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  • Michelle Buyer

#71: Seriously, Trust the Process

Updated: Jan 8

Before I get into it today, I have to get one thing off my chest. Just because I don’t take up my entire airplane seat is NOT an excuse for someone to take up half my space. I’m currently in the aisle seat, and a rather large man is taking up half of my space in the middle seat. It’s extremely difficult to type this way, so instead of letting him take up my space, I’m pushing back to get my space… Which means that our arms have been touching for the last 30 minutes and I’m STILL getting bumped by everyone and their mother walking by on my left. This dude doesn’t smell great either.

ANYWAY, if you’re are sick of hearing about my dating life, sorry not sorry. I wish I could share specifics, but I never know who’s reading. 😉 Kidding, but I made a promise to myself that I would never do that, because it’s not fair to the other people involved, even if they’ve been assholes. Seriously though, I’m learning more every day.

I went on a short series of dates with someone who I was fully convinced was the one – for about a week and a half. In fact, I thought I knew he was the one 60 minutes into our date, and woke my mom up at midnight Chicago time after the date to tell her. I have a hunch that he thought I might be the right person too. However, you can tell that I’m writing in past tense -- I’m 97% sure that this guy was not the one, although he’s likely similar to the person that is. I spent a week thinking I was the problem because I confronted that something was off between us. I apologized to the extent that it was necessary, and waited for him to make plans, or show me in literally any way that he was still interested. I eventually realized that for one reason or another, he wasn’t ready for anything serious, despite telling me otherwise. Or maybe he wasn’t ready for me specifically. Once again, I would’ve appreciated if he could’ve told me nicely that it wasn’t working, and I would’ve moved on without the “drama” of trying to figure out where his head was.

Maybe I could’ve handled the situation better, but once again I’m grateful to realize sooner rather than later that he wasn’t right. Actually, I wouldn’t change a thing – other than recognizing that I didn’t need to change a thing. I’ve been thinking that I’m the problem for scaring people away, but I think I’m just saving myself months of investing time and energy into someone to ultimately reach the same conclusion.

I’ve been 75% of the way towards the process these last few months. I believed in theory that what’s meant to be will be, but I was still overly anxious about it. Last night, I made a huge mistake: I sent a text that made me try to download the IOS software update to unsend it (but couldn’t) and want hide under a rug. However, the response I received, combined with my friend’s casual comment made me realize that there are very few mistakes, if any, that would drive away the person that’s meant to be. (I’m NOT saying that the person I sent the text to is the right person.) The right person isn’t necessarily going to be happy with my mistakes, but they will accept them (eventually) and laugh with me. If someone who I barely know can turn something so ridiculous (can’t wait until the day I can share this one) into such a positive that I know the guy before wasn’t the one – regardless of what happens with this one.

Naturally, I update my closest friends with pretty much every single text interaction I have with men from the “squash patch” these days. (Which is probably part of the problem.) One friend said “he will make the move when he’s ready.” As obvious as this statement sounds, accepting it and resigning myself to the process is much more difficult. People talk about “fate,” but it’s more nuanced than that. When it comes to my career, I don’t believe in fate. I believe only in hard work, especially at this early point in my career. No job or project is going to magically find me, because there are plenty of intelligent people capable of doing my job. I’m the only person that’s responsible for my career and I have to seek out the opportunity. The difference in a relationship is that by definition, two people share responsibility. As long as I put my best foot forward, mistakes and all, the person I’m meant to be with will put his best food forward too, so we will find each other and make it work. By trusting the process, I trust that the person that’s meant for me will find me, and I shouldn’t stress about it.

Trusting the process includes being willing to be wrong. I’ve been wrong so many times that it feels like I’m not strong enough to be wrong again, but the alternative is forcing something and sacrificing future happiness. I have to be willing to invest time and energy and be wrong a million times, but still be as excited the next time so that when it does happen, I still experience the excitement. I’d hate to be so burnt out from getting hurt that I can’t be properly excited for the next person who might actually turn out to be the right person. I refuse to by cynical.

Unfortunately, being wrong so many times has made me insecure --- or quick to realize the second that interest level shifts? I’ve seen it happen more times than I care to publicly share. Each time a pattern shifts, I think “here we go again.” I think to myself that I’m just being insecure, and projecting the past onto this situation. Then a similar situation of some version of ghosting happens and I’m left wondering what I did wrong to get ghosted. I’m genuinely okay when someone isn’t interested. I know my worth in that way. However, I’m not okay with someone having me sit around, unsure of where we stand. On the bright side, it’s taught me that I don’t need constant communication. Rather, constant communication means there’s constantly something for me to second guess. I’d rather exchange a few texts each day, or every few days, to confirm that there’s still mutual interest or make plans, but I don’t need anything beyond that. Not to mention, if it’s truly right, this person won’t take the chance of letting anything happen for me to question him in these early stages. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t do that to anyone.

Given the way that I throw around words like “right person” and “meant to be”, you might assume that I believe in soulmates. Maybe I did at one point, but I don’t. Instead, I believe that finding your life partner is a basic algebra optimization problem once you’re in the right dimension (or plane as we think about in geometry. By dimension, I’m referring to location and stage of life. Given a certain stage of life and location, it’s an optimization on life goals, personality, appearance, etc. There are likely multiple people on the same plane that satisfy the criteria, but it’s about finding the person that optimizes your criteria the best.

In some other world, the guy who wasn’t ready could’ve been my person. I think we could’ve been happy. But he wasn’t ready, and I no longer have hard feelings about that. Understanding that there’s more than one person to satisfy the equation in this way is calming. Even realizing that more than one person in Seattle meets my extreme criteria is a relief, because it means that my standards aren’t too high, and that there are people out there like me.

I’d probably get along well with the eventual wives of my exes, as funny as that sounds. I have no desire to meet them or interact with my exes, but there’s a good chance that the women they end up with will be quite similar to me.

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