Why I’m afraid of love…

31. Single. BARELY dating. I ask myself at least weekly “what’s wrong with me?”.

I’m sure it’s a combination of being in a city where no one wants to settle down and me not wanting to waste my time, but something this week caught my eye. There has been this article going around the Facebooks recently that talks about each zodiacs reasoning for being scared of love. It makes some very strong assumptions about people (because that’s how zodiacs work). We all know that it is more coincidental than anything else, so you take it with a grain of salt. However, after reading about “myself” and why I am afraid of love, it makes some good, or at least interesting noteworthy points.

It starts… “LEO – Ruler of the fifth house of lovers, romance, and self-expression, you adore everything that has to do with love. It’s one of you favorite things, you love falling in love, you love talking about love, you love love. You fall in love easily…”

Now, I’m not saying that this is completely untrue, because I do enjoy the idea of love, but this makes me sound kind of obsessed. I think more than anything, having a companion right there for me day in and day out is what I adore about love, but not necessarily the idea of love itself. I don’t dream about love. I think about it sometimes, more because I would like to be loved, but I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed. So in a sense, this could be true, but I don’t necessarily fall in love easily due to an obsession.

The article goes on to say that I’m unable to stay in love because I’m scared of disappointment. I’m picky. I have high standards. It causes me to push people away. And you know what, this is true. I’m at the point in my life where I’m trying to not settle for the sake of just being in a relationship. I’m not sorry that the people who are hugely interested in me send me “wyd” texts 5 times a day. I’m not sorry that texting me every day to just to say hello isn’t enough. I want someone who actively wants to spend time with me (off the phone) to get to know me and that can at least help carry a conversation. Someone who’s about more than brunch. So yes, I’m picky and that may make it harder for me to find a mate, but I’m sure it will pay off in the end, rather than being with someone who solely just gives me attention.

You’re the most generous of the Zodiac, Leo, and you’re more comfortable with giving than you are with receiving, but you need someone just as giving as you are. You’re not as interested in gifts as you are with affection and emotional connection. You’re afraid of your emotional needs not being met and you know that will cause you to fall out of love just as easily as you fell into it.”

This is my love language, point blank. I couldn’t care less if we go on fancy dinner dates, or trips. I have to have a mutual emotional connection with you to love you. I crave this and affection. This is how I love and how I want to be loved. If I don’t feel that i can satisfy your needs in the love department and you can’t satisfy mine, there’s no chance of us being together.

The article goes on to say that I have a fear of people falling out of love with me. While this has happened before, I don’t necessarily have that fear. It may be because I don’t think I know what it feels like to be in love anymore. It’s been a long time and I’ve started to wonder if the love I experienced in the past was real. I started to wonder if it was enough. I think this is my problem, I don’t want my next relationship to feel like my last one, I want it to be better. So it takes me some time to feel this out.

The article tends to lay out some other points that don’t necessarily align with my personality. It makes Leos seem a little like control freaks. While this and being the “life of the party” or the “center of attention” themes are always mentioned with Leos, that’s not me. However, it does say that I rely on my independence a lot. This is true. I haven’t kept from trying to date because of it, but it is a thought that I have often about sharing my life with someone. Do I want to give up my independence to be in a relationship or be in love? I guess the better question is, who out there is worth me giving up my independence for…

I don’t know what this means for my future in love. I guess it’s good to be self aware of these things, so we’ll see. However, if you want, you guys can read up on your own love flaws here: https://thoughtcatalog.com/natalia-vela/2018/11/this-is-why-youre-afraid-of-love-based-on-your-zodiac-sign/

Things My Trip to Italy (and other international trips) Taught Me

I was incredibly lucky to travel to Italy with one of my fellow bloggers. It was beautiful trip that was filled with many lessons that I needed. I decided to detail those here, with some pictures that highlight my journey.

**I’d also like to shout out my travel agent, Vikki. If you need someone to help book and plan the major parts of your trip, I highly recommend her. She was very patient and got us a great deal!

1) Language is an incredibly perceptive and powerful concept. It has the ability to draw people together, tell a story, and showcase who you are. It is decidedly relative – each region shares their own primary language and then dialect. Not knowing and knowing a shared language both creates community and disconnect.

