The Concept of Shame, and what I intend to do about it

Photo by the incomparable Ella Sophie Photo

The boss lady once told me a story about a childhood whim of hers. When someone told her about the virtues of modesty, she would chime back “Modesty-podesty!” while lifting her dress up over her head to show how little she cared about the lesson.

Despite having what some might call a less than “typical” American upbringing with 80+ cousins spanning multiple countries and multiple languages, I would say that I was taught similar lessons about being modest, and more intensely about the concept of shame. In Farsi, the word sharm (شرم) was whipped out at every indiscretion. Whether it be a toddler picking their nose, showing their bellies in public, or just generally doing something that was considered inappropriate it was all quickly followed with “Sharm as!”, “That’s shameful!” Publicly shaming someone into behaving in a socially acceptable way was the norm, a verbal hand smack. As an adult with a bit more life experience and introspection, I often wonder about this kind of thinking, and what it instills in a person from a young age.

Shame itself is learned state of being, if you can call it that. No one comes into the world feeling ashamed of their bodies and its functions until someone gives them that feeling–it’s not something we’re born capable of feeling until it’s presented to us through religion, culture, or our general surroundings.

I’ve personally struggled with this feeling for a long time; shame over who I am, how I look, my actions, things that I’ve experienced, the list goes on. Feeling fundamentally out of place in a world that’s supposed to be your own can do that to you. Growing up feeling like all elbows, knees, and braces– being generally uncomfortable in my own skin was never easy. To this day, I find myself worrying that if people are looking at me, it must be for the wrong reasons. Is there something in my teeth? Something on my face? Is my shirt too tight or my skirt too short? I never had the resilience to shrug things off because things like that always implied that I had done something wrong, something shameful. It was never the other person’s fault for being crass or rude for staring. I think the appropriate term here would now be “victim-blaming,” which I’ve also experienced. There’s nothing worse than gathering the courage to share past trauma and being met with judgement. Even as an adult, those feelings linger and reappear. Even though it’s from a place of their own insecurity, fear, or lack of compassion, people still yell “Shame!” if you listen closely enough.

So…how does one begin to heal from the shame? Poet Olivia Gatwood has a biting series of poems that she’s created with the sole purpose of counteracting these feelings of shame. One of her more famous poems Ode to my Bitch Face, was my first real introduction to spoken word poetry, but the dialogue she delivers prior to her poem is what sticks with me the most.

“We think we’re supposed to feel [shame], we’re told we’re supposed to feel it, about the way that we live and act and walk and speak and dress and are. And then we feel it because someone told us to, it’s not an organic feeling, really.”
Unapologetically writing and sharing my experiences like this without expecting validation is something I’m working on. If anything good is to come out of all this, it’s the fact that feeling shame has made me a more compassionate human being. Sadly enough, I’ve learned that shame can create an unspoken bond between people. Over the years, I’ve connected with so many women who have experienced and survived abusive relationships and assault, as I have. As strong, intelligent women, sometimes the worst kind of shame you can feel is self-imposed. It’s the kind of shame you experience when you sell yourself short, when you protect people you know you shouldn’t by simply staying silent.The world would be so much better if people weren’t so afraid of each other, or afraid of judgment all the time. Shame should never be a necessity. If you consistently expect everyone and everything to be at a teflon-covered level of perfection and propriety, you’re either in serious denial or missing out on a lot of really beautiful, human things in life. None of us are perfect. Life is guaranteed to be messy no matter how uncomplicated and orderly you try to make it. So, I’m slowly unlearning the feeling of shame. I hope some of you will join me.
EVA♥
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Top Shelf

I would like to introduce everyone on my corner of the internet to my friend, Tucker.

My friends Emily, Tucker, & their son Atlas

Tucker is not shy in saying what he feels, which I find very refreshing. He is one half of a duo I have known quite a long time. I first met Tucker and his significant other, Emily, when she moved in to our college home rather unexpectedly. I had spent days alone in the house unpacking and was busy nursing a bowl of cereal in my pajamas when an entire, bright-eyed family walked into the living room. I sat there stunned, staring across the way at an awkwardly small tv screen, accutely aware of my bed head and how deranged I probably looked to my new housemate’s family. Fast forward about 10 years and all of us still keep in touch.

