Wedding Planning: COVID Edition

“…they can eat corn dogs and sit in their cars.” ~ Iliza Shlesinger Unveiled Netflix special

That’s pretty much how I feel right about now when it comes to wedding planning. It’s overpriced, overrated and would not recommend. One star. Before I go any further talking about wedding planning during the second part of a global pandemic, let me go back to August 2019.

The Proposal: August 31, 2019

Eric and I have been together a little over a year and a half. I had moved in with his family the month before, right after my parents had moved to Florida and I had started a contract job hoping it would lead to a full time position (Spoiler alert: it didn’t.)

At some point, one of Eric’s family friends had given us tickets for a cruise on the Belle of Louisville which we had been saving for a fun date night. He finally had a Saturday off, so we seized the day and got ready for a day on the river. We didn’t have the lunch cruise ticket, so we got some snacks on the concessions and ate lunch – we’re pretty low maintenance.

We were sight seeing on the boat and I was talking about angles for photos, when he abruptly told me I might what to put away my phone. I turned around and there he was on one knee, proposing to me with my mom’s ring. I was so happy, I immediately said yes. Then I FaceTimed with my parents a few minutes later and then my little sister when she was on break; I just could not contain my excitement.

When we got back to the house, we drank sparkling juice and went out to lunch to celebrate, our friend Libby (who gave us the tickets for Belle of Louisville) came out with us to celebrate the news. I soon found out the story of how he had asked my parents permission about five months earlier, I was so happy and touched. We then told our remaining family and friends before we made the official announcement on social media later that day.

The Planning

The original wedding date would be our three year dating anniversary, January 2, 2021. That would give us a year and a half to save up. Then March 2020 happened: COVID came to Kentucky.

I was unemployed for almost six months when I started a retail position at the end of March; so I had to train for a new job while being six feet away – which is probably as awkward and effective as it sounds. Through all of the societal changes though, we were still planning the wedding as usual. Hoping things would be better as it got closer.

During the summer, we had our original plan and a back up plan in case COVID was still a thing come 2021 (Spoiler alert: it is.) I was having a Sunday call with Mom, she could tell I was overwhelmed and stressed about essentially planning two weddings. So Eric and I talked and we decided in October we would make the call if we should move the wedding to a new date or not.

October came and we decided on May the Fourth for our wedding day, for obvious reasons – the wedding and reception is Star Wars themed. So having the wedding on May the Fourth (aka Star Wars day) made sense and felt serendipitous. We decided to have the reception that following Saturday. I know this means I would have to do hair, make up, wear my dress and all that jazz twice, but we have to adapt.

We decided to have a small in-person ceremony and live stream it for our other guests. I created a group for the virtual wedding on Facebook and I created an account on a streaming app. Then I just share the link so guests can sign up for notifications on when it starts. (Reach out if you want pointers on how to do this!)

The Nightmares

THE VENUE

We had three venues we liked. The Louisville Planetarium, my church, and the Olin Guest House. The planetarium still isn’t open, due to COVID they may not open until the fall or spring of next year. The church will be in the middle of remodeling during that time. So luckily we still have the guest house.

THE FOOD

I am so tired about hearing about issues with food. Yes, I want people to have good food. I wanted a pasta bar, well there was an issue with people not wanting to get red sauce on their nice clothes. I compromise and say, okay I’m doing a taco bar. No body wants to eat finger foods at a wedding reception. Mexican food and pasta are my favorite foods (not at the same time though.) Here’s my thought… eating food can be messy, accidents happen sometimes people spill food on selves and that’s why it’s called accident. You can be the cleanest person and still have a drop of queso on your shirt, it happens.

THE NEW SOCIAL RULES

I think this speaks for itself, *ahem* CDC guidelines.

What I’ve Learned Throughout This Mess

You can’t make everyone happy. It’s our day, I want to do want makes us happy. And this experience pointed out it’s important to be flexible and I’ve learned to adapt, like really adapt, to challenging situations. In the end it’s about Eric and I getting married and wanting to spend the rest of our lives together, not the venues or food. I just want to be happy and have a good time. That’s all.



Restless, IRRITABLE and Discontent

Sobriety is a beautiful experience, but it’s also a unique type of challenge. In early sobriety, there are a few rules you should abide by to stay sober:

Rule #1: Take it one day at a time. Don’t think about the problems of yesterday or let yourself “future trip.” Be present.

Rule #2: Stay away from people, places and things. In other words, distance yourself from friends who get you into trouble, bars you used to frequent, and things that might trigger you to drink or to use.

Rule #3: H.A.L.T. Never let yourself be hungry, angry, lonely or tired. These are some big triggers that drive us to relapse.

At 2 years of sobriety, I still struggle with these 3 simple rules. The most challenging for me at this moment is H.A.L.T. Right now, I’ll simply focus on the “A”, angry.

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I’ve never considered myself to be an angry person, but I’ve always referred to myself as someone who is “easily irritated.” After all of the work that I’ve done over the last 2 years, many of the things that used to really irk me, no longer bother me. However, I’ve compiled a list of the things that still drive me crazy and put me back into that “irritable” state of mind.

1. Being Left on “Read”

No one likes to be ignored. On the other hand, not everyone ignores us on purpose. I’ll be the first one to admit that I ignore my friends and family by accident on a daily basis! The difference between ME accidentally ignoring people and others who (possibly by accident) ignore others that really pisses me off is the use of the read receipts!

For those of you who don’t know what “read receipts” are, they are the little gray reminders that someone is ignoring your text– where it says “read” and the time your text message was opened. If you’ve turned off your “read receipts,” your friends will only see the word “delivered” in small gray writing under the messages they send you.

Maybe you don’t actually know if your “read receipts” are on, and if that’s the case, my anger is not directed toward you. However, I know many people who choose to leave those receipts on. I personally think that those who keep their “read receipts” on are freaking sociopaths. Why would you CHOOSE to drive your friends and family crazy? This is pretty much a subtle, passive-aggressive way of giving someone the middle finger and saying, “what you’ve sent me is unimportant and I want you to clearly understand how annoying you are.”

2. Public Restroom Door-Knockers

Some of you may be wondering, “why does this piss you off, Zoë? They’re just being polite!” Well, I completely disagree. Let me tell you why I believe that knocking on the door of a public restroom is, indeed, NOT polite.

First of all, bathroom doors have LOCKS. Some of them even literally tell you that the bathroom is in use when the door is locked. If there’s no way of knowing if the door is locked, do you know how easily you could find out if it is? Try opening it. Groundbreaking, isn’t it??

Secondly, if you don’t want to do a quick pull on the door (for some stupid reason) and think that knocking is a better way to find out if the restroom is vacant, let me ask you this…what exactly are you expecting to get out of your knock? A frantic “OCCUPADO!” from the person sitting on the toilet you need to use? That, not only is unnecessary to answer your question (because trying the handle would have done it much faster), but it also completely interrupts the peace of the current toilet-sitter. Think back to the last time someone randomly and loudly knocked on the door while you were peeing. How did you react? You probably squealed one the following interjections: “uhhhh..someone’s in here!” or “Just a minute!” or “OcCuPiEd!!” Wasn’t that extremely awkward or uncomfortable? Your private moment of incognito bodily release was very suddenly shattered.

