“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” -Abraham Lincoln
A Note From the Author
A post written nearly 2 years ago. Lost to the ages, brought back to life. This article has been left in its entirety, with minor edits made to help the overall flow of the article itself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!
In honor of this being my 69th post on WordPress (nothing to read into here), I thought it would be fun to talk about relationships and love. So if you’ve ever been curious about my thoughts regarding this topic or wondered what deep secrets Mike is hiding, this is the time.
A Rare Glimpse
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m management by trade. A benefit of management is a lot of proper management and leadership is understanding people. To not put a one size fits all label but rather see the little nuances, do some math, and create a picture of each person. One aspect in particular is emotional intelligence. Which, in a nutshell, is how well you understand others emotions, as well as your own. Can you accurately read someone’s facial expressions? Their body language? Are they fidgety? Does this mean they’re nervous? Excited? Uncomfortable? As you can see, it is a fairly complex topic and it’s taken me about 5 years (if not a lifetime) to have a somewhat decent grasp over. To go further, I’d also like to acknowledge the unconscious mind. I read a lot of business/ business psychology books and I’ve spent years learning how to pick apart my mind in order to reprogram my behavior. As such, I have a good understanding of who I am, what I want, and how to get there. I’ve also been an observer most of my life, with excellent listening skills (developed over time) and a desire to understand.
I Walk a Lonely Road
Say what you will about when boys and girls start to fall for each-other and develop crushes, but for me I’d say it was around first grade. The scenario was this: I go play with my friends or I go for a walk around the schoolyard with a cute girl. What did I choose, being a first grader? My friends of course. Any regrets? Nope. Then after first grade, there was another cute girl that came along. We went through elementary school, middle school, and high school together. I’m 99% sure she liked me and while I liked her, I made the mistake of going after the girl I couldn’t get. How did that go? As well as one can expect. The girl that got away? perhaps, but let me make a note of that.
Everyone talks about the one. You listen to any love song and more often than not it’s about the one that got away. Usually the singer is filled with regret and what sounds pleasant to the ears is more often than not obsessive. You want to know how stalkers are born? Surprise, this is how. It’s not letting go and moving on. It’s OK to be upset and give yourself time to heal but sooner or later you have to move on. And of course, love is messy. Hormones run wild, people go insane. Love is indeed a feeling… Anyways, the point I want to make is that there are multiple “ones” out there. If a girl breaks your heart, don’t worry, another will come along. It may take a while, but it’ll happen.
So, back to the story. Come college, I took a break. I was waiting for someone to come along and save me from myself. I thought I deserved a girlfriend and resented those who had one. I sound like quite the charmer, no? Everyone has their issues and nobody is perfect, so I figured it would be fairly easy. My philosophy back then was girls dated assholes. And yet no one came… So I started burying myself in my work. Work was a distraction. After bumming around my Freshman year, I had a job by my Sophomore year. I’d go to class, work, and sleep. My first real taste of responsibility. I had money and that was spent on books and classes. Then I quit and joined student organizations, where I had even more responsibility. I was shy and awkward back then but I still remember one of my mentors saying, “one day the right girl will come along for you”. Simple, yes. True? Don’t know yet. Fast forward a few years to last Winter, when I first installed Tinder. I had my first date. Coffee by the water front. And afterwards? A walk along the water front and then a walk back to her car. We exchanged numbers and then? She got cold feet. I uninstalled Tinder and continued to focus on making myself a better person. I wasn’t perfect, but at least I was trying. Then came Spring… The cherry blossoms began to bloom and my professionalism was at it’s peak. At this point I was juggling both being the Director of Social Media for management club and being the Service Chair at the same time. I wasn’t looking for love. And then one of my friends decided to touch my arm… The cruelty of the human touch. Like a witch, she put me under a spell. I, being the rational individual that I am, tried to fight it and didn’t quite understand what was going on. After the touch and suggesting that we go dancing, she went in for the hug. If I had any chance at this point, it was now gone. The casual arm brushes, the “accidental” touching of hands, the subtle mention of weddings in everyday conversation, or the “how much I love fro-yo, we should go sometime”. Of course there is more (all of which is well documented in my personal journal) but I think you get the idea. So I said, “what the Hell?” and asked her out to drinks. She said yes and she tried to drag me back to her place to do God knows what with me. I politely declined, citing that I had a job interview in the morning. Being the Gentleman I was, I was in it for the long game. So come the end of Spring, we were making summer plans and it felt as though I was on top of the world. So I figured I would ask, “do you want to go on a date”? Not asking to date regularly but rather than “hanging out” it would require a tiny bit of commitment. What did she say? “I’m flattered Mike, but right now I’m looking to have fun, focus on myself, and then see what life has in store”. Best part? She was playing the field with her childhood friend, saying they were just “friends”.
So my fragile heart was now crushed to dust and I was left to sweep what was left into an urn. And what did I do? I buried myself in my work. I found a summer job and simply worked. It was a summer thinking of what could’ve of been but what would never be. Up until this point I had always assumed women were more mature than men but this instance shattered that illusion. And then I was in Germany.
Germany was there to mend a broken heart. I had 3 months of pain and in a sense got a chance to hit the reset button. I worked on my flirt game. I learned German pickup lines, reinstalled Tinder and tested the waters. My goal, as I have so elegantly put it, was to be “wild and free”. So I played the field, saw how far that got me, and simply enjoyed the ride. Of course, it being 4 months, there wasn’t enough time for anything meaningful to transpire. That’s besides the point. I gained the confidence I needed, changed my look, and essentially was reborn in Germany as I made some of the most meaningful relationships in my life. This was the final hurdle, to break away from the shy and awkward Mike of the past and fully embrace who I wanted to be.
And now that I’m back from Germany, I’ve gone on a few dates. The first date was terrible (nothing in common) and the other date was interesting… Nice date (although no second date). And of course, the story wouldn’t be complete without a little more heartbreak. There was a girl in my class who once again touched my arm. Then she’d sit next to me everyday and invade my personal space. The “accidental” brush, the flushed face, dilated pupils, heavy breathing, even mimicking. And then the cursed corporate holiday came, Valentine’s Day. A holiday where people who are in relationships try to make up for 364 days of neglect (love should be year round) or a holiday that has now become single’s awareness day. So I, being the hopeless romantic I am, decided to ask her out to coffee after conferring with her friend beforehand on whether or not she was single (according to Facebook and the friend, the answer was yes). The result? I got a, “I’m flattered but I’m kind of seeing a guy from Spain right now”. And was my heart broken? Not at all. I was frustrated but I learned a lot in Germany. Perhaps more than learning to love others, I learned to love myself. So being rejected on Valentine’s day didn’t phase me.
The Fragility of Love
Over Spring break I went for a walk. I live on a mountain (more a glorified hill) and at the top of this hill is a park. I sat down and enjoyed the view. To the side I overheard a girl and a guy talking. The guy was trying to convince the girl (who was with another guy) to be with him. Over the course of a few minutes, the argument the girl made eroded and at first she talked about being loyal, then how they weren’t really together, and then it was over (rationalizing her decision all the while). The mood had soured and while I was simply there to gaze out to the horizon and ponder the vast mysteries of the world, I got up and without looking, walked back down the hill. I always have to wonder how truly happy people are. People profess their love for each-other yet I don’t think many know what that truly means…
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