Today makes 10 years since I finished my graduate school education. I remember how excited and optimistic I was for the future. I had gone straight from college into graduate school and even though my program was only a year long, it represented a major change. For the first time in my life I lived in a place where I didn’t know anyone and I couldn’t drive to my parents house on a whim. I had to adjust to living alone and creating my own community. The experience set the tone for my professional specialties of relationship therapy, religious trauma and career planning. I knew even then that I wanted to keep on learning and grow as a therapist. Ten years later I can say that I’m a lot more comfortable talking to clients and providing them with some value for their time and resources. I still enjoy helping people and finding solutions. Regardless of where my career goes next, I know I have a good foundation and a better sense of who I am—both personally and professionally.
There’s a lot that’s been going on and lately I’ve been thinking about the importance of compatibility in a romantic context. I’ve always been someone that hated the small talk part of getting to know someone. I’d rather ask deep personal questions that one should never ask on a first date that tend to illicit an awkward reaction. One of the most important compatibility aspects is the fact that both partners have shared outcomes. While they may not share the same favorite color or food, their values and life goals are compatible. They are on the same page about monogamy (or the lack of it), life philosophy, and other important big picture stuff. It gives them something to bond over and talk about because they’re on the same page and they see similar things in the future. Having increased positive interactions can help them in dealing with the everyday relationship stresses. It’s not always glamorous, but compatibility on a deep level works wonders for relationships success.
It’s rare that I find articles that discuss being an empath and I found a great one here. So much of our self image is shaped by our perception of the world. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found more value in disconnecting for a bit in order to recharge. I’ve also learned the importance of protecting my space and being mindful of energies that drain me. There are countless challenging moments but self soothing can work wonders as well as getting out my head a bit and finding a worthy distraction.
Lately I’ve been more consistent with limiting some of my time on social media. It tends to be a highlight reel of sorts and it can make you feel as if you don’t measure up. While I’ve accomplished a few things it’s easy to feel like I’ve done nothing and that I’m well below the curve as far as life goals. But the truth is that each person has their path and there isn’t a set time frame to get things done. There are people who accomplish great things later in life and there are those who have an earlier start. I’m starting to learn that it’s ok to do things on your own timeline. Accomplishments don’t mean less because they happen at a certain stage in life. There isn’t one way to do things because we are all different and our purpose differs as well. So I’m learning that is ok to cut yourself a bit of slack. Although I really do need to write a book and publish it I can recognize that it will happen but that it’s fine that I have not gotten around to it quite yet.
I’ve come to appreciate those lightbulb moments that make you pause and contemplate your life. Recently, after two weekends of work I decided that I needed to get away for a bit and go on a road trip. It wasn’t really planned but I knew that I wanted a change of scenery and that I didn’t want to drive too far away. I drove to the next state over and found myself at my alma mater. I guess I should give the background story. My college experience was the first time that I had ever lived away from home. Outside of staying with my grandmother for a few nights, I had not been allowed to spend the night anywhere else. I packed way too much stuff and had to send most of it home. I was incredibly studious and was hyper-focused on making sure that the balance of my school bill was paid. I took a lot of classes and worked several jobs so that I would finish my degree as soon as possible. I lived in the library and sang in the choir. I knew a lot of people but was never invited to a party or asked out on a date. It was so nostalgic to walk back on campus eight years later with three additional degrees and years of professional practice. I had the opportunity to speak to students in the same classroom that I was taught in and it felt incredibly weird but full circle to be introduced by the title of “Doctor.” I was reminded of the fact that I’ve learned so much over the years and as a result my worldview has shifted a bit. There’s nothing like being reminded of where you came from and I think that acknowledging the past can be a way to give ourselves permission to create a future that we want.
As this year of my life starts to come to a close I realize that there’s a lot that I want to do. While I have definitely had some milestones this year that included finishing my PhD, I’m not satisfied yet. Working in a hospital again has reminded me of how short life really is. I’ve had numerous patients who have passed away without any warning. I’ve had a lot of major changes that were unexpected but I also got hired on to my dream job (at least past time). So far I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel a little bit and I’ve visited 8 countries. I’m hoping to develop a good work life balance in the coming year and maybe flex my entrepreneurial muscles just a bit. The whole dating thing has absolutely been a bust so far so I figure I’ll just set goals around what I can control. Here’s to bigger and better things.
