My single biggest, most painful mistake with dating

From the first time I saw her face, I knew I’d love her until the day I die.

I can still picture it clearly today. All the other boys in my Middle School were fawning over that one redhead who looked like Mary Jane from Spider-Man (you know…the Tobey Maguire one).

On the other hand, I happened to crush on my classmate in English class who came in every day wearing a ridiculously cute Mickey Mouse shirt and headband. She was the first person I ever had feelings for.

I’d like to tell you that she never even knew I existed. That’s what I really want to write right now because it would hurt less to whitewash the story and remember it a different way than how it really happened. But that wouldn’t be true to myself.

What really happened is that some time later, one of her friends secretly came up to me and told me “You know, Chloe used to have a crush on you for like, forever.”

That hurts because it’s one thing if I never even had a chance. It’s another thing to know that the first woman I ever found myself crushing on actually liked me back and I just let that slip through my fingers!

Looking back, it’s a mistake I’d made many times throughout my dating life. Whenever I found myself romantically interested in someone, I’d fail to unambiguously convey my romantic interest. That’s the key. If you too indirect and treat women that you’re interested in as friends like I did, then you can’t be surprised when you only end up being friends and nothing more.

Here’s an example to show what I mean:

  • Morning coffee or lunch with a coworker? Not romantic because people do this all the time professionally.
  • Inviting a coworker to a group activity with you? That’s ambiguously romantic because friends also do this platonically, and professionals commonly do this for networking purposes.
  • Asking a coworker to watch a movie and have dinner with you on a Friday night? That’s unambiguously romantic because you’ve set up a series of 1-on-1 activities just for the two of you and you’re meeting her on a night when you can stay out late and not have to worry about going to work the next day.

The key is to unambiguously convey romantic interest. If you treat her platonically then of course your relationship will be nothing but platonic. But if you ask her out 1-on-1 to an activity at a specific time and place, then she’ll know that you’re interested in her. And maybe…just maybe…she’ll be interested in you back.

I’ve loved a lot of women throughout my life. I have two competing memories of the first woman I ever loved, and I wish I could remember it the less painful way but that just tastes like a lie. I can tell you with a straight face that most of the other women I crushed on probably never even knew I existed. Maybe I’m whitewashing those memories as well when I say that. But I honestly don’t know and that allows me to honestly remember it that way.

Derek Chauvin found guilty and what that means for us

Derek Chauvin was just found guilty. You know, the guy that knelt on George Floyd’s neck for almost 10 minutes until he died.

I feel a lot of emotions right now. Relief. Happiness. Sadness.

Like, a part of me is happy that he was convicted because of course he was guilty. And I’m relieved that justice was served in this particular instance. But I’m also sad that this even happened in the first place, and I still recognize that we have a long way to go.

Here’s what Derek Chauvin’s conviction means for us…

Continue reading Derek Chauvin found guilty and what that means for us

How to make #StopAsianHate a reality

Let’s talk about violence against Asian-Americans. Again.

Didn’t we just do this? Yes, we did. Somehow just 2 weeks after my strongly worded open letter, a series of mass shootings perpetrated by a single person broke out at three different spas in Atlanta, Georgia. Eight people were killed, six of whom were Asian women.

And what is there to say except…are you fucking kidding me?!

It feels like someone read what I wrote and thought “Hey this Steve guy makes a lot of good points…so I’m going to do the exact opposite of what he wrote!”


Alright, alright. Deep breaths Steve. In for 5 seconds. Out for 5 seconds.


Okeydokey. I can’t believe I’m writing another one of these after I just wrote one a few weeks ago, but here we are. The reluctant sequel to my open letter written for everyone holding animosity against Asian-Americans.

Here we go.

Continue reading How to make #StopAsianHate a reality

It feels like everything is “broken” these days

I’ve written a string of articles speaking out against some of the injustices in the world—including my most recent one about hate crimes against Asians—and the overwhelming consensus from everyone who responded is that…well…

Everything is broken.

(Also, to everyone who took the time to respond to my newsletters with your own thoughts, I appreciate your responses and I do read every message. Thank you! Even to that one guy who wrote back just to call me an idiot.)

It certainly feels like everything is broken sometimes. I wish that I had some sort of quick fix that would solve everything and make the world a fair and just place to live in. But I don’t, and we’re still a far cry away from achieving that sort of world.

So, if you’ve ever felt as desolate or hopeless about the state of the world as I have, I’d like to tell you what helps keep me going.

We live in this thing called a “society” which has two important things to note.

First, it keeps us safe and warm from nature. How safe and how warm is another question that depends heavily on factors such as socioeconomic status, etc…but it keeps us warm and safe compared to when we were hunter-gatherers.

