretty white girl who likes sports? And talks to us and asks us about our days? I get many unsolicited compliments from them. But, it’s nothing that deters me from doing my job. Men are lucky in that way; even if they are ruggedly handsome, it’s rare that someone will ignore there message so openly just to comment on their appearance. Men and women respect a handsome man, a tall strapping man, a man who can back up his looks. People are less receptive to a female with the same comparable features. Like I said earlier, she could be a Nobel Prize winner, but if she’s got a nice ass, people will attribute that to her first.
I spend a lot of energy trying to distance myself from my appearance. Being a 23 year old girl brought into an athletics-driven job that’s surrounded by males and boys clubs, I very believe I have to work twice as hard to prove myself. And that doesn’t make me bitter or make me feel like I have a chip on my shoulder. The simple truth is, my abilities are immediately discounted when I smile or flip my hair to one side. Working with mostly men, it would be easy to use my feminine charms to get away with things. But, then, I wouldn’t feel as pretty. That’s not me. I’ll always be that thirteen year old girl who listens to Fleetwood Mac and wears too much jewelry. I will always be that fifteen year old girl at the school dance waiting for a boy to ask her to slow dance. I will always be that 20 year old girl watching every one of her blonde friends get attention while she feels like an overpowering beast. And that’s why I appreciate people for who they are. You don’t have to be Liam Hemsworth to win me. You have to be kind, quirky, and able to see that I am far more than my looks.
I struggle a great deal. I guess although I have so much invested in my work and my passion, I have very little invested in who I am. I don’t value myself outside of work for more than my physical appearance. On days when I don’t look pretty, I judge myself harshly. On nights I feel unworthy of the good men, I go home with one that I know only values me for my nice ass. And in moments when men question my abilities, in any aspect of life, I blame what I look like.
But, I have learned one thing that I am getting better at re-enforcing to myself. It is a constant process, but I know every day I am growing from the notion of this: I don’t have to apologize for what I look like. Truth be told, I do have good genes. I am unapologetic that I have a nice ass. There have been times when it didn’t look this good. I’m not going to say sorry that I know how to make my eyes pop. Nor will I ever try to dull what I look like outwardly. That’s stupid. God gave me my outward manifestation and it is a huge part of who I am. And although what I look like on the outside is not every piece of me, it is what people see first.

There will be days when you’re not so pretty. But then, there will be days and moments in time when you are so amazingly exquisite to others that it won’t matter.