An insight into adulting…

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It’s almost 10pm on a Friday night. This time 10 years ago I would have been 3 pints of ‘Turbowine’ (Rosé mixed with Smirnoff Ice – no I don’t know how I’m still alive either) down, with the latest bit of ‘boom boom’ electro blaring, applying at least the 4th layer of make-up onto my face before GHD’ing my overly highlighted hair (cheers Beyoncé) into oblivion and heading out – to return most weekends at some point on Monday morning.

I’ve just spent 20 minutes sitting on my kitchen floor hand-feeding freshly cooked chicken breast chunks to my cone head kittens because they couldn’t get it out of their bowls.

Guess which I prefer?

For the past year or so, I have been ridiculously sensible. Almost to the point of becoming a hermit. I have been the epitome of hustle and focus, and I’ve reaped the rewards ten-fold. I was working 3 jobs, forgoing ‘treats’ and hoarding my money away like it was a magic ring and I was a little bald goblin. However something in the past few months has shifted in me, and I’ve realised that I had to be that way to land on my feet. I had to be that way to mend my broken heart. I had to be that way to learn how to grow the fuck up, and I had to be that way to learn who I am. Now I’ve come out the other side and I’m ready to live again. To find that balance.

So I’ve actually started making plans again. You know – outside of the house. At night.

I had one of the best nights I’ve had in ages rediscovering my techno persona last Saturday, and upon crawling in at 6.30am to two little faces waiting to be fed (kittens – not children) I realised I can do both – just probably not to the extreme that I used to! After a day of recovery on Sunday, I was out again on the Monday night to see a band I’ve wanted to see for the past 6 years.

I went out on a school night. Not only did I go out on a school night – I went OUT on a school night.

The band were immense, I stayed to party with them afterwards and I went home at 2am (I gave myself a curfew ha!) after a heated discussion about whether Dominoes or Pizza Hut was better (obviously the latter – come on!)

Needless to say, at almost 33 years old I can still party like (and with) the rock stars. I cannot however, recover like one. This week I have been FUCKED! I’ve eaten junk, not even laced up my trainers to work out and I’ve slept like the living dead every night, but you know what? I’ve found my happy again. I just need to work on getting the balance right! I can unleash my inner wild child without being a dickhead about it.

If you follow my Instagram (@shelly_c if not) you’ll know that I am still very much about the hustle and hard work. On Tuesday and Wednesday I was struggling to focus – and it pissed me right off. I have not worked this hard and come this far to let a hangover stand in my way. I’ve been there and done that. The beauty of learning who you are and what you want, is the ability to give yourself a kick up the arse when you need it. It’s the ability to know what is important.

10 years ago I would definitely have called in sick on the Tuesday morning. Instead I set myself a time when I wanted to be home. Stuck to it and got up and got my ass to work the next day. I did this for a number of reasons:

  • I really REALLY love my job. It motivates me, it excites me and it challenges me. No matter what I do in my personal life, I point blank refuse to let my job slide, because for the first time in my life, I don’t have just a job, I have a career. I have goals for myself, goals for the business and goals for the team that I work with, and there’s no way I’m going to be that rusty cog in the machine. I want to be the sparkly, freshly oiled one that’s vital to its overall functioning. I have a way to go. But fuck me I’m going to get there.
  • I value my health and my sanity. I don’t like burning the candle at both ends. I’m crap at it and it makes me cranky and useless.
  • I like to feel alive, refreshed and energised. This week I’ve felt anything but. Yes I’ve kept the smile on my face, but that face has been T I R E D. It’s not a feeling I love to be honest.
  • I’m in a really good place. I would actually go as far as to say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I’m comfortable in my own skin, I’m confident, I am surrounded by amazing people, and I am attracting more amazing, like-minded people into my life every day. I am very happily single – and enjoying all the fun and memory making that comes with it and I actually have my shit together.

I just need a good night’s sleep!

Overall this week, I have learned that in order to live a little, I need to lighten up. Yes I can be ON IT during the working week, and working towards where I want to be – but what about the fun times that are passing me by in the meantime? I am all for building a future for myself, but I really mustn’t forget to have a life that I love at the same time.

With that, I’m embracing everything I’ve learned about myself this past year. The fact that I’m actually ridiculously girly, kind and soft hearted – with a side helping of ‘don’t-fuck-with-me-badass’ chucked in for good measure. I don’t have to have a six-pack to love how I look in the mirror. I’m traditional – both at home and at heart, and I’m an introverted extrovert. I love a good night out, but I love a night in on my own just as much – because after everything else that I have going on in my life, I get to come back to my own home and my own little heartbeats and look around at my four walls and all that I have achieved so far.

