Why Tinder has Ruined Dating

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Last week I downloaded Tinder.  Last week I also deleted Tinder.

To be fair, the only reason I downloaded it in the first place was because I was fairly bored (aka being lazy) and all of my friends were merrily swiping away all around me.  It was a moment of weakness in which I was like “wellllllll ok, I’ll play”.

Just to be clear, I am not looking for men to sleep with; notches on a bedpost do NOT appeal to me.  I want to find a quality man that I am attracted to and who obviously shares those feelings in return and eventually build an amazing life with that person.  (But Hannah, why are you on Tinder then?  Yeah, Yeah, I know).  While I do not want to meet my future husband off Tinder, I also was curious to see what was out there because frankly, the dating pool in California majorly sucks.

With this goal in mind, the only thing I put in my profile was my height and the tagline “if you’re not ready to take me out on a legit date, don’t even bother.”   This, I thought to myself, should weed out any potential booty solicitations.

What I didn’t take into consideration, however, was the fact that I was supremely busy and didn’t actually have time to go on many dates.  And every message I got asked me when we were going to meet up for drinks, or coffee, or dinner.  It was overwhelming!  Yet also exciting-so many men who wanted to meet me?  Really?? Oh the possibilities!

The same sword that slays the dragon can also cut the hero, however.  The fact that there are so many options at your literal fingertips seems glorious at first, until you find yourself discarding this one or that one due to minor issues that you wouldn’t even have known about yet had you met them in real life.

The seemingly endless options that we have available at any moment has made us picky to the point of ridiculousness.  Why would I settle for THIS guy/girl who has 9/10 of my wants in a mate when I could just swipe a couple hours more and possible get a guy/girl with 10/10?

Choices are not the enemy, but they definitely make commitment harder and loyalty a treasure more precious than diamonds.  The endless option atmosphere that permeates almost every aspect of our lives, while amazing, is making us fickle and SO much more shallow.

This was made incredibly real to me when I went to fair by myself.  I had spent the day intermittently working and swiping, and had had several different conversations with eligible Tinderinians who fit my initial attractiveness criteria for swiping right (which means they were HOT…I have high standards.  #sorrynotsorry.).  At the fair, I ran into one of the guys running a booth and we struck up a conversation.

This guy was not my usual type.  Scrawny, blonde, a smoker, not unattractive but definitely not movie star status, and just over my height.  Yet for some reason, I found myself attracted to him more and more as we talked.  Our vibes just clicked.

We kept in contact, and each time I get a text, I am always excited.  Which completely weirds me out.  He is NOT someone I would have EVER pictured myself with, and I’m pretty sure that this won’t actually go anywhere, but just the fact that I wouldn’t be opposed to being taken on a date by someone I would have never, ever swiped right on is indicator enough that it’s time to take dating back offline.

Online dating has made us hyper critical of everyone else while simultaneously complaining that we can’t find a man or woman who loves us for who we really are.  We are quick to dismiss people we may actually be quite compatible with simply because they don’t fit what we have envisioned for ourselves or because we fear what other people might think or say.

Online dating has also made us scared to actually start something in real life.  I have been in so many situations where I had a great conversation with a dude only to have it end with a “see ya around!” rather than a “hey, let me get your number.”  Granted, some of those men might have just been friendly and/or already taken, but I get the feeling that the vast majority find it a lot easier to miss a match than to get shot down in person.

Additionally, online dating has made open sexuality permissible.  If the initial messages aren’t sexual from the start, its becoming more and more acceptable to introduce sex as a topic on the first date.  I went out for drink with one guy, my age, from Tinder last week, and by the end of the first cocktail he mentioned that (R rating alert) he wished I was sitting on his face.  I had known him for less than 12 hours and he felt that this was an acceptable addition to the conversation.

