I’m struggling with this notion that I have to be perfect in order to attract someone, she wrote to me. I’m not ignorant, I am 100% aware that I will never be perfect, no one is.
She continued, But, my apartment is a legit mess sometimes, my skin looks like shit some mornings, I don’t work out often enough… You know, it’s these things that you’ll inevitably haunt yourself with. I get up and I feel like I’m carrying 7 times my weight in sacks of my worries.
I closed my eyes and took a breath. I knew what where was going. I knew what she was going to say.
I ended something with a guy that I was convinced was my guy, because he wouldn’t commit. I’m still not over him. He works in my office, another building, a different department. But, for instance, I walked past a meeting room today and heard his voice. It was like, oh there’s the thing, there’s the voice that will always rip my heart out. Because it does. It felt like someone had turned my legs to jelly. I could hear my heart in my ears. This has been over for as long as it lasted. I should be over this… I should be over it… God, can’t I be over it?
I think as I type this: I’m answering my own question. Maybe it’s that I feel such an intense feeling of rejection that I’m making myself feel badly for who I am. I don’t know…
My question is: how do I go easier on myself? Everyone tells me I’m so hard on myself… every single close friend tells me this. I’m finally thinking they’re right. So, how do I stop?
I got mad, a little, at these words. Not at their reader, not for the longing and the want and the need to be heard and seen and wanted and loved. Oh hell, no. We all want those things. I got mad when I read these words because I know not a single woman – married, divorced, bachelorette – who has not, at some point, been made to believe that men are a scarce resource.
Single, imperfect women: MEN ARE NOT A SCARCE RESOURCE. We do not have to fight for boys, with each other, or through “proving ourselves”, as if they are oil. We are not in competition to get coupled up first, to get “secure” soonest, to be paired off to double our value. A man can buy us dinner, compliment our brain, text us goodnight and good morning, and we do not “owe” him our affections because we’re worried a better fit will not come along. And the ones who reject us – the ones who say that we’re not the right fit for them – that’s okay too. Because they are not the only one. Not the only fella out there, not the only one who we’ll find to spend our time with lovingly.
We’re hard on ourselves – all of us, collectively, as women – because there’s this huge societal myth that the “best” women get coupled off first, early, and those who “remain” are somehow less worthy. It is regretful that we be left on the shelf, that we’re not pretty or cool or thin or smiley or ambitious or whatever enough to be desired. And so yes, that leaves us doubtful, in our singleness, and confused and lonely, too.
We think it is out fault. That if we had just done something differently, if we were just a little less of this and more of that, we too would be loved. We buy into the notion that somehow, we’re less perfect than the women in relationships. Married. Having babies. There are so few examples of strong women, happy in themselves, who raise their hands to say, it’s just not my time, yet, that we make up who to blame and conveniently for everyone, we blame ourselves.
How do I go easier on myself? she asked me. How do any of us go easier on ourselves? We believe. We dare to hope and dare to trust and dare to suggest that the love we deserve – really, truly deserve – will come. And that just because we don’t have it now doesn’t mean that we won’t, and nor does it mean that we’re not enough in this moment because we don’t have it.
We go easier on ourselves by living a romantic life, even when we don’t have a romance. We treat ourselves respectfully and kindly, and revel in our singleness. We buy new lipstick and take ourselves out for dinner and buy flowers and jewellery and shave our legs anyway. We make plans that force us to put ourselves in the path of new people, new situations, to be interested in life and everyone in it.
We go easier on ourselves by assessing our self-worth against the smile we show the world and the kindness we have for strangers and the jobs that we do well – not by the man to our name.
Single, imperfect women, here’s the truth: keep showing up as the star of your own life, and your leading man will come. Until then: don’t apologise for not yet knowing him. Own the pursuit. Find the joy in it. For this much I know to be true – love loves joy.