So, so scared

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I was born and raised in Austin. I’ve pretty much* lived here my entire life, and I turn 36 (!!) next week. *I say “pretty much” because I did live in Lockhart for 6 years, but that’s about 30 minutes south of Austin, and I was still in Austin all of the time. And while I have made a nice little life for myself here, I am SO over Austin. I’m just done.

There are many reasons why people love and move to Austin – the abundance of live music, the extensive hike and bike trails, the major festivals, the weather (at least before climate change screwed us), the counter culture vibe, the foodie scene. And that’s great and all, but other than some minor hiking, I don’t enjoy any of it. I hate going to concerts (too many people standing too close to me and usually some tall person blocking my view of the stage). Same thing with the big festivals. The allergies suck, and the foodie scene is insanely expensive. Plus, I’ve lived here MY ENTIRE LIFE! I’ve done these things. I’ve been to ACL and volunteered with SXSW and seen tons of movie premieres and saw Blink 182 at X-Fest in 1997 and eaten at the trendy restaurants.  I’ve experienced Austin life pretty fully.

Being a semi self-aware person, I recognize that I need a change. I applied for a job with NASA in August, which would have had me move to Huntsville, Alabama. I was so excited for the change!! The cost of living is way cheaper, I could afford a bigger and nicer home, there’s some great hiking nearby, they have actual seasons. I built an entire life there waiting to hear if I was even going to get an interview. And then I got my “thanks, but no thanks” email, and my pretend life crashed. I’m not going to lie, I was heartbroken. I tried to build up excitement about my life here, but just couldn’t do it. Then, a few weeks later, I just went ahead and applied for some jobs out in Santa Barbara, California. My parents live out there, I’ve visited many times, it’s gorgeous; why not? After talking to my mom, she even agreed that I could stay with them for a few months while I find my own place. Sounds perfect, right?

I am so scared. I don’t think I have ever been this scared before in my life. I love my job here in Austin, but I’m just kinda bored with it. There’s no ability to advance, and while I am appreciated and valued, that doesn’t change my lack of enthusiasm with Austin. If I could do this job from California, I would sign up for that in a heartbeat. I also love my condo. I’ve been there almost five years, and I have truly made it into a sanctuary. Again, if I could move my condo to California, done!! It’s not living with my parents that scares me; we get along well, and I’m a pretty responsible boarder. I’m not even scared of not finding work; there seem to be plenty of jobs available which I could do and which pay the same or more than I’m making now. The thing that scares me is not being able to find my own place. Coastal California is expensive!! Sure, there are some condos about 30 minutes south of Santa Barbara that are in my (high-end) price range. But what if there’re not as great in person? What if I get out there and no one likes me? What if I give up this great job and great condo and I never find anything as good?

Okay, I just realized while I wrote that that it sounds exactly like previous things I’ve written about not wanting to break up with someone because I may never find anyone better. And that is not the way I want to live my life. Yes, this is extremely scary, and WAY beyond my comfort zone, and very unlike me to make a leap like this. But, in a way, I think I am more scared to continue to live my life the way I am now. Because I’m not really living. I don’t go out and do things. I stay at home and read and hang with my dog (which is not a bad thing at all). But I just feel suffocated being in this town. I need a change of location.

– Finch

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I don’t want to call myself pathetic, but…

I was filling out a journal prompt today which asked, if someone really wanted to understand you, what would they watch, read, and listen to? The “watch” part started me off, and it was pretty easy – obviously The West Wing! What other show so perfectly encompasses my ego, my belief in something greater than myself, my hopeless romanticism (Donna, CJ, Josh, Toby…)? Then I immediately thought of Kate Winslet’s character in The Holiday. Okay, she’s a bit of a pushover at the beginning, but by the end, she finds her gumption. At one point she talks about feeling like the sidekick in her own life, rather than the leading lady. I *might* feel like that every now and then. Or more often. Then Norah from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist came up. Yep, definitely resonate with her. Oh wait… isn’t she a bit of a pushover, always going back to the callow ex, finding her happiness only when she gets a boyfriend? I’m sensing a bit of a pattern here.

A couple of weeks ago, I cleaned out all of my journals, wanting to start fresh. As I was skimming through them, checking to see if there was anything I needed to keep, I was absolutely struck dumb by how many times I had written about wanting a relationship, or feeling out of touch with whomever I was dating at the time, or wondering why a relationship had not worked out. Easily 70% of my entries had to do with my love life, or lack of one. And you know what? It pissed me off!! I mean, really f’ing pissed me off! I am successful, financially secure, funny, cute, smart as hell, valued at my job, beloved by my friends and family. Why was I wasting so much time and energy on my love life? As I read through and got angrier with myself, I kept thinking, “What could I have done with all of this wasted time? If I hadn’t been wondering what was wrong with me when my relationships failed, I could have started a business, taught myself to play guitar, learned to make macaroons. This is BS!”