And second, it’s a work in progress. Many of the injustices that are built into the system, such as economic inequality, climate change, etc. exist not out of maliciousness but because society is just this thing that we slapped together using duct tape to keep us safe from the uncaring forces of nature.

We didn’t have the luxury of building “Society version 1.0” on a supercomputer before we launched it. Instead, we hurriedly cobbled together version 0.1 in a cave with a box of scraps so that the wolves wouldn’t eat us. That’s where we are right now.

That means it’s something that can still be improved and it’s going to be improved…but only if people such as you and I accept it as our moral and ethical responsibility to do so. To uproot evil and to help good take root however we can. That’s how we’ll finally achieve “Society version 1.0”.

Here’s a few ways you can help keep up the good fight:

  • Vote! Get educated in the elections happening around you—not just the big ones for President or whomever—but also the smaller, local ones and vote.
  • Donate to causes that you believe in.
  • Let the people around you know who you support and what you stand for.

I’m doing all three of the above, and I hope that you’ll join me in solidarity.

Remember that you have a voice and it matters!

To: Everyone holding animosity against Asian-Americans

To: Everyone holding animosity toward Asian-Americans. Or treating Asians with scorn. Or asking if they’re “from China” because of the virus.

Color me pissed off!!

Are you going to tell me why you hold so much contempt against Asian-Americans right now? Why you find it okay to treat Asians differently than your white counterparts, or to refer to COVID as the “China virus” (that’s racist), or why hate crimes against Asian-Americans have risen 867% in New York city alone?

Seriously, to the guy who thinks it’s OK to shove elderly people to the ground in Chinatown…WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU!?!?

Take a second and say the name of the virus causing the pandemic. No really, say it out loud with me. Here’s a hint, it’s not “China virus” or “Wuhan virus”.

“CO-VID”. Only two syllables long. How many syllables in “Chi-na vir-us”? Four! Instead of using a two-syllable term to describe the pandemic, you find it necessary to consume twice as much oxygen and produce twice as much carbon dioxide just to emphasize the part of the world the virus came from.

Yes, that’s racist!!

You’re welcome to say anything you want and the U.S. Government is not going to come after you thanks to the Free Speech that you other people fought for. And I’m sure those same troops can count on your support, right? I’m not talking about some cheap bumper sticker that says “Support the Troops” or whatever…I’m sure your troops can totally count on you to push for reform and donate to causes making it easier for them to get professional help after coming home right? RIGHT!?

It’s idiotic to harass and assault normal civilians just because you disagree with the actions of some government halfway across the world. You know who else is doing the exact same you are? The people flying this flag:

But I guess that irony is lost on you, huh? You bunch of “calling-yourselves-the-party-of-Lincoln-while-raising-the-flag-of-the-Confederacy-that-he-fought-against” absolute hypocrites.

Get the fuck out of here with your racism.

Steven “fed-up-with-your-bullshit” Zawila

You have a voice, and it matters!

Long time no write! I hope that you’re continuing to stay safe from COVID. If you or anybody you know has been affected by the virus, then I wish you or them a full and speedy recovery.

Actual photo of me hiding from COVID

Yesterday, a detestable human being with despotic ambition was removed from one of the most powerful offices in the world. I’m not going to say his name. You know who I’m talking about.

it’s funny. Whenever this sort of thing happens in our favorite stories, it always involves a lone hero overcoming all odds to overthrow a tyrant–Luke Skywalker defeating Darth Vader and the Emperor, Arya Stark vanquishing the Night King, or Super Mario stomping the evil King Bowser.

That’s not how it plays out in real-life.

Instead, this real-life megalomaniac was forced out of power because of ordinary people like you and me. Our individual efforts collectively created a blue wave strong enough to put this fledgling dictator out of a job.

Feel proud of yourself? You should!

It’s not over yet, though. This aspiring autocrat came to power in part because the racists wanted to strike back after the United States elected its first black President. Here’s a few ways you can help keep up the good fight:

  • Vote! Get educated in the elections happening around you—not just the big ones for President or whomever—but also the smaller, local ones and vote.
  • Donate to causes that you believe in.
  • Let the people around you know who you support and what you stand for.

I’m doing all three of the above, and I hope that you’ll join me.

Even if you can’t vote because of citizenship laws or whatever…even if you don’t have enough to donate…something as small as the conversations you have with the people around you create a ripple. Those ripples add up to something huge. We’ve seen proof of that yesterday.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your voice doesn’t matter. You have a voice, and it FUCKING matters!

I turned 29! Lessons from my Birthday

I just turned 29! Happy Birthday!!

You know, I always used to freak out around this time of year. I thought that growing older was something to be afraid of.

Not this year, though. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished throughout 2020, and everything I’ve learned this year is something that I’ll continue to be able to use the rest of my life. And that’s exciting!