2) We are all trying to live. As humans, we share that. We are trying to understand and make meaning for life, however that may be, how deep or un-deep that may seem. This unites us and both brings diversity.

3) We all travel differently and have different ideas of what it means to be on holiday or vacation.

4) Yet, we aren’t that different. We just have different ways of expressing basic needs.

5) The world is much bigger than your experience alone. For every one moment of your life there are billions more happening at the time.

6) Do not be afraid of what seems different or out of the ordinary for you. Do many things. Try things once. Challenge.

7) Mind your manners. Learning “please,” “thank you,” and “have a good day” in any language goes far in every culture. People appreciate effort and politeness.

8) Coffee is literally better in every other country outside the US.

9) Italian wine will turn non believers into wine worshippers.

10) Meals are meant to be savored over hours and enjoyed over laughs and conversation.

11) I’m not ugly. Something is wrong with American men.😂😂

12) If you travel once, you’ll travel forever. Seeing one place, one time is never enough.

13) You deserve to give yourself the gift of humanity. Not your well intentioned versions of humanity, but the real deal- how people different than you experience life and immersing yourself into that life. You also deserve rest and rejuvenation.

14) A smile and an open mind invites like minded individuals.

15) Yes, pasta is better in Italy.

16) Men across the world post the same kinds of Tinder photos.

17) It is nice to enjoy your meal, savor your wine, and sit at a table for hours. Other countries have eating out right with the ultimate slow down.

18) Life is infinitely larger and stranger than anything the mind can conjure. Live it. Go places. Talk to strangers. Laugh with everyone. You get one. Live it.

Oh, all food will taste awful when you return to the States. I can’t tell you if it gets better! 😂

Ciao, ciao!!!

What it’s Been Like for Me to Write in this Blog for a Year

We recently celebrated our first anniversary of our blog (like a few days ago). Happy birthday to us! Writing in this blog has brought up quite a few things for me over the year, and so I thought I’d post what it has been like to write a blog for a year, and as such, what it has meant to me.

1. It’s often changed the way I think about events or experiences. Especially at the beginning, but even today (like literally today), I’ve thought in blog terms. I’m not sure if this makes sense but my point of view or “author voice” has popped into the way I’m viewing my daily life. I sometimes think in blog posts. I think that makes me a better writer and more reflective about the meaning of experiences at times versus just going through the motions.

2. It has been frustrating at times. The hardest part of writing a blog is my desire to be authentic and wanting to write about what’s hard. There are still many things I haven’t written for fear of context. There have been things that have been taken out of context. I have had to deal with family and friends questioning what and why I wrote what I wrote. I sometimes write posts and delete them for fear of what others think. I sometimes have great posts in my head that don’t materialize into a post because of the same reasons. The thing is, the more your audience grows, the more impact you potentially can have – which is both a blessing and a challenge. If I have a wish of what the next year will bring, is caring less about what others think and more trusting and caring for myself! And yet at the same time…

3. It’s been so damn liberating at times. Although, there are times I “censor” myself, for each of those times, there is a time I wrote about what hurts and what is joyful and what is me, despite what others may think (although sometimes I do things to decrease the reach of a post). I’ve been able to put into writing abstract thoughts that are hard for me to sometimes say to people. I’ve shed some of the mask and have been vulnerable. I have written about things that make me human, but bring me shame. Sometimes that shame disappears or decreases after writing. That is liberating.

4. I’ve reconnected more with one of my first loves – writing. Many people who know “post high school LeAnna” do not know that I wrote poetry and short stories all through grade school and won a few district wide prizes. Few people probably know that actually. I’ve always wanted to publish a book, I’ve always wanted to publish my poetry. I think in poetry and flowery prose. But due to unfortunate circumstances and some shame, I tucked those dreams away. Writing here as made me write more and want to write even more. It woke up that sleeping dream, tapped me on my shoulder, and my pen has found a voice again.

