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Having Anxiety And A Crush At The Same Time Feels Really Crushing

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Illustrated by Lindsay Hattrick

Shut Up, Brain

Shut Up, Brain is a column by Jill Gutowitz in which she looks at everything from pop culture phenomena to the quirks of interpersonal relationships through the lens of someone who lives with anxiety.

My 2019 mantra is "Say the Thing." As a person who spends every day enduring unfaltering anxiety, I've always had trouble communicating. If small stuff like deciding what to eat for lunch is nearly unmanageable, you can imagine what having a sensitive conversation might feel like. I'm barely capable of asking for what I need, or expressing how I feel in the most mundane of interactions, so naturally dating is particularly delicate and fraught—especially in the beginning.

The fear I have surrounding intimate communication is mostly due to the laundry list of "what ifs." What if being upfront pushes them away? What if they think I'm being crazy? What if I am being crazy? But I wanted to work through these anxieties, and try to get control of them. So, when 2019 rolled around, I promised myself that I would start speaking up for myself more—in business, with my family, and in my relationships.

When you suffer from persistent anxiety, it's important to acknowledge and celebrate the little wins when they come. That's what I want to do today: Celebrate one of my big little wins. Last week, I told a girl I had a crush on her for the very first time. That sounds so cowardly and adolescent, but trust me when I say that, as a person who barely communicates, it was one of the scariest and most rewarding things I've ever done. And here's the most bonkers part: It actually relieved my anxiety. Yes, reader. I did something brave that actually improved my mental health.

Let me rewind. Recently, I found myself lodged in one of those ambiguous we're-friends-but-we're-definitely-flirting queer girl paradoxes with another woman. Queer women know what I'm talking about and how it's specific to WLW relationships, but every person has probably experienced some degree of the following: We were at a concert together, bopping to gaudy pop music, squinting under neon strobes, shouting in each other's ears over the loud room. She stood behind me on the sticky dancefloor. I turned my head just a notch, and saw her jaw in my peripheral, so close I could feel energy radiating off her. She touched my lower back, leaned her chin over my shoulder, and whispered in my ear, "Let's go," before grabbing my hand and pulling me through the crowd, closer to the stage. My heart fluttered. The night was lurid and flirty and magical and tingly and vibrant. I got home in the middle of the night and stared at my ceiling, running a highlight reel of the night through my head like a crazed teenager.

But then I started questioning everything. I wondered if I had misinterpreted it all—was that lower back touch just friendly? Isn't holding hands while you pull someone through a crowd just what you do when you're in a crowd? My brain told me that I wasn't reading the signs, I was actually willfully ignoring them. Maybe I had made up an entire relationship in my head. The night—once crisp and wonderful and brimming with possibility in the way only a new crush can make you feel—ended with crushing anxiety. I thought, Jill, if you tell her how you feel, you will not only suffer a romantic humiliation worse than anything written in the Meet the Parents franchise, but you'll spoil any kind of relationship you might want to have with this person in the future. You know, cool, normal dating stuff!

I've been here dozens of times. My longest relationship was just under a year (and I'm very self-conscious about this). My romantic life has been defined by short-lived bursts of passion between me and another woman that ultimately collapsed right when I was deciding if I should let myself get excited about it. I've gotten comfortable with being pursued rather than taking a leap of faith and putting myself out there.

I can't say for sure if my inability to express myself is the sole reason for these romantic failures, but I know it's something that makes me feel gutless, and something I really want to work on. So, that's where my 2019 mantra stems from: I decided that if I was going to keep mowing through miniature emotional traumas like a deadly tornado, then I would at least treat each one as a practice round: Every short-lived burst could be an opportunity to put communication into practice. Easier said than done, of course.

Over the years, my anxious brain has created an intricate, unnavigable, labyrinthine network of walls that have prevented me from saying how I feel. My feelings are scratching at the barriers like a cat helplessly trying to open a closed door, with no actual hope of escaping. I get so worked up about communication because I don't want it to lead to a confrontation, which is worse. Then I end up ranking the urgency of the situation in my head: Is this specific issue worth the stress of a possible confrontation? And what's worse? The stress of keeping this to myself and stewing about it, which only I have to deal with? Or, the stress of the confrontation, which makes me and another person uncomfortable, and will probably be so terrifying that I'll black out?

