Last night I took a leap of faith and went to a large singles mixer. I was a nervous wreck, anticipating being sized up and the judgement that follows. I never expected to be dating in my 40s and it’s still startling at times. So, I ran around all over to find the perfect outfit, which is completely elusive when you’re trying to find something under pressure. Disheartened, I came home, shopped in my closet, and took my time getting ready… full makeup and hair for the first time in a million years. I convinced my friend to come with me, by telling him there are always way more girls than guys at these things. Good ratio for him, pretty pitiful for me. But, I told myself that I was going in with zero expectations, which helped calm my nerves.
The entire bar of a hip hotel was reserved for this event, so everyone was single and ready to mingle. The ladies were given tiny locks on ribbons to wear around our necks and the guys were given keys. A given reason to approach each other to find the partner to open each lock. After the locks were opened, there was a follow-up game where nametags were given out and you’d have to find your next match, lemon/lime or salt/pepper for example.
I was reminded how it can take me a minute to warm up to a crowd… I was slow to mingle and took my time people-watching as I sipped my wine. After a bit, a couple guys chatted me up… conversation was ok, absolutely no spark, but that was fine. However, the night went on and I could hear cheers as people found their matches around the room. It was like being back in junior high all over where I’m watching from the sidelines as my friends all start dating.
I was a bit of a late bloomer (aka totally awkward academic type) and that girl comes out full force in situations like this. It wasn’t till later that I learned to accept my dork factor and work with it instead of trying to hide it & pretending to be cool. In fact, the best conversation I had all evening was with another self-professed nerd. He asked me,”what is your earliest memory of being nerdy?” I told him what a great question that was, probably 3 times, before answering. Then, it popped into my mind. I was in either first or second grade, on Long Island, and checked out books from my school library to learn to speak Italian. My family is 100% Italian and each of my grandparents spoke the language, but refused to teach it. They used Italian as a way to speak over us kids… to talk about adult stuff. In that day, the biggest honor was to be American and that was what they wanted to pass down the generations… traditions remained rich, but the language was lost.
I told this guy that story and then asked him the same question back to hear his story. He said he was into computers for as long as he could remember, as a kid. I unwittingly replied that, “if you had a computer as a kid, I’m probably a lot older than you. I didn’t have one till junior high and it was black with orange letters.” He didn’t know what to say to that and quietly walked away… No loss, really, but it was amusing!
The entire evening, my lock never opened. I wore that lock all night and felt ridiculous but not surprised. It didn’t feel like rejection, exactly, more like being alone in a crowd. I did meet some lovely ladies and talked up my friend to a few of them (#wingwoman), but left feeling uninspired… wondering if I would ever have a match, a great love.
This morning, at church I heard a message that spoke right to my soul. The timing was a crazy coincidence (or more likely, a God-thing) that my pastor spoke today about LOCKS & KEYS! He could’ve said, “this one’s for you, Andrea!” It was that on point. He taught about how God is the master locksmith and is refining each of us to be able to unlock our hearts, our passions, our purpose. To be our own answer. He spoke of how God uses trials and struggles to carve our own unique key, so that we may use that pain and wisdom to connect with others. To enhance the lives of others.
I’m so guilty of trying to find the guy who would finally see me as worthy of love, instead of knowing that I am, and always have been. Not truly believing that God made me who I am with intention. Instead, constantly looking to others for validation, approval, and love. This has only led to heartbreak. And each time that’s happened, it only further affirmed that I really am unlovable, unworthy, never enough. I didn’t guard my heart, as God asks… I gave it away quickly, thoughtlessly. A vicious cycle to be confined to.
I think last night was exactly what needed to happen for me. The loneliness that tends to trap my mind needs to be repurposed into learning to see myself as worthy. To accept and enjoy being myself, just as I am. To turn off the negative talk that repeats incessantly in my mind. For until I know that I am worthy, without question, no one else ever will. Maybe I can then support others in similar positions. I can often easily empathize with others, but then have nothing more to give, since I’m still in my own mess.
This quote summarizes it so well.
“If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.”. ― Eldridge Cleaver.
Let’s get those keys carved and unlock our best lives.