I’m always seeing little graphics that say, “tag someone who needs to hear this,” or, “tag a friend to let them know you’re there for them,” on Facebook and Instagram. While the person who created the thread means well, as do the friends who write, “@insert_name_here” in the comments, that just doesn’t cut it for letting your loved ones know you care about them.
November is a month for thankfulness, so the next few weeks I’d love to challenge you to write love letters to friends and family you care about. A letter is one of the most intimate and personal things you can offer someone; you are giving a piece of your heart and spilling out your feelings on a permanent page.
Is letter writing not really your thing? Then I encourage you even more to sit down at your desk and write a few letters. Often some of the most beautiful notes I get are from people who have scribbly handwriting or don’t use the most eloquent adjectives available in the English language. I realize that these letters are truly written from the heart, and that someone was sitting and thinking about me for an uninterrupted amount of time while they put pen to paper.
If you don’t quite know where to start, some of the subjects you can touch on are why you love the person you are writing to, how they have made an impact on your life, and what they do that you happen to think is incredibly amazing about them. You love them for a reason, and all you have to do is write that down so they can see that and cherish it forever. If nothing else, I challenge you to write three letters in the rest of November. Then, see who really appreciates the note, and make a habit of sending one letter every month. It only takes a few minutes, but is a gesture that can mean the world to someone.
Bonus: Write a letter to sweet little Jacob. You can count this toward your three for the month, and I promise this will be an effort that won’t be in vain. As someone who saves special letters from readers and loved ones, this gesture means more than you could imagine.
This is a lesson it took me years to learn, and to this day it can be a hard truth to swallow.
I talk to so many people who are frustrated about friendships that die when they stop putting in all the effort, and I can definitely relate. I’m love to communicate and find that keeping in touch is easy enough if you want to reach out to someone with a text or phone call every so often to see how they’re doing. Old friends tell me that they’re glad I’m good at keeping up with them, and I am happy to, as I genuinely care about how they’re doing and what’s going on in their life.
There are those friends, though, who never reach out if you don’t say something first. I don’t always think this means you need to cut them out of your life or even that they don’t care about you — some people are just incredibly busy and don’t have casual friendships as a top priority. I do think this often means they cannot still have a top space in your heart, though. You can care deeply about a friend who doesn’t put in effort to your friendship. You can still want the best for them and support them, but it’s important to make sure your heart knows what distance to keep the friendship at to realize your own worth.
Here’s a good comparison. Would you want to date someone who never texted you first or gave any sort of affirmation that you’re an important part of their life? No! You deserve to be a priority in people’s lives, and if they can’t see how much you’re worth there will be other friends who will.
If some of your current friends don’t recognize that you are valuable enough to keep in touch with, there will be others who will. Just like the men who are waiting to date a girl like you, there are people out there in the world looking for a friend just like you, too. Keep each of your friendships as a treasure in your life, but if you feel frustrated about a lack of effort in a close relationship, spend your time on someone who will put time back into you. You are worth investing your time in people who are investing in you.
Today’s lesson: Not everyone has time to spend on a wide range of people and that’s okay. Don’t take it personally if you begin to realize some of your friends aren’t putting any effort back into your friendship. It likely has nothing to do with youand everything to do with their schedule and priorities. This is a really hard lesson to learn since it can feel so personal, but once you realize that there are other people out there who want to use quality time as their love language, finding the right friends becomes just a little bit easier. There are so many people in this world who would love to have your friendship; you just need to find the right humans to invest your time in.
I love seeing women support one another and strongly believe the more we become each other’s cheerleaders, rather than competition, the greater an impact we can make on the world.
This is why I want to encourage each and every one of you to view your friends’ hearts as your own too. Instead of criticizing the girl who is smack dab in the middle of a really messy breakup, realize that she is trying her best and probably wants to get over her ex, it just takes hearts some time to heal when they’ve been torn apart. Open your arms to the women who need your help and come to you for advice. It isn’t always easy for people to spill their hearts to friends; be proud that you are someone who people can trust with their feelings, and be gentle with their heart.
The “We” mentality says that we’re in this thing called life together. It views someone else’s struggles as our own, and their victories as ours too.
I remember so vividly when one of my best friends and her boyfriend broke up. My heart ached alongside hers, and I shed a few tears too. Not because I thought she lost someone irreplaceable, but because I knew exactly the way she felt, and wished I could take away the sharp pain from her. I’ve always said that in a close relationship only one person has to be strong at a time, though, and this was my turn to be strong for both of us. We talked every single day and I always offered an open heart, even when I was busy, because a heart is easier to heal when you have a friend who will help you put the pieces back together again.
On the other hand, I remember when my best friend got her dream job. I got the text and literally squealed out loud and did a happy dance alone in my room. She absolutely deserves the best things this world has to offer, and her new company is so lucky to have her on their team. We went out to celebrate over dessert, and I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw how excited she was. This wasn’t just good news for her — it was great news for me, too. I got to watch my bestie live out her dream only a few years after graduating from college. This is one of the moments in life that feels so incredibly perfect.
