Lance’s Story

Life is unpredictable. You can plan out every detail and be amazed or disappointed with the way things unfold, or you can roll with the punches and choose your moments to take action. You may know where or who you want to be ten years from now, but to think you have complete control over the way it plays out is incredibly shortsighted.

In July of 2010, we had to put our dog down. Woody was an English Mastiff — the huge dog from The Sandlot — with an ambiguous past. We rescued him when he was about four years old, so the first few years of his life were a mystery to us and even to the woman who’d found him in the woods (hence, the name). He was great with us; he just didn’t like certain people, and he was untrusting of strangers. I don’t think he liked the smell of cigarettes, either.

Large dogs don’t live quite as long as smaller pooches because of physical complications, especially with the hips and back legs. When we said goodbye to Woody, we agreed not to get another dog. For the foreseeable future, our home would be petless. Cleaner, yes, and at least a little quieter — but as empty as it’d felt in years.

A couple of months later, my family drove up to Lake Placid for my cousin’s wedding. My brother and I had floated around the idea of getting a puppy, but my dad wasn’t entertaining it. Mom kept her opinions to herself because she didn’t want to take sides (read: Mom wanted a dog but wouldn’t say anything). While in our hotel room, my dad’s phone buzzed. His friend had found a German Shepherd tied to a pole on the side of the road a few days earlier. Dad’s buddy was an active volunteer for a German Shepherd rescue organization and a dog owner himself, so he didn’t want his home overrun by Shepherds.

“I, uh, know you guys were maybe looking for a dog…”

My dad’s biggest mistake was showing us a picture of the pup, which was the point I made when arguing why we should take the dog. If Dad didn’t want to get another dog, why would he show his family — three people who clearly wanted another pet — a photo of an adorable, helpless German Shepherd? He unconsciously wanted the house to be less clean, less quiet, less empty.

Nothing about the future is foreseeable.

On September 6th, 2010, we officially got Lance, our new pet and family member. If you’re wondering where in the hell we got Lance from, we’d begun brainstorming names in that Lake Placid hotel room. After tossing around a few stupid ideas, my dad’s friend told us he had taken the dog to the vet and the vet said the dog only had one testicle.

That was it. We named him Lance. (Now he has none.)


To read more about Lance, check out the full story on Medium.

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Throw the Small Ones Back

Let me preface this post by saying it’s okay to have a plan. It’s okay to stick to that plan or to change that plan or to abandon that plan. It’s also okay not to have a plan at all.

Everybody is different, and there is no one path to love, happiness, or success. I’m not sitting here writing this pretending to know what I’m doingor what’s best for everyone else. I am a human who makes mistakes and tries his best to learn from them. I am a person who goes to bed every night wanting more and wakes up the next day with that same desire for betterment.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me share with you some things I’ve learned…


Check out the rest of this piece in The Coffeelicious on Medium.

“Replace the bad with good…”

Part IV: Catharsis and learning to thrive

By Ryan Hussey

Edited by Jenna Rutsky


You are in your early fifties now. Emotional scars don’t fade like physical scars do. You get a new job at a law firm — a fresh start.

The first day, you notice the harsh sound the door makes when it shuts. It jars old memories loose, when your stepfather used to come home and you’d sit in your bed, trembling.

Not too long after, you notice the sound your boss makes when he walks up the stairs. The door slamming, the heavy footsteps of a grown man heading toward you — together, these should be enough to break you down into pieces.

You realize you must face the reality head-on, much like when you were five years old and it confronted you without warning. But one thing has changed since then.

You’re bigger now. Older, wiser. You’re stronger in every sense of the word. You’re prepared.

One weekend, you allow your niece to paint your fingernails. She lets you choose the color.

You recall the way teal blue makes you feel — that awful color. The color that represents your cell, the one that imprisoned you for nearly a decade and that’s held you captive ever since. The color that’s tattooed your memories, making you wish you saw only black and white. That diseased color, that monstrous, oppressive color that never fails to make you sick to your stomach. Teal is ugly.

You insist that your niece paint your nails teal blue.

Teal blue — that beautiful color. The color that matches the new blouse you bought for work. The color that brightens up any outfit or party or painting. That vibrant color — a work of art in itself — that now puts a smile on your face just as fast as it used to wipe one off.

Holding your arms out straight, you finally see what’s in front of you. Your hands, teal blue fingernails, your future.


