Adventures In Online Dating

March 2, 2015

I knew the only way I’d ever take online dating seriously were if I had a chance to write about it.

Ok, that’s a lie. I’m never going to take online dating seriously.

But, I knew the only way I would devote a lick of energy to scrolling and clicking in hopes of finding the future Mr. Tyece Wilkins was if I had a chance to document my observations.

About two weeks ago, I joined Coffee Meets Bagel, an app I initially heard about last year when hanging out with some old college friends. I didn’t pay it much attention at the time; I was more engrossed with the advice I was getting from one of the other guys there who had accompanied his girlfriend to this reunion. He basically deemed himself the guru when it came to finding and sustaining a relationship.

He broke up with his girlfriend two months later, so there goes all of his subjective and slightly sexist knowledge straight out the window.

Anyway, I revisited Coffee Meets Bagel this year when my sister (online dating extraordinaire who is now going to kill me for calling her the online dating extraordinaire) mentioned it. And, because I started getting way too bored and nutty in February, I downloaded the app. If you are like me and are illiterate when it comes to the vocabulary of online dating, let me explain. Coffee Meets Bagel sends you a match (or as they like to call it, bagel) daily. You get to like them or pass them. There are a bunch of other things you can do like obtain more bagels or send bagels to other people (my sister has sent me three, all of whom were WAY MORE ATTRACTIVE than the bagels that the fucked up system was giving me), but I don’t really know or care about how to use that functionality.

The first step in online dating is that you have to be a believer. You have to truly, honestly, wholeheartedly believe that you could meet someone and form a lasting and authentic connection.

I am not really a believer. At least not for myself. I definitely don’t think eHarmony is shitting us when they blast those commercials about people finding their soul mates online. But, as much as I live large fractions of my life online, I am really not into dating that way. In fact, I would rather my friends just tell their single, attractive, heterosexual guy friends to read my blog and then we can all go from there. Narcissistic? Maybe. But, my blog is really my selling point. I have used it as a barometer on a lot of dates; I went on a date last year where a guy told me all blogs are the same and I immediately sent him to the guillotine. (In actuality I finished 1.5 margaritas with him and gave him a hug). But, really, if you’re into girls who can string sentences together and spew their feelings and observations all over the place? Yes, please, sign me up.

I also have a really hard time being intentional about my dating life. I am pretty much a lazy bum when it comes to meeting new men and expelling energy on them, which is the opposite of how I tackle everything else in life. Maybe that’s the issue, that I am deliberate about finding happiness and success in other arenas, but when it comes to dating, I just want someone great to appear from thin air.

Anyway, back to Coffee Meets Bagel. In two weeks, I have not had one match. NOT ONE. In order to get a match, I have to like them and they have to like me. Yesterday, the app even threw me a bagel (or a bone?) and said, “The ball is in your court. Your bagel LIKEs you.” Then that bagel turned out to look like the lovechild of Baby and Lil Wayne.

There was also the guy who called himself a monophobiac which Google has confirmed is not a real word. However, monophobia is in fact a word and it means the fear of being alone. I guess Mr. Monophobiac did clear that up in his profile by saying, “I hate being by myself.”

Well, I love being by myself and actually cherish that moment when the door shuts behind any house guest who has inhabited my space for more than an hour. So, all I could offer this guy is a therapist and a dictionary. Pass.

Finally, there was the guy who seemed right up my alley, except that fool didn’t like me back. In his profile, he called himself “playful and reflective, occasionally artsy and nerdy” and said he likes when his date “shares her thoughts and feelings, and is a great conversationalist.” WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THIS MAN AND WHY HAVEN’T WE MET?

I can’t denigrate other people’s profiles without letting you all know about mine. Although I am not going to reveal anything that you all don’t already know. I said I like writing, poetry, and face-to-face conversations more than texts. Wow, shocker. I also said I like a good laugh and people who don’t take themselves too seriously. I I like when my date asks questions, tells stories, makes me laugh and tries but doesn’t try too hard.

