"How can I be cool and casual and chill at college parties and hooking up, when I'm the least cool, casual, or chill person ever?"
- Question submitted by anonymous
Let me tell you what: I am not cool or casual or chill. I won’t ever be any of those things because I have some social anxiety and also I have a lot of feelings and also mostly when I dance I just fling my arms about the room and bob my head.
Let me tell you what else: Probably at least a few of you think I am cool and casual and chill… even though I am like HAHAHAHAHA NOPE. I have scientific data on this because the other night I went to dinner with an Everyone Is Gay reader who is starting her freshman year of college and during our dinner she said she thought I was cool... And, in response, I laughed just like I did up there, in all caps, but in person because she was sitting across the table from me.
Point being: No matter how “uncool” or “not casual” or “really the opposite of chill” you are… the right people will still thing you are the fucking coolest, best, raddest person there is. You see, that is how we find each other! We see a person flinging their arms about the room and we are like OH THANK GOD ANOTHER ARM FLINGER IS HERE, and then we talk about Harry Potter or we talk about manicures or we talk about denim or we talk about Tegan & Sara or we talk about the earth orbiting through space or we talk about the X-Files or we talk about The Bachelorette. We find people who think we are cool as we are, because, well, we are cool and also “cool” is relative.
What you need, Anon, is to do all the parties you want and skip the ones you don’t, and work at being YOU. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s fucking real as shit. I am still struggling to do this, myself. Sometimes I write things here or I take a selfie for Instagram and I am frozen with all those voices saying, “You are so so so not cool, don’t you know how uncool you are?!”
Work with me to say, “Cool is relative, and I am me.”
I promise to post my pictures and write my advice as ME if you promise to kiss those babes and go to those parties as YOU.
"How do you navigate a relationship when you have issues with mental illness? And how do you find a partner who is willing to handle it? I have an anxiety disorder and some depression, and it makes just being in any relationship hard, let alone a healthy, serious, long-term romantic relationship."
-Question submitted by Anonymous
Let me start by saying that I struggled with pretty intense anxiety for several years in my late twenties and, although I haven’t had a bad panic attack in years, I now wrestle with depression. (I learned recently from my therapist that anxiety and depression are closely related, and that a lot of people who once struggled with an anxiety disorder later deal with depression. So, way to go me for being right on track.)
The next part of me telling you about me is to say that I was in a longterm relationship of five years when I was struggling with anxiety, and I’ve now been with my wife for seven years, several of which have overlapped with my depression. Both my ex and my wife understood mental illness from differing places: My ex had also dealt with anxiety and knew it first hand; Jenny has never dealt with anxiety, but has wrestled with depression and is incredibly good at listening and working to understand what I need when I’m feeling low.
I tell you all of this, Anonymous, because I want you to know two things right off the bat:
1. Many (many, many, many) people deal with mental illness, in varying ways and shapes and forms and intensities. Not as many people TALK about those struggles, which is something that I hope changes over time, but we are here and you are far from alone.
2. It is completely possible to have a beautiful, healthy, awesome relationship with another person or other people while also dealing with mental illness. The biggest requirement is communication, and partnering with people who are able to listen and take mental illness seriously. In my opinion, those are characteristics you’d want to look for in someone regardless of if you had anxiety or depression or not!
As someone who has been on this journey for a long time, I can tell you that the more I know myself, the better I become at communicating what I need. That is the place that I’d suggest you put the bulk of your focus; reflect on your interactions, moments that make you feel uneasy, places and things that make you feel safe or help you feel calm. Recently, my therapist suggested that I make a space for myself somewhere in our house that was just mine – a place where I could go to read quietly, listen to music, or just sit and breathe for a bit. It’s helped me so much already, and it’s given me another option to turn to when I am struggling. I lean on Jenny, of course, in many moments, but I’ve also begun to build supports for myself outside of our relationship. That, too, is important. Your partner(s) can and should listen to you when you talk about your feelings and experiences, but they can’t be expected to carry all of that weight. Neither should you!
