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    Exes & Quarantine: 8 Questions to Ask Yourself If You’re Thinking of Rekindling With an Ex

    Maybe it’s the alluring romanticism of The One That Got Away, or maybe it’s the lack of sex in quarantine, but if you’re thinking about getting back together with an ex, you’re not alone. Even though you probably broke up for a legit reason, human beings crave attachment and comfort. During a time that is so uncomfortable, it’s no surprise that you might be considering going back to what feels familiar, or maybe such a scary time has made you realize what’s important and who you want to have in your life. Plus, if you grew up believing that Ross and Rachel would end up together (were they on a break?) or that Big and Carrie were destined to be together (no matter how many times they broke up and got back together), you know that a breakup does not have to mean the end. But how do you know if you two needed to grow and are now ready to have a healthy, happy relationship, or if you are just tired of swiping through Bumble and endless dates over Zoom? Here are eight questions to help you decide if going back to your ex is the right decision for you. 

    1. Why did you break up in the first place?
    It’s easy to remember the highlight reel of all the good moments, but nothing ends without a reason. Since it’s easier to remember the good over the bad (nostalgia, you bastard!), you’ll most likely romanticize your past relationship instead of remembering the pain it caused you. The reality is that no matter what, we leave relationships for a good reason. Unless that reason is completely resolved (and you have solutions to prevent it moving forward), the same pain will sneak up again if you get back into the same situation. Instead of reflecting on the beginning and middle of the relationship (which is likely a supercut of happy memories), reflect on the end. 

    2. Have you truly forgiven your ex?
    No matter why you broke up, there’s probably hurt on both sides. You might have trust issues, insecurities, built-up resentment, or all the above. While you’ll need to talk through past issues before you decide to give it another shot (more on that below), you should not bring up those past issues in new disagreements that come up in the future. When you bring up past arguments during new fights, it’s just repeating the cycle that broke you up, and might be a sign you’re not really over what happened in the past. Forgiveness is a process. If you’re not there yet, hold off until you’re ready to forgive them, or ask yourself if your gut is telling you not to forgive them.

    Source: @missalexlarosa

    3. Did you have enough space after the breakup?
    Especially when you’re in the same social circle, work together, or just talk to each other frequently, you might not have had enough separation to get used to life without your ex. If you’ve been through breakups before, you know the hardest part of getting over the end of a relationship is often because that person was a part of your routine, like any other habit. Not having enough space from your ex prevents you from moving on because you never get a chance to break that “habit.”
    Sure, missing your ex could be a sign that you really should be with them, or it might be a sign that you didn’t give yourself the chance to move on. Try muting or unfollowing them on social media, or ask friends to make separate plans without your ex for a while. If you’ve already spent enough time apart where you should be moving on by now but aren’t, the relationship could be worth trying again. 

    4. Have you fully discussed the old issues?
    If you’re even thinking about rekindling the romance, first have a conversation with your ex about what went wrong and what you don’t want to repeat. Discuss relationship expectations, define your love languages, and talk about what trust and love truly mean to you. If your ex is quick to sweep things under the rug or act like it wasn’t a big deal, remember that even the smallest things led to the breakup; they are a big deal. Your feelings should be validated, and you should thoroughly discuss what didn’t work last time to make the relationship work this time. Not only should you make sure that the old issues are resolved, but you should also have a “what are we” chat like the beginning of any relationship. Be open about what you both truly want out of the relationship and make sure your values align. 

    Source: @missenocha

    5. Will you be OK with it if your friends and family are not on board?
    You think you’ve been through ups and downs with your dating history, but remember that your support system goes through the ups and downs with you. Your friends probably cried with you after the breakup, unfollowed your ex on Instagram, and told you how you could do better. Your family might be protective of you, so they’ll want to prevent the hurt you experienced the first time around. Even if you’ve gotten over the past issues with your ex, that doesn’t mean your loved ones have too.
    Remember that your friends and family have your best interests at heart, and probably only dislike your ex because of the experience you had with them. Understand where they’re coming from and listen to their advice. If you do decide to get back together, explain to your loved ones what is different this time around and your plan to avoid past conflict moving forward, but don’t expect them to be 100 percent on board right away. 

    6. Are you expecting your ex to be a different person?
    Sure, some people change, and we’re all growing (or at least, that’s the hope), but here’s the ugly truth: your ex is still the same person. If their actions caused the last breakup (like cheating, emotional unavailability, lack of effort, etc.) or just made you unhappy, remember that they’re still the same person, even if the situation or timing is different. If that is the case and you’re still considering getting back together, you should see a lot more change in your ex than just a promise that it will be different this time around. Bottom line, get back together because you’ve changed (like you’re now truly ready for a relationship), not because you’re hoping that they have. 

    Source: @taylranne

    7. Do you miss the person or just the companionship?
    Do you sometimes find yourself mindlessly dialing your ex’s number to share a joke you know they’d find funny, or thinking how much you miss the way they laugh? Maybe you miss their stories that went on and on or the way they held your hand when they could tell you were nervous. Or did you only start missing them when your last Zoom date sucked or since you’ve been feeling lonely while staying at home? Maybe you just miss having someone so much that you’re remembering only the good things in your previous relationship. It’s OK to miss those good things, but just because you miss them doesn’t mean they’re worth going back to. 
    With all the emphasis on being independent women (which we all are), we might sometimes feel ashamed to admit we just want to be in a relationship. But craving companionship isn’t a sign of weakness or dependence; it’s human nature (PSA: you can be a badass independent woman whether you’re in a relationship or not). It’s OK if you are a “relationship person,” but, at the risk of sounding cliché, there are other fish in the sea. And yes, that means fish who won’t give you a reason to break up with them in the first place. Rekindle the flame if you genuinely miss your ex, but not if you just miss the companionship. 

    8. How do you feel when you’re with them?
    It’s easy to get caught up in how you feel about them, but how do you feel about yourself when you’re with them? Feeling safe, secure, lovable, and like your truest self when you’re around your ex is a sign that getting back together might be the right decision. However, if you feel insecure, jealous, or they make you feel lesser than and undeserving, no amount of loneliness is worth feeling like that again. Remember that life isn’t Friends or Sex and The City. No one’s going to write the finale episode for you, and you don’t have season after season to figure it out. In the end, this is your life, and if your ex did not help you make the most of it back then, they’re not worth wasting time on now.  More

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    I Stopped Giving Out My Number on Dating Apps—Here’s Why

    Swipe left, swipe right, roll eyes, and repeat. Girl, the wild world of dating apps is a strange place. On one hand, dating apps are a really cool way to browse a catalog of allegedly available people who may be good for the night or a lifetime depending on “how things go.” On another hand, dating apps feel like a trip down the rabbit hole into some weird Alice in Wonderland-esque universe where nothing makes sense. After what I’m realizing has been years of swiping, fishing, matching, hinging, meeting, dating, and failing, I’ve finally implemented some boundaries and standards to keep the weirdos at bay (thank God).  It may sound silly, but I stopped entertaining people for the sake of “what if.” You know what I mean: “what if he’s a nice guy?” or “what if these are just really bad angles in all of his pictures?” I gave up on wondering what if and dealt with what was. Most importantly, I stopped giving my number out on dating apps. 

