Stuck In A Rut

One thing I love about having this blog is how many stories I get to hear about my readers’ dating lives. It’s wonderful seeing so many blossoming relationships, and I feel honored when people trust me with their dating problems or to give good advice.

Something that comes up a lot is overwhelming discouragement with the way dating is going. In some cases girls who come to me say that they struggle because they don’t get asked out IRL very often, thus do not have a wide variety of prospects. Others say that every date they do go on seems to end in disaster — or even just a lack of interest — and that they fear they’ll never find anyone.

I have some encouragement to offer, though. There is someone out there for everyone. I am not saying that everybody in the world is going to find a significant other or get married — though I think if you want someone in your life you’ll manage to find a special person eventually if you’re really willing to put in the work to find them — but I think we often worry that since we haven’t found someone yet, that it’s never going to happen. That is a very slippery slope, my friends!

Some people in this world do have more matches than others. Certain personalities seem to have more choices than others, but that doesn’t mean if you haven’t met the right people to date yet that you never will. In the meantime, here are a few tips I have come up with to better yourself while you feel somewhat stuck in a rut:

  • Focus on your friends. Shifting some of the time you might spend dating towards nourishing some of your good friendships isn’t something you’ll ever regret — whereas pouring all of your free time into dating and away from your close relationships might be. Some friends are forever, whereas most of the people you date will likely only be in a very small part of your life. Friends are the people who will help you through heartbreak, be there for you when no one else is, and happily pick you up when you’re feeling down. Strengthen these relationships and make time for “friend dates” to have fun while you’re looking for Mr. Right on the side!
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We have all felt like this Pug at some point in our lives — though none of us can possibly be quite as cute as he is!

  • Volunteer. Spending some of your free time sharing your gifts and talents with the world is a really beautiful thing. I have also found that when you volunteer your time to help other people, you end up getting even more out of the experience than the people you are helping. Making a difference in the world is an incredible thing that isn’t as difficult as people make it seem. After all, even if you just touch one person’s heart, you are changing their world for the better.
  • Learn something new. Ever since I became single again I have made a point to learn new things and make myself a more dynamic person. I learned some new magic tricks to add to my repertoire, I am working towards my Masters in English, and I started listening to podcasts (Freakonomics has made learning about the economy simple, which also led me to one of my other favorite podcasts, Question of The Day). These are all things I am doing solely for myself and I appreciate the time I get to focus solely on the things I want to do, as one day I won’t have as much free time for myself.
  • Form new friendships. Making new friends is really rewarding, especially when they end up becoming close ones. I have also found that meeting new people often means you eventually meet their friends, and you never know when someone might decide you are a “perfect match” for one of their friends. Dating is all about networking, so although this shouldn’t be your motive for making new friends, it can certainly be a bonus!

Today’s lesson: Positive thinking is so important, and getting too discouraged with dating won’t solve any of your problems. Instead, take a deep breath, relax, and work on bettering yourself and the world around you! You will never feel like you wasted time if you’re becoming a stronger, more empathetic, and kinder person. Making a difference in the world will not only impact the people around you, but it will change your life for the better as well.

“Did You Add Me Yet?!”

Ugh! Creepers are crawling all over the suburbs of DC.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, I have an autonomic nervous system disorder and spend quite a bit of time visiting different doctors. I have a primary care doctor, two cardiologists, two neurologists, a physical therapist, and a bunch of people I have been to for a wide variety of medical testing. A little joke some of us POTSies have is that we’ve seen more doctors than movies this summer. #TRUTH.

Anyway, this obviously means there are also nurses and people who check me out before I meet with the doctor. I was at the cardiologist recently and there was a new male nurse who took me back to record my blood pressure, heart rate in several different positions (lying down, sitting, and standing), and a bunch of other things that never cease to confuse me. The heart test involves putting a bunch of electrodes on my chest that are hooked up to a giant machine that records all of the information for the doctor to look at. As I pulled up my shirt and he began placing the sticky circles in the proper places, he started chatting about how much he enjoys lifting weights. I told him that I used to love running and that it was a goal of mine to get back into it again one day. He told me that running was great, but lifting weights is much better. To each his own! I know weight lifting has a bunch of great health benefits, but running is just so therapeutic for me and is genuinely one of my favorite activities.

We kept talking a little longer and he told me that I should follow him on Instagram. I asked him if it was a fitness account or something, as I figured he was probably just trying to grow his fan base, but he told me that it was just a personal page.

Weird, I thought. It didn’t seem like a super-professional move, and I had literally just been talking about a guy I was dating, but I didn’t think too much of it. I figured he realized I wasn’t really interested, as I didn’t ask for his handle or anything else about his account.

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This guy actually looks SUPER similar to the nurse I met, haha!

