My love letter to 2018

*DISCLAIMER* I actually wrote an entirely different “love letter” to 2018 before I wrote this one. In my old one, I focused on things like overcoming heartbreak, figuring out who I was, and a few other things. Then a few days later (today, 12/31, I went to publish it, and I stopped myself. I suddenly felt very differently about how I wanted to remember 2018. So what you’re about to read (if you’re interested!) is what a recap of what I did, what I learned, and what I want for myself in 2019. My wish for you, reader, is that you’re able to resonate with just one tiny thing that I write about. And if you don’t, that’s ok! My wish is that you take 2019 by the balls and make it yours. We got this.



If you’ve been following me for a while, then it’s possible that you read the letter that I wrote last New Years – my love letter to 2017. When I wrote it, I was super fresh off of a hard breakup, and I was feeling scared and vulnerable, but also excited. There was so much my heart was confused over, and yet, the thought of what a new year could bring – what could bring – that’s what left me buzzing with hope.

2018 was such a year. So it’s only right that it gets a love letter of it’s own, no?

Dear 2018,

To understand what motivated me for you, we need to rewind a little bit. In August of 2017, my family suffered a massive loss from the death of my Uncle Scott. This man was incredible. Was he perfect? Nope. But he was loving. He was kind. He was someone who gave back, not just with money but with time. He was someone who asked how your day was going and genuinely wanted to know, whether you were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or the valet guy at the restaurant. At his funeral, there were literally over a thousand people that showed up – that’s the first thing that struck me as incredible, because it was overwhelming how many people wanted to be there to pay their respects. But what stuck with me most was what someone said during his eulogy. That my Uncle Scott was the kind of guy who played offense – never defense. He worked incredibly hard, but he also played incredibly hard. He lived a full life and made more memories in his 40 something years than most people make in 80.

I walked away from that vowing that I would do the same. I think about him almost every day, and remind myself that life is short and that I want to take as many opportunities as I can to experience it all. So that’s what I did in 2018. I experienced everything I could.

When I wrote my letter last year, I decided that 2018 was going to be my “year of yes”. If something intrigued me, even a little bit, I was going to do it. Which is how I ended up getting so many stamps in my passport! January? Spent a long weekend in Tulum, Mexico. March? Spent a week in the most gorgeous villa I’ve ever seen with my family in Costa Rica. The summer saw a smattering of trips to the beaches in Montauk and Rhode Island. October? Hopped on a plane and split a week between Portugal and Morocco, and celebrated my 26th birthday in Marrakech. HOW did I get so lucky?! I got to zipline through rainforests and jungles, get soaked while white water rafting down rapids, take a mud bath in natural springs, ride a camel in the desert and shop in the souks. And every time I did it, I thought of my uncle and smiled a little bit, because I know he’d be proud that I was going on all of these adventures.

Not to bury the lead, but my favorite part in my “year of yes”? Completing the NYC marathon. It didn’t require a stamp in my passport – just a ticket on the Staten Island ferry. But it was, by far, one of the proudest moments I’ve had in my life. Did I run every step? HELL NO. But I moved throughout every inch of those 26.2 miles, across Staten Island and Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx and finally, Manhattan. And it hurt and I was tired and I cried when I crossed the finish like. But I did it. I crossed the finish line. And I’m already looking forward to doing it again in November.

But when playing hard, one must also be working hard, which is why I made a career change in March of this year. After almost 3 years at XO Group, I moved on by taking a leap of faith at a small start up company in  the digital marketing space. Within two months, I was given the opportunity to start managing someone under me, and a few months after that, I was also given the opportunity to lead in cultivating our agency’s relationships with major national and international publishers. I’m working harder than I ever have before in my career. I come in on weekends, I answer calls and emails on major national holidays, I frequently stay far later than what’s expected. But I know that the work I’m putting in now will not only pay off down the road, but helps me to build the kind of reputation in my industry and with my clients that I’m proud to have. I can now confidently say that I’m an extremely hard worker, that I’m proud of the work I put out there and that I’m growing and improving every single day.

For the last 6 months or so, I’ve put my blog on the back burner. I have grossly neglected it, hardly posting new blog posts or Instagram photos. I’ve been so focused on actually living life, that I’ve forgotten to post about it. For a while, I felt guilty and burdened by that. It bothered me that I started something and wasn’t giving it the attention it needed to flourish. It bothered me that my follower count wasn’t growing, or that I wasn’t getting as many brands wanting to collaborate with me. But I recently reminded myself of why I started this blog in the first place. I started it because I wanted to have a place to express my thoughts and feelings, to get things off my chest, to have a healthy, cathartic, creative outlet. And that’s what this still is. I know that I have this place where I can come and vent and share experiences, whether they’re sad or exhilarating, and that it’s mine. I know I’ll come back to it with more heart at some point, but it’s not something I want to force.