Lastly, if you’re knocking to try to incite panic on your fellow pee-er so they hurry up, then you’re just kind of a dick. In summary, quit disturbing my damn “pee”ce. If you knock, I’m not responding. Sorry not sorry.

3. Mumblers

As a middle school teacher, I have dealt with a fair share of mumbling students. This is frustrating, mostly because it causes students to have to repeat themselves six times in order for little Billy-Bob in the back row to hear their answer to my question. However, I understand that KIDS tend to mumble in class because they don’t feel very confident in what they are sharing in class. I have patience for mumbling kids. Whom I have zero patience for are mumbling adults.

I know several adults who are in a constant mumbling-to-whispering volume and this seriously makes my damn skin crawl. Look, I probably went to far too many rock concerts in my youth and my hearing is slightly weakened because of it, but I’m still able to hear things people say if they’re speaking at an acceptable amount of decibels. When you chew on all of your words, it leaves me (and others) in the uncomfortable situation where we have to ask you to repeat yourself so many times that it gets to the point where we just smile and nod, looking like that seal from “Finding Dory.”

In other words, and let me say it loudly so you can hear me in the back, ENUNCIATE, FOOLS!

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We’re all human. We all do things that piss other humans off. We also all have our own lists of meaningless, little things that other humans do that inexplicably make us want to pull our hair out of our skulls. The point of writing this all down was to get it off my chest, drop the weight of the world, if you will, and to let others know that this annoying sh*t is so insignificant in the grand scheme of life, or more specifically, sobriety. Next time something small makes your eye twitch a little, be annoyed for a second and then let it go.

To get f*cked or to get f*cked over– is that the new question?

We live in a time where you pick your partners by a swipe of the finger. We judge based on looks and most interesting bio. We live in a world where “Netflix and chill” is now considered a date, instead of someone coming to pick you up to do some fun activities and then drop you off at your front door with a kiss (where the hell did the butterflies go)! We live in a world where our real life meet-cutes are, “I met them on Tinder, haha” or “I was so drunk that I just literally fell into them” or “I was twerking at the club and they said I looked hot” (how romantic).

We live in a world where marriage has turned into just a legal form, instead of two souls becoming one. Where loyalty is a word from the past, because cheating is as easy as going online or to the gym or to a bar to find your fuck. Because that’s what it is isn’t it? No one makes love anymore; no one sticks around long enough to know if this could be the one. They stick around for only right now…and people wonder why we get so “crazy” as they put it, or they are pissed because you have trust issues (oh, I’m sorry, am I supposed to ignore the world around me and how fucked it is?).

I live in a world where you are either cheating on someone or you’re getting cheated on. It doesn’t seem to matter how long a relationship has lasted– if someone catches your fancy and you get the urge, people act! No control. No one seems to think, “I’ve been with this person for 8+ years. I have 2 beautiful children with them and I have built so much with them. I can’t throw all of that away!”

I once saw a married man ask a girl, “do you want to go out to my car and fuck?” She replied, “if it was a Mercedes, sure, but it’s a Ford Fusion and your car seats are in the back so, no.” (my jaw hit the floor ladies and gents because this was an actual conversation).

I’ve seen two married people fucking around with one another, not giving a fuck if their spouses found out. On social media, he was the perfect husband: praising his wife and how much he loved her. But then he’d message this other woman saying how he wants to fuck her, asking if she can come over on Saturday because that’s when his wife will be out of town (this makes me truly sick when I see things like this).

I’m genuinely dumbfounded by it all.

I miss the concept of true love with a person, accepting them for good and bad, building a life (with them a start, middle, and end), with no fucking around, with no one cheating or having wandering eyes or leaving just because it got a little hard. But this hardly exists anymore and it is so rare to find someone with the same mindset…

So I guess, “To get fucked or to get fucked over?” really is the question.

-The Ramblings of a Madwoman

Run For Your Life

It’s Friday evening and as I sit in my bed, sans pants, I realize how long it’s been since I’ve taken a moment to reflect.

I’m at a place in my life where I feel stagnant, settled, but for the first time ever I can say that I’ve been content with my daily routine. This truly is a new version of myself.

I used to consistently be slapped in the face with the need for CHANGE– some kind of adventure to get my adrenaline going. Once, I was so overwhelmed by this feeling that I got a new tattoo and changed my hair all in one weekend. My past was full of on-a-whim plane ticket purchases and impromptu trips. I’d come to think that this desire for MORE only occurred because I wasn’t grateful for what I already had.

No one is perfect at practicing gratitude, but I think that past-me had it all wrong (as I’ve been realizing is usually the case).

You know how they always say that people “give up” on working hard in their relationships once they get married? Well, my situation is similar. I found a job, city and apartment that I liked, then I just went through the motions of my day-to-day life. Why push myself to grow when I’m already satisfied at my current size?

I think this is a common way to live for many adults. However, if we’re not actively trying to make our lives more enjoyable each day, we will eventually begin to regress. And my friends, I’m now having a revelation that I’ve been on a slow and steady decline since the day I decided to “give up” chasing more.

I used to have a tendency to always want more: a better apartment, a significant other, more friends, a better job, another degree. I thought those things would make me happy.

Those things, though, would never satisfy me. Even when I would get “more,” I’d be reminiscent of the times before I got it or I’d simply think, “this isn’t enough.” So I found a way of life that was acceptable and I planted my roots. I thought I’d never be able to make myself “happy,” so there was no point in chasing highs.

The crazy thing is, GETTING the high was obviously not making me happy, but CHASING that high? The chase was the exciting part. The chase was what got me out of bed in the morning. The chase is what made me feel productive and useful. Now I’m regressing instead of growing and I’m blaming the world for dealing me with a shit hand of cards after all I’ve been doing is “trying my best.” Face the music, Zoë, you haven’t been trying at all.

The problem is not the world; it is me.

Without those far away dreams to run after and work toward, what are we even doing with our lives? And once we attain those seemingly-impossible goals, it doesn’t mean that the chase is over. It means that it’s time to set a new goal. We SHOULD be looking to get better and better and better everyday.

To quote my favorite fictional bachelor, Ted Mosby, “If you’re not scared, then you’re not taking a chance. And if you’re not taking a chance, then what the hell are you doing anyway?” UGH, Ted would be so upset with me if he knew how I’ve been living for the past few years!

Hate feeling scared? Good news! Almost everyone else does too. That doesn’t mean we should all just quit trying new things or trying to achieve greatness, just because it’s scary.

Think about the most influential people in the world. Don’t you think it was terrifying for them to get to where they are now? They didn’t shrink from their fear; they ran toward their fears.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of shrinking. It’s time to climb out of our ruts, shake off the dust, and run toward our fears. Let’s run for our lives.

Evolution: Embrace It

“People don’t change,” whispers a scornful, bitter friend.

We’ve all been told vehemently that people don’t change, “If they sucked then, they’ll suck now,” and all that yada yada. Which in all fairness is true for some people – some people really do just suck (forever), but for the vast majority of the population: we are not doomed to suck forever.

To be the same forever goes against the grain; we aren’t meant to rinse and repeat our entire lives. This isn’t to denounce routine by any means, but it is to embrace growth. You shouldn’t be the same person you were at 17, or even the same person you were last year. Every day lessons should be learned, every day we should be striving to be better than yesterday.