    After years of swiping, fishing, matching, hinging, meeting, dating, and failing, I’ve finally implemented some boundaries and standards to keep the weirdos at bay.

    Frankly, I’m not comfortable with a bunch of strangers having my phone number. It’s important for me to maintain my boundaries and also protect my privacy. Giving my phone number feels like I’m handing out invitations to my private, more personal life. I don’t think men I don’t know should be able to know me in that way. Honestly, I’ve regretted giving my number out too quickly. Some people are only out to collect numbers and others have no serious intentions anyway. Giving my number out too quickly has sometimes made it difficult for me to discern the interest from the creepy. It’s hard to rid yourself of creeps once they have your number. I’ve experienced people I’ve blocked calling from different numbers. If I’d just left them on the app, ridding myself of them would have been a lot easier. Still not convinced? Before you fire off—hear me out.  

    1. I limit people’s access
    We live in a fast-paced, instantly gratified society where we all feel entitled to each other at the click of a button or the status of a delivered text, but no ma’am. Failing to give my phone number out allows me to limit not only who has access to me, but how much access they have. Setting this boundary means that only those I’m comfortable with will have immediate access to my time, energy, and attention. Everyone else will need to wait until I check my apps. I think it’s important to note that none of my app notifications are turned on either. I will see them when I see them. Limiting those distractions and setting this boundary helps me to remain focused on what’s most important to me. 
    Unfortunately, a stranger from the internet ranks pretty low on my list of priorities. Until someone earns relevancy in my life, they have none, just as I should not have any in their life. If a connection is there and interest grows, getting to know them will become more important and relevant to me. I think it’s a misstep to allow strangers from the internet to have that much space in your life. Yes, we are searching for our mates, but let’s not forget these people are literal strangers until proven otherwise. The desire for a companion should not completely throw you off your axis to the point you are allowing every person who swipes right an opportunity to be with you. And let’s be honest: many of the folks who end up in our inboxes are uninteresting, oddly sexual upon first swipe, or looking to line their cellphones with numbers they don’t intend on calling. We deserve better.

    2. There are so many other means of communication
    We’ve got Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp, dating apps, letters, smoke signals, and pigeons for goodness sake! Thankfully, we’re living with brand-spanking-new technology that allows us to remain connected through something other than a phone number. Many apps offer video and voice chat right through the app. If a man asks for my number (and I’m interested in getting to know him), I offer to chat through social media, email, or the app we’re on. He either will get with it or get lost. If he gets lost, that saves me from days, weeks, or months of emotional chaos and mental exhaustion trying to interpret “mixed signals.”
    I can almost hear one of you asking, “Well, how are you going to go on a date if you don’t give him your number?” or “How are you supposed to get to know each other if you never talk on the phone?” I’ve got answers for you. I stopped giving out my number because I realized moving the conversation from the dating app didn’t make us any closer or progress the budding relationship any faster. In fact, it just led to a thread of text messages and missed phone calls until we fell off faster than we swiped. 

    3. Setting a boundary helps me see people clearly 
    Failing to give out my number has shown people’s character very quickly. Those without boundaries don’t want you to have any either. When I fail to give a man my number just because he asks for it, it allows me to see how he handles rejection and boundaries. There have been and will continue to be men who curse me out, ghost me, or try to slyly (or forcefully) manipulate me out of my boundary all because I politely declined. I didn’t need them anyway. Then, there have been men (and will continue to be men) who understand my boundary, respect it, and operate within it. Just that fast, I’ve eliminated some people who didn’t deserve me from my dating pool. Yes, there are plenty of fish in the proverbial dating sea, but I don’t need more fish—I need better ones. 

    They say doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity. After years of operating without boundaries, I’m implementing them now. I don’t want a random text from a guy from Tinder in six months just because he’s bored; I want something meaningful. Everyone has their own dating strategy, and this is mine. Even if you don’t agree with my boundaries, it’s important for you to examine what your boundaries are. What has worked for you? What hasn’t? Your dating strategy should support your emotional wellbeing, as well as protect you from people whose intentions you aren’t sure of. My dating strategy helps me to feel in control, empowered, and safe. So, I’m sticking to it.  More

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    I Realized I Loved My Friend-With-Benefits a Little Too Late

    They say you should never date a writer, because one way or another, you’ll be used as material—I guess this is Jeremy’s turn.I love Jeremy. I love him in a way that is not entirely romantic or platonic. (And yes, before I divulge the inner workings of a years-long situationship, you’d better believe Jeremy’s name has been changed to protect his identity.)
    I’m not really sure when I realized I loved Jeremy, or even how it happened. One day, I just knew. But I also knew that it was too late to do anything about it. By this time, it felt like Jeremy and I had gone too far down the wrong road, and turning back felt tedious. Plus, I’d been absent for a while, and Jeremy was in a committed relationship by the time I came back. We’d always had this way of coming together, drifting apart, then coming together again. I’m lying. Jeremy never drifted—I did. It’s one of the things I like about him: he was always there.
    But the last time was different. When I came back, he was with someone else. I always counted on him to be steady, even when I am on an emotional rollercoaster fueled by trauma, fear, and selfishness. I counted on him to put up with me and to stay centered when I spiral out of emotional control. Jeremy was the sun and I was the moon, controlling the ebb and flow of this situation until there was no situation to control. It was all over. There was nothing left of it but regrets.
    I met Jeremy some summers ago when things were hot and sticky and confusing. My world was a bit heavy, and I coped by drinking alcohol and kissing men who were no good for me. I called it “fun,” but really, it was stress. In the midst of that, I met him. He was quiet and kind of sweet. Not at all as brash or in any way a “bad boy” like I was used to. It took me too long to figure out if I liked him. I was at an impasse, so I turned our dating into a friends with benefits (FWB) situation because it was easier and seemed a lot less complicated.
    We made a home out of casual sex that was anything but casual, and spent the next few years sharing secrets, fears, and an intimacy I still can’t figure out. Every time things got too hard or we got too close, I’d dip out without notice. There have been times during this saga where I have impolitely excused myself for days, weeks, or months at a time. And each time I came texting or knocking, calling or DMing—there was Jeremy, willing and ready to accept me without question or accusation. Typing this out, I can honestly admit there have been several “Jeremys.” I have been a terrible lover to some people. Fortunately, I’ve grown since then; unfortunately, my growing pains have hurt more than me. I’ve missed a few love connections. The love was there, but the willingness was not, because trauma, because fear, because control issues, because timing. Just because. We were just two people who were not vulnerable, honest, and self-aware. Here’s how it all went wrong:

