Archive for the ‘JBloggers’ Category

Don’t Ever Change

by Aaron under JBloggers,Single Life

Hanging on the wall of my bedroom, there is a poster that has been with me in every room I’ve ever lived in, from when I shared a room with my brother as a kid to my dorm room to the bedroom I sleep in now. That poster is a poster of one of my favorite things: my name. Written around my name are compliments from fifth grade friends from an exercise my school completed weekly of hanging posters of a students’ name in each classroom. Every student went around and wrote nice things about each person, and at the end of the week the poster was laminated and given to us.

Some of the compliments make sense: “Have a very successful year!” “You’re a great friend!” “You’re cool!”. Some make a little less sense: “You’re good at football!” or the person who decided to write “Hi”. But one thing on my poster as well as the poster my brother has hanging in his room is one comment that I really like: “Don’t ever change.”

As I sit here on the eve of my 24th birthday, I think about how much about my life has changed in the last year. I’ve changed jobs, I’ve travelled more, I’ve become better at giving of myself and doing volunteer work more often. Heck, I’m writing for a dating website that until a year ago I’d hardly had any luck with as a user! Life is at its best when it is changing.

With all that in mind, I don’t believe the core of me has changed at all. One of my favorite rabbis once told me a story about a person who said they changed completely and made everyone ask “were you really so bad before?” One of my favorite books, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talks of becoming our habits. I suppose in some ways I have become my new habits, and that’s great, but it hasn’t changed who I am.

What’s fundamental about me is that I am a person who loves my Jewish culture, I like to help others, and I have a passion for any job placed before me. Those traits won’t change. Maybe next year people will be able to accurately say I got good at football, but they won’t be able to say Aaron at 24 fundamentally changed a bit.


I’m single

by Aaron under JBloggers,Single Life

My first year of college was spent at a community college. I wanted to be close to home, I could’ve gone anywhere probably, I had great grades in high school. I was transferring the next year, I told everyone.

I always had to defend my choice, I thought. Who would be impressed by me getting my core classes out of the way for a small price? I was scared to leave home and wanted to save money, but you can’t just tell people that, I thought.

I’ve had the same stigma attached to being single since I was aware of the fact at age 4. I don’t think I ever thought it was okay to be single. It just seemed to me like people had to be together.

At the risk of sounding like I shouldn’t be writing for this column, it may surprise you then that I’ve been perpetually single since the beginning of high school. Maybe it was my constant need for a committed relationship that’s been stopping me. Maybe it’s that secretly I’ve just been trying my whole life to impress people enough to want to be with me, and that constant need to be better has gotten in my way.

In one of my favorite movies, Before Sunrise, Ethan Hawke observes that he is always around himself and never gets a chance to be someone different. Everything he does, every kiss, every moment, has to involve him no matter what. I think I’ve felt some of that too, I just wanted to experience someone else, to not have to just experience me.

That’s not to say I’m not happy with who I am, far from it. Rather, I think the problem is that I can never accept just me as enough. I’ve always felt like some other half I was supposed to know is missing. But publicly, I would like to admit to myself here that I am very happy with who I am and very proud of the person I’ve become. I’ve done a lot of great things in an effort to make a name for myself, and I think even that I have done successfully.

So now I find only one thing left to do. There’s obviously a reason I’m writing this piece this week, and I’m sure you can figure it out based on my tone here. I’m ready to start a very extended Hi-Datus, as I call it, and just spend some time getting to know myself. I want to learn more what it is I like, how I can be happy alone, and how I can better find what exactly it is I’m even looking for, and even better, help others to do the same. As the wise artist Fergie once said, “This [guy] don’t stay single for long,” but as long as I can help it, I’m gonna say I’m single, and I’m not going to justify a damn thing.


All Gone Wrong

by Aaron under Entertainment,JBloggers,Single Life

About a week ago, a very odd thing happened: I had a night go against everything I planned. Everything came apart pretty well; after a happy hour I was sort of hosting collapsed, the rest of the night spiraled in an odd direction as well. The evening ended up culminating in an odd event for me: being in a bar alone.

I was supposed to meet some friends to go two-stepping (I can hardly step regularly, let alone on a dance floor), and when I arrived on time, I was told by every friend that something had come up: one had to go to the airport, one had a dinner, someone told me the wrong start time, etc. And yet the evening was so perfect.

You see, one thing I’ve found in my adult life is that I operate very well when forced into a situation where it’s just me against the world. That could be as simple as just going on an interview, where I find I perform well when challenged; or when I had to go to the middle of East Texas for three weeks in my first holiday season in retail. Much like my evening two-stepping, I found that I was quite capable of making new friends and doing fine with no one familiar around.

