For Chrissakes, There Is Nothing Wrong With You: A Dating Manifesto
As modern ladies of marrying age, our trusty inadequacy paradigm has always gone something like this: “I’m too fat for the men I like.” “I’m too ugly to get married.” “I’m too old to find a guy.” Blah blah blah, fart, repeat, dead (the lifecycle of the human woman). And lately, this other sort of protest-too-much inversion seems fashionable: “I’m too smart/too pretty/too successful/too interesting/too funny/too outspoken to bag a man!” No matter what or who we (hetero) women are, we are always too something for men. Isn’t that just fucked? Because to be “too” something implies that there’s a something else out there to aim for. But there isn’t. IT’S A TRAP.
We constantly frame ourselves as outsized or undersized from every angle—and we either use our inadequacies to punish ourselves (too fat! No cookie!), or wear them like some crazy cold-comfort security blanket (you’re my real boyfriend, sarcasm!). So couldn’t we just call bullshit on this entire idea and be, I don’t know, people? People who don’t exist “for” men? Whose lives aren’t upended by the latest terrible “too”-ness we read about in Cosmo?
We have to quit defining ourselves solely in relation to dudes. Like, “I am not me—I am some imaginary man’s imaginary perfect 10, plus 50 extra pounds, minus a 20-inch waist, plus a threatening commitment to feminism, minus any desire to pretend to care about bike polo! That’s me!” No, that’s not you. That is a weird monster you made up to torture yourself. I try to remember (and it is hard sometimes—real talk) that I’m an actual human being, not some math equation that can be solved by triangulating all of the nearest boners.
Because here’s the thing, sister-bros. It’s a fucking con. The longest long-con of all time, maybe. Stop trying to be what men want you to be, because men are lying to you.
Any man who is a person wants to be with a woman who is a person. Attraction isn’t intellectual, it’s involuntary—and if men really only wanted to squirt their penises inside of silent supermodels, then regular people would be extinct. But look to your left. Look to your right. Regular people in the house!
Fundamentally, men are attracted to the exact same thing in women as women are in men: Confidence. Self-assuredness. Agency. Knowing who you are. But it gets sticky, because confidence is also the opposite of helplessness, and a lot of men (insecure men) need women to be helpless, because helpless people aren’t in charge. And people in charge want to stay in charge. And the people in charge are men. (To be clear, I’m talking in broad, sloppy, systemic generalities here—not saying your dad is secretly trafficking lady-slaves from Belarus or something. You know what I mean.)
And on top of that, because attraction is involuntary, admitting genuine attraction to the people we’re really attracted to relinquishes a huge amount of power. It’s terrifying. And when the people you’re so terrifyingly attracted to don’t even give a shit about you? QUICK, TELL THEM THEIR CALVES ARE TOO HEAVY.
It’s basic beauty myth. All the faux-evolutionary excuses people give for modern beauty ideals (gigantic boobs means more milk for cave-babies! A tiny waist means a bigger uterus!) are garbage. I mean, have you seen “conventional attractiveness” lately? That shit’s gone off the rails! Here is what I will cop to in terms of our primordial human standards of beauty. To bag an early-man, you probably needed:
1. Most of your limbs. 2. Minimal open sores. 3. A baseline level of health and robustness to be able to care for a child and/or defend it from lions.
We, as women, go our whole lives believing this lie that all we have to do is to stop being too fat and too flat-chested and too bitchy and too uptight, and then the perfect dude will finally love us forever. But chasing that stupid phantom doesn’t make us necessary—it makes us disposable. It makes us powerless. Because we’re not people anymore, we’re holes. Miserable, back-stabbing holes.
There’s this dumb, deathless stereotype that women only chase men who don’t need them—but, um, that’s because everyone wants someone who doesn’t need them. Everyone wants someone who doesn’t need anyone! The only people who actually should be helpless are babies, and who wants to fuck a baby? Not me! (Pro tip: If you just yelled “Meeeeee!” and high-fived yourself, call the cops.) Co-dependence is not hot.
But what’s needier than turning your life into one endless Sally Jesse Raphael makeover episode? What’s more helpless than carving yourself out of some dude’s janky old rib? That is the opposite of finding an actual person who might actually love you. So stop it. You are not “too” anything for anyone. Be a person. Hang out with people. Do what you want and you’ll get what you want. Giving up on other people’s expectations isn’t settling—it’s demanding what you fucking deserve.
I just want to write down this story to ensure that I never forget it.
Yesterday, Charlie, Michael, Katherine, and I went on a hike in the Bitterroot Valley. This is about an hour south of Missoula, where Montana goes from being a semi-metropolitan, liberal college town, to a collection of…
1. Physical attributes you find particularly alluring? 2. Mental/personal attributes you find particularly alluring? 3. Name a book that changed your life. 4. Detail your personal feelings about public transit and share a story involving a mode of public transportation. 5. Is a fixed-gear bicycle an automatic sign of hipsterdom? 6. Where was the first place you were allowed to walk to/go to without adult supervision? 7. Have you ever played ‘the floor is lava” game? 8. Were you a proponent of the pillow fort or the blanket tent? 9. Best time you ever had in a natural (i.e. outside an urban area) setting? 10. Best compliment you ever received? 11. What is the worst thing about living in these times? 12. Name two historical crushes. 13. How accurate is your zodiac sign when describing you? 14. Name the best combination of flavors ever. 15. Name one thing that causes tension between you and your family members. 16. Who and what do you love? 17. Ten small things that make you ecstatic.
This is the thing: When you hit 28 or 30, everything begins to divide. You can see very clearly two kinds of people. On one side, people who have used their 20s to learn and grow, to find … themselves and their dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults. Then there’s the other kind, who are hanging onto college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate, because they’re too scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great, because they don’t want to be lonely. … they mean to develop intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than when they graduated.
Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal.
Ask yourself some good questions like: “Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? … Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that’s keeping me from moving forward?”
Now is your time. Walk closely with people you love, and with people who believe … life is a grand adventure. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.
I’ve been working really hard at the gym for the past couple weeks and eating as well as possible, as well as counting calories every day. I haven’t lost anything. I’m still hovering around 150, still 20 lbs. above the lowest weight I reached with my weight loss last year. I gained 20 and it will not budge. I know McDonald’s fries won’t help the situation at all, but sometimes it becomes difficult to care. Back to working hard tomorrow, and I mean that.
I can speak to that with my own experience. I find the best thing to do in this situation is to just not be so hard on yourself. I know, easier said than done, but when I make a choice (and that’s what it is) to eat something I know isn’t the best for me, I accept that that’s the choice I’m making in this moment. It does not mean my hard work is for naught, and it does not mean I’ve thrown in the towel. It means I am a human being and sometimes giving in to those situations is a little easier than fighting them and making a worse choice later.
“Isn’t that why we explore and also why we read and watch sports and browse tumblr and study astrophysics…I think we’re after that terrifying, awesome, other worldly feeling of not knowing what lies in wait.”—John Green (via fromearthtostarbucks)
“Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers - for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.”—Osho (via fuckyeahstellapeach)
“Once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”—Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (via selfinspiration)