The BLOG: Lifestyle

You’re Doing Just Fine.

I’ve got a new therapist. She’s got white hair (no, not because she’s old). She’s just one of those white, hipster 30-somethings trying—and succeeding—to pull off a silverish-gray dyed head of hair. Her style is ethereal: long, opaque dresses with bohemian jewelry. She wears, like, cool turquoise necklaces she probably bought off Etsy. Stacked silver rings decorate her thin, unpolished fingers.

If my therapist weren’t my therapist, we’d probably be great friends. She’s quirky and cute, and reserved, but firm. Just like me. I told my ex that my therapist reminds me of what I imagine I’d be like if I weren’t fucked up, to which he replied, “Even therapists have therapists, Sheens.” This may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still think I’m way more fucked up than she is. (And if she is fucked up, she hides it pretty damn well.)

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. For one thing, I went through a breakup a few months ago. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Sheena, stop talking to your ex, you idiot. That’d be a start.

Y’all are right. I’ll stop talking to him, and for the most part, I have. Besides, he lives halfway across the country now, which is more than half the reason we broke up. (And, as it turns out, it’s much easier to get over someone if he can’t come to your place when you beckon him on a particularly lonely weeknight.)

Anyway, I’ve been having trouble sleeping. Not just because of the breakup, but because I’ve been re-assessing a bunch of shit in my life, like my friendships, my anxiety, my future, yada, yada. Lately, life has seemed overwhelming. People are getting married left and right, doing really, really cool shit with their lives (other than getting married), and leaving behind Instagram feeds of which I’m so jealous I had to delete the fucking app off my phone to stay sane.

(Stop scrolling, stay sane.)

Austin, Texas is my home now. All my neighbors have dogs and smoke weed. I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Like, yo. This is my fucking city (and it only took me 27 years to move to!))

A lot of people ask me why I left Manhattan. I left because I had to. I wanted to find a guy and fall in love. I wanted to live in at least three other states before I turned 30. I wanted to be able to walk out of my apartment without the stench of garbage infiltrating my nostrils before I’ve even had the chance to shit or brew a fucking cup of coffee.

And so, I made my way down south: Dallas first, then Austin. Dallas, so I could live with my family for a bit because I love my family, but I’m absolutely awful at showing them just how much I care about them. I’d liken my relationship with them to the way I am with most things I truly care about, like this blog I love dearly but have neglected on-and-off, or my ex-boyfriend, who was often a better boyfriend than I was a girlfriend.

But since it’s always just been me, my sister and my mom, I figured it only made sense to spend some time getting closer to them (like, literally and figuratively). A girl in her 20’s needs her family, especially when it’s all women. I wanted us to be as tight as the Villanueva family in Jane the Virgin, and I’m proud to say we’ve nearly reached that level. Check.

Now, I’m on my own again. No family, no boyfriend, no foster doggie. Yep, I’m single, free and a-n-x-i-o-u-s. I’m anxious about my future because I have no idea what it looks like. I’m sure I’ll be an editor at some hip magazine, like I am now, only with a dog or two and maybe a baby. If I’m really lucky, I’ll find a good guy, and we’ll do better than just “make it work” (ah, the dream).

Still, even though I know all those things will eventually happen on their own time, it all keeps me up at night. I need to know what the whole dang picture looks like. Now.

Which city will I live in in a year? Two years? Will I always be a writer, or will I finally follow my second dream of becoming a singer? What kind of dog will I get? What if my dog gets sick and I can’t afford its healthcare because I’m all alone? Will I always be anxious? And what the fuck will the love of my life look like?

But I can’t know the answers to these questions. I cannot know any of this. No one can. Kory, my therapist, reminds me of this all the time, and she even gave me a nifty trick called “five senses grounding,” where you close your eyes and immerse yourself in all your senses. Doing it is supposed to ground you, keep you in the present and ward off your anxiety attack.

You guys, something happens after your 26th birthday. You’re thrown into a vault where everything you know is flipped upside down on its head, and all the people you know—or thought you knew—either become that boring, engaged person or, like, join the military, or move to some random European country, or become that person that rants about politics or veganism (or some other cultish hobby they’ve just taken up because they don’t know what the fuck to do with themselves since everyone else is getting married) on Facebook. Basically, everyone chooses a side, and you suddenly feel frozen because now you have to choose a sideand if you don’t choose a side, your life is just meaningless and, uh, wrong.

