Then + Now
In our last American Presidency lecture, Wendy Schiller (one of my favorite professors at Brown/people in the entire world) took our final moments together as a class to talk about life and love. One of her main theses was, “If someone is mean to you, they don’t love you.” And with that one thought, I knew what I would write my Senior Send-Off about. Throughout my tenure at Blog, I have tried to back up my articles with real anecdotes from my own life. With this one, my last, I am going to attempt to sum up everything about love and sex that I have learned in the last few years. Most importantly, I want to make clear that loving and respecting yourself is the key to finding your own internal happiness, and as a result, finding the love you deserve.
When I entered college (what feels like eons ago), 15 pounds lighter than I had been in high school and with a blank slate, I was determined to set myself up for romantic success. I flirted hard, and DFMO’d harder. I definitely wanted a significant other, but I had to admit: the adventure along the way was pretty fun. I became comfortable with other people seeing me naked. I lost my virginity. I perfected my blow job technique. I took everything that happened in stride, whether it was someone I had hooked up with blowing me off, or doing the same to someone interested in me. I was exploring entirely new territory and was happy to take the battle scars along the way.
Sophomore year, things started to shift. It was harder to just ignore that hurt feeling when someone treated me with less respect than I knew I deserved. That lack of respect was far-reaching: from one person who consistently ignored my texts until it was convenient for him, to one guy I had been dating for two months telling me he actually already had a girlfriend who didn’t go to school with us. “You’re so fun and great,” they would all tell me, “but I don’t want anything serious right now.” I put up with it because I wanted that affirmation that I had craved for so long. Maybe they would come around eventually, I rationalized.
After a particularly damaging rejection (and a mildly broken heart) the summer before junior year, my recovery process was to stick to the norm: random DFMOs, chasing guys who I knew were bad for me, pretending to not care about anyone or anything. I wasn’t getting what I wanted, but at least I was getting something. I laughed with my friends about the all the jabronis I hooked up with–especially Sean, who I held onto for almost six months, despite our lack of connection and his lack of interest in anything serious. These people didn’t like like me, but they thought that I was hot and fun; I’d take what I could get. But what for? Fake orgasms and someone to drunk text at 1 AM on Saturday while I ate mozzarella sticks at Jo’s?
I eventually realized it wasn’t enough. That validation, which had basically begun to wear thin sophomore year, completely evaporated by senior year. I couldn’t do it anymore. So senior fall, I put myself on the bench. I stopped caring about cultivating that “fun, cool, DTF” image and focused on living the happiest life I could, which included not hooking up with people who made me miserable. And after a while, I lost interest in hook-ups, preferring nights at the GCB with my friends or time in my bed watching Portlandia after a long day of thesis writing. It was totally liberating, and gave me time to really think about what the future held. I wanted to be with someone who really respected and liked me–someone who affirmed me, and cared about what I wanted. I wouldn’t settle for anything less. In the meantime, I was truly happy being alone.
All of a sudden, it was second semester, and I found myself in a novel position. For the first time in awhile, I didn’t have to use my tried and true method–I had people pursuing me. These people, all of whom are truly amazing and lovable, were actually interested in me for me and all of my kooky, crazy self.
I had spent years trying to be this fun, DGAF chick, a persona I thought was the key to finding sex and romance, but really, all I had to be was myself. Yes, I know this is a total cliché, and I do believe it was partially luck that brought these people to me at this time, but simultaneously, I don’t think any of them would have liked me nearly as much if I was still that person I had been pretending to be for so long.
So to get back to Schiller’s point: people who don’t treat you with respect, or don’t do things to make you happy, are not worth your time. I do believe mixed messages exist. I do believe that people can be confused about how they feel (trust me, I’ve been there). However, if someone wants to be with you, in any capacity (casual or serious), they should tell you that to your face. Don’t confuse passivity with feelings of confusion or expect the smoke to clear and have them see you were there all along. If they don’t realize that now, they probably never will. You’ll drag yourself down and miss opportunities to spend time with other potential partners, your friends, and most importantly, yourself (#metime). I realize that now. While the struggle to get here has been real, it was worth it to get to this point.
TL; DR: Love yourself, and people will love you back. Expect the respect you deserve. Don’t settle for just alright; wait for excellence. Anything less isn’t worth it. Bad sex and heartache suck, but they bring you to a better place, I swear. I hope at least one of you has been affected by any of these articles (even this one), and know that I write them because I love you all.
A million X’s and O’s,
Lana Del Foreplay