    I was impatient
    In the very beginning of our relationship, there were no sparks. No butterflies. There were just a boy and a girl doing regular things like eating lunch and going to the movies. For some reason, I used to think that instant chemistry was a sure indicator of compatibility. I’ve learned a thing or two since then. I didn’t give Jeremy a chance because I was not particularly enamored from the very beginning. I now know to test the connection and build the foundation—brick by brick, layer by layer. Any house thrown up fast won’t stand. Don’t quote me, but I think that’s biblical. Had I been who I am now, I would’ve given this thing a little more time, attention, and room to grow. 

    I was a poor communicator
    I failed to communicate properly—or sometimes, to communicate at all. When I was uncomfortable with my own feelings, I failed to address them with myself, let alone him. Instead of communicating clearly and effectively, I’d just ghost. Ghosting is such a cowardly move because it leaves people wondering and trying to figure out what happened. It isn’t fair. Now, regardless of how insignificant the relationship may be, I try my best to communicate my intentions, needs, and feelings. My experiences with half-spoken love have taught me to speak my truth—even when my voice trembles. 

    I didn’t behave as if I had any agency or power in the situation.
    I figured that if Jeremy wanted this situation to be any more than what it was, he would move it forward. I prefer when men take the initiative, so I unintentionally made it Jeremy’s responsibility to chart the course of our relationship. I didn’t take into consideration Jeremy’s personality or the actions he showed me. Jeremy was patient, present, and showed me he had feelings for me beyond a bedroom tango, but I didn’t recognize it as such. I allowed him to control the narrative instead of stopping and saying what I wanted or what I needed. Recently, Jeremy told me he never took it further because he assumed that all I wanted was what we were doing at the time. After all, I was the moon, right? I just didn’t act like it. 

    I honestly believe that if these things had been different, then Jeremy and I would have been too. We’ve been able to talk about what happened versus what could have been. We’ve discussed the ways we’ve grown and the things we could have done better. Personally, I’m speaking my truth more and opening myself in ways I hadn’t before. I don’t want another Jeremy, so I’m dating with an open heart. I have regrets, but I won’t have any repeats. If you have a Jeremy, tell him how you feel. Love people correctly the first time. 
    Because of our vulnerability, Jeremy and I have been able to connect on a deeper, emotional level. It’s been good, but if you’ve read all this way expecting me to tell you that Jeremy and I are together, happy, and thinking about getting a dog, I’m sorry to disappoint you. There is no fairy tale “happily every after” waiting for you at the end of this piece. There is no prince. No knight. No white horse. There is just me—healed, happy, and whole. As for Jeremy, we’re better friends to each other than we have been in years past. That is enough.  More

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    My Honest Thoughts About Dating as a Plus-Size Woman

    When I was 5 years old, I was in love with my next door neighbor, David. (David isn’t reading this, but his sister, Dana, might be. Hi!) He was charming and funny, older than me, smart, close in proximity, had blonde hair, and his mom always let me stay for dinner. The whole package really. I want to say he liked me back—I mean, he kissed me, and I feel like that means like-like, right?—but if anyone was around, he’d never show it. When we’d play a game of Capture the Flag and it was just us two behind the shed, he’d be nice and funny and sweet to me. But the second anyone came around, he called me ugly and fat and made jokes about me. He was only 6 years old at the time, and I’ve forgiven him for all those times I ran home crying after feeling rejected by him, but I have to wonder if even then, he felt embarrassed to admit he liked a fat girl. And this is how most of my relationships have gone over the years. For a long time, I thought I just had horrible taste in men. To be fair, I kind of do (I’m not kidding when I say my dream man is Pete Davidson, and I know that requires a little bit of self-reflection). But after I read One to Watch, a women’s fiction-romance novel exploring plus-size dating, I began to notice that the patterns might have a little more to do with the men than my interest in them. (It’s also important to note that I’ve never experienced this with women before, but I’ve only been on a few dates with girls in my day, so this could be across genders and sexualities. I’m just speaking on my personal experience.) 
    I wanted to believe that being plus-size wasn’t affecting how men were seeing me. Yeah, there are some jerks out there who fetishize larger bodies or who want to try their personal trainer certification on me, but overall, men couldn’t be that affected by my body weighing more than average, right? After doing a deep-dive on my dating history, I think I’ve concluded that the answer here is no and that actually, being plus-size has played a major role in my love life, even after I started loving myself for who I was.
    Since my very first date at 17, I’ve struggled to meet someone who completely accepts me—rolls, flab, fat, and all. Dating is uncomfortable and stormy regardless of your body type, but I’ve noticed a few common themes in my relationships that seem to correlate with being a plus-size woman. 

    People are embarrassed to admit they’re interested in a plus-size person.
    For whatever reason, I’ve experienced a lot of men who are absolutely embarrassed of me. To the point that when I dated a guy a few years ago who kissed me in public, I put up with all of his other abusive tactics because I was so excited to finally meet someone who didn’t deem public appearances with me as a major hit to their ego. 
    First, they’re embarrassed to even admit to themselves that they find me attractive. Is this speculation? Perhaps. But there’s a reason guys are more likely to talk to me when they’re under the influence or behind the guise of a dating app than IRL. A quick search on a porn site (I did the work, y’all) and you’ll see that porn involving plus-size women gets just as many views as porn with thin women, but I’ve never met a guy who would admit that plus-size women is even something they’re attracted to. There’s a stigma around finding a plus-size woman attractive; men have been conditioned by media and society for generations that thinness is what’s beautiful based on what they see, read, and hear, so they might be othered or uncomfortable admitting that their interest deviates from the norm. For sure, being interested in plus-size women is a preference, and I don’t think you’re automatically fatphobic if that’s not what you’re into, but there’s a real societal pressure at play that keeps plus-size women thinking they’re not worthy all the while men are watching us have sex online with no abandon.
    I explored dating men significantly older than me for a long time because I craved the maturity. Young men I find often don’t have the clear sense of self required to differentiate between what they actually feel and what they think they’re supposed to. And while I think this makes a small difference, there’s still something to be said about the power of masculinity and media portrayals because older men often have outdated views of health and beauty standards. Yep, I’m talking a message once that said, “You’re hot, but you’re unhealthy and will probably get diabetes.” I’m actually plenty healthy, but OK 🙂