OK. Here’s my side. I’m single. I live in a cute little studio apartment. I’m lonely, but my anxiety and I are becoming good, good friends. (Sighs deeply. Side note: Accept your anxiety. The moment you stop fighting it and start accepting it, you start to feel human again).

My birthday’s coming up. This year, I’ll be 28. Instead of ruminating on the fact that this will be the 28th year of my life I spend a birthday single, I’m trying something different.
-I’m thinking about how I’ll probably get a dog because I know it’ll lick my face when I feel down.
-My friends will all be there, a group of wonderful, wacky people I went out and met all by myself in this city I’ve never lived in before, and they’ll get drunk with me and later tuck me in and make sure I’m sleeping on my side, not my back, with my new dogg-o.

This year will be different. No self-pity. This year, I’ll be sure to count my lucky stars for all the support I have in my life. My mama loves me (hey, not everyone can say that). My friends love me (I love you guys, especially my pen pal in London, and you’re all the reason I’m still alive). My therapist will never admit it, but she definitely wants to be my BFF (and thinks I’m way cooler than I actually am).

Finally, I’ll be celebrating my newfound love for myself, which only seems to grow the older I get. Coupled with this anxiety is an appreciation for how random, but full, my life has been. Because while an anxiety-ridden life isn’t as neat, pretty or put-together as the lives of the people I follow (but don’t really care about) on Insta, an anxiety-ridden life is also almost always filled with adventure. Nope, my life is never boring. Definitely not that. It’s, uh, got its way of keeping me on my toes. (Lol.)

This year, I don’t try to run from myself, or my life, or my anxiety; I take my life for exactly what it is. And when I really think about it…well…my life is pretty sweet.

Hey, Sheena? (And everyone else who doubts themselves). You’re doing just fine.

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A Modern-Day Love Letter

Remember that night we went to Hooters?
It was the night before the Franz Ferdinand concert. I laughed at the idea, but I didn’t mind going in there with you for a quick bite.

I never told you this, but I almost worked at Hooters once. I was 23, in between jobs and desperate to keep up with my rent in NYC. Yes, I’d walked into a Hooters and applied to work as a server. Eventually, I decided being gawked at wasn’t the job for me.

I became a writer, instead.

That night, I ate mozzarella sticks and drank beer with you. I don’t drink beer; I’m too much of a princess. Usually, you made me feel like a princess – and I loved you for it – but that night, I wasn’t your princess. I was just your best friend, and that’s what I loved about being with you.

I loved you because you loved me even when I didn’t try; frizzy hair in my face, beer and mozzarella cheese spilling down the white tee you’d bought me the day before. I loved not having to try. I loved being your best friend.

[I love(d) the way you love(d) me.]

That night, we stepped outside to tipsily smoke a cigarette. A waiter was already out there. He told us he thought we had the kind of love that everyone hopes to find someday, the kind that most people don’t find. We asked him why he thought that. He said, looking at us, he “just knew.”

He was right.

You said we didn’t have an Instagram kind of love.
We didn’t.
We never travelled internationally. You hated posing for pictures; I always preferred candids. I knew what we had, and I knew we didn’t have to put on a show. I knew that you were mine and I was yours and that the whole world knew it because our love was louder than Instagram.

I know we started as fuck buddies and fell madly in love, but that we’re better as friends, and didn’t make it as a couple. But I couldn’t be friends with you because hearing your voice makes me sad, and so I made us block each other.

That hurts my heart every day. I know you’re all sorts of fucked up, but I’m fucked up, too. We were fucked up together, and we fucked it up together.

Unlike other guys, you weren’t intimidated by me. You called me out on my bullshit. I always told you you were full of it, but I’m just as full of it, and you knew it. That scared me.

I knew I loved you because you weren’t my type. In fact, you were the exact opposite. Not quiet, reserved, moody or mysterious, but loud, obnoxious, funny, spectacular, beautiful. My world has always been a dark sky, and you were just the firework it needed.

We didn’t make sense. But you made me realize you can’t help who you fall for.

