Can We Attribute Our Unhappiness to Social Media?

This is old news by now, but does the name Essena O’Neill ring a bell? No? In case you missed out on her video that went viral last November, I’ll give you a semi-quick rundown on the seventeen minute video. You can also check out her video here

Amidst tears, O’Neill draws attention to how “fake” she believes the social media world has become and how unaware the average viewer is to what really goes on behind the beautiful, yet highly unrealistic images viewers see on a daily basis. She claims her departure from this impractical world should serve as a wake up call for all her followers.

She tearfully continues on with her video (sans makeup) arguing “culture creates validation and insecurities” and later begs viewers and social media personalities to create content that isn’t based on “views, likes, or followers”. Furthermore, she launches a tirade against the business behind sponsored or paid social and posts, a current hot topic for those interested in law (and more particularly, fashion law). This topic has recently forced one of our independent federal agencies, the Federal Trade Commission, to pay more attention to how they can protect consumers on social media in the future*. More on this below, but back to O’Neill’s video for now.

While watching this young Australian’s video, I found it shocking to think someone could blame many of their insecurities on apps that pubescent Silicon Valley geeks dreamt of in their parents’ basements (I’m only half sarcastic, here). Could social media really be blamed for this young woman’s unhappiness?

This brings me to my question for you today: does quitting social media remedy the true nature of our unhappiness?  Is this truly going to help fix negative feelings you have toward yourself?

O’Neill believed this was the answer. Soon after posting her self-declared “last Youtube video”, she proceeded to delete all her social media sites save for one, Instagram, but only after deleting two thousand photos off her account. Keeping a few select pictures, she quickly gave new captions to those that remained with newer, brutally honest captions:

essena4.jpg

She later deleted her Instagram account as well.

After she made these changes, O’Neill said she hoped to start a movement where the average viewer could realize their self worth isn’t determined by their physical attributes or social media influence. Just because O’Neill thought she wasted many years living a lie didn’t mean others should as well.

This being said, there’s many varying opinions on whether social media serves an overall good purpose or not. We see lovers connect, celebrities make millions, and teens cyberbully others all within seconds of a simple flick of the thumb. It’s simultaneously amazing, yet terrifying.

Personally, I admit I’m no stranger to unhappiness which I can partially attribute to social media, and on a deeper level, my deep rooted desire to be perfect. I can definitely admit I’ve felt validated after reaching a new high of “likes” or “views” on social media platforms, while also feeling crushed when a new profile picture doesn’t get as many likes as I would’ve thought. Was I not thin enough? Had I not marketed my post effectively? Should I feel embarrassed to post a selfie? As my Pop Culture professor so wisely said, “I receive likes, therefore I exist”. Any “like” I’ve received has given me validation. Though I know this ultimately to be false, it’s hard to continually remind myself of this over and over again. I’m sure many others would agree.

In saying this, I realize I’m part of the problem I’ve created for myself. I’ve spent HOURS clicking through photos, scrolling down my home feed, and stalking girls I don’t know, obsessing how I’m not as pretty, thin, or worry free and happy as they seem. How can I realistically think another person’s life is trouble free based on photos they are able to manipulate? All my own photos are edited, retouched, and manipulated to catch me in both the best lighting and during the most flattering “picture perfect moments”. How is fair to assume their photos haven’t been as well?

I seem to get the most likes on the most perfect photos of myself and my behavior seems to continue to snowball into what could resemble a highly predictable lab experiment as a result. People like following people who look happy and pretty. It’s inspirational. I accumulate likes, therefore I am. More happy photos, more likes. More likes, more happiness. It’s a vicious negative feedback loop we’ve created for ourselves.

So should I abandon my Facebook, multiple Twitter accounts, Snapchat, and Instagram in search of this ever elusive happiness I’ve been chasing for a large portion of my life? I’ve tried. For a couple months I wasn’t on Facebook, I didn’t enjoy Snapchat until a year after it became popular, and quit using my beloved Twitter because I didn’t think I could handle the responsibility. We’ve all had friends who express their distaste at the world of social media and delete accounts only to reinstate their profiles some odd months or weeks later.

