Feature Friday: One Fierce Female

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.”

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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.

SITS:
You are fiercely independent. Do you think you were born that way or is it something you developed?

Emily:
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.

SITS:
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?

Emily:
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.
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SITS:
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?
Emily:

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.

SITS:
Those are great tips, Emily.
What kind of advice do you have for single girls who are currently looking for a relationship?

Emily:
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.
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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!

Stuck In A Rut

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!
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We have all felt like this Pug at some point in our lives — though none of us can possibly be quite as cute as he is!
  • 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 (Freakonomics has 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.

Sometimes Plans Get Broken

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.

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I loved incorporating some of my favorite clothing pieces from London into my New York wardrobe.

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.

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This is literally the coolest couch ever. All the celebrities that come in sit here for their interviews!

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.
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Macy is my sweet little guardian angel and has been one of the biggest blessings I have received since I got sick.

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.

Thriving During Your Breakup

We all hear tips about “surviving your breakup,” which is sometimes necessary in the very beginning when wounds are fresh and still open. After you take a little time to mourn the loss of your relationship, though, it’s time to get back on your feet and realize you are not only going to still make it in this world, but you are going to kick ass.

Hopefully you have a good squad to help you get through this rough time, but I decided to make this small list in case you need someone to remind you that everything isn’t just going to be okay — it’s going to be great.

1. Realize that although it hurts and you might miss your ex, this was the right decision. Something wasn’t working in your relationship, whether it was on your end, on his, or both.

2. Which leads to the realization that this was not the person you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with. Do you know what this means? You just made room for someone even more amazing and incredible! It may take time to find them, but I definitely believe there are several people who would work with each person. That was certainly not your one and only chance to find love.

3. There are so many other people in your life who love and care for you. Share your time and experiences with them awhile before looking for another relationship. Always remember to keep these people in your life whether you are or are not dating someone. Friends can be forever, while boyfriends aren’t necessarily always going to be around.

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4. You get to spend your entire life with yourself! When my ex and I broke up I went to my room, looked in my mirror through my tears and smiled because I realized that although he didn’t get to have me around anymore, I still get to be with myself — for forever! Learning to love yourself while you’re single is so important so you can feel okay even if things end with a SO.

5. You. Will. Be. Okay. Take a deep breath and realize that although you feel all kinds of broken that time does help you heal. I seriously thought my broken heart would never be fixed, but here I am almost a year later feeling so much better than I did in a messy relationship. The time I used to spend feeling sick thinking about my ex when we were together I now fill with experiences, friends, and love.

I tell every single one of my friends that if I of all people can get through heartbreak, anyone can. I have very strong feelings, whether they’re up or down, and I used to think dealing with a breakup would just about kill me. But it didn’t even come close. That breakup was one of the toughest things I ever had to do, but I have come out the other side stronger, wiser, and more compassionate than I was before. Now I’m enjoying my life, and open to meeting my real Mr. Right.

Men Are Not Dogs

Well this is a strange headline, huh?

What I mean by “men are not dogs” is that men, unlike dogs, do not need to be trained. Yes, they should be raised to be respectful and kind, but when you are looking for a grown man to date you should absolutely not go into it with a mindset that you need to teach him how to treat you.

“I can train him to buy me flowers,” or open doors, or hold my hand, or [insert task you want your dream boyfriend to do]. It isn’t your job to mother a man, and one really surefire reality of life is that you can rarely change another person. Sure you can tell someone what you like and watch their actions closely after a conversation, but you should never go into a relationship expecting someone to change a laundry list of things for you.

I’m going to share a personal anecdote to show how I learned this lesson the hard way.

I used to date someone I really liked, but our relationship just didn’t feel  very romantic. I am someone who absolutely loves the little things in life. I adore little gestures that say “I love you” like leaving each other notes, cooking for one another, and yes — I love chivalry.

Boy #1

This first person that I dated wasn’t into showing me he loved me in any of the ways my heart wanted. I remember even telling him at one point that I thought it was nice when he opened the car door for me and I really appreciated when guys did that; this struck a pretty strong nerve for him. #1 told me he didn’t know why in the world I wanted him to do something like that and that it wasn’t worth fighting about.  I didn’t realize something like this was fight-worthy, I thought to myself. I wasn’t trying to argue, I just thought it would be nice for him to know that I appreciated the gesture so there might be a repeat. Later I realized “the door” wasn’t really even about the door at all. It was about the pile of things I felt I wasn’t getting out of this relationship. That was the most one-sided relationship I have ever been in, and although I gave up so many of my dreams for this gentleman (huge mistake; I will write about this another day!), bought him presents and little gift baskets to show that I cared, and even abided to his wishes of talking to him less,* I never felt fulfilled in our relationship, even when he did.

This wasn’t because he was doing anything wrong, though. He just didn’t show love in the ways I need to feel loved. Back then I thought I was being kind by giving him “tips” on simple ways to love me in ways I understood better, but now I realize we just weren’t the right fit.

I want someone who will remember our anniversaries and enjoy celebrating them together, someone who gives me his time, and someone who is as kind and caring to me as I am to him.

*In hindsight it is hilarious that I once “showed someone I loved them” by agreeing to cut off most of our communication.

Gentleman #2

This second person is the complete opposite of #1. He is someone I’ve often wondered how I had the pleasure of meeting, as he is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever met.

