More

What I learned about emotional baggage on my most recent first date.

What if our 'perfect' online dating profiles are hurting our chances of finding something real?

What I learned about emotional baggage on my most recent first date.

It seemed like Seth and I would be a match made in cyber heaven.

Of course, I determined this based on our skimpy online dating profiles where we both strategically left out pieces of our life stories. Little did I know that Seth would teach me what it means to admit I’m human and come with a lot of baggage, just like the rest of the world.

Like every safe online dater, I made sure we met for our first date at a coffee shop. Nothing too serious to break the world’s most awkward ice. (Seriously, if you’ve never had the privilege of walking into a crowded public place with all eyes on you to meet a stranger, consider yourself blessed.)


First dates are fun. Photo via iStock.

The coffee date went well, measured by a minimal number of painful pauses.

He bought my peppermint mocha, which is always a good sign.

I made the mistake of choosing a coffee shop located especially close to my neighborhood, so of course someone I knew spotted me. A text from my friend came in shortly after I left: "My dad just saw you getting coffee. He said you looked like you were with a boyfriend."

I guess we looked natural enough to move to the second date — that’s good news!

On our second date, we met for dinner.

It’s a bigger leap from the casual coffee meeting. Somehow when forks and knives get invited, it feels like a big deal. But the conversation went smoothly, and we wanted to keep talking, so we moved to the wine bar down the pre-flooded Ellicott City street.

On the walk back to our cars at the end of the night, I decided he didn’t feel like a serial killer, so maybe we should disclose each other’s full names. It felt like a good next step.

Photo via iStock.

We laughed that it took so long to share our names, and then we decided we should try another date sometime.

He texted me a few days later and asked if I wanted to go for a hike.

Pardon the interruption while I tell you that it was January … in Maryland. If it’s not snowing in Maryland in January, then it’s generally cold enough outside that I really would prefer to be hibernating indoors. I contemplated asking if we could postpone this hike for — oh, I don’t know — four months? But I scrapped the idea, thinking I needed to appear adventurous and easygoing.

"Sure! That sounds great! Can’t wait!" I texted back. I mean, at least I didn’t totally lie and say something like, "I LOVE HIKING IN THE BELOW-FREEZING TEMPERATURES!!! ☺"

So we went on the hike, but it didn’t take long for me to lose all the circulation in my hands and feet.

Turns out it’s tough to hide fingers that resemble the dead.

I have an autoimmune disorder called Sjögren’s that affects a lot of my body, but loss of blood is one of the more noticeable symptoms. I guess it was time to fess up. "Yes, I was diagnosed when I was 16, and it makes my life a little more complicated," I said.

And just as soon as we got "SICK" out of the way, he started asking questions about my family. (I should have trusted my gut on the whole hiking idea. Nature brings out the deep!)

So I told him the truth: "My dad just got out of rehab for alcohol addiction, and we’re currently working on rebuilding our family after the years of destruction."

I suddenly wished I’d come down with the flu the hour before I got in the car to go on the hike. I felt like I’d brought one of those person-sized hiking backpacks and strapped it to my back, then started unloading one piece of my crap at a time. At first, I delicately took out each item and tried to space out the unloading into appropriate intervals. Then, at some point in our hike, I decided to dump the whole thing upside down and just put it all out there.

Hello, meet me and my baggage! Photo via iStock.

I wonder if our coffee date or dinner date or hike would have ever happened if I would have added to my online dating profile "I’m human. I have (a lot of) baggage."

But the problem is that we can’t stamp our baggage onto online profiles. Who would honestly swipe right to a profile that reads, "Sick. Addicted. Broken. Can’t wait to meet you!"

We live in a world of filters where we try to build a perfect image of ourselves online by sharing fake versions of our imperfect selves. And especially with online dating, we expect to find someone who’s as perfect as their profile looks. After stalking their polished profile, we meet them in person and then try to hide our disappointment. Because — guess what? — they’re human!

I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this.

Most of us are just trying to find joy in the midst of our pain. We’re learning to love ourselves and love our lives despite all of life’s disappointments (especially the ones that make us want to hibernate for the winter). We’re all beautiful messes, just trying to make the best first impression we can.

