Your Life is Not a Math Problem

Something odd happened to me the other night that I felt might be relevant to the interest of potential readers. I was set up to visit someone I had not seen in a long time– an old flame, if you will. He contacted me. We texted a little bit. And then he said he wanted to “catch up and get a beer.” Now to be honest, this is NOT what I’m focusing on at this point in my life. I am genuinely trying to zero in on my career, my blog, my own personal growth AWAY from all things that have to do with dating. But, I’m a girl… no…. I’m a HUMAN …. and when a person decides to show interest in spending an evening with me, I am going to want to follow up. Who wouldn’t?

So, the evening of our meeting came up and I strutted around my room, planned a little extra time to get ready, thought about all of the questions he might ask, and the questions I wanted to ask him.

I left my house feeling optimistic and excited to share how successful I have been the past few years because DUDE, I work for a CHILDREN’S THEATER COMPANY (Putting my Theatre Arts B.A. to work, WHAT?!?)

Also, I’ve been running 10Ks, and lifting weights… so let’s go ahead and entertain the idea that I might look better in my jeans than the last time I saw this person.

I hadn’t felt so confident in weeks, and I was enjoying the crap out of it.

Finally, I got the place where this old flame was (a gathering with many old friends). I smiled and said hello. He gave me a hug– the first hug between us in probably four or five years. I waited for him to bring up where we might meet later.

Nothing happened.

Hours went by.

I kept looking at my phone to see if he was trying to be coy about it, and text me instead of asking in front of everyone.

Nothing.

I continued to talk to my old friends, catching up, pretending as hard as I could that I was interested in everything they had to say, when really I was just mortified at the idea that I was being ignored by the one person who I came to see— because HE SAID HE WANTED TO SEE ME.

Needless to say, it became apparent that he was 100% uninterested in catching up with me. He was distracted. He didn’t make much eye contact. He was heavily hanging all over some other girl, and she quickly turned into the personification of my insecurity. Because, you know, she was pretty.

After another half an hour or so of inner-turmoil, I decided to say a quick farewell, and I walked back to my car, alone.

I walked away feeling vague and disappointed that I even entertained the idea of “going out” with someone in the first place.

And then, the Sad Dragon showed up.

You are an idiot. 

Oh, hey there Sad Dragon.

You told yourself you weren’t interested in dating. This is just karma for going back on your word. How could you be such a moron? 

Shut up, I was just trying to do something fun.

A lot of good that did you. Nobody even wanted to talk to you. These people were not your friends then, and they’re not your friends now. You’re the same loser you were back in college, just trying to get attention from some guy. You’re repeating your old mistakes! So much for your journey on personal growth!  

Shit. You’re right. I’m a failure. This has been a failure of an evening. I could have been writing, practicing, exercising… anything but this.

But you didn’t! You chose to be stupid! Congratulations, Stupid Face! Now you and me get to feel stupid together! Now who wants a gallon of Ben and Jerry’s and a bottle of red wine? 

My Sad Dragon wanted to eat me from the inside out and I did everything I could to stop crying– tears mostly from disappointment in myself, rather than the situation at hand.

Now lets put a magnifying glass on this situation. What did I do to let the Sad Dragon out? Because believe it or not, I have control over the things it says to me… because, let’s face it… it IS me. What about this situation ruined me for an evening? Why did I beat myself up with self-hatred when all I was doing was dealing with the information that I had?

In my head was a simple equation:

Single Girl Trying to Get the Most Out of Life + Ex From the Past Wants to Hang Out =  A Super Duper Great Time!

But, here’s the thing. Life is not a Math Problem. Life is more like improvisation. We write the story as we go. We can’t control the outcome of our situation because we can’t control the people around us. All we can do is say yes to the facts we have at hand, and make a choice. We don’t always know how people are going to act, how we are going to be treated, or what our choices might amount to in a given day.

The equation is closer to this:

Single Girl  + Ex = Potential for a Great time  OR  Getting ignored  OR Being manipulated OR All the Bars are Closed  OR  We Have a Heated Argument  OR  We Fall in Love and Get Married  OR  I Get Sick and Throw Up all Over Him  OR  He Gets Sick and Throws Up All Over Me   OR  We Get Eaten by a Giant Spider  OR  He Kidnaps Me and Takes Me to Vegas

….. The list of possible outcomes is endless. Sure, some are more likely outcomes than others… but the best way I could have shut up my Sad Dragon that night, would be to simply celebrate the fact that I said YES to something.

I chose to open myself up to some kind of potential. The results weren’t great… but I went somewhere, instead of staying home. I caught up with people I haven’t seen in years. I confidently walked up to a building, and actually felt attractive. I made like, three new Facebook friends! It’s not all bad. So I didn’t get a beer with Mr. Whatever-His-Face. It doesn’t matter. I can move on. I can keep saying “Yes” and keep making new choices in every single moment.

And the Sad Dragon can’t win if I stay open to all possible outcomes of any given event.

Life is still fine.

And I can still say “yes” to any equation that comes my way.

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