I’ll warn you right now: This post is a going to be verbal vomit. Just like a Ramones song, it’s going to be rough, one take, with little editing.
I was chatting on Facebook with a friend about the events of 2013 and where I find myself currently. The most challenging part of this process is finding the silver lining. And, for me, once I moved past shock, depression and sadness, I had to step back and recognize what I could learn from this experience. From a romantic standpoint, I think I’ve learned a lot about what I’m actually looking for in a potential partner. Further, I’ve learned that I never ever want to compromise myself again. Taking risks are a part of life. Taking risks can open your life up to all sorts of possibilities. However, once the relationship begins I never want to be in a situation where I’m giving up parts of myself to appease other people. I’ve realized that this mindset is equally applicable to my professional future as well. I worked at two big law firms and received amazing legal training. These were important experiences but now I have to determine exactly what I want my career to look like and what I want to do next. It might be exactly the time to take a risk and actually do something I’ve always dreamed of doing or something I am passionate about.
The only conclusion I’ve come to is that from now on, I want to be myself. Authentically me. In my professional life. In my love life. In all aspects of my life. I’m exhausted with doing things solely with other people in mind. I’ve bitten my tongue in relationships. I’ve compromised my personality. I’ve worn flats to not make people feel intimidated. At work, I wore the most conservative, boring and dark clothes I could find. I own multiple tutus, flower crowns and sparkly clothing all hanging in my closet that I don’t wear because I don’t want to be judged. I’m over it. I’m bringing it all out (not all together because that, my friend, would be a fashion disaster). I’ve realized that I’ve only got one life, so I should probably just go ahead and live it.
As I explained to my friend over Facebook chat:
“There are very few times during your adult life where you are single and jobless. It’s a very weird experience but it helps you focus on what is important and who you really are. I know people feel sorry for me but part of me feels sorry for people who have never been forced to recalibrate their lives and find out who they really are. The ideal is to have a journey of discovery in some awesome Eat, Pray, Love way. But, for most of us, these moments occur in a much more disruptive manner.”
This is the first time in my adult life I’ve been single and unemployed. The key inquiries at a time like this are:
Who the hell am I?
How do I define myself?
How would I describe myself to others?
I could list of the accomplishments on my resume but I’m not sure those items get to the heart of who I am as a person. Having this “alone time” has helped me realize all the ways I was using my job and/or my significant others to shape my personality, my clothes or how I behave. I’ve spent so much time being caught up in how others perceived me, I haven’t thought much about how I view myself and who I truly am. So here we go (as I warned you above — this is very very rough):
- If I were a city I’d be Los Angeles. I have all the cultural offerings of a city like New York but I don’t take myself nearly as seriously. I’m decidedly not as sophisticated as New York. No matter how hard I try to pull a sophisticated and fancy look together, I’m always a little rough around the edges. As such, I’m reminded that I’m most at home in a t-shirt, flip flops and large sunglasses. I’m laid back and non-confrontational.
- I love throwing parties but the guest list is always wonky. I have a small number of people I consider truly close friends and none of these people are close friends with each other. I traverse through lots of different and incongruent social groups and find friends in the most unlikely places.
- I don’t like talking about professional endeavors or what book someone is reading. As a general rule, I mostly surround myself with smart people so I don’t feel the need to engage in an intellectual pissing match. (We all went to good schools and we all read interesting books. Stop boring me with that!) I’d rather talk about music, art, culture, and traveling.
- I live for Drew Barrymore’s dip dyed hair from the Whip It premiere.
- I’m a more Demi Lovato than Selena Gomez (Whoa. Why do I know who they are? I’m nearly 32!)
- I prefer a dive bar with a great jukebox. My favorite bar in the world is the Burgundy Room in Hollywood. It’s about the size of a hallway, poorly lit, frequented by hipsters (and the occasional rock star — I’m talking real rock like Guns & Roses), with stiff drinks and a 6’5″ doorman named Torrance. One of my fondest memories was last call one Saturday night at the Burgundy Room. The DJ was telling people to settle up, make their way towards the exits, as he pressed play on “How Soon Is Now?” I was finishing up my Jack & Diet to the dreamy opening chords of the Smiths’ classic as I watched would-be models and washed up wannabe rockers meander towards the door. And it felt like the perfect exclamation point to a beautiful Los Angeles night.
- I consistently serve on boards and volunteer with groups focused on women’s issues. Whether it be mentoring elementary school girls, coaching a (very bad — but they tried very hard) girls basketball team, serving on a scholarship board or working with women’s health organizations — the only thing I truly care about is women.
- To me, leopard print is a neutral.
- Community service and volunteering are important to me. I have more than enough stuff and, for the most part, have nothing to truly worry about (except all my insufferable first world problems). I think it only makes sense for me to give my time and money to others.
- I think my taste in music is so good, I should probably be a DJ.
- I decided to major in Political Science because I thought going to law school was a practical and safe career move and someone told me that lots of poli sci majors go to law school. I actually wanted to major in Communications or Public Relations and minor in Cinema with an emphasis in screenwriting. I recently told my mom that if I had my way I’d be the perfect mixture of Shonda Rhimes and Lena Dunham.
- I am a great public speaker and I truly enjoy it. After my traumatic event five years ago, I stopped wanting to speak in public. I retreated into myself and was sad about that. I want to get back in front of people. I feel alive and happy in front of a crowd.
- I don’t have a “type” when it comes to dating. I explained to a friend that I’m a Unicorn (yes, there was wine involved in this conversation) – meaning that I’m not anyone’s type. No one puts down on their match.com profile that they’re looking for a 6’2″ Black woman. I just appear out of nowhere and you weren’t looking for me but there I am and I’m not like the other girls. As such, all sorts of guys have been attracted to me so in turn I’ve been attracted to lots of different guys. That being said, the aesthetic I’m usually attracted to: (1) that SoCal laid back not-sure-if-he-showered guy (See: Justin Bobby from the Hills, Current “Kinda Looks Like Jesus” Jared Leto or Short haired with lots of product Jared Leto ) or (2) the totally normal dude bro who loves wings, his mother and sports (See: Chris Evans or Michael B. Jordan).
- I haven’t given up on my goal of living in Canada (I’ve wanted to live there since elementary school — plus the boys are cuter in Vancouver. It’s a fact. I think they’ve done research on this.)
- One of my favorite memories from the past five years was attending Lollapalooza alone. I stood in the front row and watched Muse on the opening night. At the time I knew a few of their songs and had been told they were a great live band. It ended up being the best and most memorable concert I’ve ever attended. I was alone in a crowd of tens of thousands but precisely because I was alone I was able to dance around, rock out (do people still say that?) and sing as loud as I wanted without feeling self conscious. Plus, at one point I was surrounded by a group of very tall Spanish men who shared wine with me and serenaded me while dancing to Undisclosed Desires.
Clearly this list a work in progress. Much like the Constitution, it is a living document (I just received major side eye from originalists. Just kidding! No originalists are reading this stupid blog). My main point is that I need to start living in my truth and as my authentic self without putting the perceived thoughts and opinions of others before my own. Obviously, I understand that once I land a gig, I can’t show up to work in a hot pink dress with a leather jacket covered in spikes. (Actually it depends on the gig, I’d imagine). But, I think its time to reclaim who I am. Hell, I don’t have much else to do and it seems like life might be a little bit more fun if I did. As one of my friends said maybe it’s time to go rent a small studio apartment in Paris, write and date French men. OKAY — I’m probably not going to do that but it would make the blog a lot more interesting.