This is contrasted to a date that I had on Saturday night with a guy who was older than me by 7+ years.  He checked about my dietary restrictions, made reservations at a vegan friendly restaurant, and bought tickets to a show that I’ve wanted to see for forever.  There may have only been 7 or 8 years between those two men (and I met them both on Tinder), but there was a world of difference in how I felt about how I was treated.

So what’s the solution?  How can we balance all the amazing things this new generation has to offer with all of the pitfalls that come along with it?

Honestly, it comes down to you, the individual.  You decide how you will view the world, and you decide what you’re going to accept and what you’re going to reject.  It may take more work and more time, but you WILL find someone who has decided on the same values.

When you find someone who gets you, truly gets you, it doesn’t matter how many matches you made or how many right swipes you may be losing out on.  All that matters, truly, is how THEY make you feel and how much you elevate each other to become your best selves.  And that, friends, is the best match you could ever make.

 

 

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

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This weekend is the very last weekend of the summer *stifles sobs*.  On Monday, I will be greeted with 150 smiling faces in rotation, all filled with as much trepidation and anticipation as mine will be.

This year, it’s going to be different for me because I chose to move schools after the whole being laid off thing got taken back just as quick as a toddler grabs back a toy he’s offered to someone else after he’s changed his mind.  I had the choice to go back to my old school, but instead of sticking somewhere where I was well-known and had built my reputation as a good teacher, I decided to branch out and move to a high school a) because I’ve always wanted to teach high school and b) I felt like I had already reached the peak (or close enough to it) at my old school and I was ready for a new challenge.

Oofda.  Did I ever get a challenge.  Firstly, I discovered that I would be teaching 7th and 8th grade (not quite the high school experience I was envisioning) along with some 9th grade classes.  That’s right.  Three preps.  Considering that last year I taught 8th across the board, that in and of itself was enough to make me think that perhaps I should opted for comfort over novelty.

Secondly, not only will I have three preps, but the middle school classes are designed to prepare the students to enter the IB Diploma Programme in 11th and 12th grade that has just started at this high school, which means that they need to have TOP-NOTCH instruction in an inquiry based setting.

Now, in my previous schools, if you were able to get the kids to behave and respect you and also learn something along the way, that was enough to get you through (not to mention middle school is less rigorous than high school).  I have my relationship building tools with my kids down pat, but I have not yet had a chance to really test my actual TEACHING capabilities with kids who are, shocker, eager to learn.

Of course, I wouldn’t be teaching if I thought that my kids didn’t learn from me.  But my focus has always been on more of the social-emotional piece for my kids, because that’s where I saw the most need.  Now, on top of preparing for three different classes each day, I need to make sure that my lessons are interesting, high-level, and relevant.

ON TOP OF the academic side, there is the reality that I have no real support system at this school.  I chose this school specifically because my old principal worked there as well as several old coworkers who moved there during the last couple years, and because of the IB programme; being trained in that will be invaluable for my own skill set and my ability to move anywhere should I chose to ever leave California (doubtful, but possible).

However, all of my old coworkers have since formed new bonds or tighter bonds with their fellow middle school cohorts, and I left our first day of meetings feeling a bit adrift in the sea of it all.

Now, at this point, I could either curl up in a ball and wish my hardest to turn back time and go back to comfort and familiarity, OR I could narrow my eyes, set my shoulders, and prepare to knock this shit out of the park.

When it comes down to it, challenges are the spice of life.  Think about it.  Every single thing that is good is challenging at first.  Learning to walk?  There’s a reason diapers are so fluffy.  Marriage?  There’s a reason counselors make bank.  Parenting?  It’s a wonder that we’re still alive as a species.

Challenges make you grow.  They make you question things.  They make you stretch yourself in ways that you never thought possible and then stretch a little more.  You may chose your challenges or have your challenges thrust upon you, but the outcome is still the same: you get better.

An unchallenged life is truly an unlived life.  Think back on all the times you have grown and changed as a person.  Usually, it was the direct result of a challenge to your security, belief system, or familiarity with something, and when you look back you wouldn’t have it any other way.