They say that with time, it gets easier; it doesn’t. Because I didn’t know what my life was missing until I met you. And not enough friends, music, writing, TV shows, casual sex, crying sessions, puppy cuddles, mommy hugs, chocolate bars can fill it.

I’m still waiting to enjoy food again. The last time I slept was in your arms.

Are you reading this? I can feel you.

I’ll never love anyone else like I loved you.

Forever yours-

Your Sheens

To Increase Diversity in The Workplace, Asian-Americans Must First Have Conversations at Home

Diversity is being prioritized all around the country. Major companies like Google, for example, are making engagement and outreach efforts to make their staffs more diverse, while publications like The Huffington Post are carving out designated sections for stories by marginalized people. These efforts have been a long time coming; As Viola Davis pointed out at the 2016 Oscars, diversity and inclusivity should not be treated as a trend, but as an ongoing commitment by higher-ups all around the country.

While it’s important to clarify that diversity is certainly not a trend, it’s just as important to understand exactly why companies are lacking in diversity in the first place. It’s  pretty common knowledge that people of color in the workplace face struggles in attaining senior leadership positions. But aside from mobility issues, are minority groups like Asian Americans even making their way into majority-white occupational fields? And if not, why?

Bloomberg’s opinion columnist Justin Fox compiled some data taken from a 2017 study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. He labelled these bar graphs “Jobs White People Do” and “Jobs Asian People Do” to emphasize what I call “the creative gap:” the fact that white people make up most creative fields, while Asian Americans do not.

According to the graphs, creative professions like writing, advertising and producing/directing have some of the highest percentage of white workers. On the other hand, Asian workers make up professions like doctors, computer programmers and scientists.

Let’s unpack the hurdles on the way to more diversity.

To understand the “creative gap,” we must first understand the culture.

In his piece, Fox is at a loss for why Asian Americans aren’t editors, producers or lawyers. He writes:

“As for the racial and ethnic occupational differences in general, I have no sweeping explanations to offer. Obviously discrimination has played a big role, but beyond that it’s a hard-to-sort-out mix of history, culture, geography, education and surely a few other things.”

As an Asian American, I can offer the following perspective: We’re discouraged by our families to pursue the arts. As for why? University of California Riverside’s public policy professor Karthik Ramakrishnan points out that Asian Americans feel pressure to excel both academically and financially because our parents are immigrants. This pressure keeps us from pursuing lower paying, less stable creative jobs, which is the bittersweet reason we continue to perpetuate the “model minority” myth.

So, no, it isn’t that Asian Americans aren’t inherently creative. They are. (Ahem, how do you do?) Simply put, white people take more chances creatively because they aren’t as likely to be discouraged to.

Asians want to see more of themselves in those majority-white fields.

Russell Peters highlights this unfortunate-turned-hilarious truth in his 2016 special “Almost Famous,” where he makes fun of an Indian guy who dreamt of becoming a musician, but instead became a doctor due to cultural pressure. And if you peruse Reddit threads on conversations about Asian Americans, you’ll find they blatantly desire to see themselves doing the jobs of white people. Reddit user roadtonormalcy writes:

“I was thinking about this recently – I’m deeply upset that there are no Asian American pop artists to lose my wig to. I’m aware that KPOP is a huge thing, but I want more ~english~ bops by Asian artists :(”

The very fact that we don’t hear enough of this desire IRL, but see it hidden on underground Reddit threads – almost as if your typical Asian American is embarrassed to say it out loud in fear of disgracing his or her family and culture – is another reason companies aren’t achieving diversity at higher rates.

To increase diversity, Asian Americans must loudly and proudly pave the way for a new culture.

My generation is the first that’s beginning to see more Asian Americans become figureheads in creative fields. Hayley Kiyoko is revolutionizing music by simultaneously representing Asian Americans and the LGBTQ+ community, Aziz Ansari and Mindy Kaling have their own shows, and Hari Kondabolu and Hasan Minhaj are the self-important, brown, stand-up comedians we’ve been waiting for. 

Not to mention, it looks like there’s hope for Generation Z. My sister and brother-in-law, who are eighties babies, have a much more ~lax~ attitude toward raising their two kids. They anticipate my older nephew will go into the arts, while the younger one might try his hand at pro sports.

