How to Succeed in Crushes Without Really Trying

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What’s it like to have a crush in your twenties? It sucks.

I developed a small crush at the beginning of the summer. But you know how “small” crushes go. I mean, there’s a reason it’s called a crush. We were chatting online and I found that our similarities (and our differences) were attracting me to him. I was excited to meet him – y’know how those butterflies can be. But a few weeks after sporadic texting, he dropped the bad news (bad news for me, anyway) – he was into someone else and they were going to start dating.

I felt like any dramatic teenage girl at that moment, completely floored. (I responded with a “that’s ok” but YOU KNOW it wasn’t the truth.) In short, it hurt. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just wasn’t meant to happen.

But do crushes go away once that happens? Aw heck no.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve each had a few crushes in our lifetimes. The stupid elementary school ones, the even worse “I’m-gonna-be-alone-forever” high school ones. College ones are tricky. I’ve had a few flash in the pan crushes, but on a small Christian college campus, everyone knows everyone and they can give you the low-down (“oh he’s got issues,” “he’s dating someone” – usually they are cuz it’s a Christian college campus, haha.)

Having a crush utilizes every corner of the spectrum of human emotions – or at least it seems like it when you feel yourself developing one. Elation, joy, hope, despair, rage, Netflix binging, water faucet tears (don’t leave me hanging, here.) It feels like insanity.

Because it is!

I bet that made you feel a lot better about your current crush, didn’t it?

But for real – insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You develop crushes on a rolling basis and expect a different result, but the end of the road is usually disappointment – unless you have really good luck.

Before I go further, I’ll tell you that it is totally okay to have a crush on someone. In fact it’s pretty normal. We want to feel wanted by someone we want, so it only makes sense.

It’s when it becomes all-consuming that it gets risky. Take it from someone who’s been there multiple times.

In short (short?) having a crush brings out a nasty little monster called idealization. We think that if we could just be with that person, everything would be swell. Girls especially (men, chime in if you do this too) idealize all day long. We picture cute dates, fun pictures, even weddings (yup, weddings.) Because at this stage we don’t have much to go off of about our crush, because chances are we don’t know them all that well. So our brains fill in the blanks (also called the Halo Effect. Pretty tricky stuff.)

The last big crush I had was in high school. I was pretty dead set on marrying the kid, because I was 15 years old and definitely knew what I wanted. Inevitably, it didn’t work out because it simply wasn’t meant to be – a hard concept to accept, but a good discipline to adopt nonetheless. In fact, that ordeal taught me something, and like I’ve said before, if something teaches you a lesson, it wasn’t a waste.

So here I am, still in the process of getting over a hyper-idealized crush. When you’ve made a crush into an idol or ideal in your mind, it’s a hard thing to shake. So don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t just disappear instantly in a puff of smoke. It’s almost a daily struggle. How do I divert my attention off this? What can I do to lessen this idol? I confess I haven’t gone about it in the best or most mature ways – emotions, am I right? But every step is a step in the right direction.

So take a tip from your friendly neighborhood coffee shop blogger – don’t let a crush crush you. You’re too good for that. Take it a step at a time. I look at it this way – you are a person worthy of being loved and cherished, and if you end up not finding that in the object of your desires, then let it be. You don’t have to get bitter or Taylor-Swift-crying-mascara-tears about it.

“When I find myself in times of crushes, Blogger Audrey comes to me, typing words of wisdom, Let it Be.”

– The Beatles, maybe

a. w.

Falling in Love With Marriage.

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A week and a half ago, I came across this on my Facebook newsfeed. I almost thought about sharing it after only reading the title – “You don’t have to get married to be happy.” I thought, “Yes! I’ve written almost the same thing in other blog posts of mine! Christians understand that marriage isn’t a varsity sport that every Christian has to reach in order to achieve the pinnacle of the Christian life!”

A few days ago, I decided to actually read the article. (Confession time: I often only read the titles of things and the first few sentences…I mean, who has time to sit down and read a full Atlantic article? Those things are like novellas.) I read it, and I was still satisfied. This guy was very honest and real about the Christian single life. Nothing I haven’t heard before. You can’t rely on a spouse to fulfill you because that’s impossible for humans to do. Heartbreak happens as a result. A song from the great band Jimmy Eat World says, “If I don’t lean on you, I fall.” Well, sometimes, you lean too much and you both fall over. Which is why you need to lean on the Rock. (Not Dwayne. You know Who I’m talking about. I’m just using a lot of Christian-ese.)