So does unplugging our lives make us happier in the end?

I’m not so sure. I’m not so sure we’ll ever know the answer, or whether there even is a “right” answer (don’t get me started on existentialist theories). Finding happiness may or may not be as simple as deleting your accounts if you’re disconsolate. Quite simply, this is a discussion up for debate and it’s a highly personal and contested matter. I understand deleting accounts out of inactivity, but deleting based on lack of self esteem?

Though there’s no simple solution to this complex problem, I firmly believe we have the power to be part of the solution, not the problem as social media users. I think it’s time to stop viewing social media as an untamable beast, because we have the opportunity to control what we post and what we view to an extent. We have small opportunities to put a positive spin on what we see every day!

Armed with this positivity, I decided to do my own experiment on Instagram a few months ago. I posted a close up photo of my face, one half with makeup and editing, the other without any makeup or retouching. The response I received was more than I could’ve ever asked for. It was my most popular post since joining Instagram five years ago, and still would’ve been considered it my top post even if it had gotten no likes. It’s possible to use social media for good purposes to outweigh the bad. It felt like I was holding up my middle finger to all the negative feelings that haunted me from this picture perfect image of myself that I had wanted to be.

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The photo I took of myself showing both sides of social media. Perception versus reality.

So even though I’ve dragged you through a lengthy post just to give you no solid answer to the question of whether quitting social media remedies the true nature of our unhappiness, I hope this makes you think. Maybe the question shouldn’t lie in whether social media can make us unhappy or not, but instead on how we can participate in this world with more realistic expectations of ourselves. Yes, bloggers will edit their photos. Many girls will airbrush their skin to perfection, and others will show off expensive meals, new makeup and cars or share lengthy posts of their vacations to Ibiza on Snapchat. This all is inevitable, especially given social is a huuuge, untapped resource for anyone who’d like to market to millennials (at the very least!). I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see many brands add or increase both organic and paid social within the next few years. My only hope is that we all get a little more educated and that the Federal Trade Commission is able to keep up and catch unlawful practices**. However, it’s up to us to get stronger.

Long story short, when Essena O’Neill decided to post her last YouTube video last November, she set off a firestorm of response from her peers and viewers. The question of whether social media serves a positive or negative purpose is too difficult a question to give one finite answer to. For some, quitting social media may help reduce feelings of inadequateness, decrease their maladaptive pleasure seeking impulses, and potential depression. As O’Neill showed, even those who seem at the top on social media platforms can suffer behind closed doors. Their lives and paychecks revolve around likes, views, and shares. But our lives don’t have to.

I’ve felt both positively validated and negatively impacted through what others and myself have posted. The answer we seek may not lie with whether our happiness is a direct result of social media, but instead, whether we’re able to control the intake of information through educating ourselves and constant reminders that this world has the aptitude to seem airbrushed and perfect. I’m going to challenge myself to view the social world as less of an intimidating place, but as a burgeoning market for retailers and promoters. I’m also going to vow to constantly remind myself there’s more to life than a “bikini ready” beach bod or nailing that perfect cat eye. Both are great, yes, but remember that you alone are enough. You breath, you love, you are loved, therefore you are!

xx

Kristin

Please don’t hesitate to comment and reach out, whether you agree or disagree with me. Let’s keep the discussion going!

 

*As many of you know, influencers and bloggers are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to wear, drink, or promote a company’s merchandise, often ignoring the rules the FTC lays down to protect consumers from what they determine to be “unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace” (per their site’s “What We Do” section). For more information on the FTC, I encourage you to visit their site

**One of my favorite fashion law bloggers continues to call out popular bloggers (L’Oreal’s 15 L’Orealista bloggers, the Man Repeller, amongst many other offenders) for not appropriately disclosing paid posts. Putting #sp in the description part of photos is no longer enough. The Fashion Law’s founder and editor-in-chief explains this all much better than I ever could. Find her explorations of calling out bloggers here.

