Two things happened yesterday that I want to write about.
First, I spent a couple of hours doing a series of online personality tests as part of the recruitment process for a job I really want. Myers Briggs, Emotional Intelligence, etc. I forgot to count, but if I had to guess I’d say I responded to well over 500 questions about everything from which words I prefer in a series of pairs (concrete or abstract? fact or idea?), to whether I like to lead or follow, to how close, or distant, I tend to be with people.
Abstract, idea, both (depends on the situation), and close, if you’re wondering.
Second, I went to see the Silver Linings Playbook.
It was a game time decision. Walked out of my house at 9:32 pm for the 9:40 pm show. Had heard good things about the film, am still on income hiatus so the late start time didn’t bother me, plus I just figured that it was as good a time as any to take advantage of living a ten minute walk from a movie theatre.
If you’ve seen the film, or watched the trailer (see link above), then you know the story centres around a possible romance between two characters diagnosed with mental illness. Severe depression (Jennifer Lawrence) and Bipolar Disorder (Bradley Cooper).
As someone who did my own dance with depression while going through my divorce, and as someone who is now thriving again thanks to working through my issues via therapy and a lot of introspection, there’s a line Jennifer Lawrence’s character delivers fairly early in the movie that I absolutely adore.
I won’t get the exact words so I’ll paraphrase. Basically, she says she likes herself. Even the bad parts that she’s learned to forgive herself for (in her case, this includes sleeping around to deal with her loneliness and depression). And she challenges Bradley Cooper’s character as to whether he can say the same.
Having written recently about my journey back to loving myself again, I thought this line was really well contrasted with Bradley Cooper’s character’s big statement on love (in reference to his estranged wife) wherein he basically says that he’s his best self right now and so is she and that’s why they should be together in that moment.
I used to think that too. That love was about being your best self for someone else. Still do to a degree. The problem is that it doesn’t quite work when your best self isn’t your real self. Or when being your best self doesn’t come from a place of loving your whole self. Even the bad parts. Because unless you confront those parts, unless you unpack them and forgive yourself for them, you will likely find yourself struggling to be your best self for someone else. Because you won’t be doing so from a place of honesty. From a place of strength.
I couldn’t help but notice that as someone who has been through that forgiveness journey lately, the pile of questionnaires I responded to yesterday afternoon was far easier to get through than they might have been in the past. When I didn’t know myself as well. When my love of self was out of whack. Sure, I still found a few questions hard, but I am confident the results will be a heck of a lot closer to representing my true self than they would have been had I done the tests a year or two ago.
I was thinking about this as I walked home from the theatre yesterday night around midnight. The neighbourhood mostly asleep. The Be Good Tanyas playing softly on my iPhone. The few stars visible through the Toronto haze twinkling above me.
My ability to tackle this series of tests with openness and honestly is a good reminder of what a great place I am in right now. In the words of Jennifer Lawrence: I like myself.
Which is awesome. And exciting. And . . . kinda scary.
Because, as I’ve started to confront in recent months, this takes the whole dating thing to a whole ‘nother level.
When I first started dating again just over a year ago, I was really just looking to get back in the game. To practice if you will. Coffee dates, a dinner or two. That was my speed. I then slowly graduated to being ready for a bit more. Got all the way up to about three or four dates with a couple of guys. Even cooked with one of them (which, to me, has the potential to be just about the most intimate thing you can do with a dude, other than, um well, you know).
At the time, reaching those milestones felt kinda major. But now, now that I’m looking to connect with someone from a place of greater honestly . . . wow. That all seems like child’s play. Not to say I don’t expect to still need those skills now that I’m out there looking for a deeper connection. I guess in a way they’re the building blocks I had to learn to play with first before I could attempt something real.
Or maybe it’s actually the reverse. The liking myself needed to get sorted, my internal foundation built, before I could be ready to break out those coffee date skills while searching for something real?
I guess either way, my point is that I’ve got all my blocks now. And so now, in addition to trying to find someone I can share good conversation, fun times and some chemistry with, I’m also hoping to find a guy who has / is on his way to having all of his blocks lined up too. So that maybe we can build something awesome together. Like a wicked cool LEGO castle. Or, you know, a loving and honest relationship. (Who am I kidding. I want both! LEGOs are cool.)
So yeh. I’m shooting for the moon in the dating department. And, yeh, this does make my search a bit (okay, a lot!) harder.
But I am convinced it’s the only way to go.