Last week I had one of those lonely-hearted moments. You know the ones that totally sneak up on you in a kind of blind-sighting way and leave you feeling exposed and sad and a little bit ridiculous all at the same time?They don’t happen to me very often, and so when they do I tend to get a little overwhelmed… My entire adult life, I’ve been a fiercely independent, introverted soul, so when I occasionally have those vulnerable moments of lonely-heartedness it always takes me by surprise.
Let me just give you a little back-story.
I have never been one of those women whose soul mission in life is to settle down, get married and live happily ever after. The sticky sweet fairy tale ending has never really appealed to me (unless of course it’s the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella featuring Brandy… because that speaks to everyone.) Sure, I went through a phase somewhere in middle-teen-hood where I planned out my dream wedding (to Han Solo, duh.) But I’ve never really held onto any romantic notions of dating, marriage, relationships… Sure, I would like to be in one… I would maybe even like to be married someday, but I’ve never really understood the women who are clearly on that mission to find “the one.” A few years ago I was taking a trip with some girlfriends, and I picked up a novel in the airport to read on the plane. One chapter in and my mind was totally blown, this book was on the best seller list, and one of the main characters was a high powered lawyer who quit her job so she could date full time. One of the other women was so terrified of being alone, that she agreed to marry a man she didn’t love and then was too chicken to cancel the wedding, so she decided they should get married in Iceland so no one she really cared about would see her marry this man she didn’t love. HOW IS THIS A REAL BOOK THAT REAL PEOPLE READ???? Ok, I did read the whole thing, because I was hoping that maybe eventually it would have some sort of ah-ha moment where the women realize that they are ridiculous, and then one of the married women sleeps with a male prostitute in South America, and I gave up all hope. (I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about my outrage of this book before… ) But the whole book just left me feeling really dis-enchanted… And here is the truly terrifying thing… there are probably actually women out there who are like this! Needless to say, my life is pretty much the antithesis of this. Call me crazy, but I’ve always lived with the belief that if you live your life authentically and passionately, everything else is just going to kind of fall into place. And so 99.9% of the time it doesn’t bother me that most of my college friends are married, that I am approaching 30 and chronically single… because I’m living a life that I love, and I fill it with things that I love. When people read my tattoo that says “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” and ask “well?” I usually say things like (and almost always get blank stares or awkward laughter) “write, have a bulldog, garden, teach yoga…thrive…”
Last week I was feeling overstimulated… I had family in town visiting, was working a few extra shifts, and was eating out a lot, trying to catch up with friends, prepping my house for a new roommate… the anxiety was building, and all I wanted all week was a night in with a home-cooked meal. I wanted to dance around my kitchen, sit on the patio and eat by candle-light, and absolutely revel in my aloneness. I didn’t want any distractions or interruptions, I didn’t want conversations or company, I just wanted my solitude…. that is until about 10 minutes into cooking dinner, and that is when it just came welling over me. And in that moment, all I wanted was for another person to be there… not just any person but THE person… I wanted us to awkwardly be in each other’s way as we made dinner… to talk about our day, I wanted to sit on the porch listening to bluegrass music and talk about what to plant in the garden next year, wanted to exchange meaningful glances while having a glass of wine as he did the dishes… I wanted countless little insignificant moments. I wanted to have someone to share my life with and build a future with. BAM. How’s that for blind-sighted? Introverted re-charge turned hyper-sensitive heart ache in 2.5 seconds. And I hate it when these moments sneak up on me, and it goes back to the whole “well you have your life together, and you shouldn’t feel this way! You can have it all” mentality. I keep thinking that I shouldn’t feel this way, that I shouldn’t be lonely, that I shouldn’t be filled with longing for a person to build my life with…It seems to go against the whole “I’ve got my life together and I’m fabulous” anthem that so many powerful and confident women have… but you know what? Even though I hate having these moments of heart-ache and fear and vulnerability… I also welcome them to some extent, because it means that I’m not afraid to be open.
Dinner for one (well you know, dinner for one with some left-overs)
Sometimes I worry that I’ve spent so much time cultivating this life that I love, that I forgot to leave room for my future. Because when you are a young, single, independent woman, everyone tells you that you can do anything, that you should cherish these moments, that you are strong and beautiful, and charismatic and that the world is your oyster, and that you don’t need a man or anyone else to be complete. They tell you this over and over and over, and you being to cling to it like a mantra, like a beacon of all that is good, until one day you realize that you were so busy thinking about what kind of independent life you wanted, how all you needed to be happy in life is a Bulldog and to write, that somewhere along the line you forgot to think about things like “I want to be somebody’s wife someday.” And maybe it just goes without saying that this is what “normal” people think about… that there is this underlying unspoken expectation that you grow up, get educated, fall in love, and start your life with someone. Maybe at some point I just figured this was a given, and that I didn’t actually need to plan for it… and yet I am such a huge believer in Intention, it kind of baffles my mind that I haven’t spent the last several years putting this intention out into the Universe. Because realizing that you want to build a life with someone meaningful is not the same as quitting your job to date full time. Realizing what you want your future to look like is not being a ridiculous romanced crazed single… And maybe I’m just a late bloomer (well ok, there are no maybe’s about it…) because I’ve known those people who instinctively have known their whole lives that they want to be mothers, or wives, or whatever… and that has never been me… I mean I’m not opposed to the idea of either (though I don’t think I will personally grow a human, I reserve the right to change my mind) but I haven’t spent the last 29 years knowing that that is what I was destined for. I HAVE known for that long that I wanted a bulldog named Toby, that I wanted to have a love-affair with writing, and that I wanted to get dirt under my fingernails. And quite honestly, I am still years away from being ready to be married (at least in the conventional sense), but every now and then I have that twinge of wanting to share the everyday with someone.