 

The gentleman who wrote the article is now married, so he’s seeing it from the other side. And he did a great job outlining our human yearnings and our absolute need for the love of Christ. But…haven’t we heard all this before?

That’s what some people in the comments section of that post were saying. I scrolled through the comments for a bit to see if there were any that stuck out (if it were not from a Christian website, I probably would have found some more colorful ones). None really did specifically, but a lot of them said something very similar, which I already mentioned.

Haven’t we heard this before?

It can seem like kind of a cop-out for the people who have waited years for a spouse to come into their lives.

“Oh, you just need to love Jesus more first. You can’t rely on someone else to do that for you.”

“Marriage isn’t really that great. Jesus is better!”

“Just pray about it!”

And the unmarried person, who might have that deep longing for companionship, will say, “Yeah, but…” And that’s totally okay. I remember sitting in a restaurant with my parents once, sobbing inconsolably, and just saying between tears, “I’m lonely.” That’s okay. God created Eve for a reason. Because it’s not good for man to be alone.

I decided to gauge the reactions of some of my friends as well. I talked to a couple who didn’t read the article in full, but understood the gist of it. One of my friends is vehemently single, and the other is in a relationship with my roommate, so you can imagine their opinions might differ.

“If you’re an unhappy person, getting married won’t change that. It can enhance your happiness, but it can’t change it.” That’s how my single friend put it. “I think Christians treat singleness as a plan B.”

My roommate’s boyfriend had something very interesting to say about it. “If you’re losing trust in God because you’re obsessed with finding a partner, and you start making deals with God, you have much deeper problems,” he said. “You just have to say, ‘okay, I don’t know why you’ve put this desire in my heart, but help me deal with it.”

As human beings, we have a fundamental need for companionship. I’m an introvert, but I yearn for the companionship of my friends. If I come home and none of my roommates are there, I get a sinking feeling that only goes away when I hear a key turning in the door. Since we were created, we were innately programmed to want people in our lives. 

If you’ve ever watched The Twilight Zone, the premiere episode features a man who wakes up in a deserted town. There’s literally no one there. He walks into a drugstore, he steps inside a phone booth to call someone – nothing. In the course of the twenty-minute episode, he goes all but crazy. (Then the twist happens, which I won’t tell you about in case you want to watch it.) That man had everything he needed: food, clothes, a car, everything – but no people. And that drove him nuts.

People need people. And that’s okay. And marriage is one of the ways we manifest our need for companionship (there’s also the whole “be fruitful and increase” thing, but your parents can talk to you about that one.) Marriage isn’t just any relationship. You’re not just roommates who will separate once the lease is up. You’re not just best friends who meet up for coffee every Saturday afternoon. You’ve made the vow to spend every day with each other for the rest of your life, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, through bankruptcy and stomach flu and love handles and hospital bills.

I think the writer of that post got it right – marriage isn’t the ultimate fulfillment, and many Christians have decided to devote their life to Christ instead of marrying (there’s this guy named Paul who did that a long time ago.) And that takes a lot of discipline in a world that’s saturated with love and romance. People might look sideways at you if you take a vow of singleness (and celibacy, in this day and age), but it’s possible to be happy without a lifelong partner.

But I want to address something that the writer didn’t quite address in his post, and that’s idealization. Are we just more in love with the idea of marrying than with the actual person? If you’ve ever read or seen the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder (if you went to American high school you probably did) one of the characters notes that people like to “make sure the knot is tied in a mighty public way.” And holy crap is that an understatement. People spend thousands of dollars and sometimes more for one day of their life to be “perfect,” sometimes not taking into account that there’s still fifty more years or so to go with the person they’re sharing it with.

Seeing all of those beautiful “fairytale” moments (they’re called weddings, in case I wasn’t clear) can make you kind of…want it, right? I’m not gonna lie, I would love a beautiful, romantic wedding. I cannot confirm or deny that I have pinned (multiple) wedding dresses and themes on Pinterest, without having any idea of when this special day is going to be. Raise your hand if you played wedding when you were little. Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Stock photos don’t help, either. This is what I found when I typed “love” into a stock photo search:

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Look at how happy and comfortable they are in that very awkward position!

And this is what I found when I searched “single” at the same site:

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I can hear your heart breaking through the screen.

Love and marriage is an ideal. It’s been instilled in us from a number of sources: tradition, stock photos, 80s slow-jam love ballads – but wherever the source, it’s undeniably there. And the main problem is we think it’s going to be perfect. We think it will be exactly what Johnny Cash said it was, “This morning, with her, drinking coffee.” How does your heart not melt when you hear that, how can you not yearn for that picture he’s painted? Of course it’s good, but it’s not like that every single day. And if we go into marriage thinking it will be perfect, that’s a bit of a tall order, isn’t it?

