It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn

The best kind of happiness is the kind that comes into your life when you least expect it. Between toxic relationships, endlessly job searching for months, anxiety, 2017 wasn’t the easiest year. But just like everything else, pros and cons go hand in hand. Although I struggled from time to time this past year, I also had a lot of great opportunities to experience and I’m so grateful to reflect on the better times because good always outweighs the bad.

I had the chance to visit a few new cities, spend a lot of time on the beach, read new books, focus on myself, start a new job and develop new friendships. I’m happy about everything good that has come my way, but I’m not entirely sad to see 2017 come to a close and I’m more than happy to embark on 2018.

As many of you know, I’ve had a difficult and defeating time seeking full-time employment this past year, which I know some people can relate to and I wish you all the best of luck in your process! However, I do not have to continue my search as I accepted a full-time offer right before the holiday. When accepting the offer over the phone, I literally said to the woman, “This is the greatest Christmas gift I’ve ever received”, and there is so much truth behind that.

The past few weeks, knowing that this is the last of my excessive free time, have been so stress- free and relaxing. The weight I feel has been lifted from my shoulders, from both external and internal pressures to find a full-time job, is indescribable.

As the saying goes, good things take time, and I guess time is what I needed. The past year and a half as post-grad have definitely been unconventional from the outside looking in, but I feel I’m right where I’m meant to be. I’m learning that as you get older, people’s opinions of your choices become more and more irrelevant, and I think that’s something everyone should keep in the back of their minds. I think my biggest regret of 2017 was caring so much about what everyone else thought and ignoring what I actually cared about. Maybe it’s easier said than done, but it’s an empowering feeling when you finally conquer this tactic.

Even though it’s just a change in date on the calendar, a new year can be an opportunity for change, growth and fulfillment. Although I don’t have a resolution, and I don’t normally do, I’m definitely more committed than ever to focusing on me in every way, shape and form. Whitney Port posted an Instagram that resonated with where I am right now and I couldn’t love it more.

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She captions the quoted picture with “Loving yourself isn’t only the greatest revolution, but the greatest resolution.”

Wherever you’re at in your life, don’t forget to love yourself. If you’re in a tough place or confused or lost, just remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn, as Florence and The Machine says.

Happy New Year!

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6 Books To Help You Through Your 20s

As an avid reader, I’ve always found a comfort in books due to the way they can take you away from all of life’s distractions. But, this past year the distractions have been harder to silence and more prominent in noise, that I’ve had to adjust my reading list from fiction to non-fiction.

The 6 books I discuss in this post have been helpful while navigating through adulthood, familiarizing with post-grad life and overcoming everyday obstacles. The stories that line the pages of these books are a true comfort to anyone simply just trying to figure life out. Also- any of these would make for a perfect Christmas or graduation gift! Hope you find something of interest

The Big Life by Ann Shoket

In this empowering book written by Ann Shoket, former Editor in Chief of Seventeen magazine, ‘The Big Life’ is defined as that delicious cocktail of passion, career, work, ambition, respect, money and a monumental relationship. Shoket stresses that this life is something that you want on your own terms, which is important to remember throughout your life. This bad bass babe wanted to be able to provide advice for those women who thirst for this kind of life and she crafted this book in her own unique way- through hosting a series of dinners in her apartment. Each dinner consisted of a group of about 6 or so friends of a friend of a friend coming together to talk about their life and what they felt was missing. After a few of these dinners, Shoket began recognizing that a lot of the questions these women were feeling internally were similar across the board of all different demographics. These included:

  • How do I find a career that is also my passion?
  • How do I find a partner who honors my ambition?
  • How will I be able to have a big, demanding career without taking my foot off the gas when I have children?
  • How do I get paid what I’m worth?
  • How do I get the respect I deserve from my bosses?
  • And finally, will all this struggle be worth it?

These questioned framed the story for this book and the real-life stories you will read are pure, hard-core and relatable. This book resonates so well with many of the posts I have written on this blog and was also very entertaining and educational. It definitely does not disappoint!

Side note: I was able to meet & speak with Ann at Head House Books in Philadelphia about this book which was an incredible opportunity as a writer. 

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All Groan Up by Paul Angone

This book entails the time line of a guy who struggled a for a long time with post-grad life. Unfortunate endeavors, dead ends, highs and lows, and small victories. His story and his writing are inspiring and had the ability to comfort me about the immediate state I was in upon graduation. He makes his readers know that it’s acceptable not to have a concrete plan or a road map to success, and sympathizes with the struggles faced by recent graduates who live in a world full of unknown. Paul Angone outlines what it’s like to be in the real world with absolutely no answers, through his personal experiences and endeavors, and how he finally got to where he wanted to be through hard work and a lot of trial and errors.

And he was right, things do work out, even if takes some time to and even if they end up in ways you didn’t expect. All Groan Up is emotionally fundamental, but also hilarious, witty and entertaining!

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Bossypants by Tina Fey

It’s no surprise that Tina Fey is comical in every way, but her writing in this book actually had me laughing out loud. Her wit, honesty and bluntness make this book about finding your way through the details of her own personal accounts will make you feel better about yourself in every way.