 

Proud to Be Weird as All Get Out and A Photo Album of My Most Embarrassing Moments <3

Far right, that's me. The picture is too grainy to tell, but I'm giving my dad (who was taking the picture) a thumbs up. I don't recall him giving me the thumbs up back.

Far right, that’s me. The picture is too grainy to tell, but I’m giving my dad (who was taking the picture) a thumbs up. I don’t recall him giving me the thumbs up back.

If you’ve known me from anywhere between 2 minutes to twenty-three years, you certainly know this one thing about me:

I thought I was a cat in 5th grade.

Or so that’s how the story goes, my friends. Truth is I was of course completely aware I was a human being. I was just unaware of this, if anything, during morning, lunch, and afternoon recesses. I was also completely unaware of how terribly uncool this was.

I, (Blackstar), was just tryna swag out and be the leader of my clan (Thunderclan) and catch some prey (sparrows, mice, other small things found in rural midwestern towns) while protecting myself from my enemy (Shadowclan).

Try explaining your way out of that one while phone interviewing for your first big girl job.

“…So basically I have great survival skills and can make a fort out of leaves, vine, and sticks to protect myself from invaders. I think I’m highly qualified to sell forty-five year old women clothes…I’m well rounded?”

Weirdly, I ended up getting the job. I can now proudly say that I am able to protect my fellow associates at White House | Black Market from prey shortages and enemy clans. They’ll be thankful to have me when that time comes- and I didn’t even tell them that I have a level 120 Nidoking and level 114 Charizard on my Gameboy Color game Pokemon Blue Version too! Check that swag, my neighbors.

My obsession with anything feline began way back before my parents could do anything to help.

My obsession with anything feline began way back before my parents could do anything to help. It was too late by 2003… Crisis very not averted.

So, the point of this post? (Other than the fact that I blatantly overuse the word “so”.)

I could not be more happy with how extremely weird I was (and still am) while growing up.

When I was a kid, I always lived my life like I was the focal point of a Meg Cabot novel. I envisioned myself like Mia from The Princess Diaries or Judy from those Judy Moody books. Being completely conventionally weird, I kept a diary from 7th grade all the way up to 10th grade. I wrote almost every single day from 7th-8th grade and included the exact time I was beginning to write (9:36pm), the mood I was in (OBBBsessing over ❤ Mason ❤ ), and entries frequently interrupted by, “OMG G2G MOM IS COMING UP THE STAIRS” or “oh gosh I have to poop so bad…okay I’m back it only took me fifteen minutes”. Stuff like that. You know, what every 7th grader writes in their diary about.

I loved to read, and reading made me especially imaginative at a young age.

In high school, I retained my image of weirdness. The deadly combination of being the only freshman on my varsity volleyball team, having awkwardly long, pale arms and legs, and a knack for Youtubing the dance moves to Soulja Boy vids did nothing to make me more cool. In class I kept my “weirdness” under wrap. I specifically remember one of the most popular girls in school asking me (she only asked because I was sitting right next to her in government class) a question and I completely blanked out and couldn’t believe she was talking to me. I don’t think I ever answered her question. She’s probably still desperately waiting to find out the answer to question 14c.

Sup.

Sup.

Crazy stuff. I would say I didn’t care about fitting in, but the fact that I freaked out there makes me rethink ever affirming the “I don’t care” line.

The amount of time I also remember spending perusing the online sale and clearance on Abercrombie, Hollister, and American Eagle is bat sh*t crazy. The evening after I received my birthday money for my 15th birthday I purchased a pair of Hollister jeans that I considered “cool enough” but ended up being ill fitting and entirely uncomfortable. I would unbutton them while sitting in class because they were too tight to keep buttoned. There were times I was able to get full priced items from these stores of course (more often than not) and I would always jump at the opportunity for my shirt to visibly sport the little moose, seagull, or eagle logos I had grown to love. The more obnoxiously present it was, the better. I think many of you girls can relate- how many times did you throw on a tight button down in navy, pink, grey, or cream with a lace cami underneath with a pair of jeans and some Ugg moccasins or boots? It was the height of cool back in ’09. Or at least in my mind- it’s what the popular kids would wear.

