Love. What is this stupid thing everyone is searching for nowadays online or in bars or at school or back home or in planes, cars, hotels, etc....
When did it get so messy?
I've been off the playing field for quite some time, around 3 years now, but even before that I wasn't ever really playing the game right. I had the occasional guy I'd fall hopelessly, madly "in love" with, and ended the relationship by either sobbing myself to sleep for 3-6 months or setting my sights on some other "project". It was during this period I received some of the best advice I have ever been given: "Don't force someone to love you just to prove you're loved".
I suffered greatly from this problem. These "projects" that I spent weeks and months pouring my heart into were always guys that I had to push and push to love me when it was never going to work out. Everything was always one sided. To make matters worse, when a guy came around who actually was falling all over himself for me, I wasn't interested. It was too easy.
I spent my childhood being loved, and I know I'm extremely lucky. I had mentors and teachers who loved me, very supportive parents, a sister who was my best friend, and I loved being in the spotlight. It only made sense that to prove to myself I was loved, I should go after people who were more or less friendly but not as invested in our happily ever after as I was. It was a disappointing and exhausting game.
Finally I took some time away from dating to really focus on myself. There were a few slip ups, a few mistakes, and a few too many late nights with guys I barely knew, but I was single. And actually kind of ok with it.
This was when I learned another really important lesson: I have NO CONTROL over when the perfect guy is gonna walk into my life, and I will have NO IDEA who it is when he gets there.
Terrifying? Yes. But... I had to learn to be excited by it, not panicked. Things had to just fall into place. The key, I realized, is having an open mind and an open heart. Put the best version of myself out there, and to love myself.
This is almost a broken record: LOVE YOURSELF FIRST PEOPLE! When you learn to love yourself, all that confidence and security will shine through. If you are looking for a guy to treat you with kindness and respect, that is the message you need to broadcast to the world. Demand it. Don't settle on anything less.
Once I had realized this, none other than my future husband walked in the door. Actually, he'd been walking through the door for a year already, and finally he stomped in the door and told everyone else to leave immediately! Never mind that a car had crashed through our store window and he was taking charge of the situation, I just sat there stunned.
We got to talking and a couple weeks later, he asked me out. It came totally out of left field. I never in a million years would have guessed that he and I would date, let alone get married. But here we are, and we couldn't be more perfect for each other.
And now, as I sit in the same store we met, I can't help but think about how crazy the "finding love" thing has gotten. Loneliness is everywhere. We are all buried in our phones and our smart watches and tablets and dating people through texts and FaceTime while we tell our "friends" on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Instagram what a perfect life we are having. At the end of the day, it all feels a little hollow. Empty. Energy going... nowhere.
When did "falling in love" become anything other than just that? It's falling: an uncontrollable feeling of letting go and trusting someone to catch you before you smash to the ground and your heart breaks. Love in itself isn't easy, there is always sacrifice, but over complicating it with speculation and gossip and "likes" and selfies and over analyzing every little word and emoticon has turned it into the same empty interaction we get from everybody else nowadays. Where is the trust? Where is the vulnerability? Where is the open heart and the self respect? Where is the spontaneity and the surprise? Where is the "letting go"?
I realize I don't know everything about love; I am still young after all. But I feel my experience and my current situation have made me wiser about what it means to fall in love and stay in love. I see so many of my friends struggle to "find the right one" when they should be focused on finding themselves. In our 20's, we are still stumbling around trying to figure out who we are but we are so bombarded with media telling us what we "should" be that it's hard to know what the best pathway is. If my own life experience has taught me anything, it is that you will always have the power to change who you are and what you become. If you don't know what that is, take some time to reflect and look into your soul. Let it speak to you.
As cheesy as this is, learning to really listen to your heart will take you where you need to go. Keep your heart and soul happy and open and continue to listen to what it needs. When you can learn to trust yourself and love yourself, then you're ready to trust and love your Mr. Right.