10 Things We Should Stop Apologizing For

If you’re like me, you’re an over-user of the phrase, “I’m sorry.”

Like this morning, for example, when I made my daily coffee stop at Au Bon Pain in Port Authority. If you know Au Bon Pain, then you know that they can brew a mean cup of coffee (PSA: ABP’s hazelnut is on POINT), but they don’t know how to set up a coffee station in any way that makes sense.

As some background for those of you who aren’t ABP frequenters, here’s a snapshot of the coffee station, in order of first accessible item to last: lids – sleeves – cups – coffee – milk and sugar. Now we all know that we’re inevitably going to need a lid and a sleeve, but for some reason, we never think to grab one of each before we get to the cups. No, instead our caffeine-deprived minds send us straight to the cups because they’re the direct delivery system of coffee to face.

So today, like most days, this led to a state of complete and utter confusion among customers. If you can imagine this scene, then you can imagine the chaos that ensued when about six people (it’s a tiny area) stood there with steaming hot coffee, panicking, trying to find a lid and sleeve before they acquired a nice third degree burn. Those folks then needed to backtrack so they could grab a lid and sleeve, totally throwing off the coffee assembly line. So now we had people bumping into each other left and right, spinning in circles frantically because not only were they most likely late to work (thanks for nothing, NJ Transit), but their hands were on fire. And what did I do?

I apologized. I apologized for being amid this group of highly confused people (side note: I did my part and followed the unspoken ABP coffee line rule of grabbing a lid and sleeve prior to a cup). For being there, even though I didn’t cause this mayhem. Not an “excuse me” which would have made a lot more sense at the time, but a full-blown “I’m sorry.” What for? I’m not totally sure.

Or take tonight’s spin class. Generally speaking, entire gym spaces in NYC are approximately the size of the locker room of a NJ gym. Needless to say, there’s a whole lot of bumping into each other – people trying to balance while putting on shoes standing up, others dodging locker doors that are flying open, etc. Again, I was simply existing in this situation. And of course, I apologized.

I started thinking – why do we apologize for things we don’t cause? Why do we default to a “sorry” in cases where an apology isn’t warranted? Trust me, I’m a walking hazard, and I’m the first to apologize when I do something catastrophic like spill a black iced coffee all over some innocent guy’s light-colored suit. But honestly, I’m sick of being sorry for things I don’t cause, or things that don’t require me to put myself at fault.

So I made a list of 10 things we should stop apologizing for.

#1. Merely existing in $hitty situations.

The aforementioned events are prime examples of this. It may seem petty, but it’s a bad habit to fall into. Sure, if you’re the cause of an issue (you cut the line, make a mess, deliberately trip another customer [I’m hoping not…], etc.), then by all means, say you’re sorry, dammit. But if you’re not causing any harm, and you’re just existing in an already-$hitty situation, there’s no reason that YOU need to be sorry.

#2. Not wanting to go with the flow.

I need to start doing yoga because all my friends are doing it. I need to start eating kale because Dr. Oz said it’s the healthy thing to do (does anyone truly like eating kale?). I should get a lob because it’s the haircut of summer. Don’t like what other people are doing? It’s simple: don’t do what they’re doing. Be your own person; find your own “things.” And don’t apologize for those “things,” even if they’re the complete opposite of what everyone else is doing.

#3. Having a different opinion.

Whether it’s a religious affiliation, political party, or stance on “what’s better, cats or dogs,” don’t apologize for seeing something differently than someone else. Differing opinions help spark new ideas. New ideas lead to growth and development. Imagine if we all agreed that crimping our hair was a good idea? Not sure who killed that trend, but he or she is my idol.

#4. Ending relationships that aren’t working for us.

This applies to anyone or anything that’s not contributing to your growth or making you a better person. Friends, significant others, jobs, etc. Don’t be sorry for walking away when a situation is giving off bad vibes. Part of being your own person is understanding what’s working for you and what’s not, and being able to filter out negative energy from your life.

#5. Calling bull$hit at any time, in any scenario.

Maybe it’s a friend who treats you like you’re less than him or her. Maybe your opposite-gender co-worker is being challenged with more big projects. Don’t apologize for calling someone or something out that doesn’t align with your morals and values…or just seems off. In the long run, you’ll be happy you didn’t stand for it.

#6. Not understanding something.

