By Lauren Linhard –

I have become a bit of a “party girl.” What began as a way of coping with the rollercoaster of  emotions that come from being single for the first time in seven years has now leveled out into an excellent time letting loose with people I care about.

That’s not to say I’ve totally gotten my bearings or found my niche in the single world. I’m pretty much learning something new about myself everyday – what I’m comfortable with, how to assert myself, what my alcohol tolerance level is before I start dancing to showtunes. 

There’s definitely a learning curve, and school was in session over Irish weekend in Wildwood. Two all-nighters with my cousins taught this girl a lot.

What I Learned About Myself

I’m Intimidated by Attractive Men. It becomes quite an issue when your cousins are more than drunkenly pleased to push you at the next hottie who walks behind you. It’s true, I didn’t approach a single tall, dark and handsome Irish man the whole weekend. Why? Lack of confidence and a general devaluing of myself. Thoughts like, “How could he ever like me?” and “I’m just not pretty enough,” surface too often in my head. This needs to change.

I’m the one with the crazy hair on the right – the bigger the hair the bigger the party I say.

I’m Happy Being Single. This odd little nugget of truth came to me over morning pancakes used to sop up the alcohol in my bloodstream. I told my cousins multiple times my goal of the weekend was not to find a man, but to have an awesome time with them. And I wasn’t lying! I’m really enjoying doing my own thing on my own schedule with my own peeps. Fitting a new relationship into my life feels like a hassle. Right now, I’m perfectly content being fun, flirty and free.

I’m Too Nice. You know what I don’t want to do? Write a fake number on your stomach so you go away. Let you spend the whole night with my group like a puppy who thinks I might give him a treat. But guess what I did? Yup, all the above. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I’m not being genuine to myself. I hate doling out rejection to those brave, slightly inebriated souls who put themselves out there. But I have to learn it’s okay to politely refuse advances of guys I’m not interested in. So, no more fake phone numbers and no more puppy dogs (except the real kind, preferably a french bulldog).

What I Learned About Friendship

The one covering her face is Bri – no surprise there. But we love her cause she’s ours.

Everyone is Insecure. This one goes out to my cousin Bri, who, at 22-years-old, is the most gorgeous, smiley, leggy, blonde haired potential runway model ever. Funny thing about this girl who is beautiful inside and out? She hates pictures, to the point of needing to be bribed with a shot to just get in one (it was expensive too). I kept thinking to myself, “no one will look at me with her standing there,” but to my shock, she was just as timid about approaching guys as I was. We all have deep-rooted insecurities, even your most beautiful, smart, funny and witty friend.  

Friends Look Out for Eachother. As I headed out on this epic weekend, my mother’s parting words were, “Have fun and stay together.” As the eldest cousin, I took these words seriously and only lost a member of our group once (don’t worry, we found her). And then proceeded to take photos of the guy’s ID she was talking to, copied down his phone number and never let her out of our sight again. The night also included checks from my cousin Colette every few drinks to make sure the group was staying hydrated and the ones with heart conditions (which is mostly just me) ate a protein bar. It’s all about having an epic night you can actually remember with people who got your back.