A conversation with a friend.
I remember a very interesting conversation I had with a close male friend of mine my freshman year in college.
We were alone at our work-study job on campus having one of our intellectual conversations, as we liked to humorously refer to them as.
The particular topic that day was his to choose. He wanted to talk about dating. I wasn’t clear if he was in a roundabout way trying to assess his opportunity with me or not.
I hoped not, since I had taken his measure in my mind and found his height had already disqualified him as a suitable partner.
He started the conversation.
“The problem with females is that they assume all males are alike. They don’t genuinely love, they just want sex.” I spoke up, “True. Just like all males assume females feel the way you just described them.
We lump everyone together in judgment even if they have just one thing in common. Reminds me of our great American justice system; guilty until proven innocent.” He laughed, “Point taken.” I wasn’t prepared for what came next.
Covered in fear.
He looked me square in my eyes and asked, “Why don’t you date?” I diverted my eyes and answered, “I am afraid.” He looked shocked.
His eyes quickly perused me up and down as he responded in a low whisper, “Afraid of what? Goodness. You’re beautiful.” Unable to accept his honest statement, instead, I was offended. I knew I was ugly and had accepted that fact a long time ago. Not wanting to play games, I looked at him sternly and said, “I thought we were going to be honest with each other.”
His eyes registered greater shock. He jumped off of the counter he was sitting on and moved right next to me. He placed his hands on each of my shoulders and turned me toward him before he spoke. “You mean to tell me that you don’t feel attractive? You don’t think anyone wants to date you?” His mouth hung open as he waited for my response. He was too close to home. All I could say was, “Yes.” He fell back on the counter and burst into hysterical laughter.
Exposing private feelings
I didn’t know what to think of him. I had exposed some real private feelings. As he sat up, he dried his eyes and just looked at me for a moment. His eyes grew more serious than I had ever seen before. “Tina. You are one of the most beautiful women on this campus. You have secret admirers a half mile long who are at a loss on how to approach you. There is so much more to a real woman than looks.”
I gave him a quick hug and said, “Thanks for the vote of confidence.” He didn’t respond. He just stared at me before moving to sit on a nearby table. I tried to ease the tension by breaking the silence and getting the dialogue moving again. I gave him a flirtatious smile and a playful wink and asked, “So, do you date?” Again he just stared at me. I couldn’t read his expression. I began to feel a little uneasy.
Acceptance is personal.
I tried approaching him from another angle. “So, what does your ideal date look like?” He opened his mouth and closed it. Then he jumped off the table and stood in front of me again. He placed his hands on the counter on either side of mine and leaned in close to my face. He never broke eye contact and his words were deliberate. “My ideal date looks a lot like you.” With that he turned and slowly walked away.
Rejecting what we crave.
All I could do was stare after him. I had not put two and two together. I was blinded by my self-esteem issues. In an effort to protect myself, I rejected him before he could reject me. Using a fickle thing such as his height against him, I now sat on the counter unsure of what to do. Here was a good man telling me I was attractive and that he wasn’t the only man on campus to think this way about me. Yet, I couldn’t accept what he was saying.
The power to change.
Thinking back on that moment, I see that I missed out on an opportunity to grow. What I didn’t realize was that my friend’s acceptance of me was something I wasn’t ready to believe. I had spent more time rejecting people’s acceptance than I had believing I was acceptable. I hadn’t learned the meaning of heart, beauty and true confidence.
Looking at things now, I can see that no one can give you that sense of acceptance except you. I don’t mean to sound insensitive or callous. I know that rejection is painful. That must have been how my friend felt when I let something as trivial as his height be the thing I rejected dating him for.
But, throwing him into the rejection pile before he could throw me was the wrong way to approach things. Instead, I have learned to counter my self-rejection by focusing on my positive qualities. It has helped me look for the positive qualities in others, too.
- Make sure that you are not discounting others because of your own misconceptions or low self-esteem
- Acceptance is often mirrored. Do you accept yourself?
- The beauty of the heart inside of you is what you want to be known for.
- When we magnify the good in others, the good in us becomes magnified, too.
Remember life is most enjoyable when there is heart, beauty, and true confidence.
*This post first appeared on Jennings Wire where Justina is a contributing blogger.