Blogging, humor

The Dreaded Friend Zone

“Follow through.”

Chelsea, my friend and better half of the duo behind Traipsing About, was explaining the key to forming and sustaining friendship.

“You and Dakota are the ultimate Friend Makers,” I gushed, thinking about their impressive social circle. Somehow they managed to make everyone feel included and important. Their seemingly natural ability to link people together based on common interests was truly a thing of beauty.

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Did someone say “thing of beauty”? (I told Dakota I knew I was risking our friendship by using this photo, but doesn’t it make you want to check out his blog?)

“If you meet someone for the first time and want to build a friendship, you have to take the initiative and reach out,” Chelsea went on.

“That makes total sense,” I nodded. “I’m still afraid to send people Facebook friend requests for fear of rejection, and I feel the same way about being the first one to reach out. I wonder if that’s what holds other people back, too…”

I thought about my move to central Oregon (from New Jersey) a little over a month ago. I landed here with a few built-in buddies, including Chelsea and Dakota, which gave me a definite advantage in the Friend Game, but how was I going to reach that deep, comfortable, Real Deal Friend Zone with people I had yet to meet? It seemed almost impossible.

“Follow through is the number one thing people miss,” Chelsea’s words echoed in my ears even weeks later. “And why everyone thinks it’s so hard to make new friends as an adult. That’s really all it takes.”

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Being a baller plant-based chef like Chelsea helps, too.

I realized earlier this week that I’d been hiking every day and it had never occurred to me to invite other people. “No one cares about doing this,” I told myself.

In fairness, some of this royally sucked.

Really, though, I was just scared. Childhood bullying and a few failed friendships haunted me. The same tape I replayed in my mind when it came to dating wound ’round and ’round.

It’s SO hard to click with someone… Even if things go well this first time, what happens next? …If I look or act a certain way, they won’t like me… No one wants to spend that much time with me… And my #1 go to: S/He has so many other people who are cooler to hang out with…

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Hang on. Who’s cooler than this?!

No matter how many positive experiences I rack up, the old insecurities rear their ugly heads with a flaming vengeance. In fact, it’s fair to say that recently spending three days off-grid with a group of (then) strangers was even scarier than moving 3,000 miles from the only place I’d ever called home.

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See? Terrifying.

Every fear of failure and rejection I’ve ever had has danced through my mind during these last few weeks of whirlwind change. The fact that I feel happier and more alive, too, has me wondering if the two just naturally go hand in hand.

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Tim Urban (my bloggy hero) might depict it something like this.

After all, if you keep doing things that scare you, you eventually start upping the ante. So the fear never really goes away.

Hey, I wonder if anyone is actually reading this… They probably have cooler things to do.

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Have you found it difficult to make new friends as an adult? (Have you tried offering them homemade potato salad?)

I’m just saying it can’t hurt. (Photos from VegNet Bend‘s monthly vegan potluck.)

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P.S. – Speaking of friendship… special shout out to the woman who makes my world go ’round. Jenn turns (cough) 29 today!!

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humor

Dear Life: Now What?

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Now that I’m essentially done with my Masters degree, that dreaded question has reared its ugly head.

You know the one.

NOW WHAT?

I recently listened to a book by Mike Dooley, Leveraging the Universe: 7 Steps to Engaging Life’s Magic, and he repeated this phrase often: Don’t get caught up on the “cursed hows.” (<—Totally worth the 5-minute read.) What he meant by that was: figure out what you want and visualize the end goal, then let the universe decide how it’ll deliver.

If you want to be a published author, for example, spend a few minutes each day picturing your books already on the shelves and, most importantly, feel how it’ll feel when you achieve that goal. Yes, also put some pen to paper today (“do what you can with what you have”), but don’t spin your wheels wondering about how to get a publisher or whether your idea has already been “done before.”

If you want a romantic partner, don’t get hung up on a specific person, just picture the kinds of things you’ll do with your dream mate and how you’ll feel when you’re together. Yes, you can add specific details like what you’re wearing -and please do!- but if you decide it’s got to be Gary from accounting, you might wind up butting heads with the universe, who’s working overtime to get you stuck in an elevator with Pete from payroll, the perfect guy for you.

When I picture where I want to be in a year, I see an active, fit, social butterfly who’s swimming in creative projects and opportunities, brave enough to say “YES!” when it counts – and “NO!” too.