On our first date he was chivalrous, but this behavior continued seamlessly into our 30th date. He opened my car door any time we went out, always wanted to be the one to pick me up and take me out, and goes above and beyond to show me that he cares. He has written me letters, cooked complicated five course Italian dinners, and often called me during his lunch breaks just to say “hello.” This is someone I think is so incredibly special that I don’t know how I got lucky enough to meet him and see that many of the sweet little joys in life aren’t just “Krista things” that are unrealistic traits to want in a boyfriend. There are men out there who are a million times better than the ones you see in the movies. They’re real, raw, and far from perfect, but they love you so fiercely there isn’t any room for you to question where you stand in their life.

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Today’s lesson: Dogs are smart, loyal, and loving companions. You really can’t expect any human to measure up to this amazing animal, but wait for the person who does make you feel loved in the same way your dog loves you. This is a kind and selfless love with so much joy that your heart feels like it might explode.

Guys: What NOT To Put In Your Dating Profile

There are certain things that are red flags to girls, and I figured I would help y’all make your dating profiles just a little bit better. Here are a few things I have seen time and time again and hope you don’t have in your online profile:

“I’m one of the good guys. Everyone else on here is a tool and will use you.”

I don’t like this because the fact of the matter is that it’s just not true. I have been out with so many really nice guys who just haven’t worked out because of a lack of chemistry or things in common — this just makes it seem like you have trouble getting along with others. I’d like my future boyfriend to have his own group of friends, as that’s a sign he’s likeable and can maintain a relationship.

“Don’t message me if you’re just looking for validation.”

Okay, I get it. There are people who are on dating sites just there to swipe and never meet up. That doesn’t mean everyone is the same, though; you’ll be able to figure out pretty quickly why someone has a dating profile. If your plans keep falling through with the same person just move on to the next one!

“Not looking for a high maintenance girl.”

Let’s be real. Relationships do take some sort of maintenance and this makes me feel like you might really not be willing to put work into ours down the road. I’d say for a girl I am require a medium amount of maintenance, but I also enjoy putting work into a romance to make things special for my guy too. I understand you don’t want a girl who is going to take advantage of you, but that’s what going on a few dates is for — getting to know the person you might eventually become exclusive with!

“Only swipe right if you actually look like your pictures.”

Okay, I agree that you should try to accurately represent yourself in an online profile, but this just rubs me the wrong way. Most guys I’ve been out with have said they’ve had a similar experience with this in that a girl doesn’t look like her photos — I can relate; I’ve been there before too. It isn’t your job, though, to police these girls with your profile. If anyone is trying to be deceitful hopefully they will quickly realize they are only hurting themselves.

And if you go out with a girl like this? Be nice, and sit through a drink with her before excusing yourself. If you’re open to getting to know someone’s heart you might just make a great new friend.

“My friend made me make this account.”

Or any variation of “I only did this because someone else told me to,” or, “I know this is lame, but I’m not a typical ‘online guy.'”

This, in my opinion, is one of the biggest time-wasters on a dating profile. Why? Because I’m on here too, so I clearly don’t think you are lame for having an account. You don’t need to explain yourself; just tell me a little about what makes you you! If anything this statement makes me feel like you aren’t that into going out with people you meet online since you think it’s so silly.

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What do y’all think? Do any of you have this information in your profile and disagree with me? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

 

Actions Speak Louder

Once upon a time I dated someone who meant the world to me. We often talked about the excitement of conquering our dreams together, hand in hand. We were young, in love, and unsure of a lot in life — but we were certain that we wanted each other around.

After we had been together for some time he told me that he realized he wanted me to be his forever and always. He said that he wanted to hurry up and put a ring on my finger so he could snatch me up before anyone else had the chance. It was romantic thinking about how badly this gentleman wanted to be with me, especially since I felt the same way about him.

We were both at transitional points in our lives, and we had lived with a looming uncertainty as to where we would end up and when we could be together again. His solution was that he would find a job near me. There were so many options thrown out, and we excitedly talked about how he could even bartend for a few months until we had made a decision about school or a career move. Nothing mattered as long as we were together. Until he left. Or rather, never came back. Nothing happened. None of the words that were used in our conversations ever materialized, and instead of creating our love story together, he had a new one with someone else as the lead — himself. We were no longer partners in crime, but instead I became a sidekick in his story.

I held on to his words when I felt confused by a pile of broken promises and I begged for more when I was heartbroken about our stagnant relationship. Words were what kept me around even when his actions didn’t match up. I felt like the promises being made were all I had left of him; I was fine with taking any of the scraps he was willing to give me since I had been hungry for more for so long. The very words that I would swoon at had they been written from a stranger to his love became my source of torture. It was a constant roller coaster of “he loves me, he loves me not,” and I didn’t know how to get off because every time I tried he reeled me back in with sweet nothings about our wonderful future together. I just needed to wait around a little longer to see them materialize. Everything he was doing appeared to be selfish, but he reasoned that it was all for us. He was doing everything “for me.”

Some people tell you they love you. If you’re lucky, though, you’ll meet someone who shows you that they love you and don’t stop once they have you. They’ll keep showing you that they care through their actions, words, and by demonstrating forgiveness in every day life. Love isn’t always easy, but it is absolutely always worth it.

Today’s lesson: Words are beautiful, powerful things. They are what I use to express myself and part of the way I show people I love them. When actions don’t match up to the words that are used, however, the characters become meaningless. Someone could have the best intentions in the world, but if they don’t have the hustle and determination to back them up the beauty is taken away and they just become bland poetry from a stranger.

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