­

WhyDid Wisdom: Overshare and Tell

By |October 15th, 2016|WhyDid Wisdom|

whydid-kirsten-smith-blog

“Ugh, Kirsten, shut the f*ck up!” I mutter to myself for the four hundred billionth time in my life.  Yet again, I have surprised myself with something that has passed between my lips- an internal musing that was never meant for public consumption has now taken its place right at center stage of conversation.   There are times I wish I could capture my own surprise, which no doubt, mirrors that of my listeners.  It’s really a wonder I didn’t go into PR as I have spent countless hours cleaning up my own messes.  Even BP would be impressed with my ability to casually diffuse an incredibly awkward situation.  Extra details from bad dates, physical ailments none would ever admit to, feelings most prefer to keep at bay.  When it comes to personal plight, my ability to keep quiet is reminiscent of the beating heart in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.   If backpedaling was a sport, I’d qualify for the Olympics.  But alas, I live by the mantra, “Mean what you say.  Say what you mean,” and for better or worse, one must own his words.

Like most people’s best qualities, my openness, and frankness, is also one of my worst.  I have no problem putting it out there– from my outfits to my emotions– and while some find that refreshing, others find it revolting.  To know me well is to know that nothing I say (for the most part) is out of malice.  I love hard and feel deeply.   Unfortunately, I keep a fairly close circle, so my average audience is likely to be experiencing this word vomit for the first time.  Hi, it’s nice to meet you, I snore when I sleep.

In many cultures, people share meals in order to relate to one another.  Other cultures wash and braid each other’s hair.  For me, telling stories, and sharing my own woes is the way in which I bond with others.  I see it as a way to say, “See, I have those scars too.” “I’m afraid of the same things.”  “Look how bad I messed up.”  “We’re all human, welcome to the sh*t show that we call life.”  And indirectly, it is probably a way for me to look to others and ask if what I’ve been through is “okay” too.

Throughout history from the Bible to Greek mythology all the way back to ancient hieroglyphics (the original emojis), storytelling has been an important way for history to be remembered, lessons to be taught, and used as a portal for people to connect to their roots.  And while it is a truly beautiful thing to be able to share pieces of yourself with others when they may need it, Hemingway said it best, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” there is such a thing as oversharing.  You can also be too rich and too thin.

In school, we are taught from an early age that sharing is the right thing to do.  Tommy can have all of our blocks if he’d like them.  Don’t be so selfish.  But when does sharing your stories out of genuine generosity and encouragement of enlightenment become uncomfortable oversharing and an introduction to indecision?

The problem with oversharing is two fold- beyond the obvious potential of offending the general population.  First, people begin to feel comfortable weighing in on your problems, solicited or not.  I’ve found myself frustrated, foiled, and sometimes even angry when I’m telling a story and others begin to pipe in with what I should do or where I made my biggest blunder.  I’m very self aware and already know the catastrophic state of my mistakes, but when you’ve made a habit of inviting everyone in to watch things unfold on the main stage, and unless your name is Kanye you can’t kick them out mid performance.  Take a bow, my, friend,  this is a little something people like to call “boundaries” and while we don’t want to build a wall in Mexico, we do need personal boundaries.

Next, you forget how to make your own decisions and/or you get lazy.  When you stop sharing out of acquired wisdom and instead share in order to gain acceptance, you begin to lose track of yourself and rely too heavily on others’ opinions.  This, again, opens you up to a public forum for your problems and while most are weighing in with hopes to help, more likely than not, despite the best of intentions, they’re bringing their own experiences into the mix and this can be a catalyst for confusion.  I’ve said it before, no one knows what the f*ck he is doing and one would hope we’re all doing the best we can.  No one is an actual expert on anything– except math.  You might be an expert in arithmetic. Much like a muscle can atrophy, when your intuition isn’t used, it becomes weak and all of a sudden you can’t distinguish your gut feelings from your inclination to react from past experiences, yours or otherwise.  It’s like a ship lost at sea with no land in sight.  You can no longer make your own judgement calls without weighing in first.

