What does life look like post graduation from graduate school? I am about to find out!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Out of the Woods?!

 In my previous blog post, I wrote about what I was going to be giving up for Lent this year. I decided to make a huge sacrifice and give up dating. For the past 40+ days, I haven't been on a date at all. I even deleted all my online dating profiles and apps so I wouldn't even be tempted to even flirt with a  guy. So, how was the experience of going dateless for Lent? Did I hate it? Did I love it? Would I do it again?
 To be honest, it was actually kinda refreshing to give up something so important to me for forty days.  Did I miss it? At first, kinda but then I got used to it. It was nice to not have my time so caught up in messaging guys and to not have to play those crazy mind games for a while of "will he message me back". It felt freeing to be able to devote my time and energy to other pursuits and interests. I had more time to myself, more time with friends and more time to devote to other hobbies. I found myself  not having to be concerned as much with whether or not a guy likes me or is into me. I enjoyed my time away from the dating game and think it gave me a new clarity and focus. I had some time to figure out what it is I actually might want in a potential partner. I had time to determine what really are my deal breakers and what am I more willing to compromise on. I also now know that I don't want to play games with anybody. I'm not looking for games. I'm looking for something real. Games are for children, not adults. I have a better idea of that now.
 Sunday night, I slowly began the process of dipping my toes back into the dating pool. I'm going gently back in as I don't want to burn myself out on it again. I feel much less cynical about it now, though. I genuinely am going into this with a much more optimistic outlook on it all but also a much more realistic outlook as well. I know that not every guy is going to be into me. I get that now. I also know that I'm not going to be into every guy. That's ok too. I feel better able to handle rejection and disappointment now and I also have learned better how to respect my own needs and time more. I'm not going to waste time going on a date with someone unless I am really into them and feel like there might be a connection. My time is way too valuable to me now. I'm also going to try and do a better job of asserting myself and being the first one to message and the first one to ask out on a date and such. I have tended to be rather passive about that in the past but that hasn't done me any good. If I like someone, I need to be more aggressive. That's going to be difficult for me as I know myself well enough to know that being assertive is something that doesn't come to me naturally. Blame the social anxiety or the Asperger's or whatever else but I am determined to overcome it.
 What I have also realized is that it really is going to be ok if I end up alone. That doesn't mean I've been a failure. That doesn't mean that I have to feel alone. I can surround myself with friends and family and such. Yes, having a partner is a different thing entirely but that doesn't mean that that has to be the only option to be happy. I'm not going to close the door or say that there isn't anyone out there for me but I'm also going to accept that this may end up being my normal for the rest of my life and I need to make peace with that. Taking a break from dating helped me realize that. Now when I do go on dates it won't be because of some desperate need to not be single. It will be more out of a genuine desire to connect romantically with someone and to have them be a part of my already great life. Perhaps that's been the secret all along? I don't know but I sure am looking forward to getting back out there. It's been a good 40 days in the desert but now, I'm ready to have my thirst quenched!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The More Boys I Meet (or What I'm Giving Up for Lent)

  The season of Lent is upon us. This is the time of year when Christians around the world commit to a season of repentance and renewal. In the weeks leading up to Jesus's death, we are reminded of the sacrifices Jesus made and are asked to recommit ourselves to following Christ in this season. Many Christians choose to do that by giving up something for Lent. It can be chocolate or soda or caffeine or candy or TV or Facebook or any number of other things. The whole point of giving something up is to help you connect better with God and with your faith. Many people give something up and take something else on, like reading the Bible every day or praying every day or something else entirely.
  So, what am I giving up this year? Something that just a year ago, I wouldn't have ever imagined I would want to give up or even need to give up. I'm giving up dating. You see, over the last year, the number of dates I have gone on has skyrocketed. I went on more dates in the last year than I did in the previous 15 years combined. Some of them were great. Some of them were terrible. Some were really mediocre. I learned a lot from each of them and I met a lot of great guys through these dates. However, none of them have led to anything substantial or long lasting. I've ended up alone over and over again and that has really hurt. I'm really tired of the games and the drama and the endless back and forth. I'm tired of going on a great date with a  guy only to never hear from him again. I've gotten to the point where I'm no longer looking forward to going on dates. I've become bitter and cynical and keep telling myself that this one won't be any different than all the others. When that starts happening, you know you need to take a break for a while.
  So, I'm declaring that for Lent this year, I shall not be going on any dates. I, just this morning, deleted all my online dating apps completely. I'm taking a break and closing things down for a few weeks. I'm hoping to use this time to recharge, refresh and to figure out what is it that I really want in a relationship. What are my deal breakers? What am I willing to compromise on? What do I need from a partner and more importantly, what do I have to give to a partner? I'm not so sure that I actually know the answers to those questions anymore which is why I think I need to take a break for a while. It is even entirely possible that I may stay away from dating for longer than the Lenten season. I may or may not ever come back to it, to be perfectly honest. I enjoy being single and if I have to end up all alone, then so be it. I've made peace with that and I'm not losing sleep over it. For right now, I need a break. A break from drama and games and constant wondering if I should text him first or if I should wait until he texts me. A break from break-ups and bad dates and awkward silences and all that. I think my wallet and my schedule will appreciate the break as well (dating is expensive out here, for the record).
  So, here we go. Day 1 of the new adventure known as no dating. I've heard it said that you meet the love of your life when you stop looking. Time to put that theory to the test! Here goes nothing! Wish me luck and hold me accountable to this. I really am determined to keep this Lenten vow and go an entire 40+ days with no dates. It shall be hard, I am sure. But I have found myself developing an unhealthy addiction to dating so I need to cut it off before it gets much worse. I shall let you all know how it goes and what, if anything, I learned from the experience.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Word of the Year