He often shares the most concise, no-nonsense pieces of advice he gleaned from his days in the military. Gems like: “Giving a shit is a choice.”

But Tucker holds the record for perhaps the nicest thing a guy friend has ever said to me when I was feeling down:

“Eva: you are a top shelf bottle of wine. Why are you putting yourself on the bottom shelf?”

Of course, there were some choice words after that that he used to elaborate (“All the douchebags are reaching for you on the bottom shelf! C’mon, dude!”), but I’m sure you get the gist of it. This is something I continuously ask myself when I find myself all too frequently baffled by other people’s behavior. There I am, sitting with my fancy label next to the bulbous jugs of Carlos Rossi sangria wondering why I’m apparently unloveable. Some people are there just for the cheap sangria, and I guess I’m just not your lady if that’s what you’re looking for. Case in point: there are some people in life that you’re better off without, but that’s a hard lesson to learn. Unless you fully isolate yourself from that outside world, I think one that it’s one we continuously learn.

Throughout the years, my friends have seen me through a lot of ups and downs–we’re talking forcibly putting cookies in my hands whilst I ugly cry, topping off my holiday coffee with a little more Baileys in the name of “pain management,” and even helping me clean my house when I’m feeling too down-in-the-dumps to function. Seriously. Please imagine my friends determinedly swiffering around me as I lie on the ground on the fetal position. If I hadn’t been so nonfunctional at the time, it would have been quite comical. But, it’s moments like these that make me so grateful to have a community of people that support me so unconditionally. They’ve seen me at my lowest, and even taken care of me when I was sick. They’re the kind of people you hope to have by your side in life.

Surround yourself with people that meet you on the top shelf and know you belong there, too.

You’ll know where to find me.

EVA ♥

I Wanted to Write…

In my 30 years of life, I’ve recently learned a hard lesson. It’s one that I’m grateful for, but nonetheless, it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn to date. My mother recently told me to write about these things, but sometimes I find myself staring at the blinking  pulse of the typing cursor on my laptop for long periods of time before closing it.

Some things are too hard to write about. So I’ll write about words.

As a writer, it’s quite a challenge to wrap your mind around the concept that words can mean nothing– they can have little heft in the grand scheme of life. Trying to quantify your life with words, what other people say versus what their actions are is an exercise in futility. There’s, of course, the age old adage that words mean nothing unless they’re followed up with actions, and I find that to be entirely true. The last few years of my young life have forced me to explore the concept (and now knowledge) that there are individuals for which words are fundamentally just that: they’re words, and not much else. For someone who has a mild obsession with words, and the nuanced way in which we might use them, this is especially dangerous. Someone can be saying all the right things, but their treatment of you can speak the volumes that you chose not to hear.

There can be a fundamental unhealthiness in holding on to words. For someone who occasionally spends her days running entirely on coffee and high levels of anxiety this can be especially tricky. If you’re anything at all like me, dear readers, words can serve as a the mind’s equivalent to a stress ball. Turning them over and over in your head, worrying all the edges away, using them as a source of reassurance despite reality indicating something entirely different. Depending on who they’re from and how they’re delivered, you can let the words scar you immeasurably or be the reason you sleep soundly at night.  I’ve all too often found myself trying to rationalize a person’s behavior based on the words they give me. One of my favorite young poets, Sarah Kay definitively says that “it is hard to build a body out of words.” Anyone who has ever tried to bridge the gap of understanding between two people can easily relate to this. I’ve experienced both distance and silence from some of the people that I’ve wanted to feel close to, but trying to build a relationship or understand someone just from their words alone can lead to unending disappointment.