When you move to New York, the first thing that people will tell you is to remember that there is always someone better.

This is meant as a warning that the dating scene is hard because in the back of your mind (and your date’s mind) is the lingering thought, “Hmmm… is there someone better? Is this investment worth it?” Not to mention the whole competitive job scene has an underlying tone that you are replaceable (which isn’t necessarily a lie.) But it’s true, in life there is always someone better, but there is always someone worse too. It’s a double-edged sword.

So let’s take that knowledge introspectively: there is always a worse version of myself and a better version, and it’s in the power of the present version of myself to decide how I pan out.

To break that down, lately before I do something mildly destructive I audibly tell myself, “Girl, don’t do that to future you. Don’t put her through that. Don’t give her chores for later.”

The tendency to coddle our present self is in and of itself: self-destructive.

Present you is already having a bad day, case closed. Done. Past you already wasn’t equipped to deal with it, so what are you going to do for future you? How are you going to try to set her up better, make her more equipped to handle a similar mess in the future? How are you going to e v o l v e from this?

If you don’t evolve, if you reject the universe telling you that your current state of being is not sustainable – you are doomed to rinse and repeat. If you don’t learn from the bad day, that bad behavior, or that explosive encounter with someone more woke than you – then these things will always happen to you like groundhog day. You will get stuck.

Change is an old friend that comes when you least expect it.

Sometimes we get to embrace the change with open arms, but other times… the change is too much and not our cup of tea. That being said, we all change way more than we give ourselves credit for. Just last week I was able to talk myself out of hitting snooze everyday simply by asking myself, “Will the ten extra minutes change your day? Is it worth it?” Each day it was a clear answer, the snooze was not hit and I got out of bed earlier than usual.

But this week, I’ve not seen the same rationale and argued that yes, ten more minutes will actually make or break my day. Yet instead of that extra ten minutes domino-effecting my morning, I cling to the beneficial mindset I made last week and make compromises. Meaning if I sleep longer then this is how my routine will get altered, etc. Really, I’m refusing to allow myself to ‘sleep in’ without holding myself accountable for the effect it will have on the rest of my morning.

So you see, the person I was last week, I’m not her today, not completely. The person I was last year? Don’t know her. This is to say, if you knew me in high school or even college, and our friendship didn’t withstand the test of time: you don’t know me, nor I, you.

“You’ve changed,” whispers a scorned, bitter friend.

“Funny how that happens, isn’t it?” I say with a smile.


Dropping this Affirmations playlist as a reminder to embrace your evolution, but also don’t be too hard on yourself today ❤


The Universe Screams Perception

Perception. Life is all about perception.

You know that weird thing that happens where the universe starts to send you the same message over and over again, but it takes the third, fourth, or millionth time for the message to actually come through? The message finally hits home hard enough, reverberating in your mind, and you finally say to yourself and the universe, “Okay, okay – I get it…

Lately the universe has been screaming out one word to me: Perception.

Where it started:

Late at night, as I’m trying to go to sleep, my brain loves to torture me with embarrassing things I’ve done throughout my life, dangle the tasteless words I’ve spouted at others, and really just hammer in that I’m a terrible, heartless person. After I hear a dizzying bout of my own words, I then take a deep dive into a vicious wave pool of the hurtful things friends and family have said to me (or about me) throughout my life, “Nobody really knows who you are,” “You don’t have much of a personality,” “You’re a two-faced bitch,” “You’re soulless,” all of which effectively drive the point home.

Yet, as I flail about the torrent of self-loathing, I take a minute to refocus – to reel it back in. None of that matters, what matters is where I am now. Not the big picture macro-now, I mean the micro-now. I focus on the task at hand: relaxing and getting some rest. I remind myself that the past is done, those people probably don’t remember these moments anyway. In this precise moment the past doesn’t matter, only the micro-now matters.

Where it went:

Nobody really knows who you are.” This is the late night phrase that has been sticking to me like static-y cellophane throughout even the daylight hours. I’ve just had a hard time shaking it lately. This was something casually said to me in high school by an incredibly close friend. They said it offhand, and I remember being completely jarred by it.

I always felt a tad out of place in high school, all of those kids had grown up together, I randomly showed up freshman year and most people assumed I was older because they didn’t know me. But a little over halfway into my high school career, I had become involved enough to genuinely feel like I was leaving some kind of footprint with my classmates, and like I was becoming a part of this general air of familiarity carried between these hundreds of kids.

Then my friend made that statement and it completely altered the perception I had of myself. My gut reaction to their statement was that they were wrong. But my audible response to them was, “Well, I still don’t really know most people anyway, so that’s fine.”

But it wasn’t fine. That one offhand, careless statement made by a friend… I gave those words so much power that they still have a hold over how I see myself in the eyes of others. Consistently throughout my life, well since sophomore or junior year of high school, I have always assumed people don’t know me. All because a trusted friend, an ally in life, told me so.

Where it’s going:

What has been most difficult lately is trying to understand why that memory decided to resurface so fiercely and persistently. Why has it been the ringing in my ears? Is the universe trying to communicate something to me?

Then today, the universe screamed its violent message at me, using my cousin as a catalyst. My cousin posted a video and somewhere in there she said, “Everyone in the world has a different perception, even if they’re seeing the exact same thing.” What’s comical is that this message from the universe landed like an edible – aka an hour later.

An hour after watching my cousin’s video, I sat up in a stark realization: I let the perception of another impact my own perception of myself. Which is incredibly unfortunate, I can’t help but wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed due to this lack of clarity in myself? So within the time I’ve been writing this article, I’ve been tumbling down rabbit hole after rabbit hole of realizations. Most importantly, I’ve come to understand that I stopped believing that friend’s statement long ago, their words have not been my truth for quite sometime now.

Since moving to New York and starting my career nearly four years ago, I’ve slowly been coming into my own power and understanding the impact that my voice can have. I have come to understand that I am incredibly capable of commanding a room, that I have an infallible confidence if I so call upon it, and that I have the power to decide whether I am noticed or whether I hide. I am in charge of the perception I project – whether it’s yours or mine.

. . .

5 Lessons that I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

I’m 27 years old and I’m still constantly learning things that I thought I’d never need to learn. Sometimes we are hit in the face with realizations that make us think, “I should have known that!” I’ve recently learned 5 life lessons that seem like common-sense and could have been extremely helpful if I’d known these things sooner.

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1. Your coworkers are not your friends.

All human beings have a need for companionship. Even the most introverted people out there have the desire to make friends. It’s who we are.

As adults, it’s much more difficult to make new friends. You don’t have school to meet people in class, there aren’t many grown-up “extra curricular activities” where you can meet like-minded individuals (and if there are, you don’t have as much time to attend them), and friend-making apps are just awkward. I kind of think this is why people get married– for a 24/7 bestie.

Anyway, the only place you see people and spend most of your time is at work. Unfortunately though, your coworkers are not people you should see as your friends. Why? Well, the work environment is, with all due respect, a place of constant competition. Although humans are wired to find companionship, we are also wired to survive. Therefore, everyone you work with is looking out for one person–and one person only–themselves.

You may think you can trust your coworkers and maybe you generally can. However, if there comes a time where you stand in a coworker’s path to success, you’ll be under the bus before you even get to the stop. In other words, “Don’t f*ck with my paycheck.”