But as we know—because every psychologist, therapist, life coach, and guru under the sun has repeated it in some variation—communication is the key to a healthy relationship. If I have any shot of forming real, honest, lasting bonds with a romantic partner, I need to start saying these things out loud and communicating my fears instead of continuing to internalize them. Basically: Say the thing.

Which brings me to last week, a couple of months after that fateful concert. I asked the woman in question on a date—well, I asked her if she wanted to do something "just you and me," which I thought was forward as hell. The date was really nice, and the magical tingly feelings were there, but I hate dates. The formality of it all makes me feel anxious and trapped. I don't want to sit at a table where I feel anxious and trapped; eat a meal, that will probably make my stomach hurt because I feel anxious and trapped; which will, in turn, make me feel… anxious and trapped. And all this is supposed to be fun? How am I supposed to focus on spending time with a person I like while squirming at a table with a meal I don't want in a room that's closing in on me? So, regardless of how date-like I thought it was, I was worked up the whole night, and as a result, went home and spiraled again about whether or not she thought it was a date. Why am I like this?

So, I went apocalyptic—the burn-it-down mentality—and decided I had nothing to lose. It was the scorched earth tell-your-crush-you-love-her approach. I spiral-drafted a text, stared at it unblinking and catatonic for who knows how long—two minutes? A week? Have I been here for a full year? Am I stuck in a Russian Doll time loop and am going to just keep waking up right before sending the text? Either way, when I came to, I had courageously slammed "send" on a text that read, "I had fun. I have a giant crush on you."

Now, there are levels to anxiety. There's the baseline intensity, the kind that whispers in the back of my skull all day, at times paralyzing me in my car or in my bed or on the couch. Then there's DEFCON 1, fight-or-flight, panic mode. From the moment I had the idea to send the text, to the moment she responded to the text, I was at DEFCON 1. When I sent it, I stood up—not because I wanted to—but because adrenaline shot through my body like rocket fuel. Picture me, in full-on rigor mortis mode, falling over like a stunned Looney Toon. I was sure that I had made a fatal mistake and was ready to spend the rest of my life punishing myself for it.

And then she responded. I heard my phone "ding" from the other room and burst through the wall like the Kool-Aid Man, desperate to read my fate. What happened next was shocking: We had a really open and honest conversation about our feelings, and what level of emotional intimacy both of us are capable of giving right now. Wild! Luckily, she felt the same way about me—but even if she had been like, "Fuck you" and torn up my "to me you are perfect" poster—I would've felt exactly how I did in that moment: relieved.

I was so proud of myself for saying the thing, for releasing what I've kept a secret from so many people in the past (and eternally regretted). I felt release. My emotion wasn't just mine anymore—it was out there, being heard, being smiled at, being responded to. Relief had washed over me like a cool ocean breeze. As it turned out, I didn't just want her to have a crush on me too, I also wanted an answer. Instead of internalizing this, frantically texting my friends to ask for advice, or looking back on this moment—where I could've been silent—with a swell of regret, I now carried a sense of pride. Ninety percent of the ache of dating is just wondering where you stand with someone—what a marvelous solution, to just ask them. How has no one thought of this? (They have).

There's no shame in being turned down. I was so fearful of suffering another romantic humiliation that I almost prevented myself from having something good. In hindsight, the anxiety I had over the ambiguity of this relationship, and not being upfront, was actually infinitely worse than just saying what I wanted to say. Admittedly, doing so took a lot out of me. But that's why I needed to do it—I have to start somewhere, and I have to practice communicating.

My evergreen mental health goal is to keep finding new ways to allay my anxiety. Sometimes it's going on a really good run to old Jonas Brothers songs (which may or may not have happened this week). Sometimes it's breathing exercises. Recently, I discovered it could be as simple as opening up. Go tell your crush how you feel. Wouldn't you rather know? Or, wouldn't you rather be proud of yourself for Saying the Thing?

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Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube www.youtube.com

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

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Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale youtu.be

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MORE in VIDEO

These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

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Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.

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