Let the right one in.
Radiohead — Everything in its right place
This is not a hoorah- story of male-bashing. This is not a euphemism for bitterness. This is not in any way shape or form a tearing down of love. I write this in praise of love, true love, real love, the most important kinds of love. I write this with sheer optimism bathed in wisdom and logic over many years of data collected. I write this for others who may currently be looking for their “forever love”, in hopes that they might learn the lessons and methods that I now utilize in my life that save me stress, energy and heartbreak….so that they may enjoy those that walk into your life, without putting anchors on them, so it’s not painful or remarkable when they walk out of it. Let go of the pressure you put upon yourself and others to be something else.
I’ve been through what feels like varying degrees and circles of hell compared to most of my peers and counterparts in every regard of human life. Despite it all, I would NEVER change anything that’s happened because it was necessary to lead me to who I am today, a person I love being with, who I love to water and witness in the growth and flowers that bloom from me, and of myself, because of myself.
Prior to the Winter of 2020, I lived my life with blind optimism leading the way for a false hope that a romantic partner would somehow magically make everything wrong, better. I learned this in the media I consumed as a child. In American Culture and most other cultures for that matter, we are fed narratives that the hardest part of true love is finding your other half, and getting to the point of embarking on your ‘soulmate’ relationship.
This, I have found, is a lie. There are no classes or resources in life that are easily accessible at young ages to explain to you how to communicate, how to cultivate your self-esteem, and how to handle the less than stellar feelings that life will throw at you along the way.
As a recently minted 33 year old all the lessons have come to fruition. There are many “soulmates” you are compatible within one or more forms (intellectually, physically, emotionally, etc.). One factor that is correlative to the longevity of the relationship is the timing, where are you both at this point in life, and what does each of you at this point in your life want and value?
The second and most important factor of all is the knowledge, coupled with some experience, of understanding that the secret to love isn’t butterflies, hot chemistry, or flowers, it is all of that PLUS commitment and selflessness to put that person and everything connected to them on the level of importance of you yourself (of course not immediately, and hopefully you choose a person who wouldn’t put it all on you because they’re a full person already). It is still making effort and always being open-minded and empathetic to this other human who you won’t always be attracted to, who will have days and weeks and months and maybe even years where they are getting kicked and you might have to alter parts of you to support them. They would do the same for you, if it came to it. It is unconditional. It is strong, and it is beautiful.
Long-lasting love takes time, daily effort and hard work. It’s like a beautiful garden of complex layers and flowers and both parties have to water it and do the labor to ensure the garden is in bloom year-round. So you hope you can find someone amazing to be on your team to cultivate your life’s garden. This is not a light matter so why would I want to rush it or force it? Especially when I can water my own garden pretty well so that if a partnership did come up, I wouldn’t ask too much of them.
After I had a relationship end in 2020, I had met a guy I’ll call N. He was half Portuguese and half Indian. He spoke 5 languages, had 3 degrees and dressed well. He also rode a motorcycle, like me, and had the penthouse unit on a high rise in downtown San Jose. He was politically minded and could hold his own on many topics. He was 3 years younger than me. He told me wanted to have children. He told me he wanted to get married and that he was falling madly in love with me. He opened doors for me. You get it I think. He was quite wonderful. And I went about it all wrong. He was great for the first 4 dates then canceled or no-showed for the next 3 without explanation. I was confused and hurt. There was unnecessary pressure.
On paper, I believed he could very well be my future husband, and this was not a good lens to have on, it’s heavy and put pressure on myself and on him. That was my first mistake, seeing it like that. I should have just seen it objectively and not read too much into it.
I no longer look at people through the lens of potential partners. I was hurt by N because I felt rejected and let down because of the pressure that was riding on it all, when in fact, his disappearance had nothing to do with me and in no way, shape or form was tied to my own self-worth. This is a simple and obvious statement but I have spent every day since then strengthening this notion.
