Professional Neophyte

I tend to consider myself to be a fairly empathetic person. In fact, it’s something upon which I pride myself. I’m probably pretty unremarkable generally speaking, but being able to see things from the perspective of others, trying to understand and respect how they feel (even if it’s not how I’d feel) is an important skill to me. Being empathetic is practically a given in my little world, so when I feel like others are failing to see my point of view, or are unable to truly empathize with me, it hurts.

You’d have to dig a ways back. Back to before I had the self-awareness that I do today. Buried in the shadowy archives are posts about a young man who had never had sex with anyone. Never kissed anyone. Never been in a relationship with anyone and only dated on the most minimal of levels. That young man has changed a lot since then. He stopped lying and hiding and allowed himself to be a more authentic person. He pulled the mask away to reveal the her underneath. The her that had always been there, hiding.

Even though I am her, and I’ve changed enormously over the past 10+ months, I’ve still never had sex with anyone, never kissed anyone, never been in a relationship with anyone and only dated on the most minimal of levels. I might be more confident in self now, but I’m still the same basic person.

It’s hard to convey the feeling of being in this position. On the verge of my 28th birthday, a professional neophyte in the experience of romance and love. On the best days, it’s a dull hurt that can be masked with a smile and a funny story shared with coworkers. On the worst days it’s tears that won’t even be dissuaded by “please don’t cry and mess me up!”-mascara.

It’s almost not even worth discussing with people. I’ve met precious few who’ve been able to even understand, much less empathize, with how I feel. At best they offer platitudes of “you’ll find someone someday” or “everyone finds someone.” These words are too often spoken from a relative position of incredible (and I apologize for using this word) privilege. The privilege of being wanted by someone, either at present or at times in the past. Trust me, as someone who’s never known what that’s like, it’s absolutely a privilege.

There are of course some people who themselves were late, late, late to the game, but eventually arrived. I’ll never understand why those people aren’t more empathetic themselves. It’s as though once they arrive, they’re struck with amnesia about what it was like before then. This lack of empathy is particularly painful. These are people who could truly make a difference for someone. They could reach a hand back and let someone know that they’re not defective, they’re not unwanted, they’re not unlovable.

To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever find someone. It’s difficult to make peace with that, but it’s something I have to do. I have to redouble my efforts at pulling away all the masks I’ve worn. I have to make sure that I’m never again living an inauthentic life. I have to show myself that I care enough to take a shot. Take a shot on at least being the authentic me. I may always be alone. I may always have to struggle with feelings of being unwanted, being defective, being unlovable, being undatable, being in a dwindling percentage of the population. I may have to deal with all of those things, but I owe it to myself to at least do it as the real me. Ultimately that’s the only thing I can do. The pain of everything else will hopefully dull with time, but if I can be myself, I think it’ll be at least ok.