Twenty minutes and three quesadillas into my time in East Texas, I made a new friend at the bar where I was sitting. I hung out with that guy, just meeting random strangers for two weeks, and then spent my last week hanging out with a college friend who was home for the holidays. In a similar fashion, when I arrived to two-step, I was initially devastated when the first text flew in saying I was an hour early. I was far from home and wasn’t going to just leave or awkwardly stand in a corner. So I walked up to a guy who looked like he’d seen more of this country setting than I had, and before I knew it, we’d spent thirty minutes talking. Soon, he’d shown me what to do with my feet and we started asking girls to dance. About seven dances and as many girls later, my friends still hadn’t shown up, but I didn’t care. I was just glad to have found something new I enjoyed.

Sometimes things don’t work out like we plan. But darn it, I wanted to learn to two-step, and I did it (I was teaching girls how to dance by about four dances in). We can only let poor planning and things going differently than we planned affect us so much. In the end, only we can choose how to make the best of any situation, and sometimes it goes better than it ever could have if everything had gone right. I never even saw a single friend at that country bar, but it was easily the most fun night of my week.


The Dallas Cowboys Phone Case

by Aaron under Entertainment,JBloggers,JDate,Monday Makeover,Online Dating,Single Life

As I deal with the usual grogginess of Monday and the week ahead of me, I face a lot of important decisions. Who do I put a waiver claim on this week in fantasy football? How little time do I need to study to get the grades I want and still have fun? Or most importantly, when am I finally upgrading my phone and getting a new phone case to go with it?

For the last two years, I’ve had an increasingly broken iPhone 4 with a Han Solo in Carbonite casing. While the phone ultimately has become junk (I’ve been unable to turn off the phone for about six months now, which has made for some awkward pre-flight situations), I still proudly share my phone case with others I deem geeky enough to appreciate my love of Star Wars.

So as I began my hunt for an iPhone 5s case, I looked up some basic areas of interest in my life: Marvel characters, more Star Wars, etc. But then I began to think about what I really wanted to show any time I pulled my phone out. For me, I love conversation starters, so it has less to do with not wanting a dorky image but rather being broader in whom I can share joy in over my phone case. So that answer became easy: the Dallas Cowboys. Though my future may not be in Dallas, my heart belongs to one sports franchise and I’m proud of that.

Similarly, I have found over the years that we are truly our own brands, and we are always in control of the message we send to others. In high school, I was the kid who wore videogame shirts and secretly hosted a videogame podcast on the side. My peers were more into sports and other more shareable interests in addition to videogames, and I felt it made me less than confident through high school. However, it did show me that I was in control, and as I entered college and eventually developed my own sense of style and other hobbies, no one remembered that I was the kid who was super into videogames. Now I’m the guy who has a good sense of style, likes fantasy football, and always has a joke ready for people.

If you’re having a hard time making results happen for you on JDate, there’s no reason you can’t do the same thing. Take some new pictures, edit some things in your profile (maybe “playing monopoly on Saturday nights” becomes “preferring to take it easy some nights”), and change the parts of yourself you highlight. Everyone is special and unique, but everyone also likes to relate to one another, and it’s always possible to change your casing. You’ll be surprised how few people will even remember what was there before.


Electives

by Aaron under JBloggers,Judaism,Online Dating,Single Life

As my semester nears its end, I get to do that joyous thing we all love to do in school: choose classes for the next semester. For once I am in the first group to register for classes, but it is still daunting. In the spirit of relating most of my dating blogs to business school lessons, I thought about the electives I’ve chosen to take in the last year of my personal life.

For starters, I decided to leave my job in retail management. This decision initially stemmed from my unhappiness in the job, but ultimately came to be meaningful in taking me back to my favorite part of life, learning. I love being a student more now than ever, and value every second I get to spend learning new, exciting things about the world of business.

Then, probably the second biggest thing is my religiousness. I started keeping Kosher for the most part in the last year, getting rid of milk and meat combinations, then all treif meat, and ideally going fully Kosher when I move to New York in the coming year (which I am hoping to do for my internship, and am open to job offers if readers have them!). I wrap tefillin every morning that isn’t Shabbat, and I am almost Shomer Shabbos (hindered by driving distance to my current shuls, but another situation I intend to fix by next year). I feel prouder of my involvement in my religion, and truly feel like I’ve seen myself grow.

Lastly, there’s my dating life. In the last year I’ve opened myself up to a lot of different things. Different girls than I’d normally date, sometimes in different cities than I’d ever dated (or lived) in. And I can say hands down, this year has been the best year of my dating life ever. I think a lot of it stems from the previous two areas of my life, areas that have allowed me to feel more whole than I ever have. I come across as more open to anything now, and truly love the adventures my life has taken me on.