In 2019, I want to grow. I hope that one year from now, I’m writing about how I’ve grown as a person. How I’ve become more humble, more patient, more understanding. I hope that I’ll become better at apologizing first. I hope that I’ll learn more about how to treat my body better – not necessarily to lose weight, but to have better overall health, physically and mentally. I hope I’ll continue to become a better friend, sister and daughter. I hope I’m sitting here, one year from now, proud of who I am.

xoxo,

AJ

Advertisements

Tips for Digital Dating

Hey what’s up helloooo friends!

If you’ve been following me for a while (bless your heart, you’ve seen my crazy and you’re still here, LOVE YOU MEAN IT), then you know I’ve had more than my fair share of dating disasters. From gross/WAY over the line Bumble messages, to guys ghosting, to getting dumped after getting intimate, I’ve experienced it all. Don’t recall? See here and here for past posts on it (I HAVE RECEIPTS, FRIENDS).The start of 2018 was a real bitch for my dating life, I’ll tell you that much. There is comfort, though, in knowing that I’m not alone. Not that I want any of you lovelies to be miserable and crying into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s by yourself (what no that never happened to me…). It’s just that I know it can sometimes feel like you’re always playing defense when it comes to dating, and I think it’s time that we start learning some O-line plays, ya feel me?

I’ve thrown together some quick tips + tricks that I, along with some of you who submitted these to me, have found to be successful. May the odds be ever in your favor, babe.

UNILAD-netflix-and-chill-28

PS: Netflix & Chill IS NOT A GOOD FIRST DATE. Don’t fall into the trap.

  1. “Hey handsome”. I can’t give you the scientific reason behind why this works, other than that men love to be flattered. I mean, I don’t hate being called beautiful, so I imagine that it works both ways, right? This seems so dumb and simple, but hear me out. I met an ex on Bumble and in his profile it said something along the lines of, “don’t just say hey, I won’t respond”. So I spiced it up and did the LEAST I possibly could. Clearly it worked, because we dated for a year. You’re welcome.
  2. “Hey! So you’re really cute and tbh I wish I could think of something clever to make me stand out but I’m drawing blanks sooo hi haha.” – Again, I have no idea why this works but it does. I used to mass message this to guys and the response rate was through the roof. I told my friends about it and it worked for them too – try it out and tell me how it goes!
  3. STOP PUTTING SO MANY PICTURES WITH YOUR FRIENDS UP. I cannot stress this enough. At one point I was actually self conscious of my profile because it was only pictures of me and it seemed like all my girlfriends had pictures of them with friends up there. Did I seem friendless? Or did I seem like a narcissist? I threw my phone up to countless guy friends to have them look it over and they all said the same thing – it’s better when it’s just you. There’s nothing fun for a guy having to play a guessing game of which girl you actually are. And what if they match with you because they like a girl that’s not actually you?? Avoid the confusion.
  4. When it Comes to Your Profile, Be Honest. There’s nothing worse when it comes to dating than when you show up for a date and the guy looks absolutely nothing like he does on his profile. It’s actually the reason why I show up early to every first date, because I’m worried I won’t recognize the person and how awkward is that? Obv you should put up pictures of yourself that look cute and show you off in a positive light, but going overboard is unnecessary. Keep it light with the photoshops/filters, and be honest in your bio. Do you know how many times I had 
    guys freak out on dates because I told them I don’t enjoy drinking alcohol? Too many (I’m embarrassed for them). So I legit started including it in my profile so automatically weed out any potential alcoholics coming down the pipeline.

    IMG_5999

    Throwback to when my mom FINALLY understood what a meme was and then used that as an opportunity to roast me for Bumble catfishers