    My partners treat our relationship like a secret.
    I’ve also found that partners and dates have been embarrassed to be seen with me too. So, they finally allow themselves to take a chance and date someone fat: congrats, here’s your cookie for going against the grain. But they want every meeting in private. They don’t tell their friends I exist, they don’t take me on public dates (I’ve experienced way too many “Netflix and Chill”s for my liking), they strategically move away from me when we’re at bars together. It’s as if being seen with a fat person ruins their reputation and makes them less of a “man.” And just in the same way that women look to height as a security blanket in men, I think seeking women of a certain body type makes them feel inferior and insecure, like they’re not masculine enough if their partner is bigger than them. 
    The first boy who showed interest in me kept our relationship extremely private, ultimately lying to everyone that he’d ever been interested or attracted to me. Our relationship was kept a secret, complete with Snapchat messages that deleted automatically, a short-lived hookup, and me feeling like absolute garbage when he announced he had a girlfriend the same day I delivered handmade Valentine’s gifts to his locker (I will never get over the sheer embarrassment and shame of this one). This all goes back to being embarrassed of me, as if I’m the impulse purchase you took for a spin with joy one day and completely regretted the next. They seem to think there’s a lenient return policy on having feelings for me.

    People festishize my body. 
    So, you see I’ve had my issues meeting guys in real life and on “normal” dating apps like Bumble, Tinder, and Hinge. Then, I tried all the plus-size dating apps. And that was basically a recipe for disaster. The ideas are incredible in theory; a whole community of people who are happy and excited to date a plus-size person. But they were all rife with people who viewed my extra body fat as a kink. 

    …you just KNOW there are gonna be weirdo fetishists on here. Which is why….I almost wish that plus size girls could just *use* normal dating apps freely like everyone else, rather than being treated like a specific ‘kink,’ as it were.
    — Olivia🧜‍♀️ BLACK LIVES MATTER (@myladyteazle) August 14, 2020

    I’ve gotten everything from “I’ve never been with a big girl before, and I really want to try it” (hello, my body isn’t something you can just add to your bucket list, sir) to “Can I use your stomach as a pillow?” to explicit descriptions of how absolutely hot and sexy my rolls are. The worst part is that when I first started dating, I looked at these as compliments. I was so excited that someone was into me that I never allowed myself to feel the discomfort. Plus-size women are made to feel like they’re lucky to have someone be interested in them, so we overlook potential red flags out of fear of rejection. Well, newsflash: I am really f*cking over that. 
    I’m not making plus-size dating seem very fun, and I’ll be the first to admit that I have a lot of trauma and grief to work through over past relationships in relation to my body image. I wish I could end this saying I won’t have this any longer and I’ll only go out with guys who treat me like a princess (heck, just treat me like a regular person, and I’m yours), but it’s not so simple. It’s much more realistic for me to say that I’ll put off dating until I feel confident enough in myself to not allow myself to be treated like this. This is only my experience, and part of being confident and strong is knowing that there are mature, adult people out there who won’t treat me like this one day. I just really wish they’d come a little quicker because I’m getting Carpal Tunnel in my hands from swiping. More

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    Who You Love Has More to Do With Politics Than You Might Think

    When the results came in during the election of 2016, the country collectively learned that nearly 50 percent of white women had cast their votes for a man who bragged about sexual misconduct on tape. All of my fellow white feminist friends were horrified, as was I. But what disturbed me as well, perhaps more, were the number of women who I’d seen posting on social media that their homes were divided: split between Trump and Clinton under the same roof. These were the white women who didn’t vote for Trump, but lived and shared children with someone who did. I couldn’t fathom how a woman could love someone who voted so violently against her and countless others—and for that matter, how could he claim to love her? I started to fear that I, too, could wake up one morning and discover that my intimate partner had the capacity to think, act, and vote against my interests and those of so many others. What I didn’t realize in 2016 was that I was already living it.

    My ex—we’ll call him Mark—was not a Trump voter. But he couldn’t understand why I was depressed after the election, or why I was overreacting to something that, he maintained, would be of no real consequence to anyone. He told me he thought Trump was “a buffoon and an idiot,” and that he wasn’t happy about the results, but as I lay next to him in bed and cried, he told me he didn’t get why I was so emotional. When I emphasized Trump’s numerous sexual assault allegations, something that was very personal to me as a survivor of abuse, he replied, “Well Obama was accused of a lot of things.” It didn’t occur to me to say at the time, but Obama has not been accused of sexual assault, and had one white woman said a fraction about him of what they said about Trump, Obama’s career, his life as we know it, would have been over. But at the time, desperate for comfort, all I asked was for Mark to hug me. He sat uncomfortably for a moment before he said, “I can’t hug you if I don’t know what I’m agreeing to.” We then sat in an icy silence and I stared through the window, feeling stung and embarrassed for having asked in the first place.
    I grew up in a moderate-sized town surrounded by small towns, in the dead-center of flyover country. Many marry straight out of high school or college, have children within a year, and stay either in their hometown, or live within a few hours of it—that is, if one of them doesn’t enter the military first. I don’t say this in a negative way; many of my good friends have followed this path and they’ve been very happy. But I always felt that this created a culture of “not being too picky” when choosing a mate, especially as a liberal, educated, pro-choice, non-religious woman. You find someone who mostly aligns with your personality and activities, and whatever exists outside of that, you accept, because the alternative is to risk being alone. The idea that one would break up with someone because of their politics, I always perceived, was frowned upon. Why do politics have to come into it? You don’t want to be closed-minded. Some disagreement is healthy—it keeps things interesting!

    The idea that one would break up with someone because of their politics, I always perceived, was frowned upon. Why do politics have to come into it? You don’t want to be closed-minded. Some disagreement is healthy—it keeps things interesting!