If that’s not motivation to carry on as I am I don’t know what is?

The grass is greenest where you water it…

love

Are you single right now? If so, when was the last time you were out somewhere, a bar, the gym, the supermarket, on the train – anywhere, where you saw someone that you thought was so attractive that your face went warm? Can you remember? If you can – what did you do about it? Did you bite the bullet and say hello, or even smile at them? Or did you let them pass you by and watch them walk out of your life forever, kicking yourself as they went? I’m hedging my bets on the latter for the most part right?

I’ve been ‘officially’ single for a year next week, and give or take 8 months of ‘trying again’ (I use the term loosely as the only thing that was trying was the situation) I’ve actually met up with and dated 5 people since. Some lasted a few weeks, some didn’t get past the first date, and as you all know by now – one lasted 43 minutes. This is not taking into account the COUNTLESS matches, WhatsApp messages, ‘subtle’ liking of everything posted on social media, slides into DM’s and snatched kisses and swapped phone numbers on nights out. Where has it gotten me? Well – a lot further than you might think.

This week I made a decision – to come off all dating apps and use my precious time more productively. I’ve come off them before of course, and always for the same reason – in my opinion, they don’t work. For some they might, but for me, a traditionalist and eternal optimist at heart, they are most certainly not the way forward for me.

It’s fucking depressing. This is not how I want to meet the love of my life. When you are on a dating site or app you are literally one of perhaps 50 to 100 right swipes, and THOUSANDS of left – instantly writing you off as a ‘no’. This works both ways of course, and when you do match there’s that little spark of excitement… then mostly nothing. BECAUSE NO-ONE FUCKING SPEAKS! No-one wants to ‘submit’ and make the first move. There’s way too much pride involved. Will I look desperate? Will they reply? How long should I wait? Should I ask for their phone number? What if they don’t look like their profile picture? What if they’re a mong? What if they’re a serial killer?

NOPE. Sorry, that shit is not for me. If I like someone – they know it. I’m the person that smiles, I’m the person that will position myself next to you at the bar and strike up a conversation. I am the person that will text first. I am the person that takes that chance – because what exactly have I got to lose by doing so? You get out of life exactly what you put in. So if you think that you’re so fucking special that people should be falling at your feet with little to no effort on your part, then kindly step aside. I have no time for you.

Unfortunately – this attitude seems to be something of an epidemic in 2017. Effort is non-existent, ‘Ghosting’ is such a strong phenomenon that it actually has a name and the art of conversation is reduced to WhatsApp messages that can easily be misconstrued and can cause you to stare at your phone wondering why they haven’t replied for 20 mins, when they were texting back faster than you can left-swipe a man in a hat for most of the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I have met some brilliant people on dating apps, my ex being one of them – but the fact that none of them have actually worked out in the long run makes me re-consider whether this millennial approach to relationships is all it’s cracked up to be. I want to meet someone organically – someone that catches my eye, or me his and we simply have to speak to one another before we disappear forever – you know, like our parents and grandparents had to do it. Those relationships last – because the very foundation on which they were built was REAL, and required effort, commitment and perseverance. When did this stop being a thing? And how can we bring it back?

My attitude toward love and dating took a massive shift when I went to LA. I went for a week, on my own, and the second the plane touched the tarmac and I caught sight of the giant LAX sign – I knew this was the place I would one day call home.

One week I was there, and in that time I was asked out 3 times and went on a date that was one of the best I’ve ever been on. Their approach, attitude and outlook is SO spot on that it physically hurts me to think that people elsewhere are so different. Los Angeles is the city of dreamers, of go-getters and opportunists. It’s the city where people know what they want and they go after it, with everyone around them cheering them on. I had a busker break into ‘All The Small Things’ because I passed him wearing a Blink 182 top. I had a man say hello in Starbucks, then pay for my cup of tea on the sly without me even knowing or waiting for me to acknowledge his kind gesture. I had a guy stop me in the middle of the street to say “sorry to bother you, I just wanted to tell you I think you’re beautiful. Have a great day.” I had a guy chase me down the road to ask for my phone number because he’d seen me in the audience of ‘Mike and Molly’ and had been waiting for almost 3 hours to speak to me…

The date I went on? How’s this for a story… I was taking myself off on a hike up to the Griffith Observatory, and I got SPECTACULARLY lost in one of the more affluent areas of the Hollywood Hills – somewhere near Bruno Mars’ house by all accounts. A car drove past and pulled into a driveway just as I was running out of pavement. As he got out, I asked him where the observatory was, as I was clearly lost. He was GORGEOUS. He told me to go back the way I came, turn left through Los Feliz and take a left at the entrance to the park. I said my ‘Thank You’s, did an about turn and headed down the hill. A few minutes later, a car pulled up next to me (different from the one before) and the same guy wound the window down, and said “listen I’m going that way, I don’t want you getting lost again so can I drop you off on the way?”

