Confessions of a Former Mean Girl

From my blog archives, “Mean Girl | Why I Got Into Self-Improvement” originally posted on September 20, 2016.

My name is Denise, and I am a former MEAN GIRL

At my very core, I am self-aware enough to say that I can be a mean girl. (This is also probably why I relate to villains and seem to attract people with similarly shameful pasts.) I can come up with sassy quips and sarcastic comments at the drop of a hat. I don’t always watch my tone when expressing my opinions, and I’ve even made people that I love cry. If you’re finding this hard to believe, then I’m really glad because it means that I’ve done my job. Every day, I find myself actively going against my initial instincts and innate behaviors. I’m definitely not proud of it, but I’ve grown to accept it as part of who I was

My Childhood

Growing up, I never had issues getting what I wanted. My parents provided me with an amazing childhood. In school, I excelled in all of my classes. I made every dance and sports team that I wanted to join. Cute guys ask me out on dates regularly. I got invited to dances and parties. People were just naturally drawn to me without much effort on my part. A friend of mine, who has a degree in Psychology, categorized me under the “What is beautiful is good” stereotype. (It felt like a backhanded compliment at the time, but I understood his intentions.)

To make things clear, I’ve never been an outright bitch. (Or at least I hope that I haven’t…) Because of the privileges I had been given, I was blind to my own faults. I was placed under an unrealistic spotlight that inevitably lead to complacency. Too smart for my own good, and I’d never known what it felt like to fail. I never feel rejected. I’d never been someone’s second choice. I didn’t know what it felt like to not be good enough. Life was about always putting myself first and doing what was in my best interest over the needs of everyone else. Expressing myself and making decisions without considering how it would affect others, I broke hearts without remorse. I thrived on proving that I was right, even if it meant making someone else feel stupid. (Ok… maybe I was a bitch.)

What I’ve Learned

As I grow older, I actively work to become more self-aware and considerate of others. Now, I consciously weigh every pro and con and consider the benefits and disadvantages for every person involved in my decision making. I also do my best to take every unfortunate situation as an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. Not only do I want to keep my inner mean girl in check, but I want to become as good of a person as most people perceive me to already be.

 I take a genuine interest in every new person I meet, and I hope to consistently benefit the lives of my closest friends and family. It’s a priority to be kind to strangers and be more compassionate and patient. I hope to boost the self-esteem of others and not be afraid to open up and feel vulnerable.

Going forward, I aspire to know better, do better, and be better. I may never be perfect, but I like who I am becoming. 

XO Denise

pink petals on pink surface

What To Do Instead of Ghosting

Dating is hard. Most people will kiss a lot of frogs along their journey to find true love. But nothing hurts quite like being ghosted by someone you’ve invested a lot of your time & attention in. Ghosting is a sign of emotional immaturity, emotional unavailability as well as low emotional intelligence. Today, I’m going to share what to do instead of ghosting.

What is Ghosting?

Ghosting is the act of ending an interpersonal relationship by suddenly & without explanation, withdrawing from all forms communication. Most individuals choose to ghost someone out of fear. In fact, it’s a cowardly act usually justified because they don’t want to hurt the other party or close the door on the relationship completely. In reality, it unfairly gives the dumpee a false sense of hope for reconciliation, while the dumper moves on.

I’m proud to say that I haven’t ghosted any of my exes. After being ghosted more times than I’d like to admit in my years of dating, I promised myself in my early twenties to always do the right thing & fully give closure to every single person that I’ve entered into a romantic relationship with. That said, here’s how I end romantic relationships:

Break Up In Person

Ending a relationship in person can be terrifying, but it’s the only respectful way to end a relationship. I will shamefully admit that I broke up with my 1st boyfriend via email. I tried to do it a few days prior. But I selfishly couldn’t bear to see his face as I ripped out his heart, days before I left for college. He was the only & last person I did this to.

If I could go back in time & make sure to break up with every single one of my exes face to face to get & give them closure, I would. Being able to talk through how your feelings have changed, & that you want them to be with someone who can give them everything that you’re not capable of, is the adult thing to do. Do your best to demonstrate that you’re not breaking up with them out of hatred or spite. Your actions are actually out of love & respect for them as a person, because they deserve better.

Be Honest & Apologize

When relationships no longer have trust, they’re doomed to fail. When it’s already over, know that there’s no point in continuing to lie any further. Tell your partner exactly why you want to break up.

Healthy relationships need two emotionally mature individuals who choose each other & want to continue to choose each other, working through anything wrong within the connection every single day. It’s okay to admit that your feelings have changed. Maybe you want to be single, or maybe things have been off for a while so you want to date other people. Lying to protect your ex’s feelings will cause nothing but trouble down the road if you keep in touch & they discover the truth. Apologize for any conflict, hurt, & pain you’ve caused them. Take ownership of your shortcomings within the relationship. Explain how both of you need to still be invested, & that putting the breakup off any longer would be cruel & unfair.

Set Your Boundaries

Make it clear that you no longer want to be romantically involved with your former partner. And whatever you now want or do not want out of this relationship, say it.

I am cordial, but I am not friends with any of my exes. I do not have any of their contact information or follow any of them on social media. Do you want to have a clean break? Do you want to remain friends? Whatever your preference, set your boundaries & stick to them. There’s nothing worse than having wishy washy boundaries & hurting someone who only agrees to the boundaries you’ve set because they have hope for rekindling the relationship.

When I break up with someone, I weight the pros & cons for a while, so my mind is made up. And that’s why once I’ve set my boundaries & promised to not bother or reach out again under any circumstances, I keep my word.

Cut Off Contact As Your Last Resort

If your ex cannot respect the boundaries you’ve set, it’s ok to go no contact, but express why as an alternative to completely ghosting. Exes can stalk your every move, show up at places you frequent, beg, cry, & plead with you to work on the relationship & stay together, despite the boundaries you’ve already set.