And of course here’s a little disclaimer for those of you who knew me in high school- I was never the kid who was bullied mercilessly by her classmates. I was extremely average and had a decent high school experience. I don’t want to make it seem like I struggled hardcore every day, because I didn’t. I had other struggles of course, but I wasn’t like those Napolean Dynamite kids or Carries who lost their shit at an #$% backwards school. I was the kind of kid who knew several of the older girls at school because I participated in one varsity sport, but yet the kid who carved her initials in her violin in orchestra, and spent hours painting in studio art classes. I also had my friend group change around my junior year of high school. The typical high school stuff. I was never part of the “drinking crowd” and had myself convinced that I would never drink alcohol in college because “Mountain Dew got me so hype and I couldn’t imagine something better”.

…I’ll just leave that there for ya.

Very cool, very swag, the height of coolness.

Very cool, very swag, the height of coolness.

So basically, I was just a weird kid with friends who actually had social skills and put up with my lack thereof. And I’d still say the same thing to this day.

As many of you probably know (where my Instagram fam at?!) I spent a majority of my junior year in college trying to beat Spyro: Year of the Dragonfly, Gallop Horse Racer, and ATV Off-Road Fury 1, 2, 3, and 4. In my off time I would make Instagram videos of myself mini golfing and heating up potatoes in the microwave.

You know, the stuff a 20-something year old does (see what I did there? That crap is called a “call back”!!! I think.)

But truth is, in everything I’ve learned from high school to college, turns out that being okay with being myself works for me. Like I said in a previous post, when I’m comfortable with me, others tend to be comfortable with me as well. In some ways I find it somewhat unfortunate that I’ve figured out how to do my hair and makeup and dress myself, because on the outside (and in any tagged pictures you’ll see of me on Facebook) I appear to be someone a lot less weird than I actually am. And I’m proud of being weird and having a couple diaries and numerous sketchbooks filled with crude drawings of my old cats (S/O to Clarese and Sashi ❤ ❤ ❤ ).

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Alright. Even though I’ve clearly had a time and a half talking about myself here, I want you to be able to apply this to your life. Because why the heck else would you want to read about Kristin Hovie being a cat? You wouldn’t. Unless you have found my highly elusive cat diary, which I am still searching for after five years and are about to text me, letting me know you stole it.

So if you have a weird side, freakin’ embrace it. It’s what makes you, you. If you’ve already graduated high school or college and have already reached this conclusion on your own, great. I think it’s highly important. If you haven’t, tap into it. Why not? There are too many people that try to fit in (oh god, this sounds like one of those motivational posters with a picture of the world surrounded by black space) so switch it up. I wish I wouldn’t have spent all those years wearing those Hollister jeans- because I would have saved myself a lotttttt of indigestion and farting.

Be proud of being completely and utterly weird if you are blessed enough to have been dropped as a child. I’ve gotta say that through everything I’ve gone through in my life, being insane has kept me sane.

And once again, this is where I’ll leave you.

Stay weird, my fellow weirdos.

No one bought the camper I was modeling for sale. Might've been the braces...

No one bought the camper I was modeling for sale. Might’ve been the braces…

Here’s That Long Ass “About College” Post- Another Bullshit Story Told By Yours Truly, <3 K Hoves Jr. <3

Well slap me in the ass and call me Betty. As you may know, I’m done with college. In fact, you may only know this due to my ridiculous amount of instagrams, facebook pic uploads, and my nostalgic drunk tweets about how much I love my friends and Taco Bell. Awesome. But since I’m now graduated, I feel the need to sum up my college career so I feel like I did more than just binge drink four days a week in spring and struggle to make it through three hour volleyball practices every day in the fall.

Alright. Big picture first because people have 3 second attention span.

HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED:

I am not the same person that I was when I walked onto campus for the first time in August 2011. I look back on my freshman self and think, “Jesus Christ tweeze your eyebrows, stop dying your hair black, boys don’t have cooties, dumbass, and I am not the same person anymore”.