I admit that I struggle with the general idea that one has to “qualify” in order to get married. There’s this list of things that single women are given and expected to accomplish before they are ready to get married. We tell our girls that boys will always be there and to get their education first. You’re expected to work on yourself, do fun things, finish school, pay off debt, and get a decent job among other things before you qualify for marriage. Now granted, my story is different in that while I’ve always wanted to get married, I had a feeling that I would be on the road less traveled for a long time. I just didn’t anticipate how long it would be. I was hoping for 25 but now I’m pushing 30 without any actual potential mate on the horizon. I find it frustrating when I’m told that there’s something that I’m doing wrong or just haven’t done yet that makes me unqualified to be married. I see people all day, I’m a good listener, I can hold an emotionally safe place and challenge the perspectives of others in a way that is non-threatening and supportive. I’m the sole provider of my household of one and while I’m not rich, bills do get paid and I travel once in a while. I recently completed the highest educational level one can achieve (PhD) and yet the Universe still apparently sees me as unqualified for a mate. I’m all about doing the work but shit, being alone gets old after a while. I’ve learned how to self soothe and what to do to calm myself down but there are times that I’d sell my soul for a hug and the knowledge that someone has my back. Yes, I’m approached by guys but so far they aren’t ready for anything serious or want me to finance their lives and take care of them. Neither is an option I want to live with. It sounds corny but I want to matter to someone. Really matter. I haven’t found that yet and the older I get the less optimistic I am. It’s just exhausting and tiring doing it alone all the time and while I’ll always do what I have to do, I wish things were different.
“Nothing in life is free. There’s a price to be paid for everything and the sooner you learn that, the better off you’ll be.” I remember watching a children’s video when I was little where this mantra was repeated several times. But the older I get, the more I think that the saying is true. Nothing that’s worth getting comes easily. Running a business requires hard work, getting the perfect body requires good eating choices and gym time. One thing that I frequently hear myself talking to clients about is creating the life that you want for yourself. While I’ve never been an expert at taking my own advice, there’s something to be said about putting effort into getting what you want. A huge part of success involves actually defining what you want. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day life and lose track of the bigger picture. Be specific, write a plan, or get a vision board. Be willing to pay the price for success because the time will pass by anyway.
Unsplash/ John Schnobrich1. You got your hopes up. This almost lover of yours seemed like a dreamboat at one point — they were kind, thoughtful, adorable, and funny. You couldn’t help but hope they’d stick around and stay in your life for a long time. Inevitable devastation set in when your hopes were smashed. 2.…
Each and every one of these 14 things is accurate. As a therapist, I frequently process the breakups of romantic relationships with my clients and we discuss some of the feelings that come along with a dissolution of a relationship–or an almost relationship. The culture that we live in seems to be nonchalant and you aren’t ever supposed to act like you’re hurt or show vulnerability so that you don’t appear “needy” to the other person. The end of an almost relationship can hurt as much as a real one because you’re also mourning the loss of possibilities. It can be a really uncomfortable time. As someone who has had this experience countless times, I can say that it doesn’t get easier but time helps in moving past it and achieving some closure.
As I do every year, I’m preparing to do a purge of my contacts and delete the hundreds of random messages I don’t have any use for. My strategy is that if a number isn’t saved the message is deleted. Not too long ago I had an interesting exchange with a young man who happened to have one of the numbers in my phone that were never saved. He indicated that he wanted to meet me in person and said he was interested in me. Mind you, he popped up every few weeks or so and texted me regular small talk stuff. Nothing substancial or notable enough for me to save his number because it was obvious he only texted me when I got bored. Then he asked for a picture. Side note, what is it with guys always asking for a picture? You haven’t done anything to deserve a favorable answer to your inquiry and I don’t acquiesce to random demands from strangers. Needless to say, the answer is almost always no. But I digress. I ended up telling him what needed to happen in order for me to take him seriously and I may have also mentioned that I didn’t know his name and that his number had never been saved because he never earned that right. My point is that sometimes you have to clear your life of people who are just taking up space. They don’t have a vested interest in your success and don’t care about who you are as a person. Clearing can also involve deleting messages and contacts because you don’t have the time to entertain nonsense. It’s a necessary part of moving forward because you’re making room for something better.