But, really, the crown jewels of any online dating profile are the photos. See Exhibit A:

 

Exhibit A.

Exhibit A.

I’m not sure how long I’ll stay on Coffee Meets Bagel, but I venture to guess it won’t be much longer. Will I find a potential male suitor? Will men cease to stop looking like inbreds? And, the real question…next stop, Tinder?

Xoxo,
Tyece

Lessons From Cheryl Strayed: Rising From The Obliterated Place

February 26, 2015

IMG_1686This post concludes the “Lessons from Cheryl Strayed” Twenties Unscripted mini-series and giveaway this week. Enter to win one of two copies of Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things” by commenting on any “Lessons from Cheryl Strayed” post this week on Twenties Unscripted with a note about why that piece resonated with you. Please include your Twitter handle (if applicable) in your comment. One entry per person; ends Thurs. 2/26 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winners announced Friday, 2/27. Thanks!

the obliterated place

They say the last stage is acceptance. Somewhere along the line you realize that the tragedy became an integral part of your life’s fabric, a key chapter in your narrative. You simply would not be who you are without it. You would not have the created the things you made. You would not have watched pure strength rise from sopping piles of shit. You would not know the power of people or the magic of miracles. They say the last stage is acceptance, but you will go through hell and walk on hot coals before you get to that last stage.

They say the last stage is acceptance. But, you do not come to this realization suddenly. This epiphany does not wake you up in the middle of the night. This revelation does not manifest itself immediately. Instead it happens gradually, slowly, over wine glasses filled to the brim and one million tiny thoughts pushing all of the blood to your brain.

There is never any closure with rape. There is only the last stage. Acceptance.

You don’t get to wrap a neat bow around an ugly experience and store it away for safe keeping. It will not lend itself to filtered selfies and witty captions. No, it stays in your veins and reeks from your pores. It forever changes the road you will choose to walk.

And for a long time, you just resent the road. You just keep staring longingly back at the road that was clear and yours for the taking before your life spiraled out of control. You keep wondering “what if”. You keep glancing at the old road, admiring how untainted and easy it all seemed before you were required to trot along this much rockier and steeper path.

And then you just hurt and cry and sting. And hurt and cry and sting. And sit outside at midnight on summer nights hoping that the light breeze will suck you up and take you somewhere, anywhere other than here.

Then you get deliberate about healing. You believe in therapy for the first time in your life. You garner tiny cuts on the tips of your fingers from trying to collect the shattered glass of your existence.

You start telling people. You start writing. You stop seeing it as dirty laundry that you can conveniently stash away. No, this is your new wardrobe. This is a garment you never have the chance to take off. This is what you look like now. It is who you are. It is who you will be. Forever changed.

You find that you are never above the triggers. They still come all the time. You laugh when people think there’s such a thing as a “trigger warning” because you know that phrase alone will trigger you. If you hear Ice Cube’s “Today Was A Good Day” your mind instantaneously blasts back to that night. You still don’t like hookah bars and will conjure up bullshit excuses not to go to them when offered. Your body still tenses when you tell the man on top of you that you need a minute, frightened that he will just tell you that you are a big girl and you can take it. You still freeze, even in the middle of a busy airport, when another man smells like him. You are never above the triggers, but you have learned how to avoid letting loaded guns of soiled memories open fire on your newfound peace of mind.

Rape is my obliterated place. It is my mud and it is my manna. It is my place of destruction and creation. It is pitch black and it is blindingly bright. Without it, I would not be the woman I am. I would not be the writer I am. I would not be the friend I am. I would not be the daughter I am. I would not be the sister I am. Without it, I would not have desperately needed this blog to make sense of my life. Without it, I would not have started to look at the world through a colorful and cracked lens.

There is a home in your obliterated place. But, eventually, there is the chance to rise above it. Every day I rise above my obliterated place. I honor it for the woman it made me, but I refuse to build my permanent residence there. I know now, nearly four years later, that my obliterated place was essential for my life’s work. So, maybe there is only one thought left to consider: where is your obliterated place and how the fuck will you rise above it?