While I’m trying not to get hung up on too many hows, I know it’s important to work with what I’ve got at my disposal today. For starters, I signed up for a half marathon in May, despite it having been two years since my last run. I even recruited two of the most inspiring “accountability partners” I could dream up, spanning New Jersey to Oregon, to help me get in gear:

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Meet East Coast A.P.: Remember Janeen? The one who says yes to everything? I may have used that little fact to my advantage…
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Meet West Coast A.P.: Vegan Retreat Unicorn #2, Dakota, a.k.a. Superhuman Freakazoid and author of the blog that will make you either hide in a corner or decide to start CRUSHING IT!!!!

To show them how compliant I am, I joined a gym…

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“Y” U NO LIKE 2 RUN, JULEZ?

…made Google docs outlining every aspect of my ideal life, started logging daily exercise, water and caloric intake…

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…and shed immediate poundage via purging more joyless belongings from the tiny apartment

I’ve even acquired new confidence-boosting crystals and signed up for a week-long “past life therapy training” with She’s a Maineiac at Omega Institute in July.

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Because I’m crazy now, in case you’ve forgotten.

I’m trying to up the ante in every area I can think of, breathing life into “November 2019 Jules” in ways that feel tangible yet exciting.

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2016 Jules, breathing life into another exciting vision.

As for creative projects, I’ve been keeping a list of fun blog post ideas and researching marketing courses and products. So far I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of top choices:

  1. Campaign Monitor  / My Emma – I think they can help me get my newsletter game straight with their sleek designs and impressive customer roster, plus a really reasonable Basic membership fee ($9/month)

    “Email acquisition best practices”? I’m definitely going to need some help… Photo credit
  2. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – this one comes recommended by a financial independence blogger I really like, Millennial Boss, but with a $197 price tag, I’ve been hesitant to take the plunge

(If anyone has any recommendations or experience with either, please leave a comment!)

I don’t know about you, but I’m still feeling antsy. Maybe I should stop with the hows and go tinker with my Google doc some more.

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Actual screenshot from my “ideal life” Google doc. …DON’T JUDGE. Okay you can judge. I still love you. …Do you know anyone single?

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Do you believe in the power of creative visualization? Do you get hung up on the “hows”?

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DISCLAIMER: This post contains sponsored links.

humor, Just For Fun

Someone Tried to Steal My Emmy

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“I don’t know how to ‘rate’ how I’m feeling. I don’t even f*@%ing want to be here.”

Seven heads shot up and stared at the redheaded woman in our circle. A few of us giggled nervously.

“You all have these cool projects you’re presenting, and I just don’t know what I’m doing here.”

Alyssa’s eyes watered and inwardly, we all applauded. Finally. An honest answer.

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Usually team-building events go more like this. Or this.

In an uncharacteristically social moment a few months earlier, I had accepted a friend’s invitation to a “Vegan Creatives” 5-day retreat on Cape Cod.

“I want to get a bunch of my vegan artist friends together to talk about our projects and brainstorm,” Shawna, the retreat mastermind, had explained. She and I had met the prior summer at my Masters program residency, where she had graciously overlooked my penchant for public urination.

Much like the cold sweats I experience when interviewing narcissists for school assignments, as the retreat neared, I began to shvitz. What was I thinking? I didn’t know the hostess or anyone going. Sure, I had my thesis project to present, but I was also in the throes of writing said thesis. Could I handle any more stress?

“JUST GO,” I told myself for the 9,000th time. “It’ll be good for you.”

DAY 1

Arrive at guest house. Meet three-legged, one-eyed dog and attractive vegans #1-7. Eat colorful food and receive unicorn name. Grow concerned that I seem to be having…what’s the word…fun. No. That can’t be it.

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DAY 2

Convince Alyssa she too is having, well, whatever these feelings are. Begin stroking each other’s hair. Watch Tracy feed pet bee sugar water. Try to take photo without Dakota wearing a bowl. Unsuccessful.

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DAY 3

Eat more colorful food, voluntarily touch beach garbage, and reevaluate entire existence. Can I vote using new unicorn name?

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DAY 4

Learn that not only do new best friends save animals, sing, write, paint, cook, act, travel, scale mountains, rollerblade with bubbles and have kickass blogs, but the hostess, Allison Argo, has won half a dozen Emmys. Attempt to steal one.

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DAY 5

Say goodbye. Ugly cry.

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Until Alyssa reminds me to snap the f$&@ out of it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go tuck my Emmy into bed.

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