Ever wonder why you’re the only one who puts forth effort to maintain a “friendship” with your coworker outside of the workplace? It’s simple: Your coworkers are not your friends.

2. Just because you are comfortable with something, doesn’t mean that everyone else is comfortable with it.

Maybe to the more “woke” of us or even to those who are simply more aware of their surroundings, this is a big no-brainer. I, on the other hand, apparently have been existing in my own imaginary bubble where everyone agrees all the time for 27 years. So something I have learned about the hard way is: *NEWS FLASH!* not everyone is lax about most things.

Look, I’m not saying that I’m a go-with-the-flow type of person at all. I’m actually the opposite most of the time. However, I’ve realized recently that I see MANY things as “no big deal” that the majority of other people identify as important or even personal! Here are some of my experiences:

a) I’m not saying that I’m unprofessional, but…I’m not very professional: I’ve been in the workforce for almost 4 years now (yikes) and I’m still trying to getting a grasp on what it means to represent yourself professionally. There are obvious things that I understand, like “don’t wear a crop top to work” or “don’t flip off your boss,” but damn, there are way more rules that I actually didn’t realize were important. For example, when I worked at The United Nations (don’t get too starry-eyed; it was a mouse infested basement), I wore heels everyday because it made me feel like an adult for some reason. However, I’d forget everyday how much heels actually hurt your feet, so I’d take off my shoes under my desk. No harm, no foul, right? Right…until one day I didn’t even think about it and got up to give my boss something across the office in my bare feet. Halfway to her desk I realized I was shoe-less, but instead of turning around I just thought to myself “oh well, it’s no big deal.” BOY WAS I WRONG THOUGH because as soon as my boss saw my feet she chewed me out for being unprofessional. Okay…so wearing shoes is a big deal. Got it.

Unfortunately, I’ve been caught off-guard by breaking other professional norms too though: putting my feet on another chair (apparently showing the bottom of your shoes to someone is an insult in some cultures, by the way, eeeeek), chewing gum while teaching, wearing a beanie to work EVEN THOUGH I was having a bad hair day, being 30 seconds late to literally every meeting ever, not replying to e-mails in a timely fashion, accidentally calling my boss “dude” or the lovely few times I’ve accidentally let a curse word slip out when talking to my boss (no kidding– one time I overslept for work and woke up confused by a call from my D.O.O. and my first word of the day was a very loud “FUUUUUUUU**).

b) I’m an open book; one could argue that I’m too open: To put it bluntly, I don’t really give a rat’s ass about secrecy. Oh, we just met? Here’s all of my daddy issues. Let me tell you about how I’m an alcoholic, and maybe even read you a long list of my flaws. Look at all the different medications I’m on to try and keep me stable!! Incredibly embarrassing stories? Happy to entertain you. What else do you not really want to know about me?

The funny thing is that I’m only exaggerating A LITTLE BIT, and my shameless approach to life has gotten me into some trouble (shocker). Some of my actual friends have gotten upset with me because I’ve assumed that they also had no shame. One time a friend of mine (btw, at this time we’d been friends for over 2 years) was talking about how she was living with her boyfriend at his parents’ house, and I laughed and asked “how in the world are you guys able to have sex with his parents next door!?” Seems like a harmless and humorous question to me, but it offended her that I’d even ask about her sex life. I genuinely couldn’t wrap my head around why she was so uncomfortable with my question, but that’s because if she had asked me that, I’d probably have given her more details than she asked for. Who cares?! Well, she cares, and I’m sure there are many other people who feel the same way she does.

I have lots of other stories about times where I’ve assumed that my friends or even acquaintances or coworkers think exactly the same way I do, when in fact they do not, and I’ve triggered something unknowingly. I’ve gotta’ stop assuming shit, dude.

3. Saying “I’m sorry” too much actually makes the phrase lose its value.

I won’t go super into detail on this one since Emily wrote a whole article about why saying sorry kind of sucks, which I’ll shamelessly plug right here. But in short, I’m constantly apologizing for things that don’t need to be apologized for. It’s mostly stuff like, “sorry I suck” or “sorry for crying,” but am I actually sorry for feeling the way that I feel? Maybe I’m sorry for myself, but apologizing to someone else only makes me look weak, and then when I apologize for something REAL, it doesn’t seem significant. Learn when to say sorry and when to just be confident.

4. It’s not all about you.

I’m not a pre-teen in a graphic t-shirt that reads “It’s all about me” in big bold lettering. I also don’t explicitly say or think that the world revolves around me. No one does! However, I know that I’m not the only one who thinks that everyone is out to get me. This is what what I mean when I say that it’s not all about you.

For example, say that you’re walking down the street and decide to look down at your phone to check your e-mails. As your eyes are down, you accidentally bump into a woman, making her iced coffee fall out of her hand, spill onto her blouse and all over the ground. The woman immediately curses you out and calls you “ignorant” or “careless.” This sets you into either anger, irritability or negative self-talk. Maybe you were checking your e-mail because your boss just chewed you out for not replying to e-mails in a timely manner. The woman calling you “careless” and “ignorant” now triggered your own fears of being just that, even though you were only trying your best to fix a problem that originally made you feel that way! You think to yourself, “This b*tch doesn’t know what I’m going through! She can buy another coffee, but I won’t be able to buy anything when I lose my job!” or “I guess I can’t do anything right!!”

This is an example of making this negative interaction about yourself. We’re all guilty of this! Instead, trying asking yourself why this woman reacted the way she did. Maybe the blouse you ruined was a gift she got from a friend who just passed away. Maybe her bank account only had enough money to buy that coffee and she used it on that because it made her happy and helped her forget her financial troubles. Maybe SHE was running late to work where she was ALSO just chewed out by her boss for timeliness and now you’ve slowed her down and made her look even more of a mess. The point here is that we don’t really know what other people are going through. We also need to evaluate our own part in things. If you hadn’t been looking at your phone, you wouldn’t have spilled her coffee in the first place. This is a small example, but it can be applied to anything.

Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our own problems that we assume everything bad happening to us is directed toward us personally. This is not always true! Think about how much you think about yourself: your position at work, your relationship, how others might view you, your depression/anxiety, your family, your goals, etc. Something I never thought of was this– everyone else is also thinking about themselves most of the time.

I used to walk around worried that everyone hated me or that they were all plotting my demise (sometimes I still do). What was incredibly liberating is realizing that in reality, no one is thinking about me. Everyone is thinking about their own stuff, just like I’m thinking about mine.

On the same note, how many times have you hurt or wronged someone else because you were wrapped up in your own bullsh*t? The iced coffee example applies here too. We are not the center of the universe; it’s crazy to me that I never fully understood this simple fact, especially because I’ve never thought of myself as a selfish person.

5. Sometimes when you think that the universe is out to get you, it might actually be you sabotaging yourself.

This connects a bit to the previous lesson about how the bad things that happen to you aren’t always about you. However, this one is more about self-loathing when we see negative things happening in our lives over and over again and not seeing our own actions as the common denominator.

