You know that feeling when you look across a room and your eyes land on someone you immediately find attractive? Maybe it’s what they are wearing, what they are doing, what they are saying. Maybe it’s the confidence they exude. Maybe it’s the sound of their voice or the way they smile. Whatever it is, you know that you must meet that person. Right then and there. Without hesitation, you approach with your head held high, smiling. They look right at you and you reach out your hand and say “Hi, my name is …” They reach out and take your hand in theirs and your eyes lock for a lingering glance. Your heart races, your stomach does flip-flops and the conversation flows. You don’t even care where it’s going or what the result will be from talking with this person, you are just glad that you approached them. Yeah, well I don’t. I’m not an “approacher.”
This shocks most people because they view me as an extrovert. After all, I run Singles in the Suburbs which has over 1,800 members; surely I’m used to approaching strangers?! In actuality, these people approach me. When I see someone who interests me, fascinates me, intrigues me – I freeze. I imagine approaching them but I just can’t make myself do it because I get afraid. Afraid of what? Most likely, negative feedback.
Let’s stop for a moment and evaluate one definition of Rita. Rita is “someone who must be loved and accepted by others.” This isn’t necessarily a bad definition. Who doesn’t want to be loved and accepted? But, when this definition over powers the others it is what keeps me continuously holding back…what keeps me from approaching certain people.
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a man named Matthew Christian Davis who eagerly indicated that he wanted to be one of my 35 dates, simply asking “which # will I be?” He had a signature line with about 4 different webpage links. I clicked on one, saw his photo, read his biography, saw more photos, googled him – and froze. I couldn’t even respond. Seriously, I could not even approach this man on the Internet! Attractive. Accomplished. Intelligent. Slightly intimidating. He has photographs taken with celebrities, political leaders, beauty pageant winners. And he wanted to go on a date – with me?
This past Sunday, on September 11th, we met for coffee at the Reston Town Center. As I sat by the fountain, waiting for him to arrive, I couldn’t sit still. I was fidgeting, pulling at the hem of my dress, fiddling with my phone. I felt hot and slightly dizzy. I was either having a heart attack or I was extremely nervous!
I looked up, and there he was. I stopped breathing for a moment. He immediately smiled, walked over to me with his head held high, smiling and hugged me. He had something in his hand – a gift for me. The book that he researched, wrote and published, “Best of DC” (a truly beautiful book)! I said thank-you and asked a question so that he was tasked with talking.
He was so open, discussing a wide variety of topics freely. I’m pretty sure he sensed my nervousness so he actively engaged me in the conversation. Within minutes of sitting with our coffee, I felt extremely at ease. The conversation flowed freely. I shared with him my ideas for Singles in the Suburbs, the 35/35 Project and for future endeavors and he excitedly chimed in, validating my thoughts and opinions and expanding on my ideas. The conversation was give and take. Matt was no longer “slightly intimidating.” He was simply another human being, my equal. After an hour, I felt as if I had known Matt for years!
What draws me to Matt is that he is secure. Matt is conscious of his value as a human being which makes him conscious of other’s value as a human being. Today, I had lunch with the dating coach, Dave Elliott (a separate post about that meeting will follow shortly). After listening to me talk, he said that I have a tendency at times to underestimate myself. Specifically, I underestimate how much people like me. By underestimating myself, I show that I do not value who I am. By not valuing myself, I do not love and accept myself. Rather, I seek that love and acceptance from others – which puts my happiness in their control, when it should be in mine. Because of this, I hold back with my speech or with approaching people.
Prior to this project, I would have never approached or contacted Matt. I would have never known his kindness or his generosity. I would have never known Matt as a friend. Because this project forced me outside of my comfort zone, now I do.
I wonder how many other connections I’ve missed out on because I underestimated myself.