A friend of mine, one of the more confident and composed of the group, surprised me a couple nights ago by revealing some of her crushing insecurities when it comes to dating. She cited some recent instances of heartbreak and siappointment. The fact that she does all of the right, good, titillating sexy considerate things she oughta be doing, with men and women alike, but somehow cannot anchor anybody’s attention. Told me about a particularly crushing encounter at a club over the weekend where some girl she went out with a coupla months ago, a girl she really snagged her toe on (emotionally), was making out with a guy and ignoring her.
She talked and talked and eventually revealed that the anxiety isn’t just about not being able to find love, but also this conviction that even her friends might not actually like her for who she is. She cited a line from Bojack Horseman that rang her bell: “Everybody loves you but nobody likes you.” Says she knows she’s often the life of the party, very gregarious and fun, and but it’s because of this that she feels like people love the idea of her without really liking her for who she is.
My friend has a good job, she’s brilliant, she’s casually hilarious and makes good money and, by the standards of probably most people our age, she’s got her baggage in pretty good order. She’s got lots of attributes that I envy and so there’s part of me that thinks, “OK, obviously she could easily attract a good partner.” I start fantasizing, frankly, about how much more fruitful my own dating life would be if only I had some of her attributes and resources.
Because I envy those attributes, and tell myself how they would make dating so much easier and fun for me, it seems like some cosmic misunderstanding that she shouldn’t be having those perks also. I get this vibe of, like, “Lemme speak to the manager. Straighten this out.”
But I don’t know what to straighten, to say, to advertise.
It makes me think of the helpless uncomfortable silence people fall into after pressing me for details about why I’m not published yet. They find, after interrogating me, that I’m doing or have done everything they can think to suggest. And still, remarkably, it just…isn’t happening.
They resort to the peppering of “So why don’t you just…?”
Why don’t you just self-publish?
Why don’t you just get an agent?
Why don’t you just do a blog?
The fact of the matter is that sometimes you show up and do the right thing and nothing happens. You don’t get your break. You don’t find your partner. The stars just don’t align in your favor.
I guess that’s the part you can’t control. What you can control is whether you show up or not. Whether you position yourself for success or not. And it’s a hard thing to sustain when you’re constantly assuming the position, at huge personal expense, again and again and again for years, decades, without the Good Thing ever coming along.
But that, I think, is what life is all about.
The grace with which you wait.