    Under these criteria, when I was 19, I found my perfect pairing. We met doing regenerative, local farm-to-table work, we were both artists, neither of us listened to country music, he handed me the power tools. These things were all important to me. Once we made our relationship official, our futures became intertwined, and it started to look like I might have that Midwest path.
    Then 2016 happened, which set me off in a new personal direction. I, like many of the white folks around me, had thought on some level that the election of Obama meant the end of large-scale racism in America. I knew that racism still existed, but I had always subscribed to the thinking that it was just a few individuals and had no larger means of existence. Mark shared this belief, but after Trump, only one of us started to adapt our thinking.
    I started to become more outspoken on social media. For a developing activist, social media is the catalyst for finding our voice and discovering new viewpoints to expand our thinking. It was this newfound expression of mine that quickly became a source of arguments in my relationship, although I could never figure out what the actual argument was about. All I knew was that Mark would see something I posted or even something I liked, and within moments, we’d be shouting back and forth to no avail.
    One of these arguments took place in response to the riots that had broken out across the country in the wake of Trump’s election. I was in support; Mark was starkly against.
    “The reason Martin Luther King Jr. made change was because they were never violent. For the sit-ins, they took the abuse, they sat there while people pounded on them, and that was how people saw how awful it was,” he said. “These people need to know that violence alienates the rest of us who would want to help them. When they do stuff like this, it’s all noise and people like me tune it out.”*

    *Editors’ Note: This is an example of a microaggression. The Everygirl Media Group does not condone this type of speech. To educate yourself on microaggressions and how to combat this behavior, click here.

    This became the running theme. Emotion, anger, frustration, ‘acting out’—all of these things caused the movement to fail at what Mark proposed was its single purpose: to get people like him, ‘moderate white America’, on board with Black liberation. He threw MLK and his ‘passive resistance’ in my face at every turn, and I responded by publicly sharing Letter from Birmingham Jail, in which King states, “I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate… who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice.” Mark responded by saying I was intentionally trying to hurt him by turning his hero against him, and that I was mis-interpreting MLK due to context. I didn’t know the phrase ‘white fragility’ then, but Mark was textbook.

    The underlying dynamic of our relationship began to shift after about four months of dating, when I left to attend the Women’s March. It was a life-changing experience for me, to be surrounded by people who were also experiencing the devastation I felt after the election. But my elation was short-lived, because by the time our busses left D.C. for Kansas, I was already bracing for another argument at home. Instead, I was met with no words at all, as Mark greeted me with no mention of the trip I had just made. When I nudged him, worried he was quietly simmering grievances that would erupt later on, he remarked that the whole ordeal seemed a bit silly. I asked him what seemed so ‘silly’ about the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. After some back-and-forth, I finally asked what he thought the Women’s March was for. No answer. When I informed him that it was in response to the inauguration of Donald Trump, he simply raised his eyebrows and said he’d had no idea it had anything to do with Trump. His tone was almost accusatory, as if I had intentionally held something back from him. As if the expectation that he would take a moment to look it up while I had been gone for five days was somehow unreasonable.

    His tone was almost accusatory, as if I had intentionally held something back from him. As if the expectation that he would take a moment to look it up while I had been gone for five days was somehow unreasonable.

    And yet, I bought in and started to believe that it had, in fact, been unreasonable. I started to think that if I could just explain things in the right way, if I could bring the answers to him, the fighting between us would stop, and we could actually work together at navigating the world of intersectional activism. He seemed so close to being on the same side that I thought I could give him that final push.
    So I sent him articles, gathered materials to talk about sexism and racism and homophobia and how they all roll themselves up together to form institutional violence and oppression. He wholeheartedly refused to read a word of it, because as he told me, he ‘wasn’t that interested.’ But if this was true, why were we fighting so constantly? And why did the fighting only seem to stop when I finally broke down crying? And why did he seem incapable of expressing genuine sympathy when I was in pain? For that matter, why did talking about it hurt me so much more than it hurt him? Why did I feel like I was treading water while he was blank in the face?
    At the time, I didn’t know about concepts such as ‘gaslighting’ and ‘stonewalling,’ so instead, I accepted Mark’s definitions of what I was experiencing. I kept crying during our arguments because I was simply more fragile than him, and in turn, my argument constructions were inferior to his because they were emotional. He convinced me that while he could always be objective about the things other people had endured, we would forever be un-objective after experiencing them for ourselves. Beyond this, my hours of reading, lecture, discussion, and academic study had no bearing on my credibility in our debates, because to Mark, any social or political issue was fair game to the casual viewer, regardless of the time or work they had dedicated to understanding it. As Mark’s voice became a constant passenger in my head, I struggled to feel conviction about anything at all, until I began to pull away from activist work altogether.
    Mark and I finally broke up just before my college graduation, when I became too exhausted to prop up his version of our relationship. When I finally demanded different treatment, he found another way to flip it around on me: Our issue was simply that I wasn’t strong enough to take his emotional manipulations, and I needed to logically explain to him how to change without causing him discomfort along the way. I told him to pursue therapy, and closed the door for good. I then lived with his voice in my head for two years, during which time I was still too intimidated, too lacking in conviction to find my way back to my voice.

    I pursued therapy for myself in the fall of 2019, where I began to tease my own voice apart from Mark’s. However, change was slow, and I still felt great shame and embarrassment when I dared to engage in activist work. That all changed in the spring of 2020, when the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked uprisings across the country, and something in me finally cracked. I found enough purpose to push through Mark’s voice and start reading again, finding books about racism and intersectional feminism, which led me to Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper. I had never seen such a fearless, honest analysis of feminism, and even though her experiences as a Black woman were different from mine, the truth she spoke hit me in waves with every chapter. She was unafraid to look at her deepest insecurities and challenge them, to confront the very real fear that all feminists have of ending up alone because we dare to demand something more from our men. In her chapter White-Girl Tears, I learned that I was not the only person asking what the hell happened with white women voters in 2016, though the answers she proposed weren’t the ones I had anticipated. She wrote of the Women’s March that meant so much to me, “Watching white women take it to the streets to protest an election outcome that was a result of white women’s powerful voting block felt like an exercise in white-lady tears if I ever saw one.” Reading this was sobering, but it helped me recognize that as a white feminist, if I wanted to create change, I needed to start much closer to home.

    It helped me recognize that as a white feminist, if I wanted to create change, I needed to start much closer to home.

    “[T]he choice of whom to love is political. And if white feminists were honest, they would recognize that their feminism actually does demand that they interrogate the political dimensions of their intimate engagements.” This line, like so many other lines in Cooper’s book, put language to something I didn’t realize I’d been trying to say for years.
    I began to view my relationship with Mark through an entirely different lens. I started to question his motives more deeply, wondering now if he was identifying with a larger power structure which was threatened by the activist movements I was engaging with. Did he truly think that social justice efforts were simply too chaotic, too loud, too disorganized to gain traction? Or was the concept that a movement could attain justice with or without his approval simply a challenge to his sense of superiority and importance? I had my answer when I realized that while Mark claimed to support peaceful protest above all else, when his girlfriend left for five days to participate in the enormously peaceful Women’s March, he couldn’t be bothered to learn why it was happening in the first place. I then realized that no matter what arguments I laid out, what research I conducted, or what efforts I made to help him understand, no message of change or justice would have ever reached him because he did not want to be reached.

