January 8, 2012

Learning to Love Myself

I don’t know whether or not I am capable of truly loving someone. Of course, I love my family very deeply, but I have never been ‘in love’ with anyone. I know, I know, I’m only 19 and I really shouldn’t expect to have found “the one”, but sometimes I get the feeling that I will be single for the rest of my life. The sad part is – that doesn’t really bother me. It’s not that I don’t want to have my own happily ever after story, rest assured I do. I merely mean to say that I’m not scared of solitude (or it’s my greatest fear and I’m deluding myself by telling myself the opposite.) Trusting someone else with my love makes me vulnerable. I never want that vulnerability to allow someone to destroy the sense of self I’ve constructed/developed/whatever. Not coming out was an intentional way of me avoiding dating, purposely skirting all those messy emotions.

I’ve always told myself that, if I find the right person, then it won’t matter what anyone else thinks, because I’ll be completely in love with him (her?) and, at that point, coming-out will be insignificant. In high school, I had no reason to come out because 1) it wasn’t exactly a gay-friendly culture and 2) there weren’t any guys that I thought were “worth coming out for.” (If that sounds offensive, I’m sorry.)

This little…strategy worked well while I was in high school, but now that I’m in college I’m realizing the effects that not dating in high school have. Because I haven’t been in a meaningful relationship before, I’m scared of getting into one now – I don’t want to mess it up. I don’t date because I am scared of being unable to show affection, but until I have some reason to do so, I know my emotional self will remain underdeveloped. I am realizing that I will be unable to experience love until I truly know myself. Until I learn to love myself, I will remain unable to have a meaningful connection with someone else.

I believe that perfect love is nearly impossible to attain and maintain, but it is that very impossibility which makes love so inspiring and powerful when it does occur. I have realized that it’s okay to be scared of love, but that being scared shouldn’t stop me from striving for it anyway.

Gandhi once said, "A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” I know that I will eventually be brave enough to love another, but until then, I will continue to love and know myself.


  1. Hey Cameron, although you don't post often, I just wanted to let you know that I absolutely enjoy them every time they do come around. (Maybe the low frequency makes it better? I'm not going to delve in to it, it won't go anywhere I'm sure)

    In any case, I think I understand where you're coming from because I come from a similar place. You see, I've spent my whole life being the funny girl and now am a heterosexual who is heavily involved in SGM (sexuality and gender minority) equality. I often make the joke that I don't know how to talk to men who may be potential partners and for a while, it troubled me. I was afraid I was just "too gay" and therefore too intimidating for them, if that makes sense. However, I tried to will myself in to my first relationship last year before being completely comfortable.

    Well now that I seem to have gone on about myself unnecessarily, the point of what I'm saying is that I just figured I had to face my anxiety head on, but it ended up blowing up in my face as I realized that I treated it as responsibility rather than an experience. Go figure.

    I've come to the conclusion that if I ever end up being trusting enough and brave enough to make a second attempt, I will know it and it will progress organically rather than in some kind of over calculated adventure. Something like love or even any form of a relationship is something that must be felt, not thought. If you're truly ready, affection and emotion will develop without you needing to be conscious of it.

    It truly warms my heart to see that you are taking a positive outlook being single. I look forward to hearing from you again, whenever that may be.

  2. I was never in a relationship in high school or at Duke since coming out, which kind of concerns me. I'm often torn between being fine with the fact that I haven't found anyone "worth it" and being afraid that my inexperience with relationships with lead me to mess things up when I do find a guy who I think is "the one."
    Definitely think that for gay guys the point of being ready to be in a healthy relationship is probably gonna be older than it is for straight people, as we have more inner shit to work out and a lot of times have self-esteem issues/ insecurities that make relationships hard.
    I try to just be open to things and convince myself nothing is a big deal, but if something were starting to seem like a serious relationship I'd probably freak out and and sabotage things to protect myself

  3. Your point about vulnerability is spot on. I personally fear rejection more than anything else in life. It's so much easier for our generation to address serious issues through tweets, fb messages, texts, and whatnot than it is to talk things out in person. Throwing yourself into a relationship can be risky.

    I think it's important to not completely shy away from the prospect of entering into a relationship though. I once heard an Irish proverb that a friend's eye is a good mirror (or something like that). Building relationships with other people and listening to others is a great way to learn more about yourself and grow as a result. After all, no one lives in a vacuum.

  4. Cameron - If it's any consolation (it's not any consolation), even after having been in several relationships, you'll probably be just as clueless as to what to do :P. Experience is nothing!

    I actually know, erm, a friend, who entered a relationship at Duke, and it was both their first, and it went really super well.

    Also, I would say to you and John, that you don't have to be in a romantic relationship with someone to be completely open with them. I'm sure y'all both have some super close friends who adore you (*ahem*, JM) that you can (and should) do this with. It's like stretching before a race.

    As far as fear-of-rejection goes, I always felt that among the LGBTQ & ally community, nothing I felt or wanted to say was off-limits so long as it didn't offend or harm someone else. Like, I don't think you can really shock that crowd, and if anything, the more brutally open you are, the more people respect you. Rejection shouldn't even be on your radar.

    Bleh this is the single preachiest and know-it-all comment I've ever written on a post here. Sorry about that.

  5. "To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance."-Oscar Wilde

    I've definitely struggled with upholding what is perhaps one of my favorite quotes, and it makes me happy that you've been able to take the situation into a positive light. I completely understand the vulnerability issue, as there is something to be said about self-confidence, or at least perpetrated self-confidence. With self-confidence apparently comes control of emotions and affection, which I disagree with, since one can have either without both. As I work to develop and discover myself, I've found solace in my friendships, and each person involved has helped me realize a little piece about me. I've also found that I'm perhaps a little too open with them, but I develop a trust in them that helps me grow as an individual. I love my friends, but even still, it's hard for me to say that to them because I'm working on loving myself. It takes time and experience, but also self-love, to love another, as Mr. Wilde points out for me. I'm glad you've discovered this early.

    Yes, I fear rejection, but I also fear personal rejection more than anything. Never let yourself get in the way of yourself.

    Great post. See, I told you your post wouldn't be "craptastic"!

  6. For a long time I felt somewhat similar to what you describe in your first paragraph; that while I would welcome a relationship, I rather expected to be single long term, and I was pretty much ok with that, most of the time. For a very, very long time I also wasn't sure if I was interested in men or women or both, and I didn't really talk about it at all. So there I was, 21 years old, never having so much as gone on a date or been kissed, when for the first time I got a really serious crush on someone, which got so strong that I finally gave in and asked her out. Now, we've been together for nearly a year and half, and living together since we moved here in August (I'm a grad student). I don't know if we'll be together for the rest of our lives, but it seems possible. Do I sometimes regret not having more experience being in relationships? Absolutely. Has it made it impossible for me to build a strong, healthy, loving relationship now? No. Sorry to go on about myself in response to a wonderful post, but I just wanted to make the point that it's certainly not too late.

  7. Great, great post! A lot of what you said is close to what I feel too and its really cool to see someone else put it into words. The paragraph about high school was pretty much my strategy too. This might be one of my favorite posts on the blog. Nice job!