Figuring out what you don’t want is just as valuable…

“So have you gone on any second dates!?”

My friend Daria, the Queen of Online Dating, was doing a full canvas of my dating life. Giuliana herself has nothing on this girl when looking for the full scoop on romance.

“Not one,” I said, “One guy made it feel like a job interview. The second guy wasn’t so bad, I wouldn’t mind seeing him again. The third I’m ninety-five percent sure was gay. The fourth was so bad I walked out after fourteen minutes.”

It’s true. From the time I parked my car, to the time I paid the bartender—oh yes, I paid—and got back in my car: Fourteen minutes. He was a total weirdo. On that particular occasion, I pulled a Hail Mary from Daria herself: Nine minutes in, I threw up my hands and said, “Listen. I’m not feeling it. This one’s on me,” and waved for the check.

I went out to the suburbs to meet that human being. I will do a lot of crazy things, but I do not cross the river. Lesson learned.

“Hey, that’s ok!” she told me. The second sentence of this post is not an exaggeration. Daria met a lot of frogs in her day. In her (TBD rare) case, it was worth it. Daria’s husband Craig is one of the most interesting, talented, standout guys I know., you did good.

Ready to die on her sword in defense of her kingdom, the Queen kept going. “Listen, I’m going to tell you something that my Grandma once told me: Figuring out what you don’t want, is just as valuable as figuring out what you do want.

Your life knows when it’s not on the right path.

A few weeks ago, my friend Suzanne told me life events can sometimes feel like a heart transplant gone wrong—our lives will involuntarily reject an event not originally laid out in our life plan.

I did a lot of things not originally laid out in the Kara McCartney life plan. I moved to states I didn’t want to live in. Worked in industries I could care less about. Worked for people I didn’t believe in.

Sometimes, I look back on those events and get sad or pissed off about the time I wasted. I couldn’t count the times my friends will retell stories I can’t relate to, because they occurred during my two-and-a-half year hiatus from DC. I’ll Google solutions to a marketing question and blame it on playing catch-up from starting my career in sales.

I dated boys I wish I never met, took jobs from companies I wish I never heard of, and worked under people I wish I could throw out a window.

But then again, if I didn’t move to Pittsburgh (a city I will never reside in again) or quit a job in finance (an industry that, God willing, I will never work in again) I never would have met people like Daria.

I could be bitter about all the detours I took the past five years. Or I could look at it as setting up road blocks for all the potential side streets I don’t want to travel down, directing me back to my original route.

In the past five years, I discovered a lot about what I don’t want.

I learned I love writing but hate social media. I can’t stand micromanagers. I think spending two hours handling company email is draining the national economy.

When I graduated college, I had no idea what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. But like trying on 67 pairs of jeans before you find the one pair that makes you look thin without cutting off circulation, I slowly eliminated dozens of possibilities to land on the one I want.

Which, no matter how long and frustrating, is just as valuable.

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For All the F Words
You have flaws. You f-up on a daily basis. And that should be ok.