Yesterday was one of my best friend's first date. First date, as in, her first time finding the right dress, doing her hair and getting her makeup done, walking out to where a guy who's really into her was leaning by his car, looking clean and crisp, holding flowers and organic chocolate in his hand.
I was promptly rushed back to our dorm, "Holy crap, I've been outed!" I screeched, grinning. I closed the door behind me, leaning against it until I heard them drive away.
I walked back to my room in our apartment-style dormitory. I wrung my hands, took a swig of water.
I would be lying if I ever claimed that I've never fancied the idea of relationships. But growing up, they never really seemed feasible to me; they were a fantasy I reserved for mere dreams. The very idea was something I felt I shouldn't even concern myself with, as after all, you don't need another person to make you happy, and after all, most relationships in high school never lasted, didn't they? College was the same, right?
I lied to myself, making excuses because it was me that never felt loveable, not just that no one ever really seemed to find themselves particularly interested in me. There must have been something wrong with me, I would think. It's my fault they don't like me -- I don't even, nor have I ever, looked like anyone I would date, if I were a boy, if I were brutally honest. And I was brutally honest with myself. Dreams are just dreams; they are for sleeping, imagining. Not living.
It was your basic recipe for longingness. I had "tendencies of a tristful depressiveness," I once wrote, "a longing of some deep understanding I felt was just around the corner, the crux of my inspiration. Like a wave that never gets to crash on the shore, suspended by some unseen hand."
Every moment before my head hit the pillow, I was struck with this ultra-awareness that I was not who people wanted me to be. That I was ever so singular, in every sense of the word. It was the years of being told, or indirectly told, that you're not worth it. That you're just there. Though, most days, it was hardly the human population the little voice in my head; no, the villain in my story was more often than not none other than myself.
I was so caught up in the idea of not being who I wanted to be in someone else's eyes and ignoring who I wanted to be in my eyes. Who I was. Who I could be, what I could do. What I like, where I want to go. What I believe in. What gives me hope, what makes me smile.
I truly believe that in order to truly love someone else, you need to first love and understand yourself. What makes you, you? Why do you feel a certain way at a certain time? It's been said before to me so many times, but it has only been in these last couple years at college that I have come to believe it. Your whole perspective on life changes when you recognize that you have the power to make choices in your life, you don't have to fit anyone's cookie-cutter mold.
I learned that I like cooking. I like interpreting art. I like kale chips. I don't like country music. I like having socio-economical conversations. I'm horrible at being on time. I like sushi. I like comic book characters. I like donuts. I have a bad habit of leaving dirty clothes in the bathroom. I like French ballads and German pop songs and Japanese rock songs and Italian opera. I like doing things for people. I like writing. I want to travel. I like shopping. I think "that's what she said" jokes are hilarious. I like dressing in black, gray, and white. I like anime. I think Michael Fassbender is hot. I enjoy running. I like Chanel. I like working hard. I like finding fun in the tiniest thing - once, my friends and I were walking by a flickering street lamp. "So sad," someone commented wistfully. I turned around and started dancing on the sidewalk, "It's like a strobe light!"
Four years ago, I would have simply sighed and lamented about how embarrassingly stupid I could be.
Confidence, my friend, changes everything. When you are certain who you are on the inside, what does it even matter what you look like on the outside? Who cares that you don't have killer abs (yet!) or a flat stomach or Michelle Obama's arms or still get the occasional zit on your nose? Is it worth feeling miserable every time you walk by someone that you don't fit their supposed standards? No. You're not on this planet for them.
You're on it for you. To experience and, well, live. If you want to be technical and a tad bit selfish about it.
Compassion and kindness and honesty and empathy and a love for God are traits and choices that you yourself make. That's what makes them so beautiful. They're the result of actions that set obligation and decision apart.
They're what make you, you.
And so, in order to love and understand another person, why they do what they do, and what makes them make the decisions they do, you must first understand and love the person you will spend the rest of your life with — you. Because, if you're not comfortable with yourself, you never will be with anyone else.
It took graduating high school, going to college, getting a job, dealing with difficult people, going on long summer jogs, finding a great group of friends, and the internet of all things, for me to realize that.
Yesterday was Valentine's Day. In 2014, I sent myself a card, telling myself how much I always thought about myself, how great I was. In 2015, I took myself to dinner with The Great Gatsby.
This year, I went on a blind date with a book that turned out to be amazing, went to dinner with my prayer group, baked a red velvet cake, and stayed up till ungodly hours watching The Emperor's New Groove and munching on microwave popcorn with (s)quadmates.
I don't really need anything else, to be honest. I mean, the whole 'anything else' bit wouldn't be that bad, but the concept is not longer something the six year-old me always dreamed of. I don't need a relationship just for the sake of not being alone.
Because... I'm really not that alone. Waking up and realizing that there are people around you that truly care about you is something unlike any other. Passion can sprout from so many other places besides romance.
After all, "Adventure is out there!" And I'm going to enjoy every moment of it.