Dating as a Girlboss: Thoughts on Ambitious Goals, Guys and Making It Work

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Hello, World.

Today I come to you with a topic that’s far more personal than my recent posts. Today, I want to discuss modern dating; specifically, if you’re career driven, have many goals for yourself, and are hesitant to settle down until you achieve your goals. For the purposes of full disclosure, I am by no means an expert on dating. In fact, I’m probably quite the opposite. However, lately, relationships have come up in conversations with friends more and more. I joked recently with one of my friends that I left for the summer with mostly single friends and returned to find a good portion of my friends dating someone or at least having a hand in the dating game.

During a night of drinking with my roommates a few weeks ago, we swapped war stories about relationships we’ve had in the past. As I sat there, the sweet scent of a Mike’s Harder wafting up my nostrils, listening to my friends lament the failed attempts of relationships past, I couldn’t help but think that I’ve never been really really burned. I mean, I’ve had failed relationships and once they ended I thought, “That wasn’t the healthiest, but overall I learned a lot.” Additionally, I’m a firm believer that most of the time, there isn’t one completely innocent party. A relationship is a two-way street, and often both parties act in a way that contributes to the relationship’s demise. In all honesty, looking back on the relationships I consider significant, I don’t think the guys I was with are bad people, not then and not now. But I look at where we are now, individually, and laugh. We couldn’t be more different. The guys I dated went their own way, and I went mine, and we ended up in very different places. There’s a reason we separated and it was for the best.

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However, it’s funny how different dating is as you age. In high school, dating was fairly easy. You went to the movies, you hung out by firepits in backyards, you argued about whether you were going to hang out or not based on if he could borrow the family car. In college it was different, but still pretty easy. You studied together, went on dates in your college town, attended parties together and argued about whether you were going to go to that party with his friends or go to that event with yours. I’m not trying to simplify dating, sometimes it is heavy and sometimes it has intense, serious consequences. However, in the grand scheme of things, dating in high school and college seems easier because it’s easy to meet people, it’s easy to see them, and you’re both operating in similar spheres of life. However, dating post-college isn’t as easy. My friends are all on dating apps and recommended I sign up. So I did. I scrolled through a few profiles and didn’t find anything promising, so said maybe that wasn’t the best approach. My friends often tell me my standards are too high. Maybe they are, but I also haven’t met anyone I wanted to lower my standards for, so I remain steadfast in my pursuit of the “unrealistic.”

In addition to relationships entering conversation more frequently with my friends, some of my favorite bloggers have also been contributing to the dialogue. Katy Bellotte, the Youtube persona and author of TheKatyProject.com, has constant negativity clogging her comment sections with readers ridiculing her videos and blog posts for focusing primarily on relationships. This obviously raises the question: why do people react so viscerally to a college-aged woman (who has her own business) discussing relationships, f*ckboys and casual sex? Some women comment with “I like you, but all you talk about is relationships. It’s annoying. You don’t need a man!” But here’s the thing: she doesn’t need a man, but maybe she wants one. Maybe she doesn’t even want a man in the sense of an ever elusive creature who she can chase through various frat houses, she just wants a relationship, someone she can feel something for who isn’t going to text her “Send nudes” at 3 am or “you up?” at midnight. People expect someone like Katy, who is a business owner, driven, dedicated, and absolutely killing it, to stand firm and say, “I don’t need a man.” They expect her to have walls on all four sides of her being that refuse to let anyone in because she’s a strong independent woman. However, I think vulnerability is important. Vulnerability is what allows us to learn. If you can only be either a strong independent woman or a senseless romantic that’s extremely limiting. Why can’t women who are strong and independent want relationships?