5. I’ve had the ability to connect with other people on a different level. The best parts of my blogging experience are “me too” texts, “you get me” inbox messages, and when people tell me to continue writing my story, that my vulnerability makes them feel less alone. I have a few purposes in my life, but I know one is to connect deeply with others and to help them through various parts of their journey (often not through a very specific piece). Counseling, teaching/education, and activism, have all been vessels for this purpose, but never did I think my writing could be. Those comments make me want to write more and boldly. They make me want to not censor, to be fully human in order to connect with other humans.

6. It has made me reflect and connect more pieces of the puzzle known as myself. I started out only thinking I’d talk wittingly about my dating escapades. That quickly became something else – about who I am, my spirituality, the way I see the world, the toughest things I deal with on a daily basis. Writing here as made me think about and explore the angels and demons of what makes me. It’s made me evaluate what’s important at times. Writing for me is a process of discovery, and each time I write something here, I discover a little more about me. I’ve always been this way (see above) but I somehow lost this as an adult. I’m happy to be returning.

Blogging has been a fulfilling, but not perfect experience. I have had so much fun, and sometimes doubt, sharing a little more in depth piece of my soul with you. We have grown to over 75 followers, and tbh, that’s more than I ever thought. I hope you enjoy our thoughts and continue to follow us. I’m excited what two years of blogging will teach me.

Happy birthday A Tale of Two Cities followers!

I Downloaded Tinder…Again…

Tinder Phone

(Dislcaimer: Some slight sexual language ahead)

After being in DC officially for a month, I’ve decided to put down the “hookup” apps (Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d, etc.) and decided to go into the more traditional “dating” app route (Tinder, Match, etc.).

I can hear the Straights already; “Wait, I thought Tinder WAS a hookup app?”.

And yes, for straight people it is, but in the gay community, Tinder is used more to actually get to know people. Well, at least that’s what I use it for. You know, try and find friends, go on dates, etc.  However, yes it can still be used to hook up, but Tinder tends to move more slowly.  So when you have apps out there like Grindr and Scuff where you can literally tell if a horny guy is standing next to you, primed and ready, why would you use Tinder to hookup when you have that?

Anywho…

I’ve been using the “hookup” apps to kind of get my feel for the type of guys who were in my area.  I mean, I was using them in Charlotte for the last three months I was there, and it worked out pretty well, so i figured why not continue.  But in DC….I was not ready.  And this is an understatement. In a phrase, these apps in DC is major sensory overload and the way my personality is set up, it became very hard for me to deal.  You see, in Charlotte, where the gay community is vastly smaller than DC’s, you would maybe have about 50 guys (if that) close by on a good day.  Which, they would still message you, but it was manageable.  In DC, there’s probably 1000s of guys (exaggeration) within a mile (maybe closer), that are spamming your inbox with “Nice”, or “Hey handsome”, or “Damn you sexy”, or “Looking?” and it gets to be a little much for this timid, anxious Southern boy who just wants to browse around and admire guys unnoticed, you know.

With apps like Grindr, anybody (that you haven’t already blocked) is able to send you a message whether you want them to or not. There isn’t any “swiping” or “matching” so you basically are like 1 meal on a grid of 100, looking like a buffet of dick and ass just waiting to be devoured.  And let me just say, if you want to be devoured, go right ahead, I’m not judging. But, to add to it, you also have a general idea of the vicinity that someone is located in, which sounds scary at first, but it’s not. It’s pretty much a normal thing.  But yes, you’re bound to get some kind of message in your inbox that leads to you having to make a choice.  That choice is either to respond to Horny McHorndog, or ignore. Being that I’m not the typical sexually frustrated man that just wants to get off, I tend to ignore, or explain that I’m not there to hook up, and a lot of times people will get the point. But I’ve had my fair share of jackasses who were determined and didn’t take no for an answer. Obviously you can block these people, but this could still seem a bit scary or frightening, but then you remember that this guy is literally begging a stranger for sex on an app and then you get over it.

So yeah, I came to the realization today that my personality can’t handle this and does not belong on these kind of apps in this city. I need to slow it down, like, A LOT. So Tinder is the solution,  for right now until I get tired of it. Maybe I’ll bring back The Tinder Experiment (lol).