The thing is, you WILL get what you ask for if the Universe knows you are ready (and sometimes even if it knows you’re not).  Most of the time we have no idea what we’re really asking for until it comes to us and then we realize that we have called something into reality that we aren’t quite sure we actually want, but by that time it’s too late.

Most of the time, however, these unexpected manifestations help us hone what we really want, and build up strength to get through the tough times of life.  I wanted nothing more than to get married young, and boy, did I get what I wished for even though it was quite possibly the worst decision of my entire life.

Yet, I’m thankful for this challenge that I overcame, because there have been so many times I’m able to share my experience with someone who is going through almost the exact same thing, and it is so gratifying to be able to see them relax and know that I truly understand what they’re going through.

If your life is on autopilot, choose a challenge for yourself or open yourself up to the Universe providing one for you.  While the temptation to stay in the cocoon is quite strong, remember that no one looks twice at a brown lump hanging from a twig, yet a butterfly can capture the attention of even the most hardened of hearts.  You are that butterfly.  All you have to do is narrow your eyes, set your teeth, and never stop pushing until your wings are free.

And then, friends….you are free to FLY.

 

Paris Day 4-5: I Dance With a Hot Fireman, See a Terrible Show, and Eat More Amazing Food

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Friday I woke up in the outskirts of Paris and ate yet another awesome breakfast with my Turkish host, Peter*.  We had decided the day before that we were going to go on a run and explore several different areas in the countryside that were Peter’s personal favorites, so we changed into our running gear and headed out to the bus.

The bus dropped us a mile or so away from our first stop, and we took up a light jog to reach a gorgeous and tranquil house in the middle of a generously lush and densely green plot of land.  There was a pond in the front lawn, and although the house itself (formerly a place for artists, I was told) was abandoned and hence run-down, the area around it was well-maintained and had a beautiful vegetable and flower garden complete with vined arches.  It was a perfectly picturesque scene.IMG_7086

After wandering the whole of the property, we set off in a light jog yet again to reach Parc de Sceaux, a huge park looked over by a big (BIG), old country house.  The grounds were massive, and have been turned into an awesome community space with expanses of green grass, fountains and ponds, and wide walking paths meandering the impressive view.  After jogging around the park to take it all in, we stopped and rested for a bit in the grass (pleasantly surprised by a group of Bollywood dancers filming a short dance segment in front of the house-an impressive backdrop!)

After sufficient rest, we walked back to the bus stop and caught a ride back to Peter’s* apartment, where we took turns showering and getting ready for the night’s activities.

Since it was Bastille day in Paris, the only logical course of action was to find a spot near the Eiffel tower and wait for the spectacular fireworks show later that night.  We met up with his friends outside of the tower area, and after being checked by security were able to make our way closer to the Iron Lady.   I was super excited about the whole experience, and I tried to ignore the heavy police presence that permeated the entire night.

After settling on a spot with a decent view of the tower, we enjoyed the live classical and opera music that filled the air-which was a striking difference from the Jay-Z or Beyonce that would have been blasting over the loudspeaker in the USA.  Finally, at around 11:00pm, it was deemed dark enough to start, and the sky was set ablaze for the next 45 minutes with round after round of rainbow color highlighting the Eiffel.  It was truly an amazing scene.IMG_7198

After the fireworks ended, we joined the massive thong of people walking to the nearest metro station.  Our goal?  Get to the nearest Fireman’s party!  The Bal des Pompiers, or Fireman’s ball, is a traditional event held in the fire stations around Paris; men in uniform await to set your heart aflutter, and DJ’s and makeshift bars get the party pumping.

When we arrived at our party of choice, we were confronted by a huge line.  One of the girls and I decided to walk to the front to see how long the wait was (i.e. see if we could get in).  After chit-chatting with the fireman at the front of the line, we were told that we had to wait–but then he asked where we were from.  When I told him I lived in California, he immediately perked up and told us all about his upcoming trip to San Diego and Los Angeles.  After giving him a few suggestions for his visit, he motioned us to come inside.  Success!

