Here Again

So, I effectively neglected this blog for a full year. I tell myself it was never intentional. Seriously, I did a ton of things last year. I finished my grad program. I had my first adult vacation in California with a great person. I picked up my life and moved away from my comfort zone that was western NY for seven years to a place where I know absolutely no one and I’m building a life I’m so incredibly happy with.

Let’s take a look at my goals from last year:

  • Eat & sleep well. Indulge a little.
    • Okay, so I slacked on this. I indulged a bit too much.
  • Enjoy the little things.
    • Definitely did this, but could have done more.
  • Celebrate the little victories even if I’m my own cheering section.
    • This was so important. Definitely did this.
  • Stop comparing – what other people think of me or do is none of my business.
    • Check!
  • Exercise regularly for a whole year.
    • um…
  • Stop texting so much and call more often.
    • I discovered the other person totally has to be willing.
  • Let the little things go. If it doesn’t matter in five years then it doesn’t matter.
    • Still true.
  • Never lower my standards for anything. I have standards for a reason.
    • This has created lots of stressful situations with my work, but I still stick to it.
  • Never wait for others to encourage me to do something – just do it.
    • Every day of my life.
  • Take a risk. I may live to regret it, but at least I lived.
    • I freaking moved my whole life

The best part of not writing here for a year is rereading that list a year later and actually being pleased with how well I did in some of those areas. I am most proud of taking a risk. I firmly believe that making the move to the Boston area was one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken.I was craving adventure and wanted to do something that scared me.

The past six months have been full of so much learning about what’s important to me. While I do not believe I love my job as much as I expected to, I would make the decision a million times. I found such amazing friends (rather unexpectedly) and met someone who makes me so incredibly happy, but has challenged me to be better each day.

So, my list for this year is much shorter.

  1. Wake up earlier to take advantage of having breakfast, coffee and writing. Yes, writing here (or at least reading for inspiration).
    • I started this because I was inspired by my friend Jackie. She’s great with it. I want to keep with it this year.
  2. Pay more attention to my finances since I will be finally getting an apartment that that’s not provided as part of my employment compensation.
  3. Eat & sleep well. I’ll thank myself in a year.
  4. Continue to take risks and rise. I’m capable of more than I realize.
    • Part of this includes having more honest interactions with others. Even if they do not respond well, I’m a better person when I say what I feel.
  5. Do something that makes me happy each day – even on that tough days.

 

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I Used to Be One of Those Toxic People

In a response to a recent Thought Catalog post, I felt it necessary to write that I used to to be a toxic person and it’s possible to be better.

1. I used to talk more than I listened.

I used to be completely narcissistic. If it didn’t bother me, I didn’t care. I would always listen, but always thinking about what my next point would be. In my current job working with college students where my main job is to listen, I learned value of just being there. Most times, people don’t want advice (unless asked) or my opinion. They just want to speak and speak freely. What I have to say or think rarely matters.

2. I could never be wrong.

I used to think being wrong was a flaw. In the past few years, I learned that being wrong is a moment of growth. If I knew everything, what fun would that be? I embrace now embrace my downfalls. Each one teaches me a valuable lesson about who I am and where I’m going.

3. Drama followed me wherever I went.

There was always something wrong. Always something that would upset me where I could be pissed at each person I came into contact with. Thought Catalog was right that I would always search for an excuse for why advice given to me wouldn’t work or why something could not be fixed. I tend to look on the brighter side of things today. I embrace the comments of others and their thoughts. Each person knows something I don’t. That’s worth something.

4. I forced relationships.

I used to strive for unique relationships with other people. I used to have this thought of what it meant to be in a romantic relationship and what it meant to have a best friend. I would try to manipulate each of those relationships into what I wanted it to be. Today, I understand these things happen on their own. I cannot force a romantic relationship. I cannot force someone to love me or to stay with me even though I’m the most difficult to be with. I cannot force my best friend to talk to me after months of emotional abuse for reasons why they suck. I cannot control everything. This is hard, but I understand the reality of it.

