To the Man I Mistook For "The One"

To the Man I Mistook For "The One"

It wasn't meant to be forever.
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I believed for a very long time that you were "the one." It's funny because at this point, I don't even think I believe in the idea of one perfect person that was made for me. But when I did, I thought it was you, even when you left. But I've grown up. I know now that you were not "the one."

You were my best friend. I met you and immediately knew that I would fall in love with you. Your laughter, though obnoxious, was my drug. We laughed together day in and day out. We spent nearly every waking moment talking, loving and adventuring. We shared secrets, fears, dreams, and goals. We knew everything there was to know about one another. We loved one another very much. We spent every day of our time together growing deeper in love and more addicted to one another. We were happy. Our chemistry was irrefutable. We loved and supported one another like a married couple and even argued like one too.

Given all of that, here's how I know you weren't "the one."

I know you weren't "the one" because you're gone now and I'm okay. It took a while for me to feel okay, friends and family can attend to that, but I feel okay. I'm doing extraordinarily well in all aspects of my life. I've flourished since we've parted. That is not to knock you in any way. It's simply the truth. I'm doing well academically, spiritually, professionally, and emotionally. I look back on my emotional state while we were together and I feel sad for myself. I was so in love with you, but I hated myself. I struggled with depression, anxiety, stress, self-loathing. I was dependent on your love. I felt complete because I had it and losing you made me feel as though the ground beneath me had slipped out from under me. I fell into darkness. As time passed, I learned that the darkness wasn't darkness at all. It was a new stage of enlightenment masked as temporary darkness. Now, I can say that although I do still have love for you and probably always will, I love myself more and I don't miss or want you anymore.

I don't think about how you used to kiss me good night before you made the drive home or vice versa. I don't think about how we used to eat pizza three times a week and watch every movie on Netflix that sounded the least bit interesting. I don't think about how we would laugh so hard we started tearing up during our Ps4 gaming nights. I don't think about how we would play basketball in your yard with your brothers or in my yard throwing balls with my dogs. I don't think about the nights I spent cuddled by your side. I don't think about the night you blew on my forehead because I was suffocating from the blazing heat. I don't think about the daily arguments. I don't think about the numerous makeups. I don't think about our first kiss outside of your English class by the bathroom. I don't think about the day I met your family. I don't think about any of it anymore and writing this doesn't make me sad.That is how I know that you were not and are not "the one." It's bittersweet and perhaps one day, I'll tell my future daughter about my first love.

I remember watching as my grandmother's health deteriorated. As she worsened, my grandfather started to get sick as well. I remember being in awe when my grandmother started to get better and he soon followed. They've been married nearly 60 years at this point. I see the way they love. I see how they can't help but be with one another. They found "the one." I didn't find "the one". I had a love, my first love. But I am okay without you. I am well without you, in fact. What we had was real, but it wasn't meant to last forever.

That is how I know you weren't "the one."

Sincerely,

Your first love

Cover Image Credit: imgs planet

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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Pantene's New Search Engine Promises To Remove Gender Biases

Pantene recently released a campaign for a new search engine tool, called "S.H.E." which removes gender stereotypes from search engine results.

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Pantene announced a few days ago, as part of its "Power to Transform" campaign via two Youtube videos, that they created a new search engine tool that is designed to work without gender biases. According to the campaign, popular search engines like Google or Safari, have algorithms built to generate answers according to societal stereotypes. S.H.E. or the Search Human Equalizer aims to remove biases and promote woman as equals. For example, when a Safari user searches "greatest artist", a woman is the eighth result. After Aretha Franklin, there is not another woman until Madonna at eleven and the Supremes at 34.

Searching for the greatest artist on Safari will generate six white males before it generates a person of color. It generates seven men before a woman, Aretha Franklin.

Search results appear to greatly favor white men. When searching "greatest athlete," Serena Williams, who places sixth, is the only woman in the top 35 results. The campaign also highlights the sexualization of women. Searching for a school girl will generate results of young woman wearing revealing Halloween costumes. Clicking the video tab reveals that a YouPorn video is the first result.

Greatest athlete results on Safari and Google disproportionately reflect males. Serena Williams is the only female athlete among Safari's top 35 athletes.

Searching school girl shows the societal acceptance of sexualizing children and young woman.

Search engines also reflect other biases like race and age. Searching "beautiful woman" will generate dozens of young, white women. An entire page of image results will have only a few sprinkles of young women of color.

According to Google, beauty is only for those young and white.

Popular search engine algorithms generate results based on page clicks, user history, and geography. However, even with a cleared internet history, these biased results remained the same. Having search engines that don't intervene in their results can be harmful. According to a study by the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, internet users trust and choose search engine results. Unfortunately, these results reinforce biases. In Pantene's YouTube ad for S.H.E., they called their campaign an open invitation for other search engines to follow suit.

S.H.E. is a Google Chrome extension. It can be turned on to modify Google's search results. There are currently only 22 users but the extension has "five stars." When searching on Google, "S.H.E." will automatically load different results. Clicking the "S.H.E." icon will tell users that the results have been equalized. When searching for something that S.H.E. has not been able to equalize yet, the user has the option to flag the search.

S.H.E. will let users know that results have been equalized.

If results have not been equalized, users will have the option to flag results.

The specific terms that Pantene's promotion video used like "schoolgirl", have all had their results equalized. However, it seems that nothing I could find outside of that has been "equalized." This means that I will get Google's normal search results but I can flag the search for future improvement.

The Google extension has a lot of potential and is certainly much-needed. I am pleasantly surprised that such a groundbreaking tech extension came from a shampoo company. It has a lot of room for growth but adding more users, which will lead to more flags, will help to increase the amount of equalized results. Only time will tell if Pantene follows through and changes flagged results. Regardless, it sheds awareness on how gender biases are in every corner of our daily lives, unbeknownst to its users and I applaud Pantene for taking a leap forward in gender equality.

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