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.
This month is Domestic Violence Awareness month and it is definitely needed and deserves attention. More recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with some women who have experienced it. While DV impacts both men and women, so far professionally I’ve primarily worked with women. People seem to be always quick to judge this population and I have to admit that women quite often catch the short end of the stick in the court of public opinion. There’s an opinion that women who stay with cheating spouses are just doing what is expected of them and in many situations men aren’t questioned when they leave a relationship if the tables are turned. The truth is that it’s not always easy to get out. Abusers often control finances and seek to isolate their victims from close family and friends. It’s even more complicated when children are involved and there are questions about next steps and potential custody battles. It’s also important to realize that abuse doesn’t always have to be physical. It can be emotional and verbal as well. In order to make a plan to leave the relationship, one has to come to the understanding that it’s an unhealthy/abusive situation. I’ve had women tell me that every marriage has ups and down and that they don’t want to be quitters by leaving when it gets tough. Many have been encouraged by pastors and faith leaders that they should just submit to their spouse and just bear their cross. It’s important to understand that most victims don’t leave their abusers on the first attempt AND that they are more at risk for increased violence when they try to leave. This is why it’s important to be a supportive friend because you don’t know what someone is going through. Many times women won’t open up to their friends or relatives because they feel ashamed and may feel like they have failed in the relationship and/or marriage. Be present, be aware, be supportive. Learn and recognize the signs of an abuser and don’t give second chances.
I realized that I’ve posted some bad date stories but to be fair and to also (maybe) inspire some sense of optimism in my seemingly string of endless romantic bad luck I’ll write about a good date that I’ve had. I moved to a new place and I updated one of my social media accounts to show my new location. But let me take a few steps back. I’m a big fan of not having public social media pages. I like to be able to choose who sees what I post. There was a guy that I added for the very simple reason that he was cute and what he posted had substance. So for the past few years we didn’t interact but followed each other on social media. Fast forward to me coming to the new place. He commented on my post that he lived nearby and that we should hang out sometime. So a few weeks later we messaged and decided on a time and location. I was excited but had no idea what to expect. It was a public place but honestly you never know when you’re meeting someone in person for the first time. He was a good looking guy but for some reason I imagined that he was shorter than average because of the angles of the pictures he posted. Nothing wrong with that. So I arrived at the restaurant early and proceeded to order food and a drink. I didn’t know if he would decide to show up and I didn’t want to wait forever, plus I was hungry. But I picked a seat that faced the door so I would see him if he decided to come through. I’m enjoying my food and I see him walk past the windows and into the front door. Up to this point I had only swooned over a guy twice or so. Once when I walked past Brian McKnight in college and once when I was in Paris. This was the third time. I saw him and felt the air leave my lungs. I immediately felt my ears getting warm and I think my jaw literally dropped. Dude was fine. Not regularly fine where you can glance, smile, and keep it moving. The kind where you stop in your tracks and and stare while trying to decide if it’s worth it to take a picture to document the moment. He spotted me and came over to say hi and give me a hug before we moved to a different part of the restaurant. He ordered drinks and we started chatting. Great conversation that didn’t have those awkward silences. Found out that we had some things in common. I’m also mentally checking off things on my unofficial checklist of what I’d ideally like. Dude is passing with FLYING colors. Corporate with a twinge of bad boy? Check. Well read and well spoken? Check. Has a passport and travels? Check. Goals and ambition? Check. So I’m just enjoying the moment and focusing on the present. Another unaccompanied woman comes into the restaurant and sits close to us. She orders a complicated drink and frustrates the already swamped bartender. Then she starts to low key flirt with my guy. I’ll admit that I started to feel some twinges of annoyance and possessiveness but he shuts her down effortlessly. Bonus points for him. It was a good evening. We chatted for about 5 hours about anything and everything under the sun. It was never officially stated as a date and I was fully prepared to pay for my food and drinks and as the evening went on he started ordering drinks as we continued to talk. The bill came and he paid for it without complaint despite me half heartedly offering to pay for my portion. I’ve heard that if a guy pays than it should be considered a date. The bill was close to $200 bucks so I guess it officially counted as a date. He walked me to my car and walked on the outside curb. Great guy, good time, no complaints.