Asian Americans, as much as it’s the job of CEOs and COOs to promote us in the workplace, it’s also on us to start having conversations at home. Talk to your parents about your dreams—not their dreams, or the dreams of anyone else. With these combined efforts, I have a feeling the next generation of people of color will take the world by storm.

NBC’s New Show “I Feel Bad” Has A South Asian Female Lead – But It’s Still Problematic

This past Sunday, NBC released an official trailer for its new show, “I Feel Bad,” which is set to premiere this fall. Up-and-coming Indian-American actress Sarayu Rao plays the lead role of Emet, American actor Paul Adelstein plays Emet’s love interest.

NBC’s casting decision is a pretty big deal. Only two other Indian actresses, Mindy Kaling and Priyanka Chopra, either currently have or have had their own shows. But while “I Feel Bad” is receiving praise for casting a South Asian female lead – a pro-diversity cue in line with other long-standing big names in the media industry – the show is still problematic for one reason: Rao’s character is in an on-screen interracial relationship with a white man. Yet again.

The thing is, diversity means more than simply casting the token brown girl. Audiences crave to see interracial relationships that more accurately reflect real life, and those are the facts. In her Jezebel piece “I’m Tired of Watching Brown Men Fall in Love With White Women On Screen,” writer Aditi Natasha Kini argues that choosing white partners for on-screen interracial relationships is a discreet slap in the face to other races:

“…the pursuit of white love is a mode of acceptance into American culture, and a way of ‘transcending’ the confines of immigrant culture—the notion that white love is a gateway drug to the American dream.”

She’s right. What’s even a bigger disappointment is that when the people producing the shows or movies are people of color, they’re still letting audiences down by failing to use their privilege and platforms as a way to showcase more inclusivity. Mindy Kaling’s “The Mindy Project” and Kumail Nanjiani’s film “The Big Sick” are just two examples of that disappointment manifested.

Real inclusivity means showing the full spectrum of interracial relationships: Gay ones. Transgender ones. Brown people falling in love with black people, and brown people falling in love with other brown people.

The good news is that even though the silver screen has yet to catch on, the big screen has already started to. “Crazy Rich Asians,” which has been referred to as “the Asian version of Black Panther,” shows Asian-Americans in relationships with other Asian-Americans. People are freaking out about it, and rightfully so:

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Let’s hope the coming years begin to show more… erhm, interesting interracial relationships on screen.

“Black Girl Sunscreen” Is A Summer Necessity For Women Of Color

As a woman of color, I loathe wearing sunscreen in the summer, even though I have more melanin in my skin than white people and tan easier. But my reasons for forgoing the sunscreen have nothing to do with laziness and everything to do with the fact that most sunscreens turn into clumpy, gooey, white globs on my skin – and stay like that, no matter how much I try to rub them in.

Well, women of color, rejoice! Black Girl Sunscreen is the new sunscreen for women of color. Unlike your average sunscreen, this one sells for an affordable $18.99, dries clear and is melanin-reinforcing. Reddit user khaleesidee boasts:

“Hey guys! I’ve spent a lot of time lurking around here and on r/asianbeauty, looking for the perfect sunscreen. And I think I finally found it! It’s called Black Girl Sunscreen and I believe it’s the best sunscreen for POC. It feels lightweight, moisturizing, has a natural finish and leaves absolutely no white cast or stickiness. It sinks in the skin in a minute or so and feels smooth but not silicony. It is basically like putting on a very lightweight moisturizer. It does not peel either. I’m absolutely in love, and I highly recommend it! It cost $18. I hope this will help anyone looking for a sunscreen right now!”

What makes Black Girl Sunscreen different than other sunscreens is that it’s a chemical product, which means it’s made without zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Blame these two chemicals for leaving that white residue on your skin after application.

The revolutionary sunscreen has been a long time coming. Back in 2015, The Washington Post published an article that discredited the need for a sunscreen specifically for people of color. Dermatologist Ron Moy confirmed there is no medical reason that prohibits people of color from using non-chemical sunscreens, saying, “They can just use regular sunscreen.”

People of color, though, would disagree. Though regular sunscreens may be just as effective at preventing skin cancer for people of color, Black Girl Sunscreen is a cosmetic win for anyone with dark skin.

People Of Color Don’t Hate White People. We Just Hate Their Microaggressions.