But stories are important and they will always be a noble way for humans to relate to one another.  There are times when I’ve been caught by a passage in a book I’m reading and finally feel understood.  Articles written by people who have conquered some of my same quandries have given me hope.  And let’s not forget that music is one of the greatest ways to tell a story.  There’s a reason there are so many songs about heartbreak and we all know I love a good cry in the shower (or at least now you do).  It is important to be open to others and to find ways wherein we can relate to everyone from the Queen of England to the man who hosed down the sidewalk this morning.  The key comes in finding the balance and distinguishing what you are sharing and your reasons for sharing it.  It is a matter of telling your story without asking for approval.  Jesus certainly wasn’t asking his disciples whether or not he should confront the Pharisees.  Sure, every day is a new chapter and you have the option to rewrite your ending in any way you choose, but masterpieces are printed in ink, not etched in pencil.  Your story is your own and you can share it whenever and with whomever you choose. Just remember, there will always be critics, ask the New York Times, and know that not everything is always a best seller.

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something– a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things– which you had thought special and particular to you.  Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead.  And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”

Alan Bennett

 

 

WhyDid Wisdom: I Know What Boys Like

By |September 16th, 2014|Somethin for the fellas, Why Did You Date Him?, WhyDid Wisdom|

man filling out pollI have always tried to emphasize to my readers- because I know most of them are female and some of them are quite young- that taking pride in one’s appearance is certainly an extension of self worth, however, banking only on good looks is a serious gamble (hence, why I created Smart Is the New Pretty).  In tandem with primping and priming our exteriors we should also be grooming our interiors.  A shiny car is great until you slip inside only to find it full of garbage and leftover McDonald’s wrappers that even a Febreeze ad couldn’t cover up.  Sure, we’re careful about what we’re feeding our bodies (as we should be), but also being conscious of what we’re feeding our minds is what makes us complete packages.

I live in a city full of 400,000 more beautiful women than there are men.  Most people see only see Maybelline and Victoria’s Secret commercials on their television screens.  I’ve seen them in the flesh on more than one occasion, especially around February and September.  And even if you don’t live in a real time perfume ad, women all over the globe are constantly being bombarded by sexy sirens on TV, in magazines, and now even our Instagram feeds.  (Uh, belfies anyone?)  Here’s the thing: the women who stand out are the ones who can stand on their own.

Most of us still subscribe to women’s magazines or at the very least, “like” them on Facebook so as to have stories about losing those pesky extra five pounds, tips to make your man hot, and how to be basically perfect streaming into our lives on a regular basis.  Taking cues from Cosmo and other women who don’t know what men want any more than the rest of us seems like a case of the blind leading the blind.  I could tell you multiple tales of what not to do, but I decided to go straight to the source.  I asked actual men what they thought about certain things we wear and the qualities they find most desirable in women and the answers were pleasantly surprising.  Though they wouldn’t shock Susan Patton.

male modelsWhile this “study” couldn’t even come close to being considered “scientific” (although one of the classes I easily aced in college was chemistry), it does give a little insight into the male brain, which while complex is much more straightforward than our own female version.  To be perfectly transparent, my sampling really wasn’t that random.  It was a slightly homogenous mix made mostly of the men my friends and single ladies I know would like to date and probably pine over between sips of pinot on lonely Thursday nights.  They are the guys who would delight your parents should you show up to Thanksgiving dinner with one of them rather than that terrible ex of yours from college who only wore fleece vests and pleated chinos.  You know, the one who gave your younger brother an unsolicited course in the birds and bees after insulting your mother’s candied yams.  My pool of respondents are educated, successful, and worldly- not to mention handsome.  I suppose I also could have asked guys who frequent nightclubs because I know those guys too, but I don’t have their email addresses.  I can’t even be sure they have email or know what email is.  In any case, I compiled a questionnaire consisting of ten questions that can only begin to scratch the surface of what makes men tick.