When it rains, it pours, right? There is so much validity in this statement. I’ve personally been in this situation myself for several months. For this one, I’m going to get personal so I can very clearly explain how I learned this lesson:

About 7 months ago, I was in a financial predicament due to my own excessive spending along with paying way too much for rent to live in my own one-bedroom apartment. My lease was coming to an end, so I was looking for 3-bedroom apartments with my now roommates so I could spend less money each month on living expenses. We finally found a place, but my credit score wasn’t high enough to get it without a co-signer or paying a $4,500 EXTRA down payment. I somehow figured it out, but I knew I was about to be very broke for a very long time after moving. In the midst of packing and moving, the first day of school with all online classes was quickly approaching, so I had to learn how to teach over Zoom correctly and prepare a million things for that. I was stressed, but keeping my head above water. 3 days before classes began, I was hit with a horrible shock: my uncle passed away unexpectedly.

My uncle’s death was something I could not control, but my negative spiral afterward was not the universe’s fault. I unknowingly sabotaged myself.

When my uncle passed, I had to miss the first week of school to go home for funeral services. I don’t regret missing that week of work, because I needed to be there for my family. When I got back to work, I was completely out of the loop. This school year was a totally new experience; we had to relearn how to teach effectively, our duties had been shifted to more useful tasks while teaching online, and the expectations of teachers and students were very different. I had to play catch-up while also moving into my new apartment and dealing with the sudden waves of crippling grief over the loss of my uncle. For about 2 months after returning to work, I felt like a complete failure, dropping the ball over and over and never being able to pick it back up. Every time I messed up at work, I frantically apologized and swore it would never happen again (this connects to lesson #3), but I continued to mess up.

I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get out of this hole I was in. I thought that the world was out to get me and everyone was watching and waiting for me to fail. Eventually it all caught up with me and I thought that life was treating me unfairly.

My psychiatrist brought to my attention that my troubles were caused by self-sabotage. I was constantly continuing to mess up because I was subconsciously telling myself “I’m only going to fail, so why bother?” I was not being abused by the universe, but actually digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole that was only initiated by things I couldn’t control. He told me the only way to fix this is to consciously take any and all opposite action– do things you don’t want to do. Clearly what I’ve been doing recently isn’t working, so I’m trying to take his advice. We’ll see what happens!

*-*-*-*-*

What’s surprising to me about these life lessons is the fact that they seem so obvious. But it’s these seemingly common-sense ideas that we almost always learn the hard way, leaving us dumbfounded and confused. Remember though, humans are inherently flawed, so next time you find yourself thinking, “I should have known that already,” remind yourself that no one knows everything and that life is all a learning process.

Immortalizing the Days: February

Well you guys, February is a wrap… which means I’ve got a video & some lessons learned to share with y’all.

As mentioned in my January article, for 2021, I’ve decided to do two things in order to immortalize my days, so when the year comes to an end I have a physical reminder that not only did I do everyday, but everyday I felt, created, explored, cleansed, and consumed.

The first thing I’ve done is downloaded this app called 1 Second Everyday where I upload a little snippet of 1-1.5 seconds. It gives me a little thing to look forward to each day and is the little push on certain days to just do. Then it becomes fun evidence on the days where it seemed I didn’t do anything… that I did actually do something.

Here is what February looked like for me, I’d title it, “The Wintry Month of Growth”

. . .

The next fun adventure on my immortalization trek, is something I came across somewhere on IG (I can’t trace back the origin unfortunately) but it was to create a Spotify playlist and add one song everyday.

You already know how ya homegirl feels about playlists, so obvi I was so down for this I couldn’t make a playlist fast enough.

Each song that I add everyday is either one that had been an earworm that day, or a new song that struck a chord with me, or a day that was so radical it was easy to find a song that perfectly embodied the day. February starts with Ready Now by Dodie 🙂

. . .

Feelings after experiencing my video and playlist on 2/28/21:

So, I’m still smitten with my playlist. Now if you remember from my January article, that video had me feeling lame and dejected. Well when watching this video, I found that I actually felt quite impressed with myself this month. As I mentioned in this article, February is when my seasonal depression is always at its peak and only travel can really dull the SAD. So I’ll be incredibly honest, since I didn’t travel anywhere this month, I’ve been struggling to the max and feeding the depressive beast. Which is why looking back and watching my February moments, I’m impressed with myself. Through the despair I’ve felt, I still managed to hardcore create and cleanse – which that SAD beast typically doesn’t allow for.

Five things learned in February:

  • Adapt to the directness of others.
    • It’s so easy to shut down when someone is painfully direct with you about problems or things that you do that are bugging them. But don’t shut down, just listen and return the directness. Whether it’s with a, “Woah man you’re coming in a bit hot here, can you tone it down? Your aggression is actually kind of upsetting me…” or something like, “Wow, yeah okay I hear you. Thanks for being direct, this sets the tone and now I feel I can be more open with you as well.”
  • If you want something, just ask for it. It’s better to be annoyed by rejection than beating yourself up for years to come and have regrets about never asking.
  • Flourless banana bread is weird, but easy to make. Don’t forget the baking soda next time… maybe it will taste better.
  • Don’t impose the standards you hold yourself to onto others.
  • Some people will never understand, and that’s fine. Don’t take it personally nor judge them for it.

. . .

. . .

Weakening the Weakness

I read the articles about FKA twigs’ lawsuit against her former boyfriend, Shia LaBeouf, read her recounting of the ways he abused her and I want to feel something. I want to cry, or get angry, or remember. Instead, I find myself numb. I see myself in her story and my eyes glaze over – I know the story so intimately, even though the details are not the same – and I am forced to skim the pages. I cannot bring myself to read every word. Why would I need to? I lived this.

Not with Shia LaBeouf, obviously, but with my own version: an attractive, charismatic, successful man hellbent on breaking women. A tortured soul – god knows how long I’ve spent, dissecting what neurosis might be to blame for His actions: psychopathy, sociopathy, good-old-fashioned narcissism, a dash of all of that? – who caged me in control and terror for years.

For a long time, I thought that He had chosen me because I was an easy target – someone who lacked confidence and could be controlled. This was a point of contention between me and Cindy, the therapist with whom I was doing Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) – a specific type of therapy for people suffering from PTSD. One of my stuck points (a central tool of CPT) was the belief that “I am weak” – that there was something wrong with me that He had sniffed out. He had seen flaws in me, had known I was someone who could be easily preyed on. Layered on top of the oh-so-common “I am not good enough” that seemed to permeate every cell of my being, this weakness made me a lame duck. I was someone with so little confidence or belief in myself that it would take no effort to destroy me. I blamed myself for what He did. 

“What makes you believe that?” Cindy would ask, looking like she sincerely believed that I was good enough. That I was strong. That it actually puzzled her why this was a sticking point for me.

My brain knew the answer: this was what every talking head on Dateline told me, what I’d read in all those books I’d devoured to try to diagnose Him: predators looked for easy targets. Vulnerable women who could be preyed upon with minimal effort. To Cindy, I just shrugged my shoulders, spoke in sweeping generalizations. “I don’t know,” I avoided her eyes. “I just do. That’s what you always hear.” 

I did twelve sessions of this specialized therapy. Clinically, my PTSD resolved, my scores improving dramatically (there is no real “test” for PTSD, Cindy explained. She had me fill out a questionnaire to determine which symptoms I might be experiencing, what was triggering me. My initial score was 53. A score above 33 was considered to be experiencing PTSD. By my last session, my score was under 10). I felt better. However, inside I still carried around this belief: that the abuse I suffered was somehow my fault, because I had not been good enough, hadn’t been enough. That I was weak and I brought it upon myself.