    I then realized that no matter what arguments I laid out, what research I conducted, or what efforts I made to help him understand, no message of change or justice would have ever reached him because he did not want to be reached.

    For the first time since our breakup, I have stopped hearing Mark’s voice in the back of my mind. I feel like I finally have the vantage point to see all of the things that had been at play, which were far more than just two people standing in a kitchen at 3am, arguing over my presence on Instagram. Behind both of us were years upon years of socialization and experiences that formed who we were, and he was backed by a system that had been doing this insidious work for generations. His weapon was far more substantial, and he was far more adept at using it. But as I am now listening to Black feminist leaders who have studied this longer and more extensively than I, as I learn about the inner-workings and generational pull of this weapon, I can finally start to neutralize its effects.
    White women with white male partners: We need to have a conversation about the word ‘political,’ what it means, and what we allow the men (or should I say ‘enforcers of the white patriarchy,’ because we do that shit, too) in our lives to tell us it means. We act as if politics are a dressing of topsoil over our lives, disconnected from everything else, something to discuss at dinner. In fact, what I’ve learned is that politics form the very roots that feed everything we are made of. It has taken me some time to recognize that Mark was emotionally abusive, but what is not lost on me is that his abuse was also political. And because he and I came out of a culture that told us we shouldn’t base who we date off of politics, it was the perfect shield for the weapon he brought to the table.

    White women with white male partners: We need to have a conversation about the word ‘political,’ what it means, and what we allow the men in our lives to tell us it means.

    I am changing my constitution allllll the way around. My relationships, from here on out, are to be a sanctuary for me in the sense that they are a safe space, and 100 percent optional. First date topics will include but not be limited to the following: Black Lives Matter, intersectional feminism, abortion, white supremacy, transphobia, religion, who you voted for in 2016, who you voted for in 2020, who you wished you could’ve voted for in 2020, Black reparations, Native American reparations, and whether or not Louis C.K. is redeemable. I refuse to act as if any of these opinions are not critical to agree upon with my future partner. We can disagree about many things—for example, I do enjoy a good dill pickle, and if they find them repulsive, then more for me. But politics and the weapon they wield are no space for compromise, and the best thing that white women could recognize in 2020 is that we no longer need to endure or carry this weapon in exchange for our security.

    I believe that all white women have a Mark, whether it’s a romantic partner, a father, a grandfather, a fellow white woman who parrots the same sentiments in a higher pitch, or the simple voice echoing through our culture and directly into our ears.

    So if we’re really committed to widespread liberation and equality, we need to start looking critically at the results of our alignments. I believe that all white women have a Mark, whether it’s a romantic partner, a father, a grandfather, a fellow white woman who parrots the same sentiments in a higher pitch, or the simple voice echoing through our culture and directly into our ears. They may not actively participate in oppressive systems, but they certainly won’t lift a finger to help take their weight off of our backs, and they will sure as hell judge us for trying. When our collective Marks attach onto our pre-existing insecurities, assuring us that our actions toward positive change are inconsequential, it would do us well to start challenging them at the root. One way to do this is to simply pose the question to one’s self, perhaps late at night once our Marks have gone to sleep beside us: If I break my alignment with him, what does he stand to lose? And when I venture out into a diverse community of revolutionaries, when I bring with me my tool of white privilege and the need for my own liberation, what could we all stand to gain? More

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    14 Things to Do If You Get Dumped That Don’t Include Texting Your Ex

    I don’t know who needs to hear this but: don’t. text. your. ex.We’ve all been there: post-breakup, wondering where things went wrong, wanting to dig up the dirt with hopes of uncovering that one piece of artifact that might give you an ounce of closure. Rejection in any form hurts, but feeling rejected by someone you love dearly hits differently.
    Navigating the post-relationship dating scene after experiencing a breakup is hard enough as it is, but, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that adding a global pandemic to the situation makes things exponentially more complicated. So it’s no surprise if you’ve been considering reaching out to revisit the idea of familiar past relationships.
    Heidi McBain, a Texas-based counselor for women, moms, and moms-to-be, has had her fair share of experience helping women who have struggled through breakups and divorces. “[Texting your previous partner] may be a default response,” she said. “When you were together, they were your go-to person when times were hard. When you’re going through a period of transition, it can be easy to fall back into old patterns, especially if you don’t yet have a good social support system in place that doesn’t include your ex.”
    Speaking from personal experience, I’ve found that nothing good has ever come out of texting my ex after we uncoupled. Time after time, I looked for closure and comfort from him and was often left feeling unsettled, as he didn’t have the answers I was seeking. After too many times of extending the olive branch and being left with feelings of defeat, I learned that, in my case, I couldn’t look for happiness in the place that I lost it. I started to heal once I stopped looking back.
    Texting your ex can be tempting, but I promise you, you’ll feel better if you don’t. Instead, McBain suggested identifying your support system and practicing self-care. What exactly does that look like? We’ve got you covered:

    1. Call or FaceTime a friend 
    McBain advised redirecting your impulse to reach out to that certain someone, and instead, reaching out to a friend or family member you love. Whether you want to vent or be distracted, talking to someone you love can help you to feel connected if you’re feeling isolated.

    2. Watch a comedy
    Sometimes, when life is hard, you might find yourself in need of a good laugh. I’m not sure if watching a comedy series counts as self-care, but binge-watching The Office post-breakup was my personal saving grace. If you’re looking for a new comedy to watch, check out these 11 comedies that are sure to help you look on the brighter side of things. 

    3. Clean out your closet
    Yes, that includes that hoodie of theirs that you (previously) love(d) to snuggle up with. It’s dead to us now and simply must go. Cleaning out your closet can be a great metaphor for a fresh start and will give you an opportunity to donate old clothes to someone who needs them more than you. Also, an obvious bonus, you’ll have more space for all of the Anthropologie goodies you have in your online shopping cart.

    4. Volunteer at an animal shelter
    Get in on a little bit of puppy/kitty lovin’ by volunteering at your local animal shelter. If you’re a person who can be cured by animal snuggles, reaching out to see how you can help and getting some playtime with some furry friends (without the commitment) can be a great and wholesome distraction. Pups would never leave you on read, sis. If you reach out to your local shelter, please be mindful of their quarantine precautions and protect yourself, fellow volunteers, and staff. Never go to a public place if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or know someone close to you who has it. If they’re closed to the public at this time, fostering or adopting a furry friend could be a lovely alternative to look in to. 