And of course everyone (the proverbial everyone) says that it will happen when you least expect it, when you aren’t looking for it, and yet the “proverbial they” still think I need to try online dating… and maybe I am dead wrong, but I just don’t think I’m going to find MY person on the interwebs… There is still the tiny part of my soul that wants the meet cute scenario, and a real life story rather than “Well we were a 86% match.” Sure, I’m all about being with someone who shares my passions and interests… but I’m also holding out for that moment in a coffee shop/ famer’s market/ winebar where he sees me reading Steinbeck/ buying peppers/ being flippantly sarcastic and thinks “I’ve got to get to know her” Because isn’t that a nice and wonderful idea? That someone out there saw you and thought “hmmm my interest is piqued. I think she is worth the effort of getting to know” And… really, I don’t know why I cling to this particular dream, since literally every single guy who has piqued my personal interest in the last 15 years and who I’ve actually had enough courage and gumption to ask out has either said nothing at all (hello, this is a check yes or no situation, no response??? that is a thing? Oh it’s a thing…) , or said yes, but then canceled, or changed his mind, or never followed through… And most of the time I can cling to my self assured independent and confident self… but there are the occasional raw moments when I’m taken aback by the loneliness and can’t help but think “but at what point did I become un-datable?” I mean, I don’t really think that I’m un-datable… I can make pickles, and I like baseball, and I’m a yoga teacher… some guy, somewhere is going to be into that! And I also have to quickly remind myself that dating is actually THE worst, so there is that… but it’s a little hard to just fall into a relationship without the dating part. Which is really really unfortunate. Because I’m great at the relationship part. I love the comfortable everyday moments, the trips to the grocery store, the reminiscing, the meaningful conversations, time spend walking the dog and holding hands, and curled up next to each other reading, and staying up too late talking…the ins and outs of living everyday life. That is what I’m good at. But what I’m not so great at is everything preceding that. I’m absolutely terrible at the small talk and the weird obligatory getting to know you questions of first date land… “what kind of music do you like?” and “how many siblings do you have?” and then I get awkward and nervous, and the once cool, confident and interesting person retreats behind this muttering, bumbling version of myself…
It get’s awkward real fast
Take Today, for example. I asked a guy out for drinks a few weeks ago, with no expectations, just getting to know each other… New Friendship? More than that? Who knows! I just had this inkling of “I think you are interesting and want to explore that.” So I asked him out for drinks. He actually said yes, and asked what my schedule was like, and I told him… and then nothing. Which was fine, because he is busy, and I am busy… So I waited a few days, and followed up, and when I bumped into him last week he apologized for not getting back to me and said he would give me a call soon. Perfect, I’m not worried about it! So flash forward to today, when I ran into him I had every opportunity to be confident, to be direct to say “hey! I know you are really busy, BUT let’s make this happen. Are you free to grab a drink tonight?” and I had this whole cool and casual attitude happening, and what did I do? I saw him talking with another girl, so I barely made eye contact, and ordered the usual, and ran away as fast as humanly possible… there was no mention of our future plans, of getting together, or really even that we knew each other… my mind ran wild with the assumptions about who she was, and what it meant, and I totally choked. Insert social awkwardness and anxiety…What is wrong with me? What happened to the confidence and the “you have nothing to lose” attitude? (oh yeah… awkwardolive… comes with the territory.) Because Dating makes me NERVOUS, it accentuates my awkwardness in a very specific and not always endearing way (because I will forever cling to the idea that a little bit of awkwardness is somewhat charming). And then I just get mad at myself… because even in this situation, I’m making assumptions. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, Maybe he is interested and just busy… or maybe he isn’t but just want to be friends so obviously he isn’t in a hurry to call me back… maybe he isn’t actually available…Or maybe he is just weirded out because now I’m being weird. OR maybe nothing, and I’m overthinking everything. (or maybe he will read this post and think I’m nuts… what can you do?) It’s unclear if there is any reciprocal interest other than friendship, and that could very well be OK with me, because I’m always wanting to expand my horizons, to meet new people, to make new friends. But it seems like I am incapable of even getting to the point of figuring that out without totally tripping all over myself.
And every single person I know says “well you just need more practice.” and then I look at them somewhat blankly, and somewhat with a “really? is that what I need?” look, because here is the thing, YOU CANNOT PRACTICE DATING IF NO ONE WILL AGREE TO GO OUT WITH YOU. I’m just saying, that seems like, pretty obvious right? This is my plight… but I’m working on it.
And in-spite of my track record, my ever awkward encounters, and my complete lack of successful dating stories… I’m still optimistic enough to think that any minute now, my “meet cute” is going to happen. And maybe it’s naive, and I’m sure as a result I’m going to have many more moments where the loneliness sneaks up on me, where the heartache creeps in, moment’s where I’m going to long to share the everyday encounters with a non-existent partner… but I’ll also have those wildly authentic moments where I”m not worried about impressing anyone, or rejection or really anything besides living a life that I love… and hopefully one day I’ll be able to share it with someone else. In the meantime I’m going to have many more dinner’s for one and glasses of wine shared with a bulldog, and I’m going to be open.