One of the best parts about celebrating in others’ success and joys is that you have so many opportunities every week to be excited. Even just seeing my friends post about engagements, babies, puppies, and new jobs on Facebook is exciting. I feel like a tiny piece of my heart gets to celebrate even with the most distant of friends when I see something happy happen online. Regardless of who it is, someone on the other side of the computer screen is filled with joy, and that makes me really happy too.
Today’s lesson: There is no room for competitiveness and jealousy in a beautiful friendship. Pushing each other to do better is always a great thing, but when you’re constantly competing to be better than each other you miss out on so many opportunities for joy. Stop comparing, and start rejoicing in each other’s “wins” in life. Learn to love people with your whole heart, and realize that when you celebrate others, they will want to celebrate you, too. Life is hard enough as it is with all the things we can’t control; we’re all in this together, and the world would be such an incredible place if we all could learn to lift each other up every chance we get.
“Tilt your head, you are gorgeous when you look at the camera like that!”
I laugh as my best friend cheers me on from behind the camera. It’s so ironic that she is a photographer; Audrey is one of the most beautiful girls I have ever known, and it’s funny that she found a passion to showcase others’ beauty. After doing two photoshoots with her I decided I had to take a picture or two of her every time we went out; after all, she should totally be in front of the camera too!
Audrey is blessed to be outwardly beautiful, but it’s her heart I love most. She is one of my very best friends, and that has absolutely nothing to do with looks and everything to do with character. Audrey is someone who has been a fiercely loyal friend since I met her, and even though we both want to do similar things in the world, we support each other and push each other to be better, rather than choosing to compete. I can always count on her to make me laugh when I want to cry, and be a great friend even when she has a million other things going on.
I have so many different stories I could write about Audrey, but today I wanted to focus a little on her journey to DC and how she has handled being a grounded twentysomething.
Krista: You moved to DC without having a set plan or a job lined up, but everything worked out. This is a great example of your faith in God providing for our needs. How did you feel when you made such a big step?
At the time I decided to move to Washington I was attending college in a really tiny, snowy college town. I’m from Las Vegas so even just the idea of being cold is so upsetting to me — I don’t do snow! I remember thinking, “I would absolutely love to get out of here, but don’t see how that’s a possibility right now.” The thought of a few semesters left in my little college town also seemed a little daunting to this solar-powered girl.
I can’t describe why, but I sincerely just felt so good about moving. I had no plan, so even though I felt direction-less I applied for three internships — one in Texas, one in California, and one in DC. It was November and I was somehow hoping to score a last-minute winter internship. I have always been a firm believer that in life, we get what we are willing to work for. I think a lot of the time we sit back and wait for signs in life or big things to happen when really God is saying, “What are you waiting for? If you want it, go for it!” He can’t guide us if we aren’t willing to take that first step in the dark.
I was in class one day and got a call from a man who was the owner of a pretty prestigious company I had applied to in Washington, DC. He didn’t hesitate to tell me how under qualified he felt like I was for the position, and needless to say it was pretty intimidating. Nevertheless, he agreed to meet with me in person and two weeks later I found myself driving across the country. Needless to say, that door closed and the next six weeks I felt like I was totally in the dark, but I kept applying, networking, and most importantly, I never stopped praying. I am now working at a job that is so perfect for me at this time in my life and I am tremendously grateful the internship didn’t work out. It is amazing how when a door closes it is often a blessing in disguise, and I think God blesses us when we keep our faith even if we can’t see the bigger picture at the time.
Are you still happy with your decision to move here?
I am so happy! And I mean, I get “Krista time” so what is not to love about that?! I think happiness is something we create, not something we magically find. Although I would be happy anywhere, the way things fell into place once I got here has seriously been so inspired. Since moving back I have had people come into my life in such incredible ways that I couldn’t imagine life without.
What is your favorite thing about the DC area?
I am from Nevada so growing up if we wanted to go to another state it was often an all day road trip. I love that I can get in my car or catch a train and in just a couple of hours I can be somewhere else entirely. DC also has such a contagious energy about it that I love but it also transforms at night and is so peaceful. You can spend a lot of money and go to an elaborate show and dinner or spend absolutely nothing at all walking around the monuments or in a museum and still have such a rewarding experience. The history and diversity here never cease to amaze me.
You are someone I really love because you’ve never let a relationship, a job, or a busy schedule get in the way of your friendships. Have you always been like that? What advice would you give to girls trying to juggle a busy life?
For me, life is all about finding the balance. I think in this area especially, everyone is busy but some people wear it as a badge of honor and I am just so not that way. I try to give everyone the best of me throughout the day and put my best face forward but then there are times when I just need to unwind and be with girlfriends and unwind over Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake Factory over a good vent sesh 😉 Ya feel me?
Umm, of course I do!