For the rest of this piece, please head over to the full article in The Bigger Picture on Medium. You will not regret it.

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(Illustration/Kayla Spataro)

My Personal Guide to Tinder, Part 3

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After reading Part 1 and Part 2 of my Tinder installments, I realized that the most interesting sections are the stories. Sure, the rules are entertaining to write and read about, but it’s more fun to see those guidelines in action. So, for this third installment, I’ll focus more on anecdotes from my Tinder experiences.

My personal Tinder guidelines (cont.)

Remember: Swipe left for NOPE, swipe right for LIKE.

  1. Swipe right if she has a cute puppy. (<-not a typo)
  2. If she’s holding a cigarette in a photo, swipe left.
  3. Blurry photo? Are you serious? This is 2015. Swipe left.
  4. If she looks like my brother’s girlfriend, hmm…
  5. If she looks like my brother’s girlfriend with a different skin pigment, screenshot and send to him. Swipe direction irrelevant.
  6. If she looks like an ex, swipe right because I have deep-seated issues.
  7. If there’s a photo that looks like it has a story behind it, swipe right. (My curiosity might get the best of me sometimes, so if this rule conflicts with a previous rule, the previous rule shall maintain precedence.)

Playing by the rules

I could claim that I stick to the guidelines I’ve laid out in these three installments. And most of the time, I do consider my “rules” before swiping. However, you know how it goes: Some rules are made to be broken

6. If she likes Weezer, investigate further.

You wouldn’t believe how many girls claim they love Weezer and that their favorite song is “Island in the Sun.” If that’s your favorite Weezer song, you haven’t heard enough Weezer.

17. If all of her photos feature the same pose, swipe left because she’s probably a statue or mannequin and there is literally no evidence to refute that.

Sometimes I swipe right just to comment on how every photo is the same. For example:

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For the record, she does always have headphones in.

18. If I can’t pronounce her name, swipe left.

I’m pretty sure I’ve swiped right for girls with no vowels in their names.

25. If she mentions faith and/or religion in her About Me section, swipe left because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Yesterday, I literally swiped left for an attractive girl solely because there was a crucifix in the background of her photo.

32. Swipe right if she has a cute puppy.

I swipe right all the time for girls I’m not even attracted to because of the possibility I’ll get to play with their dogs.

Pic or it didn’t happen

What’s a good story without some photographic evidence? In this section, you’ll find some of my favorite conversations that I thought were funny enough to screenshot and post on the Internet…

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$60 for a half hour?! What if I only need five minutes?

In the picture above, you’ll see my first encounter with a prostitute(?) on Tinder. I would love to say it’d be my only encounter, but that just wouldn’t be true. Turns out there are a ton of whores on Tinder, or at least girls/women who are looking to exchange sexual favors for money. (It’s fair to call them “whores,” right?)Berenice

Now, these girls differ from the elegant “Ellen” (pictured with headphones above), who just wanted to share her pornographic photos with me — I assume for free.

As I’ve encountered more and more of these girls, I’ve become deft at spotting them out before I even swipe. And if you know me, you know I’m swiping right almost every time to prove my hypothesis.

Usually, when I have a hunch that a girl is fake, I sabotage the conversation to see how far I can take it before she bails. Because if I’m not going to get a date out of it, I might as well get a decent story to tell my friends. Sometimes, these girls don’t answer and all but confirm their nonexistence. Other times, they either play along or are telling the truth and have actually moved from Germany recently (see Isabel screenshots below).IMG_2004IMG_2006

Strictly business

Like I said, I’m getting quite good at picking out which girls will probably have sex for money before I even swipe. I imagine that these accounts get a high volume of messages from guys who simply think the girl in the photo(s) is attractive. From that amount, I wonder what the success rate is for these entreprewhores. I mean, they’re operating their businesses in a marketplace where they already know exactly what the consumers want. So, targeting is not an issue because these accounts probably just swipe right for everybody to maximize their reach.

If a guy has $60-100 to spare, he can get — in one night — what would’ve taken him anywhere between three and five dates, as well as upwards of $100, to obtain. While I don’t want to judge anyone for being that desperate, and while I absolutely do not want to criticize somebody’s business (however illegal it may be), I do understand how and why it can be an effective use of the Tinder app.

Also, I basically just provided free advertisements for like three or four hookers. Happy dating!

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To be continued…?

