Looking for Love

I think about what my name means a lot. Amanda means “lovable” or “worthy of love.” There’s a lot of power in a name, even if we don’t immediately recognize it.

Plenty of people love me. And I firmly believe that I’m a loveable person. Not everyone has the pleasure and privilege to know and feel this about themselves.

But I want to clarify something: Lovability is only synonymous with the worthiness of love. Being worthy of love is on the beholder as much as self-perception. And I don’t always feel I’m worthy of love, despite my lovability.

Yeah, we all struggle with feelings of self-worth. I’m not putting myself on a singular pedestal of doubt and fear. It’s more the existential irony for me.

See, I was supposed to be named after my great-grandma Ada. Out of fear of lifelong teasing, my parents chose Amanda instead. And I’m okay with the name, but it sets me (a word-nerd extraordinaire) up for some weighty introspection.

Like, can I live up to my name? People affirm my lovability all the time, but dating certainly has me wondering this. This journey I started a month ago has put a lens on things I had sorted. I’m reminded of things I’d thought once resolved.

This process of opening my heart to strangers is scary and exciting and new and old. It’s so many things, most of all, overwhelming.

I’m forced to think on parts of myself I’d rather neglect, but it helps put how I see myself in perspective. I recently had a new friend tell me he only wanted to explore friendship further. And that soft rejection hurt more than I realized.

It’s not that I’ve never been friendzoned before, but I think I’d see it coming historically. Whether I’m blind to something I need to improve or learn to stay more open, it was a learning opportunity. Now, I know how cliche that sounds, but it’s the truth.

Old me, unhealthy, mentally unstable me, would’ve seen it as a rejection of me entirely. And I know for sure that’s not the case.

Receiving this new friend’s boundary opened old wounds. I’ve had men use me for my beauty and then friendzone me (that hurts far more than any boundary setting).

I gave myself a break from dating to learn, process, and refocus my energies. I’m even likely to entertain friendship with this new friend (despite my lady friends’ objections about my worth). I think it’s essential to keep good people in your life.

One of the most significant gifts in this new trial of mine is my friends. I leaned on my girlfriends heavily for their insight, but I could also turn to my little brother for his direct, blunt honesty.

Finding Love in Friendship

I am beyond blessed with all of the fiercely fantastic souls in my life. These connections are born out of charity and mutual interest.

We put up with one another’s quirks and flaws out of love. We remind one another of our best traits when we forget just how priceless our souls are.

Charity is not just giving but sacrifice. It comes from the Latin caritas and relates to a love of humanity. It has a more complex connotation, depending on its context.

It takes charity to maintain a friendship in the best and worst of times. Sometimes it’s challenging to remind our friends of how great they are. It might be tiresome to hear them rag on themselves over and over.

When you objectively know that the garbage of self-loathing they spew isn’t true, I don’t have to imagine how much love and patience it takes to weather the storm of their nonsense.

Maybe you’re waiting for a friend to get their life together. They’re dating someone, and the relationship is going nowhere. Or, they’re stuck in a job they could leave, but they choose not to; I’ve been there before.

Telling your friend what to do is not a good idea. Usually, it breeds resentment or provides an opportunity to misplace blame when their poor choices catch up with them. Providing unsolicited aid in a friendship is an excellent way to end said friendship. Sometimes, maintaining charity means having the grace to hold your tongue and let them screw up.

Manifesting the grace to maintain charity requires courage and strength. The best example I can think of is breaking up with someone and still be friends afterward. It takes all kinds of guts to do that.

When you’re in a tighter-knit social circle, there’s no avoiding exes, either. The actual initiation of said breakup takes strength and tact, which mark a real man or woman of character. I respect any individual with the power of the heart to do this.

And, if they manage any level of friendship afterward, kudos to both of them. The charity with breaking up with someone comes from wisdom.

It means knowing yourself enough to end a relationship. It means having the love for another to stop using each other purposelessly. It’s a thankless task for most, but not always. When done right, friendship is possible afterward.

A Ghost of a Christmas Past

I was leaving a holiday party. Although I left well after midnight, the party was still going strong. Even though I’m introverted, I never leave a party unless it’s for a good reason. Those reasons include:

  • wanting alone time with someone, out of concern or romantic interest;
  • already having other plans;
  • getting struck with a bout of social anxiety;
  • overthinking and overdrinking;
  • and being too much in my head or feelings.

Notice how work or being tired didn’t make the list of “good reasons.” If I can, I’ll crash on a friend’s couch. So far in my life, couchsurfing indicates a good night (in the past, it did; that’s not the case anymore).

If I work, a lack of sleep certainly won’t stop me from spending time with friends. As my grandma says, “You can sleep when you’re dead.” My response and latest motto are, “I’m not dead yet.”