Honestly, if I could stay sane without any interaction with humans I probably would ultimately just keep to myself, but even I need some kind of face to face interaction at some points. Most people reading this would probably be like, “why don’t you go out to a bar or something?”. The number one reason is MONEY! Life ain’t cheap yo. lol.  But no, going out to a bar would be fine, but I don’t take random compliments or flirting very well (I’m very aloof and oblivious to strangers), and I end up just looking at people all awkwardly (I’m a mess).  I’m most comfortable when things are planned out in advanced.  It’s a part of that slight social anxiety thing I have.

So with that said, hello Tinder….again (groans).  Maybe this go round you can help with some lasting connections; Or maybe I’ll just delete you in a month just like every other app…

There has to be an easier way…

The Anxious Case of Malcolmin Button

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So for most of you who really know me, you know that I suffer from social anxiety. I used to mask it a lot by just calling it being introverted, or shy or whatever, which I am introverted but a tad on the extroverted side (when I’m in a “safe space”) and a lot of people tend to not understand how that works. So when they see me out here on Instagram living my “best life”, they think “oh, he’s such an outgoing guy. What does he mean he’s ‘shy'”. Well, it’s a very multifaceted thing, and it has layers. So I’m going to try and outline how my brain works for you all.

Anxiety affects people in different ways. My anxiety plays on some of my biggest insecurities. Be it, how I feel about the appearance of my body, my teeth, if I actually sound like an idiot when I talk to people, if I’m talking to much, if I’m actually interesting… The list goes on and on; and the basis of my being introverted is because these thoughts run through my head consistently when talking to friends, family, people I’m meeting for the first time, etc., so it causes me to shut down, and stay in my safe space.

Well, having social anxiety in a new city is not great at all, lol. And when I moved, I knew this would be a big thing that I’d have to encounter because even though I do have associates here that I can hang with, the dynamic of those friends/associates are totally different than what I’m used to. Another anxiety fueled thought I have regarding this is “those guys have their own circles and I don’t want to intrude…”. And I’m sure that’s beyond the truth, but I just can’t help it. My anxiety causes me to feel like I’m a burden to people sometimes.

So, with that said, I made a decision a week or so ago try and be better about my anxiety. Basically, I want to try and manage it better; and for those who follow me on Instagram, you have probably noticed, I’m doing a lot more than when I first got here. And I won’t lie, the first two weeks I was here, I was a hermit. So much so that I lost 5 lbs because I didn’t want to go anywhere at all. Didn’t want to eat out at restaurants (the social gathering pastime), or go to a bar to party. But that is totally different now as I’ve been getting my feet wet being social with new people.

This is how I’m working to fight my anxiety:

1. Talking about it

Be it a therapist, or a friend, or even some of the new people that I’ve met, I’ve been super open about my social anxiety. One reason, is because I don’t want people to feel rejected or dissed when I do certain things regarding social situations, and two, it lets people get a better understanding of how I operate. Talking about my anxiety with people sets the stage on how comfortable I am when it comes to making certain decisions down the road.

2. Having a pet

OK this one depends. I know that everyone is not a pet person, or can afford a pet, but I thank whatever magical being responsible for my dog Sora. She’s very outgoing and playful and loving and she just makes getting out and doing things very easy. Even if I’m not necessarily being social, Sora has to go on her long walks. She loves seeing the other dogs in the neighborhood and enjoys the people too! So walking around with her allows me to get out of the house and enjoy the world outside which, in turn allows my mind to focus on other things and not my anxiety.

3. Doing things even though I don’t want to

So I was invited to a new friend’s place for a game night over the weekend. Knowing of my anxious tendencies he was understanding if I didn’t want to go, but he was also very pushy about it. Saying that I needed to go and meet people and whatnot (which, I mean, yeah ok). However, I was invited like on Monday, and the thing wasn’t until Saturday, and my brain was already processing the “questions” about how will people react to me even being there. I did go though, and I had a good time.

4. Not being afraid to say no

OK so I know this sounds contradictory, but just as much as you should let yourself step out of your comfort zone, you should also respect it. So when I find myself trying to “do the most”, I have to realize that I am an introvert that suffers from social anxiety first, and that I need to slow it down a bit. Take it back a few notches. Because when my social battery is completely drained, paired with the anxiety of being social, I tend to blow up and it’s not pretty.