Why I Don’t Keep My Promises

Promises are interesting phenomena. We all make promises — to our children, to our parents, to our significant others, to our friends, even to ourselves — and sometimes (maybe more often for some of us), we break them. We can’t, realistically speaking, keep every single promise we make. The only surefire way to avoid breaking promises is to refrain from making them altogether.

So, why do so many of the promises make end up broken?

In her Huffington Post article mentions that some people continue to break their promises because “saying you are going to do something feels just as good as actually doing it.”

I consider myself a man of my word. I’d like to think most people know that when I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. This is probably because of the conviction with which I assert things. If I declare with confidence that I’m going to do something and it sounds legitimate, why not believe it’s going to get done?

That being said, I can’t count how many times I’ve told myself I’m going to go for a run today and simply haven’t done it. A lot of times, I even mention to coworkers how I’m going to run later to try to solidify my plans, but I always end up looking like a lazy, Oreo-guzzling piece of shit when they ask me about my “run” the next day.

Now, going for a run is a small-scale example; it doesn’t affect anyone but me if I do or don’t exercise, and it really doesn’t even affect me that much. Come to think of it, most of the promises I break only affect me, small and large-scale.

This is why I want to focus on the promises I make to myself. These are the ones that affect only me by design — the ones that, if broken, disappoint me and only me because others hardly ever know I make them. These are the promises made on a bigger scale, or at least they seem that way. Perhaps I put more weight into them because they are that much more important to me than going for a run.

I’m talking about the promises I make to myself that truly challenge me as a person. I’m talking about the ones that are hard to keep not because they’re impossible but because I know myself too well.


 

Awhile back, I promised myself I would write more frequently. But, because I’m lazy, uninspired, and afraid of publishing anything less than “perfect” (in my eyes), I have been writing sporadically at best. To shed some light on this point, I started this post about promises over two months ago.

According to Robert Wicklund and Peter Gollwitzer’s Self-Completion Theory (1982), we engage in behaviors that reinforce specific identity goals to which we are committed. So, I want to write more frequently because I consider myself a “writer” and the only way to prove to myself and others that I am a writer is to write.

A few months ago, I made a “25 Before 25” list with some coworkers, detailing twenty-five goals I want to accomplish before I reach the quarter-century mark. I may have completed several of the things on that list already, but I don’t expect to accomplish much more. The worst part is that I knew I wouldn’t do some of these things when I made the list. In fact, I only added certain items to the list to pad my stats, so to speak. I essentially filled a bucket list with things I had already done to make it look like I’d accomplished something in my life. After all, I can’t break a promise I’ve already followed through with.

My best and most recent example of a broken promise is my vow to stay positive. Unlike my “25 Before 25” list, which I only shared with my coworkers, and my personal pledge to write more, I publicized this commitment to positivity to any close friends and family members willing to listen. (So, like three people total.)

It took me a lot longer to break this promise than I thought it would. I’m not sure if it had to do with the scope of the pledge, but for a few good weeks, I was committed to being positive. Or at least I thought I was.

See, what I mistook for positivity turned out to be a neutrality that was uncharacteristic in and of itself, but — when compared to my usual pessimism — seemed groundbreaking. So, rather than displaying true positivity for this span, I was fooling myself with my lack of negativity.

While vowing to stay positive sounds beneficial on the surface, I made the biggest mistake any of us can make when I made that promise. I did it for the wrong reasons.

I can try to explain why I break promises I make to myself and others through psychological terms and thirty-year-old theories, but the real reason is plain and simple. When I make a promise for the wrong reasons, I am extremely unlikely to keep it. And this is probably true for all of us.

I compiled that “25 Before 25” list to give myself something to reach for, and I self-sabotaged my chance for growth. I tried to write more often because I believed it was something I needed to do to maintain my identity, and I found myself with nothing to write about. And I decided to try on my positivity hat for a few weeks because I thought I could trick myself into being happy. Perhaps that was my worst mistake.

I viewed happiness as a goal rather than a state of being. This is dangerous because: 1. I classified my well-being as a temporary goal and 2. How can we measure the success of an objective that is completely intangible? What is the metric for happiness?

Earlier in this article, I mention that the only way not to break a promise is not to make it in the first place. But after analyzing all of the recent broken promises I’ve made to myself, I’ve realized that the best way to avoid breaking promises — and maybe the only way — is to make them for the right reasons.