5. My experience is the standard and the only experience that matters.

If I think that waking up early in the morning is the only way to live, then it was the only way to live. If my level of ambition was higher than yours, than you were under achieving. I could not separate that each person has their own experiences and wants that are valid in their own right. I used to think my ex-girlfriend was not striving to be her best because she values slam poetry and would give up everything to write each day without hope of a paycheck. In fact, she was probably braver than me for wanting to chase her true dream. I wish I never told her how she should downplay her slam poetry in a job interview for a job she got and is doing incredibly well. I wish I never thought that she wouldn’t do anything unless I pushed her to. She was braver than me.

6. I often lied.

I  would tell stories that benefited me in some way. My happiness was more important than your happiness. I think back to when my ex girlfriend in our sophomore year of college went to see a friend perform in a show. I made her feel so guilty for not spending time with me and lied that I was sick and how dare she go without me. I was made she was happier than me – having a better time to me. Truth is, it’s no one’s fault that I was miserable except my own. It’s my own fault that I was difficult to be around. No lie or embellishment that makes me sound more interested could change that.

7. I lacked general tack and general courtesy.

Okay, everyone. This is the moment where I admit that what I think doesn’t always have to be said. This where I say that my “brutal honesty” wasn’t always necessary. I lacked empathy. I told it like it was. However, I couldn’t take it when it was directed at me. At some point this the last year, I’ve been able to admit my faults. It’s not easy, but I do it because I know that I’m not always right. I know that not all of my thoughts need to be broadcast and decide that it’s okay because I am “being honest.” I’ve learned to be more courteous to feelings of others beyond my own. This one is seriously hard to write about because my motto used to be, “Whether or not want to know, you’ll always know what I’m thinking.” I should be honest with my feelings, but I don’t have to be mean about it. Lesson learned the hard way multiple times over.

Also, I could have been better with general courtesy regarding my friend Jackie. When I wrote a post awhile back that spoke of all my friends moving, Jackie got offended and rightfully so. I should have been more thoughtful to her situation and how my words could have been seen as an attack against her. Although it wasn’t, it doesn’t change how it made her feel. It should have been me apologizing instead of her apologizing for how she felt.

8. The exhibit controlling behaviors.

Whew, okay. If the last one was hard to talk about, I don’t know what this one will do to me. I had to pour a glass of whiskey.

My ex-girlfriend. Sorry that she’s been the example for much of this, but she’s the one that dealt with the brunt of these behaviors. I needed to control everything in that relationship. If I was sad, I needed her to feel bad for me. If I felt like she didn’t care, I would manipulate the situation until she did. I really wasn’t a bad guy. I just had a lot of growing up to do. I needed to learn that my idea of a relationship wasn’t realistic and I did not do my significant other any favors while I was growing up. My immaturity cost me a great relationship and a great person. It’s hard because without ending that relationship, I am unsure if I would have ever grown as a person.

My ex has been, and will probably continue to be the most unforgettable person I have ever met. This isn’t because I’m not over her  (we’ve been done for almost two years), but the things she’s taught me without even knowing it. She deserves all the happiness in the world. My only regret is that I cost her nearly three years of that.

9. I loved to talk about other people.

Oh, yes. I lived for gossip. Being the hold of gossip meant power. I would use the misfortune of someone else to better my image. It’s not that I would talk negatively about other people, but I would definitely not acknowledge their accomplishments and would rather speak on where they screwed up than what they are getting right.

I strive to be better than the list above. I spent the spring and summer of this year focusing on myself. I stopped paying so much attention to what people thought of me. I started caring about what I thought of me. I didn’t like what I learned in my first few weeks. I worked to change how I viewed me in hopes that others would view me in kinder light was well.

It’s never too late to grow and change. It’s never too late to become who you want to me and acknowledge that you may not have been the best person, but you are working to become a better person.

Happy Birthday to My Father & Sister

This is as close as I will get to actually saying it to them this year. Sadly, I’m one of those sons that hasn’t had contact with their father in a few years. Actually, the last time I talked to my father was September 2011. It was a rocky summer for us that year because I needed a car for student teaching my father refused to help my mom out. It was rough. He felt like he won this major battle by depriving his son of something that was somewhat of a necessity at the time, but I ultimately got a plan together (like I always do) and got my very first car. I think that ate at him inside – no matter what curve balls he throws at me, I always seem to rise above. It’s somewhat of a skill of mine. I don’t take no for an answer when it is something I really, really want. I always find a way.