Xoxo,
Tyece

Lessons From Cheryl Strayed: My Purpose Is More Than Followers And Likes

February 24, 2015

IMG_1686This post is part of the “Lessons from Cheryl Strayed” Twenties Unscripted mini-series and giveaway this week. Enter to win one of two copies of Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things” by commenting on any “Lessons from Cheryl Strayed” post this week on Twenties Unscripted with a note about why that piece resonated with you. Please include your Twitter handle (if applicable) in your comment. One entry per person; ends Thurs. 2/26 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winners announced Friday, 2/27. Thanks!

cheryl strayed day 2

It’s the second year I am giving up Google Analytics for Lent. And it’s not even like I know shit about Lent. But, I find some sort of solace in joining another fraction of the world for a chance to reflect and detach myself from some of my mild obsessions.

I get so tired of being measured by numbers. Age. Salary. Monthly hits. Email open rates. Followers. Likes. Shares. Retweets. Blah and blah and blah and more blah. I recently and quietly beat myself up because my last edition of Sunday Kind of Love had the lowest open rate of any edition I’ve sent since I started the newsletter and I kept wondering if I shouldn’t have draped it in so much sarcasm.

But, this year I am embracing the spirit of fuck it when it comes to what I write. Somewhere I got lost in a sea of numbers of false expectations, and I forgot that the core of everything I create is about making my own safe space when I feel like there isn’t another option. I create first and foremost so that I am happy and whole and not restrained in somebody’s straitjacket. If it’s not for me, then it’s not for anyone. If I want to get it off my chest, then let it rise. If Sunday Kind of Love is an inane and sarcastic listicle because I felt like writing an inane and sarcastic listicle, then so be it. I am not numbers, I am not hits, I am not email open rates, I am not clickthroughs, I am not bounce rates, I am not any of that nonsense. No, I am a woman trying to tackle the motherfucking shit out of her life. Everything else is just the debris that comes with it.

The irony is not lost on me. The irony is not lost on me as I sit here blabbing away on a blog, a medium predicated on other people sharing the work and viewing the page and depositing resources into an account of social currency. But I keep telling myself that there is more, that there has to be more, that there are things and projects and bits inside of me that are so much bigger than what I could fathom.

So now I am trying to answer bigger and broader questions about my work and my life and why I am even here. I am not just trying to “build a community”. I am not just trying to jump on the feminist bandwagon and wave my bra around saying my work is about uplifting women. I am wading through dirt and revisiting my trenches and baring my soul. I am telling the truth when all people want to do is disguise their mess with red lip selfies. I am going hard and I am digging deep. And I’m not doing it in the name of likes or in the interest of new followers. I am doing it because authenticity is becoming extinct and the world needs more lifelines to real, lasting truth. I am doing it because there are stories and ideas pent up inside of me, screaming to get out. I am doing it because it’s what I believe I am here to do and doing it means I am tackling the motherfucking shit out of my life. And that is the only way I believe I should approach this life–with strength, with nerve, with guts beyond measure.

One of my absolute axioms is that to whom much is given, much is required. I do not believe I have been given this ability to destroy a page with a pen just so that some people can kiss my ass and follow me on social media. The rest of the world can measure me by numbers, but I have to hold myself to a higher standard. Chasing numbers is like a drug addict chasing a hit; no high is ever going to feel quite good enough. And when the world goes away and focuses on another online shiny object, the withdrawal will leave you reeling. I am here for bigger, more substantial reasons. I don’t necessarily know what all of those reasons are, but to borrow from another Cheryl Strayed quote, “Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding.” Let this life unfold with beauty, honesty, purpose, meaning and grace.

