Where Logic Meets Love

Stop Trying So Hard... You're Already Beautiful

Thursday, May 5, 2011

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Stop Trying So Hard... You're Already Beautiful | Faith Permeating Life
When Mike and I had been dating for a few months, he told me something that confirmed that everything I'd thought and been taught in high school about dating and being attractive was a lie.

He told me that the moment he knew he was in love with me was when we were eating dinner with a group of friends in the residence hall dining room. It was before we were dating, before he'd shown any interest in me, before we'd even become close friends. Here's what happened: Another friend got up to dump her tray with a piece of garlic bread sitting untouched on her plate, and I asked her if I could have it.


I'm not sure if it was because Mike thought I was unusually self-confident, or just appreciated that I didn't like to see food going to waste, or some other explanation other than that I really enjoy eating. (I suppose all of the above are true about me.)

Knowing this, I wish I could go back and tell my high school self to stop trying to be attractive.

It kind of upsets me, actually, to think about all the days when I let myself freeze in class because I had worn some cute baby tee to school instead of wearing a sweater. To think about the stress that went into unsuccessfully trying to make my hair something other than a gigantic mass of frizz on my head. (Think: Hermione Granger.) I rarely wore makeup despite my mom's encouragement to do so, but sometimes after I'd gotten all dressed up for a school dance I would convince myself it was worth the effort and would wear it for a week or so.

I cried too many tears over the fact that all my girl friends had boyfriends, and I never got asked to any dance except two, and never by any guy I actually liked, and I usually had to ask several different guys to find someone who would go with me to the "turnabout" dances. For someone who was supposedly self-confident and mature and intelligent, I invested too much of my self-worth in whether or not (usually not) I received attention from guys.

Would it have made any difference, I wonder, if I could have gone back in time and told my high school self that I would meet my husband in college, that he would be everything I wanted and more, and that he would fall in love with me not only without my trying but despite my best efforts to dissuade him?

I probably wouldn't have believed it.

Near the end of that same first year of college, a particularly over-dramatic floormate reacted to something I'd said about Mike by loudly lamenting that no guy would ever love her, that she was ugly, etc. etc. I tried to provide some wisdom from my own experience by telling her that if she focused more on just doing things she enjoyed and didn't worry so much about finding a guy, the right one would come in time.

She didn't want to listen to me. I'm not too surprised. A year earlier, I wouldn't have wanted to listen to me, either.

(She's now engaged, by the way.)

So I say all this not really with the hope of convincing anyone of anything, but just to share with the un-paired out there two things that I believe to be true:
  1. There is no point in attempting to attract as many people as possible. You don't need 12 spouses. Assuming you are meant to be paired with someone for life, as soon as you meet that one person, how many people you attracted before that will become irrelevant.
  2. If you focus your efforts not on doing things or being someone you think will attract others, but simply by being yourself as proudly and passionately as possible, you will attract that person -- the right person -- much sooner. I know it's a cliché, but it's one of the hardest things to get your head around, and yet I believe it is so, so true.
Of course, if, in high school, I had believed all this, had been nonchalant about the whole thing, and hadn't cared whether anyone was interested in me, maybe I would have ended up attracting someone after all. So maybe it's better things turned out the way they did.

Life is strange sometimes.


  1. I agreeeeee! I so badly regret all the time I spent hating my body when I was younger. Husband and I fell for each other as he saw the worst side of me, and me him, supporting each other through difficult breakups. No facades or games, just trying to get through the pain together.

  2. @Macha
    Funny how that works, huh? There's so much information out there about the many different steps you have to take to attract "Mr. Right," and yet stuff like your experience (or the garlic bread incident), which is unlikely to be in any dating manual, is how real relationships happen.

    On a related note, I'm so grateful my little sister learned from my mistakes and opted not to date in middle school. We will see what happens now that she's starting high school, though!

  3. I met my husband while we were in High School, but your advice still rings true for me. Neither of us were looking for partners at the time and we started out as great friends - sharing music, stories and maths homework. I think we work precisely because we were always ourselves.

  4. @Smile Soup
    I think you must be rare because it seemed when I was in high school that everyone was looking for a significant other. I mentioned in a previous post that I met a guy in high school whom I became good friends with in the same kind of way you described--we were in math class together and we both loved music. But because I so desperately wanted a boyfriend, I ruined that friendship by rushing it into a relationship. I don't regret losing the romantic relationship, since I'm much happier with my husband, but I do regret losing that friendship.

  5. This is very true! For me, college was very liberating because people were a lot more relaxed about appearances and individual differences--the town where I grew up was very conformist, and it was a gossip-worthy scandal for a female over age 12 to be seen in public without eye shadow--and everybody was smart, so it was okay to look and act like myself finally.

    Daniel and I once went on a double date where the other woman ate half her food and let them throw away the rest. As soon as we were away from them, Daniel said, "I like how you eat the food I buy you!" :-)

  6. @'Becca
    Haha, that's great! I hate wasting food, so even if I don't eat it all I'll take the rest home.

    I've heard a lot of people say that about college. I think, at least for those living on campus, it's a lot harder to keep up any kind of "image" when you're spending most of your out-of-class time hanging out with other people in your living space, plus you see everyone around you in their most "real" state as well. I guess it's kind of like what people say about nude beaches--it's a lot easier to get comfortable in your own skin when everyone around you is letting their true selves hang out :)

  7. Besides looks for around 7 years I had a serious medical problem (made sex impossibly painful) with no solution until the end of the 7th year (finally found a docotor who specialized in my problem). I was sure I'd be alone forever but I found a guy that didn't care I had limitations with my medical problem. I was honestly amazed that someone could love you so much and not care about what he might miss out on. It's my personality he loves most and my spirit.

  8. @Valerie Heck Esmont
    That's wonderful! I think when we live in a world where so many people are selfish or mean-spririted it can be difficult to remember that there are truly caring people out there, especially when looking for a life partner. I remain constantly amazed at my husband's generosity and selflessness.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  9. What a cute story! I think people, especially young people, are so heavily influenced by the media and friends. I think most of us have as some point struggled with our self-esteem or felt out-of-place because we aren't doing (or wanting to do) the same things as everyone else, and then when we try something that isn't in alignment with who we are, we end up feeling bad.

    Although I'm secure with myself and my decisions now, it was so nice hearing this because it is hard sometimes. I dated a guy three years ago who pursued me for months and when by my own will I said yes, it was the happiest I'd ever been. On the other hand, I've dated a few guy because it was convinient, set up, or I was lonely...and I was miserable. I believe that when you're ready the right guy will come along, and when the right guy comes along you'll know.

    Thanks for sharing the link! This is a great post and I love your blog!

  10. @analyfe
    I believe that when you're ready the right guy will come along, and when the right guy comes along you'll know.
    I would agree. I actually found something I wrote for a class in high school where I explained that even though no guys were interested in me now, I felt confident in myself and knew what I wanted, so when the right guy came along, I would be ready. I don't know how much of that I actually, truly believed and how much was regurgitation of things that I'd heard, but it turned out to be true :)

  11. This is a great post - thank you for linking me to it!

  12. @Just me
    You're welcome! I'm glad you liked it!


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