After he was done writing down my numbers he led me to a second room for more tests. He left for a bit, and appeared fifteen minutes later to hook me up to another machine.

“So, have you followed me on Instagram?” he asked casually.

“No,” I replied, confused. “I’ve just been playing chess on my phone.”

I purposefully didn’t say that I would or ask for his handle, as I really wasn’t interested in mixing my cardiology friends with my personal life. He went on to give me the little tube to breathe in and stuck me on the bike. Here is a picture of what the contraption looks like for reference; do you think I look like Bane too?

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This was my first time doing this test a few years ago; I had my mom take a picture, as the crazy contraption reminded me of “The Dark Knight.”

Anyway, he rambled about a few of his favorite foods and then told me I just had to follow him on Instagram when I was done with my exercise.

3, I noted to myself. I was huffing and puffing, and slightly annoyed this time. I don’t go to the doctor’s office to make friends or get dates. I’m there because I have a chronic illness and would like to get the best medical care possible. This isn’t a fun little trip for me; it’s something that I hope is another step towards getting better.

I finished my workout and he recorded my results. I was led to a third room where the doctor would eventually meet with me. “Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram,” he reminded me as he headed toward the door. “The name’s MurrayJeffersonLincolnGray.*”

What the heck?! I thought to myself. First, how in the world was I supposed to have found him before when I didn’t even have his first name, much less the three others that followed. Second, he really needs to take a chill pill. I am not adding this character on any of my social media sites, and he has clearly crossed a line of professionalism.

I decided to go to his page to see why it was such an urgent matter that I follow him. The first thing I noticed was that he only had 205 followers. This made everything that had happened just that much weirder, as it was clear this fellow didn’t push his Instagram to everyone — unless, of course, all the others were too creeped out to follow him as well, which is a very real possibility.

The second thing I noticed really gave me chills. He had posted photos in his underwear! Not just like a goofy selfie, but a weird pose and clenched butt cheeks. He had pulled the briefs to the side so you could see how much he had been working on his glute muscles.

YIKES.

I was speechless. I wasn’t brave enough to keep scrolling through his account, but at first glance he seemed to be really into post workout photos and his butt. If you want to do this, cool, but don’t try to get people in your professional life to follow you. That is so wrong and is a terrible idea on so many different levels. I also noticed that he had a girlfriend, which also seemed odd. He had been pretty flirty all day, and in all honesty I would be ticked if my significant other kept trying to get rando clients to add him on social media accounts.

After the terrible assault on my eyes had occurred, I hit the “Block” button at the top of the screen and clicked out of the app. I pinched myself, wondering if this was a strange dream, and jumped as my nails dug into my skin. Nope. This was an incredibly strange reality.

By the time I was leaving the office he had reached 5. He asked me 5 times to follow him on Instagram, and finally got rejected. I love that strange and awkward things happen to me so often because I have great stories to tell, but this one was just a little too out there for me. I don’t want to have to deal with creeps at the doctors’ office of all places, and felt uncomfortable enough that I will not be returning to this particular nurse anymore.

What do you think? How would you have reacted if you were in my shoes?


*Obviously I changed the handle around a little, but it was super-similar to this made up one.

Sometimes Plans Get Broken

The last three years of my life did not go the way I could have imagined in a million years. If you had told me when I was in undergrad that I would develop a debilitating chronic illness just weeks after graduating I would have gone into full-out panic mode. Despite typical teen struggles I had never really dealt with anything incredibly difficult in my life before.

My story certainly doesn’t mirror a typical twentysomething’s, but I have been able to learn firsthand how refreshing it is to focus on your own journey, rather than comparing yourself to others.

My Dreams were: to move to New York City, segue my editorial internship at Seventeen magazine into a job, pay off my own college debt, and enjoy a few more years in a teeny tiny apartment with a fun roommate while I was still young and unmarried. Towards the end of my time working in the city I felt like these dreams were so close I could almost taste them — after all, I was literally eating $2 New York pizza and garlic knots for dinner every other night, and I had become a pro in the city I loved so much.

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I loved incorporating some of my favorite clothing pieces from London into my New York wardrobe.

My reality is: I live at home with my parents in the suburbs, I physically cannot work despite spending so much time in school preparing for the real world (Where the fun should really begin in my field!), and I spend the same amount of time at the doctors’ office as many of my peers spend working. All of this topped off with the handful of POTS symptoms that remain and my chronic widespread pain make a perfect recipe for frustration.

The funniest thing about everything, though, is I am the most content and secure I have ever been in my entire life. I see so many of my friends succeeding in their own lives and careers and I am genuinely so happy for each and every one of them. I actually really like social media because I feel like I get to celebrate small and large victories not only with my close friends, but also with people I haven’t seen in awhile.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes feel a little pang of jealousy that most of the people I spend time with have normally functioning bodies, but it’s never in a way that I would want to take anything away from anyone; I just want to have my own health back. All of my friends are able to go to concerts and on road trips without having a care in the world, whereas it takes a lot of planning for me to be even remotely spontaneous. So in this way, I do sometimes struggle with the things I have to miss because of my illness.