The Things We Keep

I am in the midst of a (major?) change in my life. Now, I am not someone who believes our careers should define us as people, but I do believe that once our careers develop a stranglehold on our happiness, it’s time to make some moves. Without going too much into it, let’s just say I’ve decided to make some moves. Even though it’s something that’s been a long time coming, I’m not sure the gravity of the situation hit me until last night.

The Nostalgic Cleanse

I was in a weird mood, so I began browsing around my bedroom. I may have been looking for something specific when I started, but within minutes I was staring at a garbage bag full of old papers — college schoolwork, songs I could never quite finish, notes about ideas I was never proud of conceiving. After creating some much-needed space on my desk, I resolved to do the same with the rest of my room. Within an hour, I filled two bags with me.

I say me because that’s exactly what it felt like. Throwing away some of those papers and knick-knacks constituted a step forward. Filling those garbage bags was my way of letting go of a bunch of things I didn’t feel I should worry about anymore. I wasn’t giving up on the unfinished songs and incomplete ideas; I was just acknowledging that maybe they never panned out because they weren’t that good to begin with. I was accepting the fact that I need to churn out a lot of shit to get to the good stuff.

Well, now there’s room for the good stuff.

And I made sure of that. Basically anything I couldn’t find immediate use for (or predict near-future use for) went directly into a trash bag. Anything that represented the old me — anything that symbolized thoughts or feelings I no longer care to experience — is now in the past with those thoughts and feelings.

My thought process was as follows:

I’ve gotten all I can out of these items, these notes, these concepts. I’ve learned from these experiences and can now use any of this in the future, whenever I want. And if I’m unable to recall the lessons these items have taught me without physically holding them, then the lesson was never important to me in the first place.

But while I was unflinchingly disposing of items I would’ve never even considered trashing a year or two ago, I found myself saving certain items with the same decisiveness. There were some things I just wouldn’t throw away. Or couldn’t, perhaps. Without hesitation or remorse, I distinguished the worthy from the worthless.

The ‘Leftovers’

Like the HBO series The Leftovers, I’m less interested in discovering why certain people disappeared and more interested in exploring why the others were “chosen” (if that is the case) to stay. The things I threw out — or the people who vanished, in the show’s case — are not coming back. But whatever remains is tangible; it’s real. And I bet there’s a damn good reason I chose to hang onto particular items while consciously disposing of others.

So, allow me to pose the question: Why do we hold onto things of little or no practical value?

Is it because of a sentimental value we assign to specific items based on the fondness of the memories associated with them? What makes these “leftovers” different from all of the things we decide to part ways with?

When it comes to items that belonged to loved ones we’ve lost or gifts we’ve received from these important people in our lives, the answer is relatively simple. In an article featured in the alternative Seattle newspaper The Stranger, Rebecca Brown writes:

We keep these material things because they represent the people we no longer have. We keep them to remind us we can do or be or mean something and that the people we admire can inspire us.

[Source: “The Things We Keep: Why Do Relics of the Dead Mean So Much to Us?” by Rebecca Brown]

Brown’s notion of finding inspiration in these material possessions extends beyond “relics of the dead.” I believe this idea pertains to my situation as well. Maybe the items I purposefully trashed wound up in the garbage because I felt they could no longer inspire me. Perhaps I still find inspiration in whatever I decided to keep around.

While I originally viewed my decision to keep these things as a refusal to let go of the past, I am now beginning to consider this alternative explanation. Maybe the items that survived this “purge” of everything useless in my room aren’t just a fail-safe for when I want to return to my comfort zone — maybe they have some sort of unfinished business in my life (à la Casper the friendly ghost).

On Detours

According to Merriam-Websterdetour is defined as “a deviation from a direct course or the usual procedure.” Most people — myself included, until recently — consider detours a major inconvenience. A detour is often deemed a hindrance, viewed purely as an obstacle we must overcome on our way to work, school, or wherever we may be traveling.

About a month ago, construction started on a road I take to work in the morning, leaving it open only to local traffic. This construction has forced me to take a detour every morning, adding anywhere between five and ten minutes to my daily commute. To arrive at work on time, I should probably be leaving my house a little bit earlier, which would mean waking up five to ten minutes earlier on most days. As one might predict, I’ve been 5-10 minutes late to work almost every day since the construction began. (Whoops.)

Though seemingly unfortunate, I now consider this detour my favorite part of the day.