Almost as exciting as learning that Minecraft Steve is now a Smash Bros. fighter! (Playing against Steve and his wonky attacks, on the other hand…that’s another matter.)

Here’s what I’ve learned this year.

Continue reading I turned 29! Lessons from my Birthday

Become more confident by focusing on others over yourself

When I got married a couple years ago, one of the things that excited me was the idea of never having to go through the process of asking women out ever again. I wouldn’t have to put myself out there or face the fear of rejection anymore.

Turns out that’s not quite true. Even if I’m not asking women out romantically anymore, I’ve learned that having successful social and professional lives depends on your ability to ask people out. Asking your co-workers out to lunch, asking new friends out to grab drinks, or asking a potential professional networking contact out to coffee.

All of that involves overcoming that oh-so-familiar fear of rejection. Darn it.

So, how do you overcome that fear of rejection? How do you move past that nervousness and the “lemonade” feeling that always creeps up in your stomach when you’re talking to a woman you’re interested in?

Overcoming nervousness by focusing outside yourself

Back when I was single, talking to a woman I was interested in seemed like the scariest thing in the world. That and roller-coasters.

I still hate roller-coasters, by the way

Whenever I wanted to approach someone, my mind would start racing at a million miles per hour playing all the bad things that could possibly happen. For example,

  • “What if I look like a fool or embarrass myself in front of her?”
  • “If I ask her out, everything might become awkward between us.”
  • “How do I start a conversation with her that will lead in the right direction?”

Eventually, I found myself living the same story over and over again. I’d run into an interesting woman and find myself infatuated with her. I’d take forever to work up the nerve to ask her out. Invariably she’d turn me down, sometimes even telling me that she already had a boyfriend.

Of course, she did.

Every time this happened, I’d feel like a fool for even sticking my neck out in the first place. I felt less and less confident each time I got turned down until eventually I began to believe—unironically—that I was cursed.

Looking back, a lot of that nervousness and approach anxiety came from the fact that I was focusing on myself instead of herself. When I told myself, “What if I look like a fool or embarrass myself in front of her?”, I was focusing too much on making myself look good instead of focusing on brightening up her day.

Women can sense this, by the way.

Instead of telling myself all those things that I used to before, I learned to replace those thoughts with new ones such as…

  • “How can I brighten up her day?”
  • “How can I show her a good time?
  • “What can I talk to her about that she’d enjoy telling me?

Once I changed my mindset to focus more on herself instead of myself, I started to become more confident around women. Again, women can totally sense this and that’s why changing your mindset is at least (if not more) important than the actual words you use when talking to her!

The next time you’re talking to a woman you’re interested in (or any person you’d like to build a relationship with), try shifting your focus onto themselves instead of yourself. You might be surprised at what a difference this makes!

P.S. Okay, so what do you do if you end up making a fool of yourself in front of her? Well…chances are they’re not going to remember. Unless they like you. Which is a good thing!

What our favorite films can teach us about having deeper conversations

Wow, is it almost Autumn already? It seriously feels like Summer just flew by this year. Normally, we’d go outside around this time of year, meet up with friends, and just absorb some sunlight. But since we’re still stuck in lockdown, we haven’t really been able to do those things. Honestly, it just feels like we “skipped” summer this year.

On that note, I hope we’re all still staying safe from COVID-19.

Since we’re all staying inside and not going out without wearing a mask (right? Right?!), I have a fun experiment for you to try out.

Recently, I’ve been getting questions from some of my readers about having more intimate conversations with women. How do you move past small talk and start talking about the deeper, more emotional stuff to build a connection with her?

One of the ways that I’ve found really helpful is to re-watch some of my favorite movies.

Wait, seriously? By watching movies? Yep! Here’s what I mean…

Think of your favorite movie of all time. (Your favorite GOOD movie. I, too, love watching Nic Cage steal the Declaration of Independence. Doesn’t mean it’s a good movie.) I’m sure you vividly remember the action scenes. The daring rescues and punches being thrown. A lot of films end with a big action scene.

Can you remember what happens right before the big action scene?

Typically, the story slows down. There’s a few minutes where nothing crazy happens onscreen. Instead, the characters take a second to have some vulnerable conversations with each other. They’ll talk about what their thoughts are, what their backstories are, and/or what their feelings are on the events of the story.

This helps us get more emotionally invested in the characters. It makes us care about what happens next. Here are some of my favorite examples (of course, don’t click the links if you haven’t seen these already and don’t want to be spoiled):

In the same way, you can help move conversations into deeper and more emotional subject matter whenever you talk to people by discussing your opinions, backstories, and feelings while also inviting them to do the same.

Try out this neat little experiment next time you watch some of your favorite films. Who knows? You’ll have some fun, and you just might learn something at the same time.