I don’t care how experienced someone is, or how many skills he or she has “mastered.” There’s always room for learning and further development. Don’t be sorry for seeking further explanation. For raising questions; desiring to truly understand. Because when someone asks you to explain that same thing in front of a room filled with your co-workers, it’s much more “embarrassing” to not know what the $%&@ you’re talking about.

#7. Other people’s actions.

You’re not responsible for anyone else’s actions. So stop apologizing for that offensive thing your friend said to your other friend. For the way someone acted at a party. In those situations, the only person who looks like a dick is the person who acts like a dick. We’re all adults, and we need to take responsibility for our own actions.

#8. Wanting real, concrete answers.

Don’t apologize to the next guy you date who “doesn’t want to define” your relationship status. If you’re comfortable with that, then fine. But if you’re not, don’t be sorry for wanting to know where you stand. For wanting to make sure you’re on the same page. Don’t let anyone make you feel like that’s wrong or “crazy.” You’re not crazy; you’re a realist.

#9. Treating yoself.

Book that vacation. Get that mani/pedi. Eat that pizza. As long as you’re living within your means (seriously, don’t rely on credit cards), you SHOULD reward months of hard work with a fun trip or specialty spa treatment. It’s also OK to cheat on your trainer every once in a while with a slice of cheesy goodness. We’re all human. Life’s about balance.

#10. Spending some time alone.

We all have a million obligations to family, friends, and significant others. But sometimes, it’s OK to just say “@#$% it” and stay in alone with your cat, a massive spread of sushi, and all seven original seasons of Gilmore Girls. Don’t apologize for bailing on girls’ night. Take the time you need to refocus and refresh. Chances are good that the more sane you stay, the higher (and higher quality) your overall output.

Let’s save our apologies for the times we truly @#$% up. Because let’s be honest, over the course of the rest of our adult lives, we’ll @#$% up plenty.

#SorryNotSorry

Social Media Is Messing With Us

I wish that when we said “IDGAF,” we truly didn’t give a @#$%. But the fact that we spend even one ounce of energy muttering the words (or typing the letters) “IDGAF” implies that we do, indeed, give at least a slight @#$%. Because if we really didn’t give a @#$%, we wouldn’t feel the need to address the fact that we don’t give a @#$%. Instead, we’d just go about our lives, not thinking about what we don’t give a @#$% about. See where I’m going with this?

The truth is that we do give a @#$%. We care about what people think of us. How we’re perceived by others. And how could you blame us? Modern society and technology has trained us to be constantly connected to one another; to publicly and regularly share updates on anything and everything pertaining to our lives. To seek instant gratification through “likes,” “comments,” and “shares.” And in this environment, it’s natural for us to compare ourselves to others. To see if we “measure up” to those around us. To see if we’re “liked” as much as other people. To see if how we’re living our lives is aligned with how our peers are living theirs.

But the issue here is that what you see on social media isn’t necessarily real.

Imagine you’re a sub par baker, and you’ve promised your sister that you’d bake cupcakes for your nephew’s birthday party. You find an adorable recipe for Elmo cupcakes on Pinterest. You’re feeling confident; maybe even “Aunt of the Year” status. Everything’s going smoothly… until you get to the decorating phase. You try to mimic that photo on Pinterest, only to realize that most of your Elmos look like some sick, twisted Sesame Street character that your nephew would only find in his nightmares. But you’ve managed to salvage about half of the Elmos. So you take those 12-15 presentable Elmos, place them nicely on a platter, show up to the party, and win the day with your super cute, deliciously impressive sweet treats. Oh, happy day!

What you see on social media are those 12-15 Elmos that made it to the party. 

We tend to portray the best version of ourselves on social media, where we know people are watching, forming opinions and passing judgment. And in some cases, we portray who we want people to think we are. We don’t show up to the party with the nightmarish, #PinterestFail Elmo cupcakes.

Take the girl who appears to have the perfect job, perfect boyfriend, and perfect group of 29 best girlfriends. Is anyone’s life really that perfect? Who knows, maybe she’s having performance anxiety at work, or maybe her job is in jeopardy. Maybe her boyfriend isn’t all that great, but she’s afraid to end things. Maybe some of her “best girlfriends” are talking about her behind her back RN. But it’s highly unlikely that this person will showcase her internal battles, because here’s another thing: we sometimes use social media to disguise our insecurities, either knowingly or unknowingly.