I want a life that roars much more loudly than a few likes and some followers. I want to tackle the motherfucking shit out of my life with all of the audacity and courage I have. I don’t want to chase ephemeral Twitter acclaim; I want to claw my way to a purpose represented by work that will stand on its own both while I am here and long after I’m gone.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Lessons from Cheryl Strayed: Believing In The Goodness Of People

February 23, 2015

IMG_1686This post is part of the “Lessons from Cheryl Strayed” Twenties Unscripted mini-series and giveaway this week. Enter to win one of two copies of Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things” by commenting on any “Lessons from Cheryl Strayed” post this week on Twenties Unscripted with a note about why that piece resonated with you. Please include your Twitter handle (if applicable) in your comment. One entry per person; ends Thurs. 2/26 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winners announced Friday, 2/27. Thanks!

cheryl strayed quote goodness-2

I can only focus on two things: I need to get home and I have to pee. Those are the two thoughts whizzing through my mind, one right after another, when my car veers off-road for the second time in my Nightmare on I-70.

I feel my heart skip three beats and I yell out, “NO!!!” before I am in a ditch off the shoulder, revving on the gas to no avail. It’s the second time in 10 minutes that my car has strayed from the highway, but this time, I know it’s some sort of cosmic sign that I am not supposed to drive anymore. It doesn’t matter that I am 30 minutes from home nor that I am determined to get there in one piece. It doesn’t matter that I keep thinking, “The roads weren’t this bad when I started out” or “I wonder what would have happened if I left an hour earlier.” No, it’s just time for my narrow ass to get off the road.

A couple stops to ask if I need help, but I decline because stubbornness is one of my greatest vices. At that point, I still believe I can press on the gas for dear life and get myself out of this hole, literally and figuratively. But after 10 minutes, I know I am screwed. It hasn’t yet occurred to me to call Triple A when another guy stops and offers to help. He tells me he can take me to Frederick, the closest town to us, if I know anyone there. The first thing I think is that my mother told me never to talk to strangers. The second thing I think is hey, God, I don’t want to be a Forensic Files case today, mmmk? The third and final thing I think is that I need to pee and I know someone in Frederick–I could pee at their house.

Into the Honda Civic I go.

He gets me safely to a friend’s house in Frederick without ever being creepy or suspicious or reeking of ulterior motives. Once I’m at the house, I proceed to be a total bum and vagabond on my friend and her husband’s couch until the next morning. I feel both guilt for infringing upon their newlywed Saturday afternoon and grateful that at least I am warm and safe with a Vanderpump Rules marathon on which to binge. It could be a lot worse. After all, they could be the kind of people who only watch CNN. Instead, they make sure I am comfortable, well-fed and laughing non-stop at their jokes and stories.

The next day, my family not only picks me up, but also completely shovels my car out of the ditch. And, while we’re waiting on Triple A, another guy stops to help, this time one with a truck and whatever other shit is necessary to actually pull my car out of the ditch. When my car is finally back on the shoulder, covered in dirt and snow remnants but still drivable, I give my dad a hug. I feel the exhaustion and gratitude from the past 24 hours reveal itself in hot tears that I hold back. I get home and pour a glass of red wine which seems totally inappropriate yet necessary for noon on this particular Sunday. I cry and nap and thank God and the Universe  and everyone else for being good to me, probably better than I deserve.

I am usually cynical. I do not trust easily. And recently I have been beaten down by a lack of faith in humanity. Life has left me with enough whiplash to last for awhile. Lately, to borrow from an expression I usually hate, life has been coming at me fast. But this weekend reminded me that there are good people out there. And not just good as in “I’ll retweet your post” or good as in “I’ll help you as long as it’s not inconvenient for me.” No, good as in I will drop my life on a weekend and make sure you are safe and sound and OK. Good as in “No, do not hand me that $20 for driving you, I just didn’t want you to be stranded and I don’t want anything out of this.”