The safe thing about writing is that you can turn those things around for yourself. You can take control and tell the stories that you want. You can create any kind of reality you want to; it’s there, because it exists on paper. You give them a life of their own by writing them down and they can be a direct way of controlling your life’s narrative. I find a great comfort in that. Despite how other people might use them, I chose to fully own my own experiences through my words as well as my actions. The good and the bad. Maybe one day I’ll share more of the difficult things on here. As author Anne Lamott so wisely said:

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

 
Until next time,
EVA ♥

My emotional baggage is Prada.

Hello everyone,

I recently got into a really amusing exchange on Facebook. Let me give you an idea of how random my friends and I can be:
Good friend sends me a picture of bedazzled cement truck on Facebook, the back of which literally looks like a giant disco ball. (For some context, this friend really likes anything covered in sequins/disco balls, etc.) Eva responds…
Eva: Woah! I know what your next ride is going to be!!
Friend: ” Disco garbage truck – the most festive way to haul around all my emotional baggage”
Eva: I have my eye on a Prada purse to haul that stuff around.
Friend: “I’ve been trying to hold it in a purse but it became impractical. Seen in photo: actual size of baggage.”(sends picture of giant purse statue standing about 10 ft. tall)
*cue laughter*
This is it, folks. The dreaded emotional baggage blog. Everyone has it and no one likes to talk about it or acknowledge its existence. I was recently inspired by the lovely Anna Akana (who is so admirably candid about her life), and the humor with which she addressed her emotional baggage. 

It’s some heavy stuff, dear readers. And, let’s be honest, most everyone’s emotional baggage is terrifying, and not some thing anyone wants to share. You have your run-of-the-mill abandonment issues, substance abuse, body image issues, maybe some PTSD thrown in there. Maybe your baggage, like mine, has a tape player in it that keeps saying the same thing to you over and over again. But everyone has it.  Let me be clear: Everyone has it. You can dress it up in Prada all you like, maybe even pair it with your Louboutins, but it’s still there. If you say it’s not you’re a lying liar. I don’t mean to get sassy, but it’s true. And I think what makes it so hard for some of us is admitting that it’s even there. Living life will give you “emotional baggage.” If you don’t have it, you’re most likely not out there in the world living. The boss lady says that her baggage is not baggage at all. It’s served her well, in her own words. It has some dings and scratches, maybe a broken zipper, but it represents all of her life experiences that have made her who she is. You can deny that it’s there, or you can embrace it as a part of you and find power in that. Let it be, but don’t let it hold you back.
Thank you sticking with me, dear readers. Here’s to all of our baggage!
EVA ♥
 
 
 

I Ain’t Sorry.

Hello all, 
 
First of all, I want to thank everyone who took the time out from their days to read my previous posts. I’m still seriously touched that so many people read the general nonsense that comes out of my brain. All 360+ posts of general nonsense…you are my people, and I love you. 
 
As I’ve said before here on Watch Me Juggle, things don’t always go the way you planned. 

{Beyoncé’s “Sorry” has become a bit of an anthem of mine.}

 

When you’re little, saying your sorry tends to be one of life’s hard-learned lessons. If you wrong someone, bump into them, do anything even remotely impolite, you say “sorry,” and move on. You took her cookie? Say you’re sorry. You accidentally tripped her during jump rope? Say you’re sorry. But what happens when “sorry” become the default? When it feels more like a reflexive obligation, than any kind of genuine recognition of wrongdoing? 

I’ll admit that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been fighting the impulse to apologize for my behavior or things that have happened to me in life. ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘excuse me’ have somehow become mushed together into the same sentiment. A grown man shoulder-checked me on my commute the other day and I found myself apologizing…for him? Excusing myself for being so large and so much in his way? He was conveniently mute the whole time. It was all very odd. And it’s in moments like this that I think— why do we continuously apologize for other people, or for simply just being ourselves? 
 
I’ve written a blog about being unabashedly myself before, “Sorry Not Sorry.” I’ll be the first one to tell you that I am by no means perfect, heck, (I’ve documented enough embarrassing and strange moments in my life on here for anyone to figure that out) but I feel like I also have the tendency to routinely apologize for myself more than is necessary. 
 