I was completely sold after the short 3 page introduction caused by joke after joke. I highly recommend this book not only to those having a difficult or confusing time after college or in adulthood, but anyone in their 20s! It also instills a mantra to carry with you which is that of:

“Either way, everything will be fine.”

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Maybe I’m a bit biased because I love every single thing about Minday Kaling, but this book was an absolute page turner. Similar to Bossypants, which is appropriate because Kaling has been referred to as Fey’s younger sister before, ‘Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?’, this book instills the theme and importance of resilience in your life. Kaling is so respectable because she is honest and makes fun of herself and doesn’t give a damn what people think.

Part Two, I Forget Nothing: A Sensitive Kid Looks Back, was one of my favorite sections as well as her take on Jewish guys.

These humorous, truthful essays were entertaining and insightful and I’m eager to read her latest book, Why Not Me?

Apologies in advance for anyone who doesn’t know Mindy outside of her character on The Office- she admits she is nothing like Kelly Capore!

P.S. If you haven’t already, check out The Mindy Project  on Hulu!

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed

To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to like this book. I felt it was too heavy and emotional for me especially after reading the first chapter. But I am happy to admit I was wrong because I cannot give enough praise to this book. Truly inspiring and sincere, Wild evoked emotions I didn’t even know I possessed. The feeling of being lost in her own life resonates with me to a certain degree and maybe that’s why I enjoyed following alongside her journey so much, so any post-grad still looking for answers, this book is a great read while you figure it out!

A true story of strength, perseverance and courage, Wild is one to inspire. It is honest and naked to the core.

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101 Secrets for Your Twenties

Author of All Groan Up listed above, 101 Secrets for Your Twenties is a book full of great insights for any post-grad, millennial or anyone trying to survive adulthood.

In his introduction, Angone writes, “I think we can all agree: This twentysomething shoot ain’t easy. It’s a decade exploding with intensity and ambiguity. Anxiety and excitement. Purpose and pointlessness. Answers riddled with questions. Paradoxes mixed with 100 percent certainties. There are so many “firsts”. So much change. So many “what ifs, what nows, and what the hecks.”

This book is crafted perfectly for anyone asking themselves the question, “What now?”

Here are a few of my favorite “secrets”:

  • Making and keeping friendships in your 20s is harder than G.I. Joe’s Abs.
  • Those friends who are uber-successful in their 20s are the outlier- not the norm.
  • A college diploma is not your golden ticket into DreamJobLand.
  • Obsessive Comparison Disorder is the smallpox of our generation.
  • The Freshmen Fifteen is nothing compared to the Cubicle Cincuenta.

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I hope this guideline of books for your 20s was helpful and enticing! Even if you don’t usually read, you may want to give one of these a try, especially if you’re a post-grad and feel like you have no answers!

23/Male/Heartbroken

We were the couple that would playfully argue about who loved each other more. “I loved you first, therefore I love you more”, she used to say. It was never with any intention of winning. It was just a cute way for us to pass the time; a playful game to see who would give up first. I can tell you that, eventually, I did win.

She gave up first.

We had a history. We met way back in high school through mutual friends. We talked a decent amount, and we hung out here and there but it didn’t lead to anything serious at the time. I was older, and preparing to go to college, while she was younger and still had years left of high school to see out. I didn’t think it would work at the time, but she did. I would ghost on her frequently, often times not returning texts or canceling plans. I’ll be the first to admit I could have handled that situation better, and I was not particularly understanding or as nice as I could have been to her. She could have given up on me. She probably should have. She didn’t.

Knowing what I know now it’s time I wish I could have back.

It wasn’t until years later, about halfway through my junior year of college, that we reconnected in a substantial way. After making plans and abruptly canceling them (again) we finally started spending time together. I was like any other 21-year-old guy; just happy to have a consistent lay. Even though I could feel something more significant blooming between us I couldn’t really see what was happening; what was very clearly staring me in the face. I figured it was just sexual desire or something like that as I was still very much that asshole that strung her along for years.

Finally, about a month after we reconnected, I realized what was happening; I like this girl. I might even love her. We started dating, and I wouldn’t reveal that to her for another five months.

I regret not telling her every single day, because I don’t get to say it anymore.

We separated in May. We were together for two years. The break-up wasn’t some aggressive, rage-induced screaming match over a scandalous night of infidelity, or any other reason that people would typically associate with a break-up. I think I would have preferred that because that would have given credence to a clear, identifiable reason. Don’t get me wrong – there was still plenty of sobbing from both of us. We just had a conversation in which she calmly explained to me that she had lost faith in us. She didn’t have confidence in our relationship, and it wasn’t something she could handle anymore. I can certainly accept and acknowledge those feelings. That does not mean I understand them. It felt like the, “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed”, of breakups. It left me confused, and made me feel pain I never thought was possible. I always thought of myself as a tough and resolute person. I could tough out anything and anyone. With a couple of sentences and a good-bye hug this girl had brought me to my knees, beaten and broken, and left me there.

