I’ve wrote and rewrote this post too many times to count. There are unfinished versions of this story on my iPhone, in my notebook, and lost in the depths of my Evernote. I think the main challenge in writing this post is finding the right words to explain exactly how this experience made me feel.
I began one unfinished post with details on the atmosphere of the cute West Village coffee bar we met at and shared how our conversation was both effortless and entertaining, with the exception of a few awkward pauses . Another unfinished draft covered our walk to the subway entrance together and the mutual, ‘this was nice’ hug goodbye. But neither of these drafts, or any to follow, were good enough and simply sugar coated the real feelings I want to share. So minus the sugar coating, here goes.
I went on a date last week, and it made me feel like total shit.
And by shit, I mean pathetic, inexperienced, uncultured…need I go on?
It was a nice date, honestly. In my adult life I’ve been on enough to place this one somewhere between pleasant and enjoyable. But as he and I parted ways after two hours of conversation, my self confidence took a metaphorical tumble down the subway station stair case. If you’ve seen a NY subway station, you know that my ego, once scraped up off the grimy floor was hurting for quite some time after. I let his lavish stories of yearly sailing trips in Greece and his time spent living along the Mediterranean Coast, slowly tear at my ego when I realized I had little to offer in terms of sailing skills or coastal living. His “I used to work for Google” before deciding to attend ivy league grad school, more than slightly outshone my marketing career and Big Ten university bachelors degree.
At one point during the date the conversation gravitated to skiing. I learned to ski when I was ten years old, and was relieved when the subject surfaced, knowing I’d have plenty to share. But my family ski trips in the Rocky Mountains, a short eight hours from home, paled in comparison to his learning to ski in Switzerland. He built apps, listened to fancy music I’d never heard of, and climbed mountains I could barely interpret through his accent. Damnit, he even had an accent!
Sitting and listening, I felt small and yeah, pathetic, that I’ve only left the United States once, mispronounced the capital of his home country, and didn’t speak three languages. I let his amazing experiences diminish mine, ultimately making me feel like an uninteresting person because of it. I left the date positive I wouldn’t see him again, mostly because I wasn’t interested in feeling any worse than I already did on that train ride back to Brooklyn, but also because there was no way that he thought I was interesting enough to see again.
Once I was home I called Jordyn and shared with my roommates exactly how I felt, only for them to confirm that I’m not as boring and uninteresting as his experiences led me to believe, and that I was being hard on myself. It was all true. I was the one forcing this crappy feeling upon myself by comparing my life to his, yet I couldn’t shake the fact that I certainly hadn’t experienced nearly as much as he had.
It got to a point where I was so frustrated with myself for thinking such negative thoughts, that I broke. I forced myself to think this through, and it dawned on me that I was letting a total stranger determine my self value and ultimately effect how I felt about myself. You know what I realized? That’s pretty messed up. Not to mention it’s against everything I constantly preach and stand for. I feel like I let down the people who lean on me for self-confidence, because I sure as hell wasn’t practicing what I preach. I’m know that I’m great, and for many reasons. I hate that it took an experience like this for me to remember that.
I opened my notebook and started writing a list of neat things I’ve done, things that make me unique, and admirable qualities others might find endearing. Forcing myself to remember that I too have experienced really amazing things and have valuable qualities to offer was helpful.
As I paused to read over my list, I reached for my phone so I could snap a photo. There was a text on the front screen that read: “It was great meeting you yesterday. What was the name of the podcast you mentioned? I want to check it out.”
I smiled and shut my notebook.
I hope my experience serves as a small reminder that the paths we travel down are unique and that’s what makes life great. It’s really easy to discredit our own lives in comparison to others. There is so much more to our self worth than the places we’ve lived and traveled to or the degree hanging on the office wall.
Try not to forget that.