We haven’t ever really been single at the same time, but our interactions never change when either of us gets a boyfriend. Do you think there’s a reason for this? What makes you value “girl time” as well as quality time with your boyfriend?
Growing up my family didn’t communicate a ton. I was raised with a single mom who worked so hard to make a living for my brothers and I, but she was spread thin so my girl friends became my closest confidants. I think a lot of girls lose their identity in their boyfriends. A lot of the time people see relationships as the whole cake instead of the icing on the cake of life. Having a relationship with someone you love and trust is a beautiful thing, but you are both still individuals. At the end of the day most people are likely to go through a couple of relationships before they end up with the person they will marry, and when those relationships end you shouldn’t be calling up your girl friends like, “Hey… Remember me?” I think it is totally healthy to spend some time apart in relationships — it keeps you both satisfied and allows you to miss each other instead of having to do everything together. I also have the most fiercely loyal, hilarious, and loving friends in my life that just seem to get me. Who wouldn’t want girl time with friends like that!?
Something I find really cool about our relationship is that we both want similar things in life, but build each other up and share successes, rather than competing. What advice would you give to others in remaining supportive of their friends, rather than competing with them?
When I was in high school I was really insecure. I had this small mindset that I needed to prove myself, but the only person I wasn’t good enough for was myself. As I got older I realized that I was really self destructive and then embarked on a journey where I was trying to be more self-aware. Once I shifted that way of thinking I learned that I not only found joy in my own accomplishments but also the accomplishments of those around me. Someone else’s success doesn’t diminish your own and I wish more women understood that. I remember having froyo “girl time” dates with you all the way back to my first year in college and we always wanted the same things, but I was always so impressed with this about you as well! Having humble but accomplished women in my life makes me want to be better — not bitter — and I wasted a lot of years being the latter. I would tell girls that felt this way to learn to genuinely be comfortable in their own skin and then start vocalizing to others things you genuinely admire about them instead of trying to lead with your own accomplishments. I am so uncomfortable around women who constantly try to make themselves look better than others. None of my girl friends are this way. It’s a shallow and small way to live. If you are threatened by someone else, look inside yourself. What is it about them that you are intimidated by and what is really triggering these emotions of insecurity and jealousy in you? Be honest with yourself and then face that head on.
As I mentioned in your introduction, I always think it’s funny doing photoshoots with you because you are clearly someone who cameras just adore! What got you interested in photography?
Haha oh man, I don’t see it that way, I just genuinely love doing it! I have always wanted to photograph people’s love stories and when I was little I remember looking through bridal magazines and being at weddings thinking how that would be my dream job — to capture those beautiful moments. I still have a long way to go but luckily we live in an era where you can learn absolutely anything and thanks to YouTube it is a lot easier to get a head start in something you don’t know a lot about.
What is your favorite thing about photography?
It is so fun to live in the moment but then that moment is gone and photography is something that helps us remember some of life’s sweetest moments forever. I wanted to be able to create something people can hold on to — whether that is a candid moment of two people dancing or a picture someone can look at that makes them smile because they feel beautiful or see themselves in a new light. I love creating that!
If you could choose anyone in the world to photograph who would it be, and why?
My nephew because he is such a sassy little stud. He’s like Bieber and is a little high maintenance about his crazy paparazzi aunt these days! I am not the kind of person to get starstruck or anything like that, so that’s a tough one. I seriously can’t think of a single celebrity I would really want to photograph over one of my friends or family members, but that’s just my personality. A couple of months ago I was doing a woman’s hair and makeup who was a single mom and had never really been pampered like that before. Afterward she looked in the mirror and got teary eyed and couldn’t stop smiling. I seriously live for moments like that with hair/makeup/and photography where I can help someone feel beautiful and see what I already see in them. I don’t see being a girly girl as something shallow or worldly but rather as something I have a knack for that I can use to help others smile and I love that.
If you’re interested in getting a photographer for something in the DMV, shoot me a message and I’ll connect you with Audrey!
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I’M MOVING!
In just a couple of weeks I will no longer be on this website. My dating life changed a loooong time ago, so I am finally taking the time to make some changes that reflect this and moving my site to KristaLauren.com (As I have mentioned before I would have done this a lot sooner, but I am technologically challenged and 10 times out of 10 prefer to write instead of work on my site). Make sure you sign up to receive emails for my posts, like my Facebook page, or bookmark my new site if you want to stay a part of my Single in The Suburbs family.
Today I would like to dissect what it means to be “strong.”
This has been a word used to describe me by so many people since I graduated college, got POTS, and went through a number of difficult trials, but it still feels kind of funny when I hear someone throw this adjective next to my name.
but it doesn’t offer any tips on how to be strong or what kind of trials make you strong.
I was made strong. I didn’t choose to be strong and I am in no way admirably resilient. Before getting sick I was used to a fairly comfortable life, and never in a million years thought of myself as tough or someone who would face trials well.