I still feel a little heartbroken when I think about New York and wish I could go out my front door and see the beautiful lights shimmering around me at night. I want to be able to live life again without paying attention to dozens of little details to ensure I don’t feel incredibly ill, but that isn’t my reality at the moment. Right now I do have to take lots of extra care of my body and I can’t do everything that my heart desires.

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This is literally the coolest couch ever. All the celebrities that come in sit here for their interviews!

So, how do I feel so at peace with my life? How can I be so happy for others when I don’t necessarily have the same privilege of a normal, working body?

My answer is actually really simple. I focus on the things I do have, rather than those that I do not, and I realize that there is enough room for everyone to be successful in their own way.

Here is the long list of things I do have in my life:

  • Amazingly supportive friends and family who love me very much. This already makes me feel like one of the most blessed and lucky girls in the world when I take the time to sit down and really appreciate them.
  • The best best friends in the world — this includes my little puppy, Macy.
  • My body works enough now that I can have some fun adventures, as long as I take it easy a few days before and after a big event.
  • I think there’s a good chance I might have found the best guy in the entire world and he likes me too (And is totally fine with the excessive amount of rest I need to feel good).
  • My heart has been broken into a million pieces and I still know how to love fiercely.
  • Even though I can’t be writing articles for Seventeen at the moment, I can share my thoughts with lots of young girls on this blog. At the end of the day I am still following one of the paths I really wanted to be on.
  • I may not have a snazzy New York apartment, but I have a warm place to stay and absolutely love my family — I actually think I am lucky to have a few extra years living with them!
  • The Office is available on Netflix (And so is Pokémon: Indigo League… I mean, what?).
  • And lastly, I have chocolate. I may have developed several new food allergies in the past few years, but I love chocolate and it loves me, so I think I can deal with any of the dietary restrictions that come my way.
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Macy is my sweet little guardian angel and has been one of the biggest blessings I have received since I got sick.

I really could go on and on about the things I am thankful for in my life. I’m not optimistic every day and I do struggle seeing the bright side of things sometimes, but my God is an awesome God and I know He is taking really good care of me. I have known from a young age that my purpose in life is to somehow help others, and the responses I have gotten from writing for this blog makes me feel like I am making an impact on people’s lives.

Thank you for reading what I write, and thank you for being so supportive of me. I love that so many of you have been comfortable enough to trust me with some of your struggles, and I feel blessed to walk alongside such wonderful people in their journeys through heartbreak or to find love. Each one of you has something absolutely amazing to offer the world. Just because your story might be vastly different, doesn’t mean that it is any less important or fulfilling.

Feature Friday: Kalika, Ben, & Trina

Kalika and I have been good friends since my freshman year of high school and I feel so incredibly blessed to still have her in my life today. She is one of the most creative, empathetic, bubbly, and thoughtful girls that I know. Kalika loves dogs as much as I do, and is currently the mother of one adorable crooked-tailed pups out there.

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Single In The Suburbs:
Where did you and Ben meet? What were your first impressions and how might they have changed over time?

Kalika:
Ben and I were both interns with Campus Special during the summer of 2012. We met at a training conference in Atlanta while waiting for the elevator. I immediately thought he was handsome and particularly liked his blue eyes. His nametag showed that he was the University of Delaware rep, and I know a few people that went there (thanks, Kate!) so I struck up a conversation.

We went to my first NBA and MLB games that weekend where I learned pretty quickly about Ben’s schemes, like sneaking down to better seats that were still available on StubHub right before tickets are taken down before the game (he’s only gotten better at scheming since I’ve known him).

My first impression of Ben was that he was shy and quiet, but that is not the case! As we got more comfortable with each other, he’s shown his true colors as SUCH a goofball. He makes the most ridiculous faces, sings along to songs with the wrong words or in goofy voices, wears collared shirts with sweat shorts in public, and makes me laugh all the time. When we had been dating no more than 2 weeks, he showed me a video of him singing “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz that he made for a high school class. It was so ridiculous (and a little cringeworthy) – I couldn’t believe he showed it to me that early in our relationship!

I should note that it was not all sunshine and rainbows and dates immediately after meeting. I visited Ben and my friend/his sales partner Eva at the University of Delaware a few times during the summer and liked Ben more than he liked me. We fell out of touch during 4th year (that’s UVA speak for “senior year”). Ben moved to DC after graduating in 2013. Eva was visiting me in northern VA while I was home for a month before moving back to Charlottesville to start my job. We were at Mellow Mushroom in Adams Morgan when Eva suggested we meet up with Ben. I was reluctant since it had been a while and he wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with me but thankfully, Eva insisted.

