I don’t know that anyone has ever said this to me in so many words, but I get the strong impression that many people take one look at my life and conclude that I have it made, and that more or less, I always have– particularly people I coach. This is true in many respects; I have a beautiful life filled with many blessings. But a good life does not mean an easy life. Rather I have a wonderful life because I can identify what to be grateful for and how to be grateful for it. People glance at the way I dress or read a snippet of my writing and assume that I’ve never felt the bitter tang of loneliness, never struggled to make a friend.
How comically effortless things seem from the outside.
No, Loneliness and I go way back. Let me be the first to assure you that there are infinitely more people that enjoy the clothes I wear or the way I write than people who enjoy being in my presence for more than, oh, 40 seconds. And I get it. No judgment or self-pity. Being with me is like slowly having the air crushed out of you by a fifteen ton weight; intense and somewhat exhausting. Occasionally painful, too.
Do you know the number of times in my life that someone, anyone has approached me and shown an interest in getting to know me in any capacity? None. Never. Not once. The fact that I have friends at all I can entirely attribute to my serendipitous and somewhat bull-headed tenacity.
The story of my life is something like this: people are initially optimistic when they meet me. And then I open my mouth.
So the rest of the story kind of goes like this: most people weed themselves out of a potential friendship with me by having zero interest in any serious conversation. Not a problem. It’s a mutually beneficial process. Then on occasion I stumble across someone who interests me wildly and get rejected, disappointed, or discouraged in some way or another. Then, on even rarer occasion, someone is actually stupid enough to want to befriend me.
I don’t exaggerate when I say I have literally never been approached by anyone just interested in getting to know me better. I asked out my husband when we started dating, I asked out my ex-boyfriend before that and made the first move with every platonic friend from the 2nd grade to yesterday morning. I was asked out on a date once in my life, but that was before the guy ever heard me speak so I don’t count that one. In case anyone was wondering, he did not ask me out on a second date.
Except something different happened a couple weeks ago.
I was in a room full of people and because, for the first time in my life, I feel utterly comfortable being myself without needing to entertain or impress anyone, I sat down in a chair by myself. And someone pointedly came and sat down next to me.
Do you know how many times in my life that has happened? None. Until now.
And of course this person travels almost the entire year and even otherwise, I’d be hard-pressed to find a person more difficult to get in touch with. He gave me his card and it was of such importance to me that what did I do? Went home and promptly lost the thing. I mean couldn’t even hold onto it for 24 hours. It’s like these stories couldn’t possibly end any other way.
So why do I say all this? To whine a bit?
No, because what I said is true; I have a remarkable, stunning life. And I lead such a wonderful existence because I know what to be grateful for. In all likelihood I’ll never see this person again in my life.
And I don’t care. Well, I care a little bit. But I have an unfortunate amount of experience to attest to the fact that the line between being tenacious and stalking is a very fine one– even for any average person. This person in particular is likely to have actual stalkers and I have zero desire to be added to that list.
But mostly, I don’t care. For once in my life, someone got me. I didn’t have to be first. That was a very, very cool and that experience isn’t going anywhere.
And I don’t care that my husband was too immobilized by fear to make the first move. I am so lucky to have found someone that is happy to put up with me so completely.
And I don’t care about the hundreds and hundreds of rejections that I’ve faced and will continue to face and I don’t care that I have to flag down potential friends the same way you run down New York taxis after the evening theater lets out. Because you know what? I am so lucky to have the friends that I do.
A good life is NOT a easy one. It’s one that’s worth it.