There was a period of time last year when I basically refused to go out.
I wouldn’t say I was depressed – that’s a bit of an exaggeration for me – but I wasn’t happy. There were a lot of things going on, from my family to my non-existent love life – and no matter how hard I tried or how much I damned myself to be more hopeful, I just couldn’t get there. And when my friends all made fun plans to go bar hopping in Brooklyn or hit up a gimmicky club in the Lower East Side, I politely joined them for dinner and weaseled my way out of of the late night excursions.
Logically, I knew that staying home snuggled up with my pup wouldn’t get me closer to finding The Infamous Love of All Loves – but emotionally, I couldn’t stomach standing in some crowded place, having drinks spilled on me and drunken guys attempting to hit on me while slurring their words. I wasn’t in the mood for it and frankly, at the time, I didn’t believe it would actually help me meet anyone worth meeting (I’m still not convinced it will, for the record, but I do go out more now). But more than the immature 24-year-olds hitting on me or the blaring pop music…
…it was all of those girls.
You know the girls – or at the very least, you’ve noticed them. They’re the ones in sexy, yet polished dresses or two-pieces, with men surrounding them. They’re the ones who have hair that looks like it was just blown-out, and skin that hasn’t seen a blemish since they were in middle school. They’re the ones who appear to be so effortlessly cool, so thin without worrying about how much or how little they eat or how often they work out. They’re the ones that the guys flock to, talk to, flirt with, buy drinks for, and take out on dates – or back to their place – but somehow, always wiggle their way into long-term, committed, happy relationships.
I’ve spent so much wasted time thinking about those girls and creating this visions of what their life must be like – easy, flawless, beautiful – and consistently putting myself down for not measuring up. I could blame my insecurity on many things, like that five pounds that I can never kick, my sweet tooth, on Mr. Possibility who always walked into a bar and pointed out the attractive women to me (because that was a nice thing to do to your then-girlfriend). I could blame it on the metropolitan city of Manhattan that attracts some of the most gorgeous, exquisite ladies from every corner of the world.
But mostly, I have to blame myself.
The thing about those girls that I didn’t realize for most of my young adult life is that they’re looking at me, just as I’m looking at them. It’s this silly ritual that women have and practice to the point of perfection – sizing up the competition. Without even trying or thinking about it, we’re all vying to be the prettiest, the sexiest, the thinnest, the fittest, the funniest, the coolest – the everything. And while we’re convincing some guy that we are the one they want to buy a dirty martini for… the second he loses interest and goes to one of those girls, we suddenly start discounting our self-worth. We’re all those girls at some point – the ones getting the attention, the ones getting the boyfriends, the ones who seem the fairest of ’em all – but I think it takes longer to realize that we don’t need to be those girls to meet someone great.
We just need to be ourselves.
I know, I know – you’re tired of hearing about how you’ll meet the right person when you love yourself, but it is still so true. And it’s something I have to tell myself over-and-over again, almost on a daily basis. It takes work to believe in something you can’t technically prove, but what helps me is to know that I’m not the only one thinking it.
I think my friend Kathryn said it best last Friday night.
After a day of finishing Christmas shopping, we met for margs and apps before heading downtown to a local music venue. It’s one of those hidden gems of New York – no cover charge, three stages, great vibes – and as we stripped off our layers of coats and scarves, I did the scan across the room. I tried my best to keep those jealous, self-doubting thoughts out of my head as I noticed pretty girls with handsome guys (obviously on dates or in a relationship), and I smiled at Kathryn as she passed me a beer. We swayed around, laughing at the swing dancing that we definitely didn’t know how to do, but were enjoying watching. I must have looked distracted or given my attention somewhere else, but Kathryn nudged me and said:
Stop wondering about what you don’t have.
And ya know what? That’s exactly what I was thinking: why does that girl have a boyfriend and I don’t? How is that girl so skinny, yet curvy? How does that girl have enough money to buy that bag and I don’t? How does that girl dance so beautifully and I can’t keep a rhythm to save my life? How were they all so much better, happier, prettier, greater than me?! That one statement snapped me out of my spiraling questions, so, with a smirk and shrug, we got another round of drinks and stopped comparing ourselves to every single lady we saw.
I’m not perfect but I do have a lot: a big heart that sees the good in every situation, a thoughtful, nurturing spirit that is always finding the lesson in every situation, a hopeful sense of love and life that keeps me positive and going, an incredible group of friends that remind me of what’s important, a sweet family and two parents who represent what real love really is, bold blue eyes that always get compliments, a strong, able body that allows me to walk around this huge city, take fitness classes and go on runs whenever I feel like it, a well-paying job and a budding freelance career, and so, so much more. (And fine, I’ll say it, I think I have pretty fine ass!)
We all bring something different to the table and we all wonder at times what those girls have that we don’t – but it’s a fruitless thought process. Ultimately, whoever we end up with, wherever he might be in this dynamic, massive world, he’ll love us for us. For all of those cracks in our skin or those love handles that we find so annoying.
He’ll love the outside and the inside and everything in between, and he’ll never wonder what we don’t have, because to him, we’ll have it all. So take a cue from that guy you’re going to marry one day – and start loving every little piece of yourself. It’s all beautiful. Just as beautiful as any other girl out there.