This is clearly every parent’s worst nightmare, as it’s drummed into us from a very early age not to get into a car with a stranger. But I knew in my gut that this guy was genuine, and so I gladly accepted. He told me his name was PJ, he’d lived in LA for 4 years (he was Australian) and asked me about myself and my trip so far. When we got to the entrance to Griffith Park, he pulled up and said – without the slightest hint of cheese or smarm – “Take my number in case you want picking up later – or if you fancy doing something before you go home because I’d love to take you out”.

Can you imagine that happening in Birmingham?  Or England? Or anywhere else in the world you have been? More to the point – where else in the world would you get into the car, take the number and say yes to a date? PJ was awesome. It was never going to go anywhere as we went out the day before I flew home. I got back from cocktails at Chateau Marmont 45 minutes before my middle of the night taxi was due to pick me up to take me to the airport, and I literally floated on air all the way home.

This is how it should be.

I’ve tried every dating site and app known to man. PoF, Tinder, Bumble, Match (I got a refund – twice), Zoosk – even ‘Rock Music Lovers’ (the people on there are exactly as you would imagine them to be. I got another refund) and I have met a whole plethora of different guys. Like the one who:

  • Cut our date short so he could get home in time to have his protein shake
  • Had a foreign Facebook name, 3 phones and largely undeliverable WhatsApp messages (then told me I had trust issues, mate – you think?)
  • Said he didn’t want to go and see Linkin Park because “what’s the point? I have their CD.”
  • Popped up on Facebook a week after our date with a profile picture that clearly displayed him lovingly holding hands with another man
  • Was STUNNING – but was a raving coke-head
  • Wanted to make me his phone screensaver after one night (it wasn’t even a date – just met him. Wow!)
  • Bragged “I earned over a grand this week, this glass of rose is on me” (gee thanks bab)
  • Refused to accept it when I ended things because (and I quote verbatim) – “You feel like we should break up, so to you we have, but I feel like we shouldn’t, so we’re not.” WHAT?! How do you argue with that logic?
  • Had “never been out with a black woman and wanted to add it to his list…” First of all, I’m clearly not black, second of all, WTF?!
  • BLATANTLY ignored me when I bit the bullet and said hello via a Facebook message after weeks of liking each other’s stuff. Now he’s commenting and liking my Instagram posts as, of course he’s been deleted.
  • Lives in Los Angeles
  • Was hilarious, told me he loved me after a month then just stopped texting.

And of course, the one who broke my heart into a billion pieces, and made me the woman I am today.

I look back at every single one of these and yet still I have a smile on my face. Why? Because I’m really fucking happy. I am 32 years old, and for the first time in my life I’m not panicking that I’m running out of time, I’m not latching onto every conversation envisaging a future together, I’m not looking for it and I sure as hell am not settling.

I know – blah blah blah the same old shit every thirty-something women churns out to prove that they’re strong, independent bitches who ‘don’t need no man’. Here’s the difference – I mean it when I say I’m happy as I am. I have my shit together, I own my own home, I have two beautiful little kittens (cliché – and what?) I have a job I love, time to see and spend with my friends and loved ones and so many plans on my iPhone calendar that it makes me a little dizzy! Do I want to find love? Of course I do, who doesn’t? I’d love to meet that person that makes my heart skip a beat every time his name appears on my phone, who I can be truly myself with and who makes it all seem so fun and easy – like it should be, and he will come. However he won’t ‘complete me’, or be my ‘other half’, he will be a wonderful bonus to a life that I’m already head over heels in love with.

So apparently I’m a record breaker…

Yup, that’s right. A record breaker.

I’ve broken many things in my 32 years, a foot, more iPhone screens than I care to admit, balls, a few hearts, most recently my favourite mug… but today I surpassed myself and broke an actual record:

I went on a date that lasted approximately 43 minutes. 

Call Guinness – get this printed in the next edition now. Where’s my award?

