Posts by Eleni Stephanides

A freelance writer and Spanish interpreter, Eleni was raised and currently resides in the California Bay Area. Her work has been published in Them, LGBTQ Nation Tiny Buddha, The Mighty, Elephant Journal, The Gay and Lesbian Review, and Introvert, Dear among others. She currently writes the monthly column "Queer Girl Q&A" for Out Front Magazine. You can follow her on IG @eleni_steph_writer and on Medium.

How I Found Peace After Feeling Disregarded and Disrespected

“Self-care is also not arguing with people who are committed to misunderstanding you.” ~Ayishat A. Akanbi⠀

It was an early evening in late June of 2020. My housemate and I were eating sushi in our backyard while crickets tuned up for their nightly symphony around us.

To our right loomed a voluminous green tree, imposing in height but with a texture (furry and cuddly like a Sesame Street character) that made it seem friendly.

I could’ve really used a friendly creature right then.

Hours earlier we’d found out that our housemate—who’d contracted COVID while on vacation with a fourth housemate—would

How It Got Better: My LGBTQ+ Journey from Shame to Pride

2003 was when the “gay devil” (as I referred to him at the time) made his first appearance inside my unprepared thirteen-year-old mind. On a trip to Mexico that year, he sat perched on my shoulder while my family and I were out to lunch at an outdoor taqueria. The girl at the table next to us had tan skin and brown-blond hair, and wore sunglasses and a spaghetti-strap black tank top.

My “gay devil” noticed her and made sure I did too. As the words “She’s hot” crash-landed from his taunting lips into my unsuspecting mind, I flinched—then …

Trust Restored: Why I’m Letting Go of Preconceived Ideas About People

“The problems around us are only compounding. We will need to rediscover our trust in other people, to restore some of our lost faith—all that’s been shaken out of us in recent years. None of it gets done alone. Little of it will happen if we isolate inside our pockets of sameness, communing only with others who share our exact views, talking more than we listen.” ~Michelle Obama

I’m up at the American River, one of my favorite summertime spots. I have a ritual of floating down it, then hiking back up the hill to my clothes. I love how …

We Are Both Darkness and Light: How to Reconcile Them and Grow

“We have to bear our own toxicity. Only by facing our own shadows can we eventually become more light. Yes, you are kind. But youre also cruel. You are thoughtful. But youre also selfish. You are both light and shadow. I want authenticity. I want real. I claim both my light and my shadow.” ~Kerry Mangis

Many of us can recall the painful moments that have shaped us. As we grow older, we become intimately aware of all the ways we were hurt, wronged, or betrayed. I think it’s a natural impulse, to number these moments …

Why I No Longer Chase Emotionally Unavailable People, Hoping They’ll Change

“Never chase love, affection, or attention. If it isn’t given freely by another person, it isn’t worth having.” ~Unknown

We met at a bar with Skee-Ball and slushy margaritas for our first date.

She was gorgeous. I noticed that as soon as I walked in. I still wasn’t sure whether we’d have anything to talk about though. The messages we’d exchanged had been minimal.

It turned out we did.

Conversation flowed from one topic to the next—meandering from her passion for biology in college to how I tried to master mountain boarding at summer camp as a kid to …

Has Your Path in Life Meandered? Why It’s Okay to Take the Nonlinear Route

“Even when we think we have things figured out and everything is going to plan, it can all change in a moment. Inspiration fades. Beliefs transform. Goals shift. Life happens. And that’s the thing. Life is not linear.” ~Aly Juma

I was maybe around nine years old. My dad and I were working with orange play-doh in the shed next to the garage that we used for arts and crafts. Dioramas stood on either side of us—one with an underwater scene from The Magic School Bus, the other a solar system complete with styrofoam planets. Through the window the …

What Most People Get Wrong About Singles and 6 Messages You Might Need

“In a world that treats a forty-one-year-old single woman like a teenager who didn’t get asked to prom, I think it’s extremely important to recognize the unique wisdom of a solitary life—a wisdom that develops slowly over many years, that is fundamentally different from that of, say, the person who was between boyfriends for a year when she was twenty-six.” ~Sara Eckel

I was twenty-three and had just told a woman I was casually dating that I’d never been in a long-term committed relationship.

Her response was this: “Wow, really? I mean, you’re attractive, so why haven’t you?”

Having spent …

After the Assault: What I Now Know About Repressed Trauma

TRIGGER WARNING: This article details an account of sexual assault and may be triggering to some people.

The small park down the street from my childhood home: friends and I spent many evenings there as teenagers. We’d watch movies on each other’s MP3 players and eat from a bag of microwave popcorn while owls hooted from the trees above.

Twigs lightly poked against our backs. Fallen leaves graced skin. Crickets hummed in the darkness. The stars shone bright through the branches of the redwoods.

Eight years later at a park in Montevideo, Uruguay, darkness again surrounded me. Leaves and twigs …

How to Mindfully Temper Road Rage and Make Driving Less Stressful

“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

As a Lyft driver, I once spent significant time out on the road—a setting rife with provocations and stressors.

Driving can feel like a constant challenge to employ mindfulness instead of giving way to destructive emotions like impatience and frustration. Meditation can be difficult to practice when you’re navigating a vehicle (demanding as both activities are of your full attention)—try channeling all your senses into it, and you’ll likely plow over a pedestrian or end with your car in a ditch.

Navigating the road mindfully, though, doesn’t have to mean closing your …

The False Comfort of Having More: Finding Peace in Living with Less

“Be a curator of your life. Slowly cut things out until you’re left only with what you love, with what’s necessary, with what makes you happy.” ~Leo Babauta

As a kid, I remember begging my dad to take me to Burger King, Wendy’s, McDonalds, and any other number of fast food restaurants. Their food was okay, but that’s not the main reason I went. The toys were what beckoned me.

Each chain offered different ones, some of which interested me more than others. The Mini Nintendos at Taco Bell? I was there. Assemble your own Inspector Gadget at McDonalds? Count …

All It Takes Is One Person to Start a Chain Reaction of Caring and Kindness

“People will never know how far a little kindness can go. You just may start a chain reaction.” ~Rachel Joy Scott

One afternoon a while back, after stepping onboard to a full train car with no available seats, I situated myself in the standing section.

A couple of stops later, two passengers vacated their seats, allowing me the chance to sit. I embraced the opportunity to people-watch. The woman in front of me began chapter four of her book, titled How to Jump for Your Life. The girl next to her alternated between the Tinder app and …

Busy Mind Keeping You Up? How to Mindfully and Peacefully Drift Off to Sleep

I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.” ~David Benioff

I can feel the night converting into day. Hooting owls pass the baton to chirping birds before flying off into the slowly fading night. Low-grade panic sets in as total silence gives way to minor stirrings, and I realize my time to carve out at least a tiny patch of sleep amidst this mostly sleepless night is running out.

These …

Why the Right Choice for You Isn’t Always an Immediate “Hell Yes”

“If our hearts and minds are so unreliable, maybe we should be questioning our own intentions and motivations more. If we’re all wrong, all the time, then isn’t self-skepticism and the rigorous challenging of our own beliefs and assumptions the only logical route to progress?” ~Mark Manson

I often hear people encourage others with the following advice: “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.”

Don’t get me wrong: I see where they’re coming from when they say it. Far too often we are dissuaded from listening to our gut feelings. Often, we follow the tyranny of shoulds. We …