5. Having friends who respect my anxiety and help me with it

Having understanding friends is key, because they should understand what you need when you need it. I know I touched on this before, but friends should be helpful when you talk to them about it. They should help you overcome it, as well as help you when you need to slow down a bit. This will be key in forming new friendships here in DC, and I can’t wait to get out there.

So yeah, these are the main keys of how I’m trying to overcome my social anxiety, and I feel like it’s working. For now, at least. I hope to continue to not look at this as a “problem” per se, but more so as another layer to my awesome personality. I may always have anxiety, but I am not going to let it run my life.

Advice for When You Feel You Have Nothing to Offer the World

Lately, I’ve felt that I have little to nothing to offer the world. That there is nothing of substantive value that I can give and that I’m more of a burden to the world, friends, and family than anything else.

It is not a fun place to be in. I’m also a ruminator, which means once I get that in my head, I spend hours and sleepless nights coming up with thoughts to support that notion.

Have you ever been there?

I spent last night and the night before engulfed in nightmare after nightmare (some real horror shit too) in which I just failed person after person. I saved no one and in many cases caused their pain or demise. In one, I even ended up becoming one of the monsters after being unable to save them from an inevitable death, because I realized (the monsters reminded me), “you’re just one of us anyway” as they casually played video games.

I was definitely in a bad headspace. I went into work today, to meet 8 college students that will work in the department I direct, thinking I ultimately fail everyone, how can I ever provide them anything? I felt hopeless and empty.

I walked in ready to fake it, and my office manager tells me how much her teen daughter loved meeting me for a brief 15 min this weekend. She told me that she thought I was funny and beautiful and really cool.

And then the 8 pairs of eyes and my two professional staff eagerly awaited my opening remarks this morning. I made them laugh. The staff enjoyed the breakfast I brought in. The students warmed up to me. Slowly, the day became a little brighter and little more hopeful. I laughed. I didn’t fake a single thing. I was in my element even for a few hours today and it felt good.

I am not sure if this is the last time I will like I have no value, but even the thought that I could impact a young woman with a simple interaction or serve as a good leader to my staff helped me to find a little ray of sunshine today. The universe knew I knew I needed to feel valued and loved. The universe delivered. She hadn’t forgotten me. I rejoiced at knowing that.

If you feel sometimes that you have nothing to offer, I challenge you to look for small incidents that can affirm that you absolutely are where you should be. Don’t be afraid to relish in those moments a little longer on days you need it most. Forget what people say about pride or boastful ways – sometimes it is an act of absolute survival to really enjoy every single affirmation of circumstance and belonging, no matter how seemingly small they are. None of this is a coincidence; you are here for a reason, exactly where you are, as you are, as imperfect as you stand.

And maybe that reason is for a 14 year old girl to look up to you and think you’re cool. And as seemingly small as that is, it could be inspiring the next generation after all. You are part of something bigger than yourself and you were no accident. You’re not a burden. You have so much to offer and you offer it all the time. You are time and place imagined today, at this moment. Do not give up.

With love always.

Joy

She is a tower of strength

Her beauty coveted and unparalleled

Clothed in robes of gold,

and warming and welcoming in ways

we wish wearily for.

They call her Joy.

We spend our lives searching for her

in empty homes

Seeking to fill heartless holes

we call it happiness

But Joy evades us

Joy is a Black woman

(all things full of creation are)

basking in the beauty of beautiful rainshowers

smiling and singing

about the sun that succumbs to the necessary downpour

Daring to wet her coiled, kinky, cocky locks

by the tsunami of cleansing

that begets around her.

Joy is pancakes after sleepless nights –

The knowing that sustenance from the sweet syrup

sticks to your soul

and invites sleep on slow Sunday mornings

As rest is refreshing whenever it agrees with us.

Joy is running

Running forever

Barefooted

Broken

Beautiful

Backed with the strength of our ancestors

who softly whisper “freedom”

as you run zig zag through fields of familiar and forgotten wildflowers.

Joy is

Hard

Hell overcome

Hope mainfested

But mostly,

Joy is

the crossroad of acceptance and liberation.