This past weekend, I went to a bar with my white boyfriend. We happened to meet another interracial couple: the man, an Indian born in England but raised in the states, and his white-American girlfriend. Before I could formally introduce myself to the white girlfriend, she and my boyfriend decided they both needed to go to the bathroom.

As I stayed outside talking to the Indian man who shared a name with my father, the white girlfriend turned to my boyfriend before entering the ladies’ room.

“We’re doing it right, aren’t we?” she said to him.
“Pardon?” he said back.
“Our partners. You know… we’re doing it right.” She winked, swung open the bathroom door and went on her merry way.

When my boyfriend came back and told me about their little exchange, he couldn’t help but emphasize how odd it was. “It’s weird she had to make a comment about you and her boyfriend being Indian,” he said. “Like, I don’t think of you as my Indian girlfriend. I just think of you as… a brunette.”

I began to go over her words in my head. Paranoia struck, and struck hard. What did she mean by “we’re doing it ‘right?’” How can she even know? I didn’t so much as say “hi” to her, which can only mean she’s making assumptions about my character based on the color of my skin. Why did she choose to see my color before my character?

Then, I tried putting myself in her shoes: if I were to have gone to the bathroom with the Indian guy, would I have made a passive-aggressive comment to him about the fact that we’re both dating white people? No, I wouldn’t have. Because white is the “norm.” Because I’m constantly surrounded by white people, and even though they look different than I do, I can identify with them because I’m also American.

But even after trying to be my most logical, empathetic self, all I could conclude was that this woman’s comment was nothing more than a microaggression. There, standing side-by-side with my loving boyfriend on the balcony of a karaoke bar, I questioned my worth: as a girlfriend to a white man, as an Indian-American woman, and as a human being.

A microaggression is “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).” I like to think of microaggressions as discrete forms of racism, ones that are not as jarring as a racially charged shooting of an Indian man, but that are just as impactful on both the safety and mental health of minorities.

There are subtle microaggressions and there are those that are blatant. NowThis News, an online news publisher, recently tweeted the following.

As excited as I was to see a big publisher finally recognize the importance of South Asian storytelling, I was just as let down to see the comments that followed. These comments were from people who are either ignorant, uneducated, misinformed (or all of the above) about minority representation in mainstream media:

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It wasn’t a surprise to me that the comments were made by white men. And by telling us people of color that we, especially, are not entitled to have our stories told, these white men remind us of their failure to acknowledge that voices of white men have drowned out the voices of POC for decades, and that POC are practically begging white men and women in power to help them catch up for lost time.

And then, there was this comment:

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Again, this person is misinformed. Yes, you nimrod, there is Bollywood. But Bollywood tells the stories of Indians living in India, while Hollywood mostly tells the stories of white people all over the world. For this reason, girls who look and think and act like me – Indian girls born and raised in Long Island, New York who oscillate between feeling more Indian-ized than Americanized and more Americanized than Indian-ized – have no such forum of representation. Girls like me count on Hollywood and Vogue and Cosmopolitan to tell stories of first-generation Americans; after all, these are the pieces of media we grew up with, fell in love with and hoped to see ourselves reflected back in.

But they all continue to fail us.

It hurts my heart to have to even write this post. It hurts to have to explain why South Asian women deserve to be represented, but it’s these microaggressions that shape the identities of first-generation Americans – or lack thereof. It’s thesemicroaggressions that contribute a great deal to why so many of my Indian-American girlfriends have little-to-no sense of self: because we are made to feel as though we’re nameless, faceless.

The theory goes something like this: if women like me were given a place to be justas seen and just as heard as white people, then we’d become part of the “norm” just like that Indian man’s white girlfriend, and we wouldn’t get hot flashes every time we went to a majority-white gathering with our white boyfriends. People wouldn’t be shocked or scared or threatened by us. They’d welcome us freely, treat us respectfully… and, well, we’d love ourselves just a little bit more.

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To The Girl Who’s Always Half-Loved: What Falling In REAL Love Feels Like

The other night, my new boyfriend and I stayed up all night just talking, his hands in mine, his head on my belly. Sometimes, we talk so much we lose track of time: the clock strikes 12, then 2, and before we know it, the sun’s rising.

We talked about picking up and leaving, and where we’d go if we actually could.

