Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Let Go: Live Like You Mean It

I read a lot of articles. Some are good, some are bad and some are just mediocre. And then there are others that are in a category of their own—they make me stop and reconsider the way I view life and the world.

“Buddhist Intention: Being Kind in Unkind Times” is a prime example of that kind of meaningful article.

I stumbled upon “Being Kind” the other day, and it made me stop and ponder: Have I become jaded? Have I lost my positive perspective?

The mere fact that I was concerned with potentially losing my optimism and compassion answered those questions for me. But it was an important reflection nonetheless.

And then, while on the train this morning listening to my full music library on shuffle, “The Heart of the Matter” by India Arie came on. It’s a beautiful cover of the original song by Don Henley of The Eagles. Typically, I just jam out or listen to my music while I think about everything I need to accomplish that day, but this time was different. I actually paid attention to the lyrics and really connected with them. Especially this verse:

These times are so uncertain,
There's a yearning undefined,
And people filled with rage.
We all need a little tenderness;
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
Are the very things we kill, I guess.
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms,
And the work I put between us
Doesn't keep me warm.

Don Henley wrote that song in the mid-to-late 80s, but it still rings true today.

See the common thread here? It’s so easy to be overcome by what we go through—both the serious struggles and the messy mundane. It takes a much stronger and much wiser individual to rise above and live with intention.

What do you mean by that? I mean that it’s simple for us as people to perpetuate hate and tension—and to want to exact revenge. Think of all of the emotional baggage you carry around on a daily basis, perhaps without even realizing it. Isn’t it easy to feel entitled, selfish… bitter? The higher road—and much tougher route—is the one filled with empathy, trust and compassion; the one paved with forgiveness.

Don’t let hate harden you. Let it go; learn to embrace the cyclical nature of life and the innate changes that come your way. If you live with intention, it’s all worth it in the end.

It’s time to forgive others for what they’ve done to us—and to forgive ourselves for the pain we’ve caused others as a result. It’s time to become selfless and pay it forward—to live positively and passionately—and expect nothing in return.

It’s time to start living like you mean it.

[Photo via wherelaureensmiles's flickr feed.]

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Perfect Guy Doesn't Exist

“What makes for a better relationship: Passion or dedication?”

Without a doubt—passion, I thought as I filled out my OkCupid profile. Two years later, I’m still pondering that question.

See, I’ve always felt that when I met the right guy, there’d be that spark, that passion, that feeling that I’d known him all my life.

But that was two years ago.

I’ve gone on literally dozens of dates since I moved to New York City in August of 2009. Some guys just weren’t a good fit for me. Other guys were losers, and I became frustrated. Still others were those rare gems among a pile of rocks and my insecurities got the best of me.

And now I’ve come full circle. It’s been a journey—a long and tiresome (and, at times, emotional), yet highly-rewarding one. At the beginning, I thought I knew myself entirely—that I was ready to cast my net and find the funniest, smartest, hunkiest fish in the proverbial gay “sea.” But I was looking in all the wrong places and asking all the wrong questions and was painfully wrong about myself and where I was in my life.

I was searching for an ideal—the perfect guy with the brains, the brawn and the business acumen that I so valued in myself. But the perfect guy doesn’t exist.

I repeat: The perfect guy does not exist.

I’m glad I know that now.

I’ve passed on serious relationship opportunities in the hopes that if I held out, I would find something better. But it never came. And now I’m right back where I started, though a whole heap wiser.

Maybe dating isn’t so much about it “working out” (what does that mean, anyway?!) as it is learning about ourselves and pushing buttons and having our buttons pushed in return. Because, let’s face it: There are things you don’t know about yourself that you discover through the dating process. “Is it really vital that he was captain of the soccer team in high school?” and “Does he really need to have the body of a Greek God?” and “Is it necessary for him to enjoy sexting as much as I?” I can now proudly say that I know the answers to these—and many other—life-altering questions.

“Passion or dedication?” is a question on an entirely different level, though. It’s altruistic, it’s complex—it says something more about the person who answers it.

And I don’t really think there’s a definite—or right—answer. I think it’s a trick question.

Because the truth is that relationships need passion AND dedication in order to survive; lust (passion) and love (dedication) are both essential for a honest-to-God, stable relationship to develop and endure. I was only looking for the former, and thus I came up empty-handed. (Aw, shucks!)

I’m not saying that I’m disappointed—on the contrary, I’m relieved. I’m also not saying that I’m still looking, because good grief, I am exhausted with dating! But—and this is a big but—at least in the future my fishing net won’t have a hole in it.

Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Not Me, It's You

I’ve always had a strong sense of self. From a very young age, I had an uncanny ability to look within myself to understand my wants and needs and how to satisfy them. Some people find this strange or intimidating—I find it comforting and convenient.

In most aspects of my life—especially in both an educational and professional sense—this has proven advantageous. When you understand exactly what you need to get the job done, you coordinate the necessary resources, and, well, you get stuff done.

“Where do I go to college?” or “How the hell do I get my résumé to stand out?” or “Is this the right career move?”

I just knew what to do and what would make me happy.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the emotional aspects of life—i.e. romantic involvement with another person—this quality becomes troublesome.

Why is this the case? Well, because most people have no damn clue what they want or how to get it. And that’s okay—I hardly expect everyone to instantly know what they want. Being self-aware is a rare quality that few possess—especially at my age.

But I keep running into the same issue: guys who just don’t have their wits about them.

I know there’s nothing wrong with me—I’m young, attractive, successful, intelligent, charming, fun and confident. So, why is it that I keep becoming involved with guys who don’t have their act together? It’s a question I’ve been pondering for several months and I’m not quite sure there’s a clear answer.

Perhaps I’m too forgiving: “Oh, he’s smart, he really should have that job even though he doesn’t.” Or maybe I’m just too kind: “Oh, I’ll help you! Let me introduce you to some people.” Or—even worse—maybe I’m just too naïve: “That’s his way of being a sweetheart.”

No matter what it is, one thing remains clear: it’s NOT me, it’s DEFINITELY you.

Everything I own was paid for by me from my own hard-earned money from gigs that I was awarded because I took risks—all because I know who I am and what I want. It’s no different with guys—I know the type of guy that I would like to end up with. Don’t mistake this for desperation—I’m in no damn rush to force something to happen. It just doesn’t work that way and I know that.

At the end of the day, I’m grateful for all of the guys who have ended up being losers. They’ve reminded me of what I’m looking for—what they’ll never be (for me at least)—a winner.

What does being a winner mean? (Damn Charlie Sheen and his #winning BS—it’s all I can do NOT to hear him saying that while I write this.) A winner is someone who’s stable, compassionate, confident (but not overly so), intelligent and just generally a beautiful person both inside AND out. I’ve seen a glimpse of this in a lot of guys. But it’s always fleeting.

When it’s more than an ephemeral, fake inner beauty, I’ll know it’s right. I’ll know I’ve found a winner—a keeper.

To all the boys out there who are insecure, selfish, self-doubting, vindictive, unfaithful, dishonest, underemployed or manipulative: GET IT TOGETHER. You’re missing out on amazing opportunities in all aspects of your life—especially in the romantic sense. Cuz I’m not dumb enough to stick around while you figure your issues out. That’s why it’s you and not me.

[Photo via Jennifer Grimyser]