When asked about their favorite outfit on a woman…

As I’ve often said, “Keep it simple, stupid,” or K.I.S.S.  This holds true for business and personal matters as well as your wardrobe.  Though answers to this question garnered some pretty scattered results including fitted jumpsuits, lace, sneakers with skirts, maxi dresses, and rompers (which were, ironically, listed as something we should stop wearing- but we’ll get to that), the answer that kept popping up included a variation of white tank/tee and jeans/jean shorts (here is an example of keeping it simple).  So, basically, your drop crotch Hammer pants and ruffled crop top are best left to be worn on a night out with the girls because your beau either did not notice, does not care, and as one of my respondents replied, is turned off by your wearing of labels.  Two other honorable mentions were the cult favorite, yoga pants, and his old t-shirt with a pair of boyshorts.

blue jeans white shirtAnd what we should stop wearing…

Animal print may be a continuing trend for fall, but don’t expect a man to fall for you when draped in pelts.  Sadly, many of the answers to this question happen to be some of our, as women, favorite trends.  As a matter of fact, many of the answers dealt with men’s distaste for women following fashion trends too closely.  The “arm parties” (can we stop calling them that yet?) that we so love are driving men crazy and not in a good way.  All of the clanking is not only creating an imbalance in arm strength for you, but also distracting and annoying him.  Wearing things that don’t fit your body (I have rephrased the answer much more eloquently than its initial iteration) and showing too much skin, namely cleavage are surefire ways to end a date early.  And that bit of underwear showing?  They hate that too but, don’t think that high waisted anything is going to be the cure all.  Last but not least, they may love you in jeans, but definitely not boyfriend jeans.

leopard-coatSo, who do they consider to be style icons?

Sorry, Miley Cyrus, men seem to be immune to your raunchy high cut leotards (not to mention antics) and Katy Perry’s cupcake cleavage seems to be lost on the male species.  As a matter of fact, one of the only young A-listers to be mentioned was Taylor Swift.  It would appear that most men who answered tend to favor classic (and covered up) beauties like Sophia Loren and Grace Kelly.  Other responses included Jackie Kennedy O’Nassis, Audrey Hepburn, Charlize Theron, Olivia Palermo, and the great Kate Moss.

audrey hepburn sophia loren grace kellyAnd regarding makeup: Done up or au naturale?

Save yourself some time and trouble when getting ready by paring back on the effort spent spackling your face in the bathroom mirror.  Though a few of the respondents preferred completely natural, most preferred makeup that looked natural, emphasizing your God given beauty, but not masking it with thick foundation and crazy eye colors.

Do they notice and/or care about our manicures and pedicures?  What about that leg stubble?

Sadly, and I can speak from experience, men do pay attention to details when it comes to our fingers, toes, and the limbs in between.  One respondent summed it quite well with, “It is the overall impression of being ‘together’ not any one particular aspect.”  Others said they notice, but would never comment on chipped nails or an unsavory shade choice.  As for unshaven legs, they were a bit more vocal.  Having a bit of blonde fuzz on or around your knees wasn’t a big deal so long as it didn’t imply that other regions may be overgrown as well.

whydid manicureWhat makes a woman attractive?

The beauty industry is $400 billion dollar industry globally.  We spend hundreds of dollars a month on creams that will rid of us wrinkles, painful procedures to banish unwanted hair, and makeup that guarantees to cover up any minor imperfection.  But what is it that really makes a woman attractive? Turns out, it’s not solely long lashes, flawless skin, or toned thighs.  What do men find most attractive in a woman?  Sorry beauty industry, but it’s brains.  From having a job and her own interests to a strong yoga practice and spirituality, it seems men are more interested in women who have their heads on straight.  Men find women who are interesting attractive.

On what makes a woman interesting…

Much like what makes a woman attractive, the most succinct answer was, “Her brain,” and that response was echoed and elaborated on time and time again.  Having a positive attitude, a sly smile, the ability to hold a decent conversation with well thought out opinions, and confidence were just a few.  A woman who has traveled on her own, can navigate a city solo, possesses her own style, and has something to add to a conversation or is able to teach others also makes her swoon worthy.  Having a little bit of “fire” doesn’t hurt either.