Ben met us at Maddy’s for drinks and we hit it off again. Surprisingly, we continued to hang out after Eva’s visit, going to a few Nationals games and on our first real date in Arlington. In September, Ben came down to Charlottesville for the first time to attend the annual Top of the Hops beer festival. Once we arrived and started seeing many of my friends and coworkers I asked Ben, “How should I introduce you?” He replied with a smile, “You can introduce me as your boyfriend.”

SITS:
When did you first know Ben was the one you wanted to spend your life with?

Kalika:
I can’t think of an exact moment but I’d say sometime in the first half of 2015. I was already in love with Ben and really excited for him to move down to Charlottesville in May. I knew that living together would confirm that we would never be apart again!

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“One thing that affirmed that Ben was ‘the one’ is the way he is with Trina. He is such a great dog dad and I love how he snuggles with her and loves her so much.”

SITS:
What is your favorite memory with Ben?

Kalika:
Oh gosh, I definitely don’t have just one: our first first kiss on a bench at the University of Delaware when he finally opened up to me; our second first kiss after our first date in DC; relaxing in romantic hot springs in Costa Rica; hearing him say “I’d be down to come back next year” on day 2 in India; enjoying Valentine’s Day dinner that Ben put so much work into (see below); waking up next to him (which I really appreciate after 2 years of long distance); and feeling so at home while snuggling on the couch with him and Trina.

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Also, this isn’t a memory with Ben, but I love how he’s made friends with my friends and can hold his own with my family without me present. When Ben lived in DC, he didn’t have a car, so he would ride down to visit me in Charlottesville with my friends and get to know them one-on-one. He stayed an extra day in San Fransisco with my cousins and has gone out to dinner with my dad without me. He’s come a long way from the “quiet” guy I thought he was in 2012!

SITS:
How has your life changed since you got engaged?

Kalika:
1. Our day-to-day life is pretty much the same but with the addition of wedding planning!  In the spring we took venue tours, and now we are going to meetings and doing vendor research (and bugging Ben to fill in his addresses for the save the dates). I think we’ve done a good job of splitting responsibilities, for example, Ben’s managing our relationship with our caterer while I’m working on save the dates and photography.

2. We talk about our future more often and talk about long-term plans now that we know we will always be there for each other.

3. I get scolded if I forget to put on my ring (I don’t sleep with it on since that’s when the chance of a stone popping out is highest, and it doesn’t happen often, I promise!).

SITS:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ENGAGEMENT CELEBRATION IN INDIA!!

Kalika:
What a whirlwind of a day… First let me explain that I had been expecting a pretty casual ceremony at one of my relatives’ houses, just involving a quick blessing by a priest. After traveling for over 20 hours, we arrived in Jaipur the morning of our engagement celebration and immediately went to my aunt’s house for mehndi. We were greeted by a loud traditional drummer and thrown into a dancing circle with several of my cousins. We had lunch, got our mehndi done and relaxed until it was time to get dressed. My dad and uncle whisked Ben away to get his outfit while my aunts dressed me up like a “Rajput princess” (warrior class), in an outfit very similar to what a bride would wear for an Indian wedding.

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Photo credit: Erin Kwon

We all drove together to the venue (an event lawn outside my uncle’s restaurant) but the car stopped on the side of the road before we were quite there. We were instructed to get out of the car, and into a horse-drawn carriage! After making a dramatic entrance, we were seated on a throne/couch/bench? in front of all the guests. Traditional dancers performed for us, spinning around with jugs of water then flaming pots on their heads. A CRAZY guy danced on nails and swords sharp side up with jugs of water on his head. He also breathed fire while Ben and I looked on in disbelief. I asked my dad if this performance was planned to ensure we stayed awake! After greeting many, many relatives, the night ended with dinner and fireworks. Ben said “if we had to turn around and go home right now, I’d be OK with it, but I’m glad we have 7 more days.”

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Photo credit: Erin Kwon

SITS:
How do you manage having time for your calligraphy, work, a relationship, and friendships? What tips would you give girls for creating balance in their lives?

Kalika:
This is not easy. I still struggle with this all the time. I’ve learned to not try to do everything every day; balance is much easier for me when I allot one evening to grilling with friends, one evening to riding, and one evening to calligraphy, for example. I’ll even use my Google calendar to block off time.

Ben is really good about helping out around the house when I’m hustling to meet a deadline, but encourages me to make sure it doesn’t happen too often. So, after a few stressful nights, I’ve learned to give myself more time to complete a calligraphy order than I think I’ll need.