LOL but before I go into a bullshit story about how “Binghamton has really become my second home” or “I wanted to transfer my freshman year but really swagged out and liked it after awhile” type thing, I have to start here. Here’s my bullshit story.

When I left Neenah, Wisconsin in the summer of 2011 for preseason, I was not sad to say goodbye to my family. Alright, a little sad, but I was never homesick for the next year. High school left me in a difficult spot. My junior year was a constant tug of war with Reedo and Karen for extended curfews, time spent with friends, and a bad relationship choice. Of course, as those of you out of high school now realize, most high schoolers are complete dumbasses. We just don’t recognize it till we get older.

Though my relationship with my parents fluctuated, I was pretty close to my siblings. My brother, Logan, and I got along well because he was the mediator between my youngest sister, Alli and I. Alli and I were close but I spent much of my time comparing myself to her making sure that I was the best at everything. When she made Varsity volleyball halfway through her freshman year, I didn’t rejoice. I saw her as a threat to the “legacy” I was trailblazing as my high school’s first freshman to make the Varsity squad. It’s incredibly sad and pathetic.

Oh my god, teenage angst!! Me junior year of high school.

Oh my god, teenage angst!! Me junior year of high school.

Alli and I continued to butt heads my junior year of high school as she (and my parents) didn’t approve of the semi-secret relationship I was in (only considered “semi” because no one really knew we were together except my mom and sister who had their doubts- a couple kids guessed at school but my friends didn’t know and neither did the other party’s parents). They were scared and I was scared too. I still remember a senior taunting me about being in a relationship with the person I was with and I spent the rest of the week freaking out that everyone knew I wasn’t exactly in a “normal” relationship. Add that to signing to a school 13 hours away from home and you have a SHIT ton of teenage angst.

Me signing spring of my junior year of high school

Me signing spring of my junior year of high school.

Junior year ended and it was onto senior year. I made some great friends that I still have to this day, but struggled with the fact that my lifeline and essentially, my entire “world” had left for college. Senior year was pretty great, however; I joined track and field and was able to compete in high jump. It was fun to be good at something and not have a lot of pressure on myself to perform- it was a great release for me.

Alright. So now that I’ve had a glass of wine and can now look back on my high school experience, it sucked. I know I always whine about being 22 years single, but it’s actually a lie. THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE: I attached onto a person who in the end denounced the entire relationship and left me when they clearly should have pushed me to get help at that point. I didn’t get over this person until the beginning of THIS year (yes, THIS year my senior year of college!!!) and it ruined many other opportunities to date other people at Binghamton. This affected my happiness at college. (I figured I’d make sure I put my points in all caps for emphasis and also some sassiness~)

So let’s fast forward a little to college. Freshman year was mostly uneventful. I always tell anyone I meet how you don’t realize how much freshman year of college sucks until you’re done with it. I didn’t go out much, but I had a successful freshman season of volleyball and made some friends on my team. My next year was one for the books, however.

If you’ve read my previous posts or seen me play volleyball, you either know I’m a literal psychopath or am bipolar II/depressed/OCD and also semi-lactose intolerant. My sophomore year is when everything I dealt with in high school with the poor relationships I had with my family to the termination of my “secret” relationship came to a breaking point.

Some day in November (can’t remember approximate dates) I was drinking with my friends which clearly later impaired my decision making skills. I had been wandering off into the woods or into empty bathrooms on campus to cut and burn my wrists on a regular basis and covered it up at volleyball practice with prewrap and tape. That night, however, my friends found me in either the bathroom or in my bed with blood all over my wrists up to my elbows. I don’t remember much except being taken to the hospital in an ambulance and begging them to believe me that I wasn’t drunk because we would have to play Penn State in the NCAA Tournament that week. All I do know is that if my friends hadn’t found me and called for help, I would have committed suicide that night.

Me sophomore year- wrists taped up at the Cornell match in attempt to hide what I'd done.

Me sophomore year- wrists taped up at the Cornell match in attempt to hide the cutting and burns.

