Ever since I was 18 years old, I’ve been determined not to settle. It seemed to me that everyone around me was settling for a mediocre job, a mediocre relationship, and a mediocre life. I always told myself, don’t settle in your career, don’t settle with your friends, don’t settle with your hobbies, and definitely don’t settle when it comes to dating. It was like an obsession. I was determined to make sure that I was getting the most out of every single aspect of my life.
But over the years— no matter how many times I told myself not to— I still settled.
I think no matter what, we all feel unlovable at some point. Maybe it’s because we grew up looking at magazines and one day realized that we didn’t look like the people on the covers of them. Maybe it’s because someone, somewhere along the line, told us that they didn’t love us. Or maybe it’s because we are dealing with invisible struggles that make us feel like we’re broken, messy, and incapable of being loved by another. Whatever it is, we’ve felt it.
I was the last one.
Obviously, as you most definitely know by now if you’ve read pretty much anything I’ve ever written in the past two years, believing that I am lovable and worth it has always been a struggle for me. But after being diagnosed with conditions that affect my physical health and abilities, the time I spent wondering if I was lovable spun out of control. It was at an all time high.
For many months after my diagnosis, I didn’t try to date anyone. I didn’t try to make new friends. I barely left my house. I was convinced that no one would want to spend time with me if that time meant me lying down with my heating pad or ice pack while watching TV. I didn’t like myself, so it was really hard for me to imagine why anyone else would either.
Eventually I got past the whole ‘avoiding every form of life that wasn’t a cat’ thing and got back in touch with my friends. I spent more time with my family. And I branched out and really started to enjoy the company of dogs as well.
But I didn’t date.
It took me a long time to even muster up the courage to talk to men again, let alone be alone with one for possibly several hours… (ew am I right?!??!)
And when the time finally came and I thought maybe I did want to date, I forgot about my golden rule and settled, settled, settled.
I spent too much of my time with people who weren’t able to see the important parts of me.
I was so convinced that my disabilities made me undateable, that when people actually did spend time with me, I spent the entire time trying to make up for the fact that I was broken.
I would go above and beyond for people who would only talk to me when they felt like it.
How crazy is that? How crazy is it that any of us would spend a second of our precious time with anyone who does not think that we are literally the greatest thing since sliced bread? It’s pretty damn crazy.
But I didn’t see it that way. I viewed it as they were doing me a favor by spending time with me, and I was bound and determined to make sure I made it worth their time.
As you probably could guess, they were all assholes. Each and every one of them treated me like dirt. They would play with my emotions and leave me feeling worthless.
But the thing is, I can’t blame them.
I mean sure, I can daydream about haunting them in their sleep and wish all of the earwax flavored jelly beans their way… but I can’t blame them.
I can only blame myself.
Because the real issue at play here is that that type of relationship is what I thought I deserved. And it was only recently that I truly realized that it isn’t.
It isn’t what I deserve, it isn’t what you deserve, it isn’t what anyone deserves. Period. Full stop. End of story.
Once I realized this, the whole dating thing got a helluva lot clearer to me.
I mean, yeah, I went on a lot of first dates and rarely ever on any second dates… but I wasn’t settling.
I told myself over and over again that someday, somehow, I would tell someone about my condition and they would look me in the eye, disability and all, and not give a damn.
And I was right.
It only takes one unicorn, in a sea of horses, to make you believe in something again.
And no matter what happens, or where this relationship goes… I know that I don’t have to settle.
And I want you to know that you don’t have to either.
The moment that you feel as if you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment you need to walk away.
And for the first time in a while, I’m not walking.