I make it a point to lead a relatively stress-free life, but for some reason I've managed to squeeze a couple year's worth of stress into the past month. Illness, family illness, dog illness, moving with no place to move to, job relocation, and perhaps the greatest opportunity of my lifetime all at the same time. I'm sure I'm missing a few more but my head is spinning and that will have to do for now. But despite being miles up the creek with no paddle or land in sight, I am handling it all quite nicely but what I am most proud of is that I just realized today that Thursday is Valentine's Day.
Being in love was always something I put a lot of effort into -- too much if you ask my friends. I love being in love and am a hopeless romantic by anybody's standards. But I've made it such a priority in my life that I've forsaken so much else. Consequently, Valentine's Day each year has been a cause of so much worry and unhappiness for me over the years. It was a reminder of what I tried so hard to find, and could not. In those years I was in love, the false expectation or disappointment seemed to overshadow all the chocolates and roses.
Most men learn at an early age that nothing, in particular love, ever comes easy. I've concluded that whoever said "you can't look for love, it finds you" was undoubtedly a very attractive woman. Who was perky. And a cheerleader too I'd bet.
Instead I think the better phrase would be "You can't find love, until you learn what it looks like."
I'm not referring to outward appearances or even "what's on the inside." Love, I've learned, means vastly different things to different people. Many "successful relationships" are often so one-sided, that they are relationships most would never want to be in at all. There's nothing wrong with that for those if that's the way true love "looks" to them.
For me it's less about finding love and more about becoming your genuine self. How can you expect love to last if you offer up a persona that doesn't reflect the real you? If love happens prior to reaching who we are, it's unfair to those who are with us now. Think of the waitress who will become the famous actress. The future doctor who works the gas station to pay for school. The people they meet and fall in love with is who they are today, not their future, true self. And therein lies the problem.
This is all a twist on "You need to love yourself before anyone else can" but that's always sounded so selfish to me. I think it's more of learning who you are, accepting that self regardless of whether or not it's loveable. When you reach that point, love doesn't find you, but it's added to the menu for anyone who may be interested.
So rather than hiding under rock on Thursday, I will be thinking about becoming the genuine self and perhaps enjoying Valentine's Day next year with the genuine her.