I think a lot of single people (including me) make out what we think marriage will be for us. And usually, we’re not right. It’s like what happens any other time you picture how something is going to play out – it usually doesn’t happen exactly the way you hoped. At sophomore homecoming, I was absolutely certain I would spend the evening slow dancing with my crush. Instead, I didn’t even see my crush at all, and stood in a hot room full of grinding adolescents for two hours wondering what the heck to do. Way less than perfect. Marriage is a little bit more serious than teenage musings, but you get my point.

And remember that it’s just as easy to idealize people as it is to idealize marriage. And if you end up marrying that person, it can lead you down a very messy road.

“Audrey, you’re being just like that guy. This isn’t anything we haven’t heard yet.” You might be thinking this. And maybe you’re right. Marriage is a topic that Christians like to mull over often. If we didn’t, there wouldn’t be singles groups at church that were basically free eHarmony sessions.

But maybe what I’m trying to say is, marriage isn’t easy, but neither is being single. Especially a single Christian who really isn’t sure if marriage is in the cards for them, no matter how many people tell them it is or it should be. Single Christians go to Christian colleges where it seems like everyone gets married after their sophomore year. Single Christians get pelted with advice on finding a good Christian man or woman. Single Christians have to deal with the tension and occasional social awkwardness of being a virgin at twenty-five, or even older. Or the guilt of being a single Christian and not being a virgin. Sometimes all of those urges together make us desperate. We’ll all but throw ourselves to the next Christian guy or girl who comes our way, because everyone is saying it’s the right thing to do. Because you need to put “happily married” on your Christian resume, or else your faith stands for nothing.

So I guess I want you to leave you with this, if you’re a single Christian and feel guilty for wanting someone: don’t feel guilty. If you have a yearning for a spouse, that is a beautiful yearning. It’s a fundamentally human yearning. Don’t think that just because you want a partner, it means that you don’t want God enough.

But I would encourage you to let God in on your yearnings. Don’t hide them from Him. “God, I want a husband.” “God, I want a wife.” “I want to know intimacy with another human being.” “I want to live my life with a companion.” These prayers are 100% valid, even if they seem strange. God wants in on your yearnings. If you let Him in now, He’ll guide you in the future.

I’ll also leave you with this, which is probably something you already know, and quite possibly a thought you’re afraid of: I can’t promise you that God will answer that prayer the way you want him to. My prayer for you is that God gives you the strength to accept that answer.

Because the choice to be content with being alone is one of the bravest things you’ll ever do.

Dear Millennials: You’re Not Victims

We live in a time where no one wants to take responsibility for themselves. When things go wrong, it’s never our own fault. It’s always someone else’s. Fewer people are getting married because it’s too much responsibility – it’s easier to just live with someone under the illusion of marriage. Fewer people are having children. They’d rather have a “fur-baby” than an actual child because raising a human is a lot of responsibility. Sometimes they go so far as to get rid of a child because they refuse to own their choices.

Nothing is ever “our” fault. It’s “their” fault, whomever “they” might be – rich white men, capitalism, conservatives, liberals, the economy, the education system. You name it, it’s been blamed for something. I’m not pointing out any specific person, religion, political party, or any other belief – it’s everywhere you look. News media has grabbed hold of it, celebrities have grabbed hold of it, and, in turn, culture at large has, too. This kind of behavior leads to one becoming a victim of his circumstances. Never making gains to solve his own problems but asking people to solve them for him – because he deserves it, gosh darn it. Because “they” owe it to him. Because he is a victim of “them.”

Being a victim of your situation isn’t such a new thing. I haven’t lived long enough to know what it’s looked like in past generations, but I definitely know what it looks like among millennials, because I am one, and I’ve fallen into the “victim” mindset before. Millennials are crying for “safe spaces” so they don’t feel offended or attacked. Instead of engaging in healthy debate and conversation, they’re blocking traffic in “peaceful” protest or attacking one another on social media, or simply whining about something, whether it’s the state of our nation, their paycheck, or other things they feel victimized by.

If it sounds like I’m being harsh, it’s because I am. Millennials don’t like harsh. Can’t we all just get along in a world of fluffy animals and cat memes? Why get a wake-up call now when I can just retreat into my safe space and rock back and forth in a fetal position until I get what I want?