While I’m more spiritual than religious, I’m a huge believer in karma, that what you put out in the universe always comes around to you in another form. Regardless of how others treat you, it’s your job to be kind and graceful— to keep your chin up no matter how badly some things have gone. Some people might think that that means being a pushover, but I think that there’s an incredible amount of power in being able to fully own your behavior. And to me, there’s nothing worse than feeling like “Oh, I shouldn’t have said/done that,” because, while you can’t control the other people in your life, you can control yourself. Hold yourself to your own high standards. There are always going to be unfortunate people out there, and how they treat you should never be taken as a reflection on you. Of course, this is easier said than done. And I am as far away as anyone from having the answers. But I’m starting here…
Until next time,
EVA ♥

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yes, the title is ironic.

No, I’m not a total grinch I swear, maybe just a little messed up, as he says. Hear me out, dear readers.

The holidays are hard. They are. Any grown adult who denies this is probably hiding from something in a giant pile of tinsel somewhere watching “The Christmas Prince” 18 days in a row. Maybe someone hurt you, maybe you’re missing all the people who can’t be with you this season, or maybe you don’t have a family to spend the holidays with.  Even if you have all your idealistic ducks in a row, maybe you’re just feeling the pressure to make the holidays special for everyone around you. A good friend of simply said the other day that the holidays are hard because “this is the time where you are supposed to be happy.” The whole damn commerce-driven world demands it of you. Wear the sparkles! Buy the people you love presents! Wish everyone “Happy Holidays,” it’s nice! SMILE!
When you work in a customer-facing field (to put it lightly) like I do, it’s imperative you screw that smile on tight every morning. I make holiday small talk with people, but often wonder what’s really going on with everyone else. Do they feel the same way about the holidays as I do? While we’re busy trading cookie recipes, did they lose someone or something they cared about? While we’re playing the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” on repeat, who are we trying to convince?  We’re here covering things with Christmas lights and pretending that everything is merry and bright and whatnot. Everyone gets swept up in the holiday momentum, and it’s easy enough to blend in with the crowd. As much as the holidays are a reminder of the good things in life, like spending time with friends and family, giving to other people; the not-so-good things often loom on the other side. January is, of course, the magical time where everyone gets their sh**t in order, right? Almost no one I know enjoys January, but we’ll all cross that bridge when we come to it.
All ranting aside, the thing I’ve come to realize is that, no matter where you are in life, you have to A: take a deep breath, and then B: make the holidays your own. Don’t let other people’s expectations ruin what should be a nice time, regardless of your circumstances. Take the focus off of yourself and do something nice for the people you care about. Give yourself little projects, like decorating the house, baking something delicious, or volunteering. Aside from baking and the occasional festive cocktail, I’ve really been enjoying my tradition of making original and slightly inappropriate Christmas cards. (This one won the year for me. Current life status: Emily.) Plenty of people can relate to feeling like the holidays aren’t for them. Each year I make my cards on Shutterfly, I struggle with finding designs that don’t insist on making my last name a plural or forcing me to introduce a whole group of people. What am I supposed to do with this?!  “Happy holidays  from Eva, her shoes, her glass of Zinfandel, and this Christmas tree”? Well… that’s actually what I do, so that’s sort of a bad example.
I’ve reached the point in my life where the holidays have become a time where I get to celebrate the way that I want, if it’s laughing at myself or just hibernating with a glass of wine and my little Christmas tree. Don’t let anyone make you feel badly about how you…well, do you.
Hang in there, dear readers. Happy holidays.
EVA♥

Life Lately

Hello all!