I’m not dead yet.

Why I left early: sadly, it was a case of sensitivity. I was seriously beginning to miss my brother (at the time, he was deployed overseas). I inadvertently discovered my exclusion from an event I wished to participate in. Between the saudade, I felt for my brother, my presumed exclusion, sleep deprivation, and my girlfriends’ departure, I was not in a party mood.

Amidst the festivities, a friend of mine noticed my silence. Seeing as I had no cigar or whiskey in hand and was mute during a debate on superheroes’ validity, his concern was valid.

Silence is not something I’m well acquainted with uncomfortable with today. Considering the circumstances, it was uncharacteristic. I acknowledged my friend’s concern.

Due to the number of people present, I was uncomfortable being too candid. I shared something about missing my brother, which seemed to satisfy my friend.

While determining how much more socializing I could tolerate, I found myself momentarily distracted by unknown people. As the night wore on, I realized I needed to take my leave.

Following my friend out the door-a useful social tactic when people might wonder why you’re leaving early-I realized we hadn’t said goodbye.

I called out to him, really feeling the need for acknowledgment, “Are you going to leave without saying goodbye?” Fortunately for my feelings, he made his way back for a proper exit.

I guess he could tell I was still upset and inquired about it. I can’t always determine my face’s expressiveness, but as often as I curse being an open book, I was grateful in this moment.

I finally removed the mask of bravado I’d donned that night, sharing how I often wore it to force myself out of fear. I confessed my omnipresent anxiety, despite my pretense of confidence. I ran out of words, cognizant of my vulnerability.

Part of my motive for this confession was that I knew he’d understand. Despite his calm demeanor, I suspected how anxious he truly was. Based on our friendship so far, it was reasonably apparent he couldn’t sit still at parties.

He always needed something to do, to keep himself occupied and distracted from impending self-doubt and fear of social buffoonery. I often found him tucked away in quieter corners of parties, usually conversing with someone he already knew. I even concluded that smoking was for him what drinking was for me-keeping oneself busy to avoid anxiety.

His response surprised me. He acknowledged the use of masks, admitting they didn’t always matter. “Sometimes people are just bitches,” he said.

He reminded me of my already amazing friends and not to give a shit about others’ judgment. I thanked him for his kindness, then looked at him to gauge how my openness was received. It felt as if he had more to add, as always. Instead, he said, “Let’s keep in touch. We should keep in touch.”

How We Talk to Each Other

Keeping in touch stayed with me past that conversation. After processing my vulnerability, I found myself inspired to share the above story. I wanted others to see how a little courage goes a long way.

My friend’s parting words also made me think of how we all keep in touch nowadays. I pondered modes of communication. How we choose to contact people matters.

Texting is functional, efficient, and convenient when communicating basic needs, time, location, and quick jokes with friends and family. It is not for long conversations, time-sensitive topics, or serious emotional matters.

It’s not for dating. If you are online dating and don’t feel comfortable exchanging numbers for an actual phone conversation, you might not be ready to date. Of course, everyone’s standards of ‘acceptable’ vary, but generally speaking, asking someone on a date over text is juvenile.

On the other hand, there are more beneficial forms of virtual communication. Take families that live far apart for various reasons. Soldiers celebrating holidays overseas can now do this with their families via video chat. Talk about modern miracles! If you’re in any long-distance relationship, it’s vital.

Most of our communication occurs through body language, so face to face is preferable. The next time you find you’re ‘not getting’ a joke or merely misunderstanding, check what you missed.

Was it eye contact? Did you tune out of the conversation? Or was it the mode of communication you chose?

Either way, keeping in touch is necessary for humanity. When we lose touch with ourselves, loved ones, culture, and faith, we lose our humanity.

We can touch others with more than verbal communication. Body language naturally accompanies our dialogue. Intentional eye contact is a powerful tool in every aspect of life. Not all of us are easy to read, unlike me, so eye contact aids in understanding someone’s intent.

With 55% of our communication reliant on facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, postures, and other nonverbal cues, it’s no wonder eyes are the window or door to the soul.

Your pupils dilate in response to excitement, fear, attraction, or arousal. This doesn’t include the color change in eyes also due to an emotional response. Pigments in your iris expand or contract with pupil size change, altering the eye’s color temporarily.

Eyesight aside, there’s also art. I think creativity, in general, keeps us in touch with each other and our Creator. I’ve previously pondered creation before as I likely will in the future. Until then, use your humanity to connect with others. Create something that keeps us in touch with our immortal selves.

Thanks again for sharing in the story of my life as the beautiful wonderful audience member you are. Stories matter only when they’re shared, and I hope mine hit home with you. To make sure you don’t miss a blog post, follow me on Facebook or sign up for email reminders.

2 thoughts on “Looking for Love

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