Free to be ME! (Date 2 of 35)

11 Sep

Like everyone else, I remember where I was on September 11, 2001.  I remember watching the planes hit the towers, feeling the fear when one hit The Pentagon and feeling absolute sorrow when the final flight crashed into a field.  Like everyone else, I spent a good portion of today, the 10th anniversary, watching the dedication of the memorial, the old news footage and reliving my emotions from that horrible day.  Every day, but today especially, I am grateful.  Grateful that I am American.  Grateful for my freedom.

I really contemplated on the concept of freedom today and what that means to me.  That got my mind to wandering and I started thinking of what freedom means when you put it into the context of dating or a relationship.  So I asked.  I asked my friends.  I asked my singles group.  I even asked random people who were walking down the streets of The Reston Town Center.  The results surprised me.  Every single person that I talked to defined “freedom” as NOT being in a relationship.  Specifically, not having accountability to someone.  Not having to “check in” with someone or have someone inquire about your day, or your whereabouts or where you were/are going and what you were/are doing.   When Aces decided to leave (that’s a blog for another day), he even said the same thing.  During our break, he missed ME but he didn’t miss US.  When I asked what about “US” he didn’t miss, he said “I liked not having to tell someone where I was going and what I was doing.”  Apparently, the majority of people view “freedom” as being unattached.   So then, can you really not be free if you are dating or in a relationship?  Does a relationship cause us to lose the ability to be ourselves, unfiltered?

In thinking back over my dating history – whether casual dating or in a relationship – I was struck by the fact that I constantly curb my individuality in a dating/relationship situation.  In those situations, I’m constantly concerned, and focused on, my appearance, both outward and inward.  Concerned with my wardrobe, my physical attributes, what I say, how I say it.  I’m always worried that I’ll look like an idiot if I talk about a certain subject or if I participate in a certain activity.  I’m worried if I’ll “lose” the guy or that I’ll turn him off, or frustrate him, or make him mad.  I’m completely focused on his perception of me and tailor my actions to meet what I think his perception is (or what I want it to be) – guarding myself and filtering myself from being “simply me”. 

I was like this on Date #2.  David suggested that we go golfing.  I had never picked up a golf club until last May, when I enrolled in a session of beginner lessons and, since then, all I had ever done was the driving range.  The last time I had done that was June.  I said that I loved the idea of golf but had never played on a course, so perhaps we should stick to the driving range. David pushed that aside, reminding me that the purpose was to get outside of my comfort zone – and I reluctantly agreed.  Immediately, I was flooded with fear of how I’d look to him while I was attempting to hit a ball (and failing), that I would frustrate him, embarrass him…I was not looking forward to hitting the golf course!

That fear was NOT made easier when I met David.  David is extremely handsome, tall and can hit a golf ball like no one I’ve ever seen.  As we warmed up on the range, I just KNEW that this was going to be a disaster.  I was dreading the moment we stepped onto the course – knowing that once he saw the lack of golfing skills that I possessed, he’d NEVER be able to look at me as a potential “date” ever again. 

The moment came and it was time for us to hit the course.  I was SO self-conscious!  I didn’t want to bend over the wrong way in case it was an “unflattering” position.  I didn’t want to hit the ball and miss it.  My mind was just a chaotic mess of thoughts and I was focused on everything EXCEPT hitting the ball.  And my game suffered.  Terribly.  (Yup, that concern of how I appeared was really helping make sure that I didn’t look like an idiot.  Again, insert sarcasm here.)  Suddenly, I realized that I already “looked” like an idiot, at least a golfing idiot.  There was really nothing that I could do at that point to mask that reality.  

David was great.  He was so PATIENT.  And so kind!  He let me fumble, fail and didn’t once get frustrated with me.  Instead, after watching me hit a few holes, he asked if he could give me some pointers.  He started showing me how to tweak my stance, my hit, the club I used and, as he did so, I found myself focused on the mechanics and the game – and forgetting that I was on a “date.”    Basically, at that moment, I let go of all of my inhibitions.  I was open to doing whatever it took to drive that ball clear across the course.  The minute that I did that, I became free!  Free to be myself.  Free to play the game.  Free to have fun!  I hit the ball – and it FLEW across the course.  Even David let out his surprise.  And that wasn’t the only time I was able to drive the ball a good distance.  I was having FUN.  It was also at that moment that I realized that I hadn’t felt that free in a long long time.  Well over a decade.  I felt confident, I felt secure…and I didn’t need to cling to anything familiar (AKA the driving range) to feel that way! 

“The secret of HAPPINESS is FREEDOM.  The secret of FREEDOM is COURAGE.”  – Thucydides

To try something new – takes courage.  To let go of your inhibitions – takes courage.  Once you have courage – you are free.  Once you are free, you are happy. 

To me, now, the concept of “freedom” in the context of a relationship or dating does not mean space.  It does not mean being single or unattached.  It means having courage.  Courage to be completely at ease with yourself. Courage to remain independent.  When you do this, you are then able to SHARE yourself with someone else (instead of being dependent on someone else to be someone yourself).  You are able to find individuality WHILE maintaining a relationship (whether one date or many years).

