“How long has it been since your last relationship?”
“Well, about six months. But, actually, it’s been a few years since I’ve had a real relationship – something that lasted more than a couple of months,” I reply coolly.
He raises his eyebrows and chuckles, as he says “I can tell!”
My immediate reaction is to tense up, but I try to laugh it off. “What do you mean,” I say with a forced smile, “why can you tell?”
He doesn’t offer any sort of concrete answer, just reiterates that it’s blatantly obvious that I’ve been on my own a long time.
My heart sinks down into my stomach. My spine curls. I can’t know for certain, but I’m sure my skin has taken on a greenish hue. I’m becoming some hideous, despicable creature who no one could ever love.
What does he mean he can tell? Can other people tell, too? Do I give off some sort of repellant Forever Alone vibe to everyone I meet? Does he think that I don’t know how to be intimate with people? Well, of course it would seem that way to him since I’ve only just met him. What does he know? I can be intimate with people once I’ve gotten to know them better … can’t I?
Suddenly, I’m not so sure.
The introverted freak
All the emotions I felt as an awkward introverted teen come flooding back. I’m no longer Michaela Chung, the self-assured, (mostly) emotionally stable 29-year old woman who generally has a positive outlook on life.
I am a greasy, grimy little weirdo who doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. This version of me feels wounded, misunderstood, inferior.
Worse still, she knows what people think of her. She can read people’s thoughts and emotions well. She knows exactly what it would take to fit in. To impress people. To be ‘normal’.
There was a time when comments like the ones that just came from her new acquaintance would send her into a fury of action.
She would join a bunch of clubs to prove that she can interact with other humans; she would give herself a makeover and use her beauty as a shield from hurtful comments; she would go on a dizzying number of dates to show how desirable she is; she would win some trophies, and drape herself in achievement.
The secret of true connection
Yes, I’ve done a lot of things to prove that I’m a real person. And then I realized something.
The people I was trying to prove myself to don’t matter. I didn’t even like most of them. And the ones I did genuinely love and respect weren’t so interested in my frenzied efforts to feel okay. To feel like I am enough. They saw something worthwhile in the freakish little weirdo, who may or may not have an invisible Forever Alone sign planted squarely on her forehead.
And that, my Internet friend, is what real connection is all about.
It’s not about mastering the art of socializing, or discovering the best small talk hacks. And it’s certainly not about hiding behind a mask of accomplishment. Because nothing you can do or say makes you worthy of love.
YOU are worthy.
Just as you are.
Just as you’ve always been.
You ARE worthy.
Today, yesterday and tomorrow.
You are WORTHY.