    5. Print out pictures of your friends and family, and switch out old pictures of your ex-S.O.
    Switch out old photos in your current frames to better reflect your current social circle. Being surrounded by pictures of wonderful memories and others that you love can be a great way to remind yourself of how loved you are and of all the goodness you have experienced.

    Source: Daria Shevtsova | Pexels

    OK, let me make this clear. Do not, I repeat, do not cut your bangs in a frenzy post-breakup. While I don’t condone cutting your own hair, I am a firm believer that a professionally-crafted, fresh cut or color can be a great way to revive your style, and can give you that pep in your step you’ve been missing. While it’s important to pick a stylist based on Yelp reviews and before and after results on their personal page, it’s now equally as important to ask the salon what precautions they will be following to prioritize infection control so that you can leave with fresh hair and fresh hair only.

    7. Make a list of the things you’re grateful for
    Good things are all around us, but when you’re feeling low or are fixated on finding closure after a breakup, it can be easy to lose sight of the positives. If you’re reaching for the phone to text your ex, divert your attention to your Notes app, a journal, or a nearby sticky note. I challenge you to reflect on five things you’re grateful for. According to Harvard Health Publishing, practicing gratitude can make you a happier person. So let’s get to writing, ladies.

    Getting up and moving is always a good idea (bonus: McBain approved this activity too). If you’re feeling down, going on a small walk or going all out at an online scheduled workout class can be a great way to get your endorphins pumping, which can have a positive effect on your mood. And that’s a self-care activity we can get behind.

    Source: Taryn Elliott | Pexels

    Journaling is another McBain-endorsed activity to channel your emotions into if you’re struggling with a breakup. Allowing yourself the space to reflect on your feelings and put them on paper can help you sort through a mess of thoughts. Get yourself a pen and a notebook, and you’re set.

    If you’re looking for another therapeutic, hands-on activity to help fill a void after a breakup, try a hand at baking. Pick out a recipe you’ve been dying to try, put on some feel-good music, and get to cooking. Relieving stress and having a yummy treat as the end reward? Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

    11. Research therapists in your area and consider making an appointment
    As great as it is to have support from friends and family during a rough time, it can be helpful to consider speaking to a therapist if you’re having trouble cutting ties with your ex, McBain noted. Transitioning out of a relationship and assuming a single identity is no easy feat. You may find yourself ruminating on the past and therapists can be a wonderful resource to helping you develop cognitive tools to help you to reframe your thoughts and move forward. Right now, many therapists are offering online therapy sessions which are a great option to seek professional care amidst the pandemic. 

    Source: Ketut Subiyanto | Pexels

    12. Download a dating app to see what’s out there
    If you’re a dating app skeptic like I was, hear me out: downloading a dating app can be a new way for you see what’s out there and to remind you that you’ve still got it. The idea of swiping seems superficial (and let’s be candid, it kind of is), but the connections that people make on the app can be very real. Downloading a dating app can be a low commitment way to dip your toes in the water if you’re looking to get back out there. If you’re not ready yet, that’s fine too! Save this one for when you are.

    When I was experiencing my first breakup, I was pretty self-centered. Not in a bad way … during the heartbreak, I needed to focus my energy on myself to keep it together and to figure out exactly what I needed to heal. After a while of being in my own head, one of the things that I found brought me joy was reaching out to others and helping them where I could. PSA: I don’t mean taking on a laundry list of someone else’s problems, because that won’t be helpful to you. Rather, partake in a simple, random act of kindness to spread some positivity. A good place to start? Send a love letter to a friend.

    Source: Daria Shevtsova | Pexels

    14. Rearrange your furniture
    You mean all those years of shamelessly watching hours of HGTV might actually pay off? Rearranging your furniture can be an easy way to switch up your design aesthetic and can be a great project to tackle while you’re looking to move forward and create a new reality for yourself. 

    If you need to cry, do it. If you want to scream, open your window and let it out. Experiencing a breakup is a loss, and grieving loss looks different in each of us. Be gentle with yourself. Be patient. We know you’re worth it. We’re here for you, girlfriend.  More

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    What Relocating for Love Taught Me About Independence

    I have always admired people that seem to have lived multiple lives. You know who I mean, those people who’ve worked different careers, lived in different cities or countries, maybe even been married more than once. I envied their courage to pivot and redefine themselves. They were leading full and exciting lives. I had always hoped to one day be one of those people, but when I was finally presented with an opportunity to change my life, I found myself surprisingly hesitant. I’m American-born, Nigerian-bred walking contradiction. I was always intensely career-driven, but harbored fantasies of being Suzy Homemaker. When I was growing up, I rejected all the things I was told I must do “because I was a girl,” despite the fact that I actually really loved doing them. I’ve always pushed myself really hard and gone for the practical route over my true desires, for instance, majoring in finance when I really would’ve preferred to study art history. Could you blame me? I was consistently well-rewarded for doing just that. So, when my future husband offered me the chance to move to Paris, be Suzy Homemaker for a while, spend my time in the greatest art museums, and begin a second chapter of my life, all my worst impulses to stay the familiar, but measurably rewarding route reared their ugly heads. The journey toward finally saying “yes” to my dreams revealed to me my patterns of self-denial and my attachment to my identity—and to the approval of others. 

    I’ve always pushed myself really hard and gone for the practical route over my true desires, for instance, majoring in finance when I really would’ve preferred to study art history. Could you blame me? I was consistently well-rewarded for doing just that.

    I moved to New York City in 2005 to pursue a career in fashion, working for some of my dream brands. As the years continued to pass, I thrived. My life was good—repetitive, but good. When I started approaching 10 years in New York, I started to feel this consistent malaise that I could not verbalize. I felt like I was living the same life year after year. The jobs would change, the apartments and the boyfriends, but it felt like I was rewriting the same chapter of the book of my life. So—ever Ms. Practical— what did I do to counter the malaise? I applied to business school! 
    I went on the circuit, visiting and applying to top programs. I took the GMAT, wrote the essays, connected with alumni. I really made my life hell for two years when deep down, I knew that what I was really searching for was a justifiable way to blow up my current life and transition into the next one. After getting into some great schools, I sobered up and challenged myself to find a less expensive way to seek change. So back on the treadmill I went, continuing the upward, repetitive-but-familiar climb. 

    Back on the treadmill I went, continuing the upward, repetitive-but-familiar climb. 