David’s personality gave me the courage to be free which enabled me to experience something new!  Not only did I have fun, but I gained a new golf buddy.  David and I will absolutely hit the course again and, with my newfound appreciation of letting go of my inhibitions, he may have some serious competition!

Ready to hit the course!


11 Responses to “Free to be ME! (Date 2 of 35)”

  1. Marlene September 12, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    Ok.. please stop calling yourself idiot and stupid.. I like this quote “Those who mind, don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” If you are not being the authentic you.. it is impossible to have an authentic relationship! Seems like you are starting to grasp that!

    • Rita September 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

      I have made a big effort to not use negative wording or phrasing in my blog because of this comment. 🙂 I’m trying to grasp it…there is alot more to grasp than I was expecting!

  2. Maria September 14, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Rita, since I learned you were doing this challenge I’ve been meaning to write to you… After reading this entry, I couldn’t wait any longer… What a thoughtful and truthful concept!!! “Courage to be completely at ease with yourself” It sounds easy but it is not… So great and liberating when you reach it. Keep it up, girl!! I’ll be following you… And hope to see you soon!

    • Rita September 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

      Maria – I am so glad that you are following along!! I hope to see you too! You are right, being at ease isn’t easy….but I have already felt what it can be like to master that skill, and I’m excited!

      • Maria September 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

        Rita, we are our own biggest and worst critics… Sometimes, we just need to relax and be happy with ourselves.. I’ve found that when we let that happen, we really enjoy whatever situation we are in 🙂 And the best of it all is that we show our true selves and we are lovely… 😉

  3. Catherine Hedden September 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Dear Rita,

    When I read this post I see two amazing people; David, who through his gentle but firm masculine presence gave you the space to relax and you, who surrendered and gave yourself permission to trust! Wow!!! This is a great example of masculine and feminine polarity. Very cool!!

    This is a very important moment for you. It seems to answer the question I posted about your first date.

    Have you ever taken the Enneagram assessment? It would offer you some great insights into your resistance to being “free” and having the courage to be yourself. There a free online versions of the test. If you decide to take it I would love to know your type. I have an idea what it is….

    You are beautiful.


    Cousin Cathy

    • Rita September 16, 2011 at 1:56 am #

      I have NOT taken the Enneagram assessment but now that you’ve told me about it, I will find it over the weekend and share the type with you! Anything that can help me finally ‘be myself” is very welcome. I feel like, with the focus of just 7 days, and the help of Dave Elliott and Jess McCann, the dates and my friends…I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would have by now but, I still feel so far away! Thank you so much for sharing all of these comments here for all to see. I think your feedback will help so many of the readers as well!


  4. jenniferlourdes September 16, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    This is so insightful, Rita:

    “To me, now, the concept of “freedom” in the context of a relationship or dating does not mean space. It does not mean being single or unattached. It means having courage. Courage to be completely at ease with yourself. Courage to remain independent. When you do this, you are then able to SHARE yourself with someone else (instead of being dependent on someone else to be someone yourself). You are able to find individuality WHILE maintaining a relationship (whether one date or many years).”

    What I’ve always loved about and strived for in my marriage is just what you described here although I’ve never been able to articulate it as well as you have! You and everyone who knows us sees that we are two completely different individuals with unique interests, opinions and outlooks. We maintain this freedom not by giving each other “space” but by having the courage to be ourselves and embrace and accept the other for who he/she is faults and all, all the while supporting and loving the other person unconditionally.

    We find this concept of “freedom” especially important to do now that we have kids so that we can set a good example of how it is necessary to have the courage to live your life true to yourself and also have the ability to share your life, values, interests, and everything about yourself completely with your spouse and kids at the same time.

    • Rita September 16, 2011 at 10:32 am #

      Thank you Jennifer!! Absolutely. That is a fabulous relationship that you have and I know that you equally fabulous children will have the same strengths as you both do! I love each and every one of you!

  5. C September 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I’m a little late to this, but I just discovered your interesting blog. I also never reply to anything, but this really struck me because the concept of freedom as relating to relationships is something that has been on my mind. I’ve been in a fair amount of both long and short term relationships, and it is true; most people tend to view “freedom” as not having to answer to or be accountable to anyone (this is especially true in New York, where I live). What I have discovered, though, is that when you are in a comfortable, stable relationship, you are actually more free, because all of the time and energy that would be devoted to worrying and wondering about the inevitable drama and uncertainties surrounding short-term or new relationships, is freed up. It is natural that a big priority in most people’s lives is finding someone to share their life with. When you find that, you free up mental space to concentrate on interests, career, and your character. It is also very freeing to have someone who knows you really well to talk everything over with, and not have to carry the burden of your problems alone. It bothers me that not many people seem to see it this way. Not that I have this freedom at the moment, but I look forward to (hopefully) finding it again.


  1. Yoga Scares Me (Date 16 of 35) « Rita's Quest - September 26, 2011

    […] moving outside of my comfort zone in all of those areas, I’ve found that I am gaining the courage to be free.  And I’m finding that Thucydides’ quote holds true:  “The secret to happiness […]

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