One of my biggest pet peeves is willful ignorance. People close themselves off to the truth, especially when it contradicts their preconceived perceptions. It’s a terrible habit we’ve all normalized to lull ourselves into false security. I’m no exception to this rule.
I deny the truth for security or self-protection too often. I don’t typically consider myself a close-minded person, but I’m the worst when it comes to my head and heart. Closing myself to the truth seems like a good idea sometimes.
Anyone who knows me personally wouldn’t argue my intensity, passion, or expressiveness. Rarer are those who recognize my tendency for deep introspection. My propensity for self-reflection often conflicts (and eventually resolves) and opposition between my head and heart.
Most often, my heart’s dragging its heels as my head leads the way. Occasionally, my heart grabs the reins and sends me on reckless adventures. When I’m feeling brave yet afraid, I’m usually open to my heart’s yearnings.
But other times, I guard my heart (and not necessarily in the best way). I overprotect myself, deny my feelings, and ignore God. And that’s no bueno.
I’ve been blogging a lot recently about vulnerability, courage, and bravery. But today, I wanted to address a special kind of strength I struggle with most. I wanted to talk about the power that lies in acceptance.
This conflict confuses the heck out of me, leaving me with one big question: WHY. And I have done so much to try and answer this question in my life. A lot of what I’ve done hasn’t helped but has hurt me (and others).
Responding to Uncertainty
Lately, dating has me all kinds of shook up. My endless internal conflict is only magnified as I fight the intoxication of my ideas. When I dream about “missed opportunities,” I miss the life in front of me.
Past me couldn’t stop this dangerous pastime of thought. I’d spiral out of control, wending my way through a labyrinth of pain and false hope. And it was a path I used to walk alone.
I fought acceptance at every turn, isolating myself. This pushed me further and further into a downward spiral. It made the truth stranger than fiction (and thus, easier to dismiss).
Healthier, stable me finally understands chronic vs. event-based mental health issues. And it’s made me a better human being. But knowing I’m an anxious mess makes me proactive.
Knowing proactivity is a good thing, I usually take action. The issue lies with taking the initiative when you need to sit back and listen. Taking a less traveled road to acceptance is still taking action.
I waver one minute from anxious to peaceful to hopeful resolution. The next minute, I’m hurting over fear, questions of self-worth, then struggling with acceptance. Sometimes, I’m in a rage and exhausted and want it all to stop.
My feelings about uncertainty put me out. When I’m only certain of my uncertainty, I itch for action. But not looking before you leap can land you in shark-infested waters.
I suck at waiting. And the path towards graceful, peaceful acceptance is an uphill battle. I get tired of climbing that muddy, uneven slope.
The upturned earth trips me, chips away at my resolve. Each step gets harder the closer I get to the top. I persevere, knowing that view is so worth it.
What slows that climb isn’t the earth I trod. It’s the weight I bear. It’s a weigh unborn by the likes of Atlas or Sisyphus. It’s a weight all women carry.
We, as women, were made for receptivity. We receive the phenomenal weight of life, no matter how we try to deny it. Our literal capacity for bearing life defines so much about our inherent strength.
To be a woman is to receive the weight of so much expectation. How we bear that weight and what we do with that strength is what defines us as individuals. It’s what makes or breaks a phenomenal woman.
In a world where femininity is thwarted by a culture prone to cancel the truth, the weight we bear increases evermore. It’s a two-way street, too. The more we have to accept, the more support we need from our male counterparts. Eventually, it’s too much to bear for anyone.
One of the truths of feminine genius is the crossroads of acceptance, vulnerability, courage, and strength. We don’t roll a boulder uphill until it hits the top. That’s the punishment of a purposeless man.
Those of us women who try to follow the same Sisyphean path are bound to the same fate-never reaching a proverbial top. And those of us who bear the world on our backs will bow and eventually break (just like any man).
And this is not our calling. We’re called to a grander ponderance, one of mobility and progress. We may never literally bear life (not all of us are privileged with this gift).
I spoke with a couple of girlfriends last weekend about our calling to receptivity. And I boldly claim, “I can’t befriend someone who’s not open to life’s possibilities.”
And I stand by this claim. If you’re not courageously vulnerable to life’s uncertainty or can’t accept you won’t always understand or have clarity, then you’ll never fully live. The beauty of acceptance is its simplicity.
Earlier this week, our morning formation struck a particularly relevant chord. I hated how true it was. The relevance was providential, as the apostolic letter came out last December. Here’s what hit home the most,
…Set aside all anger and disappointment…and embrace the way things are, even when they do not turn out as we wish. Not with mere resignation but with hope and courage. In this way, we become open to a deeper meaning.Patris Corde of the Holy Father Francis
There’s nothing overly original about these words, but their context shed new light on uncertainty. My ongoing and historic struggle for clarity and forced resolution revealed something. The desperate pursuit of truth distorts the objective truth.
Despair, often fueled by fear and faithlessness, reveals weakness and doubt. If you chase down answers, you blind yourself to other possibilities. One of the joys in faith is a revelation of something already before you in essence; it’s a mere perspective shift.