“Africa!” I exclaimed.

“Where in Africa?!” he asked. “Cape Town? A gringo and a beautiful Indian girl  ,” he continued, in a half-decent South African accent.

“Ha. Maybe Egypt? I’ve always wanted to go on an African safari…”

“How much do you think all that’d cost?”

“I’ve got a trust fund we could dip into…” We laughed. “I don’t care where we go,” I said. “As long as I’m with you.”

I thought I’d been in love once or twice before, but being with my boyfriend made me realize I’ve usually just been in an intense state of lust. With fuckboys, it was always about sex, every. Damn. Time. Sure, I had a connection with them, but it was just that: a connection, and not a very good one, at that. It was shaky and unpredictable and there was always static and we could hear each other, but we sure as hell didn’t listen.

When you fall in love, it feels like more than just a connection. It’s a living, breathing truth you can’t deny. It’s about friendship. Compassion. Sex, too, but also all this other stuff I’d been neglecting for far too long. It is 100% mutual. It is unconditional. It isn’t more convenient for one than it is for the other. And this person truly feels like the other half of your soul.

I wanted to put into words what falling in love feels like for a few different reasons. One of my readers messaged me the other day telling me she is 27 and has never been in love. Another reader messaged me asking if the back-and-forth she has with a guy who will only text her once a week is love. And, of course, I wanted to remember the feelings as they are happening to me in real time.

I’d like to point out that every relationship is different. But falling in love is one feeling that is uniform across all relationships; when you fall in love, for real for real, this is what it feels like…

Falling in love feels like someone’s picked you up and won’t stop twirling you around.

Falling in love feels like you’re on all the best drugs (but in a totally cool, totally non-toxic sort of way).

Falling in love feels like hearing music in your head all the time, only for once, it isn’t sad songs; it’s airy, acoustic vocals and soft, sweet sounds. It’s “oohs” and “aahs” to a melody your imagination made up just for this one very special occasion, the one of falling in love.

Falling in love feels like an irrepressible urge to cry and laugh and sing all at the same time because you never thought you’d feel this feeling.

Falling in love feels natural and right when it’s real, and you just can’t fight it, no matter what happens to him or you or the state of the world. You two are bound together by everything that makes you, you and him, him. There’s nothing you don’t want to experience by his side.

Because with him, everything is just better.

With him, it’s love.

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The Dark Truth Of Being In A Relationship When You Have Anxiety & Depression

I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression ever since I was a teen, and I’ve been in therapy for almost 10 years now. I’ve taken medicine in the past, but as of right now, therapy twice a week, daily exercise and the support of my family, friends (and new boyfriend) have been my “medicine.”

A few months ago, I began dating someone new. He’s different from the other guys I’ve dated: he’s fun, gentlemanly, kind (but not boring). It is hard (read: close to impossible) to find a guy like him.

It’s been a couple of months now, and he’s seen me at my cloud-nine highs and shit-storm lows. Unlike other guys I’ve dated, he’s well-aware of my mental handicaps and has chosen not to run away. (As for why not, I couldn’t tell you. But if I had to guess, I’d say it’s a combination of A) his otherworldly open-mindedness and B) all the great stuff we’ve got, which is often enough to cancel out the bad stuff).

My whole life, I’ve operated under the false misconception that love would “cure” my anxiety and depression; that they would disappear once I met a guy who, for once, didn’t aggravate it. Fuckboys made me more anxious than ever, and I was convinced they were the purveyors of any anxious feelings I felt.

I’ve learned that though fuckboys did aggravate the anxiety and depression because they weren’t interested in getting to know me beyond surface-level, anxiety and depression don’t just go away with the guy who’s right for you. In fact, with the right guy, your mental disabilities might even be heightened because your depression tells you you don’t deserve a guy like him. I’m learning that anxiety and depression are little monsters you carry around in your pockets at all times, no matter where you are in life or who you’re with, and you constantly have to work to manage them.

Even though I’ve learned  the tools to manage them, at times, my anxiety and depression take complete control of me in my new relationship. I’ve never been with such a great guy, and I don’t know how to handle the feelings that come with it. If you’re anything like me, you end up thinking this person is too good for you and all your stupid shit. You care about this person so much that you don’t want to drag him down into that dark hole you sink into every now and then for reasons you can’t explain (or for absolutely no reason at all other than your hormones).

