I went on a coffee date earlier this month to meet a man I had been chatting with online. It was our first meeting, the one you set up so that you can have that ‘see if you are who you say you are’ moment. I don’t even drink coffee, it’s just a part of the process. I had tea.
The meeting was ok, there was nothing glaringly awful about him. He was a little dull and it felt like a bit of work on my part to keep the conversation going but that’s nothing new to me, I’m usually the talker. Physically he was thinner than I had thought and not quite as tall as I had hoped, but again, nothing awful. He had a nice smile, laughed at my jokes, and didn’t commit any huge first date mistakes like talking about exes or snorting cocaine. At the end of the date we parted ways with a hug and a ‘nice to meet you, text you later’.
I considered things on the way home and decided that he wasn’t for me. He just wasn’t interesting enough. He was perfectly acceptable in every way, but there was nothing there that made me want to know more, or that sparked that tingling feeling down under. I mentally prepared myself to let him know that the next time he asked me out, and went on with my day.
A few days went by before I realized that I hadn’t heard from him, and it stopped me in my tracks. At first I thought maybe he just got busy and hadn’t had time to message. Then I checked his activity and could clearly see that no, he had been online. Quite a bit actually. I thought maybe he felt that I was too good for him and he was intimidated. I worked my way through the entire list of excuses we come up with for why people don’t message us (family emergency, hit by a bus, dying pet, etc.), and then it hit me. I had been so sure in this situation that I was the better catch and that I would be the one letting him down that it hadn’t even occurred to me that he might not be interested in me.
My issues with self-confidence go so far back I can’t remember what life was like before them. At a very young age my family decided I was ‘getting fat’ and put me in ballet. Awful choice for someone who is already taller and rounder than the average girl. For a decade I was sent to the back row in every class and performance because I was ‘too big’, regardless of skill or how thin I got. All of my body issues stem from this. I later found many sports more suited to my build, and was very successful at some of them, but my self-image never fully recovered. I compensated by developing a quick mind and great social skills, so that I could feel good enough to be accepted by others.
When I was a teenager an incident occurred that destroyed all of that. Since I didn’t feel like I could build my self-worth around my physical qualities I had built it up based on my intelligence, on my likeability, and on my strength in putting myself out there trying new things. The incident took all three of those qualities and turned them against me, effectively knocking out all of the tent poles I had built my sense of self on. I felt like I should have been smart enough not to get into that situation, that I should have been liked and thus protected enough that it would never happen to me, and I found out that my so called strength was actually a reckless disregard for personal safety. I came out of that situation with nothing left, nothing about myself that I could value. I felt completely worthless, at a time in my life when feeling worthy was everything.
I spent a decade of my life trying to hide that feeling, hoping no one would notice, and then another decade quietly wallowing in it, once there was nobody left to notice. I became depressed, introverted, and really never spent time with anyone outside of work or my family.
About 5 years ago I got sick of what my life had become, of not having those pieces that had been such an important part of me, and finally decided to deal with it. It was a long process, a post of its own one day maybe, but at some point in the last two years I realized I felt like myself again. I can’t pinpoint when exactly but it’s there, or to be more accurate, I am there. I’m back. I still have a lot of hang ups with my physical self-image, I doubt those will ever go away and will likely continue to be an issue in some relationships going forward, but I have rebuilt the pillars in my mind that represent who I am. I once again feel confidence stemming from my intelligence, my likeability, and my strength. It has been hard fought but I have won back the things I thought had been taken from me, but that in reality I had unconsciously given up.
The first few paragraphs of this post are easily the most arrogant thing I have ever written. They are all about me, how I felt, my judgement of him, and my plan going forward. I don’t mention his feelings or consider his thoughts at all, and I don’t think about where he is at in his life, how I would or would not fit in it, etc. Four years ago when I started online dating not hearing from a man within 24 hours of meeting him would have sent me into a tailspin of ‘what did I do wrong’, ‘what doesn’t he like about me’ and ‘what if I never meet someone as good as him again’. I didn’t consider any of that this time. I didn’t even notice I hadn’t heard from him.
Arrogance isn’t something to strive for, it’s rarely helpful in life or an attractive quality, and it’s not something that I want as part of my personality. I crossed the line from feeling like a good person to feeling like a better person than someone else. Now that I know I have the potential to do that I will be watching for it, trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again. At the same time though, I can’t help but feel a little proud of the progress that I have made. I have gone from the lost in doubt woman I was to having enough confidence that I can brush off a new person not wanting me like I would brush spilled sugar off a table. Annoying maybe, but an expected part of life. I’ve learned to accept that just because I’m not everyone’s cup of tea doesn’t mean I’m not a wonderful one.