yellow dead end sign during day time

How To Survive Your Quarter Life Crisis

From my blog archives with a few updates, DEAD END DREAMS was originally posted on September 23rd, 2016. Originally dedicated to my brother, but now dedicated to anyone currently going through their quarter life crisis. you got this!

 “I’ve got nothing to show for these dead-end dreams. My heart will ache again, it seems. Cause you’re not in my arms & all I want to do is keep my promises to you.” Dead End Dreams by Man Overboard

A week before I turned 26, I heard this song sitting in the passenger seat of my brother’s car for the first time. My brother & I don’t necessarily have the exact same taste in music, but this song will forever resonate with me as the anthem of my quarter-life crisis. Today, I’m sharing my advice on how to survive your quarter life crisis.

Growing up, I imagined that I would be so much further along in my life by the time I was 25. I thought I’d be married, ready to start a family, with a thriving career. Instead, I still held the same bank teller job that I got right after graduating from college, & I had just broken up with my boyfriend of one year. It was the absolute lowest point of my existence.

Every day, I felt anxious & panicked, & I’d constantly berate myself with questions: 

  • Why am I still a bank teller?
  • Will I ever find a career that I love?
  • Why did I break up with him?
  • Is what he did to me really THAT BIG of a deal-breaker? 

Instead of enjoying the career opportunities that still awaited me and celebrating my new freedom as a young single woman, I was left frozen, questioning whether or not I was good enough. I felt absolutely worthless and pathetic. Up until this point in time, my life was a series of joyous accomplishments. I lived each day with optimism and positivity. I’d set goals, crush them, and make new ones. As someone who grew up so idealistically driven, it was only a matter of time before the reality of the economy and workforce I had been thrown into would catch up to me. It was the first time I had ever genuinely felt depressed about where I was in my life.  

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

If you’re experiencing your quarter-life crisis right now, the key thing to remember is: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Experiencing a quarter of a life crisis is inevitable nowadays. I went through it. My family & close friends of mine went through it. I even know others who are going through it right now.

TALK ABOUT IT

Most of the happiest and successful people I know have had their own quarter-life crisis stories to tell, which leads me to my next piece of advice: TALK ABOUT IT. I personally LOVE stories! Talk to your friends, family, a therapist, or even random strangers from all walks of life. Everyone you meet has a unique story to tell, & I enjoy hearing the experiences of other people’s lives whenever the opportunity arises. What was your childhood like?How did you become the person you are today? What inspires you? What do you want to achieve in your lifetime? 

You may not be where you want to be right now, but talking to people who have been in a similar situation can help a lot. You never know whose story may inspire you or lead you to your next venture. The way I see it is things tend to balance themselves out over time.

THIS IS TEMPORARY

You can only pull an arrow back so far before it has to be released and launched, which brings me to my next point: THIS IS TEMPORARY.
Once I accepted that my situation was only temporary, I focused on strengthening my emotional intelligence. I became more self-aware of how I dealt with my emotions, & I did my best to empathetically and judiciously weigh my decisions involving others. I wanted to understand why I felt the way I did, and I wanted to accept them as they were, without letting them control me. 

 As long as you keep moving forward, new opportunities will present themselves in time. You don’t have to have everything figured out right now. Believe me. I sure didn’t have anything planned out the way I wanted it to happen. But with time & deciding to live mindfully and enjoying my life exactly as it was. 

EMBRACE WHO & WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

When I was 25, I started my YouTube Channel, created this blog, & found an amazing job in the Beauty Industry. The next steps you take in life will reveal themselves in time. The lyrics of “Dead End Dreams” still resonate with me to this day, but they have a different meaning now than they did when I was 25. I want to keep dreaming, even if I have nothing to show for it. I’m not afraid of getting my heartbroken, because I’m strong & I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. I want to keep my promises to everyone that I love, especially the promises I’ve made to the person I love most, MYSELF

XO Denise

bread food wood beach

TOO MANY FISH: Tips For Online Dating

From my blog ARCHIVES with a few updates, I originally posted my tips for online dating on April 18th, 2017.