The rest of the night went off without a hitch.  It was my goal to dance with a fireman because, come on now, you can’t be at a Bastille Day Bal des Pompiers and not dance with a pompier.  I spotted one who immediately perked my interest, and I made my way over to him.  Pointing at his hat, I motioned that I wanted to wear it, and he immediately handed it over and we started grooving.  Pictures were taken, dancing was done, and fun was had by all!  All in all, it was a good night.

The next morning was my last morning in Paris, and I packed up my giant bag (note to future self-YOU DO NOT NEED THAT THING, PACK LESS) and headed into the city.  Peter’s friend had an extra ticket to a modern dance show (a 80 euro ticket for 10 euros-wahoo!) so I happily went along with her since all of her other friends were busy.

I absolutely love dancing, so I was super pumped for the show.  Five minutes in, I was racking my brains to see in what universe the dance moves they were doing would be considered dancing.  One torturous hour later, it finally ended and I made a promise tsqo myself to never, ever subjugate myself that experience again.  I don’t know about you, but modern dance does NOT float my boat.

After the dance show, I said goodbye to my friend and wandered around the Bastille square area.  A cheese crepe and ice cream were a must, obviously, and the crepe had so much cheese on it I had to squeeze some into the garbage (I know–normally sacrilege, but a necessity in this case).  Both were delicious.IMG_7229

Hopping on the metro yet again with my ridiculously huge suitcase-sweating profusely as I hauled it up and down the flights of stairs-I arrived at the train station where the TGV (France’s fast train) was waiting to take me to Grenoble.  Settling into my seat, I was pleasantly surprised to find to nice French women as my seat partners, and we chatted merrily for the duration of the trip, thus ending my sojourn in Paris on a highly pleasant note.

Lessons Learned?  A) Don’t ever accept an invitation to a modern dance show.  Ever. B) There IS such a thing as too much cheese.  C)  Fireworks aren’t really fireworks unless they are set off with a backdrop of the Tour Eiffel.

 

Paris Day 0.5: I Play Beer Pong with Children

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I had a student this year who was born in France.  She is an amazingly talented and hardworking girl, and she happened to invite me to several of her dance competitions outside of school.  I took her up a couple of her offers, and met her mother, Caroline*.  During several of our conversations, Caroline informed me that Sharyl* loved me and that I was doing an awesome job as her teacher (which is always great to hear, and one of the main reasons for why I love my job so much).

In the midst of conversation after hearing that I was considering teaching overseas, she immediately perked up and started extolling the virtues of France.  In the end, she offered her place for my use whenever I wanted, which was completely unexpected and completely amazing.  After a couple weeks went by, I took her up on the offer, booked a ticket for the next week, and am currently writing this sitting on the train headed to Grenoble after 5 days in Paris.  What is my life!?

I experienced SO much and packed so many things into the 5 days-It was AWESOME.  I’m sure that I’m going to forget so many things, but I’ll try my best to relay all the juiciest details.

So, let me start from the beginning.

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My first view of France!

I arrived in Paris at 7 at night after a 10+ hour flight that felt like nothing because I slept the entire time.  Great for time travel, terrible for 9 hour time changes.  After disembarking, we waited for over an hour to get our passports checked and stamped, which was terrible and made me thankful I had peed on the plane right before (if you don’t know me, I have the bladder of a mouse).  I did make some cool friends in line though, and I hope they are having fun on their own European adventures!

After figuring out the whole metro pass system (which consisted of losing money to a broken photo machine and promptly using the next one to take probably the WORST picture of me in my entire life to proudly display on my card all week), I went below ground to take my first of many metro rides in the direction of my hostel.  Thankfully, this ride did not require a train change, and I arrived safely, albeit slightly more dirty than when I arrived.

