On the road again

At the end of September after a long hiatus I started traveling a bit more again. Anyone who knows me well knows that I absolutely love to get away from the mundane and have an adventure. I have a pretty good mix of domestic and international travel planned that includes a birthday trip for the first time in my life. The majority of these trips are solo and it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I’ve learned a lot this year and have decided that being alone is definitely preferable to being in a toxic situation. I’m wrapping up my 3rd trip in less than a month and I still have 4 more to go before the end of the year. I’m going to try to squeeze in a 5th. But I’m working towards creating a life that I don’t need a vacation from and I’m closer than I was at the beginning of this year.

Liking because and loving despite

Lately I’ve started to watch a new show that has both intrigued me while simultaneously horrifying me. Usually I try to watch light hearted tv shows because my empath sense is very strong and I work in a helping field. The show that I’ve been watching is called Handmaids and it’s on Hulu. One thing I will say is that it’s definitely not a comedy but if you want a thought provoking and extreme view of what might be the future then it’s a must see. But that’s not what this post is about. One of the main characters said, “you like because, you love despite.” And honestly that’s the truth. I work with couples who have lost so much of their original passion and excitement for each other because things have become so mundane. They’ve taken each other for granted and it has taken a terrible toll on the relationship. The emotional connection is very strained or sometimes nonexistent. I think many times people think that therapy fixes everything but it doesn’t. The truth is that therapy can give you the tools that you need to be successful in your relationship. It takes a lot of effort and intentionality to change the trajectory of a relationship but it definitely can be done if both people want it and are willing to work on it. One person cannot sustainably carry the whole relationship on their back. It can happen for a while but there are always consequences. One thing I really enjoy doing with the couples I work with is doing exercises that help them remember why they fell in like with each other and what made them love the other person. It’s always eye opening and helps to start the process of reconnecting with each other.

The new identity

It’s weird to get a PhD. I know a lot of people don’t say it but achieving something like that makes you look at life differently. While my overall goal was to use the degree for higher education, I’ve found myself in the same field I’ve been in for the past 6 years. After all that time and energy spent and all the late nights and revisions and I’m not exactly working in my field full time. I need to have a strategy and to find out a way to maximize this new education level. This summer I plan to be more focused on having a plan and implementing it. I want to do more things and working on creating new opportunities. But I need to be more disciplined and consistent in order for it to work.

Qualifying

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.

Remembering the college years

A few days ago I got a reminder of a status on social media that I wrote when I arrived at college for the first time. It brought me back to ten years ago when I first arrived to my college campus as a student. I had a unique experience in that I already had been to  the campus multiple times growing up and my parents had attended, my grandfather had attended, and my grandmother had taught there. The journey to college wasn’t necessarily easy. I was homeschooled and used a distance learning school to earn my high school diploma. I was a senior in high school at age 15 but the bane of my existence was high school algebra and I wrestled with it until I finally finished.  Needless to say, I’ve only taken one math class since high school algebra and I don’t see myself taking another one in the foreseeable future. I finished high school about 6 weeks after my 17th birthday and I took a year off to take some classes and work before I went to college. I didn’t know what to expect 10 years ago when I started college. I was worried about how I was going to afford it and if I would be able to afford it for all 4 years. My parents had informed me from a young age that they wouldn’t pay for college so I understood that I would have to figure it out without their financial assistance. The bonus was that I had a scholarship that covered about half of my tuition. I didn’t know what to expect once I went to college and in the spirit of true preparation I brought WAY too much stuff. I quickly realized that the 8 storage containers that I brought from home would be way too much for the half of the dorm room I shared. I remember waiting in line at registration and hoping and praying that I could get in. After a small scare and an ok from the director of admissions I was in. The next three and a half years were filled with challenges and acclimation to a more traditional educational environment. One of my goals was to finish in less than 4 years and i was able to accomplish that. I actually had to study for tests and finals week meant that I pulled a few overnighters to finish a paper or put the finishing touches on a project. I focused on the books and attended every class on time. I knew that I was there because I wanted to be and the effort that I put into my education reflected that fact. I honestly can’t believe that ten years has passed by but I can honestly say that I am a totally different person than I was back then. I’ve learned a lot since then and I plan to learn and grow more in the next ten years.