Swiping right is a lot easier when someone looks "perfect." Photo via iStock.

But maybe we should go into online dating with lower – human? – expectations.

Maybe we should be looking for the brand of baggage we want to sign up for rather than trying to avoid people with baggage altogether.

Maybe we should remember that "normal" means wearing the scars of past heartbreaks.

And if you’re wondering what happened to me and Seth after that hike in the woods, he did stick around for the next round of dating; he even met all of my closest friends. But let’s just say it wasn’t exactly that match made in cyber heaven.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
True

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

Keep Reading Show less

After years of advocating for racial justice and calling out police brutality and seeing little change in law enforcement and our justice system, some people are rightfully fed up. When complaints are met with inaction, protests are met with inaction, and direct action is met with inaction, maybe it's time to get specific in who needs to be held accountable for issues in law enforcement.

That's exactly what Keiajah (KJ) Brooks did at a Board of Police Commissioners meeting in her hometown of Kansas City this week. The 20-year-old used her approximately four minutes with the microphone—and with the commissioners' undivided attention—to unequivocally lay out her position to each and every one of the officials in that room.

"Fair warning, I'm not nice and I don't seek to be respectable," she began. "I'm not asking y'all for anything because y'all can't and won't be both my savior and my oppressor. I don't want reform. I want to turn this building into luxury low-cost housing. These would make some really nice apartments."

"Firstly, stop using Black children as photo opportunities, 'cause they're cute now, but in 10 years, they're Black male suspects in red shirts and khaki shorts," she said. "Eating cookies and drinking milk with children does not absolve you of your complicity in their oppression and denigration..." she added, before looking directly at the police chief and pointedly calling him out by name, "...Rick Smith."

Keep Reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Claudia Romo Edelman
True

When the novel coronavirus hit the United States, life as we knew it quickly changed. As many people holed up in their homes, some essential workers had to make the impossible choice of going to work or quitting their jobs— a choice they continue to make each day.

Because over 80 percent of working Hispanic adults provide essential services for the U.S. economy, the Hispanic community is disproportionately affected. Hispanic families are also much more likely to live in multigenerational households, carrying the extra risk of infecting the most vulnerable. In fact, Hispanics are 20 times more likely than other patients to test positive for COVID-19.

Claudia Romo Edelman saw a community in desperate need of guidance and support. And she created Hispanic Star, a non-profit designed to help Hispanic people in the U.S. pull together as a proud, unified group and overcome barriers — the most pressing of which is the effects of the pandemic.

Because the Hispanic community is so diverse, unification is, and was, an enormous challenge.

Photo credit: Hispanic Star

Keep Reading Show less

Electing Donald Trump to be president of the United States set an incredibly ugly example for the nation's youth.

We know how it's affected the national discourse of regular adults. But there's no denying the conduct of a president impacts how children around the world see the example being set for them. Every day for the past four years, children have been subjected to the behavior of a divisive figure that many of their parents chose to exalt to the most powerful office in the world.

Sure, adults can make excuses for him saying he's an "imperfect messenger" or that they "didn't vote for him to be reverend," but these are all just ways to rationalize voting for a man with zero character. What a message to send to children: Act awful and you'll be handsomely rewarded.

But what if you took away the "Trump" name and examined the character traits of him as an ordinary person? More specifically, what if your daughter came to you and said this was the kind of person she was planning to date? Well, one MAGA family found out and the results are funny, insightful and quite revealing about how we somehow hold our leaders to different and lower standards than we expect from ourselves in our day to day lives.

Keep Reading Show less

Stillbirth after the 20-week mark happens to approximately one in 100 pregnancies. Approximately 24,000 babies are born stillbirth each year. And while stillbirths are rare, the experience can be emotionally painful for those who have to go through it.

Last month, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend lost their third child, Jack, at 20 weeks. Teigen suffered a partial placenta abruption, a rare diagnosis in which the placenta and the lining of the uterus separate. It prevents the fetus from receiving oxygen and nutrients and causes bleeding in the mother. Now, Teigen is opening up about her experiences with the loss in a heart wrenching Medium essay.


Keep Reading Show less