Write down a list of people close to you who you can talk to, and a list of activities you can do (coloring, writing, running, singing?) or places that you can go to (under your desk, the gym, church, your attic??) to help mediate the anxiety and depression. If you aren’t already in therapy, I’d highly recommend it. Many cities have accessible mental health options (check your local LGBT center for resources!). Explore what works, take notice of what doesn’t. Our lives are spent learning, and this is included – I learn more about my mental health EVERY day.
In my experience, if you are working toward a better understanding of yourself and the tools you need (including medication, there is no shame in medication – it is incredibly wonderful for so many humans!!), your partner(s) will be able to be there with you. They will be patient when you struggle because that is what a partner does. Yes, there may be times when you lean too hard or not enough, and times when they say or do the wrong thing, but that’s true of all relationships – and if you continue to communicate, you’ll learn the best ways to coexist and support each other.
Much love to you! ️ <3
“How can I come to terms with the fact that I can’t do it all?”
-Question submitted by Anonymous
Kate Scelsa Says:
Okay, I am going to give both of us this advice at the same time because I am guessing that you and I have a lot in common. I’m going to go ahead and assume that you are an overachiever who is excited about many things and is overloading your schedule and making lists and giving yourself a really specific timeline for when you want to have reached certain achievements.
It’s like I’m talking to myself already.
I’m a writer, but I also have a podcast with my DJ dad (see, you’re talking to the right multi-tasker here). We recently had the cool task of listening to an old interview that my dad got to do with David Bowie (!) in which Bowie said something that I found to be so helpful. He was talking about how, when he was young, he felt all of this urgency to get as much work out as he could as quickly as possible. And that, as he got older, he realized that life was long. “You realize that you have all the time in the world,” said David Bowie.
David Bowie was right! Not everything has to happen RIGHT NOW. Some things can wait. They’ll still be there if you want to come back to them later. The most important thing is to fully commit yourself to what you’re doing in the moment. Maybe even try to (gasp) enjoy it! If you’re doing one thing, but thinking about getting to another thing, or wondering if you’re missing out on a third, you’re not bringing your full self to the beautiful moment of the thing that you’re actually doing!
A really important part of this is actually honoring the fact that you are a person that has a lot of interests and things that you’re enthusiastic about. That is awesome! Some people don’t want to do ANYTHING! And you want to do ALL THE THINGS! It is a beautiful thing to have enthusiasm, to care about things, and to want to experience life in a lot of different ways.
But (and now I’m going to get a little mystical on you here) everything you do isn’t actually about the things you’re doing at all. It’s about you. It’s about the You that you are bringing to it. The experience that you make of it. WHAT you do is less important than THE YOU that’s doing it.
We live in a world of choice, and this can be overwhelming to ALL of us. And it can be paralyzing. It’s not your job to make The Best Choice—because there is no Best Choice to make. It’s your job to stay curious, and to learn about yourself and what makes you tick and how you can best serve that thing. And, if you’re paying attention and bringing your whole heart to the moment, then you are going to learn something about yourself no matter what you’re doing.
If we honor each thing as it comes, and the people who come into our lives and the opportunities that we are given, we can exist in the kind of flow that will bring us to exactly where we’re supposed to be in each moment, where things can happen that we actually couldn’t have even planned. And I promise you that that’s when life gets really interesting.
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"Why is 'being comfortable with yourself' like the hardest thing ever?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Because the world is set up to make you feel bad so that you buy things to feel better.
You’re fat, buy a gym membership. You have wrinkles, buy this facelift. You’re trans, buy a new body or we won’t agree that’s your real gender.
“Being comfortable with yourself” isn’t actually about how you feel. It’s about how people perceive how you feel. That is very fucked up, but that is why is it so hard. There aren’t very many people putting out magazines, movies, TV shows, and music about how wonderful we are as individuals.
AND – There really isn’t a ton out there that actually allows you to see the world is painted a certain way and set up for the success of only a few, and that things are put in place to make 99% of people feel absolutely awful. You are having trouble feeling comfortable in your skin because you grew up in a world that desperately hopes you feel that way. If you feel uncomfortable you won’t stand up for your rights, you won’t go after your dreams, you won’t question authority, you won’t try. This society is hoping you won’t try. It’s unbelievable.
