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

$

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.

Apple Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice, Leaves of Red Orange and Gold, and Everything Nice…

31941365_1908374059194738_5946402880104693760_n

This Is an ode to my favorite season…

Fall…

Where football starts and the terrible heat of the Summer begins to fade.

21730546_10214667987158336_6158449070525382656_n.gif

Fall…

Where sweatpants are common clothing choices and nobody will bat an eye if you show up everywhere in them. (Well, maybe in DC they will because….DC)

30658215_2204123083245443_3774253080304943104_n

Fall…

Where you can take a leisurely walk in the city or park and not feel like you’re about to suffer from a heat stroke or sweat every pound off of your body.

30832019_10216077447158087_5113382518367715328_n

Fall…

When the leaves put on a show over the span of hundreds and hundreds of miles just so you can travel a short distance to witness the beauty of nature.

32414784_427770597664113_8689986722743713792_n.gif

Fall…

Where pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon rules your sense of smell, and you feel all warm and cuddly inside.

32080332_2184666458217381_3395872783719202816_n.gif

Fall…

The feeling of a crisp breeze that blows on a slightly warm day, letting you know it’s got your back.

32233308_2090025437679060_6752181544183398400_n (1).gif

Fall…

The memories of waiting for your parents to rake the leaves into a big pile, just so you could jump in it.

31156048_1723778151047283_544732536102715392_n

Fall…

Halloween

31470041_232859794152407_7769728475644035072_n.gif

Fall…

Thanksgiving

30653921_1681791198543064_9113572443473051648_n

Fall…

Hanging around a bonfire with some of your closest family and friends with a beer…or sitting around a campfire roasting hotdogs and marshmallows

19349821_1528710783846931_5304740718906966016_n.gif

The greatest things are here when fall comes around. You can’t deny it.

It’s the best season there is.

Bar none

Completely

Without a doubt

Number 1

*Take that, take that* #PdiddyVoice

20952707_1910010189267847_874683631862284288_n

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.

100 First Dates Only to Realize You’re the Problem

I have admitted to being a first date queen, followed by a good second dater, but not really more. I have always thought I wanted a marriage and a good man. But after 100 first dates in my life (exaggeration, I surely have not had 100 first dates), I am not sure that I want nor necessarily deserve that.

I have met a guy a little over a week ago and on paper he seems to be what I want. I’ve been down this rabbit hole before, thinking it should be what I want, but then I’m not sure. And the few times this has happened, they have seemed very sure. And for me, surety after a week is a bit much for me. I know I run.

I easily feel suffocated. I’m learning I can be a selfish person, but recently a friend told me maybe it is ok, maybe I’m just human, and maybe sometimes you have to be. I think she’s right, but I also wonder if that makes me a good person for a relationship. Remember when I wrote that poem about the garden? A substantial piece of that was my need to be free and uncontained. I dont know if that is fair for another human, who has especially been socialized in the context of our society to have deal with. I also come with a lot of baggage too. While the thought of someone helping me to unpack it all is lovely, I have found many men to unknowingly, unintentionally, but still confidently judge the things in my bag. Or try to fix it all. I understand why. I think it is sweet. I do not like it. Yet it’s unfair to come to a place with this and not expect them to have opinions.

Giving up weekends and all my nights has never been appealing to me. I like to choose carefully with whom I spend my time and how. I need days to myself. I need freedom to pick up and go. Men have lots of expectations of children (I get it, babies are prized in our society), women’s place in their lives and behavior… and while I fit bits and pieces, I rarely fit that picture enough for me to feel comfortable in that either they’re settling and will eventually become unhappy as I open up more or that I am minimizing parts of myself to be more appealing. I understand compromise. But I will always be a f bomb dropping, not really wanting children, womanist, with a free spirit. I can improve my character, but these are part of who I am.

Another friend told me that this is just the product of being single too long. You have to learn to share your space and life again. Maybe. Yet I watch others able to navigate this. I fear that the real issue is that deep down I dont really want this or worse, I am not cut out for relationships. I know less than two weeks is too soon to be jumping to conclusions, but if someone else knows, shouldn’t you? I didn’t used to be this person. I used to fall fast and hard. And occasionally, when the chemistry is so strong I do (this has happened once in the past couple years, but I fear he was ambivalent as I am in this post).

So some may say – maybe this guy just isn’t the right match for you. But there is this gnawing fear that if I hang this up, I say no, I step away, that I will be saying to the universe, “please don’t send me anyone else.” That it isn’t that he isn’t right, but it’s me. And that I will be deciding then, I’m not cut out for this. Which may be the answer. But maybe I’m not ready to admit it.