Almost 4 years later, though, and here I am. I had a choice to make when I got sick. I could take what the doctors said, admit defeat, and recognize that my life would never be the same, or I could fight for the best life I could possibly have. I quickly chose the latter. This involves keeping an open and optimistic mindset, being incredibly dilligent with my doctors appointments, physical therapy, and diet, and finally — learning how to rest.
When I first got my diagnoses I asked through tears whether I’d ever get better. The nurse laughed and told me I wouldn’t and my mind immediately went into a dark abyss, thinking about a long life of dizzy spells, fainting, and feeling miserable. I was incredibly lucky to have my incredibly encouraging mother with me, who followed me to the parking lot and said the nurse didn’t know what she was talking about. She said I needed to take each day as it came to me, and think positive thoughts. To this day I believe this is one reason I am slowly getting better and have been able to make peace with my new life.
I’ve had POTS for three-and-a-half years now and haven’t had a week off from going to visit some sort of doctor. I typically have 2 physical therapy appointments and either acupuncture or a massage to work on managing my chronic pain, as well as regular visits to my cardiologist, neurologist, and endocrinologist. I go to the gym 5 days a week — even when I am feeling awful — because the worst possible thing for a POTSie to do is get deconditioned. This involves a short 30 minute recumbent bike ride, as I could easily faint if I am in an upright position. I get B12 shots every other week since I am deficient in it and B12 seems to be a link to chronic pain. Then I have to take a lot of time to rest so that my body can settle down a bit. I get worn out incredibly easy, and a trip to the grocery store turns into a long ordeal because of the recovery time afterward.
Lots of POTS patient develop adult allergies, so I can’t eat many of my favorite foods anymore. I have given up nightshade vegetables (Potatoes are my favorite food and I miss French fries dearly!), gluten (Now I am the butt of so many jokes), and I really limit my dairy and sugar intake. I don’t drink coffee at all, partly because I can’t have caffeine, and partly because I just can’t have coffee, period, and I don’t drink alcohol at all anymore. The coffee is definitely a million times more difficult.
Lastly, I have had to learn to listen to my body and rest. This is such a hard thing for me to do, as my mind is incredibly active. Anyone who knew me before I got sick knows I love to work and play, so sleeping and rest were never really a big part of my vocabulary. I joke to my friends that I’m just catching up on all the time I missed in my life before, but it really is a difficult thing for me to wrap my mind around. I always have a million and one things I want to do and write about, however my body isn’t very kind to me. Writing hurts after ten minutes, and the dictation software I have used is grueling. I can’t sit at a desk chair very long without having a lot of pain in my shoulders, and some days I can’t stand without feeling dizzy. Sometimes all I can do is rest, and I’ve learned that it’s okay to spend time listening to podcasts and watching HGTV when I really can’t do anything else. Yes, I would much rather be working and making a living for myself. I wish I could live in New York and write for a magazine, I wish I could have a paycheck to save for a new car or fun wardrobe, but that’s just not in the cards for me right now. Right now it’s my job to focus on getting better, keep taking care of myself, and trust that God will make something beautiful out of my struggle.
The best advice I could possibly give anyone going through something tough is to take each day as it comes to you. Worrying about things in the future that you cannot control won’t help you change them, and looking back on the past won’t make your present any more satisfying. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and I know what it’s like to feel like life isn’t fair. The greatest feeling when your world is crumbling in on you is when you finally learn to give your problems to God and let Him take care of the things that are outside your control.
Today’s lesson: If I can be strong, you can too. I’ve always thought I am an incredibly average person in most regards, which should offer an incredible amount of encouragement to anyone reading this. If I can do, so can you.
I thought it would be fun for my favorite guest to do a little interview with me. I had a few friends help me come up with questions to ask him, and the gentleman I am oh so fond of answered some questions about what it’s like dating me. Enjoy!
Single In The Suburbs:
Tell us, what is it really like dating Krista?
Robert: Dating Krista has been an awesome experience. Krista is somebody that is so positive about everything. She genuinely cares about others around her much more than she does herself, and she proves that in everything she writes about on this blog. I knew she is an amazing person from the beginning, but this was solidified the night before my flight from Virginia to Texas to begin my deployment when she gave me a book of letters she collected and laminated from my friends and family. She had reached out to them because she wanted to give me something nice from everybody before I left, and I was amazed with how many of my friends and family participated. Amazing.
In a sentence, what is the best thing about dating her?
Robert: This will be tough to do in just one sentence, but let’s try… The best thing about dating Krista is that she truly is a good person; that she is beautiful, inside and out; that she is an amazingly talented writer and I’ve enjoyed reading all her work, plus she sends me a lot of letters and cards (to include a letter for each week of my deployment); that she is extremely intelligent; that she loves playing Mario games, and is ok with me beating her; that she has sent me a million care packages while I’ve been deployed; that she trusts me, and it’s very easy for me to trust her; that she is open about everything; that we enjoy everything we do together. OK, I think that’s one good sentence.
