Guest Writers Week: Exes: Is It Comfort Or Are Soul Mates Real?

By: Alli Griffin

What are the consequences of getting back with an ex? I see people do it all the time. I’ve been the person who rolls my eyes behind their back and says, “It was over the first time for a reason!” But I don’t know that reason. There are so many reasons why people break up, good or bad, immature or mature, life-changing, heart-breaking, or otherwise. I watched my friend torment himself going on again off again for years with someone who was never going to change. His boyfriend was way too young and just not ready to settle down. And I got to hear mom’s side of everything, how she felt really felt about his ex. I’ve even seen parents get back together post divorce. Is it comfort or are soul mates real?

That’s the big question you have to ask when considering getting back with an ex. Do you really, truly love them or is it because this person was your moon and stars for however long and they’re comfortable? They laugh at your dumb jokes, will put your favorite band on in the car, already knows your order at your favorite restaurant, and you have great sex. Loneliness and sex are the two main reasons people hang out with exes if you’re break up was not a mistake and it’s actually true love. You have to think of the end results of your decisions. If you decide to try again and the second time doesn’t work, this is not the person you were meant to spend your elder years with, then how much more does it hurt to open up old wounds and rub some salt in there? Can you handle that heart break again? Less selfishly, how does it affect the other people in your life?

No matter how much we want to believe, especially at the beginning of a relationship, the couple is not an island. Eventually, you have to leave your cocoon and meet the friends, the coworkers, the parents and siblings, then the aunts and uncles and cousins, and the grandparents, the family friends, the extension of the people who have been in your life longer than the new love interest. The people closest to you are affected when there’s a break up. You’ve accepted the other half of this person into your life and now they’re gone. If you want to let them back in your life how do the other people recover? We all know the judgey looks and comments you give when a friend says they’re hanging out with an ex. We’ve given them and received them and even hidden from them by not telling anyone you’ve sent a nostalgic text to your ex.

If someone wants to get back together with their ex or be friends with their ex, who am I to judge? No one because now I find myself stuck wondering, how do you make it work a second time around?

“Alli is a 25-year-old Nurtitional Science major with a passion for writing fiction and occasional real life rants. Follow her at @confidentlylost.”

Guest Writers Week: How Yoga Healed Me

By: Taji Mortazavi

I’ll admit that when I first tried yoga, I wasn’t doing it to look cool or be healthier or even the whole ‘keep calm and insert-pun-here’ thing that’s popular these days. No, I started yoga because I wanted a hot body. Between my weight training and my 60-mile weekend cycling journeys, I wanted an exercise that would lengthen out my muscles and give me that sleek, toned look gracing the cover of every women’s magazine.

While my intentions were at first superficial, a year later and my initial goal of a perfect yoga body doesn’t even phase me. Sure, I’m stronger, I have better balance, and my flexibility has improved. But my yoga instructor said in one of my first classes, “Yoga is not an exercise. Yoga is a moving meditation.”  It was through these words—this idea that yoga is something beyond an exercise—that led to the physical, mental, and emotional gains I’ve made.

1.       Physically: I don’t just look strong, I feel strong.

I envy the people who make yoga look easy. On the contrary, yoga takes incredible strength, balance, and flexibility. At first, a lot of the postures were really difficult for me. But over the weeks and months of falling over and making a fool of myself, I grew more comfortable with the movements.  My strong background in exercise and fitness actually helped me a lot, and (not to brag) but, before I knew it I was doing some of the most advanced postures that involved incredible form and diligence.

 But the physical strength was only half of it. When you master a head-stand or a bird of paradise, you don’t just look strong, you feel strong. And that strength remains with you even when you leave the yoga studio. Suddenly, problems that had daunted me for months or even years seemed like a piece of cake. I realized that as a strong, capable woman, I didn’t need to subject myself to an abusive relationship. I didn’t need to let a cancer diagnosis occlude me from moving forward with my education and career. At first, my strength manifested itself in planks and pushups. But over time, that strength developed into courage and insight.

 2.       Mentally: Patience and tolerance are true virtues.

I always thought that I was a pretty patient and tolerant person. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga that I finally understood what those qualities are. In a society fraught with abundance and advancement, we’ve surprisingly become mean, cruel and intolerant. We don’t second guess cutting someone off in traffic to save five minutes on running an errand. Stories where children bully others literally to their death is not news, but almost common place.  

 Yoga helped me quiet the impulsive voices of impatience and intolerance that lead to these behaviors.  Difficulty with certain postures and exercise sequences helped me learn to be at ease with my body, to not judge myself so harshly when I can’t quite accomplish what I want. I realized that my goals, whether in or out of the studio, will slowly happen over time and with hard work. And that same mindset has overflowed into other aspects of my life. I no longer feel compelled to always go, go, go. I am content simply with my state of being.  Most important, I’ll get there when I get there, and I have no one to answer to but myself.