Understanding the toll desperation takes creates a space for hope and patience in your heart. This space is vital, especially for pondering tough stuff like suffering, trauma, and old hurts. The only way out is through. Otherwise, you get stuck rolling a boulder up a hill for a proverbial eternity.
At the Crossroads
I find myself in a place of uncertainty pretty often. But I know that being amid possibility and potential is a rare place to be. That up-in-the-air feeling permeates my very fiber, thrilling me to the core.
The thrill invigorates me, pulling taut the muscles of my patience and preparation. The courage needed to open myself to this thrill comes from hope, not strength. The thing that takes the most strength is acceptance.
Bearing a weight, considering a burden, being a woman necessitates ponderance. Ponderance means weight, importance, a thing of consequence. It’s the intention behind acceptance that requires strength.
When you take desperate action, you ignore the weight of a thing. And avoiding ponderance leaves you clawing for a “why” you might never get. That’s a dangerous thing in any part of life, especially with love.
Opening my heart to dating to another kind of crossroads brings memory lane into view. Some things come back I’d tucked away or artfully forgotten. And working through those things without regretful dwelling is hard.
I used to think love was a waiting game, something I needed to bide my time for until it came along. But I was so very wrong. Love is no waiting game, but vulnerably living, brave yet afraid.
Suppose you’re not full of self-doubt. I applaud your superhuman ability to forgive yourself and accept yourself as who you are.
Usually, it’s a particular person (or series of similar persons) we allow to hold back our growth. Much of our time is spent resenting exes or never moving on, maybe trying to win them back.
Meanwhile, said exes are moving on and growing up. They’ve chosen to let the past be in the past. It’s not necessarily apathy as much as having outgrown past relationships. Ideally, this doesn’t mean cutting all ties, but that is now all too often the case.
Until a few weeks ago, I’d chosen not to date. What began as yearlong abstinence from dating eventually became three years.
After two relationships ended back to back, I needed some me-time. As a wise friend put it, “Concentrate on you, girl. In a correct, positive, nourishing sense. Not the silly, modern selfish sense.” And that’s precisely what I’ve been doing.
Three years ago, my mom and I spoke about the difficulty of growing up. As she accurately put it, “You’ve been in a holding pattern ever since you got out of college and came home.” There was no disagreeing with her then.
Now, I have space and desire to grow. When I graduated from college, I was so set on forcing the things I wanted to happen. Instead of preparing myself for what I wanted, I “waited” with impatience and resignation.
Impatience reflects reactivity; patience reflects proactivity. One comes with clear, targeted goals, the other with muddled feelings of frustration and resentment. It requires more strength to accept where you are instead of forcing change.
I speak of strength, for I am a willful woman. Too often have I attempted to force fate’s hand. It began in my eighteenth year, before one of my more significant life changes.
I was in a two-year relationship, and all I could think of was its end. I feared what parting ways meant or what a burden another year of long-distance dating would be without any declared intent. I was selfish and afraid, so I forced change.
This began a series of forced changes, some in the ending of relationships or trying to initiate them. I’ve learned since then that turning the wrong way down a one-way street puts you in a world of hurt. At best, you’re in for an awkward turnaround. At worst, you get wrecked.
During the paths of growth I wandered while single, I set some new rules for myself. Considering my past willfulness and frustration in the realms of romance, these rules are necessary for many parts of my life, especially dating.
Let the Chase Happen, But Don’t Wait
Men are supposed to take the lead for a reason. It’s only natural for men to be the ones to seek a woman’s attention. Every other mating species on this planet has some ritual. The males prance, dance, engineer, or coerce (yikes) to seduce a mate. Of course, their mating is a 9.5/10 about genetic propagation.
So why are men any different? Despite cultural adjustments or gender revolutions, men are still proposing marriage, and women still have to say yes. What’s the difference between a man asking a woman out on a date?
So much of modern dating involves inorganic interaction. The removal of that face-to-face pressure also removes any impetus for men to be truly masculine.
The responsibility for initiation becomes a question when it’s not supposed to be. If you match, swipe, select, et cetera on someone, who’s supposed to message first?
Some dating sites and apps are engineered to give women the first choice. As much as I’ve appreciated this in the past, it’s entirely uncharted territory. Too often, forward women have a higher agenda than men lacking initiative or in need of organic encouragement (i.e., higher stakes with other men around, potential friends serving as a wingman).
That’s why I’m not dating like I used to. I’m letting men do their thing, as they’re supposed to. Despite any mutual feelings I may share with some, it’s not on me to have the cajones and initiate. Too long have I been the one deciding how things should be, and it’s exhausting.
This is my whole new world. It’s going to take some getting used to, certainly. Impatience has been my holding pattern for so long. I’ve finally realized that patience requires clarity of purpose, firm intent, and cultivated willpower. I’ll get there eventually, and when I do, it’ll be life-changing.
Thanks for bearing with me as you read about my journey through love, dating, and life in general. I hope my stories help you in some small way. If you’re a big fan of my stuff, sign up for email reminders or follow me on Facebook to get notified about my latest posts.