    Source: @thenonster

    Then came March 2017, I was having one of the best years of my life working my dream job, in great shape, enjoying the fruits of my labor. The malaise had subsided a bit. One day, I agreed to a dinner date with a very nice Italian guy named Alessandro, who was visiting from Paris for a work conference. He was so open, happy, considerate, and fun. I instantly felt safe with him. We began a long-distance relationship between New York and Paris and five months into the relationship began serious discussions about getting engaged and being in the same city. After lots of analysis, we agreed that I would move to Paris because I had always wanted to live in Europe, the quality of life is better than New York City’s, and, well, it’s Paris. The plan was: I would move in May of the following year, take intense French lessons for a few months, and then start looking for jobs in the fall. I was thrilled. I had started working at 15 and had never taken a break in my life. 
    I worked up the nerve to tell my company that I would be leaving in a few months. But they dropped a bomb in my lap, offering me an even bigger role than the one I would be leaving. This was the best company and people I had ever worked for. I had never felt more supported and recognized in my career, and it would be a difficult environment to replicate anywhere in the world. How could I pass this up? I asked for some days to think. In my head, while I was already spending all the extra money and smiling proudly at my career trajectory, I was debating if I was really willing to deny myself my dreams of a slower pace in Paris for more “success.” Alone at night, that familiar malaise returned, along with anxiety-induced sleeplessness. 

    In my head, while I was already spending all the extra money and smiling proudly at my career trajectory, I was debating if I was really willing to deny myself my dreams of a slower pace in Paris for more “success.” Alone at night, that familiar malaise returned, along with anxiety-induced sleeplessness. 

    Alessandro saw the turmoil I was in and suggested we reconsider choosing New York because he couldn’t bear to feel he had ever held me back. Once he said that, I was met immediately with feelings of dread instead of relief. It’s like the proverbial coin flip that reveals your deepest desires right before the face of the coin is revealed. I wanted to go because, even though our combined incomes would be higher than in Paris, so would our cost of living and stress levels. I would be under pressure to deliver in the new role, traveling more, and managing a partner that was adjusting to New York City. He’d be the one taking a break he never asked for while waiting for a visa. We would both lose the social safety nets and protections that come with working in France, such as excellent affordable healthcare and job security. Finally, I wouldn’t be able to take those few months off, spend time learning French, or live in Europe. I couldn’t begin my second life. Ms. Practical wondered, “is that the price you must pay for success?” In hindsight, it feels like the answer was so obvious, but in the moment, I couldn’t see it because I was supposed to be an independent woman! But was I actually? Isn’t the truth that there is a dependency to our “independence?”

     Isn’t the truth that there is a dependency to our independence?

    Hear me out: If you’re consistently aware that you’re sitting on a house of cards, constantly competing, plotting, and striving, knowing that all you have can be yanked away at the whim of “management,” with a disappointing bonus, or the next economic downturn, are you really independent? More independent than a housewife? Maybe we are all dependent on something and shouldn’t measure ourselves or each other with that label.  
    So, I told myself to make the decision as if I lived in a world with no judgement. What did I really want? I wanted to slow down, to take a break and allow myself to need someone who wanted so badly for me to need him. I wanted to live in Europe. To start a business. Once that became clear I needed to examine why I had been holding onto my old life with clenched fists and a tight jaw; clinging to my fashion career, insisting on staying at the front of a rat-race that was eating me up inside with anxiety and constant worrying. The answer was because we attach our self-esteem to our jobs, to the brands, titles, and salaries. How would I introduce myself at parties without a big title? How could I show the progression of my life if not with promotions? The realization that my attachment to my old identity and fear of being judged was holding me back and costing me my happiness, made it easier to let go. So, I did. I resigned, emptied out my apartment, and booked a one-way ticket. It had been a very long time since I had felt the feeling of freedom that I felt when we drove the U-Haul out of New York City. One of the most exhilarating moments of my life was standing at Charles de Gaulle airport, a week later, with my nine suitcases and a clear calendar.

    Source: @thenonster

    How would I introduce myself at parties without a big title? How could I show the progression of my life if not with promotions? The realization that my attachment to my old identity and fear of being judged was holding me back and costing me my happiness, made it easier to let go. So, I did.

    Source: @thenonster

    Making the move was one big step, the second would be coming to terms with it, because the guilt that I was wasting my life and my brain didn’t magically disappear upon my arrival in France. I remember sitting in French classes full of mostly students, feeling old and silly.
    It was in conversations with my mentors and girlfriends that I got clarity, support, and maybe even a little envy. They reminded me that everyone wanted to be me. I had a responsibility to acknowledge the privilege to be able to rest and reflect on how I had spent my previous years, and a duty to use the time to thoughtfully ponder what to do next. Where was Alessandro in all this you wonder? Practically begging me to stop thinking and allow my next move to reveal itself. 
    This experience showed me that so many women were feeling the same way I had been feeling: in their attachment to their status and identities, some were tired of the pressure, questioning the career paths they were on, weighing the money and prestige against the lost time, discarded dreams, and cost to their mental health, relationships, and happiness. I also noticed how so many of the women whose career journeys I had admired had taken twists and turns on their roads to “success.” This would be my twist. The past few years have left me questioning how narrowly we define success as a society. Why don’t we place value on what I’ve achieved? Learning a new language, making new friends, experiencing more of the world. Why are those accomplishments not considered on the same level as improving my excel skills or shipping out more product for a big corporation? The answer is that it is not up to “society” but to each of us as individuals to analyze our choices and define what we consider a life well-lived.

    Why don’t we place value on what I’ve achieved? Learning a new language, making new friends, experiencing more of the world. Why are those accomplishments not considered on the same level as improving my excel skills or shipping out more product for a big corporation?

    Source: @thenonster

    I’ve never felt more vibrant, more confident, or more sure of myself and my abilities than since I arrived here. Stepping away from my old life has allowed me to find my purpose: bringing people together, communicating, advising, mentoring, and forging connections between women with the aim to help them live their best lives, on their own terms, and by their own standards. I launched In Vibrant Company as a platform to do just this.
    I’m on my way to being one of those people who has lived multiple lives. My hope is that through the stories we tell on In Vibrant Company, we may encourage even one woman to take a risk she has been considering. I hope to give “success” many different faces, to build a community that celebrates taking a break, changing your mind, allowing yourself to say “no” to more if you so choose, and allowing yourself to need someone when you’re tired. I hope that we all reassess what we consider “success” and how we calculate our value; that we drown out the internal and external noise and be easier on ourselves and others.   More