I needed to believe in that kind of good again. I needed to remember that it exists in the quietest pockets of the world. I needed to remember that I am deserving of that kind of good. Sometimes life starts collapsing on me so relentlessly that I blame myself and the bad energy I’ve probably projected into the Universe. I start swearing I did a lot of horrible things (which I have) and that it’s just the world giving me back what I’ve so recklessly tossed into it. But, sometimes, there are friends who will take you in and strangers who just really want to make sure you aren’t stranded on the side of the road by your car. There are reminders from the world to do good, be good and live with a little bit of heart. There are still people who stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness. I am inspired and challenged by them to remember that goodness, that bigness and that kindness, even when it feels like hope has been shot to hell. I am inspired and challenged by each one of those people to continuing stretching my life far more in that direction.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Getting Back On Track With Your New Year’s Resolution

February 18, 2015

tatum guest post

Guest post by Tatum Temia

Editor’s Note: Even though 2015 is only a few weeks in, I’ve already changed my plans for the year and started to turn a blind eye to some of the things I said I would. Boundaries, creating them and setting them, are huge for me in 2015 and I haven’t focused as deliberately on them as I would have hoped. In today’s post, Tatum Temia of Dear Regina shares five ideas for staying on track with our new year’s resolutions.

How to get back on track with your New Year resolution:

Since it is February, I believe that it is safe to say that we now know how dedicated we really are to our new year’s resolution. It takes a lot of discipline to keep up with these resolutions because truthfully, it’s easier to say “f*ck it”. Whether you are walking the f*ck it line or have already given up, here are some tips to get you back on track:

1.       Remember why you started: The why is the most important aspect when trying to make any type of change. The why serves as the motivation and the reasoning behind you making the resolution in the first place. If your resolution was to lose weight to be healthier, you need to keep your health at the front of your brain. Whenever you want to skip the gym or eat that cupcake, remember that your health is at stake if you make the decision to fall off track. If you remember why you started, it will be easier to continue.

2.       Change your words: Any successful person will tell you that words have power. New year’s resolutions have gotten this reputation as things that people say they want to do differently in the New Year and never follow through on. Sadly, it’s kind of true. Instead of calling what you want to accomplish a resolution, call it a goal. Goal sounds so much better. It also doesn’t limit your progress to a year. Goals are more specific and clear about the outcome.

3.       Talk about it: This one is difficult for a lot of people. People are so negative these days. Especially on social media. You can’t post any type of goal on social media because it’ll be a meme and a viral joke in .5 seconds. This is why I say talk about it and not post about it. When you talk about your goals, people automatically will hold you accountable. If they don’t, you may need to evaluate your inner circle. I had a friend who told me that she wanted to stop drinking for a year. I told her that I would support her. Whenever we were together, I would never let her drink. Whenever she got weak, I would remind her that she said she would not drink and I want to support her in her goal. This will spark enough guilt for most people to resist the temptation. By talking to your inner circle about your goals, they will hold you accountable to what you said you would do.

4.       Write it down: Writing down goals is something that most people don’t do. They have it in their brains and never put it on paper. When you write down that goal, make sure it includes your why, how, and a time frame. It should be specific. Back to the losing weight example. If you want to lose weight, write down your goal so it looks something like this: I will lose 20 pounds in the next four months through healthy diet and exercise. My health depends on it. Notice that I put, “I will” and not “I want” or “My goal is to.” Words have power and by speaking this way, your actions will eventually align with your words. By writing this down, you are able to see what your goal is and hold yourself accountable.

5.       Post it somewhere you look everyday: After you write down your goal, hang it up. A good place for this is in the bathroom on the mirror and/or the screen saver on your phone. By posting your goals somewhere visible, you end up reading it over and over. When you read something over and over it gets stuck in your head and your actions, behavior, and mindset start to change. This keeps your goal on the front of your brain as you go about your day.

It isn’t easy to make a change and stick to it. However, doing so is something that will serve as a benefit, long after the novelty of a new year’s resolution has worn off.

-Tatum Temia

Tatum is a blogger, self-improvement writer, and marketing professional. She blogs about self-worth, relationships, and is dedicated to inspiring women to be the best version of themselves. To read more articles by Tatum, please visit: DearRegina.com or follow on social media (Twitter&Instagram) @DearReginaBlog