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What I learned about emotional baggage on my most recent first date.

What if our 'perfect' online dating profiles are hurting our chances of finding something real?

It seemed like Seth and I would be a match made in cyber heaven.

Of course, I determined this based on our skimpy online dating profiles where we both strategically left out pieces of our life stories. Little did I know that Seth would teach me what it means to admit I’m human and come with a lot of baggage, just like the rest of the world.

Like every safe online dater, I made sure we met for our first date at a coffee shop. Nothing too serious to break the world’s most awkward ice. (Seriously, if you’ve never had the privilege of walking into a crowded public place with all eyes on you to meet a stranger, consider yourself blessed.)


First dates are fun. Photo via iStock.

The coffee date went well, measured by a minimal number of painful pauses.

He bought my peppermint mocha, which is always a good sign.

I made the mistake of choosing a coffee shop located especially close to my neighborhood, so of course someone I knew spotted me. A text from my friend came in shortly after I left: "My dad just saw you getting coffee. He said you looked like you were with a boyfriend."

I guess we looked natural enough to move to the second date — that’s good news!

On our second date, we met for dinner.

It’s a bigger leap from the casual coffee meeting. Somehow when forks and knives get invited, it feels like a big deal. But the conversation went smoothly, and we wanted to keep talking, so we moved to the wine bar down the pre-flooded Ellicott City street.

On the walk back to our cars at the end of the night, I decided he didn’t feel like a serial killer, so maybe we should disclose each other’s full names. It felt like a good next step.

Photo via iStock.

We laughed that it took so long to share our names, and then we decided we should try another date sometime.

He texted me a few days later and asked if I wanted to go for a hike.

Pardon the interruption while I tell you that it was January … in Maryland. If it’s not snowing in Maryland in January, then it’s generally cold enough outside that I really would prefer to be hibernating indoors. I contemplated asking if we could postpone this hike for — oh, I don’t know — four months? But I scrapped the idea, thinking I needed to appear adventurous and easygoing.

"Sure! That sounds great! Can’t wait!" I texted back. I mean, at least I didn’t totally lie and say something like, "I LOVE HIKING IN THE BELOW-FREEZING TEMPERATURES!!! ☺"

So we went on the hike, but it didn’t take long for me to lose all the circulation in my hands and feet.

Turns out it’s tough to hide fingers that resemble the dead.

I have an autoimmune disorder called Sjögren’s that affects a lot of my body, but loss of blood is one of the more noticeable symptoms. I guess it was time to fess up. "Yes, I was diagnosed when I was 16, and it makes my life a little more complicated," I said.

And just as soon as we got "SICK" out of the way, he started asking questions about my family. (I should have trusted my gut on the whole hiking idea. Nature brings out the deep!)

So I told him the truth: "My dad just got out of rehab for alcohol addiction, and we’re currently working on rebuilding our family after the years of destruction."

I suddenly wished I’d come down with the flu the hour before I got in the car to go on the hike. I felt like I’d brought one of those person-sized hiking backpacks and strapped it to my back, then started unloading one piece of my crap at a time. At first, I delicately took out each item and tried to space out the unloading into appropriate intervals. Then, at some point in our hike, I decided to dump the whole thing upside down and just put it all out there.

Hello, meet me and my baggage! Photo via iStock.

I wonder if our coffee date or dinner date or hike would have ever happened if I would have added to my online dating profile "I’m human. I have (a lot of) baggage."

But the problem is that we can’t stamp our baggage onto online profiles. Who would honestly swipe right to a profile that reads, "Sick. Addicted. Broken. Can’t wait to meet you!"

We live in a world of filters where we try to build a perfect image of ourselves online by sharing fake versions of our imperfect selves. And especially with online dating, we expect to find someone who’s as perfect as their profile looks. After stalking their polished profile, we meet them in person and then try to hide our disappointment. Because — guess what? — they’re human!

I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this.

Most of us are just trying to find joy in the midst of our pain. We’re learning to love ourselves and love our lives despite all of life’s disappointments (especially the ones that make us want to hibernate for the winter). We’re all beautiful messes, just trying to make the best first impression we can.

Swiping right is a lot easier when someone looks "perfect." Photo via iStock.

But maybe we should go into online dating with lower – human? – expectations.

Maybe we should be looking for the brand of baggage we want to sign up for rather than trying to avoid people with baggage altogether.

Maybe we should remember that "normal" means wearing the scars of past heartbreaks.

And if you’re wondering what happened to me and Seth after that hike in the woods, he did stick around for the next round of dating; he even met all of my closest friends. But let’s just say it wasn’t exactly that match made in cyber heaven.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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