So those are my electives for the year. I’m sure next year will bring a very different set, and that’s great. Whatever your choices are, or have been, there is no one else signing up before you, either, and now is the time to start picking your electives, too.


200

by Aaron under Entertainment,JBloggers,Single Life

Beer is, by its very nature, a depressant. So it should really amaze me that in the last two years, some of my best experiences have come from the very place in which I’m writing this piece, the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium.

You see, two years ago, I sat with my friend Josh and we decided to sign up to do the 200 beer challenge here, and I started off with a Blue Moon and Dos Equis. 198 unique beers later, I am about to celebrate with some friends who have been here since the beginning and some newer faces.

It’s amazing to me, the things we’ll celebrate. Literally anyone without an allergy to hops could complete this challenge. I haven’t run a marathon or cured some deadly disease, but we still find a reason to celebrate. My enormous intake of beer over the last two years is a new reason for everyone to get excited.

But for me, it’s really not about the beer. It’s about the experiences I have had with every beer. My memories involve my friends and family. Like the time my friend Lee and I spit up a non-alcoholic beer called Clausthaler Amber on a night we weren’t drinking alcoholic beers. Or the time my friend Roman ordered a Left-Hand Weaksauce and fell in love, only to have the bar sell out forever before he could order a second. Or the time Josh decided Big Sky Moose Drool was the most aptly named beer of all time.

Josh left for the IDF and is now back on leave, working again on his challenge. He’ll be here when I finish my 200th beer tomorrow afternoon. The memories all come together, and the last two years have been some of the richest of my life as I’ve shared the beers with others (and even some days like today, when it’s just been me, a waitress, a computer and some nice cold beer). Maybe the next thing I celebrate will involve me doing something amazing, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m excited about the next round of 200.


Dating Advice, Part 2

by Aaron under JBloggers,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

When I walked out of that conference I talked about last week, I had a new found respect for myself. No job was currently in my hands, but with all the guidance I’d been given, I felt like I could get the job I wanted with some good research and practice. I felt confident as I headed back to Dallas.

I think the big difference in dating and careers is the way we approach both. You see a lot of career advice for getting the job – the assumption being you’re technically capable of keeping the job. With dating, it’s the opposite. We assume you can find people (through something such as a dating website), but keeping a relationship seems to be the problem in dating – look at our current divorce rate.

So what if you’re experiencing the opposite problem, and you can’t get into that relationship groove? In a job, they have to work with you once you’re hired, at least a little bit, since there is some form of binding contract. But when we’re free to be our own people, our necks are always on the line. To me, that is the big difference: with a job, so much is clear-cut. If you have an awesome elevator pitch, good interviewing skills, and an ability to network by talking to a few people at any event, you can get a job within a few months given the proper effort.

Dating, on the other hand, is a real fluid thing. There is no elevator pitch, no mock dating. There’s no perfect, one-size-fits-all first impression. And most importantly, who you are when dating is a reflection on the rest of your life, and that cannot be covered in just one or two days at a convention. Generic dating advice that blankets everyone may not specifically cover the real thing that’s stopping you. Maybe you’re an axe murderer and have a bad habit of murdering people, and that’s getting in the way of your relationships. I can guarantee you there is very little advice on how to stop murdering that either I – or anyone else on the JDate blog – will be giving out (though really, anything harmful to other people, in all seriousness, you should probably stop doing).

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and you may be looking for someone a lot longer than you’re looking for your next job. But there is definitely hope. Dating coaches are out there, advice is out there, etc. But really, go out and learn to be a better you. Take some classes in something you’ve always wanted to do, go better yourself by exercising or going to school, or just do something that challenges you in general. I had a teacher who once told me “practice just makes permanent, not perfect.”  Only when we start to change what we’re doing can we find new things, and lucky for us, you don’t need to go to a convention to do that.


Out of Egypt

by Aaron under JBloggers,Relationships,Single Life

In The Ethics of our Fathers, one of the key quotes I took away was to “acquire for yourself a friend.”

I have had pretty substantial friendships since high school ended, deeming most of my friends with a term I invented: “sebester” friends (meaning they were my best friends for a semester or so each while we were in school taking classes and hanging out together). My “sebester” friends lasted often much more than a semester, but often each semester brought me a new and equally great friendship to add to the collection.

When I got out of school and moved back to mainland Dallas, I had a friend from school I hung out with who was great, and then that was pretty much it. As the next year and a half went by, it was just us. I made new friends, but never quite to the level of any of my “sebester” friendships. Then came Moses.