It would be unfair of me to solely blame her for us not being together anymore. I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons for that, and I don’t doubt my own culpability. God knows I could have been a better partner, and I have my regrets. There are things that I said and did that I wish I never had, and vise-versa.  But what I am having the hardest time with is the fact that she wasn’t willing to keep going. As stated I don’t fully understand why we split, but before it happened I did feel a shift in our relationship. Something didn’t feel right, and I believe it was this shift that caused her to pull the plug. It felt like a big, ominous shadow looming over us. However, it wasn’t always like that, and I truly believed that it wouldn’t persist. I expressed that to her more than once. You have your up’s and your down’s in a relationship, and if you love someone you work through them as best you can. I was ready to fight for her and our relationship because I loved her more than anything in the world. I still do. Walking away was just something I wasn’t willing to do. I think I’m more afraid of what that says about me than it does her.

I am still very much in love with her, which is unfortunate to say the least. It’s a feeling I haven’t been able to shake, and I’m not sure it will ever really go away. I genuinely thought I was going to marry this girl. It was even something her and I discussed a few times. Our naivety, in hindsight, is not lost on me. It is this continued love that has been my biggest obstacle. When you love someone more than you love yourself it’s a difficult feeling to shake. I often wonder if she still feels the same way.

We talked and saw each other sporadically for about two months after we broke up, and I expressed the way I felt a few times. She did not, and that is okay. She told me that we needed space from each other, and it’s been over a month since we have spoken. Given the time and lack of communication it’s hard not to wonder what she’s doing – or who she’s doing it with.

I would imagine this period of disconnect speaks for itself in one way or another.

When I originally approached the wonderful creators of this blog about this guest post it was with the intention of helping others. This has been my second “big” break-up, and while this one has hit particularly hard I thought that I might be able to provide some insight and advice to those who might be going through similar situations. “I’m fine. I am doing much better. I should write about it”, I told myself. I thought that I could share what I was doing to in my efforts to recover with the wonderful people who visit this blog. Your early 20’s is undoubtedly a difficult time, and failed relationships can muddle the already confusing brew of emotional (and physical, in some cases) stress one may be sipping on.

However, while I wrote this article I realized that I am not doing better. It’s been almost three months and I have made absolutely no progress in moving on. Every second of every single day is dominated by thoughts of her. Not all of them are sad, but even the happy thoughts sting a little. I spend a lot of time in my bed. I watch Netflix until 2 A.M. every night because I don’t sleep anymore, and when I do sleep my dreams are dominated by nightmares. I listen to a lot of the same songs her and I used to enjoy on my 40-minute commute to work every morning. Sometimes I cry, but I try not to. I avoid my mother because every conversation we have seems to lead back to my ex, which makes living at home more difficult than it should be.

My 3-year-old sister loved spending time with my her. I thought that by now she would have forgotten about her. A few nights ago, while at the dinner table, my sister gleefully asked me where she was. I replied with a half-smile and a simple, “I don’t know”. I went to my room and didn’t talk to anyone for the rest of the night.

It’s easy to think you are doing better. You want to believe that you can simply pick up the pieces, and mosey right along whistling Dixie. Your true feelings always show, and it’s important to recognize when you’re just not okay. I also think that it is okay to not be okay. Everyone moves at their own pace. Sometimes you even need a little help. That is why I recently decided to go and see a therapist. I’ve never put much faith in therapy or it’s benefits, but at this point I think that any healing I’ve attempted to do on my own has failed. It couldn’t possibly hurt to try, and perhaps it could be helpful.

I realize that his guest post may seem a bit sad and depressing. Some of you may even think I’m just a whiner, and that I need to get over it and move on already. You’re probably not wrong. After thinking about it, though, the thing that I want people to take away from this post the most is that at our age it is important to appreciate the things that are in front of you now. The hustle and bustle of your 20’s can cause you to lose sight over things that are truly important, even those that you love, and before you know it those things are gone. That can be anything from relationships to friends or even your parents, god forbidding.

Appreciate who and what you have whenever the opportunity presents itself. Tell her how thankful you are when she wakes up early to drive you to work because your car is in the shop. Answer her calls even if you’re busy, or at least text her back and let her know you’ll call as soon as possible. Offer to drive over to her place for once. Ask her how her family is doing. Tell her how beautiful she is with or without makeup. Ask her to play your video games or watch sports with you. Hold her as tight as you possibly can when you lay down together. Brush her hair when she asks you to. Give her a kiss and tell her you love her just because you can. Listen to her when she is feeling down and hug. Being appreciative isn’t always about expressly stating so. Often, it’s just about putting that little extra bit of effort and showing you care.

I still go out and see my friends. I drink socially. I play soccer every weekend. I go to the gym a few times a week. I do try to spend some time with my family. I think it’s important after experiencing heartbreak, even if you’re feeling utterly defeated and hopeless, that you try to continue to be yourself even if you feel like half of you is missing. Don’t let it paralyze you. Some people, like myself, just need a little help is all. It is my hope that in a few months’ time I can follow up this post and share how I’ve gotten to that place because then I might be able to help someone.

Until then it is my sincere belief that eventually – hopefully – the dust will begin settle and I will be okay.