I think the best way to get out of this rut that we’ve put you in, is to recognize it and adopt the mantra, “fuck those people.” Who are those people YOU ASK?! Those people are all the people that make you feel judged. If you have those people in your life, get em out. If you have friends who make fun of you, who make your emotions feel invalid, fuck those people. If you have family members who only call to make you feel guilty, who blame you for their unhappiness, fuck those people. If you’re shopping in the men’s section and someone is looking at you weird, fuck those people. If you’re talking about minimalism super loud and people in your fave cafe are laughing at you, fuck those people. You don’t want people like that in your life, so don’t let ‘em in.
Spend your time and energy with people who make you feel like being yourself is the only way to be, people who support you, love you, inspire you. Work on things that make you feel great. Work with people that make you feel great. Stop wasting time on people and things that make you feel terrible. You will feel comfortable when you have dedicated yourself to being the happiest and healthiest version of you. You can have your version of the best life, a life where you’re truly comfortable. You just have to do it.
“So I’ve been seeing this girl for about six weeks and I think soon we’re going to get all up on each other, but it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten intimate with someone and I’m really scared I’ll have forgotten what to do or how to communicate during or that I just can’t be sexy anymore. Do you have advice on how to deal with that pre-pants-party anxiety?”
Question Submitted by Anonymous
PRE. PANTS. PARTY. ANXIETY.
Okay, listen. This anxiety has happened to me every time I was about to bang someone new and the amt of time between me sleeping with two people was anywhere from 1 week to a year. I HAVE EVERY SINGLE EXPERIENCE. I’ll have you know it doesn’t actually matter and it’s always scary.
The best bone session I’ve ever had was / is with my current bae and the reason was / is because we talk about EVERYTHING. Every. Single. Thing. I was nervous, I told her. She wanted to try something cool, she told me. I wanted something a certain way, I told her. We wanted do something that was maybe difficult, we talked. That’s how it started and that’s how it continues. If you start out honest, you will always have the best sex.
And maybe it won’t be perfect every single time, but it’ll be so dope when you can just say, “that was cool, I think my favorite part was when you touched my butt a little.” Rather than sit back and just hope they figure it out if you trick them by breathing differently once they get sort of close to what you like… that shit is too difficult to try and keep up with.
It’s also super easy to be the person who starts the honesty. All you gotta say is, “I haven’t had intercourse in 7 months, and I wanna hump you super right, so I’m gonna ask questions to make sure that happens, cool?” And they will be on board. Think about it, anyone on the earth who wants to be humped is gonna be down with their hump partner learning to hump them correctly… you know what i mean?!?!
You can ask them about fantasies, or if they prefer oral or handsy, or if they like toys, or if they want it slow or fast, do they like to jump into humping or would they rather be kissed all over for an hour. Tell them what you’re into. Ask them if they’re into the same things.
Worse case scenario – they think all the sex stuff you wanna do is weird and they’re not open to talking, and they don’t want to try anything. IN WHICH CASE, they are not the right sex person for you, so it’s good that you know that in advance!
“I wanna hump you super right” – Dannielle Owens-Reid, lady killer
I agree with everything up there because talking about what you like is always helpful, but I also want to add one important thing:
Fumbling is always, always okay. As in, mayyybe you told yourself you were going to follow Dannielle’s advice but then you panicked at the last moment and didn’t say what you wanted and just dove right in and then shit was so sexy until her pants got stuck around her ankles and while you were trying to tug them off you hit her head on the wall and then her cat started puking in the other room. MAYBE SOMETHING LIKE THAT HAPPENED. You know? You know.
What I mean to tell you is that your first sexytime is probably going to be the BEST, but even if it isn’t the best… that is okay. Sex can sometimes just be hilarious and ridiculous as your figure each other out (and honestly even way after you figure each other out). Laughing and being open to fumbles of all shapes and sizes makes any sexy experience so much more real, and so much more awesome.
Remember that you aren’t after a movie-scene. You are after connecting with someone and trying to make them feel good while you also feel good, and laughing and talking and fumbling are all part of that experience. Plus, now every time her cat pukes you’ll look at each other with heart eyes and be like ‘awwwww remember the first time…’
You’ve. Got. This.