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Can’t get enough of Kalika? Neither can I!! Check out her amazing calligraphy work on her Facebook page or Instagram (She designed the Single in The Suburbs logo on my Twitter and Facebook!). Check out her website for beautiful wedding invitations, decorations, and pretty much anything paper-related you could ever dream of.

If you’re like me and love dogs more than anything, follow her pup Trina on Instagram. She is one of the most adorably quirky gals I know. 🙂

(Be)a(you)tiful

Giving away even small pieces of yourself at a time will eventually leave a big hole in your heart.

I’ve always hated seeing friends lose part of themselves when they met a guy. One thing I initially liked about my first serious relationship was that I was unapologetically myself, whether or not my ex liked it. I stayed true to my values and didn’t get rid of any of the activities that made me happy; I simply added my boyfriend to my life instead of working everything else around him. Being myself regardless of where I am or who I am with has always been one of my strengths.

Towards the end of our relationship, though, I lost so much of myself. I compromised on morals that I held close to my heart to try to fix a broken relationship, I gave up on several of my own dreams, and I decided my boyfriend was not only the most important thing in my life, but he became the only thing that was important to me. Since our love story was clearly coming to an end I felt crushed. I could never fully concentrate on anything that was going on in my life in Virginia because my mind was always with him.

When we broke up I quickly snapped back to reality (Oh, there goes gravity!) and realized I never wanted to become so lost in someone else that I, in turn, lose myself again.

This is easier said than done once you’ve given so much of yourself to someone else. Dating again was refreshing, but I have made an incredible effort to stay self-aware in every relationship that I have cultivated — whether it is with a guy I go on one date with or someone I am hoping to be exclusive with one day.

The new harmful pattern that had developed in the last few months with my ex shined brightly with the first guy I liked since we broke up. It happened with the handsome athlete from school and I noticed it as soon as I began to backslide. You see, this particular gentleman had seen my blog and absolutely hated it. He told me that he thought it was a terrible idea to write about my dating life and that he thought I was “better than that.”

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Dang it, I thought, If he doesn’t like my writing every great guy out there is going to hate it too!

I quickly began to rethink my decision to write about dating. Even though I didn’t want a relationship anytime soon, I did eventually want to meet someone. I was afraid that if this sweet, classy guy judged me for writing about my experiences that every single “good guy” out there would feel the same way. After going home and really meditating on it, I decided that I would just have to eventually find a different gentleman who actually did enjoy my writing and would be okay with the fact that I am so open about my life. This didn’t mean that he would be need to love being written about, but he at least couldn’t be someone who would judge me harshly for something I genuinely love to do. This particular man just wasn’t the right fit if he didn’t understand my writing, sense of humor, and ultimately the intentions of my heart.

Single In The Suburbs has become something that’s important to me and although I’ll give up the “single” part of my life one day, I won’t give up the things that I value, such as sharing my life experiences and trying to help others — whether it’s through my sense of humor or sharing mistakes I have made in my own life.

I am a huge advocate for being comfortable in your own skin and not changing just so people will like you more. The right people will love you for the things that make you unique, and the others just aren’t people who are meant to be a big part of your life.

Today’s lesson: One of the best ways to find the right people to surround yourself with is being unapologetically you and paying close attention to who sticks around. There is not a single person in the world who will be liked by everyone; no matter how nice or thoughtful you are, there will always be haters. The more genuine you are, though, the easier it will be for you to find relationships that will be a good fit for you. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

My Anniversary With POTS

Yesterday was my three year anniversary of being diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. I actually went back to the scene of the crime — the beach — this weekend, and although it felt bittersweet being somewhere amazing and having to take frequent breaks to rest, it got me thinking about just how far I’ve come.

I decided to take a little time to list a few things I’ve learned the past couple of years. This has easily been the most I have grown in my entire life, as new challenges seem to arise every step of the way fighting for recovery. Having something life-changing pop up so quickly drastically changes every aspect of your life, but I do believe there is a reason this happened and that there are several positive things I have learned from this experience.


Things You Learn From Having A Chronic Illness

1. You learn how to ask for help. I have always prided myself on being incredibly independent, so one of the most difficult things with getting sick has been learning how to tell people I need help with really simple tasks. When I first got POTS I couldn’t even climb up a flight of stairs, so was constantly asking people to grab things from my room for me or running errands to get the salty snacks I needed so often.

It can still be frustrating, embarrassing, and uncomfortable, especially since I look so normal and sometimes have to enlist complete strangers to give me a hand. Although I am still working on asking for help when I need it, this has taught me just how beautifully kind people can be to one another. I have collected so many wonderful stories that I don’t even know which one I should choose for this post.