And what makes for a total dealbreaker…

We all have our dealbreakers when it comes to dating and mating.  These are the quirks that can’t casually be overlooked and just deemed cute.  While mine include things like lacking self awareness and wearing sports jerseys, men had some very specific responses to this one.  Interestingly, as one respondent pointed out, “Each [sic] woman is unique.  Something that is awesome about girl A could be a huge turn off for girl B.”  So, while one man’s dealbreaker may be another man’s aphrodisiac, here are some of the more interesting answers and it’s probably best to just bullet point these:

  • Drugs
  • Flirting extraneously
  • Wearing labels
  • Saying “like” too much
  • Seeing her read a celebrity mag
  • If she’s a bad kisser
  • Inability to manage money
  • Not having command of they’re/ their/ there and you’re/ your
  • Lack of common sense
  • Being outspoken with a low quotient for relevant and interesting content
  • No awareness of current events
  • Using “hahahaha” and “lol” in texts

One thing men wished women knew about them…

This question held some of the most valuable information in my opinion.  One gentleman wanted us to know that men aren’t as tough as we think they are and they stress about work and their need to provide.  Another added that they don’t think nearly as much as we do… about anything.  One pointed out that threats, ultimatums, and games aren’t effective because social media and apps like Tinder have leveled the playing field (Ouch!).  To soften that last blow, one response was, “Real men prefer a woman who values herself enough to be ‘hard to get.'”  Follow that up with, “Women please, as long as you’re being insane in your body desires, please, please, please move towards Misty Copeland and away from models/women who look like prepubescent boys.”  My favorite response came in the form of a video (below) and much like my YouTube experiences of getting sucked into hours of puppies, I watched several more videos by the same man, Mark Gungor (this one was life changing).

And luckily, men do know the difference between leggings and pants…

  • Leggings are just a single piece of fabric. kinda like thick tights. pants have some kind of discernible feature (pockets, zippers, etc)
  • Leggings are incredible for any situation but if we are going out to eat or somewhere special throw a pair of pants on please. Preferably leather pants.
  • I’m probably wrong but:  I feel leggings are tighter and comprised of a stretchy material.  Pants can also be tight, and stretchy, but not as stretchy as leggings.  I also feel like pants have seams and leggings may or may not.

 

xx,

WhyDid

 

Setting the Mood: Any Man of Mine

By |August 12th, 2014|Setting the Mood|

mens fall fashion editorialOn a “date” (and let’s use that term very loosely in this instance) that ended in a sex shop on Sixth Avenue last night, my suitor turned to me over bisteca per due at Morandi and asked, “What’s your type?”  My initial response would have been, “Not you,” but I figured that wouldn’t exactly be conducive to getting through the rest of our meal without utensil related injury.  My actual answer was that I don’t have a type and that’s not a farce.  When I look back on all of my relationships- long term and very short lived- I’m basically an equal opportunity dater.  From Wall Street bankers to musicians, athletes, writers, and tech nerds, I’ve basically run the gamut when it comes to careers and as far as appearances go they’ve been tall, short, dark, light, and everything in between.  Of course there has to be an initial attraction whether it be physical or mental, but the reason my heart melted for each one of them comes from an intangible place.  Even the worst of them (and that’s a tight race) had his wondrous moments and I hold a special place for each of them in my little black heart.  That’s why this week, we are dedicating WhyDid to the men in our lives and all that comes along with them. So, ladies, let’s hear it for the boys.

mens accessories vans jcrew loro piana marwoodLoro Piana Storm System Brushed Cashmere Baseball Hat, Illesteva Square Frame Matte Acetate Sunglasses, Marwood Striped Wool and Cotton Blend Tie, Vans for J. Crew Sk8-Hi Reissue Sneakers

xx,

WhyDid

WhyDid Wisdom: Darlimination

By |June 27th, 2014|WhyDid Wisdom|

The-people-who-wantWe’ve all seen the quote above.  Maybe we’ve even posted it somewhere.  We pass around all these inspirational quotes on social media sites and we like the shit out of them and put the “raise the roof” emojis in the comment section, but how long do those messages actually stick with us?  In a society with fleeting attention spans being diagnosed as ADD, we’re on to the next photo, conversation, or task in the swipe of a finger.  As great as all these digital “good vibes” are, how many of us are actually living them?

As I nearly melted on the roof of Soho House earlier this week with someone who came quite close to self eliminating himself and is still perilously toeing the line, I explained my theory to him.  For a long time I held onto people in my life who probably didn’t want or better yet, deserve to be there.  I thought that made me a good friend or a loyal person.  I was giving it the ol’ college try.  I was expending lots of energy on people and situations that were serving no purpose in my life and adding no extra happiness or value to my existence.  In reality, they were holding me back from becoming the person I want to be and from the things I really want from life.  It’s a sneaky form of self sabotage that I didn’t even realize– because let’s be real– I excel in self sabotage.  I love putting my little hand right on that still lit stove.