In a sentence, what is the worst thing about dating her? (Be honest!)
Robert: Krista enjoys making cookies — and I enjoy eating them.
SITS: Have you noticed any interesting or annoying habits she has?
Robert: I haven’t noticed any annoying habits, but there are a couple interesting/funny ones. My favorite is probably when we’re playing super smash brothers (yes, we’re nerds). She does two things while playing this that crack me up. If she sees something funny happen in the game, she will start laughing hysterically, which in turn makes me, and anybody else playing with us laugh as well. Also when she sees an item that she wants she’ll say out loud, “HEY! I want that!” I think it’s really cute… But I still usually don’t allow her to get it.
How do you feel about Single In The Suburbs?
This is a tough one. I met Krista about a year ago and I knew what I was getting into with her dating blog. I understood where she was in her life, and that she needs this blog because it really is a part of her, who she is, and what she does. It obviously isn’t easy to read about when she goes on a date that isn’t me; however, almost everything I’ve read on her blog that was about a specific date was me… So I’m OK with that. My attempts at getting her to change her blog from “Single in The Suburbs” to “dating a really, really, ridiculously awesome guy who also went to George Mason and is especially cool because he’s a Patriots fan who is converting me to a Patriots fan as well” has thus far been unsuccessful. Maybe when I get back and can think of an even better blog title than that, we can make it happen.
On a related note, how do you feel being written about so often? You are clearly “Boston” and “Army.”
Robert: I am very glad to know that I am “Boston” and “Army”. I had some suspicions but I’m happy it is confirmed! In all seriousness, I enjoy reading all her posts. I love the posts about me because she finds ways to make me sound positive most of the time… but I particularly the ones that aren’t about me because I know about myself. I like to learn about new things about her.
Tell us one of her deepest, darkest secrets. (Editor’s note: I will kill you if you say too much)
This one will get me into trouble… Krista has told me a lot of secrets! I guess the one I’ll mention here is the fact that she NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.*
What is the most embarrassed you’ve been on a date with Krista?
I’ll name two… Number 1, when we were walking around Arlington on a date looking at Christmas lights, she got down on one knee and pretended to propose to me. That was pretty embarrassing because there were a lot of people around. Number 2, she threw me a surprise birthday at a hibachi place… In November… 4 months before my birthday. She had stopped by the place earlier to drop off birthday balloons and cupcakes so that they could present me with these gifts in front of the entire restaurant when I brought her back later.
SITS: How did you feel going into the first date? What about after it?
OK, this question requires some background knowledge for your readers… Our first date almost never happened. In fact, our original first date got canceled. In late September last year, I found out that I was going to be placed on active duty orders out in Staunton, Virginia in preparation for the deployment I am currently on in the Middle East. The day I found out about that was the day of our first date. When I learned that Krista was planning on with meeting up with her friends after our date, I thought that was her way of telling me that she didn’t want to be out with me very long that night, and since I would very soon be moving to Staunton, I decided maybe we should just cancel it.
The Army isn’t the best at handling money. So, I was in Staunton the last week of September, but because the government’s fiscal year ends on September 30th, there weren’t enough funds to keep me out there until they were able to pass a budget. So I moved back to Arlington for a couple weeks while they sorted that out, and reconnected with Krista.
For whatever reason, Krista decided to see me after that previous cancellation, and with the knowledge that I would be living in Staunton and deploying to the Middle East in March. To get to the actual question now –- I was very excited going into the first date with her. We talked a lot leading up to the date, so I was pretty comfortable with the whole thing. The date went very well,even through some awkward secrets and stories that we shared. When I left, I felt pretty happy about the way it went, but as most people do, I probably over-thought about some of the things I said or did. It turns out the date went pretty well and we had a great connection, so we saw each other again soon after. I was also able to be back in Northern Virginia Friday – Monday nights and was able to take a lot of leave as well. The only reason I made that commute several times a week was because of her.
What is your favorite memory together?
Robert: I have so many great memories with Krista that it doesn’t seem right to only pick one. However, I will say that if I HAVE to pick one, it would be the last time I saw her. My unit of 26 Soldiers flew out of Fort Hood and Dallas in April. Because of weather, flights were getting delayed across the country and they had to put us all on different planes. A group of us ended up in Baltimore, and were stuck there for 2 days until we could pick up a flight overseas. Krista came to visit me in Baltimore. Krista, do that thing where you put a link in to your previous story about this experience so everyone can read about our 2 day date in Baltimore…
Tell us the most interesting “Krista story” you have heard since meeting her.
Robert: The most interesting story to me is the story about how her life changed after she was diagnosed with POTS. Krista doesn’t realize it sometimes, but she’s one of the strongest people I know. She always says things like “I wish you knew me before I got POTS”, but I can’t imagine a stronger, more beautiful girl than the girl I know right now.
Would you change anything about Krista? If so, what?
Ha. I’m not falling for this trap!
*Some things are secrets for a reason. This is something only my best friend and Robert know, and we’re going to keep it that way.