When I was first introduced to online dating, I found it extremely odd & overwhelming. Just as anyone who is introduced to something completely new may feel, right? Up until then, I only met potential partners in person, through mutual friends or in school. I created my 1st online dating profile on OkCupid followed by Coffee Meets BagelBumbleHappnTinder, & Hinge. Despite creating my first online dating profile 11 years ago, I didn’t actually go on any dates until about 5 years later in February 2016. Today, I’m sharing my tips for online dating!

Online dating has always been an overwhelming experience for me, because I usually find myself with too many choices. Majority of the time I feel like a warthog carcass being pulled in every which way by lions. After 5 years of experience, I’ve learned a thing or two on how to efficiently navigate the online dating scene. So if you’re feeling like I once did,  here are my tips for getting the most out of your online dating experience!

Be Ready

If you’re not ready to meet someone, don’t put yourself in the position to lead someone on. If you’ve recently had your heart broken or there’s any other circumstance causing you to be emotionally unavailable, don’t make the mistake of wasting a genuinely good person’s time. I’m dead serious about this! If you’re nowhere near ready, delete your dating apps NOW!

I’ve been guilty of this myself. After a terrible breakup in 2010, I took my 1st shot at online dating only to freak out & ghost as soon as the other person suggested to meet in person. To all the guys that I lead on because I wanted my emotional needs met, but had no intention of ever meeting you in person, I’m deeply sorry. I sincerely hope you found someone amazing, who is worthy of the time & attention you gave to me. 

Be Open

I personally hate the swipe culture. We are all more than our face and body. Take the time to fill out your profile & read the profiles of others. Don’t just swipe left & right! Amazing individuals fly under the radar all the time. Take a chance on that person who didn’t immediately catch your eye, but made you smile after reading through their profile. How many times in life have you developed a crush on someone that you weren’t immediately attracted to? Don’t close yourself off to finding a real connection with someone just because they’re not particularly photogenic. If they don’t know how to take a selfie, it might actually be a good thing!

Know What You Want & Don’t Settle For Less

As I stated previously, with online dating apps, there are TOO MANY fish in the sea. After a few dates, you should already be getting a pretty good vibe from the other individual. But before over investing yourself, be sure to clearly draw your boundaries. It’s important to know what you want & to put your expectations on the table. I’m not talking about any superficial deal-breakers by the way. If your must-haves include guys over 6 ft tall with a full head of hair & a six figure salary, do yourself a favor & re-read number 2! 

It’s okay to have non-negotiable qualities that you want in a partner. When you’re ready to invest a lot of your time into another person, you should have standards. Here are mine:

  • Shares similar values & beliefs
  • Is there for me when I need them, even when it’s inconvenient 
  • Considers me when making decisions, no matter how big or small
  • Has a growth mindset, always trying to work on themselves & be better than the person they were yesterday
  • Challenges me to be my best & inspires me to go after what I want
  • Respects me, how I live my life, & everything I stand for, including my thoughts, ambitions, opinions, family, & friends
  • Is trustworthy. I feel safe being completely open & honest with them, even when addressing tough issues

Having strong boundaries & standards will save you a lot of time & energy. Don’t be afraid to cut a date short if need be! Respect & love yourself enough to walk away from a situation or a person that will only cause drama over time. I’ve ended dates early & ordered a Lyft quite a few times, & I’m not ashamed of that. 

Are you currently online dating? What have you learned? What are your tips for success? Leave me a comment – I’d love to know!

XO Denise

anonymous couple lying on hill at seaside and enjoying sunset time

When You’re “Just a Friend”

“You, you got what I need but you say he’s just a friend. But you say he’s just a friend” – Biz Markie

With the passing of Biz Markie (RIP) on Friday, July 16th, I felt compelled to listen to his smash hit “Just a Friend”. It also inspires today’s blog post. Finding love is so hard nowadays because we’re terrified of cutting off all of our other options & defining a relationship as exclusive. But the longer you collect friends & push away the option that wants to call you their own & be more than friends, the longer it will take you to find true love.