While we’re on the subject of disguising insecurities, let’s talk about social media lenses and filters. Talk about the most obvious example of portraying the person we want people to think we are. We’ve become heavily reliant on face-slimming, skin-correcting, makeup-perfecting, eye color-enhancing versions of ourselves. TBH, I’m not even sure what I really look like anymore. What I do know is that the best version of “me” wears a flower crown.

I’ll also take one for the team and admit it: we sometimes take 12 versions of the same photo before we’re happy with one. I’ve actually said things like “should we do skinny arms?” (you know which pose I’m talking about). What happened to just taking a photo because you wanted to capture a moment in time, with people who mean something to you? When did we become so obsessed with our external appearance? Personally speaking, I’ve lost count of the number of photos with friends and family that I didn’t post. Memories that I’ve either deleted from my camera roll or refused to share publicly because I didn’t like the way I looked.

Which brings up another interesting thing. What about the statuses and photos that aren’t posted, i.e., the Elmo cupcakes that didn’t make the cut? The things we don’t want others to see. Like when we’re at home in tears, without a shower in three days, downing a jar of pickles and a tub of Haagen-Dazs, watching Say Anything on a loop because of an ugly break-up. Or when we’re embarrassed that we don’t have fun weekend plans because nobody invited us to the rooftop party. These things rarely make it to our public pages.

So what do we do?

We don’t stop using Snapchat filters and lenses, because let’s face it, it’s super fun to add bunny ears or do a hilarious face swap with our dogs. We don’t stop posting photos with our friends and significant others, or “checking in” when we’re at an awesome concert. Because that’s what we do. We update our friends and family on our whereabouts and happenings. Social media can be an awesome thing if taken lightly.

What we CAN do is change our thinking. Stop assuming (you know what assuming does…) that everything we see is the full truth; that every status update is a complete and accurate depiction of someone’s life. And for the love of God, let’s please stop comparing ourselves to these illusions. Keep in mind that we never know what happens behind closed doors. Everyone is complex, and everyone has their own story. Focus on YOUR story. It’s not about how we want other people to see us. It’s about who we want to be.

On Living At Home

I’ve been living at home since I graduated college in 2012, and up until a few months ago, I was bitter as hell about it. I was so focused on what my former classmates and new co-workers my age were up to; moving to new cities, buying NYC apartment furniture, some even buying houses. It all seemed so glamorous.

And in true Millennial fashion, I played the classic victim card. Why don’t I have that? Why am I burdened with student loans? Why do I have to be so different? Poor me. I want. I deserve. I’m entitled to. When in reality, I could have had what everyone else appeared to have. I started my first job days after graduation, and I was making a pretty decent salary for a 21-year-old.

But there was a hesitation; something in the back of my mind that told me to not pounce just yet (and if you’ve read my “Letter to 16-Year-Old Me” post, you’d know how firmly I believe in trusting your gut). This “something” told me to listen to my mom and brother, who never really told me NOT to move out, but advised that I first establish some goals before tossing my entire salary at things like rent, happy hour drinks, and $15 Manhattan salads.

I resented them at first. I was embarrassed to explain to my peers and colleagues that I was “still living at home.” There’s such a stigma associated with it (and honestly, I’m not sure where or how it started since we all know how expensive “adult life” can be). When you graduate college, you’re supposed to move out, right? Maybe it was all in my head. That tends to happen with over-thinkers.

I couldn’t understand why they were “holding me back.” Why they “didn’t want me to start my life.” And although it has taken me the better part of five years to say it, I finally understand where they were coming from. They were never my enemies. And I’m so glad I listened to them. Because now at 26, I can see the light a the end of the tunnel. I know that I will soon accomplish those goals that I set at the ripe age of 21. Thanks to their advice, I’ll soon be debt-free, continuing to grow my 401k, living with my 8-pound furball in Manhattan, all while still being able to do the things I love.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to send a major “thank you” to my mom and brother – my biggest supporters since day one – for their constant love and guidance, especially through these past couple of years. To my mom, for the (rent-free) roof over my head, home-cooked meals, and infinite patience… especially in some cases, when I know it would have been easier for you to kick me to the curb. To my brother, for the “Sam, you’re being a dick” real-talks when I needed them the most, but also for the “Sam, you’ve got this” reminders to be patient when I was feeling defeated, frustrated and lost. You guys are gems, and I’m so grateful to have you. #PowerThree4Lyfe

#CommuterLife

Today was one of those extra humid, sticky days in NYC, filled with that heavy, damp air that makes your hair quadruple in size. The kind of day that makes you feel so uncomfortable in your own skin. Almost as uncomfortable as when you hear someone use the word “moist.” Shudder.