If you are in need of a photographer in the DMV area please shoot me a message and I’ll connect you to my beautiful friend Audrey!
This weekend was one where I really felt like the luckiest girl in the world, and all of the people who made me feel this way probably don’t even know that they had such an impact on me.
Not only were friends amazing, but I had several encounters with strangers that made my heart feel happy. I don’t even think I could write a post thankful enough for everyone (my arms won’t hold up too long today, so I have to make this as brief as possible!), but I’m going to do my best.
First, everyone seemed so in tune with all of the pain I’ve been experiencing lately. I never in a million years thought people rushing to doors ahead of me to hold them open could mean so much, but this weekend proved me wrong. Everyone is also always so kind about making sure I have a comfortable seat to sit in, as POTS makes me kind of a grandma and will make the chronic pain a lot worse if I don’t have an ergonomically correct chair to sit in.
I went to a game night with a small group of friends on Saturday and had such a busy day before that I didn’t know what was going on for dinner. We got there and were informed that everything was gluten-free so instead of picking out the ingredients I could eat anything that was there. Not only did they remember my gluten-free diet, but they didn’t put tomatoes in any of the Mexican dishes because they remembered I couldn’t have those either. Sometimes I even forget that I can’t eat tomatoes anymore, so it really meant so much that they remembered after I had briefly mentioned it once. They even made gluten-free brownies for the group and everyone had to choke down the food that I now love and look forward to (Seriously, gluten-free brownies are my favorite food!).
I had planned to take an Uber home from a lunch my dad had dropped me off at, but one of my best friends and her fiancee picked me up and took me to get a milkshake on the way home instead. When I told them they shouldn’t make the trip back to my house and that I was set with an Uber ride, they were adamant that friends don’t let friends take Uber. This situation is the exact same I have with one of my good friends who goes out of his way to take me to game nights. Uber really is missing out on a lot of business with me — my friends and family are all just too great!
My weekend ended with going to dinner, dessert, and a makeup shopping spree with my best friend, and when I got home I found a note from her in my purse that made me cry. She reminded me of the story of Job in the Bible, and how God allowed Satan to tempt him, which ended up making Job stronger and more refined than he was before his trials. Things have taken a turn for the worse lately, but I know without a doubt that God is here with me and loves me. He has a better plan for me than I could have ever come up with myself, and I am slowly learning to trust Him.
I genuinely think I am the most blessed person in the world. I have more love in my life than anyone I know, and I thank God every day for placing so many amazing people in my path. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I did to deserve getting sick and having so much pain in my life, but when I really look at everything I realize I also don’t know how in the world I ended up with so much love. I really am blessed.
I have known Emily for years now, and seen her go through several life transitions with grace and poise. Whether it’s a breakup, a new job, or falling in love, Emily is always classy while choosing to never settle for less than she deserves. Frankly, I think she’s the “real girls’ Beyoncé.”
One thing I’ve always loved about Emily is how great she is at balancing life. She’s one person I’ve never seen ditch her friends when she got a new bae, and she’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known, but she never lets work get in the way of a healthy social life. She sings at church every Sunday, attends alum events for her sorority, celebrates her girl friends, spends quality time with her boyfriend, and manages to see her family on a regular basis. Basically, I am pretty sure Emily is some sort of superhero, and I haven’t seen any sort of Kryptonite yet.
Single in The Suburbs: Emily! Would you please introduce yourself to my readers?
Emily: My name is Emily, and as you stated, Krista and I met and became friends during our to time at GMU! I earned my Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance there. I am currently the Lead Administrator at Robert Half’s DC office. I’m also a voice teacher and resident singer at a local church.
You are fiercely independent. Do you think you were born that way or is it something you developed?
Thank you, that means so much! I really think it was something I developed. Many people don’t know this about me, but I was born with an auditory-language processing disorder. It took me a long time to even learn to talk. I began taking some special education classes as a toddler, and teachers weren’t sure if I could succeed in our school system.
However, in the transition from elementary school to middle school, I truly began to understand the value of hard work. I studied all of the time and sought out help when I needed it. Soon enough, I was out of special classes and taking AP and Honors classes. I went to the top of my class in middle school, and that continued throughout high school and college. Those years were pivotal for me in helping me understand the value of perseverance. If you want to achieve a goal, you have to put in the work.
You go girl! I didn’t know that about you, but it makes me love your story even more.
Here’s something I think a lot of people struggle with when they get into a new relationship. Why do you think it’s important to maintain close friendships even when you have a great guy?
You have to have balance! Jarrod and I have to make time for our friends together and separately. I’d like to think we’re pretty good about that. We encourage each other to spend time with our friends, and invite them out so our friends can meet each other. It’s important to devote time to your friends, just as it is with your partner. If you claim to have some kind of relationship with people, you need to take the time to be there for those people.
You seem to have a great work/life balance, as well as being able to juggle your time between the important people in your life. How do you do that? Do you sometimes have trouble choosing how to prioritize?
