“Maybe you’re just being too selective,” my friend nonchalantly offers, bringing a Corona bottle to her lips. We are sitting in a bar, one of her choosing, and airing our grievances about life. She’s unhappy with her career, or lack of as she says, and I’m trying to solve my personal dichotomy of wanting love and never wanting to meet anyone.
“You’ve always been too picky.”
It’s not as if she’s saying something I don’t think myself. On nights I’m filled with a strange sort of jealousy that so many people in my life are coupled off, I begin fretting my love of solitude is a sign that something is wrong with me. And I can’t help from questioning my own behavior. You see enough Instagram posts of engagement rings from girls you once ran away from boys with on the elementary blacktop, you start to wonder.
Where did I go wrong?
I used to envy some of my friends and how easily they entered casual relationships. They didn’t need to know they were in love or immediately envision a future. A first date wasn’t something to obsess over — the what ifs and kind of anxiety that gives you acid reflux. They just focused on the now. And that now was someone they liked and enjoyed.
I’ve never understood how to do that. I’ve wanted to give all my heart or none of it. Nothing in between. It doesn’t mean things end in marriage or matching name tattoos, but I can’t help from wanting to look at someone and momentarily thinking, “If right now was forever, I’d take that forever.”
And sure, that sounds like a romantic notion, but it lends to a lot of loneliness. There’s a dull ache that comes from meeting people and never feeling much of anything. Maybe that’s why I stopped wanting to seek it out. And I get how petty and privileged this sounds to complain about, but when I find myself sitting across from a perfectly nice and handsome man and feeling nothing, I’m filled with an emptiness. And a fear that emptiness is all I’m going to know.
What if I met my quota on emotional attachments? What if my last great love was it?
“You’re just too picky.”
The truth is, I don’t like giving people chances. Romantically, at least. I’m in or I’m out. All the way. My mom used to tell me it was just how I was. It wasn’t bad or good, just Ari. I knew right away if I’d be invested in someone, never afraid of putting my full heart into situations. And I’m still not.
Being picky or selective or whatever bullshit label people want to give you doesn’t mean anything. High standards, low standards, all of it. These are just phrases and words we try to use for explanation. So people can tell you that’s why you’re sad. That’s why you have trouble finding someone. That’s why even your relationships aren’t fulfilling enough.
Nobody knows your path better than you do. Sometimes you don’t even know it. My path has been so zig-zaggy, I give myself motion sickness. But I think I’ve stopped trying to force things for the sake of others. I’m not going to just casually date to pass the time because it’s what a friend says I should do. I’m not going to waste my time getting to know someone I already know in my gut isn’t the right person. I’d rather fall back in love with the person who has always been there. I’d rather figure out who she is and what she wants. Maybe I’m “too picky” because I’m more interested right now in learning how to love myself again.
At some point, I fell out of love. And it wasn’t with a boyfriend. It was with myself.
So I’m trying to do that. I’m trying to find the pieces I once championed. I’m trying to figure out where this disconnect lies. I’m going to learn who I am all over again. Because she’s changed and evolved.
Sometimes life isn’t about chasing love. It’s about creating it. And that’s what I’ve got to do now. I’ve got to create my own love so that future love has a fighting chance. I owe myself that much.