I also think online dating adds this additional pressure. You meet someone and the objective is do we want to date or nah. I miss meeting people in real life and then building a connection and feeling that chemistry just serendipitously.

Lastly, I wonder if my heart has not been fully healed from love past. I wonder if someone is still holding onto my heart and my heart to theirs. I wonder if that is at play. Could be romantic, could be a familial or platonic wound. Trauma period is probably playing a role.

Until I figure it out, maybe just one more date.

The Cost of Moving So Much

Friendship is like a delicate, but favorite recipe. It requires time and effort, loving care, and to be present to make it turn out right. But it’s worth every effort, because it’s the sweetest, tastiest cake you’ve ever made (all my favorite recipes are cake). But without those things, it is difficult to make it come out right. And sacrificing that favorite recipe is one of the biggest costs to moving and following your heart and dreams.

I make no qualms that I am career and ambition driven. I have moved *gulp* 4 times in the past 6 years, all for career, none for heart. Each time it gets increasingly harder to make friends and maintain friendships. Things get lost on translation, I am confronted with more demons, other people in the past tribes get closer, you become a pleasant visitor to the party, but not a regular. You have a lot of friends, but no bridesmaids invitations nor a secret holder, because no matter how hard you try, moving and shaking has a cost each time. And each time the cost deepens.

You try really hard to hold on. You love them and they love you, but never knowing when you’ll return, and in some places, never returning, it changes. And what’s hard is that no one can quite grasp what that means unless they have been there too. So it may even seem to them, nothing has changed, but you feel it.

Today, I scurried quickly out of a banquet dinner for a bunch of first year students in a summer program, practically in tears. Because in five short weeks, you could feel the community they had built, and I felt like an intruder with no home. I haven’t had a full blown tribe or community in years – like I belonged. I am craving that. And that craving is oddly burdening existing friendships because I simply feel tolerated at times, but not included. And it’s rightfully so! Some of it is because of my own tendency to withdraw and become quite cold when I’m feeling misunderstood or outcasted. This is probably from being unmercifully bullied as a child and so spending a while searching for belonging as a young adult. I learned to shut off and shut down. Never let them see the real you (I totally identify with the queen in Frozen). Other parts of not being included is that you simply cannot be included. You dont exist in that time and space.

Many women can live without that tribe. I am not one of those women. I have learned this painfully the past year. While I struggle sometimes to understand why someone may want to spend a ton of time with me, I’m grateful for having women and men who have cherished me as part of their group. Who have welcomed me. I don’t need a large group (actually prefer it to be smaller), but I need it. And I need it close to me. I need to feel included.

Lately, I feel more of a burden than anything to my friends. I also think having a group allows for shared connection among one another where you don’t feel you need to hide or go silent. It also gives you multiple reality checks that I think is helpful. I am optimistic that it can be developed again. I’ve developed it a couple times in my life, and hopefully, in my older age now, I haven’t become so far gone as to not be able to create it again. I’m rusty, sure. But I hope I can find that community, rather than feeling like a stranger in my life.

Moving and change is wonderful. But everything comes at a cost. I’m hoping to buy back some of this one.

A year of reflection…

If you or someone you know is dealing with depression, and needs help, please don’t hesitate to use this number. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

This time last year I kind of made a decision to change my life. I felt that I was suffering from possible mild depression (self diagnosed) for at least 3 months, maybe longer. I had been about 8 months out of a serious relationship and about 3 months out of a situationship I thought I wanted to be in at first but then realized I didn’t want to be. And during that time I tried to do things to keep my mind busy. Visited friends in Wisc. and Seattle, WA. Took a trip to Ft. Lauderdale. Took a random road trip with my bestie to help her get her car situation handled before her move to NYC. I felt like I was handling it OK.

And I was, kind of…but it was all just a distraction.

Heartbreak Hotel…

The break-up was one thing. I mean, people go through break-ups every day, but after you’ve lived with someone, even for only two years and they are no longer a part of your life that way, it hits you. Especially when it feels like no one else wants to be with you. Which that couldn’t be farther from the truth, but that’s just how it felt. I just felt lonely most of the time, and not wanted. I mean, the depression did start a little bit before the break up but I wasn’t really aware of it, and it got worse afterwards. I got through it, but that was only one stage of the whole process.