  5. It’s a Numbers Game. I live by the motto of, “swipe now, decide later”. If I’m unsure on if I think a guy is someone I’d for sure want to go out with, I swipe right anyway. There’s 3 things that can happen after that. 1) He doesn’t swipe you back, so this whole thing is moot anyways. 2) He swipes you back and you decide you don’t like him. Big deal, you just don’t message him. 3) He swipes you back and you DO like him and you guys message and go out. I feel like some of my friends are SO picky and it’s like uhmm sorry but Chris Hemsworth isn’t on Bumble so who exactly are you looking for???
  6. There are Apps Aside from Bumble. Ok yeah so I know Tinder still exists but like, it shouldn’t. It was fun in college when this was all brand new but now I feel like it’s just filled with the creepy leftovers who don’t get responded to on Bumble and it just gets weird. Idk, not for me. I do, however, like Hinge. A lot. I don’t love that the free version only gives you a few swipes per day, so I actually paid the $7 a month or whatever for unlimited swipes and I found that it was worth it. There’s more info on there, you can filter your potential matches by things like whether or not they smoke, if they want kids, their height, how often they drink, whatever. It seems like you’d find someone a bit more compatible that way. I’ve also tried out The League. I didn’t love it. Again, you only get like, 3-5 potential matches per day, and if you pay, it’s something like $30-$40 a month. And I’ve found that the guys on there tend to be cocky and full of themselves. I can find those guys just by walking down Wall Street or hitting up the Surf Lodge, I don’t need an app to help me with that. Pass.
  7. Actually Go Out On Dates. I’m not sure why this is such a foreign concept, but chances are that if you’re on a dating app, one would assume you actually want to go out on dates. I’m not looking for a pen pal here my guy, so tell me when we’re meeting up, or you’ll find yourself unmatched. Even if you go and don’t have the *best time ever*, it’s still a good way to throw some grease on the wheels and brush up on your dating skills.
  8. Have an Escape Route. I can count on ONE HAND the number of first dates I’ve been on where I didn’t have an escape route. What do I mean by this? I started 95% of my dates with, “I have XYZ to do in an hour and a half so I just need to make sure I pay attention to the clock”. Why is this so important? Have you ever been stuck on a first date that you hated and there was NO END IN SIGHT? Well I have, and it was UGLY. After that, I made sure to have an escape plan. And if it turned out things were going well, then guess what? Omg my plans were magically cancelled! Amazing!

 

It’s a tough world out there ladies, but I’m confident we can handle this. Do you have any tips/tricks for digital dating? Send them my way! xo, AJ

Privacy as a Blogger

I’m almost embarrassed as I’m writing this, because calling myself a blogger can sound lame sometimes. To be clear, I’m not embarrassed that I blog – I LOVE it, and I started this whole thing as a way to express myself in a creative way, and because it was cathartic for me to write out my thoughts and feelings. My friend calls refers to it as downloading my feelings, which I love! The part that makes me uncomfortable is that I’m nowhere near being a famous blogger (which I’m totally ok with and I own it!), and I think that sometimes it can come across as obnoxious when I talk about blogging, because I don’t want to make myself sound like I think I’m super cool. Does that even make sense? Anyways, I’m working on it.

When it comes to sharing my blog with people I know personally, I have mixed feelings about it. I’m very transparent with what I share on here, and rarely hold back on details when I’m sharing a personal story with you. I don’t typically hide the fact that I’m a blogger – my family and friends know, and I share my favorite posts on my personal Facebook and Snapchat so that people I know can read them. I do keep my Instagram accounts separate, but that’s mostly because I like posting pictures with my family and friends, and not all of them are comfortable with those photos being shared with the entire world. The way I see it, the people who care about me won’t judge me for what I write because I stay true to who I am as a person through my posts, so nothing really surprises them. And as for the people who I’m not close with? Well, I don’t really care what they think, so it doesn’t bother me if they judge what I’m writing about. Actually, one of the nicest things ever is when people I know from high school but weren’t really close with reach out unexpectedly to let me know that they read my blog and that they love the content. It makes me SO happy!

There is, however, a gray area.

Last week, my personal nightmare finally happened. Like I said, I don’t typically care about people I know seeing what’s on here, although I do try to censor things on occasion (my grandma reads this, after all!). Not to sound like a basic bitch, but my mom happens to think I’m pretty great and tells anybody who will listen how great she thinks my blog is and how they should all follow me, so I’m used to having people at the hair salon we go to commenting on a post from a few weeks ago, or for her friends to follow @TheLaughingBlonde on Instagram. What I was not prepared for was for someone who I’d only been on a couple dates with to find my blog.

Yes, you read that correctly. TBH, he’s probably reading this right now and I’m sure I’ll get a text about how I’m finally writing about him, since he was apparently looking forward to that. We’d just gone out on our second date the night before, and I’d texted to ask if he wanted to do something later that week. He said something really odd, along the lines of, “I don’t want you to expect to be my girlfriend in four dates, no matter how badly I want to get into your Lulu Lemons.” I was super confused and told him I wasn’t following. And about 20 seconds later, my heart practically stopped, because he texted back, “Sorry – blog references”. I. WANTED. TO. DIE. On the spot. Just die. No questions asked. Because I immediately knew what he was referring to – it was my latest post on why dating in NYC was the worst, and a step-by-step recount of me basically ripping apart a guy that had just ended things with me. Not exactly the thing you want the cute guy who you like but have only hung out with twice to find. NOPE.

img_5201

Literally me when I saw that text

Luckily, he was really cool about it. He thought it was funny, more than anything else. I’m not entirely convinced that he doesn’t think I’m somewhat of a psycho, but we did go out again after he found this, so there’s hope still. I’m still not sure how he found it to begin with and knew it was mine, but I’m also really impressed bc clearly he’s as talented of an internet stalker (and I mean that in the best way) as I am. As you know, I pride myself in being borderline FBI-level, and this impressed me.

