All relationships are accompanied with some level of difficulty, romantic or otherwise. Toss in some modern-day losses of things like formality and precision of language and etiquette along with societies ubiquitous message of “you’re not good enough”, we seem to breed entire generations saddled with a high degree of low self-esteem. Admittedly, I, too, was shrouded in that same insecurity when it came to my relationships.
However, this week I saw this photo on the Book of Faces and I gave a smile as I realized that in terms of personal growth over the last ten years, and most noticeably the last five, I have grown comfortable with myself and my worth to friends, family and lovers alike. Bring to light a conversation with a friend last evening who was venting to me about their personal life.
They started off talking about their worries regarding this matter and that, and followed up with an apology for what they felt was a rude message to me a couple weeks back that I might have taken personally. I smiled and told them that ten years ago, yes, I would have worked myself up to a lather, concerned that I’d done something to upset them. But now, I had reached a point of realization that their message had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with them and what was going on with them at that point in time.
My friend gave pause. Then they laughed. They admitted that I was correct and that they were glad I hadn’t gotten upset. I quipped, “There are advantages to getting older.”
I pondered on this conversation, and the topic in general, into the evening. I thought about my relationship with Mr. Muse and how when we were dating my biggest concern was that if things didn’t work out – I could very well lose my best friend. Once we were married, he had a job where he was on the road often for a couple weeks each month. Suddenly, I found myself battling the demons of “what if he finds someone so much better than me?”
I battled those demons on and off for a while, and now sixteen years later, I can look back and laugh at how silly it was to waste so much energy on feeding those “insecurities”. Perhaps it’ll come off as pompous and arrogant, but I’m a damned awesome person. Sure, Mr. Muse might one day decide his feelings have changed, but I don’t own him and he doesn’t own me. We’ve reached a point where besides loving each other, I respect and trust him enough to know that if he ever found himself in a situation where he developed affection for another woman, A) he’d tell me, and B) it wouldn’t be about me or any perceived shortcomings I have.
The same goes with friends. As we email and text our way through life with limited face time, words on a screen can often come across as abrupt and callous. We may misconstrue the message entirely and pin meanings to it contrary to the intentions of the writer. Why? Because we haven’t been taught to look beyond the surface. We take words at face value rather than read between the lines, as any good literature professor would tell you to do in class.
So now, as I approach my fourth decade on the planet, I look back and notice how much I’ve grown as a person. While I still might have horrible stage fright for getting up in front of crowds, my confidence with my relationships is at an all-time high. Aging isn’t so bad as I thought when I was younger.
And maybe watching a little Stuart Smalley helped, too.