I was reading through Blogs tonight – something I haven’t had a ton of time to do in the last few days, so I had 22 new post notification emails to sift through when I got home tonight. One of them referenced Word Press’s Weekly Writing Challenge, which I’d stumbled upon in August, bookmarked, and promptly forgotten. This week’s is on advice. Mrs. Roberson over at Finding Neverland, in keeping with this week’s theme, wrote some advice on How to Make a Good First Impression on a Room Full of Teenagers.
I’ve decided to summarize both the best and worst pieces of advice I’ve ever received.
I’ve struggled with being single off and on for a while now. Sometimes I’m completely content being single (where I’m sitting right now, mere days after a wretched date – see the story about George* here – this is especially true). You see, I’ve had expectations of where I’d be by now many times, and every time I was disappointed because reality didn’t match my expectations, I’d go through a bit of a discouraged stint and wallow – until I reset the goal time for “getting married” back a little bit, and convinced myself I was regrouping and refocusing. I’ve realized now that the ‘when’ is irrelevant.
The best advice I’ve received to this in my life has come from people whose opinions and advice I truly value. They also happen to be people either in crappy marriages or those who escaped them. I mean, it sounds cliché… “it’s better to be single and happy than stuck in a bad relationship and miserable.” It sounds like the easiest answer to give anyone who suggests they’re lonely because they can’t find a ‘special friend,’ as my Grandmother loves to call them. But it’s the best piece of advice anyone could ever have given me. The first time I heard it, I’m pretty sure I shrugged it off, and thought “that’s rich, coming from someone who married their high school sweetheart…” You know what, though? Those people who got married young or who didn’t find dating all that difficult… they’re still married…. and being married is hard. Maybe they had regrets when they gave me this advice, or maybe they were just wise enough to see that being married would be so much more difficult if it wasn’t to the right person. Either way, why argue that?
It comes up during “would you rather?” games late at girls’ nights. It comes up when I’m trying to honestly reassure people that I’m fine not being in a relationship at nearly 29 years old. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be in one, trust me, I do… but I don’t want to be in one just to be in one. I’ve seen FAR TOO MANY crappy ones to be alright with settling. From where I stand, I’ve been single for 29 years… and for 10 of those I’ve been keenly aware of it. I can see the temptation to give up and settle just because of the fear that no one else may come along… but I can also (and more so) get behind the idea that given how settled into the path I’m on, and how great my life is and my friends are, why would I give all of this up for less than great?
This brings me to the worst piece of advice I’ve ever received.
It was the middle of summer. I’d been talking to a guy I found on eharmony for about four months. We hadn’t met in person yet, with him being on the East Coast and having a job that made travelling rather difficult. It had been a while since I’d heard from him, and this is something I’m a touch insecure about. It seems to happen to me a lot – I talk to someone for a while, then for whatever reason (I never get to find out), they decide they’re not interested in me anymore, but they don’t tell me – they just stop talking. Maybe they think they’re going easy on me, by not coming right out and saying it… but if you’re reading this and would ever consider doing that – please know I’ve never met anyone who found it better to wonder for a week or two while waiting to hear from the guy. At any rate, I was upset, because we’d been talking for months and then he just stopped talking … it was at two weeks and counting.
A long-time friend, whose advice I’d valued until this point, gave me advice that left me in a puddle of confused, angry, insecure, tears. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I sobbed myself to sleep after this conversation, and it took hours to get there..
He expressed to me that perhaps the reason I was still single and was having limited success with my attempts at not still being single was a direct result of my attitude that makes me unwilling to settle. Perhaps if I stopped saying “if he can’t accept that part of me, he can shove off” to parts of my personality, and molded myself into a more acceptable person in the eyes of those I’m trying to attract, I wouldn’t still find myself unfortunately boyfriend-less. Perhaps if I stopped saying that some of my evidently inherent character flaws were part of my personality that need to be accepted, and were more in tune with what others find attractive, I’d BE more attractive to those I’m trying to attract. Because apparently my shape and my face are plenty attractive enough, but the essence of who I am needs a bit of work. To be fair, he didn’t really have concrete examples – other than like… I’m intense. Yes, I am. I’m intense. And somewhere out there is a guy who will love that about me. Oh, also, I’m boisterous. Yup. I’ll own that. I’m that, too. Yet another thing I’m not going to give up just to find a guy… because I will be miserable. Those two things are a very big part of who I am, and I know many people who love both of those things about me. SO essentially… the advice giver got a ‘shove-off’ for a long time. We’re talking again, but not like we have in years past. Even if any of it were true, he didn’t have the right to speak over me in that way, especially not with the justification “I felt if I didn’t tell you, no one would.”
The advice given to me by a very trusted friend the next morning was like a breath of fresh air as I struggled with my own sense of self because of the words spoken to me. I was told that, in fact, those things WERE endearing qualities of mine, and that those aren’t things I should need to change in order to make myself attractive.
Long story short: There’s someone out there. He’s going to love my passion and moments of high intensity. He’s going to love my high energy, and my bouncy boisterousness. And between the super wise advice of my amazing, trusted friends… paired with some dangerous untruths, I have fully embraced my quirks, and hold true to the idea that since they are not in fact flaws, and are in fact personality traits, I will not settle for anyone who doesn’t love me for them, along with the rest of me.
Oh, and ps — if this is too serious for you, please stay tuned for a Red Flags (like the good old days!) post scheduled to release on November 6, 2013 — my two year blog-iversary.