Even though I’ve had The Laughing Blonde for over a year now, I still haven’t totally figured out how to completely own it and be proud of it 100% of the time, if I’m being honest. Sometimes I do get embarrassed when one of my friends proudly refers to me as The Laughing Blonde or my mom posts a cute picture of the two of us with the caption, “Brunching in NY with the infamous blogger The Laughing Blonde”. And that’s so silly, because this is something that I care about and that I work hard on – why shouldn’t I be proud of it? Something I’m going to really focus on this year is owning who I am instead of shying away from it. I feel like that’s the only way I can continue to grow the blog and put out content that people can actually benefit from. And I want to make sure that I’m creating content that you love!

So that said, I need to know what you love and what you don’t love. What you want to see more of and what you want to see less of. Do you like hearing about Whole 30 recipes I’m loving, or do you want to hear more about bad dating stories? Let me know – send me an email, post a comment, or slide into my DMs – I’m all ears!

xo, AJ

Anti-Valentine’s Day

Hi friends! Happy Valentine’s Day! Or if you’re single like me, Happy Feb 14th AKA Day-Before-All-Chocolate-Goes-On-Sale-At-CVS 🙂 🙂 🙂

If you read my last post on why dating in NYC is the absolute worst… THANK YOU! I was so overwhelmed by the amount of people who read/commented/shared/messaged me about it – it was my highest-read post since I started The Laughing Blonde ❤ As it turns out (thought not at all shocking), it’s not just guys in NYC that suck – it’s a world-wide epidemic. I had so many comments from my readers telling me about their crazy stories, and I thought you all deserved to get a laugh in today so with their permission, I’m sharing some of my favorites below. Aside from a good laugh and a few eye rolls, my main reason for posting all of this is for everyone who’s reading to understand that it’s not just you. I used to think that if I was prettier, or slimmer or worked in a different industry that all of my dating issues would disappear and men would be falling over left and right to date me. The women who messaged me are all completely different shapes/sizes/colors who come from different backgrounds and have different careers and as it turns out, none of that matters. Dating is hard, but it has nothing to do with anything about you! So don’t let it dull your sparkle – try and hold out hope for the random unicorn guy who comes in and is ready to love you the way you deserve.

In the meantime, let’s all commiserate with a few of the poor women who’ve suffered through some of these nightmares..


The One Where The Guys Had Similar Tastes

“I was hanging out with one of my Bumble victims on his couch watching TV, and headlights appeared in the driveway. He casually says, “My roommate is about to bring a random girl home, so I apologize.” I had met his roommate previously, and I thought he was very attractive. Tall, blonde, tattoos. What’s a girl not to like? I was sure he could get any girl in the bar he wanted, so I was curious who was about to walk through that door.

Minutes later, the roommate and this girl walk into the house, and I could not believe my eyes. I KNEW HIS ROOMMATE’S DATE FROM WORK! We both looked at each other started laughing and hugged. The guys just looked at each other and were so confused. Their faces were completely priceless. The girl and I just started laughing, hugged each other, and started chatting. The guys were like “What the f**k?” It was definitely the best moment of my Bumble experience.” – Sam, CT

The One With The Cheapskate 

“All my dates have been brutal. But the worst was when the guy made us split the bill when I had a salad and he was downing whiskey and eating a steak. Idiot. His name was Joe. Generic AF.” – Elisabeth, NYC

The One With The Borderline Stalker

“Dating horror story – went on one date with this guy. Had a good time. Enjoyed him quite a bit. After a day or two, he said he wasn’t interested. I got over it but the next week, he comes back around in text messages wanting to get together. I said a polite “thanks but no thanks” since I wasn’t good enough for him the week before. He proceeds to harass me and tell me that I’m missing out on the best thing ever and that I’m the one who pushed him away the week before. So he harassed me on text, Snapchat and Instagram for an entire day telling me that I was in the wrong. Basically he couldn’t handle being turned down EVEN THOUGH HE DID THE SAME FUCKING THING THE WEEK BEFORE. So I had to block him and then worry he was going to come to my house and hurt me. Because being a girl is the worst.” –Alyssa, PA


 

I’m thinking of turning this into a series or something, because I keep getting messages with stories and they’re too good not to share! Have some of your own? Comment them below or email to me! xo, AJ

Here’s Why Dating in NYC is the Actual Worst

Hi friends. I come to you tonight with little rage in my chest. I am seething. And you know why? Because dating in NYC is the fucking worst! And you know why that is? Because MEN are the FUCKING WORST. Follow me, won’t you?