Well, today my father is one year older. He’s a sadder part – he shares a birthday with my sister. She turns 13 today. I don’t think I’ve seen her since she was seven, maybe eight. My father and I have always had our differences, but it does hurt that I lost that side of the family in the process. My father lives in Pennsylvania now with his wife and two kids. I suppose at some point I always wanted him to fight to keep me close, but never really did. There were some efforts here and there, but nothing that really showed he wanted me part of his life. I have a brother too who is the middle child. He never got along with my dad either, but he got stuck with him while I got to live with my mom on Long Island. There’s only a matter of time before that kid runs away, I’m sure.

Each year I always say I will write him a letter around Father’s Day and his birthday. I never do. I always find some great excuse like this weekend. I was away taking students on a conference in Syracuse. It’s not a real reason and if I really wanted to, I could pick up the phone and call or write. I just don’t think there’s anything left to say and what’s most frightening is that I feel like he would have nothing to say to me. Although I’ve done just fine without him (truly, I am quite proud), there’s always part of me that wonders what that father/son relationship could be like if we tried harder to have it. He always thought that he would hold the cards and that he would be able to stop me from doing what I wanted unless I gave him what he wanted (more phone calls, visits, letters, etc.). I would have been more than willing if he was willing to meet me halfway with the effort.

There’s no pain like a parent expecting (and possibly) hoping for you to fail. There’s no greater satisfaction than beating those odds and doing better than you could have ever dreamed. He may think of me selfish and he may think that I don’t care now (or that I ever have), but today, I do stop and think about him and my sister like I do every year. I always hope that my sister is happy and she’s enjoying the birthday parties someone her age should be enjoying. Although there’s obvious resentment toward my father, I hope that he’s found some happiness as well. Happy Birthday.

Relationships Make Me Nervous

A year and a half of being single and I would like to think I’ve got a handle on this being single thing. I went through all the ranges of emotion following my relationship. I was ecstatic at first because of I felt like a Mack truck was lifted off of me. I was a little sad because I really did lose my person – she is the only one to this day who can probably tell you what I think about something before I’m given a chance to think. I was angry because why didn’t she fight to keep the relationship going (in retrospect, she did this with full effort for months). I was disappointed with myself because once I realized what my mistakes were (oh, there were many) I wanted to rewind and have another go. Finally, I’m in a place where I am content with it all. I feel that we needed to end things. It would be so much easier if I was angry with her – I’m not. I always hope that she finds better and finds someone that can give her all the things I couldn’t because no one deserves it more. So, now, that means it is ultimately my turn to finally move on past it all.

Truthfully, I really have tried. I started to find peace within myself and be happy with who I am. I spent a lot of time seeking happiness from other people and things that I ultimately would end up sad in the end. Now, happiness isn’t limited to that one awesome day or that one awesome text. I’ve gotten so much better with finding joy in each day and with doing little things just for me. Sometimes that means a big spending spree at Target or treating myself to coffee instead of making it myself. Everyone always said that I needed to work on myself before I truly moved on and it is definitely still a work in progress.

After a summer filled of first dates (some second dates) and awkward text message, I feel pretty confident in stating that I’m ready to actually be in a committed relationship. The issue is – I’ve gotten way too comfortable with being alone. With relationships, I work on full blast or nothing. There are days where I think there’s no way I can be with someone again because I love my alone time too much. Other days, I’m naming our future kids. The truth is, I really just met this person and I am terrified of the unexpected. In my last relationship, we were friends before we were dating and it was a seamless transition for the most part. I really don’t know how to do that take-it-slow-and-it-will-build-into-something approach. I’m not saying that we need to get married next weekend, but I am never sure how slow is too slow. I suppose it is not an exact science and whatever is meant to be will be. In the meantime, relationships are weird and make me nervous.