During that phase, there were times where I felt like being alone a lot. And yeah, sometimes you need your alone time, but I got to a point where I felt better off alone, like I didn’t need anybody. Fortunately, that didn’t last too long, because I have amazing friends who I tend to miss on occasion now. lol

Friends

About this time a year ago, my ex-roomie (now best friend) moved in, and this is where I felt a lot of my anxiety and depression started to go away. I had the whole house to myself for almost a year after it being occupied by someone else for two. Just having her there helped a lot. I mean, I still liked being in my own space within the house, but I didn’t feel lonely anymore, even though we were in separate rooms a lot of the time. She helped fill the void of emptiness in the house. It was a great start to getting control back to my life. And even though we never really talked about my depression much, it’s almost as if she knew. She just had a great way of communicating and just being there for me. I mean, she’s a wonderful understanding and knowledgeable person and I’m glad I opened my home to her.

And we all know about my BFF LeAnna. I’ve opened up to her about how I felt a lot and she is always there to help talk me through things (even though I don’t listen sometimes, lol). I know I’m hard to get along with sometimes, but I’m glad she doesn’t give up on me. 🙂

Work work work work work work

Another source of my mild depression and anxiety came from work. I wasn’t feeling successful at my current position at the time and I’d unsuccessfully applied for at least 3 other positions over the last 4 years before landing my new job. I felt like no one wanted me. I got to the point where I didn’t know where life would take me next because I wanted to move up in my professional career, but without any connections or experience other than what I had, I felt as if I was stuck, and that kept me down for a long time. I love my company (gawd knows I do), but it was hard to deal with being turned down so much. I almost let myself not apply for this position, due to just not feeling like I was what they wanted. I almost let it get the best of me in that situation and almost talked myself out of it, but I’m glad I didn’t. A promise I made to myself, that I would work towards bettering myself continued to live on.

Dating, is the worst

I know I’ve said this many times before, but yes, a lot of my uncertainty and depression came from dating. Not necessarily because nobody wanted to date me, but because I felt like nobody I wanted, wanted to date me. This prompted the “I think I’m over white men” post back in March. This, along with how easy it is to ghost people, the fact that most people just want sex and then they are through with you, the fact that you think that nobody likes you; It brings a lot of bad energy to your soul. And after going through that song and dance (myself even, being the lead in it, sometimes) just does a toll on you.

BUT…

It started in October of last year; that was the last time I seriously dated anyone. After dealing with someone for months, and feeling like there was something there, only to be told that there wasn’t, I refused to let it affect me anymore, and I slowed down actively dating. I mostly turned to hooking up (responsibly!) as it was less of an emotional connection and I can easily forgot about bob from tuesday rather than talk to Scott for months and then all of a sudden, nothing. So yeah, I still have Tinder, Hinge, Grindr, Scruff, whatever you call it, but I decided to just not put my feelings out there anymore. So all in all, I turned into some sort of a fuckboy, but it helped ground me a little bit. May not be the healthiest way overall to do this, but it works for me for now. And while I have met people throughout this time, it was more so a casual thing that could have turned into something, but never did, and I’m OK with that. Not saying that it’s right, but that’s what I needed to do at the time for me.

So what prompted this blog post?

July 30th 2018 was the beginning of not letting all of this crap above control my life. On this date last year I made a decision to work towards bettering myself. I dealt with a lot of depressive situations and anxiety prior to early last year and it just got worse over time. I knew I was going through something, but being the hardheaded person I am, I didn’t seek out help. Well not in a general sense, anyway, but my friends were there to help with it, even if they didn’t know I was going through something.

When I woke up and saw this post, it was almost like a weight was lifted off of my chest. Well, the weight was already gone, but it made me realize how heavy it was this time last year. Little by little, I was freeing myself. This, this was everything I was wishing to work towards. I owned the fact that I wasn’t OK and I dealt with a lot. I put it out there for the world to see, and that’s when I decided to work towards a healthier me. No, it wasn’t an easy process and I still deal with many moments to this day, but I refuse to let that hold me down. I have to remember that I can’t let it win and with this new job offer, I feel like it’s a sign. Confirmation that everything I worked towards changing and bettering about myself was finally coming to fruition. I’m still no where I want to be, but I’m better.

Everybody’s story is different. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. One of the ones where depression doesn’t completely control their life. My experience is nowhere near what others may be going through and won’t mirror someone else’s experience. I am fortunate to have a wonderful support system of family, great friends, and a stable job to help keep me grounded. I realize not everyone is fortunate to have this foundation or even fortunate enough to only need this type of foundation to lift them out of depression. It’s real out there. Everyone goes through this in different ways and I just hope that they are getting the support needed to overcome. Please don’t be like me; reach out to someone.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1-800-273-8255