Like many of my friends and colleagues, I commute into New York each day via the always-reliable, sure-to-put-you-in-the-most-jubilant-of-moods public transportation service, NJ Transit (if you haven’t sensed my sarcasm yet, you still have some getting-to-know-me to do). NJ Transit is like Whose Line Is It Anyway, except in NJ Transit’s case, the bus schedules are made up and the client service doesn’t matter.

But this post isn’t about NJ Transit. I’ll save that for a day when I’m stuck on the bus for 3+ hours (which may very possibly be during tomorrow morning’s commute, let’s be serious). This one’s about how gross days like today can make any commuter hypersensitive to certain tendencies of some fellow NJ Transit riders. The tendencies that – on sweaty, smelly days like this – can drive a person completely insane.

#1. Not understanding how to exit the bus.

I’d like for you to please imagine a bus. It’s a long rectangular shape with two seats on either side of a long aisle. Let’s acknowledge that there’s only one way on and off the bus, and it’s located toward the front (and no, emergency exits don’t count in this exercise). Now, when everyone is presumably getting off at the same stop – in this case, Port Authority – standard bus protocol is to file out in a neat, calm fashion, starting with the front of the bus. Makes sense, right? But I swear, there’s always that person who anxiously waits for the bus to come to a stop, jumps up when it does stop, and sprints from the back of the bus up to the front, completely destroying this simple system of orderly bus exiting. This person is like a bowling ball knocking down 56 unsuspecting, innocent human pins.

#2. Engaging in unnecessary conversation.

I don’t mean to sound super antisocial here. If you can’t tell by now, I really like to talk. But the bus is one of those weird situations where quiet time is a beautiful thing. The roughly two-ish hours spent each day commuting back and forth is valuable time that can be spent doing things like reading, giving that new album a listen, catching up on your favorite TV show, playing Words With Friends, whatever floats your boat. It’s a mutual understanding that most commuters have – not engaging in conversation. But there’s always that person who disrupts this tranquil time. I mean, is there really a need to turn this whole getting-to-and-from-work thing into an awkward session of speed dating or 21 questions?

#3. Not understanding personal space.

Take it from me, manspreading is a thing. And it’s an especially major violation on NJ Transit buses because the two seats on either side of the aisle are clearly separated. It’s not like bench seating where seat separation points are undefined. Sometimes it’s a blatant crossing over into your clearly defined territory. But then there’s the uncomfortable, ever-so-gentle physical contact with your bus partner’s arms and/or legs. Then you start to panic. Do I move my arm/leg away? Will my bus-riding partner notice and take offense? These are situations and thoughts we can all avoid if we just stay within the boundaries our allotted seat space.

#4. Selecting the aisle seat on an empty bus.

So you board an empty bus and have the option of choosing either the window seat or the aisle seat. You know there’s a line of people behind you, and you know that every single one of those people will need a seat. Common sense tells you to just sit in the window seat, or else you’ll eventually need to get up and allow someone else to squeeze in. But nope, there’s always that person who takes the aisle seat, and then as the bus fills up, holds up the entire line when Potent Perfume Peggy inevitably needs to squeeze into the window seat. Alas, we have disrupted another simple bus system.

#5. Engaging in a lengthy phone call.

I get it, sometimes you need to make or answer a quick phone call. But here, I’m talking about those people who choose bus time to make what’s sure to be a lengthy phone call to their long-lost cousin to catch up on what’s happened over the past 15 years. It’s actually great when you’re on the bus with some ballsy dude who tells the cell phone offender to get off his/her damn phone. It’s surprisingly satisfying.

#6. Assigning your luggage its own seat.