I hauled my 60 lbs of lugguage across the way (note to self: PACK LIGHTER NEXT TIME) and checked into my hostel located near Gare du Nord Metro station.  The hostel was actually super nice as far as what I was imagining sharing a room with 7 other strangers would be, and the girls in my room kept to themselves but in a friendly sort of way.

All settled, I set out to explore the small chunk of Paris that I had landed in, and went out in search of food.  Since it was going to be my first real meal in the city, I wanted it to be a good one, so I checked out several different menus

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before settling on one that I deemed worthy.  Trying to be good, I ordered a salad and water (after an appetizer of cheese, obviously), but was sabotaged with my first of many (and I mean MANY) baskets of oh-so-delicious French baguettes.  I gleefully stuffed my face with doughy delicious carbs, and had to force myself to finish my salad when it came (which looked ‘off’ since it was topped with cooked green beans and carrots, but which turned out to be surprisingly delicious).

 

 

 

 

Full and still not being tired even though it was almost 11:30pm (thanks to my ‘morning’ wakeup of 6pm Paris time), I decided to check out the bar below the rooms to try to conjure up a beer-induced sleepiness.

 

I had been sitting with my beer for maybe 5 minutes when I was approached by a fellow male traveler from Mexico.  We sat and chatted for quite a while, and eventually made friends with the (literal) children sitting across the table from us.  They challenged us to a game of beer pong, and I squelched my teacher instincts to lecture them on the dangers of alcohol to take them up on it.  Being bested by a pair of Canadian 18 years olds (albeit by one cup) is not my proudest moment, but it definitely made my first night in Paris memorable.

At 2am in the morning, I decided that 5pm California time be damned, I needed to wake up at a decent hour the next morning.  So, I forced myself up into the top bunk bed I had been assigned, and eventually fell asleep, thus ending my first half-day in a foreign country.

Lessons learned? 1)  If you’re going to sleep on your flight, anticipate the consequences and take advantage of the messed up sleep schedule to check out different cool places (not just your sad hostel bar).  2) 18 year olds are surprisingly good at beer pong (or I’m just unsurprisingly terrible).  3) Even the most random vegetables, when mixed together, make a pretty great salad. 4) Everyone has a story; if you ask, they will tell you, and it’s almost always interesting.

PS-this is my first attempt at travel blogging, so please don’t hesitate to give feedback!  I have sporadic internet access and zero time, so my updates will be slow but they WILL come. :o)

What I’ve Learned from 50 Blog Posts

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Good MORNING everyone!

It’s a great Sunday!  For those of you who don’t know, I am flying to FRANCE later today for three whole weeks, and I am just a tiny bit pumped about it.  *insert all the excited emojis here*  Don’t worry, there will be plenty of posts coming discussing my adventures and all the things I will inevitably learn about myself and the world at large.

Coincidentally, this post is my 50th (FIFTIETH!?) post that I will be putting up since starting this blogging venture in January, which seems crazy to me–this means I’ve written over 50,000 words this year so far! (Perhaps I should just start my book already)  I have absolutely loved this journey, and it has taught me quite a few things already:

Inspiration can come from the most random, seemingly inconsequential places.  There have been times when something major has happened in my life (such as my recent breakup or getting laid off) that has spurred major life contemplation which spawned several blog posts.  Other times, however, something very small happened or the tiniest of thoughts wormed my way into my brain as the result of a minor observation that day, eventually blooming into a full-blown post.

There is no way to predict where my inspiration to write will come from, but I have learned to relax into the knowledge that it WILL come.  There have been times when I feel like I’ve written about everything that I could possibly write about already, and within hours I observe or contemplate something that is completely new or a different way of looking at an old topic.  It’s comforting to know that motivation does not have to be sought after; it will come when it’s needed.

Consistency is imperative.  For the most part in the last 6 months, I have been posting with regularity once in the beginning of the week and once on the weekend.  However, there have been a couple of weeks where I have skipped a post due to circumstances or allowed myself to fall off my regular schedule simply because I didn’t feel like writing something that day.  Whenever I do this, though, I notice a decline in my readership and people becoming less engaged in what I write.

