So, I’m single. A functioning single. I own a car, work a 40hr job, pay my own bills, and have my own life. Hey, AARP even sent me a card the other day, 20some years too early.
I suppose I could say that I enjoy being single. I do, to some extent. I can come home from work and change into my unpresentable-in-public clothes and waddle around in slippers and a blanket during the winter. I can pull out my mod podge and make stuff in the evenings. I don’t hover by my phone. I have time to invest in my family.
(I’m not saying that people in a relationship aren’t allowed to do those sorts of things…but I like to think that my overconsumption of hot chocolate is due to the fact that I am single and have nobody to answer to.)
I’ve been single for forever. Or a long time. I don’t despair until my grandparents remind me that they started dating when they were 14.
This last weekend I drove 6 hours back to my hometown, to attend a friend’s wedding. I saw a lot of people I knew from when I lived there. I delivered well-wishes from my parents, I made awkward small talk with old acquaintances, I stood at the back and hid from the bouquet, I laughed, I danced…and I met someone who lives in the state I do now. Only an hour an a half from me. A fellow Heartland transplant who is a fabulous dancer and may or may not have asked for my number.
He was nice. Very ordinary, very nice. I really enjoyed the dancing, despite my ineptitude and/or lack of experience with it. And I was pleased to have found someone who lived where I did. I was no longer the girl from somewhere over there.
He asked if I’d mind if he called me. I said no. Why not? I’m young, single, available…
We ended the conversation about the same time the cha cha slide started, giving me time to start questioning myself in between “one hop this time!”
Maybe I should have given him the wrong number. Maybe I should have said I was already in a relationship. Maybe I should have–
But why the insecurity? It’s not like I’ve been burned with previous relationships. He was a mutual friend of the couple that I knew well. He’d been the groom’s roommate in college. There was no reason not to strike up an acquaintance.
But, to be completely honest, I’ve never really dated anyone. Sure, I flirted. Sure, my name was joined with someone else’s in high school. But I always felt older than those around me. The boys I knew were too immature. And my last and post high school years were spent dealing with my mom’s thyroid cancer, a traumatic family move, and a chronic illness of my own. I spent a year getting sick, and have spent every day since then dealing with the aftereffects.
So I didn’t date. I was too mature, too busy, too preoccupied, too sick. Always an excuse.
So what’s my excuse now?
Insecurity. Fear of rejection.
I used to know everybody. To be able to walk into a room and reach out and talk to anyone there. But I started closing in on myself during my junior year, during the move. Then I got sick. I was confused over my failing health, I was out of my comfort zone, I was fighting for my old life back. I stopped being certain of myself.
By the time my health began to recover, I was in that awkward zone after you’ve graduated high school but no one considers you an adult yet. I started work, full-time. I got to know my coworkers, although the friendships there were gradual. Daily interaction and some of the friendliest people known to mankind eventually overcame my insecurities. Work is now my comfort zone.
Going to the wedding wasn’t the first time I realized my insecurities. But it was the kicker that reminded me that I am insecure and I don’t need to be. I have not given any friendship a chance unless it is shoved in my face on a daily basis.
I know who I am and where I am going. This second-guessing that I have with every relationship–male or female–is an attempt to dig away at me and who I am. And I have encouraged it.
So, honestly, I think I’m okay if he calls back. I think I’m okay if he doesn’t. I enjoyed the wedding, I enjoyed the dance. I appreciated the flattery and I like the idea that someone is interested. But I refuse to be afraid of myself and others.
So let’s hang out. Let’s grab coffee together and see if we jive. Let’s share our homesickness for our hometown and see how we look in non-wedding attire. You might never call back. You might deem me too short once you see me minus the 3″ heels. That’s fine. I’ll go home and wrap myself in my blanket and drink hot chocolate. And then tomorrow I will gather up the courage to ask another new friend to a movie. And we will talk and laugh and I will be okay if she doesn’t like me. Because her approval is not a stamp on my forehead. His approval is not a 4F on my life. They do not determine my worth.
So then, if at the end of it all I’m still single and friendless, I’ll just find another wedding to go to.