I also grappled with wondering if what had happened to me was even really abuse. He never hit me. So, it shouldn’t count right? I stuffed the coercion – financial and sexual – down and pretended they didn’t exist. Pretended I wasn’t being tracked on my phone, told who to talk to or not talk to, like I had choices.

Did I even have PTSD? Certainly, according to Cindy and her diagnostic tools, yes, I very clearly did. But, as I told her – and my regular therapist – and my best friend, who was a therapist, and had been the one to tell me she thought I needed to do some CPT in the first place: I wasn’t a war veteran. I hadn’t been in combat. I felt like a poser claiming I had PTSD. 

But, I guess you might ask the friend I texted during a panic attack – feeling like I was going crazy and not able to catch my breath. Or the friend who had to break the news to me that He was in a relationship – who told me it was “scary” the kind of control He had over me, how I stayed in the bathroom for hours while He screamed at me – like it was somehow my fault He’d cheated on His girlfriend, lied to both of us – while she sat in my kitchen, listening to it all. Ask the friend who watched me shake while I opened an invitation to a wedding being held near His mountain cabin: declaring I wouldn’t be able to go. Ask my aunt who told me as I walked in the door – “Wow, you’re skinny, a little too skinny!” –because I weighed in under 100lbs for the first time since middle school. Ask them. They might not tell you I had PTSD but they’d tell you something was wrong.

So I did the CPT, and I felt better. Moved forward, mostly.

And then FKA twigs shared what happened to her. A famous, beautiful woman sharing about her experience with psychological and emotional abuse. She didn’t seem weak or vulnerable. In fact, she seemed pretty bad ass. I wondered what the talking heads on Dateline would say about her.

A few weeks after the story broke, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Natch Beaut. The host, Jackie Johnson, started discussing the allegations against Shia LaBeouf – someone she’d joked about having a crush on for years. Jackie shared that she is a survivor of abuse, and she shared her support for other survivors and thanked women like FKA twigs for coming forward to share their stories. I’d been walking my dog, but kept listening when I got home. Now, listening in my kitchen, with my earphones still in, I hunched over my kitchen sink as I heard Jackie say this: “[abusers] get more satisfaction out of dimming the shine of someone extra bright.” As her own voice started to tremble, I broke down crying, sobbing. I had to hold onto the counter to steady myself. I fell to the floor in tears. Even now, as I write this, I have to take off my glasses and squint through the flood of emotion. 

I won’t lie and say hearing that little nugget of wisdom magically made that stuck point of “I am weak” unstuck. It didn’t. I still have moments, some longer than others, when I wonder how I could have let this happen, why I didn’t leave, how I fell for all the bullshit. I see myself as I imagine others must: weak, pathetic, so desperate for love and attention that I will put up with being manipulated and lied, cheated on, used, degraded. I feel humiliated by my choices. I let myself drown in victimhood, shirk the label of “survivor” – I want to both dismiss what has happened to me (“He never hit me! I mustn’t make this a ‘thing’”) and also wallow in it (“this was not right. I deserve to be acknowledged for my pain.”), knowing I can’t have it both ways, knowing holding it will only hurt me more. 

I am glad that men like Shia LaBeouf – those in the spotlight, with power and influence – are being called out, named and I hope they will in some way be held accountable for their actions. I know that there are far too many more – especially those not in the spotlight, with power and influence over their partners – who will never be called out, or named or held accountable. I wish I were brave enough to type the name of the man I am writing about here. But I’m not. Among the veiled threats I learned to decode – the bits of information he fed to me over our time together – was how litigious he is, and I know, even if I did write his name, the consequences he would inflict upon me are greater than any he is likely to suffer. And I’m done dealing with his wrath.

I spoke to my therapist today, told her most of this. How I’d felt weak, even when Cindy told me I wasn’t. Told her I was still holding on, even when I knew I shouldn’t. I talked about FKA twigs and Shia and the Podcast. She nodded. I should start to think about being weak with a bit more flexibility, she said. She explained that I did have a vulnerability – I wanted love and affection not because I was weak – but because I was human. That He – consciously or unconsciously – exploited that, and wanted to dull someone’s shine because He saw it as superior. 

We looked at each other, through the computer screen, and I sighed. I’ve been wallowing in my victimhood for five years, waiting for something. Maybe it was this: understanding I could be vulnerable and also not at fault, all at once. 

Ghosting: Cowardice or Commonality?

Ghosting is a term that almost everyone has heard of. If you’re currently in the dating scene, you definitely know what it is and you’ve probably experienced it, one way or the other.

Dictionary.com defines “ghosting” (yes, there’s even a definition in the dictionary) as “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.” Urbandictionary.com extends this definition to add that ghosting is “with zero warning or notice beforehand” and it’s done by “avoiding…phone calls, social media, and avoiding [seeing] them in public.”

Maybe you’ve been ghosted; maybe you’ve ghosted someone else; maybe both or neither situation apply to you. I know my own opinion on the phenomenon, but I wanted to ask around and see how both men and women, of multiple age groups, felt about ghosting. All of my interviewees will be kept anonymous, except for their gender and age. I’ll label each person with (M) or (F) followed by a number, so we can keep each interviewee straight.

*–*–*–*–*

Age Group: 22-32This group has been ghosted before.

  1. How did it feel to be ghosted?

M1(22-32): It felt shitty.

M2(22-32):I’ve been ghosted more times than I can count. From dating apps, to after meeting someone for the first time. It feels superficial and terrible to be ghosted. Like someone doesn’t want to take the time to get to know me.

F1(22-32): I’ve been ghosted so many times that it should feel easy by now, but nope! I still feel like crap every time it happens. It’s like any breakup, except without the curtesy of being told that you’re being broken up with. So actually, it feels worse than any normal breakup.

F2(22-32): It makes you feel f***ing terrible. It makes you feel unworthy or undeserving of love. It’s a really dark feeling and effects your self-esteem. If it happens enough, it almost feels like you deserve it because you start to kind of expect everyone to ghost you. It’s really sad to say but sometimes these feelings of rejection last a really long time.

F3(22-32): It’s insensitive and something that can be easily avoided with open communication.

2. Did you ever figure out why that person disappeared?

M1(22-32): A lot of introspection led me to understand that I probably set off a lot of personal red flags for them. I had to not take it personally, but that took awhile. It was just incompatibility.

M2(22-32): There are numerous reasons why girls have ghosted me. I told one girl that I don’t have social media presence and don’t want to change that. Ghosted. The first date didn’t go well. Ghosted. I wasn’t texting back fast enough. Ghosted. But overall, these are only my assumptions for why they disappeared. I’m really blunt and honest, so if I say something that they didn’t like and then they stop talking to me, I assume it was because of that.

F1(22-32): Well no, not outright. Like, they never explained to me why they suddenly ghosted out. I assume that I came on too strong, and maybe that’s what causes every ghosting situation. What’s annoying about it though, is that it’s not like I told these people I loved them after 2 dates or something crazy. I guess it’s just easier for people to ignore someone than to tell them they aren’t interested.