 3.       Emotionally: I am grateful to be grateful.

I almost can’t describe the feeling of elation that runs through my body as I leave the studio and walk to my car when class ends. Maybe it’s an exercise high, maybe it’s from the fresh blood rushing to my head. But through practicing, I now appreciate a clear blue sky even more or enjoy the warmth of the sun on my skin. The traffic jam that stressed me out on the way to class feels like a breeze. Instead of dwelling on sorrows or problems or all the things I want but don’t have, I find gratitude in what I do have—even the problems I have. As bad as I might have it, someone always has it worse, and I wouldn’t dare trade my predicaments with theirs. Call it optimism, call it seeing the glass half full, I am grateful to have realized this. I am grateful to be grateful.

So am I saying everyone should drop everything and start doing yoga? Not exactly. Yoga worked wonders for me, healing me in ways I never even imagined. I fell in love (with myself, that is). And through this love, I have transcended many of the obstacles I once thought were impregnable barriers in my life. Is yoga a cure all? Absolutely not. I’d be quite a hypocritical and intolerant yogi if I said everyone has to practice—ultimately you should do what works for you. But what I can say is that there lies a profound importance in stepping back and enjoying the moment.  It’s these small moments where true bliss really occurs and we gain perspective.  And yoga is one way we can get more in tune with these feelings. So, through the words of my yoga instructor, “Just breathe.”

Taji Mortazavi is a 23-year-old French speaking, green smoothie loving, cancer  survivor  thriver. Oh yeah, she’s also a Social Media Specialist. Follow her @heyitstaji

Guest Writers Week: Patience Became A Figment Of My Imagination

By: Kalani Hillman

This is about me, but you may be able to relate.

I have the patience of a two year old and I have one of those, so I would know. There are just a lot of questions that need answers and I need to have them now. I always thought that wisdom (and by wisdom I mean the meaning of life) came with age but reality is paying me regular visits, bringing more riddles than resolutions. These include but are not limited to:

Will I be happy?

Will I get married?

Am I on track to achieve my goals and be rich and have everything I’ve ever wanted ever???

When will Usher choose me?

Why is Sallie Mae such a bitch?

Do women really like thumbs in their bu…nvm.

I am no longer satisfied with the assumption that all will be revealed with time. Somewhere along the line patience became a figment of my imagination and my twenties became about instant gratification. Unfortunately, few good things come from impatience. I find myself moving too fast (with some tall, FaceLikeMorrisChestnutVoiceLikeUsher type), so I can decide whether or not he is the one. Taking B12 and declaring that it does not work because my hair did not grow 12 inches in three weeks. Regretting career decisions that did not result in six-figure salaries and monthly vacations like they did for .002% of my classmates on Facebook. Being disappointed that my v-cut game is not poppin after like a week of crunches. I even read URLs before I click them because I want to know what the webpage is about before the page loads. I could never be a lion; I’d just run up to antelopes all loud, all wild like a dummy and starve because all my prey dipped after seeing me a mile away.

I need to relax. So I’ll tell myself and anyone who can relate what I tell my two-year-old almost every day: You might not be able to have it right now and that’s okay, it will be your turn soon. In the meantime, what else can you focus on to make the wait time less agonizing? Success in any aspect of life doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, dedication, focus, and time. Deal with it.

Kalani is a designer and pork bacon enthusiast from Brooklyn with soft boobs and a sharp tongue. Follow her on Twitter at @intoxikayting

Guest Writers Week: Life As An Oyster Shucker

By: Dana Sukontarak

My manager sent out an email to the whole department, congratulating me on my miniature promotion. There was a picture of me atop a brief bio that painted me as a very serious bookworm, and apparently it didn’t look like me at all, according to a coworker. “I didn’t choose the picture,” I told my coworker, a cute girl with long, curly hair. “He grabbed it off my LinkedIn page.”

“LinkedIn?” she asked. “What’s that?”

It was supposed to be a part-time job. I was fresh off a break-up with what I considered to be the epitome of soulless adulthood: a very junior IT position within a very powerful government agency. So, maybe I overcompensated for my occupational lack of whimsy when I copped this new gig: part-time cashier at my favorite natural foods grocery store. But I was starting a graduate program (more or less an act of panic) and getting SAT tutoring and catering event gigs on the side (both of which paid more hourly than my “real” government job, by the way). Three months, a full-time offer and one promotion later, I found myself in the most curious position. What is the appropriate balance between tending to the now and tending to the future? I enjoy my job – but how much effort do I devote to something not contributory to my eventual career? And who defines “eventual”—what timelines exist other than socially generated ones? Am I rebelling, aiming too low, or just taking advantage of the unmarked roadmap we affectionately refer to as “life”?