Hello folks,
   I know what you're thinking: what, he's actually blogging?! OMG, stop the presses!! Yes, it is true, I have not been very good about blogging on this thing in a very long time. I can't promise that I will ever blog again after this post is published. I just really haven't been in the mood to sit down and write on this thing so I just haven't. Anyway, without further ado, I bring you to the subject of this very post.
  I don't know how many of you are familiar with the concept of word of the year. It is the idea that you pick a word at the beginning of the year with the hope that you will actually live into that word over the course of the year. I've known about the word for a while but never actively participated in it.  For me, the concept of coming up with a word for my entire year before the year has really even begun is just baffling and weird to me. And, if I'm being honest, a bit daunting. After all, what if I can't actually manage to live in to that word? What if I pick a word and my year doesn't end up fitting that word at all? Yeah, suffice it to say I have lofty expectations for myself when it comes to such a concept so I haven't ever participated before.
  I'd like to start by taking a minute to reflect back on the past year. 2015 was my best year yet. I grew so much as a person, as a friend and as an individual. I graduated finally with my Masters degree. I moved to one of the most beautiful and diverse cities in the world. I started my first grown up big kid job (one that is actually in my field). I joined the SF Gay Men's Chorus, a group that has helped me find community and do something I love. I got my first tattoo (one that I'm so thrilled with and one that I still need to sit down and explain the rationale behind someday). I traveled to two states I had never been to before (North Carolina and Utah) and I met a United States senator! Plus, I got to see One Direction and Lee Ann Womack in concert! Yeah, 2015 was jam-packed with lots of activity and excitement. Is it possible to have a word that sums up the year? What word could possibly describe this past 365 days of my life?
  For me, the word for 2015 would be hope. I spent the first few months of 2015 unsure where I was going and what I was going to be doing next. This time last year I was in the process of applying for jobs out of state and praying to God that I would get one of them. I felt that my time in the Bay Area had come to an end and I was ready to move on and experience life someplace new. Long story short, neither of the jobs I applied for even granted me an interview. I was disappointed and sad but by then I had also come to the realization that I wasn't quite as ready to say goodbye to California as I thought. So, I took it as a good sign that neither one of those jobs panned out. However this still meant that I was less than three months away from graduation without a job offer in sight and no housing leads either. I kept praying to God asking God to send me some sort of sign that opting to stay out here was the right move. Months went by with nothing. No job offers, no housing leads and graduation was looming ever closer. I was starting to get very angry and annoyed with God. It felt like my prayers weren't being heard. It felt like God didn't care anymore and had given up on me. Flash forward to August. 3 weeks before I needed to have something lined up, I got offered my current position as a hospital chaplain. Then, just a few days later, I got offered a place to live in SF that was within my budget and would only be a short 30 minute commute to work. Did I mention that this all happened just before I had to be out of my on campus housing? Yeah, God was listening to my prayers. God heard every single one of them but God was just waiting for the exact right moment and the exact right thing before God could answer them. I kept holding out hope that God would provide. Turns out, my hopes weren't misplaced. God sent me the exact right things at exactly the right time and keeping my hope in God and prayer alive.
   So yeah, I'd say hope would be a great word to sum up my 2015. So, what about 2016? Do I even dare and try to already think of a word that could possibly encapsulate this next year of my life? There's so much pressure here. Whatever word I pick I feel like I have to live up to. I like the idea of challenging myself to live in to a word. So, here goes nothing. My word for 2016 is:
Yep, my word is JOY!
  Joy is not a word that comes easily to me. I'm a pessimist with clinical depression so the concept of being full of joy about anything is not something I've been very good at. But I want to approach this year with joy. I want to be joyful and appreciative of all I have. I want to try new things and not complain about them. I want to not be a "bitter, old cynic" and instead look forward to whatever this year might bring me, good or bad or neutral. I want to maintain my sense of joy because I know what it looks like to live without that. I lived without joy or hope or anything positive for too long and I'm tired of living that way. So, I'm declaring 2016 the year of JOY! May it be so!