I think this is something millennials need to hear. Millennials were raised believing they are special and the world is their oyster. Many graduated into a crappy economy with a mountain of college debt, leaving many disillusioned. And yet, instead of standing up and being responsible, many are choosing to be victims. Yes, I said choosing. They think they deserve something that they’re not getting, and they take personal offense to that.

“This is all the baby boomers’ fault.”

“This is all the liberals’/conservatives’/whatevers’ fault.”

“This is all the American school systems’ fault.”

True, there are a lot of things in this world that are out of our control. We couldn’t control when the economy took a turn, or who got elected before we could vote, or the cost of higher education, but if we become victims to these circumstances, we’ll never get anywhere or change anything.

Sadly, a lot of millennials have adopted this mindset. They choose to lay down and die, or continually complain about their situation without taking strides to change it. And some even openly call themselves “victims” when they aren’t even victims at all. They still have a job, a paycheck, and a life with many freedoms and luxuries many people in the world do not have. But when their feelings get hurt, it becomes a national tragedy.

Do you know who real victims are? Corrie ten Boom, who faced unimaginable atrocities because she chose to help people in grave danger. Talk about owning your choices. Or Anne Frank, who didn’t even know she was going to become a hero to millions. Who lived in constant fear of her life but still continued to dream and live.

Do you know who real victims are? The children of Aleppo, who wonder if they’ll see their parents again, or even if they’ll see tomorrow. Syrian refugees who literally have no home and hardly a friend in the world.

Do you know who real victims are? Women and men who are fighting for their lives and their dignity every day as sex slaves. People who have been ripped from their homes and told they have literally no worth as a human being.

Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Just because you graduated with debt into a bad economy, or because one person didn’t respect your customs or creeds, or catcalls you on the street, does not make you a victim of anything. Rather, it doesn’t have to. You have to own your circumstances, not let them own you. You’ll be miserable if you let that happen. At the end of the day, finger-pointing isn’t going to do anything for you.

This is my opinion, and if you disagree, congratulations. You have a mind that thinks for itself and forms its own opinion. This is me, floating my own opinion out for the sake of (hopefully) starting a (meaningful) conversation (that doesn’t involve namecalling or blaming.)

Own your decisions, own your circumstances, and you’ll own your life.

 

Things that Bring Us Together.

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If you haven’t noticed, this week hasn’t been great. For anyone. For various reasons. And if you thought I wasn’t going to talk about it, you’re wrong. Things don’t change unless you talk about it.

If we don’t talk, we become islands and we become bitter and overprotective of ourselves. If we don’t remind ourselves of what we have in common, we’ll become fixated on what we don’t. If we don’t realize we’re more alike than we think, we’ll spend our entire lives believing everyone is out to get us.

And it’s true. We’re more alike than we are different. Only a few strands of DNA separate us, but those strands carry traits that make us each unique – our hair, our skin, our laugh, our talents. And that’s beautiful. But, as you probably can tell, it’s also not sometimes. Because people forget that, other than those few strands of DNA, we are equal. We are all humans.

And for the sake of humanness, I want to remind everyone that we’re not all that different. That there are universal experiences that bind us together. We all experience happiness, sadness, joy, pain. These are all things that every human on earth can relate to. But I also think there are things beyond static emotions that unite us.

I’m going to list a few human experiences that I hope relate to most people. I hope you can relate to at least a few of these, and realize that we can relate through shared experience.

  1.  The quiet that comes right before the sunrise. When it’s cool and still smells like nighttime, when everything feels clean and new, when the world is just starting to wake up.
  2.  The smell of an old house. The feeling that people have been there before you. The mystery of what they might have been like.
  3.  Your best friend’s laugh.
  4.  The point in autumn where the leaves fall all by themselves, like nature’s confetti. And when you look down, the ground is carpeted in color.
  5.  Warm summer rain. The smell and the warm dampness afterwards. The distant thunder that gives you a little thrill every time you hear it.
  6.  When you sit and cry with someone you love. No words exchanged, only hands held, prayers whispered, support given. A beautiful kind of pain.
  7.  A hug from your favorite person in the world.
  8.  A kiss from your favorite person in the world.
  9.  A summer evening after the sun has just gone down, the world is warm and drowsy. A few birds are still singing, and the sky is slowly turning dark blue, insects beginning to hum a lullaby.
  10.  The touch of a toddler’s small, soft hand in yours. The way they look up at you with so much trust and hope.
  11.  A conversation that you didn’t expect to be long, but went on for hours and left you feeling enlightened and refreshed. The connection that’s made. The mutual understanding.
  12.  Sitting in a room full of people singing a cappella.
  13. The pearly glow of a cloudy sky on a winter evening. Everything is gray, but it’s a luminous gray, not dull or dragging. It’s so gray it’s almost silver.
  14. A warm shower or bath after a long day.
  15. The sound of lapping waves on a beach. The smell of wet sand, of leftover campfires, of coffee. The feeling of memories made.
  16. The sound of your mother’s voice.
  17.  A blanket straight out of the dryer, or straight from the clothesline. The way it feels like the warmest thing you’ve ever felt.
  18.  Cloudy, windy days where the cloud patterns are more beautiful than a blue sky.
  19.  Getting a compliment. Not just “nice shoes” or “I like your haircut,” but “I love your confidence” or “you are just such an amazing person.”
  20.  Hearing someone’s heartbeat. Whether it’s that of an unborn baby, your father’s as you snuggled up to his chest as a child, your lover’s as you lean on them for support. That reminder that there’s Life.