Sure, of course I appreciate the fact that I have learned from my past mistakes and am a better person for the soul-searching that I have done. However, there was WAY too much whining going on there. Because let’s not pretend that I only poured my heart out to my journal. Oh no, I cried to my friends and my mom and my sister. I sought out tarot readings to find my flaws. I worked out and starved myself to appear prettier, and therefore more valuable, to the opposite sex. And I gotta tell you, I’m more than a little disgusted with myself. Instead of celebrating the massive amounts of love that I do have, I cried about guys who I rarely think twice about. Instead of utilizing that time to better myself overall, I punished myself for things which were not my fault.

So yeah, after going through the journals, I felt more than a little pathetic. And I decided that I didn’t like that feeling. I decided that I would rather focus on my mental well-being. I would rather focus on my friendships. I would rather focus on achieving goals.

And so, I will be revisiting that initial journal prompt. Because I want to associate myself with strong women who are saving themselves, who are acting as good friends and good citizens of the world. Not the women who are only happily ever after once they get a boyfriend.

– Finch

Psyching Myself Up To Date

Part of the problem of being an introvert who loves my dog more than I love most people is that it’s really difficult to meet potential dates out in the world. I don’t really go “out” places, and when I do venture forth from my home, I’m pretty sure I have my resting bitch face on. I don’t mean to, but if I’m at the grocery store or the gym, I’m just trying to get stuff done so that I can go back home. This has always been the allure of online dating; I can scroll through numerous pictures and profiles, converse with people without brushing my hair, and not have that awkward in real life fumbling until we’ve at least established some basic commonalities.

Recently, I ventured back onto OKcupid; this latest try lasted about four days. I was talking to five different guys. One of those conversations had moved over to Facebook Messenger so that he could send me pictures from his recent trip to Alaska. I was making many matches, and I was gaining plenty of admirers (duh). Here was the problem – I didn’t care to invest any amount of time getting to know any of the guys I was talking to, and I was beginning to resent the call on my time that having to message them back was taking.   When I would be notified that I had made a match with someone, or when a guy responded to me, I had no excitement whatsoever. In the past, when I first met Dan or Jay on OKC, I would get total butterflies when they messaged. I couldn’t wait to get online and see what they said! With this latest round of guys, I’d get the notification that I’d received a new message, and I’d delete it and think, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll get to it later.”

And it wasn’t just this time around. The past few times that I have tried online dating, I’ve had no interest in actually pursuing anything. I’m looking because I feel like I should be looking, like I should be making some kind of effort to meet guys. The last time I went on a date from an online site was over a year ago. Granted, I was dating Dan again from August through New Year’s, but we’re at the end of July, and I haven’t set up even one date. Every person seems to say, “Oh, it’ll happen when you stop looking, when you least expect it.” Please provide to me an example of how that is true for any other aspect of life. How often do people find new jobs when they’re not looking for them? How often do people find their dream home when they’re not looking? I get that you can be offered a job that you weren’t looking for, but typically, in any other area of life, the advice is to not give up, to not stop looking until you find the right fit. I get that love has it’s own rules, and doesn’t play out like other areas of life, but come on!

I disabled my OKcupid account on Sunday because I just couldn’t work up the energy to be excited about anyone I was talking to. Had I talked to every guy on OKC? Of course not! Had I even talked to every guy that I had matched with? Of course not! But just thinking about making the effort to get dolled up to go on a date, or even a series of dates if there was a connection, made me so tired that  I wanted to take a nap. I just want to naturally find someone who immediately makes me laugh and just fits well into my life. That may be too much to ask, but I’m asking. The worst the Universe can say is “no,” and then I’m no worse off from where I am now, which really isn’t bad at all.

– Finch

You Don’t Owe Him a Response

I know I never really gave y’all a proper ending to my relationship with Jay. Synopsis – broke up “for good” January, 2016. Slept with him once in April, 2016, while dating Dan. Jay moved to California in May, 2016. In August, 2016, Jay and I have this long talk about maybe getting back together, and he says he wants to move in, at which point I tell him that we need to date for a minimum of 6 months before I will consider letting him move in. Jay says that he’s not coming back to Austin unless he’s moving in with me. I tell him that he’s not coming back to Austin. Flash-forward nine months to May, 2017. Jay starts texting, I ignore him, he tells me really needs to talk to me, I say he can call. He just starts babbling away, until I ask him to get to the point of the conversation. He says just talking is the point. I tell him that he no longer has a place in my life and that I don’t think we need to communicate again. We hang up. He continues to text for 6 more weeks until I finally block his number. Peace and quiet at last, right?

