No...What Do YOU Want?

A customer at work was going on and on the other day about the new season of The Bachelor. "Oh, Juan Pablo," she crooned..."He is just the cuuuutest." Apparently the pilot episode had just aired, and women the country over were all in a fit over this dude.

*Disclaimer coming* I don't watch much TV. I ESPECIALLY don't watch much reality TV. But I must have been struck that night with the right combination of curiosity and responsibility avoidance, because I actually went to the trouble of pulling that pilot episode up On Demand.

Yeah, it turns out Juan Pablo is indeed a nice looking fellow, and his oft-declared devotion to his young daughter is attractive. Still, I couldn't get over how the dozens of young women sent his way were claiming to know they and Juan Pablo were perfect for each other and saying things like "I want this more than anything," this being Juan Pablo, a man they'd never once met.

I'm not a stranger to The Bachelor; I've caught bits and pieces of a few seasons over the years. And what I always marveled at was that all the contestants were so wholeheartedly invested in being chosen by a man who often wasn't even very interesting, funny, or intelligent. And even if he was attractive, what were the chances he was attractive to them?

But of course The Bachelor isn't about true love or even true attraction. It's about wanting to be chosen...no matter who's doing the choosing. I've always thought to myself, 'wouldn't it be so great if for ONCE, one of those women said they weren't into HIM?' Because really, what are the odds that 27 women all like the same dude, once they've had the chance to meet him and see what an awkward dork he often is, in real life?

Of all the young women featured, my favorites were a prosecutor from Atlanta named Andi and a Canadian opera singer named Sharleen who'd just moved from Germany, where she's been working for three years. The main reason I liked these women is that they projected intelligence and confidence, and both talked in normal, adult voices as opposed to the high-pitched squealy ones that tend to abound in these "reality" situations.

Juan Pablo clearly liked Sharleen as well. After sitting alone with her for a brief period, he excused himself and, to the wild-eyed envy of the rest of the women, retrieved the first rose of the night to give to her. She said almost nothing in response to the gift. After a pregnant pause she answered his "will you accept this rose?" with a flat, unenthusiastic, "sure" that actually screamed NOT SO DAMNED SURE!!

Juan Pablo's explanation for this reaction was that she was so stunned by his offering, she was speechless. Her explanation was that she didn't know if she was into him yet and that she thought the "connection" was, "frankly...a little forced."


It's entirely possible this has happened in seasons past...with my limited exposure I couldn't possibly say. But it was refreshing to witness. This was a woman honestly asking herself the question: What do I want?

I have a love/confusion relationship with that question. I vividly remember a moment in my life when I was at a crossroads and my parents sat me down, looked me in the eyes, and asked me: What do you want?

I could say absolutely nothing in response. I know I sat there blinking at them for some time. And then, all I could do was cry. Crying is apparently the natural biological reaction of a woman who realizes she hasn't, herself, considered that question in years.

Things have changed in that way...but not completely. When we were looking to move to a new town last year, I found myself entertaining the notion of and even desperately wanting to get places that could have been TERRIBLE to live in, including a duplex where the landlord (who lived upstairs and with whom communication in English was absolutely hopeless) indicated with hand motions that we were not allowed to be in the backyard and that the cat, if we had to keep her, could only live outside in a 2-foot square space, under a stairwell. I was like, Sign me up! Such was my temporary insanity when faced with the competition for rentals in the town where we wanted to live. I had forgotten to ask myself what I really wanted and how I wanted to live. Thankfully, my boyfriend was loads more clear-sighted than me in that moment.

On the other hand, I've shown marked improvement in some areas. Last year I told myself that, since I was already employed by a company that gave me outstanding benefits, I would not take a new job unless I really wanted it. It took a while, but I was recently able to make a move within the company to a location and position I was actually excited about. I told myself that I will absolutely be taking the approach that I am interviewing the job from now on when I'm looking to make a career change, even as I myself am being interviewed. Inasmuch as it's possible, I might as well hold out for the work I truly want to be doing. 

A couple of weeks ago a friend shared this meme on Facebook, and I identified with it, big time:

Maybe finally feeling this way is just the wisdom of age that so many parents have told us about and which we thought was total bullshit at the time. It's probably that. But it's also the willingness to choose happiness for myself (regardless of what other people have to say about what [my] life should look like), along with the absorption of the idea that I am a worthy individual.  Also, it's getting older and having less time and patience for fakery and for trying every which way to find acceptance (including settling for and agreeing to things that don't really jive with my outlook or desires).

It's asking myself what I really, really want and being ok with the idea that there are people and places and scenarios that won't fit into the answer.

That is the beauty of arriving at this place. I am free to simply say: Here I am. I'm happy to be here. I'm happy you're here, too. I will try to be good to you, and hopefully, we'll be cool with each other.

Most shocking is discovering that this seems to be the most foolproof recipe of all I've stumbled upon--for happiness, peace-of-mind, and smooth interpersonal relations.

Who'd have imagined?

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