“He’s a wallflower. You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.” – The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
I’m a terrible wedding guest for writing this right now, but when the writing mood strikes there’s really naught to do but frantically type away in the “Notes” app of your smartphone. I’m sitting at a corner table, watching as guests dance and the newlywed couple makes the rounds of relatives. The bride is smiling, overcome with joy, and its sweeping people up with her. Even I, the emotionless robot, am smiling a little as I play the wallflower for a little while and write this.
It was sweet for a moment. Seeing one of my good friends dance with her father to an old country song I could almost picture myself in her shoes, imagine stepping on my father’s toes and holding the train of some white dress in the ballroom of a hotel. But as the song ended, so did the dream. It vanished like the improbable fantasy that it was because at the end of the day that’s not me. I might picture it for a minute, but my friend and I are very different people. When I’m not caught up in the moments, I don’t want the same things that she does.
It does, however, make me wonder. Is a marriage something that I might eventually want for myself? Have I just been pretending all this time that I don’t because I’m afraid I’ll never have it or do I genuinely dislike the idea of being legally bound to another human? At the moment that I’m writing this, I don’t know. I thought I was the guy in Jennifer Aniston’s couple from He’s Just Not That Into You. I thought I was the one determined to be bound only by love and friendship. Now I’m not sure.
I’m sure I believe in love that lasts and that I self-sabotage when it comes to meeting new people. I know without a doubt that I hold myself back and I know that I’m not ok with it. But I don’t know 100% how I feel about marriage. Only four hours into this new chapter of her life and my friend certainly seems happy. Who I am I to say that I couldn’t, one day, feel the same?
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” – Anthony Robbins
I have to try in order to figure this out. I know that both logically and emotionally. But I always hesitate and I think it’s because I’m caught up in some childish fantasy of getting swept off my feet when I least expect it. Like, I’ll be hiding behind my books or playing the wallflower at another party and someone will be gutsy enough to come find me. I’m thinking about that scenario now, even as I type.
It’s silly, but I’ve somehow convinced myself that an unexpected relationship is better than one that’s sought after. It isn’t true, but I guess I figure that if I could be with that guy, the one who stumbled into my life accidently, then I’d know that he was outgoing enough to hold his own against me when I’m at my best and determined enough to pull me out of my shell when I’m not. I’d know that he really wanted me and that he was the right fit.
But my life isn’t a fairytale and I have to stop pretending that it is. If I want a plus one to take to my friends’ weddings, I’m going to have to ask someone to come with me. I can’t wait around, praying someone will invite himself into my life. That’s just not how it works.
I’m a wallflower. I see things and I understand. But what I understand is that I don’t want the same things that I always have, that I change my mind often, and that I think deeply about who I am and who I want to be. So the question then becomes: what will I do about it?
I read an article recently that compared online dating to clothes shopping and it’s been on my mind ever since.
“When you’re meeting people out in the physical world, you’re usually not lining them up and saying, ‘Next, next, next,” pausing every now and again before either saying ‘next’ again or finally saying ‘oh, let’s try this one out.’” – Article
On the Internet though, it’s the exact opposite. You can spend hours swiping through profiles, judging people in ways that you ordinarily wouldn’t, letting the most serious and/or shallow parts of yourself take control. And it becomes obsessive, too. It hijacks conversations with friends that used to be about real issues and exchanges them for a recap of the latest profiles, something to laugh and commiserate over simultaneously. I’ve already written a post about how much that bothers me, but until I read this woman’s article I couldn’t see the full picture, couldn’t understand what it was doing to me.
I thought that I was making strides by trying out the apps, that I was putting myself out there a little for people to find me and maybe I am. Maybe it’s my subconscious way of doing the polar opposite of waiting for my fairytale. I don’t know. But ultimately there’s a reason that they make me uncomfortable and it’s because I’m not being myself. I’m projecting a version of me that’s lonely and bored, spending my time obsessing over having someone instead of being someone. That’s never been who I am before and I don’t know why I’m letting myself act that way now. I might want someone in my life, but I certainly don’t need a relationship to be happy.
I won’t say that I haven’t enjoyed establishing a library of weird Tinder screenshots, but I need to find some way to meet in the middle. I need to make sure that I’m making myself more available, but in ways that are true to who I am, too. I need to take my introverted hobbies and bring them out of the comforts of my living room and into a place where others can see me, talk to me, and meet me, genuinely and honestly. Otherwise I’ll be perpetually trapped in a state of wallflower limbo at my girlfriends’ wedding receptions, waiting for my fairytale and lying to myself about it by using Tinder.
So from today forward I vow to try, openly and honestly. I’ll start by finding myself someplace new to read and write on the weekends and deactivating my dating app accounts. Then we’ll just have to see where everything goes from there.