Back to present day. Last Friday, Jay sent me an incredibly long message on Facebook, telling me that he needs to explain his past actions, he *thinks* I might have blocked his texts, and going on about how great and wonderful I was (um, duh). Only, it’s the worst email ever. He starts off by telling me that he was seeing a girl last year, but it didn’t work out. Then he literally says, “I don’t want to make this message about me, though, because it’s about you. I’m way more self-aware than you could ever realize.” Uh, isn’t bragging about your self-awareness about you, and not me?? There were parts of the message which were incredibly manipulative – classic narcissistic lessons here. Telling me that while he has dated a wide variety of very successful women, *I* am the only one who he’s ever wanted to be with permanently. First off, jackass, I am incredibly successful and you know that. Second, so I’m supposed to be grateful that you chose me over everyone else you could be dating? I rejected you. He brought up my dog, saying that he loves her and she loves him, and he really hopes he gets to see her in the future. Dude, my dog is a hoe. She loves anyone who will pet her. He told me that nobody had ever shown me that I was good enough, but that he now could. Then he ended by saying that he had so much more he could tell me, and that he hoped he got the chance to.

So of course I let all of my friends and my mom read it. There were some who felt that I owed him some sort of response. Not necessarily a nice one, but at least one that would give him some closure. Enter my mom – talking to her Saturday morning, she was adamant that NO, I did not owe Jay a response, that this message was all about him and what he wanted, and that I needed delete his Facebook request and walk away. So I did.

Because here’s the thing. With narcissistic people, you can’t explain or argue anything. They hear only what they want to hear, and no matter what you say, you will still end up at fault. And if you open that door even one inch, they will jump in and try with all of their might to  get you to engage. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for protecting yourself and your mental and/or emotional well-being. You do not have to explain why you are breaking up with someone who treats you poorly. You do not have to explain to an ex why you moved on. You DO have to take care of yourself. Truly, the only way to break free from a narcissist is to walk away and don’t look back.

I’ll finish by sharing one of my favorite lines from last year – “If you love someone, let them go. If they come back, it means no one else wanted them. Let them go again.”

– Finch

Quick Thought: Chinese Food as a Lesson

I live across the street from a Chinese restaurant, so I am constantly smelling the tempting aromas. I keep thinking, “Hmm, maybe beef and broccoli tonight?” But then I usually just end up eating chips and salsa and calling it a day.

Here’s the problem – just a couple of weeks after I first moved into my condo, I went over to grab some takeout. Went home, ate my food, and then, a few hours later, experienced the most horrendous stomach pains ever. Not nausea or anything, but swollen belly and curling up in a fetal position pain. So I swore off the Chinese restaurant.

And then a year or so went by, and I thought, “Maybe it was just that one time. I’ll try something different.” But no, exact same thing happened. It happened again last night.

I say all of this to say, this is like going back to exes. You let some time pass, you think maybe it’ll be better this time, maybe you’ll try things a bit differently, take a fresh path… No. You’re still going to end up curled into a ball on your bed, cursing your lack of self-control. Just save yourself the pain and misery.

– Finch

Being Brave Is Worth It

A very dear friend of mine is getting married this winter, and she had asked me to be a bridesmaid. Through a series of unfortunate events, her wedding had been pushed from it’s original date of this past February, and we are all still kind of scrambling to get all of the dates and parties and events planned and scheduled.

A couple of weeks ago, the bride had sent out a mass text, asking how everyone felt about a destination bachelorette party to either Chicago or Charlotesville in October. Only one person responded, and I hadn’t heard anything else about it. But I was starting to feel the strain. I’m already planning on going out to Santa Barbara in October, and I might be going back to Mexico in September, so my travel money is already spoken for. I kept going back and forth on whether I should say something. For one thing, she’s the bride, it’s her special day, etc. Also, no one else had said anything so I didn’t want to be a debbie downer. But I could tell that I was starting to get resentful and defensive and something needed to be done.

As y’all know, I have no problem breaking up with people over text, or ghosting people, but those are obviously people that I don’t care about that much. I couldn’t text this to the bride. So I asked if we could talk, I called her, and I laid it out.

Do you know what happened? Every concern I had about the bachelorette party was shared by the bride. She agreed with and/or understood everything I was saying, she said that she was already thinking that we might need to scale back some of the ideas, and that a couple of other bridesmaids had already voiced similar concerns.

And that was that! We had a lovely conversation, each of us felt good as we got off of the phone, and each of us was happy with the path going forward. The most uncomfortable aspect of the whole thing was working up the courage to ask if we could talk. And I think that’s a pretty common thing. We get worked up about situations or conversations before they even happen, we fear the worst outcome, and then we get too scared to take any action. Yes, the worst that could have happened was that my friend would be totally upset, would have told me I couldn’t be in her wedding anymore, and we could’ve lost that friendship. That was what I was working with going into it. But anyone on the outside would have (and did) quickly say that the bride is not that kind of woman, and that we’ve been friends for 15 years, and this wasn’t going to end it.

My one resolution this year was to fear less. Not to be completely fearless, because I don’t know if that’s truly possible, but just to fear less. Be less fearful of the consequences, and more open to the possibility that everything will work out. As my aunt says, “It’ll all be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”

– Finch