MoL: Day 4 – Tripped Up and Slipped into a Pond

by misscompetitive

Month of Love is a series where I faithfully follow the advice of one reputed relationship expert. Surely one of them will change everything.

This Month’s adviser is Steve Santagati.

I slipped up! Already. A party should have been the perfect chance to execute everything I have been practicing all week — the fitting, the confidence, the looks, but instead by the end of the night I was feeling very self-conscious. Something went wrong and this is blog gives me a chance to see just what. I am going to define a “failed day” not in terms of any concrete events, like if some guy did or did not ask for my number, but in terms of how I feel. And on this day I felt shitty, which is not what Steve wants me to feel like, so something went wrong.

I spoke to the friend that invited me to the party (let’s call her Fira, because she is bound to come up a lot in this blog, and because she can either warm or burn you depending on how you treat her) on our way back about this strange feeling of failure I was feeling. Like I failed the party. That is not to say I wasn’t sociable, or laughing, or having a good time. All those words described me at the party, and yet I left it feeling empty. Maybe it has something to do with the sense of promise and romantic mystique a party where you are bound to meet knew people inspires, which can only turn out to be a let down. Typical “Prom Syndrome.” Nothing went wrong at this party. I spoke to a lot of boys, made a few laugh, got at least one invite to a future musical reading (this was a hipster Brooklyn party.) Fira said she knew exactly what I was talking about, which gives me hope that this feeling, even though I am finding it hard to explain, is one that most of us girls have experienced.

I can pinpoint the specific moment things went sour. There was this slightly older guy I was talking to, and we seemed to be getting along great. In my mind I was on top of the world. This is what they mean when they say there are plenty of fish in the sea, I thought to myself, A fish! A Big Fish! For the duration of the party we exchanged side glances, and had chats here and there. We laughed a lot, which was nice. I was not swooped off my feet, but I enjoyed his company, thought he was cute. Most importantly I felt like I was standing my ground. But THEN, this fish of mine, started announcing to the room how he had a date with a ballerina tomorrow. And boom, from then on I became super self-aware. Are people talking to me? Are they laughing at what I say? Am I interesting enough? Am I pretty enough? Do I look leaned back and relaxed? Maybe I have some weird mannerisms? What if Big Fish could read my mind and saw that I nicknamed him Big Fish and freaked out because we are so not familiar enough for nicknames yet? Any thought is possible when you are under the influence of self-consciousness. In the blink of ballerina-twirl, the party was turned into this high school horror story where everyone finds everyone else but me interesting. Then I progressively retreated from the part into my own head.

Decomposing the party this way makes it pretty clear what went wrong. Walking into the party I felt beautiful and confident, and most of all really excited to put into practice everything I learned from Steve’s book. And to be fair to myself, I did that perfectly with Big Fish. However, as I mentioned above, there was large sense of “finally this guy I arrived into my life, here is my chance to get this right.” That seems to be a pretty benign thought, and yet what it does is equate my sense of accomplishment, and thus self-esteem, with how things conclude with this one random guy. So when he announced his date with this ballerina (really, she couldn’t have been like a store clerk), even though my heart was by no means broken, I felt let down. A boy you find cute who is taken should be slightly irritating, at most, but instead it completely changed the thoughts I was having about myself.

This demonstrates just how much my lack of relationship success matters to me, whether I admit it or not. Turns out being independent, ambitious, sarcastic, and a New Yorker does not exclude one from needing the mushy stuff. Really wish I had read the fine print. So even though on a rational level I can agree with a lot of Steve’s philosophy towards relationships, clearly it is much harder to reprogram my subconscious to follow suit. How to even begin? I really believed that I was in a more sturdy confined place when I entered the party, but the second I “failed,” all the positive thoughts I worked so hard to build up crumbled down.

There is a big chance that all the little things Steve recommends have the combined effect of targeting this very deep-rooted insecurity about a lack of relationship, but I guess only time will tell. I remain hopefully. Today was another day and I woke up feeling completely fine about that boy from last night. He might have been a big fish, but the party was a very small pond. And with this bit chin’ haircut I got today, my pond is endless methinks.