Social work today

A few days ago I shared an article on social media about the ways the social work is failing. While it was very thought provoking, the author also talked about ways to remedy the problem. As someone who has worked in the field for almost 7 years, the looks on people’s faces when I tell them that I’m a social worker can be quite comical. Unfortunately there’s still a prevalent belief that all social workers do is take kids away from their parents. Social work is one of the only professions I know where you can have a masters degree, two years of supervised experience, a clinical license AND make $17 an hour. That number isn’t arbitrary. It’s actually what I made when I first relocated to my original state of residence. The fact is that we are often overworked and not fairly compensated for our services. Burnout rates are at an all time high because we can’t even afford to take time off and it’s sometimes a struggle to pay bills and make student loan payments out of the pittance we’re given. Don’t get me wrong, you can make a decent living as a social worker but it will probably entail working more than one job, working in an administrative capacity, or being an entrepreneur of sorts. With mental illness continuing to be a growing concern, I wish that the growing demand for mental health providers like social workers translated into an increase in compensation—like it has for nurses. Something definitely needs to change and maybe the change that is needed is that of a union. While I don’t have all the answers, I believe that this topic deserves more discussion and also subsequent advocacy.

A date to remember (or not)

Earlier today I told someone that I would blog about my experience with Speed Dating. So far I’ve tried it out twice. Once was in Colorado where I was one of the youngest and the only person of color at the event. It was cool but I didn’t make any connections. My more recent attempt came around a Valentine’s day event that focused on young professionals. I got off work and rushed downtown where the event was being held. I was somewhat nervous going by myself but had decided that this would be my social event for the week in my intentional effort to get out there more instead of being at home all the time. So I got into the venue and it was pretty chill. There was a panel discussion scheduled before the speed dating and it hadn’t started yet so everyone was mingling and/or looking as lost as me because they were alone too. So in true introvert fashion I ordered a drink and found a quiet space to people-watch. I don’t know how it happened but soon I found myself chatting with a guy standing next to me. He seemed pretty cool and he also had a pretty decent government job (bonus points). We chatted through the panel and then split up for the actual speed dating event. The speed dating process was fun but very abbreviated. I met an eye doctor, several lawyers, a personal trainer, teacher, and financial analyst among others. I liked the fact that everyone was around my age. Speed dating ended and the guy and I started chatting again. We seemed to be vibing pretty well. He left for a second to catch up with one of his work colleagues that had come to the event. While he was gone one of the bar’s waiters came up to me to inform me that it appeared that the guy was feeling me. I was admonished to not miss out on my blessing. The funny thing was that the waiter was convinced that this guy was “the one” and that I would regret it if I didn’t make some type of move on him. On paper the guy sounded pretty good. Worked in IT, planning to get a masters, had a pre-teen kid that lived out of state, etc. We exchanged numbers and he graciously offered to walk me to my car which I appreciated because there were all kinds of characters (literally) lurking around. A few days later he texted me and asked me if I wanted to “hang out” over the weekend. I suggested going to lunch and he agreed. Great plan. The only thing was that this was all done over text message and it took him a minimum of 6 hours to reply to any text message from me. I tried to be understanding as we were both working professionals and he was also working full time nights in addition to his day job. I told him that he could pick the restaurant and he picked one that was about 5 minutes away from his house. This was fine but it also meant that I had to make the twenty-something mile drive down to his area of the city. I got to the place on time and let him know that I was there. He said he was “right around the corner.” Twenty minutes later he pulls into the parking lot. I was pretty annoyed at this point considering that I was the one who had driven the farthest and he (self admittedly) had nothing to do at home but was still late. We order the food (he paid) and went to find a place to sit. During this whole time dude stays on his phone returning text messages. It was bordering on obnoxious but he was still able to carry on a conversation without it being too bad. Observing the effort that he was putting into returning my text message I figured that the writing was on the wall. He gave the typical guy speech of “I’m ready for something serious but I’m not in a hurry.” But then he immediately jumped to asking when he could come over to hang out. He said that his place wouldn’t work because it was under renovation. Thankfully I caught the “coming over and hanging out” clue because it’s literally code for “I only want one thing.” I was admittedly a bit disappointed because he actually seemed cool and I gave vague answers on the timeline of him coming over to the house. I mentioned the delay in responses to text messages and he blew it off saying that he was busy at work most of the time and couldn’t read them. But he promised he would do better. The next week came and it became obvious he wasn’t serious as it was taking him days to return texts. I figured that it was better to cut my losses and told him that coming over was off the table for the foreseeable future until I had more evidence that there was a potential for something serious. I never heard from him again. Crisis averted.