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.

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 forget 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 2017 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

Thank You!

Never in my life did I ever think that I would be an inspiration to someone, ANYONE.

Over that past 7 months I’ve written a lot of content here about my life and learning to love who I am and becoming more comfortable with my sexuality.  Basically, I’ve mostly written about how I never really embraced what I’ve felt in my soul for the longest time. At no point did I even think that my stories would encourage others to live their truth and be confident in being who they knew they were for so long.

You’re probably saying “duh” in your head right now, but I’ve never thought of myself to be someone who could encourage this.  I’m not necessarily a great writer or story teller, but over the time since we’ve started this blog, it’s become easier to tell my story.  So, throughout this time, every once in a while after some of my posts, I’ve been approached about what I’ve written; How it was very real; How it was refreshing; How I’ve inspired some people; How they have expressed how they felt after going through the same struggles that I’ve been through; And basically how I am someone who they feel they can talk to about these things.  And I know I’ve said this multiple times to these individuals but…

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

When I first decided to write about my experience with my sexuality, I gave it a lot of thought.  I spoke with my co-bloggers about posting my National Coming Out Day post, and was unsure if that was a burden I was ready to bare.  I wrote it about 3 days prior, because I thought I was ready.  Then I wasn’t.  Then I was.  Then I wasn’t again.  I was nervous, scared, and unsure of myself.  I’ve been living my life as such for years at this point so why now, you know?  But then I realized that this post, on Oct 11, 2017, was not just about me, but about others as well.  About being done not completely living my life.  About how I was finally able to SHOW that I wasn’t scared to be who I was, even though I didn’t feel like I needed to “come out”. And no, you don’t have to.  But I’ve decided to, to let the world know that there’s nothing wrong with being who you are, out loud.  Just know that I’ll always be here to be your friend.  Your support.  Your ally.

So, for those who have; Thank you for feeling so comfortable sharing your stories with me.  Thank you for trusting me.  Thank you for reading and being open to me sharing my stories with you! Even to those who don’t identify as LGBTQ who have shared with me their thoughts, thank you!  You never really realize how much of an impact you have on someone until they tell you and I’m honored, honestly.  I just want to be here as a voice (in text) for the ones who went through the struggle in similar, and maybe even different, ways. Just know, that I am here for you! I will always be here to listen to someone share their feelings, their emotions, and their thoughts about not only sexuality, but racial identity, and whatever else that you want to talk about, because we are in this together.

Again, thank you all for being so comfortable with me and sharing with me your thoughts and feelings and emotions and tears and hugs and everything!  Please know that you will always have an ally in me, both as a member of the LGBTQ community AND as a friend.

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It’s a Date!

Warning: I have never once claimed that my personal brand of crazy is rational.

Today I did something I have been avoiding for my entire adult life. I took myself to eat, alone, at Olive Garden. Now, I know that sounds silly and it’s just Olive Garden, but for some reason the idea of doing this very thing has been scary and caused my tons of anxiety just thinking about it. I’ve tried to figure out why. And the most logical thing that I can come up with is that for some reason, the idea of taking myself out to eat at a sit down restaurant, pretty much solidified my perpetual singlehood. Again. Not logical. I don’t think this for other people when I see them out to eat alone or my friends when they do it. I actually envy them. But for me, somehow, taking myself out to eat at a fancy restaurant (lol yes Olive Garden is still fancy to me) just somehow meant I had officially accepted my singleness and was the first step to many a single restaurant date. If you are judging me right now please go read the warning again.

So, I went to Olive Garden…and I didn’t die. I don’t know yet if I really enjoyed it but I’m sure I’ll do it again. As I sat there, I thought that the couple on the other side of the room would be what made me most sad but I didn’t really pay them much mind. What did make me a little nostalgic was the table full of old ladies next to me gushing over their one friend’s new hair cut. It reminded me of my friends. It reminded me of Leanna and I’s many cathartic lunch dates at Olive Garden. It made me miss my friends more than it made me yearn for a partner to go to eat with. Though that would still be great.

Prior to all of this I started thinking up a list of potential date ideas. As a single 30 year old woman, I can count of both hands and maybe require the assistance of one set of toes, the number of dates I’ve been on. If I don’t count random meetings at Walmart or parking lots, then I don’t need the toes. So needless to say I’ve had quite some time to think up some really awesome date ideas. Or at least I think they’re awesome.

So here goes:

Dinner and a movie! Duh. The classics are a must. I’m not picky at all. Feed me and take me to a movie and I’m a happy lady. A few variations… movie and then dinner!! Lol just kidding. But there are those fancy theaters uptown where you can eat real food at the movies. Or a double feature where each person picks a movie. Or show up at the movies at a random time and watch the next thing showing.

