Example 1: Last year, I felt compelled to get out on the dating scene and meet new people. Everyone around me was going on about how I needed to get myself out there and meet new people, because “you never know”. So I put myself out there, even though it felt kinda wrong. I tried some of the dating sites and whilst I met a few half decent people, the majority were a total waste of my time. I think I spent more time searching and sifting through “contenders” than what I should have. I spent time chatting online and meeting some of them in person. The best thing I got out of it was a free drink or two, and maybe the chance to polish up on my conversation starting skills. But finding someone to date or even a platonic friendship? Not so much. And of course, it took a real terrible date / meet up, to shake me up and stop me from wasting any further energy on this. It started off with me walking into the bar where I had arranged to meet up with this guy. When I spotted him, my gut screamed to just turn around and hightail myself out of there, but I thought, no, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt, because what would others think if I just walked away and didn’t give it a try? BIG MISTAKE. He couldn’t hold or keep a conversation. He was as dull as they come and didn’t listen. And he was handsy. Just ewe. All round. Then when I did call it a night, he messaged me non-stop from about an hour after we parted and through the whole weekend that followed. I felt like the typical masculine and feminine roles were reversed because his messages started getting really needy, clingy and presumptuous, really quickly… like that needy girl who needs to have her partner message her back straight away or at least message back the same amount of what she messaged. And that made me the masculine, because I simply didn’t bother responding to the messages sent. In the end I caved because my phone didn’t stop lighting up with new messages from him. I can’t recall what I finally did text him back, but it was probably along the lines of “Are you serious? Did you not listen to anything I said that night?”. I didn’t wait for a response. I just blocked his number.
So where am I now on the dating scene? I don’t bother and I only do what feels right. I go about my business the way I always do. I meet people all the time through work and when I go out with the girls, or even when I’m doing more mundane, everyday things (like grocery shopping), but I don’t go out of my way to meet new people and I don’t bother with any dating apps. I’m not closing the door on finding love, but I’m not going out in search of it either. I’m good with just me. If someone else is supposed to come into my life, it’ll happen and we’ll find each other. But no more expending energy on what I don’t think I should be.
Example 2: Back when I had my first child, I tried looking for a mother’s group to join because that’s the advice that everyone was giving: Find a mother’s group to help you through those early years with your new baby. I went to morning teas, I went to baby groups and classes, but all I found was that I was happiest when I did whatever class it was with my baby, focused all my energy on her, and then we left. Any time I did try and engage with the other mothers, I found them to be competitive and judgemental, about anything and everything. If I had an opinion different to the others and I voiced it, I was looked at like I had a third head. Oddly enough, I learnt to keep my mouth shut and just smile politely and keep to myself.
Now I’m not saying not to go join a mother’s group. I’m just saying that it wasn’t for me and that I never found a group that I resonated with, no matter how many times that I tried. Again, I should have gone with my gut instincts, but we all want to fit in, so I kept trying. In the end, I realised that I preferred doing my own thing, where I just focused on me and my child, and I was good with that, so I kept it that way when I had my second and third. I like doing things my way, without the need for anyone else to justify my actions, and I’m good with that. It works for me.
Example 3: Over the years, I’ve been added to chat group with other parents, for the school year that my child was in. (Given I have 3, there are several of these that I was added to.) I stayed with the group just to see what was going on but usually never participated in any conversations. Until the day that I did. Inevitable right? You’d think that I would’ve known better by now, but there are some lessons that we need to keep learning.
You can already imagine how this one went, right? A few people in the group started a conversation about something and I felt the need to chime in, because for once, I felt the same way as a few others. So I shared some thoughts on the topic, and the conversation kept flowing. None of us were rude, offensive, or nit-picking on anyone. It was simply opinions and experiences (to date) that were being shared. Well, soon enough, others took offence and started ranting about how wrong the whole conversation was and how group rules should be put in place to kerb this kind of behaviour. Seriously? Are you still in school where you feel the need to make up rules so that you can remain in control of a group? Where only useless gif files are shared and chats are kept to non-informative babble? Needless to say that on that one particular chat group, the conversations have completely died down. It’s like no-one wants to share anything, in case they offend someone. For me, that’s the last time I’ll bother with this kind of thing. I’m going back to doing my own thing, my way, focusing on just my children and will only bother reaching out (privately) to the few parents that I do resonate with, if and when I have something to share.
There are clearly some lessons that show up in our lives repeatedly, until we REALLY get it; Until we see and experience all facets of that same situation, in difference circumstances, so that the lesson can be reinforced… Until you instinctively know what to do when that situation comes up again, because you recognise it in some form. And you act accordingly, in the “right” way, without even thinking twice, because you know what the outcome would be otherwise.
So what’s the lesson here amongst my ranting examples? Be your authentic self. Always. Do YOUR thing YOUR way. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone except yourself. You don’t need anyone else’s approval – just your own. As long as you’re happy with who you are, then you’re good, whether that be with a group or by yourself. Being happy with you is all that matters because it’s yourself that stares you back in the mirror and you need to be okay with what you see and who you are on the inside. Call it self-love. Everything else will fall into place. If you’re supposed to meet others who you can relate to and resonate with, then it’ll happen. You don’t need to force it. It’s not going to happen if you hide yourself under a rock, but if you’re going about your business and life in general, the way you’d normally do by accepting the invites and going with what feels right, then things will happen the way that they should. Just learn to see the signs and recognise the patterns – both the good and the bad. You’ll figure it out. And remember, life’s too short to waste your energy on things that don’t make you happy or feel good, so always be true to you.