It’s been quite a while since my last Life Lately post. Things have been interesting, to say the least! I’m trying to navigate a new role at work, one where I get to be more creative and actually write for a living! It’s a little nutty for me to think about, because it’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite and yet never quite wrapped my head around the possibility. I even recently published my first blog on my company’s site here. Writing in a professional context, and writing copy more often than not, is quite the change to get used to, but I’m looking forward to learning new tricks, so to speak. That being said, I often come home with my brain feeling like a wrung-out sponge, with most of my energy having gone into whatever tasks I needed to accomplish that day. Sometimes, the idea of slapping away at another keyboard can be a little daunting. I know I’m not alone here, right?

So, when the evenings and weekend roll around, I try to hit the proverbial reset button. Not so much “flatlining,” as I like to call it, more like changing gears. I usually overbook myself and try to get as much done as possible. This past weekend, for example, I spent the majority of my time at my very first work retreat. While the weather was a bit dismal for August, the view from the coastal retreat center was pretty amazing. That, and the bottomless cups of coffee made up for the unending fog. Welcome to the Bay Area, everyone!

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My Saturday then suddenly went from cups of coffee in the fog, to champagne punch poolside in the course of a few hours. I certainly can’t complain! In all, I have to say that I really enjoyed getting to know all of my coworkers a bit better. Nothing quite says bonding experience like bunking together like you’re back in college! On top of everything else, I was inadvertently thrown into a family dinner party situation. And by situation I mean helping my parents navigate my aunt and uncle’s large going-away dinner at the very last minute. I ended up showing up late, with wet hair, and frantically eating in the kitchen while trying to somehow navigate simultaneously serving tea and socializing with everyone.  This is what I mean by overbooking myself.  In short, while things are going well, they seem a bit hectic lately, to say the leat. I’m hoping I’ll navigate everything gracefully, and not bite off more than I can chew. Hey, this blog is called “Watch Me Juggle” for a reason!

Oh, and I’ve decided to celebrate my birthday all month long. Because I can.

That is all—until next time!

EVA♥

Swan Floaties & Superglue

Hello everyone!

We’ve all seen those photos. All of those “basic” Instagram girls laying nonchalantly on their inflatable swans/donuts/slices of pizza. They look incredibly effortless and cool with their perfectly tousled hair. Well…I found myself at a pool party with a giant inflatable swan this past July 4th, and I couldn’t help but attempt to be one of those girls. Unfortunately, it’s all too often in my life that things don’t quite work out the way I would hope. This was definitely one of those moments.

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So festive!

I’m going to be honest: actually getting on the swan was a challenge in and of itself. At one point, I thought I had it, only for the entire thing to fly out from under me, dump me in the pool, and land on my head. It was amusing, to say the least. Once securely on the swan, I pretended to look comfortable and begged someone to indulge me and take a picture.

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This was the one and only photo my friend Emily was able to take, before having a legitimate medical emergency. I wish I was kidding.

On the left-hand side of the pool, the pool railing was quite wobbly and broken. Not thinking anything of it, she got a bit too close while taking pictures, and the exposed metal edge of the railing dug completely into her foot. Now, in all my years of teaching, one thing I’ve had to make a concerted effort at is remaining calm. Panicking when people have potentially seriously injured themselves is never helpful, and usually just aggravates any situation. At first, I thought she had simply stubbed her toe, but when we got a look at the deep cut on her foot, I found myself suddenly repeating: “It’s going to be okay. Do you want some tequila? Let me get you a drink!!” I was trying to make myself useful, while clearly not knowing what to do at all. (I obviously take after my Austrian side of the family, who believe either Jäger or schnapps can cure just about anything.) When in doubt, take a shot…?

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Luckily, we had a few people on hand with some at-home-first-aid experience. While I was totally useless, a former Army medic at our party busted out a tube of superglue, and proceeded to actually glue my friend’s cut together. Very nonchalantly, he told us all about the everyday household items that worked wonderfully as medical supplies: duct tape, tampons, you name it. As unfortunate as the whole situation was, I’m glad we had so many caring people around. After a trip to Walgreens and a beer served in a giant horn, we were able to continue the long weekend, far away from the pool.

Keep calm and carry on, everyone. Also, when in doubt, carry superglue.

EVA♥

The Lady or the Tiger?