Honestly, I have to work at this every day. Some days, I feel like I have this balancing act down. Other days I feel like I am completely out of whack. I work extremely hard at everything I do and sometimes I can give too much energy to one thing instead of keeping a balance.
I do think I’m improving every day, though! I make sure I take my full lunch break now, leave work on time instead of staying late, work out, and fit in time with the people I love — even if it means putting a reminder on my work calendar. The other day, I came upon this quote:
“If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes upset by it.”
That stuck with me. It’s so easy to let the little annoyances of daily life get to you, but they just don’t matter. At the end of the day it’s not so much about making a living as it is about making a life.
Those are great tips, Emily. What kind of advice do you have for single girls who are currently looking for a relationship?
DON’T SETTLE. Seriously. There’s nothing wrong with being single. Even if all your friends are married. So what? If you’re waiting for a partner to be happy, you’ll never be happy. Make sure you have a good relationship with yourself first. It might be a cliché, but it’s true.
SITS: What do you think some perks of being single are? What about being in a relationship?
Emily: Disclaimer: I don’t want to go back to being single. I’m very happy with Jarrod, but…
When you’re single, you only have to be concerned with your schedule, which is convenient. You can go on dates if you want, or if you don’t want to, then don’t! I went through periods where I dated, and then times where I didn’t. It really helped me focus on accepting and loving myself for who I am. I feel like that really prepared me for being in a relationship.
Relationship pros include: having a best friend who’s always there, someone to share your life with, having someone there that helps you grow as a person. The important part of these pros is that you have the right person there as your partner, and that can mean different things for different people. Everyone has their own idea of what a relationship should look like, and that’s great as long as it works for them! Jarrod and I challenge each other to be the best versions of ourselves in every way, and we teach each other how to love better.
SITS: You recently got a pretty sweet promotion at work because you took initiative and asked for it — congratulations! How did you feel before you asked? What kind of advice would you give for other twentysomethings in the work force?
Emily: Thank you so much! I hadn’t really done anything like that before, but I felt confident going into it, which I think really helped. Preparation is absolutely key. I did all of my research on my position, compensation, and the marketplace, and then I presented my business case.
SITS: What is the biggest dream you are working towards right now?
Emily: My biggest dream now is moving on to grad school. I am looking at programs in Speech/Voice Pathology, so that I can use my knowledge and study of the voice to help those who have speech and communication issues. However, I have a couple different programs in mind, so I’m continuing to gain experience in the workforce and research different schools until I am sure which specialization I want to pursue. I continue to teach voice and sing on the weekends to keep up with my vocal studies.
If you would like to be featured on Single in The Suburbs, send me a message and we’ll see if we can come up with a fun story to share!
One thing I love about having this blog is how many stories I get to hear about my readers’ dating lives. It’s wonderful seeing so many blossoming relationships, and I feel honored when people trust me with their dating problems or to give good advice.
Something that comes up a lot is overwhelming discouragement with the way dating is going. In some cases girls who come to me say that they struggle because they don’t get asked out IRL very often, thus do not have a wide variety of prospects. Others say that every date they do go on seems to end in disaster — or even just a lack of interest — and that they fear they’ll never find anyone.
I have some encouragement to offer, though. There is someone out there for everyone. I am not saying that everybody in the world is going to find a significant other or get married — though I think if you want someone in your life you’ll manage to find a special person eventually if you’re really willing to put in the work to find them — but I think we often worry that since we haven’t found someone yet, that it’s never going to happen. That is a very slippery slope, my friends!
Some people in this world do have more matches than others. Certain personalities seem to have more choices than others, but that doesn’t mean if you haven’t met the right people to date yet that you never will. In the meantime, here are a few tips I have come up with to better yourself while you feel somewhat stuck in a rut:
Focus on your friends. Shifting some of the time you might spend dating towards nourishing some of your good friendships isn’t something you’ll ever regret — whereas pouring all of your free time into dating and away from your close relationships might be. Some friends are forever, whereas most of the people you date will likely only be in a very small part of your life. Friends are the people who will help you through heartbreak, be there for you when no one else is, and happily pick you up when you’re feeling down. Strengthen these relationships and make time for “friend dates” to have fun while you’re looking for Mr. Right on the side!
Volunteer. Spending some of your free time sharing your gifts and talents with the world is a really beautiful thing. I have also found that when you volunteer your time to help other people, you end up getting even more out of the experience than the people you are helping. Making a difference in the world is an incredible thing that isn’t as difficult as people make it seem. After all, even if you just touch one person’s heart, you are changing their world for the better.
Learn something new. Ever since I became single again I have made a point to learn new things and make myself a more dynamic person. I learned some new magic tricks to add to my repertoire, I am working towards my Masters in English, and I started listening to podcasts (Freakonomicshas made learning about the economy simple, which also led me to one of my other favorite podcasts, Question of The Day). These are all things I am doing solely for myself and I appreciate the time I get to focus solely on the things I want to do, as one day I won’t have as much free time for myself.