I don’t like to use names in my blog, but Moses has given me permission, and besides, I think it’s important that I point out how obvious the friendship of Moses and Aaron should be. In a year of great things in my life, Moses and I met in October of 2012 during Sukkot. We had a blast getting to know each other, and even finding out my zeyde was friends with his aunt.

Moses has since moved to San Francisco (ladies of SF, keep an eye out, he’s pretty easy to find with a name like Moses), but we are still super close. And with him back this past weekend, it reminded me of some of the great traits of our friendship that I’d like to share. For starters, I always felt comfortable with who I was when I was with Moses, and never felt like he was judging me. With Moses in my vicinity, no one else mattered. We talked about topics that we were guarded about and really helped each other grow.

More than anything, I think Moses helped me figure out a lot about myself. I knew I wanted a girl who could be a friend to me as much as he is, and when I haven’t found that, I’ve moved on. He helped me realize that the real cornerstone to a great relationship is friendship — both with the girl, and with someone who you can be sure can help keep you steady. So to everyone else out there, I hope you can find a Moses, and I hope in doing so you can better find yourself.


The two ways I feel most sexy

by Aaron under JBloggers

In my organizational behavior class this week, we were given an assignment to get people to tell us the times we’ve acted our best. So I started thinking that this could be a fun topic, and now I’m spinning it to y’all in the form of the times I feel best, and in turn my sexiest (and you may disagree, or just want to tell me I’m sexy all the time, in which case feel free to do so in the comments!).

The easiest way I feel awesome and attractive is when I am being passionate about something. For me that could be anything from choosing cool clothes to wear to an event or even just promoting Jewish events in Dallas. Jewish events have always been my passion, from AEPi in college to putting together calendars to unite groups throughout Texas now that I’m in a young professional community. I try to grow that part of me, always making new commitments (including promising to bring a new person a week to classes at my local Chabad, which I’ll happily take volunteers for) and trying to better myself, and that to me makes me feel my best.

I also feel great when I stop worrying about everything but the moment in front of me. I turn my cell phone off on Shabbat and every date I go on to be less distracted.  When I can just be present in a moment without worrying about what comes next or what is going on elsewhere, I feel great. I think my attention to what’s happening helps others feel good, too.

I don’t know if those are the sexiest things in the world to everyone (Or maybe this is the post that finally has you booking that flight to Dallas to look for me?), but to me those are the times I feel greatest. Maybe I’m not always the sexiest man alive, but I sure know how to make myself feel like it.


I’ll Be There For You

by Aaron under JBloggers,Relationships,Single Life

In one of my favorite shows, Friends, there is a scene in the fourth season finale where we catch Chandler in bed and as Ross leaves the room, we see Monica pop up from under the covers, and one of TV’s greatest (and funniest) romances begins to take off.

For a long time, that was my ideal romance. It happened to me a few times in college (too many of my favorite stories from college start with an “I have feelings for you, Aaron!” followed by a “So…do you want to make out or something?” awkwardly asked by me.), but for some reason it’s never lasted (even with my great response to people laying their hearts on the line to me!). I’ve had friends that I’ve gone that direction with and we’ve left it on good terms, but I’ve also ruined some friendships in the same way.

And yet I’m constantly drawn to that TV idea of Monica and Chandler. I’m sure I’ve got friends who would happily date me, and I’m sure most people do, too. It’s just as we grow older and don’t have school to provide us with a constant stream of new friends, we get scared of taking something to a different place. We worry it’d ruin the friendship, or just think that despite our constant hanging out and ability to tolerate and even enjoy each other, a relationship wouldn’t work.

But really, who better to date than people we already know we can trust and enjoy? As Rosh Hashanah came this year, I made a list of about thirty people, male and female, I wanted to get closer with this year. I regularly add to the list, and I also reach out to the people on the list for hanging out on my quieter nights (typically Thursday night dinners a friend and I put together). This is pretty much my biggest goal of the year socially, to grow not just the breadth of my network but also the depth of my relationships.

Growing friendships in Dallas has been something I’ve enjoyed over the years as I’ve rekindled friendships from Hebrew School and just learned to see people in new ways. We know faces, but getting to know real people takes some work. Sometimes when I try to open people up at events they get a little too open (telling me when they lost their virginity, exposing their long-hidden racism, etc.), but overall I love getting to know the faces around me when I go out. So next time you go to a big Jewish event, don’t just think “oh great, them again”, try to find something new about those same old faces around you. You might just find your Monica or Chandler has been in front of you all along.