One more stretch, you can do it, I encouraged myself early last Saturday morning, listening to the off-beat of my feet in Central Park. As I often do when my body can’t keep up with my racing thoughts, I become my own mental cheerleader and professional negotiator. If I make it to that lamp post, I can have the large iced coffee instead of the medium at Dunkin Donuts. If I make it to the east side of the park, something amazing will happen.
If I make it. Something. Will. Happen, I told myself.
With a race in a week and not enough running logs in the last few weeks, I challenged myself to push more, even if all I wanted to do was curl up in my corner of the Upper West Side, far away from the city below. Far away from those unfortunate feelings I unfortunately still battle.
Last Friday night was a rough night. And even the splendor of a pretty park run that next morning didn’t get the negativity out of my sight. With my friends unavailable and spending weekends with their boyfriends, I was left to my own company to attend an engagement and birthday party. Though I was exhausted from the busy week at work, I put on a lace top and heels, ready to flirt and celebrate. But a handful of vodka tonics later (and one pickle back), I found myself staring down the bar, sad and defeated by the NYC dating scene I write so frequently about.
It’s not like it was the first night I wasn’t paid any attention by a man or the first time I wasn’t bought a drink. It wasn’t the first time I had a massive zit right next to my nose, while I watched tall, slender girls with dewy complexions march into the bar, turning heads and stealing attention. It wasn’t the first time I worried about how I looked (Pretty? Thin? Sexy?) or how I came across (Too nice? Too closed off?).
And though I know it’s silly and even though I’ve written about self-love so many times I can recite my own words, I felt invisible. Not good enough. Ugly. Unwanted. Like all I wanted to do was run home.
And so I did. I tried my best to hide the tears on the train and then again on my walk to Dunkin, to claim my iced prize for making the extra mile. While sucking up the tears, I listened to my mom tell me it’ll all work out. But it just doesn’t have the same effect when it hasn’t worked out… like, at all.
It’s funny advice that people who have found love always tell you: it’ll all work out! It’ll just come together! It’ll be so easy and so fast and it’ll feel right. You’ll just know. It’ll happen when you least expect it. It’ll happen when you aren’t trying.
It’ll happen when you find love in yourself first.
It’ll all work out… After you get through all the work of dating and flirting and bar hopping and profile shopping and having good (and bad) sex and getting your heart broken a few times and getting your hopes up and learning to get your hopes down and having an amazing first date and never hearing from someone again that you thought you liked.. and this and this and this…
And that. And on and on. And on.
Logically and intellectually, I understand the advice. I accept it even. But emotionally, nothing could be more discouraging than promising things will work out and come together in some magical beautiful way, when currently, it’s anything but. Maybe somewhere deep down I know they’re right, but after playing the game and making the rounds for years… they’re suddenly just words to me.
Ones that aren’t facts or proven truths. Ones that show up when dates or love go sour. Ones that become an old adage I don’t look forward to hearing. Ones that make me feel less accomplished or less worthy or less something for having difficulty believing them time and time again.
But it’s when Friday night has pissed me off and I’ve pissed myself off the next morning by still caring that I do think of those words. Even if no one says them. Even if I don’t tell anyone I was upset. Even if I don’t actually trust them like I did three years ago. I just remember… It hasn’t worked out. Not yet. But maybe. Just maybe, it will.
After all… There’s always another Friday night.