My gay childhood best friend is a raging and back-flipping alcoholic, the type of friend you’ll love forever but sometimes need a yearlong break from. Very recently, he was laid off from his “eh”-paying job, just months after securing his own one-bedroom apartment that cost more than half of what he earned monthly. He was forced to his limits, texting me for advice on selling his Macbook Pro and even requesting via a Facebook status that 50 friends donate to him 20 dollars each. Just before eviction, his cell phone lit up in glimmering gold with a job offer – one paying nearly double his previous income. And not long after, he texted my roommate (and our mutual friend) to ask, “Dana went from contract editor to working at a grocery store?” He told her that I was needlessly being a renegade, and that “at this age, it’s crucial to establish stability.” By the way, “this age,” for the both of us, is 24. We’re old enough to admonish our peers for not yet achieving as much as we have, but apparently too young to catch the irony in it all. The twenties are not an excuse to do poorly. It just so happens that lots of twenty-somethings do poorly, whether in terms of their careers, finances, or relationships. But “poorly” is a matter of opinion, and age ain’t nothing but a number (thank you, Aaliyah).

It is pointless to make comparisons. The only standards we should be striving for are those set by ourselves. I recently came across an essay I wrote for my introductory Philisophy class, which I took during my freshman year of college. “Finding the cure for cancer or otherwise ‘saving mankind’ is not the sole path to having meaning in one’s life, and is rarely the case anyway,” I wrote. “Shucking oysters every day and playing the guitar by fireside can have just the same, if not more meaning.” Apparently, I’ve been the way I am at least since I was 19, and probably long before.

These types of short essays sometimes feel farcical, as if it’s really possible to outline a huge, vague problem and a corresponding brilliant realization in 600 words. I don’t have a solution. Today, I sent off two very important applications. Later this month, I’ll send off a third. If the responses I receive aren’t good, then I’ll wait for the right opportunity to go for something else. And in the meantime, I’ll be working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at a very nice grocery store in a very nice part of Maryland, enjoying myself and the good fortune of being able to wear jeans to work.

Dana Sukontarak is a 24-year-old writer living in Hyattsville, Md. She graduated from the University of Maryland in 2012 with a B.A. in Journalism. She founded The Apposite (www.theapposite.com) in 2013. Follow her on Twitter @SQUIDGYPSY

Guest Writers Week: Dear Twenties

By: Noëlle Cuvilly

Dear Twenties,

Hey, it’s Noëlle. We’ve known each other for almost five years, but I think its time we had a little chat. I mean, unless God has other plans for me, we’ll be spending another five years together, so why not get a dialogue going between us? Its okay if you don’t have much to say right now. Just hear me out.

At 18, all I wanted was to meet you. I’d heard so many great things about you. How you came with freedom and independence. How you are supposed to be a total blast. You were that ideal of being a grown-up but still teetering the line of adolescence. The whole concept of “Old enough to know better; too young to give a fuck” had me sold on you immediately.

When we first met on March 3, 2010, I was a sophomore in college. I was invited to a gala, got dressed in a gorgeous black and white gown, had my face beat to perfection and drank amaretto sours with my girlfriends. It was a good time. I felt great about finally meeting you. But I guess you could say that our first year was a bit boring. It’s fine though because I was still feeling you out. You made up for it the next year.

At 21 you introduced me to love. My 21st summer was humid, hot and hazy. I met a man who made my emotions seem similar to a day at Six Flags where the lines are long and move at a snail’s pace, but once you’re strapped in, those short 60 seconds of flying through the air at high speeds made the wait well worth it. But in that same year, you showed me that love leaves. That the park doesn’t stay open all year-round. Pretty soon I was on a ride that I wanted off of but never seemed to be over. It was a ride that lasted well into our third and some of our fourth year together.

And now here we are. I guess we’re starting the part of our relationship that teaches me that you’re not all about fun and games. I am old enough to know better and SHOULD care enough to do better. You’re teaching me that you won’t be here forever so I’ve got to make this count. I have to start preparing for life after you. Working, managing money and time responsibly, balancing relationships, learning about myself, treating myself and others better and learning how to balance being selfish and selfless all at the same time. It gets a little scary. But you’re doing it for my own good I suppose.

I hope that along with these lessons, the rest of the time we spend together will be filled with fun. Can we try that love thing again? Can we travel more? Can we meet lots more new, exciting and interesting people as well as reconnect with old, awesome friends that I’ve lost touch with since you and I met? Let’s be more responsible but every once in awhile let’s just say, “Fuck it!” and do something crazy! LETS GET A TATTOO! Let’s try to get along better with my mother. Let’s laugh and cry. Let’s be honest with me a bit more. Let’s work on me loving myself more. Let’s pray more. Lets eat better but still enjoy the cheesy goodness that is pizza. Lets write more. Lets find new hobbies that I may enjoy. Let’s make my time with you the best time of my life like my twenties are supposed to be. We have so much to do, Twenties. Let’s get started.

Noëlle Cuvilly is a 23 year old creative writer from Queens, New York. With her B.A in English from Morgan State University, the self-proclaimed “cultured hoodrat” is working towards being a published author in the near future. Follow her on Twitter @_sugatits