I’ll admit it, I was very, very spoiled in my last relationship. Patrick was a complete and total gentleman when we were first seeing each other, and asked me to be his girlfriend after only 4 dates. You know why? Because he didn’t want to play games. He was worried that if he waited too long, he would miss his shot. THAT, my friend, is a man. Did things work out for us? For a little over a year, they did. We really only broke up because of distance and because we didn’t agree on a few major lifestyle changes that would need to be compromised on. But he certainly respected, valued and cared for me the entire time. And not ONCE did he not text me back. Not. Once.

So it’s almost like I feel bad for the men of New York to have to compete against this, except I don’t feel bad at all because how Patrick acted is how all men should act because that is what I like to call HUMAN DECENCY. Unfortunately, the wonderful (HA) island of Manhattan seems to be seriously lacking in that right now. And you know what? I’m thinking it’s time that I expose them all. I’m here to spill some serious tea. Ready for it?

First up, we have Mike. A 26 year old teacher + coach from NJ that I met on Hinge. Before you judge me, literally every single person I know in this city is on Hinge/The League/ Bumble/ Etc. so BYE. Ok so yes, Mike and I met on Hinge and even though he lives 30 minutes away in Jersey, he offered to come to my neighborhood to go out to dinner. I didn’t really care one way or the other about it, but he was cute and I’m always down for a free meal, so I went. And I was so happy I did! He was even cuter in person, he held my hand when we left the restaurant, and he kissed me goodnight – it gave me butterflies! Over the next two weeks, Mike came to see me 3 more times. Sure, he wasn’t a great texter, but driving an hour roundtrip to see me four times in 12 days has to count for something, right? Especially when I wasn’t sleeping with him. We went out to dinner, went out to an arcade-type bar, went bowling, etc. He even agreed to watch The Bachelor with me every Monday. Did he make attempts to get into my LuLu Lemons? Of course he did. But I said that I don’t do that unless I’m exclusive with someone. So Mike tells me he’s not talking to any other girls. Music to my ears ladies. For our fifth date, I drove out to see him. We watched a movie, watched The Bachelor and yup – we hooked up. It just felt right! Wanna know what happened after that? I’m guessing you already know, because Mike is a man and as I’ve mentioned, men are the WORST. *SPOILER ALERT* Mike ignored me for two days. Ugh, such a cliche. So I called him out on it. Told him it was super uncool to do that. And to his credit, he responded. And tried to be ~nice~ about it. You know what’s not nice though? Saying 5 dates in that you’re not looking for anything long term. That you’ve felt that way since before you even met me. Here, for your viewing pleasure, are two screenshots of an actual conversation between Mike and I today. I SHIT YOU NOT, KIDS.

img_5120

img_5119

He’s right about one thing, I can certainly do a lot better than him. You know, it’s funny. I was having this conversation with him and crying my eyes out because I was feeling emotional and stupid and second-guessing everything that had happened between us so I called my mom to vent. And she’s the one who encouraged me to write this post and put this guy on blast. She called it “Taylor Swifting” him. Mom, you are the fucking BEST.

Also, here are two actual Bumble messages I received today. It turns out it’s not just Mike who sucks super hard. It’s men as a species. Ladies, remember that the next time you’re feeling like you’re not good enough. It’s truly the men who are so wildly unworthy.

 

img_5116-1

Ok Josh, what part about the section in my bio that explicity says “If you really wanna impress me, try holding a conversation without sneaking in any sexual innuendos. 9/10 guys on here can’t” makes you think I’d be down for this? UGH.

And then we have James, who honestly sounds like he needs counseling, not Bumble. James, I’m rooting for you, bud.

img_5117-1

Anways, there’s so much more where this came from, but I’ll save it for a rainy day. I feel like a Kardashian right now, with all my receipts. Whatevs. I’m off to take a bubble bath and eat a carton of Coconut Bliss because I’M STILL ON FREAKING WHOLE30 AND CAN’T EVEN PROPERLY FEEL SORRY FOR MYSELF AND CRY INTO A PINT OF BEN AND JERRYS.