I suppose I’ll tell a very simple story that this person probably doesn’t even remember, but that left an impact on me. Last year in one of my PWR (Professional Writing and Rhetoric) classes, we had to gather a small collection of textbooks from the library and carry them back to our classroom. It was the first day of the semester and I didn’t know anyone in my class, but had to swallow my pride and ask a guy in the class to help me carry my backpack full of books back to our room, as I am not supposed to carry more than five pounds. He smiled, told me it wasn’t a problem at all, and asked me about other things in my life, rather than focusing on the illness that I had tried to quickly explain to him. I felt so much more thankful than this gentleman could ever know, and to this day remember this little act of kindness when I see him in class.

2. You lose friends, but also get to learn who will be a part of your life forever. I was shocked to see some relationships I thought would be lasting friendships crumble when I got sick. Towards the beginning of my illness I couldn’t do very much other than lie on my couch and chat. Sometimes I felt well enough to sit up and play N64, but that was only on a good day. Some of my friends decided they didn’t have anything in common with me anymore since I couldn’t really go out, and others just gradually drifted away. The most wonderful thing about this, though, was that I also learned that I have fiercely loyal friends who have kept in touch and loved me so selflessly since I got sick. Most of these people haven’t suffered from an illness themselves, but try their hardest to and realize I still have the same heart (Even if it does beat much faster than it used to sometimes) and am still the same person, despite not being able to do many of the same activities anymore.

Overall I have actually gained even more friends than I used to have in my life. Some people who have read my story on social media have reached out and formed friendships with me, and I have been able to empathize with so many other people I would not have originally realized I had things in common with. It’s great being able to empathize with people who are struggling with big life changes, as we can lean on each other for understanding and support.

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3. Meeting new people is a little strange. I’m different in so many ways since I got sick. I can’t control that I have to be high maintenance sometimes now, so even though my mindset is the same and I don’t like to inconvenience anyone, I have a little laundry list of things I must do to keep from fainting or feeling sick every day. I’ve had to be vocal about changing around plans a little when they don’t work for me or I sometimes miss out on activities I normally would have loved to partake in. A big part of my personality used to be that I loved playing sports and doing anything and everything outdoors. Now I have a hard time being out in the heat too long and I can’t really play a lot of my favorite games because of the chronic pain I deal with. The bright side of everything, though? I have actually found new activities that I really enjoy. I now love playing a few different video games, baking, listening to podcasts, strategic board games, and I still have room for my favorite activity of all — writing!

My new friends may not know the Krista that was carefree and crazily spontaneous, but they do still get to see my thoughtfulness and kindness towards others in our relationship. I have struggled a lot the past few years, but I like to think of the positive qualities I have gained, rather than the physical limitations that are now a part of my life.

4. People want to help. I’ve learned that so many people have such beautiful hearts and actually go out of their way to make things easier on me. I have a few friends in particular who consistently drive several hours to come and hang out with me since I can’t drive more than about fifteen minutes at a time without really feeling it the next day. My girl friends have gotten so used to helping that I don’t even need to ask them to carry my Smart Water around anymore — they just grab it from my hand without missing a beat.

5. God is good. I felt devastated when I first got sick, but I somehow have had an overwhelming peace with everything the majority of the time I have dealt with the loss of a normal body. I never in a million years would have thought I could deal with something like this, but I have been given a strength that absolutely blows my mind when I think about it. I am not someone who is just naturally great at dealing with curveballs life throws at me, (I’m actually notoriously bad at dealing with change) and the only logical thing I can attribute this to is Jesus and all of the people who have been praying for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Having POTS has changed my life in so many ways. If I could heal myself now I would in an instant, but I also would not trade everything that I’ve learned for the world. I have found the value of compassion and empathy. Dealing with a chronic illness has taught me to cherish the relationships I have and it has taught me just how important it is to choose people to be with who can handle hardships in a relationship.

I still don’t feel like some parts of this are real. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to wake up one day and this whole ordeal was just a bad dream and that I’ll have my old body back. I daydream about playing volleyball or running again. I sit by the ocean and remember the days that I used to skip around and play in the water and what it was like learning how to surf. Waking up one day and being completely better is pretty unlikely, but I’m going to work as hard as I can to have a normal life again, and if nothing else I realize how lucky I am for getting so much better. Even if I can’t play sports right now, I have so many things to be joyful for, and I thank God for these blessings each and every day.

Thriving During Your Breakup

We all hear tips about “surviving your breakup,” which is sometimes necessary in the very beginning when wounds are fresh and still open. After you take a little time to mourn the loss of your relationship, though, it’s time to get back on your feet and realize you are not only going to still make it in this world, but you are going to kick ass.

Hopefully you have a good squad to help you get through this rough time, but I decided to make this small list in case you need someone to remind you that everything isn’t just going to be okay — it’s going to be great.

1. Realize that although it hurts and you might miss your ex, this was the right decision. Something wasn’t working in your relationship, whether it was on your end, on his, or both.