And so you sabotage the best thing that’s ever happened to you. You start explosive fights, then push him away, and he calls you a cold-hearted bitch: not because he’s a dick, but because you’re too ashamed to admit the extent of your crippling disability.

You have days where you break down on the couch while he holds you and kisses your forehead. You have nights where all you want to do is lie in bed with your headphones in and back towards him because you just “need” to be alone.

My therapist tells me the time during which people like me push away people like him is actually the time we need them most. You know you’re dating the right person, though, if he doesn’t turn you away during this time. He will welcome you and be willing to push through the pain with you because that’s how much he loves you.

I never thought I’d be able to have a functioning relationship because of my mental handicaps. I wrote this post because anyone out there who suffers from anxiety or depression (or both, quite possibly the most harrowing combination to deal with) needs to know that they can, in fact, find love. And not only that, but they can keep it, as long as they are willing to work on themselves while accepting the love they’re being given. Depressed people are often the most compassionate of people, making us kind, warm lovers. We just tend to forget that sometimes.

You will both have to be patient; him, with you, and you, with your demons. But if both partners are willing to be patient – a virtue I am slowly but surely learning to practice on the reg – you’ve got yourself the opportunity to build an incredible life together.

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Where All The “Good” Men (And Women) Are Hiding

I get a lot of questions from my readers asking me where I met the ~awesome~ guy I’m currently dating.

Now, all the good peeps aren’t hiding in one place. There’s no, like, Hot Man Convention (but wouldn’t that be so much easier)? You just have to go to the right places.

I met my guy at a bar in downtown Austin. Normally, I caution against meeting people in bars because all the guys I’ve met in bars in the past just wanted to bang. (Although one guy I met in a bar turned out to be my bang buddy for a solid year and a half. No regrets). But this time, I happened to be alone, with no girlfriends to protect me. I’d like to think one of the reasons he came up to me is because I was just sippin’ on some wine, all by myself, nonchalantly reading a book and enjoying myself. 

What’s the verdict of my successful experiment? Do more stuff alone. You’re less intimidating to men this way. There’s nothing scarier than a good-looking girl gang.

The other day, a woman in her late 20’s told me she isn’t really a “bar person” and also isn’t willing to try online dating. Then, I asked her what her hobbies are. She told me she doesn’t have any hobbies other than getting her nails done with her girlfriends, but after thinking for a little bit, she wrote back that she also likes to travel.

OK. Let’s take a look-see here. She doesn’t go out, is either too lazy (or too proud) to try online dating and has zero hobbies. It’s no wonder to anyone but herself that she’s still single.

PEOPLE. You can’t not be a bar person and not be an online dating person! It doesn’t work that way! How do you expect to meet someone when over 75% of the population goes to bars and uses dating apps to try and find love?

To find love, you’ve either got to be a bar person (extrovert) or an online dating person (introvert). And even better if you’re both a bar person and an online dating person, because you’ve increased your chances of meeting someone by twofold. (Also, the extrovert-introvert hybrid is probably the best possible romantic partner, because you’re pretty much down to do whatever and easy to get along with). 

Back to this not-bar-not-online-dating girl. I suggested she travel alone. Because when I traveled solo to Switzerland, I met a ton of cool new people. Folks flock to lone travelers – especially the local singles.

Now, if you’re not into going out – or just don’t have the stamina to drink like you used to – you could also research hobby groups in your city or try meetup.com. I know they sound kind of lame, but they really are an awesome way to mingle with people that love doing the same stuff you love to do. Isn’t that what you want, anyway? A boyfriend that you don’t have to drag to an indie concert, but that will accompany you gladly because he loves the band as much as or even more than you do?

Remember: We don’t attract who we want. We attract who we are. My guy is more-or-less the male version of me: very active, super outgoing,  flails arms to Chris Brown. 

If you’ve exhausted all the above options, I suggest sucking up your pride and trying online dating. I have a few friends who’ve met some wonderful people on there. Of course, you will need some bomb-ass pics and an interesting bio; something to set you apart from the rest of the horny, lonely souls of the world.

But in regards to how to navigate the Tinder trenches and Bumble beehives, I’ll save that for another day.

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