In my last job, I traveled fairly regularly. And being the female that I am, even for a short one-night trip, I needed to pack a full suitcase, because you always need to be over-prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Anyway, when I traveled, I waited patiently outside the bus while everyone else boarded, hoping there’d still be a seat left by the time the driver got off, opened the bottom storage area, and tossed in my suitcase. But there’s always that person who uses up an entire seat for luggage because he/she is above the system or something. Like those massive storage areas both underneath the bus and in the overhead compartments are too inconvenient. I think it’s the general sense of entitlement that just grinds my gears.

My NJ Transit bus-riding compadres, we’re in this together! We feel each other’s pain. Maybe if we all make a conscious effort to be a little more considerate and self-aware, we can make this whole commuting thing a much more enjoyable experience.

A Letter To 16-Year-Old Me

You know how people say that 2001 seems like it was yesterday? Like people born in 2007 are perpetually toddlers? Well, my family and I recently celebrated my cousin’s Sweet 16, and for a hot second, I found myself in a state of complete and utter confusion. How could she be turning 16 when I’m barely out of my teenage years?

Reality can hit you smack in the face sometimes. The facts: I’m 26, a solid eight or so years out of teenager world and into adulthood. Upon this realization, I started reflect back on what it was like to be that lovely, carefree age of 16. And the truth of the matter is that at 16, “lovely” and “carefree” are probably the last two words I would have used to describe my life.

For a young woman, 16 is a time of existential perplexity. You’re not a girl, and you’re not yet a woman (you’re welcome for that Britney reference, my fellow 90’s babies!). You think about college, and you know that you need things like good grades and a solid list of activities to get into a good college. But the physical acts of graduating high school and starting a new life chapter are somewhat incomprehensible. There are so many other things in the short-term weighing heavy on your mind. Finishing that term paper. Deciding on the perfect dress for junior prom. Figuring out how to decorate your locker. The list goes on.

Now, I understand that in my elder years, my memory of high school may be a little fuzzy. I also know that a lot has changed since I was in high school. Social media wasn’t a “thing” back in my day (I can’t believe I’m saying things like “back in my day”). Our (90’s babies) biggest source of digital social interaction was chatting on AIM after school (my screen name was xAnGeLFaCe25x; ah, the things you don’t forget!), or the occasional “You’ve Got Mail!” notification on AOL. But what I do know is that the general feelings among teenage girls don’t change from generation to generation. It’s a confusing time no matter how you spin it.

So today, I’d like to use some of what I’ve learned about life over the past 10 years to write a letter to my 16-year-old self. A brief list of things to remember as I, 16-year-old me, navigate my way through high school, and through young adulthood. Things that I didn’t believe to be true back then, but things I wholeheartedly believe in now.

#1. Mom really DOES know what she’s talking about. 

And she has absolutely nothing to gain by steering you in the wrong direction. As a 16-year-old, it’s easy to think that your mom knows nothing, but your “best friends” (see #2 for more explanation as to why this is in quotes) do. After all, you share the same classes, walk the same halls, and know what REALLY goes down in freshman hall. But I promise you, 16-year-old Sammi, that friends will come and go. Mom will always be there, and she only wants the best for you. She also has a lot of years on your friends (JK, Mom – you’re still young and hip to me!), so it’s likely that she knows a thing or two more about life than them. Absorb what she tells you. You’ll be glad you did. She’s a very smart lady.

#2. Friends – even best friends – will come and go.

It’s totally normal for you to feel that your current friend circle is your forever friend circle. But people grow and change…and so will you. As you get older, you’ll identify who you are. You’ll figure out your own “things,” whether it’s your sense of fashion, music taste, favorite sports team, or career goals. You’ll also learn that you want to surround yourself with people who make you a better you. And you’ll meet people along the way who will do just that. This is not to say that all friendships are temporary. Some friendships MAY last a lifetime. But keep an open mind, and allow yourself to expand your friendship horizons.

#3. Whatever you’re worrying about…it likely won’t matter in a few years.

Whether it’s your midterm grades or your performance at a field hockey game, I promise you, it just won’t matter. When you’re in high school, you often feel that every little thing is make or break. Like one tiny failure is the end of the world. I promise you, it’s not. Life will go on. And you will continue to make mistakes – millions of mistakes – some bigger than others. And the older you get, the more you’ll appreciate those mistakes. Because mistakes allow us to learn and grow. They shape us into who we are. And that person is uniquely beautiful.

#4. Don’t work SO hard.