2. Which leads to the realization that this was not the person you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with. Do you know what this means? You just made room for someone even more amazing and incredible! It may take time to find them, but I definitely believe there are several people who would work with each person. That was certainly not your one and only chance to find love.

3. There are so many other people in your life who love and care for you. Share your time and experiences with them awhile before looking for another relationship. Always remember to keep these people in your life whether you are or are not dating someone. Friends can be forever, while boyfriends aren’t necessarily always going to be around.

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4. You get to spend your entire life with yourself! When my ex and I broke up I went to my room, looked in my mirror through my tears and smiled because I realized that although he didn’t get to have me around anymore, I still get to be with myself — for forever! Learning to love yourself while you’re single is so important so you can feel okay even if things end with a SO.

5. You. Will. Be. Okay. Take a deep breath and realize that although you feel all kinds of broken that time does help you heal. I seriously thought my broken heart would never be fixed, but here I am almost a year later feeling so much better than I did in a messy relationship. The time I used to spend feeling sick thinking about my ex when we were together I now fill with experiences, friends, and love.

I tell every single one of my friends that if I of all people can get through heartbreak, anyone can. I have very strong feelings, whether they’re up or down, and I used to think dealing with a breakup would just about kill me. But it didn’t even come close. That breakup was one of the toughest things I ever had to do, but I have come out the other side stronger, wiser, and more compassionate than I was before. Now I’m enjoying my life, and open to meeting my real Mr. Right.

Men Are Not Dogs

Well this is a strange headline, huh?

What I mean by “men are not dogs” is that men, unlike dogs, do not need to be trained. Yes, they should be raised to be respectful and kind, but when you are looking for a grown man to date you should absolutely not go into it with a mindset that you need to teach him how to treat you.

“I can train him to buy me flowers,” or open doors, or hold my hand, or [insert task you want your dream boyfriend to do]. It isn’t your job to mother a man, and one really surefire reality of life is that you can rarely change another person. Sure you can tell someone what you like and watch their actions closely after a conversation, but you should never go into a relationship expecting someone to change a laundry list of things for you.

I’m going to share a personal anecdote to show how I learned this lesson the hard way.

I used to date someone I really liked, but our relationship just didn’t feel  very romantic. I am someone who absolutely loves the little things in life. I adore little gestures that say “I love you” like leaving each other notes, cooking for one another, and yes — I love chivalry.

Boy #1

This first person that I dated wasn’t into showing me he loved me in any of the ways my heart wanted. I remember even telling him at one point that I thought it was nice when he opened the car door for me and I really appreciated when guys did that; this struck a pretty strong nerve for him. #1 told me he didn’t know why in the world I wanted him to do something like that and that it wasn’t worth fighting about.  I didn’t realize something like this was fight-worthy, I thought to myself. I wasn’t trying to argue, I just thought it would be nice for him to know that I appreciated the gesture so there might be a repeat. Later I realized “the door” wasn’t really even about the door at all. It was about the pile of things I felt I wasn’t getting out of this relationship. That was the most one-sided relationship I have ever been in, and although I gave up so many of my dreams for this gentleman (huge mistake; I will write about this another day!), bought him presents and little gift baskets to show that I cared, and even abided to his wishes of talking to him less,* I never felt fulfilled in our relationship, even when he did.

This wasn’t because he was doing anything wrong, though. He just didn’t show love in the ways I need to feel loved. Back then I thought I was being kind by giving him “tips” on simple ways to love me in ways I understood better, but now I realize we just weren’t the right fit.

I want someone who will remember our anniversaries and enjoy celebrating them together, someone who gives me his time, and someone who is as kind and caring to me as I am to him.

*In hindsight it is hilarious that I once “showed someone I loved them” by agreeing to cut off most of our communication.

Gentleman #2

This second person is the complete opposite of #1. He is someone I’ve often wondered how I had the pleasure of meeting, as he is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever met.

On our first date he was chivalrous, but this behavior continued seamlessly into our 30th date. He opened my car door any time we went out, always wanted to be the one to pick me up and take me out, and goes above and beyond to show me that he cares. He has written me letters, cooked complicated five course Italian dinners, and often called me during his lunch breaks just to say “hello.” This is someone I think is so incredibly special that I don’t know how I got lucky enough to meet him and see that many of the sweet little joys in life aren’t just “Krista things” that are unrealistic traits to want in a boyfriend. There are men out there who are a million times better than the ones you see in the movies. They’re real, raw, and far from perfect, but they love you so fiercely there isn’t any room for you to question where you stand in their life.

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Today’s lesson: Dogs are smart, loyal, and loving companions. You really can’t expect any human to measure up to this amazing animal, but wait for the person who does make you feel loved in the same way your dog loves you. This is a kind and selfless love with so much joy that your heart feels like it might explode.