So when the other options above aren’t enough, simply apologize, honestly explain why you do not want any further contact, ask that they respect your decision, & move forward for your own mental health.

Again, breakups are never fun, but they’re necessary. Make room in your life for the person that you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with. I promise you that while it may be terrifying & hurt more than ghosting, being upfront, honest, & respectful with your exes is the only way to generate good karma for yourself as well as attract a new partner who will treat you with the same good intentions & take care of your heart.

XO Denise

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

down angle photography of red clouds and blue sky

Healing Childhood Wounds

A common conversations among my siblings & I is: “How do you think our lives would be different if we didn’t have loving & supportive parents?” I am incredibly blessed & grateful to have two amazing parents who gave me the best childhood. It’s common knowledge that your upbringing affects your behavior & habits as an adult. That’s why healing childhood wounds is so important.

Our brains are wired to choose romantic partners based on how you were treated by your parents or primary caregivers. Because of this, we tend to attract partners who possess similar qualities as our parents. So unless we proactively choose to avoid toxic traits & heal our childhood wounds, generational trauma is destined to repeat itself.

Identify Your Childhood Wounds

In my blog post about emotional triggers, I explain my fear of abandonment. I’m happy to share that I’m not afraid of abandonment or losing people that I love anymore. But know that it is important to recognize that the things that happened to you as a child can be carried into adulthood if you don’t take the time needed to heal that trauma. 

In another blog post, I highlighted trauma bonding & all the ways you can recognize if you’re trauma bonded to someone. If your parents wanted to control your every move, you may seek a life partner who behaves the same way. If your parents put you on a pedestal, as a shiny trophy, for everyone to envy. You may seek a romantic partner who does the same.

If your current relationship reminds you of the relationship you have with your parents, take it as a red flag. Does your partner want what’s best for you, or do they actually want what will work best for them? 

Don’t ever spread yourself too thin for someone who doesn’t consider your well-being in addition to their own. Are you just choosing love based on what your parents taught you love was?

Treat Others How You Want To Be Treated

Growing up, my friends loved to tease me about how I had a “perfect family”. As a child, I was embarrassed, but now as an adult, I can recognize that they were honestly jealous. Instead of thinking that I’m not normal for not constantly fighting with my parents & siblings, I’m proud to say that I love my parents & my siblings are my best friends, because it’s a huge factor of who I am

My parents are never hypocritical. My siblings & I respect our parents, because they respect us. We love & trust each other unconditionally, and we set boundaries as needed. 

My father never yells at me or my siblings. When we do something bad or get in trouble, he speaks to us calmly, expresses his disappointment, talks through how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Because of how my parents raised me, I don’t tolerate disrespect. My time & attention is valuable. I firmly set my boundaries, & I’m not afraid to stand up for myself, without needing to yell, curse, berate, or humiliate another person.

Because of my upbringing, I’ve never said I love you & not meant it. I’ve never insincerely sweet-talked or manipulated someone to get what I want from them. To be loved by me is to be given complete freedom & trust. Your behavior when I’m with you or even importantly, when I’m not around, will tell me everything that I need to know about your level of care & respect of me.

Take the Time & Get the Help You Need to Heal

Once you’re able to identify what you need to heal & proactively try to be a better person, take the time to heal. Depending on your level of trauma, you may even want to get professional help. Through my blog, I’ve reflected on a lot of my childhood, & it’s helped me tremendously. By healing my childhood wounds, I know who I am, & I know how I deserve & want to be loved.

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

round shaped clock hanging on wall above wooden cabinet

Complacency is Dangerous

From my blog archives with a few new edits, I originally wrote this on March 8th, 2017. Enjoy!

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Once upon a time, I was a miserable bank teller. For three years, I put on a fake smile to engage in meaningless small talk with customers while handling their money. I woke up each morning desperately hoping for a change of pace & a new opportunity to present itself. Just as I was about to give up hope, I decided to change my mindset instead. Because there’s no point in waiting for new opportunities, when we can create them ourselves. This is how I learned that complacency is dangerous.

Complacency is Dangerous 

It’s easy to get lost in your day to day routine. Don’t settle for a life that is comfortable but not fulfilling. It’s in the moments that we actively choose to take risks that allow us to grow. Perusing through YouTube in May 2011, I stumbled across the Beauty Vlogger Community & decided to start my own YouTube channel. Through something as simple as watching YouTube videos, a new fire started within my soul. I knew I could start a successful channel, if I just decide to be brave enough to go for it. 

My passion to learn more about all things Beauty grew exponentially in a matter of days. Strangers have the power within them to positively affect the lives of other individuals that intrigued and inspired me to follow in their footsteps. I suddenly had a new outlet to express myself, while receiving endless amounts of love and support from viewers that have never even met me in person. Though I don’t upload as often as I once did, my decision to put myself out there and risk ridicule, judgement, and criticism was the greatest decision I’ve made thus far. I still get reminders from my subscribers, friends, & family to start filming videos again. 

From taking that first risk, I’ve learned that each decision you make in life is essential to your story. There are small victories in each and every day. Whether opportunity presents itself or you create your own opportunity, be aware and grateful for it. Three years into my career in the Beauty industry, working for IPSY, I can honestly say that I love my job. I was actually given the day off by my CEO & other female leaders within the company for International Women’s Day, which inspired this blog post. 

Do you think complacency is dangerous?

I challenge you to take a good look at where you are in your life, & if you’re unsatisfied with it, I hope you find the courage within you to make the necessary changes to create a fulfilling, happy life, because you deserve it. Love yourself enough to take risks and live fearlessly. 

XO Denise