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.
I’ve made so many decisions since I moved back the South. Where I was going to live, what I was going to do, where I wanted to go, etc. In addition to starting a new job, I’ve also been tasked with keeping up with another job I have and simultaneously getting another two jobs off the ground and running. The thought of totally working for myself has always scared me to an extent. As an unmarried single person, there isn’t even the “safety net” of a spouse who could hold me down while I got something off the ground. I remember reading a quote that said entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff and building a parachute on the way down. The thing about building a location based business is that you have to be willing to put down some roots in order to build up some clientele and network. It isn’t something that happens overnight and it takes some deliberate effort. But maybe it’s time to do something different and consider settling down for a change. While I love the idea of some stability, I also hate the feeling of being stuck without a good reason. And if I have to settle down I want it to be close to a beach where I can see and swim with some dolphins. But the truth is that if I’m taking the fairly big step of renting an office, then I need to do something that actually justifies the monthly fee that I’m paying. Logistically, having even two private clients a month would pay for the office itself. Two people out of a city of several million doesn’t sound too bad. It just means that I need to be strategic and market appropriately. Maybe it’s time to step out and do something different. I don’t love the idea of working for other people for the rest of my life.
It’s funny how life goes sometimes. You prepare the best you can and then you have to make the best of what happens. Two years ago at this time I was having the time of my life in Paris and going on road trips to the countryside. This year is drastically different as I’ll be going into the office and working with clients. But to be fair, I was in Paris earlier this year so I can’t complain. The field of social work is so varied and throughout my career so far I have found myself in a lot of different settings playing multiple roles. My recent venture has me once again diving into the world of being a therapist. It’s a role that I haven’t been in consistently for a while, but one that I went to school for when the medical school plan didn’t work out. Contrary to popular belief, it’s so much more than just listening to people. Working at an outpatient clinic and working with the general public pretty much means that I deal with a little bit of everything. I don’t have a specialty or a specific diagnosis that I primarily work with. Every client requires a different skill set and theoretical framework. It really makes me grateful that I had an amazing post-graduate education that is actually paying off. A lot of clients just want to know that it’s ok to not be ok. It’s a change in pace from running around constantly in a hospital and doing a lot of case management. So far so good I guess. We’ll see what the rest of this year brings.
I don’t rant very often. I make an intentional effort to not do my ranting on social media because I’ve seen personally how things posted in the heat of the moment can impact your future. Lately I’ve been doing some reminiscing. I wrote yesterday about the month of May and how it always makes me think. I’ve gone on some great trips and have some good staycations in the month of May. But that’s not what my post is about. I decided to once again try my hand at online dating because if I end up old and alone and I want to at least know that I tried. I’m hoping that it will be some small consolation to me in some way. Now that I’m a little more seasoned in the game (because it is a game), I can say that my optimism is still present but skepticism still reigns supreme. It’s literally the equivalent of going through a landfill in hopes of finding something (or someone) that you can dust off, take home, and live with. With this method you’re guaranteed to find some duds or shiny tokens that look like the real thing but aren’t. It’s annoying, frustrating, and hopeless at times. I’ve posted some of my dating stories and while they are hilarious, they all actually happened. I have to say that the most frustrating thing is getting ghosted. For those who aren’t aware of the concept, it means that someone just decides to stop returning messages and calls for no apparent reason and moves on with their life without you and without warning. You meet someone and realize that you have a lot in common with them. You make plans to meet up and then they completely flake without any explanation. This current dating culture absolutely sucks. There’s really no other way to categorize it. Funny how everyone wants to be different than the last person you met but without any knowledge of what the last person did, they do the EXACT same thing. Communication is a lost art. Ugh.