The Bold Type, the new Freeform show, is a current obsession of mine and it’s mainly because the show portrays driven, successful women grappling with friendship, their careers, and relationships. Relationships and the ability to feel strongly for another person is what makes us human. Sure, we fear that stomach-dropping, ears ringing feeling that comes with a read, but unanswered text, or when he’s over an hour late and doesn’t call, or when you find out through the grapevine he’s implied you’re desperate. Dating is scary but I do think that sometimes we–‘we’ being successful and driven women–use our status as a blockade against feelings. If we’re too busy building our empires, we can’t possibly get hurt. There’s only so many read receipt rejections, minutes over- thinking responses, and disappointed evenings women can endure before they feel like sitting on their couch with a bottle of wine and chocolate, pathetically watching romantic comedies and thinking the following

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I mean, dating is hard enough and then you factor in all the conventions of modern dating and it’s basically a no go. By modern dating conventions I mean the whole “don’t catch feels,” “don’t seem too eager,” “make him jealous,” “you have to be casual” stuff. There’s this expectation that we cannot feel anything and if we do feel something then it’s our own damn fault when it goes wrong because we weren’t supposed to feel anything to begin with. To be frank, this idea of dating makes it pretty easy to feel nothing. Few people have the conviction to say how they’re feeling and pursue what they want openly. Why is it bad to admit you care for someone and then pursue them? To be fair, some of us have that “he said you’re trying too hard and he’s not interested,” playing on repeat in our head as background music in the movie of our lives where he asks for our number, ask us if we’re going to make a move, then has the audacity to call you desperate, thinking you’d never find out. Hello – high school isn’t dead (news travels faster than if I live tweeted the whole thing).

Returning to my “too high of standards” for a moment, I think the funny thing is that my standards aren’t actually that high. Is it really asking too much to want someone who is witty and understands that I’m not being snobby, I’m just really sarcastic? Is it too much to want someone who will return texts or calls without it being weird? Who won’t gawk at the phone, exasperated I’m showing my hand if I call them simply because I want to? I don’t think it is. As a general aside, when my last serious relationship ended, someone close to me said I was one bad relationship from seriously screwing up my life. They were joking, but there was some truth in this.  Perhaps because when I’m in, I’m all in or because if I dedicate myself to something, I will sometimes try to work it out for much longer than I should. Regardless, the comment stung. Since then, I’ve refused to let anyone derail my plans. I’ve refused to settle and I’ve refused to pursue someone unless I really felt something (I know, feeling something is breaking the rules… But I don’t always like playing by the rules, so…)

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Some people want a Nicholas Sparks movie to play out in real time. Some people are being “realistic” for accepting modern dating as it is, building their fortress and refusing to “catch feels.” Some people think dating should have an aspect of *gasp* mutual respect. All of us think we have the dating game somewhat figured out, and if we don’t we come up with coping mechanisms… either refusing to acknowledge feelings or recusing ourselves for a few rounds (aka months/years) of the dating game. I joke pretty regularly that I have horrible timing. I tend to catch people on the cusp of a major life change. My first serious boyfriend and I broke up because he was going through a personal change that affected all the relationships in his life and our relationship was part of the collateral damage. My second serious boyfriend figured some things out and acted upon certain discoveries, which terminated our relationship unexpectedly and quickly. Then, the next person to come along entered my life before I was about to move across the country and few people desire a long distance relationship, especially in new relationships. However, I do feel like the expression “you’ll meet the person when you stop trying” is becoming a cliche for a reason. We don’t have to actively look for someone to date. In fact, I don’t think we want or need to engage in such a pursuit. However, regardless of the path you choose when it comes to dating, remember it’s okay to have standards, it’s okay to stick by those standards and it’s certainly okay to feel. How are we supposed to have lasting, healthy relationships if their beginnings are built on games played through emotional fortresses?

This post is getting long and so I think I will conclude with this: find someone who makes you laugh, who the conversation is easy with, who challenges you, who supports you, and who won’t waste your time, forcing you to wonder where you stand. Find someone who makes it clear that you’re important and that you matter.

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What are your experiences with dating post-grad or while in school?