It’s admirable that you don’t want to settle for an A- on that term paper. It’s also admirable that you’re taking notes on every chapter of Lord of the Flies, separating each chapter’s notes by different colored sticky notes, and highlighting key terms that will surely show up on the final. But there’s more to life than obsessing over every assignment. Remember this: chances are good that your 75% is someone else’s 100%. There’s working hard and doing a great job, and there’s overworking yourself. Don’t burn out by 18. Keep perspective.

#5. Go with your gut. Chances are, if it feels off, it’s off.

This is a biggie. And it’s something, 16-year-old Sammi, that I wish we had learned earlier. This applies to so many situations. It’s really very simple – if something doesn’t seem kosher, it probably isn’t. Remove yourself from that situation. And in some cases, if you’re feeling particularly uncomfortable about something, don’t be afraid to turn to your family for support and guidance. They’re the ones who will stand by you through it all, the ugly and the uglier. They’re your rocks.

#6. Don’t be afraid to call bull$hit.

Unfortunately in life, there are people and things that will let you down. You won’t get that starting position you worked so hard for and clearly deserve. You won’t be treated nicely by a friend, classmate, boy, or the cashier in Shop Rite. Don’t stay quiet when something’s fishy. Speak up. Be heard. Don’t allow others to walk all over you. Remember, you train others how to treat you. You’re nobody’s doormat. Another thing, by speaking your mind, you might just motivate someone else to do the same thing. Be brave. Be powerful. Be strong.

Go get ’em, girl.

Fellow Ladies: Guys Don’t Define You

I sometimes think that it’d be easier to explain quantum theory than the world of Millennial dating…and I’m no bueno at physics. Speaking as a single, female twenty-something, it’s so easy for us to get caught up in wanting to find our “person” that the search to find the “perfect guy” becomes our main focus. And unfortunately, what we don’t realize is that when we do this, we often lose touch with ourselves – our passions, dreams, goals and aspirations – who we are.

In conversations, we tend to overthink every little detail – why didn’t he text me back? Why did it take so long for him to text me back? How many minutes should I wait before I text him back? Or should I wait days? Should I add an Emoji, or does that make me look desperate? Myself included, we allow these thoughts to whirl around our minds, leading us to become both emotionally and physically exhausted (and frustrated as hell). Sometimes it’s even difficult to find the mental capacity or energy to focus on other things like our relationships with family and friends, career, or even something as seemingly simple as finishing that book we started over six months ago (#guilty).

And when we take a step back and think about all the questions we ask ourselves when it comes to dating (or “talking to” a guy; a confusing concept in itself which I’ll revisit later), we realize an interesting thing. Instead of just being our amazing selves, we try to fit some made-up mold of a “perfect woman” – the “perfect woman” that we think guys want.

Let’s think about that for a minute. When did it become such a “win” for us to “get” a guy? And why are we so obsessed with “getting one” ASAP as twenty-somethings? I think there are a bunch of factors in play here.

For example, let’s take a look at our parents. We’ve all read countless articles about how we, Millennials, have different sensibilities and priorities than our parents. My mom and dad were in their mid-twenties when they got married, and by the time they were in their late twenties, they had two kids. It’s possible that we subconsciously base our timelines on those of our parents when it comes to getting married and having babies. But we’re really comparing apples to oranges in terms of generational tendencies. Actual thoughts I’ve had: “What if I don’t meet someone in the next year? Then it’ll take me at least a year before I’m engaged. Then I’m almost 30. I should start having kids before 30, right? Holy s%it, I’m so behind.” Wowza. CTFO, Sammi.

Another culprit: social media. How many times in the past week alone have you signed into Facebook, Instagram, etc. and found a feed filled with engagements and birth announcements? We joke about these things on a daily basis – think “all my friends are getting married and I’m counting down the minutes to happy hour” memes. But look at the effect it’s having on us, females especially. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, wondering if our lives are behind schedule because John Smith and Sally Sue are popping out another kid, and I don’t even have one yet. We can’t believe what we see on social media, anyway, but that’s a topic for a different post.