These moments I’m referring to occur between 7:55 and 8:05 each morning, and they rarely last for more than a minute, depending on how fast traffic is moving. If I time it right, I have the pleasure of passing a specific house at what is probably its most genuine moment of the day — and in many ways, mine as well.

As I approach the end of my morning commute, I get to witness a mother and her two daughters waiting for the school bus. On most mornings, they play games. They laugh. They smile. The older daughter assures her mother that she did all of her homework as the younger one gets her hair fixed for the school day. I never get to watch the entire scene play out, and I certainly can’t claim to know anything more than the fact that I see them and that they are real.

I don’t know their situation. I don’t know if there’s a father and/or husband in the picture. I don’t know if I’m the only one who sees them; I assume I share this sight with at least dozens of other drivers each morning, though I’m unsure they appreciate these experiences the same way I do.

Some mornings, I pass that house before 7:55am. I get to work on time on these days, but I miss out on everything I’ve described above. I don’t enjoy these days as much.

And sure, it sounds like nothing. When reading those first two paragraphs, people may have suspected I was writing about something extraordinary, something mind-blowing. And while I believe I am writing about something extraordinary, I do understand the criticism of my sentimentality. People have every right to ask, “Ryan, what’s so special about two kids waiting for a school bus?”

But I have every right to counter that it’s something we need to see to understand.

So, while I used to groan when I heard the word detour or saw a ROAD CLOSED sign, I now know it’s not always such a bad thing. There’s a reason it’s often referred to as the “scenic route.”

#SingleBecause

One way or another, writing about relationships has become somewhat of a calling for me. From getting one of my posts “published” on Thought Catalog to actually getting paid to give relationship advice on Lifehack to receiving an extremely kind shout-out from a popular singles life coach, I guess you can say I’m qualified (maybe?). I mean, she did say this:

Even at 23 he gets women better than most.”

Nicer and truer words have never been posted on the interwebs. Now, when I sit down to write, I very rarely want to write about relationships. But I do know that if I write about the subject and spit the truth, people will actually read it because they know I’m being real. I don’t know what it is, but people enjoy reading about love and relationships, and they even care about what I have to say. Surely, becoming some sort of “relationship guru” was never something I intended, but sometimes you just have to go with it. (Like in that movie.)

I’ve been told I’m “quite the catch” (source unconfirmed), so why is it that I’m more single than an individually-wrapped slice of Kraft American cheese (terrible joke aside)? Let’s solve this mystery together, shall we? From what I can surmise after countless long, lonely nights of self analysis, here are some of the top reasons believe I am single:

10. I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day…

The problem with this is that the single girls are the ones I should be going after. But because I find the people who complain about being single on Valentine’s Day so unbearable, it’s safe to say that every V-Day ends the same for me…

9. Online dating doesn’t work for me.

How about we... don't get arrested?

How about we… don’t get arrested?

I’ll just get this one out of the way now. Various people have told me, “Oh, you should try online dating! I have a buddy who met his wife that way. They have like 3 kids now.” Sure, while others might have success in the online dating world, I just don’t think I’m built for it. Part of me believes I’d be able to meet an amazing girl online, but the other part of me believes that first part is drunk and should go home.

8. Also, I’m just really bad at online dating.

This has happened on multiple occasions.

This has happened on multiple occasions.

I don’t know what it is, but I can’t seem to take online dating seriously. The concept of meeting somebody and communicating only through what is basically email until both parties deem each other in-person material because they’ve convinced each other they’re not murderers is just silly to me.

7. I’m confident but, at the same time, a bit self-conscious.

I think very highly of myself; I hold myself to a standard that is sometimes impossible to meet. Because of this, I tend to get a bit down on myself sometimes…

I also tend to place too much emphasis on things that aren’t important, ie. appearance. And in this case, I’m talking about my own appearance — both physical and virtual. What do I mean by virtual? I mean that I spend too much time crafting this “online persona,” and although there may be parts of the genuine me shining through this screen of social media accounts I’ve constructed, the screen does exist. And its sole purpose is to make people think I’m cool–

…er…

…to show people I’m cool. Yeah.

6. I’m too picky.

I do place a lot of emphasis on certain qualities of other people as well. Perhaps too much emphasis sometimes.

I have this tendency to say “I want” this and “I want” that…

But the truth is simple: I don’t know what the hell I want. Nobody knows what they want until they have it.