And where there’s life, there’s love. And where there’s love, there’s hope.

1910 Dating Advice: 2016 Edition

Remember when newspapers offered dating advice? Me neither. But sometimes those old-timey “This is what dating is like in the olden days! Weren’t they silly?” things pop up on Pinterest, Facebook, or other various social media platforms usually populated by older people wishing it was like the olden days (Quick question: is “olden” even a word? Seriously?)

But they weren’t the only people who were silly.

For example: hipsters. Everyone thought it was just a phase, but it looks like 1880s chic and something-press coffee is here to stay. I guess none of us should be surprised. There’s a counter-culture to every culture, and a counter-counter-culture to every culture, and millennial hipsters are an odd mixture of both.

I go to a small, private Christian university where hipsterism is alive and well. Before college, I considered myself a hipster, but now, based on the people I’ve met, I’m seriously reassessing. There are some people out there who have read every chapter of the Hipster Playbook. Just because you wear a sweater in 70-degree weather doesn’t mean you’re a hipster. Nope. It’s basically a religion.

How was I supposed to survive in a world of such seasoned hipsters, mid-grade yuppie that I was? I had to learn, and learn quick. Especially at a Christian college where “ring before spring” is not just a fun saying, but a lifestyle. I had to do a little bit of anthropological studying to figure out the mating rituals of these exquisite creatures, but here I am to offer you comprehensive dating advice, old-timey magazine style, of how to flirt like a 2016 millennial hipster.

1. Location. Before you initiate communication with anyone you desire to date, you have to choose the right environment. Your apartment by yourself is not an option, which already puts me at a disadvantage. Find an obscure local band (preferably that has several uses of the word “grassroots” in its Facebook description and a lead singer that blogs) and figure out when they play next. Arrive at venue, dressed in concert chic (not festival chic; there’s a difference). Don’t make contact with anyone at first; just stare down at your phone with furrowed brow until the opening act. Nod appreciatively along to the music of opening act, but don’t seem too invested – you don’t want to make it seem like it’s your first rodeo. After the opening act, say something vague about “their sound” to no one in particular. Someone is bound to hear you and possibly say something in return.

Alternative: If it’s early afternoon and you need to study, find a coffee shop. I cannot stress independently-owned enough. You know who goes to Starbucks? Dirty venture capitalists who are just trying to steal money and Wi-Fi from the little guys. Also, there will inevitably be cute baristas at any given independently-owned coffee shop. Walk up to the counter, give the barista a smile (but not a big one, just a small grin acknowledging their existence – you’re not clingy, you just want a drink) and take a second to look at the menu, even if you know what you want. Those baristas spent a long time writing out that menu on that chalkboard in perfect Times New Roman font. Appreciate the menu as its own work of art. Don’t say anything about the prices – only angry old men and suburban moms do that. Order something pretentious, like a cortado, even if you don’t know what it means, just so you can say the word. Don’t ask what it is; you’re looking to make friends, not enemies. Tip the barista (they spent a long time writing that poem on the tip jar too, so appreciate it). Watch the cute barista make your cortado as if he is making an absolute work of art (because in his mind, he is) and then ask for the Wi-Fi password. Then talk about how you are going to camp out there for the rest of the day and work on your novel (whether this is true or not). Proceed to do so, even if you’re merely scrolling through Pinterest the entire eight hours you remain in the coffee shop.