During sophomore year, I had seen four different therapists, tried at least ten different medications, and had seen a little improvement. I spent much of that winter break debating whether or not to go back to school in the spring. I’ve been told that most people that struggle with Bipolar Disorder take time off. I couldn’t imagine not going back to school with my friends, so I went back and struggled through a grueling preseason while my friends, family, and coaches watched me closely. Who knew when I’d fly off the handlebars again? Not even I knew.

Sophomore year at conference tournament- even though we won the whole tournament I still struggled with self-harm at the time and much of this period was unremarkable for me.

Sophomore year at conference tournament- even though we won the whole tournament I still struggled with self-harm at the time and much of this otherwise “happy” time was unremarkable for me.

Sophomore year ended and Alli committed to Binghamton that spring. Unlike the high school me, the college me was thrilled. My near-death sort of deal ultimately made us much closer than before and I was extremely happy to have her with me in New York. REMEMBER WHAT I SAID BEFORE ABOUT CHANGING? I’M DOING IT HERE, PEOPLE!!!

My last two years of college were some of the best years I’ve had my entire life. Junior year I made friends on my own and became closer to my friends Lex, Amanda, and Jordan. (Heyyyyyy gurlz there’s a shout out! <3) I spent much of my volleyball career sidelined due to various injuries and such, but overall, I was happy. (Like ehmahgawd, I could sit on the bench and do my hair and look fab without it risking getting messed up!)

Things getting better for me as Alli joins me at Bing

Things getting better for me as Alli joins me at Binghamton ❤ ❤ ❤

As senior year approached, I was in a much better place than I had been two years prior. Though I struggled with sort of “hating myself” I hadn’t cut myself in awhile and was starting to come out of my shell around people. After I played my last volleyball of my collegiate career, I didn’t cry. I felt relieved. As I’ve probably told you on a Tuesday at JT’s at 1am, I have cried way too much during the past four years in the West Gym wheelchair bathroom stall to be able to muster up a single tear to justify my athletic experience at that point.

As for the rest of my college experience? Spring of my senior year was the best time of my life I’ve had yet. I had five classes I was more than excited to take and the time to enjoy other pursuits. Even though I’ve continually struggled with mania, depression, anxiety, OCD and beer shits the morning after a great night out, I was finally figuring out who I was and becoming more comfortable with myself and being less apologetic about it.

Myself with my closest friends (minus Steph and David) graduating

Myself with my closest friends (minus Steph and David) graduating (cray crayyyy!)

So essentially, I believe at this time that life isn’t worth living unless you experience those highs and lows. God knows that if you don’t have them you might as well be an emotionless robot.

So where in the world is our dear little Kristin Hovie now?

I’ll stick my now empty wine glass where the sun don’t shine if you ask me what I’m doing after college but I will tell you this:

When I left Binghamton University a couple days ago, I was sad. And you know what is so absolutely precious about that? Being sad means I cared. Being sad means I made some great friends and had some great experiences I’ll never forget. So before I get all existential on your ass, I’ll just sum it up to this since I’m all about the capital letters now~

COLLEGE WAS GREAT IT WAS AWESOME I HATE LEAVING BUT IF I COULD TURN AROUND MY SHITTY HIGH SCHOOL/SOPHOMORE YEAR OF COLLEGE, I HAVE A LOT OF GREAT STUFF AHEAD OF ME.

So that’s that. I’ll bet you didn’t bargain on me “in vino veritas”-ing all over you on a Tuesday night, but I did. (It’s probably because I know I should be doing $1 pitchers at JT’s right now and bitching about their $3 cover.) I had a helluva ride and am happy to say $%^&, I made it. Because I did- I did with a little help from my friends.

xx

ACE~

😉

P.S. Big thank you to my coaches, family, friends (Lex, Manz, Jojo, Steph, and David amongst others) for being there for me when I needed it- because I did need it. Thanks for being great listeners.

I’ve Been Single for 22 Years! Why and How I’ve Managed to Keep Boys at Bay: A Humorous Article

4th grade-senior year of high school were the most prominent of my awkward years

4th grade-senior year of high school were the most prominent of my awkward years

(Originally written for my Rhetoric 440 Class)

I’m not what you would call an expert on dating. I’m more of an expert on sh*t talking about someone who, unbeknown to me, is standing right behind me or at finding the Jimmy Johns closest to my current location.