So back to this whole concept of the “perfect woman.” We too often act in ways that we think are acceptable to a guy – in ways that won’t “scare him off.” And we’re so wrapped up in not making one “wrong” move that we’ll even lower ourselves (and our standards) to be what we think guys want. Again, I’m guilty of this, too. Playing it cool when you really want to express how you feel. Sleeping with a guy before you’re “officially dating,” only to have him cut ties days after. We give so much of ourselves before we truly know someone. We even make excuses for guys – he was busy with work, his phone must be broken, he’s not a big texter (newsflash: we’re ALL big texters), etc.

And what has this done for females everywhere? Nothing good. It has given guys (I’ll take this opportunity to caveat that not all guys are like this) the right to act in any way they choose – cue the dick pics, ghosting and “are you up?” texts that only come through after midnight after weeks of silence. Or the dreaded “we’re kind of talking” trap – a subtle way for a dude to let you know that you’re never going to be an exclusive couple, and there’s most likely two to three others in your same situation. Can we even be mad if we allow this crap to happen?

And that’s just it. A major issue here is that guys (again, not all guys) CAN act this way because we make it OK for them to do so. We’re so dead-set on finding our “person” (which, let’s be honest, is most likely not the dude requesting nudies hours after you’re introduced) that we’ll actually respond to these things. We’ve set a precedent that these behaviors and actions (or non-actions) are acceptable because, hey, a cool girl wouldn’t call bulls%hit, right?

So, what does all of this mean? First, let’s address that not all guys are just about sexting and booty calls. There are some awesome guys out there. But the key to discovering that quality person – someone who may truly become your life partner – is patience. Ladies, your “person” is out there. Maybe you’ll meet him when you’re 28, maybe you’ll meet him when you’re 35. Maybe you’ve already met him and you don’t even realize it yet. But when the situation is right, and when HE’S right, he’ll love you for you and treat you with the respect that you deserve. The point is that there’s just no rush, and there’s definitely no reason to lower your standards to “get a guy” faster because you think it’s what’s supposed to happen at this point in your life…whatever that point may be.

For both our generation and future generations of our fellow fierce females (alliteration FTW!), we need to shift the current dating paradigm; untangle this effed up web in which we’ve gotten ourselves stuck. How do we do that? First, stop searching so hard for that “person.” In fact, stop searching altogether. Searching often leads to settling. Instead, take a step back. Find YOU. Find out what makes you happy. Figure out your real priorities. Maybe it’s traveling, trying out a new hobby, getting involved in a local charity. Love yourself before you allow yourself to love another person and be loved by that person. Don’t be so quick to jump on (both figuratively and literally) the next dude who happens to show some interest. Take things slow. If he turns out to be your soulmate, then freaking fabulous. And if not, that’s OK, too. Because your worth is not defined by a guy. Your worth is defined by you.

Meet Sammi: A First-Time Blogger

Who I Am Today

Hey, guys. My name’s Samantha Paige Lee, but you can call me Sammi. I’m a 26-year-old Jersey girl with a hint of New York City. I’m a habitual beach-goer and an avid Bruce Springsteen fan (for real; I can sing [not well] every word from “Thunder Road”). I work in marketing in NYC, and I love what I do. I’m overly obsessed with my dog, Dixie Rambo, and I’m confident that her wardrobe is much larger and trendier than my own. I cherish alone time, but I’m happiest when I’m surrounded by family. I’m a firm believer in keeping a few close friends; quality over quantity. I have an amazing mother and brother who also happen to be my two very best friends. I’m competitive…mostly with myself. I’m still convinced that I could have won the 4th grade spelling bee if only I had studied the word “adolescence” (damn that silent “c”!). I’m the epitome of an over-thinker (right now, I’m worried about what you’re thinking as you read this bio). I’m also a major klutz, and you’ll more than likely find me bruised. I love dresses and makeup, but I’m the most “me” when I’m in jeans, a t-shirt and Converses. I’m super into fitness and have most recently gotten into indoor cycling. I dabble in yoga, but have come to realize that I’ll never be able to touch my toes without putting in a decent effort. I love sour candy, FroYo and pretty sunsets. My music taste spans all genres. My food taste spans all regions. I have a bizarre fascination with llamas. I have an unusual fear of peacocks. Mitch Hedberg, Norm MacDonald and Will Ferrell make me laugh. I love laughing; laughing’s my favorite. I speak very quickly. Sometimes I speak too quickly, and I stumble over my own words. I’ll ramble on to avoid awkward pauses in conversations. I have a lot of random thoughts, and I’m excited to share those random thoughts with you in this blog.