2. Dress. Dress is almost as important as location. It’s extremely important that before you dress, you know exactly what environment you’ll be entering into. “I-dress-homeless-but-my-parents-pay-for-college” dress is vastly different from “photoshoot in an open field during optimal sunlight” attire. I would recommend the more homeless route for everyday ventures like coffee shop hopping or wandering around the city taking artsy Instagram pictures, and a more “photoshoot” esque wardrobe for events like barista competitions and 16mm film festivals. Don’t be afraid to be picky. Choosing the right wardrobe is like choosing the right band to be your favorite – it has to be so incredibly calculating that it looks authentic. And that’s the baseline for your wardrobe choices as a Hipster. At all costs, it must be authentic. And even if it’s not you have to tell people it is. Remember: At all costs.

Make sure that, if you have a tattoo, your clothes reveal it, but only slightly. You don’t want the full-on tattoo showing like you’re some loose sorority girl on spring break – so tacky, right? No, you simply want a subtle hint at a possible tattoo. It’ll make people look twice, which is exactly what you want in the game of attraction. Make sure you only reveal your minimalist tattoos with vague meanings, not the portrait of your dog you had done on your shoulder after he died (it was very sad and we all understand). Then an attractive hipster will intevitably ask you about what it means. Have a scripted response available.

In general, you want to follow the basic rules of hipster dress: don’t wear socks unless you’re wearing Chacos, two types of denim is okay, either wear no makeup or a ridiculous amount, etc. My next blog post will be a 1300-word summary of what your eyebrows should look like. If you’re wearing long pants, roll them up to an inch above the ankle, no matter what the weather is like. This isn’t Edwardian England, ladies. We can show our ankles now. If you have time to dye your hair a color that is opposite your own on the color spectrum, add that as a finishing touch.

3. Conversation topics. Remember that hipster conversations occur either on or about social media. If you’re not on social media, you’re talking about it (“Did you see Daveed Diggs’ newest Instagram post?” “Did you see what The Atlantic retweeted?”) However, you might be of that breed of hipsters that goes on Facebook every three months and only follow your aunt and Barack Obama on Instagram because you’re “above that culture.” Whether you are of the first or the second breed, you will eventually have to use hipster buzzwords and phrases, like “doing life” or “Buzzfeed” or “paleo.” You will inevitably also talk about popular fiction, coffee, and architecture, even if you know nothing about any of the above.

Bonus tip: Say “authentic” as often as you can. It’s the icing on the cake, and a buzzword that eligible young men are always listening for. Everyone wants to date the girl whose Twitter bio says “authentic.”

Another bonus tip: People assume that all hipsters like things that “aren’t cool.” However, this is not the case. Hipsters like things that are slightly less cool than other things. They can’t stand Beyonce, but they love Saint Motel. They are all caught up on Game of Thrones, just like everyone else. The only things they read are on the New York Times’ bestseller list, but never the first one. Usually the tenth, because then they sound interesting. Keep this in mind when you go on a search for obscure things to develop an interest in. And speaking of developing interest, stay cool about it. Don’t be extremely passionate about one thing; rather, say that you “dabble” in a lot of things, but you’re still trying to “find yourself” (more buzzwords to add to your hipster dictionary.)

4. Make your move. You’ve found yourself a good environment, you are dressed appropriately, and you’ve struck up a conversation with someone who seems decent and misses the 90s as much as you do. What’s your first move? Do you ask for their number? Of course not. You go home and friend them on Facebook. If they accept you by that evening, they’re interested. If they do the next morning, they thought they had a good conversation with you but aren’t too invested. If it’s a few days, they’re either one of those every-three-months Facebook-checkers I talked about earlier or they’re simply not interested. They might not even remember you, but friend you anyway for “networking” purposes (another buzzword for you). If they friend you, you now have access to all their past information – including high school photos. Proceed with caution.

At this point, I should probably tell you that most hipsters aren’t interested in a relationship. They won’t tell you straight-out, but they’re afraid of commitment. They really just need some time, you know? They can’t settle down just yet. They haven’t quite found themselves. They don’t know what they want. Be prepared; all of the previous statements are things you will hear if you sit down for a good old-fashioned DTR. “I’m just really focusing on my art right now” is another one that might come up. So, you might as well disregard all the advice I just gave you and go back to your apartment and your Netflix original that’s not Narcos or Making A Murderer.

There you have it. A comprehensive, old-timey-style guide to flirting like a 2016 hipster and on your way to inevitably finding yourself in an ambiguous 21st-Century relationship. In fact, in a hipster sense, this entire post is ironic, considering that hipsters rarely read literature longer than a Facebook status.

And on that cheap shot, I’ll leave you to it. Go out there, and find that fish in the sea that belongs to you. Hopefully that fish is wearing a cardigan, even in the middle of August.

