Is It Me?
In a world where romantic relationships are glorified above all other relationships, it's easy to feel lonely during this time of year. Now that Thanksgiving weekend is over and done with, many of us have about a month to contemplate how we are going to trick someone into being our boy/girlfriend. We begin to wish we had someone to sing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with, or snuggle in with a movie and hot chocolate with. We want someone to exchange homemade ornaments with (better yet, make them together). We want to get cute couple gifts that announce that we are wanted. Even for those of us in relationships, we begin to compare the warmth of our relationships to the cute couple hashtags on IG.
As the loneliness settles in, we begin to wonder: is it me? Am I too ugly? Too clingy? Too desperate? Too dumb? We begin to ask: did s/he lose interest? Do I deserve better? Am I not worth it?
All of these self (and relationship) deprecating thoughts are honest, real, and raw; they are more than valid. BUT that doesn't make these thoughts healthy to dwell on.
For the longest time, I felt like the problem must be me. I must not be pretty enough. I'm not skinny enough. I was too clingy. I didn't show enough interest. I was too desperate. I wasn't open enough. I wasn't smart enough. I wasn't the one. I would change myself so that I wouldn't be too ugly. I learned how to put on make up, and I was at one point legitimately very sad that I don't have the financial means for plastic surgery. I would go on ridiculous diets to try ad be skinny. I alternated between being a super clingy person to showing disinterest. Both backfired. I would read and watch things that didn't interest me at all. I was miserable. No person is ever worth you pretending to be interested in something you could't care less about.
Recently, I had a friend who went on a date with someone she met online. I'd say that my friend is quite pretty, and is very photogenic. Apparently, the guy felt she wasn't "pretty enough", and told her to her face, "I'm looking for someone prettier", and walked off. Yes, that is the ultimate d-bag of the online dating world. I think she dodged a huge bullet with that one, but her self esteem was pretty shot by that.
I decided that it would be interesting to see what my close guy friends would say about me. I gave them this scenario:
"Imagine we never met before, and I accidentally texted the wrong number (yours). After clearing up the mistake, we decided to keep talking, and really hit off. We decide to meet. Would you be really disappointed in my looks, and how would you react?"
Here are some of the answers I got:
"You're average, so I'd run if I were an asshole." "IDK, you're pretty good looking don't tell my gf" "Depends on what I want that day" "You're ok" "I can't imagine not knowing you" "You're pretty stop being insecure"
"I think you're cute which sounds weird to say"
"I'd tell you I'm not interested"
"I think I've known you for too long"
So... some of the answers were pretty bruising to my ego, and my extremely-overthinking self honestly feels like some of my friends who offered a flattering response might just be being polite, but as you can see, the answers are very varied. Ultimately, "beauty lies in the beholder's eyes", and it really is just an opinion. It's hard to see it that way, especially when most of us are our worst critics. To hear that someone shares our views regarding something we feel insecure about is like a death sentence to our self esteem.
Poor self esteem is dangerous. It doesnt just affect us individually. It affects those around us. We become jealous. We tend to start noticing how others are "even worse" than us, and that can spiral into a really ugly pattern of trying to feel better by squashing others down. Or, it can manifest by maximizing others' faults to minimize our own. It isn't healthy for us to think this way.
Single or in a relationship, we need to have a good relationship with ourselves. Having self-love, whether you are a Christian or not, does not mean indulging in 100% what makes you happy. Nor does it mean restricting yourself 100% from what is unhealthy. There has to be a balance.
Loving yourself means rebuking yourself in love. RECOGNIZE your flaws. Push and encourage yourself to IMPROVE. Have grace and mercy on yourself; FORGIVE yourself. Know that you are imperfect, and sin happens. This doesnt mean you can be apathetic: REPENT and work on creating a plan for change. Beating yourself up is not progress, it just hinders you from digging deeper and understanding where things went wrong. Be PATIENT with yourself. Get back up and reflect, repent, and TRY AGAIN when you fail. Remind yourself of the TRUTH: you are imperfect, and can do imperfect things, but you DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT because God is perfect and IN CONTROL, so THROUGH HIM, you can OVERCOME all trial and error. Do not make yourself bitter with your inabilities and starve your spiritual needs; lean on God and His sovereignty and ability.
In secular dieting terms, because it is easily relatable and a good analogy to spiritual hunger: it is okay to have a cheat meal. It doesn't mean you should indulge in 3 desserts every day and feel like it is okay for your body to handle all that sugar. Treat yourself to that funnel cake at the carnival, and balance it out with a healthier meal and an extra set of burpees. Don't worry about the fact that you aren't just eating a grapefruit a day, because that's just a fad diet that will leave you with malnutrition and yoyo weight gain. Plus, you will just hate yourself (and life), because grapefruits aren't exactly happiness-boosting. Try dark chocolate in moderation instead ;) be faithful to your regime, but don't beat yourself up over giving into temptation. Reflect on what causes you to falter, and try to adjust accordingly.
I know this post is kind of all over the place, but to summarize it: don't let society conform you. I know the world tells us it's the time of year for is to snuggle up in cute matching onesies with our significant other and take adorably disgusting couple pictures with a cat, but look beyond that. We are so much more than a prop in a photo, and whomever we end up with also does not deserve to be treated as such. Love yourself and work on that relationship before a romance.