Truly,

Callie leigh

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Saying No to Self-Doubt

Hello, World.

Today I want to share a post about self-doubt. But rather than lament that 90%, probably more, of the population experiences self-doubt regularly, I think it’s important to figure out ways to close the door on self-doubt. Figure out how to say, “no thank you!” or “ain’t nobody got time for that,” to self doubt! We all experience moments where we question our ability, and I think a lot of it has to do with feeling uncertain about the future. It’s not necessarily that we can’t do something, we just wonder if we’re doing the right thing.

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I have four main ways I combat self-doubt that I usually turn to when I’m starting to question myself, and even in the worst moments, at least one of my methods calms me.

  1. Meditate. Meditation is underrated. I think even if this doesn’t immediately wipe away uncertainty, it at least calms the mind, and you can use meditation to focus on the good things in your life, what your strengths are, and even meditate on why you’re feeling insecure.
  2. Call in the Big Guns (support system, whoever is on the list.) I usually go Mom-Dad-Sister, depending on why I need to call. Sometimes I go Dad first, if it’s a school related stress, and Mom first if it’s a social thing. If I really need to break down, Mom is always first. If none of them are available or I’m still feeling meh, I text my two college friends, who I have a group chat with. They’re always quick to give a pep talk and ground me.
  3. Take a Walk. This could also be a trip to the gym, but I know some days when I’m feeling extra down and I don’t have time to hit the gym, a walk downtown or across campus will calm me down. Fresh air is good for the soul, especially when you aren’t sure you’re in the right place doing the right thing. In those moments, get some fresh air, calm yourself, and remember why you started.
  4. Write it out. Sometimes I will journal when I need to just let out whatever is holding me back. I use a pen, and literally write away the self-doubt. The self-doubt goes onto a piece of paper, and then into the trash (recycling bin). Other days I will write “you are good enough,” or “build your empire,” on a little post it and put it in front of me on my desk or in my planner. That way, even when I’m questioning myself, I’m also encouraging myself!

While each of these steps may seem like they’re not actually that helpful, I can assure you, they are more helpful than you would think. Sometimes calling on someone is best, other times spending a little time on your mental health is best. Other times, getting outside and gaining perspective is needed. And other times, you just have to make self-doubt a tangible item that can be discarded! Whatever you need, each of these offers something a bit different in combating self-doubt!

What’s your favorite way to get rid of self-doubt?

Truly,
Callie leigh

The Double-Edged Sword of Perfectionism

Hello, World.

Today I want to talk about something I feel has greatly affected me in the past, and in many ways, in the present. Perfectionism. Perfectionism is the refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. People who suffer from this very real condition are probably people who you look at and say, “wow, such an overachiever,” or “she’s always so perfect,” or “why don’t you ever let people see you as anything other than perfect?” You probably get annoyed with people who are perfectionists without even realizing that it’s not easy for them to be perfectionists. Perfectionism can be debilitating because we, those who like to be perfect, have to actively work at not letting people see us sweat. And it’s a totally double edged sword because we don’t want to mess up and we like people to think we have it all together, so the minute we’re shown as humans who make mistakes, well, people judge and ridicule the mistake we made because we hardly let them see us as fellow humans who make human mistakes. I’ve always worked very hard, and I’ve always liked to be the one who had it all together and I hate making mistakes. I’m a private person, so I don’t feel the need to shout to the world “HEY I MADE A MISTAKE TODAY!” People who are upfront about life, and the mistakes they make are amazing, brave individuals, but just because I, and others, don’t share as much about our mistakes, failures, etc. does’t mean we’re any less great. You don’t have to advertise your mistakes or trials to be a strong person.