Form new friendships. Making new friends is really rewarding, especially when they end up becoming close ones. I have also found that meeting new people often means you eventually meet their friends, and you never know when someone might decide you are a “perfect match” for one of their friends. Dating is all about networking, so although this shouldn’t be your motive for making new friends, it can certainly be a bonus!
Today’s lesson: Positive thinking is so important, and getting too discouraged with dating won’t solve any of your problems. Instead, take a deep breath, relax, and work on bettering yourself and the world around you! You will never feel like you wasted time if you’re becoming a stronger, more empathetic, and kinder person. Making a difference in the world will not only impact the people around you, but it will change your life for the better as well.
The last three years of my life did not go the way I could have imagined in a million years. If you had told me when I was in undergrad that I would develop a debilitating chronic illness just weeks after graduating I would have gone into full-out panic mode. Despite typical teen struggles I had never really dealt with anything incredibly difficult in my life before.
My story certainly doesn’t mirror a typical twentysomething’s, but I have been able to learn firsthand how refreshing it is to focus on your own journey, rather than comparing yourself to others.
My Dreams were: to move to New York City, segue my editorial internship at Seventeen magazine into a job, pay off my own college debt, and enjoy a few more years in a teeny tiny apartment with a fun roommate while I was still young and unmarried. Towards the end of my time working in the city I felt like these dreams were so close I could almost taste them — after all, I was literally eating $2 New York pizza and garlic knots for dinner every other night, and I had become a pro in the city I loved so much.
My reality is: I live at home with my parents in the suburbs, I physically cannot work despite spending so much time in school preparing for the real world (Where the fun should really begin in my field!), and I spend the same amount of time at the doctors’ office as many of my peers spend working. All of this topped off with the handful of POTS symptoms that remain and my chronic widespread pain make a perfect recipe for frustration.
The funniest thing about everything, though, is I am the most content and secure I have ever been in my entire life. I see so many of my friends succeeding in their own lives and careers and I am genuinely so happy for each and every one of them. I actually really like social media because I feel like I get to celebrate small and large victories not only with my close friends, but also with people I haven’t seen in awhile.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes feel a little pang of jealousy that most of the people I spend time with have normally functioning bodies, but it’s never in a way that I would want to take anything away from anyone; I just want to have my own health back. All of my friends are able to go to concerts and on road trips without having a care in the world, whereas it takes a lot of planning for me to be even remotely spontaneous. So in this way, I do sometimes struggle with the things I have to miss because of my illness.
I still feel a little heartbroken when I think about New York and wish I could go out my front door and see the beautiful lights shimmering around me at night. I want to be able to live life again without paying attention to dozens of little details to ensure I don’t feel incredibly ill, but that isn’t my reality at the moment. Right now I do have to take lots of extra care of my body and I can’t do everything that my heart desires.
So, how do I feel so at peace with my life? How can I be so happy for others when I don’t necessarily have the same privilege of a normal, working body?
My answer is actually really simple. I focus on the things I do have, rather than those that I do not, and I realize that there is enough room for everyone to be successful in their own way.
Here is the long list of things I do have in my life:
Amazingly supportive friends and family who love me very much. This already makes me feel like one of the most blessed and lucky girls in the world when I take the time to sit down and really appreciate them.
The best best friends in the world — this includes my little puppy, Macy.
My body works enough now that I can have some fun adventures, as long as I take it easy a few days before and after a big event.
I think there’s a good chance I might have found the best guy in the entire world and he likes me too (And is totally fine with the excessive amount of rest I need to feel good).
My heart has been broken into a million pieces and I still know how to love fiercely.
Even though I can’t be writing articles for Seventeen at the moment, I can share my thoughts with lots of young girls on this blog. At the end of the day I am still following one of the paths I really wanted to be on.
I may not have a snazzy New York apartment, but I have a warm place to stay and absolutely love my family — I actually think I am lucky to have a few extra years living with them!
The Office is available on Netflix (And so is Pokémon: Indigo League… I mean, what?).
And lastly, I have chocolate. I may have developed several new food allergies in the past few years, but I love chocolate and it loves me, so I think I can deal with any of the dietary restrictions that come my way.
I really could go on and on about the things I am thankful for in my life. I’m not optimistic every day and I do struggle seeing the bright side of things sometimes, but my God is an awesome God and I know He is taking really good care of me. I have known from a young age that my purpose in life is to somehow help others, and the responses I have gotten from writing for this blog makes me feel like I am making an impact on people’s lives.
Thank you for reading what I write, and thank you for being so supportive of me. I love that so many of you have been comfortable enough to trust me with some of your struggles, and I feel blessed to walk alongside such wonderful people in their journeys through heartbreak or to find love. Each one of you has something absolutely amazing to offer the world. Just because your story might be vastly different, doesn’t mean that it is any less important or fulfilling.