It's been an interesting journey.
  1. I was a fat kid growing up.
    Like fat fat. 265 lbs fat.
  2. Also I had a pretty bad stutter.
  3. When you're fat you have a very low self-image of yourself.
    Therefore you don't think people will find you attractive. And it's "easy" to not put yourself out there, in terms of finding a girl, because what's the point? I don't want to get rejected.
  4. Therefore its significantly easier to protect yourself and just not go "on the prowl" or show interest in the ladies.
    Can't face rejection if you don't put yourself in the position in the first place!
  5. This is what I convinced myself was the problem in the lack of girls department.
    I did have a few trysts in college with a few ladies, but overall I just a couldn't get past my low self esteem and the pity party I was throwing myself. When you're fat it become easy to compartmentalize and blame all your problems on your weight, believing deep down that once you lose the weight, everything will be solved.
  6. Moved from Buffalo to Los Angeles, post graduation from college in August 2012.
    So long good pizza and chicken wings! Hellllllllllllllo kale salad, aspiring actor/uber drivers, and smog!
  7. After getting a steady gig as PA on a TV show. Decided to made a gigantic life change and lose a whole bunch of weight starting January 2013.
    Picked up running, tamed down the portions, ate healthier. Took about a full year.
  8. The 85lbs I lost was what I thought was the one thing holding me back from my full potential with the ladies. I was ready to hit the ground running.
    Thought the ladies would line up and I'd be good to gooooo.
  9. Turns out, my desire to talk to women remained stagnant, no matter if I was at 265 or 180.
    One thing they don't discuss about weight loss is the mental change that is required after the physical one. The mental change is just as, if not harder than the physical one. I was now at an ideal physical weight, but I still (and I think will always have) the brain of a fat kid.
  10. I began to realize that maybe my weight wasn't the real reason why I didn't have any desire to talk to girls. Maybe it was just a facade to hide behind.
    Still at this point, I was in "denial" of my true feelings. However, the transition began, deep down, from me seeing this BIG WALL that I originally thought I would never come near, to me slowly realizing that, although it was still far off, that I would eventually be approaching this gigantic obstacle in my life.
  11. During this transition time, I would go through phases of going on Tinder with the "girls and guys" filter on. And eventually it'd go to "guys only."
    The minute I saw a guy I knew or someone with many mutual friends I would panic, immediately close the app, and next time I went on Tinder I would reset the filter back to "girls only." A month or two later, the cycle would begin again and the "girls and guys" filter would eventually come back on.
  12. Eventually I mustered up courage to meet up with a few people I had met online. I was upfront with them about my position and desire to be discreet.
    Most began with a drinks date at locations where I would be most certain no one I knew would run into me. Looking back on it, I'm saddened by how nervous, scared, and self-conscious I was, merely a year ago, with the thought of someone spotting me out on a date with a guy. But hey, I guess I didn't know better.
  13. Some of these rendezvous went well, others not so much - as it happens in normal dating situations.
    These meetups eventually assimilated into the original tinder cycle of: maybe I'll try this out, okay trying this out, oh no this isn't for me, giving up on it, and a few months later revisiting it.
  14. I didn't realize it directly at the them. But these cycles were really taking a toll on me, mentally.
    I found myself having a harder time sleeping consistently at night, having an even more critical stance of my self-image, and overall uneasiness about myself because thought what I was doing was wrong. I wanted to "beat" this. I wanted to overcome this.
  15. It got to the point where I would be sitting alone in my apartment on Friday/Saturday nights throwing a pity party for myself thinking I didn't have any friends in LA.
    When the next morning rolled around, I realized I had actually turned down multiple plans from people. This was so unlike me. I'm a people person. I love being around people. I realized if I kept this up, it could turn into the beginning stages of depression.
  16. So now that "wall," that for so many years I thought would never approach, was now" iceberg, right ahead," ala the Titanic.
    It went from never happening to a question of when.
  17. And apparently that "when" turned out to be immediately following the 2015 LA Beer Fest on Easter weekend.
    Not the most classy, smooth, or ideal situation, but hey I guess they don't call it liquid courage for no reason.
  18. It was difficult, upsetting, and drunken, but I was around best friends that made me feel safe.
  19. I woke up the next morning, surprisingly hangover free, and after a few minutes of haziness, the weight of what happened truly began to sink in.
    "Oh shit oh shit. What have I done" plagued my thoughts.
  20. And then I realized something.
  21. In an instant everything had changed, but at the same time, nothing had changed.
  22. I was the same person.
  23. I'm still T.J.
  24. I'm still standing. Still breathing. Still existing.
  25. Yet I had this tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders, and a sense of relief that I truly cannot put into words.
  26. This was the beginning of the rest of my life.
  27. And goddamnit, I was (am) ready for it.