I mean, I’ve spent my fair share of time at bars and being sexually harassed by men both half – and double — my age …but the actual boyfriend-girlfriend “should we change our Facebook status to ‘in a relationship’ ” thing? Never.

Don’t get me wrong. I do have some expertise in the dating arena. It’s called “how not do it”. If you’re not like me and the 17% of other college senior girls who have never, ever been in a relationship, here are my tried-and-true tips for keeping boys at bay:

  • Frequently use words such as “feminism”, “tampons”, and “I love you” around potential suitors. It’ll terrify them.
  • While you’re walking home from the bars at 3 in the morning, drunkenly rant about how you’re being sexualized by every Tom, Dick, and Harry you saw that night. Never mind that you were wearing this 100% polyester piece of fabric you thought was a dress but later realized was a shirt that shows off your sweater puppies! (But hey…it made you feel h-o-t!)
  • Hit puberty early and reach 5’11” early in 9th grade, all while sporting braces.
  • Have this completely unintentional “resting bitch” face that says “I’ll kick your puppy if you talk to me.”
  • Acquire the habit of stealing Reese’s Puffs from college house parties you go to…uninvited

These tips are all I’ve ever needed to keep me wallowing in single-girl despair. They’ve only failed me twice: on my one and only actual date, in which I forgot my wallet (sorry, Jesse); and the time I was told I’m “the one” by this kid on Twitter who saw me tweet about the McChicken five times in one hour.

And I have had guys tell me how “awesome” my personality is (Really?). I’ve managed to resist the urge to punch these guys and scream, “Hey! You can date me if you want! Hello?!” I just nod and smile as I’m being friend-zoned as the girl who appears to be in a long-term relationship with Taco Bell.

So why haven’t I put on my big-girl pants and changed my habits? Why do I keep setting myself up as this highly undateable girl?

The answer hit me like a (friggin’) freight train on Thanksgiving when extended family members asked, for the hundredth time, if I had a boyfriend. For once I didn’t struggle to think of a cute joke to distract my (now) slightly worried grandparents from the fact that no, I still don’t have a boyfriend. This time I had an “excuse”.

I explained that I didn’t have a boyfriend because I’d be going to grad school in Stockholm or London or Edinburgh or Los Angeles, even if Daddy has to donate money to build a wing in a library to get me in. By golly, ain’t nobody got time for a boyfriend! I’m a strong independent woman. I don’t need no man!

Grandma was already sleeping off the Thanksgiving turkey by the time I’d finished my speech. That’s when it hit me: I’m not too busy to date, I’m just afraid to commit.

Going to school in upstate New York, 900 miles from my Wisconsin home, gave me a good excuse to avoid guys my senior year in high school. Even my high school date for every major dance confessed he hadn’t asked me out because I was “leaving in a year.” Thanks?

Now that I’m a senior in college, I’ve avoided dating anyone because I knew I’d have to either break it off or do the painful long-distance thing.

Sure, I’ve seen people in successful long-distance relationships.

“It’s a pain in the butt,” says my sister, Alli, “but every time I come home it’s like I never left.”

My brother, Logan, and his girlfriend have been doing the LDR thing for a couple of years.

“Some people are worth it,” he says. “You don’t even think about the distance as being a problem.”

But I also know people who’ve had their hearts broken when distance became too much. And that scares the living daylights out of me.

So I fall back on my old excuse: Why date anyone when I’ll be leaving in a few months?

I could use that same excuse after grad school, too: Why date if I could be leaving for a job elsewhere?

Whoa. This has gotta stop.

They say there’s no sin in living, that there’s power in action.

I’ve watched people fall in and out of love. They all managed to live through it. Some even fell in love again.

So what if I fail at dating? At least, come next Thanksgiving, I could tell my family I’d given it a try.

xx KH

PS: This article was written with the intent of giving perspective from a humorous angle…not to complain. Even though I’m the world’s best whiner, I wrote this to make people laugh all while self reflecting.