Like everything in life, you have to stick to something with fierce determination if you actually want it to blossom into something worthwhile.  For me, blogging is something that I want to continue to grow, so I absolutely cannot let myself treat it as anything other than vitally important.  It is so easy to let ourselves get into the ‘just this once’ mentality, but that is the thought pattern that kills any and all momentum.

Practice DOES make a difference.  When I first started out, I had to budget an entire Saturday morning or weekday evening to writing a post.  It would take me anywhere from 3-4 hours to write a post, edit it, and post it up on my Facebook page and Instagram.  Now, I can whip out most posts in about an hour, and it takes me about 15 minutes tops to create a picture for Instagram, post it, and link the post to my Facebook page.

We tend to forget when we first start out that it will eventually become easier.  We ALL suck at everything we do the first time we do it.  Most of us use that as an excuse to quit (I’ve been guilty of this quite a few times).  However, once you really start to get the hang of something, it can be a real source of joy and purpose.

Writing is the best way to process emotion.  For me, that is.  Whenever I have an emotionally trying experience, I am able to sit down and have words flow out of me.  When I’m done writing, I usually feel an awesome sense of release and a renewed understanding of how I really feel.  It isn’t healthy to keep your emotions unprocessed, and I have found that this blog has helped me keep moving forward emotionally in a really positive way.

Of course, not everyone has the same level of writing ability.  Some are much more fluid and practiced than I am, while others struggle to compose even the most basic sentence.  Even if you aren’t good at writing, there are so many other ways of communication that are available, from video to drawing to creating music.  Finding the way in which you are able to communicate clearly is unparalleled for personal growth.

Having a passion is invaluable.  Since I started blogging, I have looked at the world in a whole new way that has positively expanded my mind from its previously narrow focus on things only related to teaching.  I have fallen in love with writing and trying to find things of value to communicate, and blogging has opened up many different possibilities and exposed me to so many different things all in the span of 6 months.  There are so many things I wish to accomplish, and starting with this small but fiery fascination is spurring many different areas of growth that I would have never predicted.

Many times people sacrifice their areas of passion because they don’t believe that it will let them get ahead in the world, or that it will take time away from other ‘productive’ areas of their life.  This is the absolute worst thing that you can do.  Don’t ever, EVER give up your passions for anything in the world; they are what give you purpose and joy, and those areas of inspiration and motivation are where you can contribute at your maximum potential.

Overall, blogging has been an invaluable teacher for me thus far, and I am excited to see where it takes me in the future!  I have loved sharing my thoughts with the universe, and when I get a new follower, see a new post like, or have a new comment I feel an awesome little thrill inside each and every time.  This has been an amazing 6 months, and I am beyond excited to see where the next 6 months take me.

If you have been with me since the beginning, THANK YOU for staying around!  If you are a new reader, please give me your thoughts in the comments, and thank you for checking me out. :o)  And as always, please go out and present your optimum selves each and every day to the world.  The world is made infinitely better when we are all living our best lives.

<3, Hannah Elizabeth

 

My Top 5 Takeaways from #BlogHer17

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The past couple of days, I’ve been in Orlando, Florida at the BlogHer conference.  It was INCREDIBLE.  It was the first time I’ve ever been to a conference of any sort, and I was blown away by all of the passion, information, and people that I encountered on my two day stint.

There was so much amazing knowledge that was shared, and so many insights I gleaned from my observations and conversations.  Overall, though, I want to share with you the top 5 takeaways I gathered from my 48 hours at #BlogHer17

Takeaway #1: You Serve Best by Doing What You Love

As I was listing to all of the keynote speakers, it was evident that they had SO MUCH passion behind their individual projects.  While each of the speakers had lofty aspirations they wanted to reach, and they all wanted to make an impact on the world, they were doing it in so many different ways.   Likewise, when I dove into conversation with other bloggers, there was so much variety in what people were targeting in their blogs.