“So please listen to the message that I say

Don’t ever talk to a girl who says she just has a friend” – Biz Markie

After my first 2 boyfriends, the boys that I dated in my early 20s only wanted to be friends with benefits or took their sweet time & let me walk away completely for days, weeks, or even months before deciding to finally call me their “girlfriend”. It wasn’t until my late 20s/early 30s that I became more firm with setting my relationship boundaries. After the first few dates, I let my man know that I’m only looking to spend time with someone who’s looking for something real. Young adults need to pull out their dictionary or at the very least Google the definition of friend. A friend is someone with whom you share a mutual affection, excluding sexual relations. Yes, you can hang out & spend time with your friends. But you DO NOT engage in anything sexual with your friends.

Biz Markie warned society in September 1989 when he released his song. Don’t ever talk to someone who says they have a “friend”. Anyone who calls their romantic interests “friends” knows EXACTLY what they’re doing. I don’t recommend ever willingly putting yourself in a love triangle. Because whether you’re chosen over other options or not, it’s not a winning situation any way you try to spin it. If someone you’re dating says you’re a friend or has other people whom they keep in touch with that they are also friends with, without delving deeper into their actual “friendship”. Take it as a major red flag!

You deserve a relationship that is real. The person you end up with should love you & exclaim it proudly because you’re not just their friend. You should be their whole world, & they should be yours! Don’t feel bad for setting boundaries & rejecting new romantic partners because they have a “friend” or only want to label you as their “friend”. Know that you are enough & worthy of an exclusive relationship.

XO Denise

Hang the DJ

*SPOILER ALERT*
If you haven’t seen Black Mirror yet, I highly recommend you stop reading & go watch through Season 4, Episode 4 before reading this blog post.

Black Mirror is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a dystopian science fiction series that I highly recommend. My favorite episodes include “Black Museum” & “Nosedive”, but today I want to discuss “Hang the DJ”. Set in a future, dystopian world, where society has given up on conventional dating, partners are matched at random & told the exact duration of their relationship upfront. 

Just to be clear, in my personal opinion, DATING IS F#CKING HARD. Being thrown into the unknown is scary, but in order to find “The One”, you need the strength & courage to take a leap of faith. While being able to control the outcome of a relationship may seem great in theory, I will never buy into it.

I hate to admit that my dating life has never been perfect. I’ve lead people on & wasted their time knowing that I didn’t want them to be my husband or the father of my children. I’ve chased after people who made it abundantly clear that they weren’t the right man for me. I emotionally cheated on my boyfriend of two years with my TA in college. And my worst mistake of all was not telling the man I fell hardest for how much I truly loved him out of fear of another rejection, only to have my heart broken in the end anyway. 

The episode of “Hang the DJ” teaches us that being in complete control of the outcome of our dating life isn’t any better or less risky than conventional dating. Imagine meeting someone who you feel is your perfect match, only to be told that you’re restricted to a mere 12 hours together. You’re then forced to go your separate ways, to have a bunch of meaningless one night stands or end up stuck in a loveless relationship with someone else that you hate for an entire year.

Yes, the world is full of endless options. But at the end of the day, don’t you know when you’ve already exhausted your options? We need to listen to our hearts. We need to speak our truth & do what we believe will be the best for ourselves, while also taking into consideration the hearts of others. No one deserves to have their heartbroken, especially if we have the ability to be honest & prevent it. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes, & forgive others for theirs. Only then will you learn how to love with authenticity.

A reoccurring theme in “Hang the DJ” is that following their structured system will guarantee you a 99.8% love match. But what happens when you realize that you’d rather rebel against your circumstances? What if 99.8% isn’t good enough for you anymore? What if what will make you truly happy at the end of the day includes taking your chances on that 0.2%?

Even if taking that risk means losing all other options & hurting other people in the process, don’t be afraid to listen to your heart & don’t give up your happy ending because of the system & expectations placed on you by the outside world. Take responsibility for your past relationships to heal your heart. Then embrace your authenticity & risk it all, because we deserve to have 100% when it comes to love.

XO Denise