You know how Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk when he becomes angry, well I somehow seem to transform into Laney Boggs from ‘She’s All That’ (remember her- super nerdy and awkward) when it comes to the first date.
I definitely don’t consider myself an awkward person, but there is something about a first date that makes me forget that I know how to put complete sentences together, that I know how to communicate without talking nerd, and that I know how to be myself. I don’t know if its nerves, or just me being awkward. Either way, dating is not my thing.
Do I open the door? Does he? Does he pay for dinner? Do I? What do we talk about? What do we do when those awkward silences arise? (because we all know that those awkward silences will find there way into the date one way or another)
And while I simply cannot stand the awkwardness of the first date and the initial getting to know one another- I think there is beauty in it. There is a sweet spot in new relationships that we all wish we could stay in. You know what I am talking about, right? That time when you’re both on your best behavior; when the dates are no longer awkward but are actually extremely fun; when you still haven’t had a disagreement, and when it seems that the romantic possibilities are endless. That stage in the relationship looks so desirable (especially in the romcom movies and my favorite tv drama’s), but eventually things change.
All of the sudden the deep, intimate conversations start happening and you’re a little too close to where you can no longer hide behind your best foot forward any longer. You step out of that sparkly phase and into reality. The reality that not every hair will always be perfectly in place, or that you enjoy sitting around in sweatpants drinking wine out of a mug (that may just be me). Or how about that you have times when you cannot explain why you are emotional, you just are. The reality that you aren’t actually perfect. Its that time when you actually see the other person for who they are (flaws and all). Scary, huh?
It’s one thing if you are rejected because you didn’t try hard enough on the first date or because you wore some crazy outfit on your first date. But if you’re rejected after this point, it tends to hurt much worse. Because you feel rejected for things out of your control, things that are part of who you are. And if you are willing to work past the fear of rejection- something beautiful does sit on the other side (like most things that are utterly terrifying). Think about that moment when that person looks back you, just inches away, when you don’t have every hair in place or are not in a perky mood. They see you for who you are, and they can begin to love you for who you are. Not for who you are pretending to be, but for you. Messy hair and all.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that to find that place (that kind of soul warming connection), I had to be willing to be vulnerable. I know that’s a scary word! I did nor have a good relationship with that word. I had allowed vulnerability to hold me back from so many great things over the years. Being vulnerable is hard, it’s messy, and its most definitely scary. “Vulnerability is that moment when you’re left wide open to the possibility of the sting, hands limp, defenses down. And that is a scary place to be”.
Whether it’s what filter to use on Instagram or how to angle the camera perfectly- we strive for perfection. We live in a world where we are constantly trying to hide our flaws; hiding them beneath perfect lighting and the most artsy selfie. Unfortunately, we will find no satisfaction in that quest for perfection. And there is no courage in that quest; no positive outcome.
We cannot be fully loved if we are not fully known, which leaves us with a very difficult decision. We can either hide and protect ourselves, or we can go with something a bit more daring. I had always chosen the first, even though it ensured that I wouldn’t be loved, it also ensured that I wouldn’t be hurt. But living that way is lonely.
Instead, you can choose (like I have since I learned this hard lesson) to live another way. You can choose to live in the moment, to allow those vulnerable moments to not cause us to run for the hills. We can choose to have to have the courage to be imperfect and to be authentic. To let go of who we think we should be and allow people to really see who we are (even in those places we prefer to keep hidden). It’s only then that we can really be known, and only then that we can be loved in the way that our soul so deeply desires.
Vulnerability is being able to choose hope. To choose the daring hope that someone will see you for who you are, know you for everything you are, and choose to love you because of what they see. Not for the performance or act you play, not for your perfectly curled hair or for your excellent choice of wardrobe, but for you.