Living, Laughing & Loving… while in debt.
Why, hello there.
It can’t possibly be swept under the rug that I took a noticeable hiatus from this blog. I had been able to maintain posting multiple times a week despite working a full time job and enjoying a new city, so it was disheartening to watch my blog fall apart simultaneously with my life. I mean that lightly, by the way. I’m a realist by nature. I’ve always viewed life as a progression through multiple chapters of self-evloution. Meaning- I’ve always embraced change and chose to accept it rather than fight it. For example, high school is a change. Although I lived in the same town for the entirety of my grade-schooling, I went through multiple groups of friends. I’ve kept a solid few throughout the times, but who I chose to hang out with on a regular basis often changed due to multiple shifts in interest over the years. When I was younger I was pretty tom-boyish and I hung out with girls who shared my interests of sports, playing outside and those hideous adidas sandals. As I transitioned into high school, my interests shifted, and in effect my group of friend’s shifted. It’s not something I analyzed at the time, but in retrospect, I believe it was healthy. Rather than conforming to fit a group of friends, I always embraced changed and made new friends along the way.
Today, I almost see high school and college years as a period of filtering through friends to find the right ones that you want to surround yourself with. You laugh… you cry… you get burned but, inevitably- you learn who your true friends are.
It was difficult when I first moved to New Orleans, because I was leaving these people that I had deep-rooted, amazing friendships with in New Jersey. And the idea of starting over was intimidating. However, these friendships continued to flourish despite the distance, and during the last few months in New Orleans- these friendships from thousands of miles away were what got me through bracing the change.
So, clearly… I am no longer in New Orleans.
I started this post about change because we can’t ignore that we are an evolving species. It’s never beneficial to build your life around something and not account for, or allow, growth or change. “The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.” I don’t say this insinuating that we all be gypsies and, in effect, make no plans. I am still very much a planner. In previous posts you will see that I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to move to a new city. I calculated my risk, created a savings and always stayed mindful of the choices I was making. You can only throw so much caution to the wind before it is just considered being irresponsible. I have an even bigger responsibility of a hefty loan payment every month to add to the acquired bills of moving out on your own, so of course, planning is imperative.
However, one of the things you can’t plan is shifts in relationships. It was easy to change groups of friends as you also changed growing up; what’s not so easy is making changes after you’ve integrated a lot of your life with a person. It can actually be one of the scariest, heart-breaking times of your life- especially when you are thousands of miles from home.
If you know anything about me personally, you know that I was in a pretty public relationship with a guy that I met while filming a television show back in 2010. Before filming the show, I had been single for about a year. My last relationship was a two-year relationship with a guy I met in college. We’ll call him Doug. The relationship with Doug was very normal. I was in a sorority, and he was in a fraternity. We had a lot of shared friends and ended up at a lot of Greek events together. Although I cared about Doug a lot, I could never decide if the relationship was just convenient. Doug was handsome, he was smart, he had a great family and was a good person… but the relationship just lacked that “x” factor… it lacked passion.
Upon meeting Dustin on “The Real World,” I’ll just use his name since it’s public knowledge anyway, I felt all of that passion that my last relationship was lacking. The thing is, by starting a fiery relationship that isn’t exactly built on friendship, understanding or trust, you risk it fizzling fast. This was a risk I always considered, but I was young and wasn’t exactly planning on meeting “Mr. Right” on some MTV show, so I didn’t really care. Obviously, there was still a lot about Dustin’s life that I didn’t know and upon finding out bits and pieces, I decided it was probably better to just end things.
However, I got home and I missed him. Dustin was fun, and exciting and passionate. In retrospect, he was everything my last relationship wasn’t. We ended up having to see each other a good amount due to subsequent appearances and events, and I was able to actually get to know another side of him. At the time, I lived in New Jersey and he lived in Louisiana so we spent a lot of time texting and talking on the phone. I really started to develop a solid friendship with him, and a deeper understanding of his life. A lot of aspects of his life break my heart to this day. I find it hard to believe that any single person I know would have made it through some of the things Dustin has endured in life, and also been able to remain as positive and free-spirited as he is today.
I truly cared for this person, so much so that we made the move to New Orleans together a little less than a year ago. We signed a year lease, and I scored a full time job. However, a lot changed in that first six months. I realized that I was over our previous lifestyle, and that I enjoyed working full time and having responsibility. Dustin wasn’t adjusting as easily to the idea of settling down. Now, when I say settling down, I in no way mean considering marriage or a family. I was not even close to being ready for anything like that, but just settling down in general. Accepting responsibility. Setting life goals. Doing these TV shows and subsequent challenges can be both a blessing and a curse. If you know who you are and what you want in life, they can serve as valuable stepping stones or a means of financial security if the money is utilized properly. However, what often happens is after these quick stints of fame, cast members are flooded with fun and exciting paid opportunities that are difficult to bounce back from. It can be difficult to work a 40 hour week when, just a year ago, you made what you make in a month showing up to a two hour club appearance.
Anyway, to say Dustin and I were going down different paths in life would be an understatement. Worse than that, we resented each other because of it. I won’t get into specifics, but it was no longer a healthy, productive relationship. The idea that we were moving in two different directions was almost easier to grasp than the concept that I now had an extremely crucial and scary decision to make. We still had four months left on our lease, and I had a respectable full-time job. I hated the thought of giving up everything that I worked so hard to achieve. However, my whole support system was in New Jersey and I knew staying in Louisiana wouldn’t be good for me.
I finally made the terrifying decision to literally change my entire life. I ended my relationship, left my job and moved back to New Jersey all within a week. Unless you’re put in a position like that in life, it’s impossible to understand the magnitude of it. You feel confused, displaced, relieved, scared, alone and bombarded, all at the same time. Adding to that the fact that it was a public relationship that garnished a lot of mixed attention was completely overwhelming.
To say these past two months in New Jersey have been difficult would be a understatement. However, I can now say two months in, that it was for the best and that I’ve never been happier. Like I said in the beginning of this post, being a realist at heart, I embrace change. However, being composed of human flesh with a beating heart- change isn’t always easy. There were a lot of extremely tough moments, but there were also a lot of beautiful moments that came out of making the change. I was able to spend time with family, and get pedicures with my mother. I was able to go on a “girls vacation” to South Carolina, spend a weekend in Washington DC with my best childhood friend and spend a lot of days on sunny, New Jersey beaches. I was able to revisit playing guitar and jewelry making, and I was able to meet some great, new friends.
I’ve been struggling to write this post for a while, but finally felt like it was a good time. I wanted to be able to be as honest as possible, so that those experiences big changes in life could relate and see that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, you’ll never see that light if you’re not brave enough to make the changes to begin with.