Book store date. I love reading. If you can suggest a good book you’ll have a piece of my heart. So we go to the bookstore. You pick out a book for me. I pick out one for you. Then we find a nice cozy spot somewhere around town to read. Or we get the same book and read and discuss. This I semi did once but the guy was cheap and ordered his book online and before it arrived we had stopped talking. I still read the book. It was great.

Netflix binge. This is maybe after we’ve been dating for a while. But a good Netflix binge is always nice on a rainy day. And depending on how long we’ve been dating and how serious it is it can totally be an official Netflix and Chill.

A museum. I hear Charlotte has tons of museums. I’ve only ever been to the Museum of the New South. That was once in middle school and twice in high school for prom. So those two don’t count. So let’s go see some cool museum stuff!

Trampoline park. Disclaimer. I like these places but am super out of shape so I can only bounce for like 5 minutes at a time.

Charlotte is always having some sort of festival. Let’s go! Bonus points if it’s a festival about something neither of us knows anything about (or the renaissance festival).

Anywhere but Charlotte! Again, maybe for later on after I’m certain you aren’t a serial killer. But road trips are cool. And it can totally be a random day trip just to try some fancy ice cream in a random town. Let’s just go!

One of those paint classes. Or that pottery painting place. Arts and crafts are fun even if you suck at them. The paint class doesn’t even have to be a couples one because what are we each going to do with half a painting. And if we go at night we can bring wine! Same for this pottery painting place I know of.

Clearly this is not an exhaustive list. There are a million other things that could be done. The most important part is who you’re with and the time spent together. Which has me thinking? Why am I waiting around for someone else to take me on a date and to do these things. Like I said. The most important part is who you’re with, that can be a partner, friends, family or yourself and the time spent together. As long as your having fun and getting to know whoever you are with…IT’S A DATE!!!

So, what are your favorite date ideas?!?!

Update:

I forgot

A comedy show. Doesn’t have to be Katt Williams (but if it was that would be awesome) even a local amateur night could be fun.

A concert. Someone huge or someone just up and coming. There’s always a concert going on. Fun story. A guy once stopped talking to me because I told him that if we went to the Drake concert I would be excited but wouldn’t be like screaming with my hands in the air the whole time. He said that if I wasn’t going to have fun then he wasn’t taking me. He struggled to understand everyone doesn’t show they are having fun the same way. I’ve dated some gems really.

Harsh Truths From Gentle Friends

Tonight I am thankful for friends who say what needs to be said even when it is tough to hear.

I have been blessed beyond measure with three intelligent, amazing, beautiful, kind and ferocious female friends that make up the inner most circle of my tribe. They have laughed with me, cried with me, traveled with me, gotten drunk on nachos, margaritas and self-love with me, and when I have been completely broken and not had any idea how to put myself back together they have not tried to fix me. Instead, they have gently held my broken pieces and breathed words of life and loving reminders of why I deserve to be whole and complete in my own right. They kept my pieces safe until I was strong enough to put them back together. For this, I am eternally grateful.

But sometimes…a lot of the time…they are more than willing to say the not so nice things. The things that hurt. The things that knock a few pieces loose again and cause me to have to re-arrange and rebuild. It hurts. It sucks. But I know that it is done with the most love imaginable as they only want to see me thrive and be the best me I can be.

This happened Thursday night. So Tegan…this ones for you!

After a long day of work, a rough couple weeks (okay months) in the lack of love department and right before watching the much anticipated Black Panther premier, as I stuffed nachos in my mouth and had another discussion about why men suck, why I deleted tinder and why I refuse to settle. Tegan, my most gentle and kind friend and the last person on this planet who would purposefully hurt someone, after explaining to me what she feels is causing my frustration and patiently listening to my rebuttal uttered this statement…

“But you’re still single”

From a few tables down I legit heard the waitress say “Damn Tegan. Shots fired.” (We frequent this restaurant a lot but they know each other from high school just in case you were wondering).

Let me back up just a tiny bit to give some context to the statement. But trust me. It doesn’t make it any less harsh.

Here is a brief history of my dating life: I’m minding my business trying to live my best life. Random guy enters the picture in some random way (tinder, going out, sliding in my DM’s, someone saying hey I think you would like this guy. Normal 21st century dating stuff). I give said guy a chance. If I had a super power, it would be my ability to see the good in anyone, latch onto that, and fall in love with it. That happens. I’m amazing. Guy decides nope not what he wants. Guy exits in some usual dramatic way that involves either a very confusing argument or him explaining how amazing and wonderful I am but why he just can’t be with me because he is scared, has goals, doesn’t want to hurt me, or they try to convince me I’m crazy for having standards. I’m sad for a while (though the amount of time spent being sad is getting shorter and shorter). And I swear off all men. Until the cycle starts again. And scene.