I thought back to when things ended permanently with my ex recently before I met N, and thought about when I found out he had been involved with another woman he really was attracted to in every way while we were allegedly trying to work it out. I took it personally at the time and I think all my tears were more about the rejection and act of dishonesty rather than the end of the relationship. Had he told me beforehand I believe I would have felt differently and wished him well. I also had been attracted to someone from school who taught me that in my future endeavors perhaps I might feel a more profound sense of connection and understanding with someone who was more culturally akin to that of my culture. To be clear, my last long term relationship with T was still the best one I’ve ever had. He reminds me a lot of that song by OutKast https://genius.com/Outkast-prototype-lyrics. He inspired a lot of qualities that I know I want in a partner but ultimately it wasn’t the right fit. I am so grateful.
I’m having more fun in life without these pressures but I’m still smart and maintain a standard of decency and respect. For example, I had met a cool guy, another artist, who brought me food and helped me out with my dog. We had a cool and fun time, I lived in the moment and didn’t try to assess him anyway, didn’t put any pressure on him. I merely enjoyed another human being in my life.
But, he seemed like hewas flakey, he made loose plans with me and canceled them before they were supposed to start one day. I might be single and chill, but I still have a busy schedule, and this behavior isn’t something I want to encourage. It really irks me in friends, colleagues, whomever — this had nothing to do with romance or whatever this new substitute is. Thus, I gave him a nice communicative text like “Hey, no worries but I really don’t like this, it throws my schedule off when I block off time for something that ends up not happening. Please don’t do this again and thanks for understanding.” He never reached out to me again and I didn’t take it personally in any way. My love languages include punctuality, making, and keeping plans.
I’ve learned to reallocate the energy to myself. I went through hell this winter. My brother had COVID-19 with preexisting conditions, I had to switch focuses in my PhD, I was isolated because I live in a small studio. I was looking for the wrong thing in other people. I was on 4 different dating apps, and now I’m on one that I check maybe once every two weeks. I no longer have these expectations of people or look for clues to indicate their intentions. Happiness is the sum of the distance between Expectations and Reality. Since I control all the things in my life and have now elevated them to weigh more in my happiness, I can enjoy other people where they’re at, whether they want to be friends, lovers, all the above, none of the above, some of column A and some of column B or who the hell cares? I enjoy people, their conversations, on occasion more than that, and I make no requests, I do not get upset or sad if people move on or don’t want to spend time with me. I accept them, I respect them, I enjoy and I learn from them as long as they want to hang around.
Whatever is meant to be will be, I will let people be who they are and I will be who I am. I want a long-lasting love, but I will never go out of my way to chase it down like something to be hunted and micromanaged. And that’s real love. And that’s sustainable and healthy.
Every day, I dance, I write, and if I’m really on top of my shit, I play music. Even if only for 20 minutes. I listen to my news and politics podcasts while I stretch and drink my coffee, I live my life on my own terms, I walk my dog and do the workout stations. I watch the clouds roll by and smell the roses that I buy for myself every 3 weeks. I provide for my family emotionally and financially. I have my dog, I have my pole, good friends, and good colleagues. I now teach more classes at Universities thanks to zooming so I’ve never been better in that regard. Once the pandemic is done, my passport will be getting used again and I look forward to more adventures. New York, Lebanon, Chile, Egypt, Mexico are on the list of places to hit up next.
I no longer need to wait for or ask another person to make time for me, or do things for me, because I do them myself. Whoever I end up with is going to be a lucky person, because I will not need too much from them as I’ve grown accustomed to this high level of independence in every regard.
I am an amazing, passionate, scientist dancer that advocates for changing the toxic culture of the academy to be more inclusive and conducive to mental health and wellness, I show up for my friends. I will never stop being optimistic. I am open to life, love and adventure and I have lived 9 amazing lives filled with love and adventure. I don’t need Tinder, I’m already a living, breathing force of -a fire.
All this will remain to be true as I continually get ghosted, insulted, rejected, overlooked etc. by people I will meet on apps, employers, advisors, colleagues, whomever…. It’s a part of life that will always happen but now I won’t let it eat at me. It is what it is. And that fact baptizes me every day to live happily and positively. I let the right one in: it was me all along.