5. I can’t seem to throw the scent off the gay trail.

No matter what I do…

It just follows me everywhere I go…

4. I’m a bit of a skeptic.

When it comes to relationships, when it comes to love, when it comes to basically anything in life — I treat it all the same. Call me a pessimist, call me a cynic. I like to call myself a realist. And it’s not that I’m a negative person — I just think depressing things are funny. Which brings me to my next point…

3. Most girls don’t understand me.

Jared Text

I also have a, uh… unique relationship with my brother.

I can basically get along with anyone for a limited period of time, but if I’m going to truly be myself, I guess I’m sort of an acquired taste. I think a lot of things are funny when others don’t seem to agree. I make jokes at — let’s call them — “inappropriate” times, usually to lighten the mood or at least get somebody to crack a smile during a tense moment. Since I joke around so much, it’s difficult for people to know when to take me seriously.

2. Maybe I want to be single?

Perhaps this is only true for me, but I don’t want to be in a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship. I want it to mean something. I want it to be with somebody I actually care about. I know plenty of people who feel like they constantly need to be in some type of relationship because they are afraid of being alone. All that means is these people are afraid of being left alone with themselves. Their true fear is having the time to think introspectively and learning about their true selves. What if they don’t like the person they get to know?

1. Clearly, I think too much.

And that’s obvious.*

 

*Read like Chris D’Elia. If you don’t know who that is or don’t understand the joke, that’s fine. Please refer to point #3.

What (I Think) I Want

I am a firm believer in the following statement:

Nobody knows what they want until they have it.

However, I’d like to think I at least have an idea of what it is I want in a romantic partner. Clearly, I’ve been tuning in to way too many romantic comedies lately, but I often spend my drives to and from work thinking about my ideal girl. So humor me, please…

I want a girl who knows things. I thrive on connecting seemingly unrelated ideas, so it’s important for me to find a girl who knows what the hell I’m talking about (most of the time, at least). I don’t only want — I need a girl who understands my pop culture and movie references, and I want somebody who stays informed about the world. Current events, trends, problems, basic historical knowledge. These things are all important to me. She doesn’t have to Google something every time we converse.

I want a girl who is passionate. About life, about a cause, about her family. About anything. Disinterest is boring.

I want a girl I can take to family gatherings. One I can take to parties and trust to mingle and make new friends. One I don’t have to worry about leaving alone with strangers for five minutes. She’s independent, or at the very least independent enough.

I want a girl who likes to read. Books, news articles, screenplays. Stuff that I write, maybe?

I want a girl who likes to talk. I like to talk, so I want somebody who at least enjoys expressing herself. We can talk about movies, music, whatever’s in the news, or even our deepest fears — as long as she opens up about something and isn’t hesitant to share her opinions.

I want a girl who lets me cheer her up (or at least lets me try). Sad? LET ME BE CHARMING. IT’S IN MY GOD DAMN DNA FOR SOME REASON, SO LET ME USE IT.

I want a girl who does the right thing. First and foremost, I want a girl who knows what the right thing is; and on top of that, she goes ahead and does it. Or at least thinks about doing it. Nobody’s perfect.

I want a girl who’s not embarrassed easily. I act a fool sometimes. When appropriate, she straightens me out and puts me in my place. But sometimes she’s completely okay with being just as foolish.

I want a girl who’s not afraid to laugh. I’m a riot. Act accordingly.

I want a girl who’s not afraid of being called “perfect.” I say a lot of stupid things without thinking. Inappropriate jokes for cheap laughs, insensitive comments because I forget who my audience is sometimes. But don’t ever — ever — think “perfect” came out of my mouth accidentally.

I want a girl who’s strong but not ashamed to feel weak. Vulnerability is what makes us human. I want a human.

I want a girl with an open mind. She understands and accepts that not everybody thinks the same way as her and not everybody shares her beliefs. We probably won’t agree on certain things, but she listens and acknowledges that sometimes there is no right or wrong. She’s also not afraid to try new things and venture out of her comfort zone.

I want a girl who can surprise me. I want a girl who’s creative. I want a girl who’s not afraid to put herself out there and feel vulnerable. I want an artist — whether she draws, paints, sculpts, designs, acts, sings, writes, dances, cooks, builds, styles, or plays an instrument — a girl who expresses herself in her own way.