If you look at what everybody else is doing, it is so easy to lose focus on what we originally set out to do.  One of the great quotes that I heard is “we envy what we don’t know”.  I have found this to be true with me recently, as I am trying to solidify what impact I want to make in the world and how I want to do that outside of my teaching arena.  I look at all the things others are doing and think “aw man, I should be doing that!” or “I should be doing this!”

In reality, we need to bring our focus back to us and what WE love.  If we have passion, that passion will be infectious.  However, if that true joy in what we’re doing is lacking, it will never end up being successful anyways.

Takeaway #2:  Don’t Be Married To An Outcome

There were several speakers who touched on this idea.  The notion that we are going to go from A to B to C without any forks in the road or hills to climb is laughable.  Oftentimes we decide on a path and continue to slog through the mud, come hell or high water, even when stepping stones to higher, drier ground appear before us.  There were many examples at the conference of people who started out doing one thing and then pivoted and did something completely different than what they originally envisioned.

This idea of letting life lead you needs to be balanced with drive and ambition, of course, but if you find that you aren’t enjoying something as much as you used to, or you discover something else that gives you more fulfillment, it is 100% ok to change direction.

Takeaway #3:  Pressure is a Privilege

A couple of people discussed this idea that they avoided success because it meant that there would be a lot more pressure put upon them to perform.  If you are the best tennis player in the world, people simply expect you to win, which can be daunting.  However, being successful and having that pressure put upon you is a privilege in that it validates your achievements and gives you a platform from which to amplify your message.

Not having any pressure to accomplish anything is dangerous; it leads to complacency and a cycle of accepting the status quo.  If you feel that pressure to get better, go to the next level, or advance your brand or business, be thankful: It means that you are making headway and an impact.

Takeaway #4:  Celebrate The Power of Others

There were so many women (and a handful of men) at this conference who were doing so many amazing things, big and small.  There were several keynote speakers who blew me away with their social change efforts, and a handful of open-mic night participants that moved me to tears.  It was incredible to feel the constant energy, and it completely fueled my fire to do big things.

Someone else doing amazing things in no way dilutes your ability to reach success, too.  If everyone helps each other up, all participating parties benefit.  There are so many authentically awe-inspiring things that are going on in the world around you-get involved with other people’s success, and it can only augment yours.

Takeaway #5: Dream Big

Many times we imagine what could happen if our wildest dreams came true, and then we tamp our thoughts back down into the firm cold ground of ‘reality’.  There were so many people who presented their accomplishments, and all of them conveyed them in a way that made it seem like it wasn’t an act of luck or happenstance that these things came to fruition but simply putting in the time or taking advantage of opportunities that cropped up along the way.

Our dreams are worth holding on to.  There is no point in chasing a ‘realistic’ dream; than it ceases to be a dream at all.  If you have aspirations that seem crazy, don’t let that dissuade you.  Keep those goals in the forefront of your mind and actually believe that you can achieve them.  We only have one life, and it is better to spend it working towards a bigger vision that squander it on the mundane.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, BlogHer was an amazing, mindset-shifting event that had a profound impact on my mindset and awareness.  While I still need time to process all of the information that I received, I am beyond thankful for the opportunity of going!

I highly encourage you to search up conferences related to your passions and professions.  Not only will you return with renewed purpose, you will connect with others who are like-minded and maybe, just maybe, you will have one encounter that alters your course for good.  In the infamous words of Shia LeBeouf, “Just DO IT!”

Why Friendship is so Important

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I am a very relationship oriented person.  I love the connections that I make on any level, and I am very dedicated to seeing my closest relationships grow and flourish.  However, I haven’t really realized how important true friends are until lately.

Today, I was telling my best friend about some heart-wrenching revelations that were made apparent to me by certain circumstances this morning.  Without skipping a beat, she said “ya need me to kill him?  I’ll be right over.”  We laughed and moved on, but the sentiment was clear: she has my back.