Here’s the thing. I dive in head first. Each and every single time. I can’t help it – it’s who I am. I’m so guarded that when I see a good opportunity to just go for it, I do. I know that this has a high chance of me getting hurt in the end. It’s just that I can’t navigate the waters with someone who is taking it slow after I’ve already made the dive. It’s neither one of our faults – just that we have different expectations and different ways of getting involved. I keep telling myself that I will stop putting too much other there too soon, but I am reminded that there are no rules to dating. I know as the guy I am supposed to act not interested, but I can’t help it. When I really like you, I want you to know it. In my world, there’s no reason to keep that a secret and take it slow.

Friendships Are Complicated

Friendships have always been complicated for me. A lot of has to do with the fact that I am naturally a guarded person. It’s not that I am not willing to be vulnerable and open up, I am just not going to willingly volunteer information. It takes a while to build trust with me and I know that about myself. Growing up, I was burned so many times by people I thought were friends that I feel like it has permanently scarred me. I also feel that the people I’m friends with do not consider me in the same category of friends that I consider them.

In life, friends typically fall into these categories:

Acquaintance: This isn’t a bad spot to be with a friend group. You see this person every so often, wish them the best on Facebook birthdays and maybe consider getting dinner or drink with this person every six months just to remember what they look like.

Good Friend: This might be a friend you text a few times a week, give up information when prompted and meet up once a month or so to keep the title of “good friend.” This is not the person you text when something awesome happens to you and can be a person do not even think of text until they text you. I usually see this person as the one that you make plans with a week in advance and then the time comes and you’re all, “I don’t really wanna go anymore.”

Best Friend: This category gets tricky. This is a category where you can start to get hurt because there are all these expectations that you’ll talk to this person constantly, information about each other is a two-way street and you can stop everything for this person. This type of friendship comes about not necessarily because you want to be best friends with someone, but because you’ve known them for a long time. Either you’re friends from middle school or freshman year of college. Since there is so much history, you feel obligated to put this person into this category when more often than not it ends up being a chore to maintain at times. However, sometimes this friendship kind of great and it works out – sometimes.

Your Person: This is the friendship that is effortless. This is the person that wants you to tell them what time you woke up in the morning and you can’t wait to share such meaningless info. This is the friend that can talk you into and out of everything and tell you what you’re thinking before you think. This is the person that hears through the grapevine that you had a terrible day so they surprise you with all your favorite things. This person is who keeps you sane. This is the person you trust more than yourself.

For me, most of my friendships never quite leave the good friend stage. For me, I’ve placed people in the best friend category while I was only really in their acquaintance category. Having this unbalanced friendships are tough. What makes it harder is when you never have the someone that you’re person. What’s worse is when you lose someone that was in your my person category. I’ve lost two of the people this summer and while I still survived, I am still not quite sure what to make of it or what to do about it. It’s hard and lonely. Friendships are complicated.

I’ve taken an inventory of my friendships lately and it’s looking like the clearance rack at Wal-Mart. I’ve two people who were in the “my person” category. I’ve recently had a friend I considered to be a pretty close friend (I’m probably in her acquaintance to sometimes good friend category) move out of town for a job and I haven’t heard from that person since. In fact, hearing from that person a month before they were leaving was pretty rare and getting together to say goodbye seemed like the last thing that person wanted to do. A close friend got married in May and now this person is off doing married people things. There’s another friend who has moved a job  and another one moving to Denver at the end of the month. Do I smell or something? Everyone is moving!

While people moving for jobs, school and a change of pace isn’t them saying “I don’t want to be friends with you,” the fact is these friends weren’t all that close to me anyway. So, now that they’re all gone, there is definitely no reason for any of them to text or call. Considering that I have at least a solid 8 months left in Rochester, friendships are going to be necessary. I’ve had days where I’ve gone three days without getting a text message and nothing makes you feel lonelier than that (sad, but true). So, this post isn’t meant to be a woe is me type of post, but more of a, how do I make friends and keep them? Better yet, how do you make friends and keep them? Ideas appreciated!

What Am I Really Doing Here?

I haven’t been updating this at all since I last made it. The last successful blog I had was on Tumblr and that was only because my heart was so broken that I needed to do something for an outlet. This blog I made because I really don’t know why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I wanted to use this blog to hold myself accountable for being healthier and for understanding all this personal growth that’s been happening.