 

How to Be A Frugal College Student: A Sort-Of Practical Guide

We’ve all been there. That boring 11am class and you’re struggling to keep your eyes open. You resort to internet shopping. And there it is – that one perfect, beautiful thing that will make your life complete…that you absolutely don’t need at all. But it’s right there! And it’s on sale! And you just got paid!

A week later, you have $5 in your bank account. How did that happen?! All you did was buy that one thing on Amazon…and then a subscription to a magazine you won’t read…and then groceries, which also involved buying a pair of shoes (and jewelry was buy one, get one!) and then grabbing appetizers with friends at 11:30pm, because that’s college.

TL;DR version: little things like that add up.

How do you stop the madness? Do a total spending freeze and not buy anything? Well, that’s a little extreme, but if you think you need that, go for it. Other than good old-fashioned resisting temptation, there are a couple other things you could do to curb your spending. I’ll walk you through each one, based on category.

1. Internet Shopping. Just don’t. That’s really all the advice I have for you. HOWEVER. I know that sometimes you find a deal that you just can’t pass up. So if you do fall into the online shopping rabbit hole, WRITE DOWN HOW MUCH YOU SPENT. Whether you’re able to log it onto a banking app on your phone or actually have a paper transaction record, write it down so you physically see how much you spent and where that money you thought you had went.

2. Grocery Shopping. Two words: Store. Brand. Buy store brand everything. I worked in a grocery store for a summer, and they let me in on a little secret – most store-brand products are the exact same as name brands – they are made in the same factory but labeled differently. So seriously. When you get store-brand stuff, you’re not getting lesser quality. You’re just not paying for the name. However, some products (like Coke and Oreo – c’mon, we all know that the store brands for those are crap) have trademarked recipes so they’re not the same. I still buy name-brand Coke because I don’t want the sTRAIGHT SUGAR EXPLOSION taste of the store brand. (“We don’t have the recipe…let’s just throw MORE SUGAR in there.”)

3. Coffee. This is very important to me. (In case you were wondering whether or not coffee was important to me, look at the header on top of this page.) I do not go cheap on coffee. People often judge me for my coffee budget, but I glare at them over the rim of my iced red-eye extra ice with mocha (yes this is something I order – I GET POINTS ON MY LOYALTY CARD, OKAY?!). Let’s face it – coffee is expensive. Unless you get Maxwell House. And I am NOT TELLING you to get Maxwell House. Or the f-word (Folger’s). Here’s what I would recommend though: store brand coffee is actually pretty good. Plus, they often has a wholebean station where you can grind it up fresh (fresh is always good). A bag of (good) coffee at the store will usually cost you about 8-12 dollars. You could buy in bulk, which will save you a little bit of money.

I DO NOT recommend this: A Keurig. If you drink a lot of coffee (I average three cups a day), then do not get a Keurig. A box of K-cups will cost you 8-12 dollars as well, but you go through them a lot faster than a bag of coffee. One of those boxes would usually last me a week…that’s $8 a week. A decent-sized bag of coffee lasts me two or more…and makes multiple cups, which is helpful if you have roommates. So don’t get a Keurig. Get yourself a nice coffeemaker (you can get single-serve ones that aren’t Keurigs which you can fill with coffee of your choice!) that doesn’t use plastic cups. Your coffee will be cheaper and taste fresher.

If you’re craving a fancy latte, I also have some cheap recommendations in the form of DINING HALL HACKS. If you’re a veteran college student, this is not news to you. When I want more than just black coffee, I stop in for lunch at the dining hall, fill my cup up with coffee (I know, dining hall coffee isn’t always great, but bear with me) and then go over to the ice cream station (because every college worth going to has self-serve soft-serve ice cream) and put some flavored syrup in your cup. It masks the grossness of cafeteria coffee and makes you feel frou-frou because it kind of tastes like a latte. And it tastes waaaay better than whatever they put in the cappucino machine. (Sand and water. That’s what they put in there. Sand and water.)

4. Budgeting. You should probably have a budget. Even if you don’t have a steady income yet (ESPECIALLY if you don’t have a steady income). I am a student worker and I usually work about eight hours a week, so I get a small check every two weeks. That doesn’t give me a lot of spending wiggle room, unless I dip into my savings (which you DO NOT WANT TO DO). Speaking of, the first thing you want to do in order to budget is have savings of some sort that you do not touch unless you absolutely need it (and by absolutely need, I don’t mean shopping spree at Target. I mean broken leg or student loans.) I’m not going to go full-blown Dave Ramsey on you, but you should have some sort of savings. Even if it’s just $20 in your mattress. But I would recommend a little more than that.