It works like clockwork it’s almost scary. So after this happening about 13574893020193837920 times (actual number. Not an exaggeration). I guess the people closest to you get pretty sick of it and decide forget it…I’m just going to let her know it’s all her fault so she can fix the problem and finally find a man.

Just kidding. That’s not what she did. I gave her a really hard time and got really loud and dramatic and for the duration of the movie told everyone I was re-evaluating our friendship. But really I totally understood what she was saying.

So the discussion prior to the statement was that I tend to date the same type of guy. And clearly that’s not working. A lot of the discussion centered around looks and the type of guy I am attracted to and maybe that’s why it’s not working for me. Her thesis was that I need to date someone I’m not attracted to and that attraction will grow and that other things should be more important. That I need to try something different.

Let me pause right here. I’m not shallow. Of the list of qualities I am looking for in a man, drop dead gorgeous Michael B Jordan look alike is not one of them (though I wouldn’t be mad if it happened that way)

I have dated some ugly guys (sorry if you’re one of them) but according to Tegan, I even have an ugly guy type.

So her suggestion was try something different. Find a nerdy, ugly guy who I’m not attracted to who would worship the ground I walk on. Attraction will grow.

My concern is however, that to me that sounds a lot like settling. Not to say I would never date a “nerd.” I’m sure plenty of people would call me a nerd for my love of reading, knitting and all things Harry Potter related. But to me it felt like “don’t chase the spark” (explanation to come) and just find someone who is looking for a relationship and see if it works out. And my fear more than being single forever, is settling just to be with someone and waking up 20 years from now not knowing how I got there and wanting to run.

I don’t think it’s wrong to want a spark (see I told you it was coming). And not a lustful dang he’s beautiful I want to have his babies even though he is a butt hole spark. But a connection. One I’ve never been able to explain but have felt on several occasions leading me to no longer believe in the idea of a soul mate. But something that makes me interested from the beginning and wanting to spend time with them and get to know them. To endure bad days with them and be their safe space and to know each other.

and for that spark to grow into a beautiful, committed, connected relationship that is unbreakable by fight, or distance or some random thot.

But here’s the thing. Of all my friends. Tegan is the only one of us not single. Not only is she not single, she’s engaged!

So I would be stupid not to at least take a few minutes (or the remainder of dinner and the duration of Black Panther) to think about what she said.

While I watched all the amazing black women before me on the movie screen with a few glimpses of men in there too I got to thinking about what I admired most about Tegan. I know she hates being called strong but that’s exactly what it is. In particular, her ability to hear “advice” and opinions from all sorts of people, including myself, take it, process it and in the end come up and act on the decision that works best for her. It takes strength to go against almost everyone’s opinion of your relationship and say screw you, I’m sticking with it because it works for me. It might not make sense to you, but it’s my life, I see the vision, and I have faith that in the end it will all make sense for everyone else.

That’s purposefully vague because I’m not trying to put all of Tegan’s business out there but just know, that it worked out. Heck, she got the ring, but more than that she has a man she loves, who adores her and it works for them. I can’t be mad at that.

So, I said all that to say this. As I sat in a movie theater, watching one of the most amazing movies I’ve seen, with a cast full of beautiful and amazing black people, and strong and fierce black women, next to my best friend whom at the moment I was deciding wether I wanted her to remain my best friend, I came to the conclusion that maybe she’s right. She probably is right. But I also came to another conclusion…

Maybe I’m right too…

Maybe it is possible to find someone, and have that initial spark, and be attracted to them in all different areas, and for them to like me back and want to make things work. I don’t like operating from a mindset that assumes that all interesting, intriguing, goal oriented, employed, and slightly attractive men, especially black men, are ass holes. I have seen many a woman with this kind of man and it work. So I have chosen to hold out faith that it will happen for me. That I won’t have to settle. That there is someone out there who as Tegan put it “will appreciate all the awesomeness” that is me.

And maybe he’ll be gorgeous, or maybe he’ll be my kind of ugly. Maybe I’ll have to try something new and get out of my comfort zone, or actually leave the house, or maybe he’ll be at Salsa’s one night overhearing our ridiculous conversations and he’ll be intrigued. I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. I know that for now I am tired and will allow myself to rest and in the future I will try again. And maybe one day I’ll tell this story at my wedding reception, or maybe one day we will be 60 years old and still meeting for Mexican and movie night and Tegan will say

“I told you so.”