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For me personally, I share my life on the internet, and for me that’s so far out of my normal comfort zone that it seems weird at times. However, I should also say I tend to share the highlights because I don’t know many people who love reading about people’s hardships. Sometimes reading those posts, about a time someone failed a test or class, or a failed relationship, or whatever else are part of life can be reassuring, but it really depends. The people who share those, and the people who don’t, are opening themselves up to immense amounts of criticism. For every comment saying, “you’re amazing! Go you!” there are seven more saying, “you’re awful, go away, why are you so pathetic?” Being on the internet is scary, but that’s not what I want to focus on, today I want to talk about those of us that tend to pick the highlights not only in our internet presence but in our everyday life.

When I was in high school, I didn’t drink and I didn’t [and still do not] do drugs. I didn’t think this was a big deal. I just went about my business. But then, I started losing friends. Friends stopped inviting me with them because there would drinking or smoking or whatever. Here’s the thing though: just because I didn’t do those things didn’t mean I thought less of the people who did. At the time, I didn’t necessarily understand some of the choices, but I tried my best not to judge them.

In college, I wasn’t into hook up culture. I had friends who were because let’s face it: hook up culture is prominent in college. But I didn’t judge the people who partook because frankly it’s not place to judge them. If they feel empowered or feel like it’s best, then they should do it. But I had friends who stopped telling me things, acted nervous that I would judge them, and wouldn’t understand. To that, all I have to say is I may not relate perfectly, but again, it’s not my place to judge. Just because I don’t partake in something doesn’t mean I will vote to burn you at the stake if you do. I wasn’t perfect, I made mistakes, but I think because I often kept them to myself, my friends weren’t as comfortable sharing their lives with me because they thought their actions weren’t perfect, and so I wouldn’t approve. I cannot count the number of times people said, “oh, you’re perfect. Oh, you don’t make mistakes.” I don’t say this to brag because honestly to me this is more of an insult. I want to yell, “No I’m not. I’m just like you,” but doing so isn’t really in me. I project an image of myself that is true, but is also a more refined version of myself. I care far too much what people think, I have countless insecurities, and so I keep many things to myself because sometimes I don’t want to deal with other people’s opinions.

In all honesty, I don’t think I ever really thought too much about my battle with perfectionism, except when my need to be perfect began to affect my relationships with other people. Then I started to feel utterly alone, and while I wouldn’t settle for less than an A in a class, or having the perfect outfit everyday, I started feeling like maybe my social life was less than perfect. To be honest, the first time I really started to think that maybe my perfectionism had gotten out of hand was when someone said to me, in so many words, “you project a certain image of yourself. You’re all about you all the time, and you never let anyone see you as anything less than perfect. It makes people feel judged.” While I was already thoroughly irritated with the person who delivered this message for various reasons, this particular chain of thought gave me pause. I wasn’t sure what to say. I remember crying. I wanted to say, “I’m not perfect. I’m not judging. You don’t understand that I can’t control my need to be perfect.” I cried for a long time because my perfectionism was really affecting my ability to connect with people who made different choices than I did or felt that I was judging them. I think in many ways my perfectionism became a point of insecurity. I didn’t want to talk about my grades or what I was doing at family functions and I didn’t want to let my friends see me cry over a perfectly fine LSAT score because I knew the comments that would follow would be similar to “you’re so perfect. Why am I not surprised? Are you really crying? It’s not a big deal.” For the record, telling someone with perfectionism they’re perfect doesn’t actually help them. At all.

I’m not looking for sympathy by posting about this, but rather I’m hoping to give a voice to those who have perfectionism. I’m also hoping that people who think I’m perfect or feel I’m always judging will understand I’m just a normal human too. I think I felt compelled to share about this because I went to a “How to be a Successful Law Student,” and one of the speakers was talking about a girl she thought was perfect and totally together her 1L year. Later, when they were talking, the girl who seemed perfect admitted to crying everyday of her 1L year. I know it’s cliche, but don’t judge a book by it’s cover! Just because people seem one way, doesn’t automatically mean they are that way. Remember: people probably think all kinds of things about you, but do you think everything everyone has ever thought about you is true?

Truly,
Callie leigh