Guys: What NOT To Put In Your Dating Profile

There are certain things that are red flags to girls, and I figured I would help y’all make your dating profiles just a little bit better. Here are a few things I have seen time and time again and hope you don’t have in your online profile:

“I’m one of the good guys. Everyone else on here is a tool and will use you.”

I don’t like this because the fact of the matter is that it’s just not true. I have been out with so many really nice guys who just haven’t worked out because of a lack of chemistry or things in common — this just makes it seem like you have trouble getting along with others. I’d like my future boyfriend to have his own group of friends, as that’s a sign he’s likeable and can maintain a relationship.

“Don’t message me if you’re just looking for validation.”

Okay, I get it. There are people who are on dating sites just there to swipe and never meet up. That doesn’t mean everyone is the same, though; you’ll be able to figure out pretty quickly why someone has a dating profile. If your plans keep falling through with the same person just move on to the next one!

“Not looking for a high maintenance girl.”

Let’s be real. Relationships do take some sort of maintenance and this makes me feel like you might really not be willing to put work into ours down the road. I’d say for a girl I am require a medium amount of maintenance, but I also enjoy putting work into a romance to make things special for my guy too. I understand you don’t want a girl who is going to take advantage of you, but that’s what going on a few dates is for — getting to know the person you might eventually become exclusive with!

“Only swipe right if you actually look like your pictures.”

Okay, I agree that you should try to accurately represent yourself in an online profile, but this just rubs me the wrong way. Most guys I’ve been out with have said they’ve had a similar experience with this in that a girl doesn’t look like her photos — I can relate; I’ve been there before too. It isn’t your job, though, to police these girls with your profile. If anyone is trying to be deceitful hopefully they will quickly realize they are only hurting themselves.

And if you go out with a girl like this? Be nice, and sit through a drink with her before excusing yourself. If you’re open to getting to know someone’s heart you might just make a great new friend.

“My friend made me make this account.”

Or any variation of “I only did this because someone else told me to,” or, “I know this is lame, but I’m not a typical ‘online guy.'”

This, in my opinion, is one of the biggest time-wasters on a dating profile. Why? Because I’m on here too, so I clearly don’t think you are lame for having an account. You don’t need to explain yourself; just tell me a little about what makes you you! If anything this statement makes me feel like you aren’t that into going out with people you meet online since you think it’s so silly.

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What do y’all think? Do any of you have this information in your profile and disagree with me? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

 

Is Honesty The Best Policy?

I decided to create a brutally honest dating profile to see what would happen. Some questions I had going into this were:

  1. Would strangers accept me the way I am — flaws and all?
  2. How would this profile compare to the previous ones I have set up?
  3. How might people react to the fact that I have a chronic illness?
  4. What would strangers focus on as “important” in getting to know me?

A way I could have made this experiment even better would have been to use photos of myself with absolutely no makeup (contrary to popular belief, men, I do wear some!) and gone into even more detail about myself. I suppose I could have written that I have a dating blog, but I wanted the responses to be genuine without people wondering whether they would be written about.

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Within 24 hours I got just over 100 messages, 576 visitors, and 796 profile “likes.” Thanks for that, OK Cupid.

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When I broke it down there were some people who clearly did not read my profile at all (I even compared some of these gentlemen with a friend who has the app and they sent her the exact same messages!), but for the most part people had sent messages crafted to directly address something I had mentioned in my profile.

I was surprised to find that nobody really got my reference from The Office (littledoglover), but I was shocked at how many people opened with a line about Pokémon, as they noticed the Ash Ketchum hat in my profile.

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No, that’s not the point though!

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Sigh.

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YES, you get it!

Some people asked me about my chronic illness, but it didn’t really seem to be a turnoff anyone who messaged me (Obviously there is no way for me to know how many people didn’t send me a message me because of it), even when I told them what it was called and how it affects my every day life. For the most part people skipped right over that and asked me questions about other things I had listed. Some enjoyed the pictures of my dog and I that were posted, others commented on the board games I liked or some of the goofy nerdier things I love.

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Hahaha, I like it.

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OK, this kid has me pegged.

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Good question. Step 1, be the banker. Step 2, give yourself enough money to buy a bunch of hotels. Step 3, win.

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This was my absolute favorite.

Honestly I think what guys liked most about this profile was how genuine it was. I don’t think I’d say I’m great at a big list of things, but I would say that I am always myself no matter what situation life puts me in. My dating profiles always have a strong reflection of my character, but it’s interesting that not many things change even when you throw in a little too much information.

Today’s lesson: If you decide to create a dating profile don’t try to be fancy, different, or stand out — just be your beautiful self and you will surely attract the right people.