Beyond hypothetical murder, my best friend has been there through it all.  We live an entire country apart and she’s seen me through a mistaken marriage, a much-needed divorce, a sketchy re-establishment of my single self, and several other relationships that ended with heartbreak.  Not to mention several moves across state lines, job hunts, and just recently being laid off.

Not once have I felt like she wanted to get rid of the friendship.  Not once has it crossed my mind that it would be easier to just let our relationship fade into yearly Facebook greetings and random “how are you?” texts.

We are solid.  And in a world of uncertainty, there is nothing more important than knowing 100% for sure that someone, somewhere out in the wildly rolling waves of life, is keeping the lighthouse lit just for you.

Friendship, real, true friendship, is a priceless gift that cannot be sold for any price.  So, what is real friendship and why is it so important?

Real friendship is honesty.  Honesty in all of its forms.  I once asked my friend “do you think my shorts are too tight?”  She answered to the affirmative in record time.  They have also made their feelings quite clear on how I was treated in various relationships while still allowing me the freedom of making my own decision.

Honesty is giving the gift of our pure, unadulterated thoughts.  Having honesty in our lives is incredibly important because it is only when we see our surroundings clearly that we change or enhance them.  This quality in a friendship is necessary in our daily lives because when we are able to completely open up to someone else, we can completely accept ourselves.

Real friendship is trust.  One of my friends has reason to mistrust her man, but the thought of having to watch him with me has never once crossed her mind.  She knows without a doubt that I would never in a million years do something to betray her trust in that matter.  I share an Amazon Prime account with one of my friends, and never once has the thought occurred to me that she would use my card or do anything underhanded with the information.

If you have trust with someone precious to you, that covenant needs to be protected at all costs.  So many times we focus on having certainty in romantic relationships, but having a relationship unfettered by romance yet still safely anchored in utmost confidence is priceless.

Real friendship is support.  God knows how many times my friends have heard me rant and rave about how this or that isn’t fair, or about how this coworker hurt my feelings, or about how he lost the best thing that ever happened to him.  Never once have they made me feel like they aren’t 100% on my side.  Sometimes, being on my side means reeling me back in and making me realize that I’m being a bit ridiculous, but they always bring me down with love.

Having a support system in your life is so. completely. necessary.  We love to think that we can do it all, but the hard truth of the matter is we cannot.  Or, rather, we cannot if we wish to stay sane.  People who are there for you in your darkest, most pathetic hour are the individuals who make up the foundation of your life.  If that stone isn’t pure, the whole thing crumbles.

Real friendship is laughter.  I cannot tell you how many times I have laughed until tears ran down my face and my abs nearly cracked from being contracted for so long.  I have sat with my friends and burst into giggles over the stupidest memes and the most relatable stories, and inserted hilarity in the place of tears on so many occasions.

Laughter is such an amazing release, and if you cannot truly laugh until your air supply runs dangerously low with another person, you are not completely living.  In order to completely experience life, we need to share all emotions with another person, and gaiety is the best emotion to share.

If you do it right, your true friends are going to be with you for life.  No matter the status of any other relationship in your life, friends are the pilings on which our pier is tied.  No wave, no matter how wild, can knock down something solid.  And no pier, no matter how beautifully fit together, can last without a sturdy steadiness beneath it.

Our relationships in life are our only lasting legacy.  While we are alive, our true friends are our main source of sanity, issue reality checks, hand over tissues, contribute to late night musings, and overall make our lives enjoyable.  If you’re smart enough to make these relationships a priority, they will give you back tenfold on your investment.

So relish in your wine nights.  Share secrets.  Listen.  Be there when the universe is crumbling at their feet and beside them when they conquer the world.  Love them.  Appreciate them.  Keep their confidences and let them keep yours.  Support them.  Don’t be afraid to need them.  Together, the world will unfold before you.  And when it does?  Hand in hand, go kick some ass.