When I stepped back and released my death grip on relationships, the good ones survived and the bad ones choked.  By basically doing nothing except removing myself from the situation and seeing the relationships objectively for what they were, I eliminated a lot of unnecessary drama, hurt, and general fuckery from my life.  I felt lighter, I had more time to spend on things I actually needed to be doing, on people who I enjoy my time with, and didn’t really miss the past at all.  It was literally a relationship detox except there were no violent mood swings, hunger pangs, or wheatgrass shots.

The entire process was pretty much effortless, something else in which I excel.  I didn’t have to sit and ponder and sigh and shrug causing unneeded wrinkles and excess stress as to whether that person should stay or go.  They were doing it for me.  They were eliminating themselves from my life by acting like assholes and I didn’t have to lift a finger.  I just sat back calmly and watched it all play out.  It was survival of the fittest for relationships.  Darwinian.  Hence, “Darlimination.”

After commenting on the flecks of rose gold nail polish (Essie Penny Talk) still clinging to portions of my nails, he nodded his head in agreement (a real life “raise the roof” emoji).  I should probably copyright the name (and probably eliminate him for his manicure commentary, but there’s nothing a chocolate covered cinnamon gummy bear can’t cure).

A perfect example of Darlimination is something that happened a couple of weeks ago.  I had sworn off one very toxic and recurring relationship for the 400th time, and a friend of mine who’d I’d been spending a lot of time with had been missing from the scene.  During that time period, I woke up every morning and was happy.  I didn’t have anything really giddy worthy to smile about- no love life to speak of, still not able to make it rain with hundreds on a Tuesday, and an extra five pounds that seems to have signed a ten year lease and invited over some friends.  However, I was happy.  Like smiling at strangers (okay, strangers’ dogs) happy.  There was absolutely nothing that could bring me down, not even an Instagram feed strewn with photos of an ex and his new Snooki lookalike girlfriend.  Nothing.

And then my little Narnia was blown to bits after allowing both of those emotional vampires back into my life.  I didn’t recognize it immediately.  Well, the bad ex-boyfriend, yes.  How many times must I sing that sad song?  I was depressed and drained and didn’t feel like doing much of anything with anyone.  Poor Smitty.  I became aware that I was letting other people’s bad energy, shitty attitudes, and lack of shared goals and values pollute my otherwise very pretty world.  As much as I’d wanted to share my happiness and hoped it would rub off on them, they just wanted to flounder about in misery and that’s not my kind of party.  So after one too many irrational temper tantrums incorrectly directed towards me and another disappearing act by him, I let them go (“hand wave” emoji).

While this all may sound very selfish, anyone who actually knows me, knows that I’m probably too nice.  But we all have our breaking points and when you start to give too much of yourself helping others, you’re not only hurting yourself but hurting them too.  If you offer someone a piece of your world and they don’t take it or treat it like garbage, let them go.  Smitty is the only one allowed to shit on my floor and even he knows better… most of the time.  Not everybody fits into your life and instead of feeling hurt by that, feel thankful you’ve been shown that they don’t.  Now you have more time and more space for the people and things that do fit.  Rip the Band-Aid off and move on.  What is meant to stick will always stick, what doesn’t wasn’t meant for you  and will disappear.  You just have to learn to be okay with that.  If you’re feeling sad and can’t pinpoint the source, do a relationship audit and figure out if you’re clinging to emotionally depletive relationships.

On the flip side, don’t forget that if you want to be in someone else’s life, you need to put in the effort and be the friend, lover, human that deserves to be a part of that person’s life.  Think about what you’d expect because remember, you can just as easily be extricated.

xx,

WhyDid

WhyDid Wisdom: Role Playing

By |May 16th, 2014|Why Did You Date Him?, WhyDid Wisdom|

role playingA true fan of a good prop and almost all excuses for a theme party (except for 80’s and ugly Christmas sweaters- I will not participate, so just don’t ask), I began to think about role playing.  Not only why it is so fun to slip into someone else’s persona even if only for an evening, but where some people fit into our lives and why they ever bothered showing up– especially without RSVP’ing.