I want a girl who’s good at what she does for a living but better at the things she does to feel alive. Our occupations don’t define us. I want her to love what she does weekdays nine to five (or whenever it is she works), but I also want her to care about other things. Hobbies, sports, traveling, whatever. I want to make my life worth something, and I’d rather leave my kids with knowledge and stories than a monetary inheritance. Though, I guess the money would be nice… (Read: I want a girl who makes a lot of money so I can write all day.)

I want a girl who doesn’t need me but wants me around. She’d be just fine on her own. She’d be successful, happy even. But for some reason unbeknownst to me, she wants to hang out with me. She might even love me.

Whoa, that got real for a second.

My Wet Dream

We all want something. Some of us know exactly what we want and exactly how to attain it, others know what but are iffy on the how, and some — myself included — are still trying to figure out how anybody can claim they know anything.

I asked myself a simple question: Why do we postpone pursuing our dreams?

I pondered this question for hours, developing a “brainstorm web” (recalling when middle school teachers used to tell me to create a web of ideas before writing an essay). My web included potential reasons for the postponement of dreams, as well as possible consequences for putting these dreams on hold. After reflecting on my own dreams, I decided to pose the same question to some family, friends, and acquaintances. Several people responded with the idea that maybe people don’t postpone their dreams. Maybe our dreams change based on life occurrences that are out of our control. But this notion didn’t sit well with me.

We all have dreams — that is to say, aspirations. I’ve read that goals are a way of making our dreams become reality. If we don’t set realistic, attainable goals, then dreams are just… dreams. For example, I could dream of changing the world someday, but that’s awfully vague, isn’t it? How could I possibly measure whether or not I’ve achieved it, let alone whether or not I’m even working towards it? Reshaping that dream into a goal of participating in a charity event and donating x amount of dollars to breast cancer research each year is much more perceptible. With less abstract versions of our dreams, in the form of goals, we can sort of figure out what we want out of life and ensure that every action we take moves us closer to achieving said goals.

I agree that dreams can change. But, like with basically everything else in this world, a fire burns inside me, asking: Why?

When I originally webbed out the potential reasons people postpone their dreams, I thought about why I, personally, would ever push my aspirations aside. (Now that I have written the previous sentence and read it aloud, I realize how depressing it is for me to have actually brainstorm-webbed the concept of “postponing dreams.” People are out there feeding the hungry, curing the sick, and getting laid — getting laid, man — and I’ve mapped out a web that can tell you why people give up on what they want in life.) Tying into the idea of life “happening” and changing our dreams in the meantime, one of the reasons I came up with was responsibility. Sometimes, we have to rearrange our priorities based on the well-being of others, ie. children and other loved ones. And that is completely understandable.

But what if I played devil’s advocate for a moment and argued that this responsibility and “prioritization” wasn’t the real reason people put their dreams on hold? Maybe — just maybe — this is a means for justification of their actions, or lack thereof. Some of us do postpone our dreams; it’s no secret. Some of us are hesitant to commit to goals because we fear everything from rejection to regret to failure. The reasoning behind this is tough for me to pinpoint — whether it is a confidence problem, a comfort zone issue, the crushing weight of expectations, or a combination of the three. But the truth is, this lack of commitment to our goals is failure.

Sometimes, postponing our dreams eventually leads to giving up on them, and that’s the worst part to think about. Because, when we give up on a dream (or when we allow it to “change”), maybe it means we never really wanted it in the first place — or maybe we never really believed it was possible.

To me, allowing a dream to change because of “circumstances” is inconceivable. A dream is a dream is a dream. Sure, some are outlandish and farfetched even, but if we really — and I mean really — want something, what’s stopping us?

Is it the aforementioned lack of commitment caused by our fear of failure and regret? Is it our hesitance to venture out of our comfort zones, or the fact that some of us feel anchored down by feelings and people and people’s feelings? Or is it our past experiences that seem to serve as warnings, cautioning us not to dive head first into anything without first dipping our toes in the water?

This experience that forewarns us of any potential danger usually protects us. After all, we are the sum of our life experience and without it, we wouldn’t know much of anything. But perhaps this experience — the same experience that reminds us not to stick our hands into a fire because hey, fire is hot and the same experience that advises us not to venture into relationships with people who are eerily similar to our exes because hey, there’s a reason we broke up — is actually holding us back.

This is why I believe children are so important and downright fascinating. They haven’t developed this umbrella of experience that unconsciously shields them from bad weather. Instead, they dare to dream and they don’t get bogged down with the details — they just play in the rain.

Maybe we can learn from them.