Hi everyone!

Today’s post is a little more substantial than my usual. Every once-in-a-while, I have some “deep thoughts” I like to share; I’m usually compelled to do so because I know at least one or two of you out there can relate. I’ve come to a bit of a crossroads in my life, and, it being a crossroads, you’re typically forced to make some decisions.

Lady-with-Tiger

A little while back, my mother handed me a printout that she insisted I take home and read. She didn’t elaborate much after that, but was adamant that I look it over. It’s only three or so pages, so it doesn’t necessarily belong on a bookshelf, although I think the content is undeniably worth the binding, or a soft cover, at the very least. I expected it to be an article or a bit of self-help type advice, something to help me make sense of my life. It turned out to be a short story: “The Lady Or The Tiger?” by Frank Stockton. The story starts out like any other fairytale, depicting a kingdom in olden times, ruled over by a king. It’s certainly not a children’s story, as the king is “semi-barbaric” and his kingdom is unique in that, in lieu of a proper judicial system, there is an arena in which any person accused of a crime is given the choice between two doors. Behind one, a tiger and a horrific death, behind the other, a beautiful young woman and a wedding. (An awfully extreme kingdom, yes?) Chance dictates whether the accused receives one of the other. Things in the kingdom get a bit interesting when the king discovers his own daughter in love with one of his subjects, and immediately has him thrown into the arena to be “judged.”  The princess, obviously invested in this particular case, makes it her business to know what lies behind each door on the day of the trial. Her love looks to her for guidance, and she secretly signals him to choose the door on the right.

   “Now, the point of the story is this: Did the tiger come out of that door, or did the lady?”

Apparently this tale is often used in academic settings as a teaching tool for comprehension and logic. The author leaves it entirely to the reader to decide. The princess has already lost her love, and it is up to her to then chose his fate. In the story, her mind is made, and she does not hesitate.

As the reader, you can’t but help imagine yourself in the princess’ shoes. This, of course, colors the outcome of the story. I shared and discussed the story with a friend of mine, and we both easily decided that the barbaric princess would have sent him to his immediate death. I think any woman who has ever been in love and had things not work out can relate. I oftentimes wish that the people I once cared about would simply disappear in a puff of smoke. Poof! Things would be so much easier. Admittedly, when asked about certain people in my life, I did once make big eyes and state the they had been “hit by a bus.” Funnily enough, the woman posing the question immediately understood my meaning. “Wow…that’s unfortunate.” I know, right…?

 After finishing the story, I did have to ask myself that, were I to choose, would the outcome be indicative of my feelings for the person at stake, or of my general character? One would think the natural choice would be the lady- to be the bigger person and to wish them the ever clichéd “best.” And yet, strong feelings for someone can, somehow, easily bring out the worst in us. The boss lady once told me that she could recognize how passionately she felt about someone based on how angry they occasionally made her. You might argue that if your feelings are fundamentally platonic or indifferent, a disagreement or canceled plans would leave you unruffled. In this case, the princess knowingly sending the man to the lady would be somewhat palatable. On the contrary, it’s often easier to grasp at anger when you feel a profound sense of loss, especially when it’s over something entirely out of your control and when your decisions are made for you. When discussing the story, I once joked that there should be tigers for all of them.

I recently came across a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that somehow manages to sum up those difficult feelings: “suddenly she realized that what she was regretting was not the lost past but the lost future, not what had been but what would never be.” At the end of the day, what touched me the most in the story was the awareness on the part of the princess that she had already lost. I’ve always been a big softie, and often to my detriment. Sometimes I find myself sad or fundamentally angry about things that never had a chance to materialize. I wonder if the princess in the story felt the same way. If she did, she might have perhaps chosen differently? Who knows…

EVA♥

“Yes, Mom, I’m Still Single…and Fabulous!”

Hi all!