There’s also some budgeting apps for your phone (gasp! An app?) I use Mint, mostly because it’s free and it syncs with my bank account. It shows me where my money is going using this cute little colorful pie chart and sends me alerts when something’s up (Example: “You spent $500 in candy this week. This is $400 more than you usually spend.” Stuff like that. I cannot confirm or deny that this happened.)

So, there you go. There’s my budgeting crash course. Frugality 101. Not even 101, it’s like pre-101. Just Frugality. So go forth and be frugal. Save those dollas and change the world.

Feeling Uncomfortable.

Have you ever had a sock slip down your ankle while you were wearing a shoe? If you are a human being, you answered yes to this question. Everyone who has ever worn a shoe has encountered this problem.

It’s a small problem – it’s literally a piece of cloth sliding down your foot for one reason or another (it’s probably because it’s an anklet. Anklets are the worst.) but it affects you. You’re always somewhat conscious of it, you can always feel it. It might even change the way you walk – I mean, part of your foot is stepping on soft, cushy, socky goodness, and the other one is just pounding on the cold sole of your shoe. (Maybe your soles are comfortable, but in my experience, they’re cold and kind of rubbery feeling under my heel.)

Bland and long-winded analogy aside, sometimes a situation in life can feel like a sock slipping down your foot. Sometimes, you can have a situation that’s like stepping in something wet when you’re wearing a sock (which is worse. I save that analogy for really bad situations.) But a lot of situations are just like that – slightly uncomfortable, something you’re constantly aware of that’s nagging at the back of your brain, something that you can’t readily fix until you get a good moment (usually in privacy, because it’s kind of weird to dig into your shoe in public.)

Second bland and long-winded analogy aside, life is sometimes uncomfortable. More specifically, situations in life are often uncomfortable. Life as a whole is pretty all right, wouldn’t you say? But sometimes there are things or situations or conflicts that just mess with you. They’re not pressing, they’re not urgent, but they’re there. And you know they’re there, but you can’t readily do anything about it – or you’re putting it off for later, constantly pushing it back. And it’s uncomfortable.

In which case, it will only get worse. Your whole sock will end up bunched up by your toes the more you walk. Which feels like someone jammed a couple oversized cottonballs between your toes. In other words, not a great feeling.

All of these extended analogies to say: there’s probably something like that in your life right now. (There usually is, unless you’re a Disney princess after the credits have rolled, in which case everything’s fine and also you’re not real.) It could be something really small, like calling the doctor to make an appointment. It could be something really big, like buying a house, or something adult-y like that. It could be something emotional that you’ve set aside, but you still have to work through. You have a sock slipping somewhere. You might even have two socks slipping. That’s two more slipping socks than anyone needs. But still, there they are. And they are bunching at your toes.

“So Audrey,” you ask, maybe, “what do I do? You seem to know a lot about footwear. Do I just unravel everything? Pull off my shoes and make the strangely satisfying adjustment to my sock? But that means I have to pause. That means people might realize how bad my feet smell.”

Well, gross. I wasn’t going that direction, but you’re probably right. You’re going to have to stop and fix your sock, and yes, people might smell your feet. That was the most awkward sentence I’ve ever written.

I’m putting the feet analogy away now. Yes. You are going to have to stop and fix your problem eventually. And people might notice that you have problems. I’m not saying press pause on everything (Hey look, an analogy!)

But what I am saying is, you have to deal with it. Before it gets all bunched up and complicated. Then it will just take longer to unravel. It will be more uncomfortable.

And people are going to notice your problems anyway. Congratulations! You’re a human with problems! You are normal! You are not a robot that tags people in Ray-Ban ads on Facebook!

If necessary, peel those socks off. Run barefoot. It will make you more sensitive and you might step on something uncomfortable, but it will also make you more free.

All of this to say: You’re going to feel uncomfortable eventually. It’s all in how you deal with it. You might be a stoic and stick it out – just let that sock bunch up until you lose circulation. (Literally and figuratively would not recommend. But it’s your decision.)

Your sock might be small, like a bootie that people put on babies (the most unnecessary thing I’ve ever seen), or it could be a nice hearty crew sock like your grandpa wears. Whatever kind of sock you’re dealing with, you have to grab hold of it while you still can. It’ll be uncomfortable, but it will be worth it.

So hike up your socks and go on an adventure.

Brownie points if they don’t match.