How I Got Here

Growin’ Up

(Album Cred: Greetings from Asbury Park)

I was born in 1990 and grew up in a tiny, lovable town in northern New Jersey. My mom, dad, brother and I lived with my grandparents, and I considered myself one of the luckiest kids in town that I had not only two parents, but four.

TBH, I couldn’t have asked for a better childhood. I had too many Barbie dolls to count, along with all the accessories. Same with American Girl dolls. I’d spend countless hours watching my brother play Zelda on N64 (the GOAT of gaming systems, IMHO). Mario Kart races with my brother were my absolute fav (and they still are). We had family dinners every night. I was surrounded by so much love.

In the summer, we’d invite the entire town (legit) over our house to go swimming in our sweet-ass backyard pool. We’d make whirlpools, play Marco Polo, eat watermelon, BBQ, and have water gun fights. Sometimes, we’d go down the shore for the day. I have this memory of wearing my favorite two-ish piece bathing suit (“two-ish” in that it was two pieces connected by a pink mesh material) to the beach one day. This was against my mother’s better judgment (you were right, Mom). You can’t imagine how much sand got stuck in that bad boy. I don’t even know how there was any beach left. Thinking about that sandy feeling 20 years later still makes me cringe. I think it’s the source of my nightmares. But I digress…

The Awkward Years

When I was about 10, my parents decided to move out of my grandparents’ house, and we moved a whopping five or so blocks over into our own house. As years went by, I started to feel like something was up, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it was just because I was and awkward adolescent (that effing word again) trying to figure out life. That was probably part of it. But mainly, it was the discovery that my dad was an alcoholic. This kind of turned my world upside down. I don’t even know if I was mad or sad…most likely a combination of the two, with other emotions mixed in. I had sat through enough D.A.R.E. classes to know that this would have an impact on my family and me.

High School

Now in high school and not totally sure how to deal with or talk about this “situation,” I kind of just pressed “pause” in that direction and carried on with my life. I continued to work hard in school, get good grades, get involved in sports and sign up for extracurriculars. I had a lot of friends (all of whom were unaware of my “secret”) and a loving boyfriend who played a big role in making my high school years awesome.

Around junior year, my repressed feelings started to catch up with me. I started to develop anxiety and began competing with myself. My dad had moved out at this point, and I started to question a lot of things, including myself. I started setting unrealistic goals for myself. At this point in my story, I’d elaborate on what those goals were, but I never truly defined them. All I knew was that I needed to be better, but no “better” was ever good enough for me. I pushed these feelings to the back of my mind once again, took my SATs (after stressing out for a solid six months or more), got into a good college, and prepared for a new beginning.

#SoCollege

I started to pursue my business degree in a small, private university about half an hour from my hometown. Still striving to be better than myself (and anyone who I may have felt threatened by), I continued to get involved and stay busy. My social life and relationships suffered because of my anxiety, which led me to redo assignments two and three times, each time striving for “perfection.” When I did go out with friends, I made a habit of over-drinking to escape my frustrations (an ironic rebellion against an alcoholic father). This led to other shitty decisions like dating the wrong guys and lowering my self-value.

Nonetheless, I graduated Magna Cum Laude (which should have been Summa Cum Laude for reasons I won’t get into here… hello, self-competition) with too many honor chords to hang around my neck (seriously, my mom had to sew them together so I didn’t trip and hurt myself. #Klutz).

Adulting

When I graduated from college and started my career (you know, when most people outgrow crappy college habits) in NYC, my crummy decision-making didn’t stop. Though I held it together most of the time, I continued to make not-so-hot choices; drinking too much on weekends, lashing out at the wrong people, damaging relationships, etc.

As happens with time, more heartbreak and life changes ensued. The unexpected loss of my Grandpa the summer of 2015 was my tipping point; my biggest heartbreak yet.

After plenty more slip-ups (and thank God for the unconditional love and support of my family), I finally woke up and realized that I needed to make a choice. A very wise man told me that life is all about choices.

Today, I’m at a point where I’ve identified and approached my anxieties, and I’ve found positive ways to deal with them through the help and support of my friends and family. I’ve set goals for myself, both long- and short-term. And though it’s (well, I’m) a constant work in progress, I’m proud of the woman I’ve become, and I’m excited and eager to continue my journey.