I have some very exciting news today- I have a guest blogger on Watch Me Juggle! A while back, my friend Kelsey asked if she could share some thoughts on my blog, making her my first official guest blogger. I met Kelsey my freshman year in college, when her across-the-hall-mate wandered into my dorm room one evening. The rest is history, as they say. Even though she lives quite a ways away from me now, we still regularly share thoughts on the typical subjects that preoccupy young, single women our age. You know: work, our hopes and dreams, Instagram, and how everyone seems to be meeting strangers on the internet and getting married. Nothing too scandalous, really. But, it’s on this last note that Kelsey wanted to elaborate. I’m really glad she did.

Without further ado, I give you: “Yes, Mom, I’m Still Single.”

…..

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“So are you seeing anyone right now?” All single men and women approaching thirty have heard this line from parents and relatives. My mom asks me this almost every time I see her these days. I can tell she is getting concerned. She never used to ask me this, but the question has been popping up repeatedly over the past year or so. One time she really let her desperation show. “I don’t understand. You always had boyfriends in high school and college,” she said to me, as if my relationship status during my adolescence should have been a clear indicator of how successful I would be at landing a suitable husband at an appropriate age.

Maybe I am to blame. I haven’t introduced them to a guy since 2010. I have a policy of not telling them anything unless things are serious, and, frankly, I haven’t been at that point in a long time. Also, they might faint if they knew I dated a Republican that rode a motorcycle. Sometimes I will allude to past flings in my stories (“I toured and ate at a Google campus when I was seeing a guy that works there”), but that’s all they get. That’s because I know that my stepdad is the master of research and stalking. Any little sliver of information I accidentally let slip, he has already found the guy on Facebook. So, mum’s the word when it comes to sharing my dating life with my parents. Sorry, not sorry.

Recently, my mom asked again about my dating life. I said I was picky and not in a hurry, and she said I should give guys more of a chance. I interpreted that as her telling me to lower my standards. My parents would love to see me in a committed relationship because they worry about me and think a guy would take care of me. My stepdad used to text one ex-boyfriend to ask him to check the oil in my car. It makes me wonder if they have noticed that I have been a responsible, independent woman since I graduated college, even if I do fail at car maintenance. I even moved to Mexico City on my own without knowing a soul there! But no, a boyfriend would mean I was safe.

I have given them my spiel about enjoying being single and not wanting to give up my independence for someone not worth my time. I have complained about the dating scene and shown them a clip of Aziz Ansari describing the misery to Conan O’Brien. I’ve even explained that my generation is commitment-phobic because their generation has such a high rate of divorce. Most of the time, I just avoid the conversation by giving them a simple “no.” I know my friends also feel this pain. I recently shared a listicle titled “29 Brilliant Responses For When Someone Asks You Why You’re Still Single” with my friends in preparation of the Easter holiday weekend. My favorite line is, “I haven’t met anyone equally as fabulous!” Honestly, the worst part about being single is having to explain to others why you are single.

Let me state for the record that the single life is fun. I do not have anyone to answer to and I can be completely selfish. I can have dinner with this guy one night and that guy another. Or I can choose to stay in to wash my hair instead (which I have actually done). I can be friends with whomever I want and not have to worry about a boyfriend getting jealous when I spend time with a guy friend. I know that relationships have their own perks (travel partner comes to my mind first) and that falling in love can be an exciting adventure, but until I find someone who is worth my time, I am living my life the way I want. As Eva, the friend whose blog I hijacked for this post, stated, “Anyone can find some guy to hang around, but it is quality that is important.”

It seems like my arguments have not fallen on deaf ears. This week, my mom sent me two articles about the single women epoch and being single at 30. Also, she was told by a fellow juror that she shouldn’t pressure me and provided his own anecdote of his daughter marrying a loser. Thanks, stranger (although I am not exactly stoked to know that my mom was complaining about my singlehood at jury duty). My advice to my fellow single ladies (and gents) is to not let the pressure from society and family get to you. Move at your own pace, and don’t settle! You do you, boo boo!

Kelsey is an independent woman living a happy, sunny life in Santa Barbara. She loves her parents, despite their concerns about her lack of a boyfriend.