The past six or seven months I’ve been really trying to focus on me. I’ve been trying to be healthier, but not for the sake of looking skinnier to be accepted by other people. I’ve been wanted to feel better about myself. When I run and eat better, I have more energy and I am just generally a happier person. I was also doing a lot more reading. I keep wishing that I had read when I was younger, but I am not sure if I would have the same effect that I’m having now. Around the middle of August, all of that stopped and I’ve been having the hardest time with getting back started. I rationalizing it is because work is stressful, grad school is too much or that I am just simply tired. I’ve been having a hard time getting back to the motivation that had me running three miles in the evening just because.

I’ve slowly been getting the urge to get back into the gym. I think the fact that I dropped close to 30lbs in four months and everyone was giving such positive compliments that I somehow felt my work was done and I could lose the rest casually. I stopped tracking my food, slowly started eating more sweets and chips saying that it was “moderation.” It wasn’t long before I was back into old habits of not working out, eating late and eating foods I know are harmful for me. I lack willpower when I’m stressed or tired. The best way to get back into it is to just do it. So, that’s what I am hoping to do.

So, the question remains – what am I doing here? I’ve decide to come back because I need to get in a habit of holding myself accountable for things. The truth is, I like writing. I appreciate those who do it often and well. I’m not one of those people, but it is a release for me to be able to process my thoughts and ideas through writing. I need to do this more to not become overwhelmed with my thoughts. So, I am here for me and that’s the only way this works.

Do I Have to Make a New Year’s Resolution?

Yes, yes I do. New Year’s resolutions are usually a list of disappointments that I am going to find in four months and then again in a year when I realize I maybe accomplished one of the things on that list. I am little bit more determined this year because there are things I actually want to do. I want to continue to be awesome in grad school. I want to be so kick-ass at my job that my supervisors can honestly say how proud they are of my work. I want to find who really is my friend and will be here with me in fifty years. To find that out, I need to be a better friend. However, making a list a mile long is what leads to disappointment. I need a concise resolution and I think I know what it is. Here’s fair warning: my resolution is corny and unoriginal. You may actually laugh and judge me. If you do laugh and judge, it’s one of the reasons why I need to make this resolution and hold myself accountable. For the first time in a long time, I want to be happy and love myself.

Simple, right? I believe that if being happy and loving myself is the goal, all of the other things I mentioned will follow. This resolution will force me to figure out what it means for me to happy. I’ve got a bit of a head start on that though. So far, it means me not depending on anyone else for my own happiness or waiting for something to happen to me to be happy. I didn’t think I used to do this, but I definitely do – I wait to have something to look forward to instead of giving myself something to look forward to. I need to be the one that can bring excitement to my life. As far as loving myself goes, this is by far the toughest one. I have gotten much better with this, but still have a long way to go. I’ll be honest and say a decent part of this is appearance based. I’ve gotten comfortable with knowing I’m a larger guy, but I don’t love the way I look. It is not because I’m shallow or because society tells me I’m too big, but because I know I don’t have to be. I know if I consistently put in the hard work the results will come. So at this time, I don’t love myself this way. I don’t love worrying about health risks and if I really need that cookie. I hope in a year, I can love myself a bit more because I set out to accomplish a difficult task and I did it. Support me!

This past year has had the most incredible ups and downs. I’ve made no secret in saying that twenty three has sucked hardcore. I’ve definitely had some really bright moments, but on the whole, I’m disappointed with the past year. A friend kept asking me why I’ve been feeling this way and I’ve realized its an overall disappointment with myself. I feel like I haven’t been the best person. Friends are so important to me and I haven’t been that great to them. So, with being happier and loving myself in 2014, I want to work to be a better person not just for myself, but for other people. This means making amends, but taking huge risks. I want the thrill of taking a risk and being okay when I fail and feeling awesome when I get it right. I told you that this would be corny and cheesy and I am probably making a resolution that millions of other people are making, but it means something to me. What’s most important is that I feel that it is an attainable goal. Wish me luck!