F2(22-32): Maybe this is my optimism, but I don’t really think it’s ever anything truly personal. I think they were maybe filling a void, like I served a purpose and then it was over. I don’t think any of it was malicious. I think they liked me at first, I did what they needed me to do, then they were done. I think most people, when they meet someone, go into dating hopeful that it’ll work out (without real expectations) and as soon as they realize it doesn’t do what they want, they are done. On the other hand, some people start dating just because they’re curious or don’t want to be alone, so they’re not really interested. When the experience gets dull, they have no feelings so they can easily cut it off.

I overthink everything and if I try to talk to someone about why I think we might not work and it doesn’t go through to them, I know that we won’t work. Usually, if I can feel that someone is drifting away from me, I let them. I let the ball be in their court because I’ll be damned if I have to force someone to love me. This might cause people to ghost ME, because I might come off like I don’t care or like I’m indifferent. For example, if I text someone “good morning” two days in a row, I’ll not text them “good morning” again until they do it first. Dating is all a stupid game.

I do try to stand up for myself in a respectful way, though. Maybe this doesn’t even effect them, but I feel like I need to make it known. They usually don’t know how to react I think or maybe they don’t even care. I might not get my explanation, but I make sure they know that what they did was shitty.

F3(22-32): Whenever I get ghosted I just ask them and most of the time I don’t get answers. It’s whatever, because there’s no point in trying to have someone in your life who doesn’t respect you.

3. Do you think that ghosting is practical or justifiable sometimes?

M1(22-32): It can be…depending on the circumstances. Do you owe the person an explanation? If not, it should be viewed as a modern part of life or part of dating in this new technological landscape.

M2(22-32): Ghosting does have its purposes. Like getting out of a toxic relationship and needing to cut ties with that person. But I don’t think that’s the reason it’s so common with our generation. Our generation and the one after ours has been very superficial since social media started to control our lives. If someone doesn’t seem interesting enough on their profile, or they don’t text the “right” way, or they don’t look the way you want them to online, we use that against them. People don’t want to take the time to actually get to know someone to the point where their “flaws” no longer matter, because there’s always someone “better” online.

F1(22-32): Hmm..well I want to say “HELL NO” because I’ve been on the shit end of the stick so many times and I know that it feels absolutely horrible. But I’m a hypocrite I guess. I’ve done it before, but it was only when I’ve made it clear to the person that I’m uninterested and they’re still not leaving me alone. If someone is bothering you to no end after you’ve made yourself clear, ghosting feels like the only way.

F2(22-32): 90% of the time, no. I think the only time it’s fair is if the person is toxic. If you need to cut that person out of your life for your own well-being and you’ve tried every other way, then I can see how ghosting is justifiable. But if you’re just being a coward and don’t want to explain yourself, then no. I think that as a society, we have problems communicating in general. Two people can both be great, but not be each other’s “person.” If you can’t communicate that to the other person when you feel like it isn’t working out, you are only creating a bigger problem. Now that person you ghosted has self-esteem issues, just because you felt uncomfortable communicating your feelings. It’s a respect thing I think. We should care more about each other’s feelings than our own comfort.

F3(22-32): Ghosting is practical in situations if the person is being clingy or aggressive. However, you can communicate that, then stop answering, because at least they have an answer.

4. Have you ever ghosted someone? If yes, why? If no, why not?

M1(22-32): Yes, because they set off a bunch of my own red flags: codependency, neediness, the like.

M2(22-32): I have ghosted someone before. She displayed some obsessive behavior that wasn’t healthy, so I cut ties. I didn’t have a choice. she would find me and message me on any social media site, or even text me from a friend’s phone to get my attention.

F1(22-32): Ugh, yes I have. And I hate that I have. Like I said before, if someone is not hearing me when I make it known that I don’t want to be with them and they won’t leave me alone, I’ll ghost. I remember in high school once, this guy I knew legitimately asked me on dates all the time and I always said no. He’d even call me, back to back to back, after I’d hit ignore. He’d text me over and over and over too. Another example: today, I still get Instagram messages once a week from a guy I met a couple years ago and turned down for dates MULTIPLE times. You can’t reason with that.

F2(22-32): I don’t think I ever have. 90-95% of the time, I play for keeps. If I think a relationship isn’t going to work, I’ll tell them why I think that. But most of the time, I’m the one wanting it to work and they will be the one to ghost me.

F3(22-32): I’m a person who expresses how they feel. So I rarely ghost; if I did it was because they made me feel unsafe. I just tell someone I don’t think this is going to work out, etc.

*–*–*–*–*

Age Group: 22-32 — This group has never been ghosted before.

**Questions 1 & 2 are not included for this group, as they not applicable**

3. Do you think that ghosting is practical or justifiable sometimes?

M3(22-32):I think it’s practical because it’s easier than hurting someone’s feelings by telling them you aren’t interested in them. But it is pretty cowardly.

F4(22-32): Absolutely! But not with a significant other…when it’s someone you’re romantically involved with, you wish you could matter enough to them to not be ghosted by them, so it should go both ways. However, ghosting friends or acquaintances or even exes can actually be practical in some cases.

4. Have you ever ghosted someone? If yes, why? If no, why not?

M3(22-32): I have. Usually because she’s too aggressive or doesn’t take the hint.

F4(22-32): I just did yesterday to a person who used to mean the world to me. I’m not holding a grudge but, I dropped everything for this person for him to just disappear. I’m not playing “pay back.” I just know that he’s hard on drugs and we are in completely different places in life. I could offer him so much, but would he take it for gospel? Not a chance. Then I’d be left in the dust. Even as a friend. So when he showed up in my inbox, I left him on read and that’s how it’ll stay, for my own sanity.

*–*–*–*–*

Individualized Interviews (age 60-70) — Insight from “older” generations

-Interview 1: Female; Age 64-

Have you ever heard of “ghosting?”

F5(33-60): Of course!

Cool. So you know it’s when someone you’re dating or interested in disappears on you and stops replying.

What was the time frame (70s/80s/90s, etc) that you were dating around?

F5(33-60): I do know that but it is also a term that is used in HR now….I invite someone for an interview and they just don’t show up and don’t tell you they aren’t coming for the interview! I dated in the 70s and again in late 80s and 90s. No one used that term them. Guys just didn’t call back and you knew they were jerks.

Wow! I didn’t know it was used in that sense!! Nowadays, « ghosting » is a super normal way to show that you’re uninterested, because we can just ignore a text or block a number or unfriend someone on social media. It’s especially easy because a lot of people meet on dating apps now, so once you’re ghosted, you can be easily forgotten!

So not getting a call back was the way someone essentially would « ghost » you. How did it feel to you when this happened? Was it easy to move on from or did you often see that person around afterward?

F5(33-60): Depends….in the 70s it hurt my feelings and I probably saw them again because I was on a small campus. But in my ALL GIRL dorm, we shared info on guys like that and we comforted each other in kind of funny, probably insincere ways like…”screw him, it’s his loss.” After divorce, dating was different. I didn’t care if someone didn’t call me back, because I figured that he didn’t have what I needed for me and my kids. The kids were the best temperature takers for no-call-back guys. My son kicked a date in the shins one time and I never heard from him again. Now my husband…they didn’t scare him off even though they were kind of crappy to him in the beginning.

-Haha!! Clearly if he can’t handle your kid, he’s not worth your time!!

In the 70’s, did you ever try to get an explanation for why guys didn’t call you back? Or did you just sit in agony wondering why? Or did you do okay with brushing it off?

