No One Will Tell You the Biggest Truth About True Love
We got a book deal last week.
I can't share too many details just yet, but I celebrate the five-woman team that made this happen. I'm also really excited to write a book for my own primary target audience of young women for the first time since How to Love an American Man, AND, I haven't been involved with a book that had this much media interest at such an early stage...OK, now I'll zip it. More to come super soon—we're working fast on this one.
When I think about you, my audience, I remember reading something on Facebook two weeks ago from a young woman whose career it's been so fun and satisfying for me to observe these past few years. (I love you, Paige.) She shared that she was just having one of those so-not-fun "Why am I still single?" moments, and I remembered how as much as I relished all I packed into my young adulthood, that was a feeling I'd been familiar with for many, many years until, ohhh, just about eight months ago. And when I read Paige's post, it inspired me to share, too. Because this will go down as one of my favorite stories.
Last year around this time I reached out to a revered mentor here at home in PA. Since I was a kid, she's been a rare figure who has proven herself in a community and a career field that are still dominated by men. I needed her wisdom because I was discerning whether I wanted to make a change in my life: did I want to continue working in this solo writing capacity and deal with the stresses of managing all of it on my own? (It can feel so isolating not to have a team around you when an issue comes up—and, on occasion, they do.) Or, did I really want to make a focused effort to find a full-time opportunity at an organization whose mission, values and leadership philosophy I felt truly aligned with? Also, a regular income: that's not really a luxury, you know? That's by far the most stressful thing about a career as a creative person—but it's also not like cool jobs are just popping up like whack-a-mole around here.
So very graciously, she invited me to work on a project with her to test the waters inside corporate life in our community. Over lunch one day last June, early on in our collaboration, we were chatting about life in general when she casually said, "You know, I just hope one day you'll meet someone you can just spend your free time with." Meaning, of course, a man.
That might be nice, I said, but it wasn't my main focus. What I was focused on more intensely than ever was ensuring that I'd be able to continue to provide for myself, maybe adopt a child or have a baby on my own. I'd done a lot of research on both and was keeping an open heart. "And at this point, when it comes to a guy," I said, "look: if I'm meant to meet someone, then maybe it's incumbent on me to make a change in my life." And maybe that meant going back to work full-time.
I exaggerate not: the following week, on a whim she invited me to accompany her to a work fundraiser. Because I had nothing more pressing happening, I went. And that day, I met the man whom I have spent nearly every day with since. It was like I'd rolled down a hill and just landed there. It was the easiest thing ever.
Here's the thing: a couple weeks ago, I was on Instagram watching this vegan-yoga-business coach-life coach doing an Instagram live. She's one of these who will insist that she never puts anything artificial in her body but has the most disturbingly obvious augmented breasts my human eyes have ever witnessed (and I once met Pamela Anderson in person). It worries me that influencers like this are doling out advice on major life decisions to their 50,000 Instagram followers, and that young people are so impressionable that they're truly buying this stuff. One follower asked her, "I'm so inspired by your relationship with the guy you just married. What's your advice for girls like me?"
"Keep doing the inner work!" the self-proclaimed life coach declared (as if the "inner work" was what surely first caught her husband's attention). And wouldn't you know, she had just opened registration for an "attract your perfect mate" workshop, for the low, low price of...
No. This was when I knew I needed to start a blog back up, because I am so fed up with our culture capitalizing on the hope and vulnerability of young people who just want to meet another decent human. It just takes time, guys. That's all. I wasn't feeling at the top of my game in my career. I was past my decade of thrills and traveling the world. I wasn't working out three hours a day or in my hottest shape ever. There was nothing I had done to earn this amazing person. I had reached out to a mentor because I was feeling like all the exciting stuff was behind me, and maybe for me, finding the right person just hadn't been in the cards. And that is what led me to the partner who was so worth holding out for.
You don't need the inner work—wait, let me be clearer: please STOP doing the inner work. It's not serving you; in fact, it's doing more harm than good. You are not more flawed than all other humans. There is nothing wrong with you. Please stop focusing there. It's too easy to squander the preciousness of freedom and independence just by wishing the circumstances were different. Embrace it. Very few before us had this chance. Living on our own and taking care of life ourselves is relatively new territory. It's not supposed to be easy.
You want more tips, don't you—I get it, because I was always the same way. It's not because I wrote a book or feel like an authority of any kind; but here's how you'll feel when you've met the right person:
- From the very moment they meet you, not for one second will they leave you guessing about whether they're interested. Not for one. second. I mean it. If a person makes you wonder what they're thinking or when they'll text, they've done you a favor by eliminating themselves as a candidate for you. Let 'em go. It's simpler than we let it be.
- Being with them will feel so natural that it might even freak you out a little at first. (Hang with it. This quickly reveals its greatness.)
- They will be so kind and gentle as you acquaint to this very new feeling of being genuinely cared for.
- You will respect each other on all levels and regarding all topics.
- You will have fun. So much fun. I promise. If you're not having fun together, for sure it's not the right one.
- From the music you like to your socializing/entertaining style, you will share the same value for participating in your culture or community together. (We like throwing parties. No legitimate reason necessary, ever.)
It's been ten years since I wrote about my quest in How to Love an American Man. I wish some of the lessons hadn't been so tough, but they got me so ready for the reward that was coming. I won't be sharing much personal stuff about him or us in this space, but be encouraged by this experience. At this risk of sounding like your grandma, there are some real gems out there.
I know that even the wanting to believe hurts, guys. You know I've been there, I feel you, and on the days you're not sure if anyone loves you, know that I sure do. If I can offer any encouragement, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This font is still pink! Why is this font still pink?
I know, I know...we'll get there...
(Photo copyright 2008 - Kristine E. Gasbarre. All rights reserved.)