I was out of the flat for 2 and a half hours including travel time. You know it’s not a good sign when you stick the tumble dryer on on your way out the door and are back before the end of the spin cycle! Let me lead you guys into this gently, because if I don’t find some humour in the situation then I fear my current quota of ‘just the 2 cats’ will increase somewhat exponentially.

I, like most single thirty-something women am on a dating app. Just the one mind – my iPhone battery can’t deal with the 3 rows of social media apps on my homescreen as it is. I am on Bumble. You know that app where women have to message first? Yeah it’s not really any better but I point blank refuse to join the soul destroying diatribe that is Tinder again. Ugh.

Anyway, after matching with an attractive looking Mediterranean type,  I bit the bullet and said hello, and after a week of the usual WhatsApp chit-chat that us modern day singletons have become accustomed to, I met up with… er…let’s call him ‘Brandon’ (his name was not Brandon) in town. He was late (strike one), and yes he’d travelled a fair way to meet up for what was precisely 2 cups of Americano, but he had set out before I’d even jumped in the shower to get ready for said date . When he (eventually) arrived, he was shorter than the angles of his photographs had portrayed him to be (strike two). Now I know this is exceptionally ‘heightist’ (if it’s not already a word, it is now), but this dude was the same size as me. I’m five foot four.

FIVE FOOT FOUR.

You blokes should have to declare this shit I swear. His carefully selected photographs had me thinking he was at least a 6 footer… oh no my friends. No. He climbed up onto the bar stool (aided only by the same small hop that I myself had adopted), and asked me if I was nervous. What is this – my first day? No I’m not nervous – the look you see on my face is that of ‘instant NOPE’ not nerves. Fucks sake.

OK, so it wasn’t instant. I decided that this was going nowhere fast after about 3 minutes – which, for me, was actually giving the guy a chance. I kid you not,  I had said ‘hmmm’ and ‘oh yeah?’ about 37 times before he let me get a word in edgeways and asked me an actual question (strike three, aaaaaaaand you’re out). Granted the question was technically his second, but it was also this: “Do you want my biscuit, I’m not eating any biscuits or sugar or any shit like that?” This was after I’d virtually inhaled my own foil wrapped stick of concentrated sugary goodness… and I’d only done that to give myself something to do with my mouth! This was closely followed by asking my age (it’s right there on my profile) and then saying “Oh, most women your age are worried about running out of time to start a family.” I mentally face palmed. I mentally face palmed HARD.

After coffee number two (I put the biscuit self-consciously to one side this time), I was already day-dreaming about what I was going to have for dinner, when I could get a nail appointment in, fuck – even if I’d remembered to switch my hair straighteners off! Whatever was occupying my attention span – it definitely wasn’t whatever was coming out of his mouth. When it was finally my turn to talk, I couldn’t even be bothered to go into detail. The only time I was marginally animated was when talking about Los Angeles, and how I hope to live there one day. He said “are you planning to go there any time soon?” Mate I’ll hop on the next flight if it gets me the fuck out of here!!! You know when Chandler told Janice he was moving to Yemen? I totally get it.

I started making my excuses… like how I was really busy in the upcoming weeks and “how it was only going to get worse”, how I was going to be ‘useless’ for the next two weeks as I’m “doing a Clean 9” (watch this space for updates on that), and how I had “loads of stuff to do this afternoon”. He said “what time do you need to get off? It’s half two now…” I pretended to consider this for the briefest of moments before I begrudgingly said “about 3 probably…”

“What, in half an hour?” he asked – a look of complete bemusement and shock across his tiny face. “Yes, we still have a little time tho…” (1800 torturous seconds to be exact).

“I’m not your type am I?” He asked.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CLUE?

Sadly, the diplomat in me attempted to make this situation slightly less excruciating than it was rapidly becoming…

“Not really, but I’m glad I met you “(so I know to vet upcoming dates more carefully in future), and “thanks for coming all the way here to see me” (thank fuck I didn’t come to you!)

After mutually deciding that it was best we probably just leave (escape) there and then, he came out with the line that I shall remember him for: “But we’ve been speaking for a week and I only met you an hour ago, this is some kind of a record…”

At this point I was reaching the limit of my politeness. “I tend to make up my mind fairly quickly, and there’s no point in going on another 2 dates and leading you on now is there?”

He said he was OK… but he forgot to tell his face – which had the same look on it as Leonardo DiCaprio when the winner of ‘Best Actor’ was read out at every single Oscars ceremony pre-2016.

I have never been more glad to leave an establishment in my entire life. I’m sure he is a nice enough bloke, but he most certainly wasn’t the one for me!