Recent events have made it pretty clear to me that I am a bit too cautious in some aspects of my life. Although I am pretty aggressive when it comes to pursuing my career aspirations, I tend to leave other parts of my life up to chance. This is especially true in my generally cautious yet nonchalant approach to romantic relationships. In my efforts to understand how I became so cautious, I began to reflect on a key incident in my past.
It occurred during a very hot and humid summer within my adolescence. My friends and I were spending a lot of time walking through the neighborhood with my puppy Moon (she was named Moon because I also had a cat named Star) because we realized just how much teen girls liked puppies. It so happened that a good female friend of mine and her sister lived a few blocks away from me. Since my friend and her sister were often the topic of our conversations, their house was one of our frequent stops.
At some point, it occurred to my friends that I had developed feelings for this girl. It was actually pretty obvious, but I figured that if I didn’t admit it, no one would ever notice. Not only did my friends notice, but they also decided to do me a favor and fix me up with her. I tried to convince them that I had the situation under control by showing them that I had been working on a project that I would use in order to ask her out when I felt the time was right. (Yes, I was just as much of a perfectionist then as I am now.) It was meant to be similar to a job application. In hindsight, it was a pretty bad concept, but I thought it was creative.
Unfortunately, my friends disagreed. They read through what I had written and decided that it needed to be revamped. With the help of one of my female cousins, they crafted something that sounded nothing like me and then gave it to the girl. I felt horrible about the situation because I really liked things as they were. I knew I would have gotten around to asking her out eventually, but I didn’t appreciate how my friends’ efforts to help me seemed to ignore my clear statements about the timing being wrong. Besides, I was the one that would have to face her at school everyday if things didn’t go according to the plan. I was the only one who really had anything to lose.
As expected, she rejected me and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I didn’t know how to explain to her that I had no real role in writing whatever she finally received. I wanted to tell her that she had rejected a watered down version of me, but I couldn’t go through with it because there was likely some truth within the words she read. It was overwhelming for me so I avoided her. In the mean time, my friends expected me to get over it quickly. After all, there were so many other girls out there for me to choose from. They completely missed the fact that they had messed up my chances for a relationship with a girl who up to this point was pretty much my best friend. Sure we kept in touch, but there has been a bit of a wedge between us ever since.
That experience taught me a few bad habits that I am now working hard to break. First, I have a tendency of friendzoning myself immediately around women that I am interested in. It takes the sting out of being friendzoned while in active pursuit, but it isn’t exactly conducive to building a good relationship because unlike what happens in the movies, women tend not to be all that interested in dating their male friends.
Second, I spend so much time calculating the risks associated with the pursuit of any woman that I routinely end the game before it starts. If the risk seems too great, I’ll just decide it’s not worth taking. I am now working hard to accept the fact that it isn’t possible to live a full life without taking a few risks here and there. I am also learning that true failure only results from not trying (just like what happened in the story of me and the singer).
Third, I tend to avoid women who are my type. Again, I am aware that this is not conducive to getting into a relationship, but it does keep me from making a fool out of myself. (Growing up, I went through a phase where I had a lot of clumsy moments. They still happen every now and then.) The irony is that the women I attempt to avoid most always end up finding me. (One of these days, I’ll have enough courage to write about the woman whose surprise appearance triggered my asthma.)
Fourth, I tend to go to great lengths to be invisible. It’s sort of contradictory to my overall role as a minister, but it goes along with my attempts to avoid women who are my type. Of course, being 6’2″ with dreadlocks makes that impossible. Nonetheless, I make a point of hanging around with boisterous people so that I can hide in the background. It tends not to work out very well because I always manage to stick out in a crowd even when I try to tone myself down. I understand now that the presence of God in my life will always make to stand out–especially when I am trying to keep it from happening.
At this point in my life, I am finally able to accept the fact that my 6 year drought with respect to relationships is completely my fault. Those habits I picked up during my adolescence were helpful for a time, but the reality is that they have reached their expiration date. After all, I can’t complain about a being stuck in a drought when I live my life like I reside in a desert. Needless to say, change is coming.