F5(33-60): You know, I was really ok with it I think.

Did you ever not return a man’s call without explanation? If yes, what was your reasoning? If no, why not?

F5(33-60): I’ll tell you what I learned recently that I was unaware of….I think I “ghosted” a fair amount myself, or tried to, but guys made me give them a reason. Social media has produced several old dates who ask to reconnect on FB and several have ultimately sent me an IM asking why I “broke up” with them in the 70s and sometimes I didn’t realize we were really dating! Listen to this….one guy said “can I ask you something that’s been bothering me all these years….why did you break up with me?” I couldn’t believe it…”seriously? Please explain.” He said I told him I was breaking up with him….(this was not a long term relationship) …because he was rude and wore jeans and then I started dating a guy who was ruder and wore jeans too. I do not remember ever saying anything like that but I remember having a hard time getting him to leave me alone! Two of my ex-husband’s asked me the same thing YEARS later, believe it or not. I find that so interesting and maybe a part of present-day ghosting? Some people carry that shit, of what feels like rejection, around for a LONG time– emotions run deep. It’s hard to be honest if you’re a decent person or if you’re with someone who is “insecure or a hanger on-er or maybe really in love?” Maybe ghosting is easier today because of social media and technology and it’s easier to hide behind disinterest than it was in the 70s. In the 80s and 90s, we were dependent on answering machines…your only option was not returning phone calls. We are emotional beings. And we are shitty to each other at times. Shame on us.

If you had to be dating today, would you think that ghosting is acceptable in some cases?

F5(33-60): If I was dating today….which I’m extremely thankful that I’m not and hope to never again….I wouldn’t ghost someone. I’d just be honest and say I’m not interested….thats the thing about getting older. Every decade, the filters come off and you’ve learned how to speak your truth, with kindness.

-Interview 2: Male, age 69-

Have you ever heard of “ghosting?”

M4(33-70): No…what is that?

So, “ghosting” is when someone you’re dating or interested in disappears on you and stops replying to text messages.

M4(33-70): Oh.. that’s crude!! Just kinda rude and mean and nasty…maybe if someone ghosts you, you’re lucky because you never have to talk to that person again. Shows their true colors.

What was the time frame (70s/80s/90s, etc) that you were dating around?

M4(33-70): I dated mostly in the 50’s I’d say.Did you ever have an instance while dating in the 50’s where something similar to “ghosting” happened to you?

M4(33-70): My wife tried to ghost me once I guess! I took her out to a dance for our first date and a week or so later I stopped by her house to see her. I guess she didn’t feel very pretty at the moment so she told her mom to tell me she wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t talk. I guess her mom made her call me anyway so it worked out!

Did you ever try to “ghost” someone else?

M4(33-70): Hmm..I had a couple of instances where I guess I didn’t quite “click” with a girl but I couldn’t just ignore her. I’d just tell them I didn’t want to go another date.

Why do you think that this “ghosting” phenomenon didn’t exist when you were dating?

M4(33-70): Well, for one thing, we didn’t have the technology that you guys have today. I think this technology creates this crudeness, or ability to be completely unattached. We didn’t have caller ID, so we didn’t know who was calling us before we answered, therefore we couldn’t just ignore their calls. We also didn’t have personal phones, so since I lived at home with my parents when I was dating, they’d answer and I wouldn’t have much of a choice but to be handed the phone when it was for me. Not wanting to go on a second or third date was very personal and you couldn’t ignore the situation. You had to tell the other person how you felt.

If you had to be dating today, would you think that ghosting is acceptable in some cases?

M4(33-70): I think my generation sees it completely differently. I’d personally never ghost someone, but it’s because I think it’s rude and wouldn’t want it to happen to me. I have friends who’s husbands have passed away and are dating today. One friend was telling me how she just told a man she didn’t want to see him again. I think we don’t know any other way to end it, so we just tell the truth. I think it’s better that way.

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Summary of findings

After interviewing these five women and 4 men (as well as 5 other people from the age range of 22-32 which are not included in this article) and compiling their responses, I found some trends!

Trend #1: Although every interviewee from ages 22-32 think that ghosting someone is disrespectful, insensitive or cowardly, they still think it’s justifiable sometimes and most of them have ghosted someone themselves!

Basically, we know it hurts when we’re ghosted, but we don’t always think about that when we decide to ghost someone else! It’s an endless cycle. Like F2 said, “you are only creating a bigger problem.” What’s that rule about doing to others what you would want others to do to you?

Trend #2: Those who have ghosted someone else before, did it because they found the other person to be either too “clingy” (or quite frankly, annoying), or toxic to their lives in some way.

If someone needs to be cut out of your life for personal safety and mental health reasons, it seems to be a consensus that ghosting is the way to go.

When it comes to ghosting someone for being “clingy”, I think we need to ask ourselves, “was I clear with this person from the beginning what my intentions were?” If yes, maybe ghosting is fair. If no, we should ask ourselves, “have I led this person to believe that I’m more interested in them than I truly am?” If yes, TELL THEM THAT. If no, TELL THEM how you’re feeling–about how they are coming off to you. Maybe they’ll fix it or maybe you’ll mutually figure out you’re not the right fit for each other.

If you’re someone who’s been ghosted a lot and can’t figure out why, ask yourself, “was I being toxic in some way?” or “have I been hurtful with my words or actions that I didn’t see as hurtful before?” If yes, there’s the issue. If no, ask yourself, “did I seem way more interested in them than they did in me (did I always text first/double-text/give compliments but not really receive them back?)” If yes, that’s what caused it. You came off as “clingy.” If no, they played you, and you don’t need that person in your life. Like M4 said, “maybe if someone ghosts you, you’re lucky.”

I personally have learned a lot from this part of my interviews. There are some moments in time where I’ve been ghosted and I can now see that I came off as overly-eager. I’ve also learned that I have ghosted some people without first making my intentions incredibly clear. I think we all have something to learn about ghosting!

Trend #3: Those who have been ghosted, describe this specific way of being rejected to be more hurtful than a common breakup.

It’s obvious from the responses to question 1, that getting ghosted leaves you feeling small and worthless. In other words, it makes you feel “shitty.” The difference here is that many people who are ghosted seem to carry that feeling of rejection around for longer than expected, presumably because they are left with unanswered questions: Did I do something wrong? Are they seeing someone else? Is it something I said? Did they judge me too quickly? Why couldn’t they just tell me what they were feeling?

M3 mentioned that ghosting is a better alternative to “hurting someone’s feelings,” but in reality, it seems that being ghosted hurts your feelings more than if you were simply told the truth.

Trend #4: Technology is the culprit.

Not only did the “older generations” note that the use of modern technology causes feelings of detachment from one another, but even a few of those interviewed that are between the ages of 22-32. It’s no surprise that the use of social media, dating apps, texting and even caller ID have made it easy to cut ties with someone and avoid the awkwardness of explaining how you feel to someone. Maybe technology has made everyone more closed off, more socially inept, or even more insensitive. As M1 pondered, should we all just accept the ghosting phenomenon as a “part of dating in this new technological landscape?”

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In conclusion, we can almost all agree that the ghosting phenomenon sucks. Like Lizzo says, “truth hurts,” but it’s clear that ghosting hurts even worse.