My human wrecking ball reared his ugly head again and this go round completely demolished me and basically left me for dead.  An abandoned building with no plans for reconstruction.  Needless to say, it was a very difficult breakup to shake.  One that even after an extended stay in California post Smitty surgery I couldn’t manage to completely cut off.  Either that or I truly am a masochist.

I’d boarded the plane in Monterey late January/pre-birthday after having no contact for nearly two months, until ol’ Wile E. Coyote realized he was blocked and started bombarding my iCloud email with “I miss you” messages and invitations to cover seedy stories with him in Las Vegas.  True romance.  How could I not be hooked?  I kindly declined and upon arrival back in New York, I felt strong and assured that I’d kicked that nasty habit once and for all.  Sixth time’s a charm, right?  But just as all men must be born with one, his radar went off and he was able to track me down and catch me during a moment, wherein I was lonely, cold, and a few too many glasses of wine in.  The instant the door shut behind him the next afternoon, I immediately regretted having given in so easily.  His half assed apologies and falsified justifications were hardly enough to have allowed him to even take me to a shitty bottomless brunch.  Yet I had suffered what would be considered a relapse which had adorably been renamed by my friend- the only way of making it sound less tragic than it actually was.

block number

Numbers were re-blocked.  iMessage turned off.  Celibacy sworn.  Don’t worry, I was sure to repeat steps one through three two more times before finding out about his other concurrent victim girlfriend.  True to form, it had taken something terribly awful for me to finally throw in the towel.  This was ultimately the point of no return and surprisingly, it didn’t hurt as bad as I’d expected though it did disturb me a little for more than many reasons.

When a new (and wonderful) girlfriend asked that I please accompany her to meet up with some friends in the East Village one Sunday night early this spring, I was not expecting to walk into a startling and bewitching mix between Johnny Depp and John Lennon.  As someone who is normally all but immune to the male mystique, I was completely thrown off guard while being simultaneously drawn in.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if my mouth had actually dropped open onto the vintage wooden table where he and his bearded friends sat.  Covered in tattoos and stone cold sober, he wasn’t my standard breed.  He was actually nearing the polar opposite of the past, but after some bonding over Lionel Ritchie lyrics and exchanging of Instagram handles (the new phone number), I was sold.

johnny deppTurns out, the feeling was mutual.  At least for the next week and a half.  We made plans soon after and we spoke all day everyday following our outing.  We shared the same quick, sick, twisted humor and had similar ideologies as well as professions that complemented each other’s.  Though I thought he could potentially have had some staying power- there are very few people who can keep up with my undaunting and sometimes indecipherable wit- he all but fell off the face of the earth after having made lots of “future plans” with me and Smitty.  Oddly enough, this actually ended up upsetting me more than being dumped for someone who can’t legally buy a beer in the US.  After a few pow-wows with girlfriends and coming up with nothing but a lot of shoulder shrugging and ice cream sandwiches, we chocked it up to the “blackhole of dating” that is New York City.  The best way I was able to come to terms with the jilt was realizing that while he may not have been a forever in my life, he was an all but crucial bridge in the road to my recovery and healing.   And even though his behavior was only slightly north of total douchebag, I am so grateful to him for getting me over that little week long hump that could have just as easily sent me right back down the rabbit hole straight into another relapse.

It would have been just as easy to start wondering and obsessing about what was wrong with me and feeling angry at him, but instead I was reminded that I can not only be incredibly attracted to someone else, but there are other interesting fellows still out there.  Gentlemen who like you- if only for a moment in time.  Even if they do wear weird jeans and in retrospect probably wouldn’t have fit into your life longterm, it’s nice to be reminded how it feels to be pursued.  To be reminded that you are smart and funny and worth being treated with more respect than a dirty dishrag at a C grade sushi restaurant.

So, you see, not everyone is meant to be a lifelong soulmate, friend, or boyfriend.  Sometimes people are strategically placed into our lives at the exact moment we unknowingly need them to teach us lessons, save us from ourselves, and prepare us for what lies ahead.  And instead of feeling bitter and holding onto the anger about being abandoned, passed over, or neglected it’s best to look more intently into their ultimate purpose and thank them for coming to our party.  Even if they left without cleaning up, they technically did bring a hostess gift and it’s up to you to figure what that was and be grateful for it.

xx,

WhyDid