During my senior year of college and right before I met the love of my life, I dated a boy who I will call, “Dave.” He was tall and lean and slightly tanned even in winter. He had soft dark hair, which swept across his brow threatening to fall into his green eyes lit with a mischievous glint.
The first night I saw him standing across the room flanked by friends, he grinned with teeth too white to be real. Staring, I couldn’t help but notice that he seemed flawless. Of course, most people do when backlit with bar lights.
The particulars involved in the materialization of our first date are irrelevant. What is important is that after only a few minutes, I realized that Dave was more than startlingly good-looking. He was polite, kind, and generous.
After a nice dinner, he walked me home. Standing on my porch with his “aw-shucks” demeanor and boyish smile, he respectfully said good night. Walking into my apartment, I deemed it a first good date even though I couldn’t ignore an undefined nagging feeling that tugged at me.
In the weeks that followed, I went on several more dates with Dave. Each one was fine, which is what I told my roommate who quickly noticed what I already knew. I wasn’t very excited to date Dave. Confessing this to her, she asked the obvious question of why I kept dating him. My response was to list all his positive attributes.
The truth–Dave was good-looking, kind, and polite, but he was also…boring. Insipid and two-dimensional, he didn’t challenge, amuse or interest me. I kept dating him though because, as I explained to my roommate, going out with him was better than doing nothing. She, with her sharp perception and acerbic honesty, snapped, “Having nothing to do is better than wasting your time.”
Of course, she was right, and I knew it. I also knew why I really kept dating him. It was because there was nothing particularly bad about him. After all, Dave was good on paper, really good. Who was I to expect and demand to find someone with all those listed qualities who also excited me?
So, breaking up was hard to do. Not because I was crushed or even because Dave was crushed (he rebounded quickly). Instead, breaking up was hard because I had to acknowledge the fear that I may not find someone better. With Dave, I felt bored and apathetic, but I wondered if that was better than never having the chance to feel something different with anyone else.
After one more date and Dave’s misstep of telling my roommate that he liked a band that was actually a reference to a card game, I let go. It was a waste of time. And when I stopped wasting that time, it allowed an opening in my life for my husband to walk in.
Six months later, I met my future husband and the father of my two children. I met the man who never fails to excite, amuse, challenge, and inspire me. Before I loved him, which didn’t take long, I respected and admired him. And, after 16 years, I am still head-over-heels, heart-pounding-when-I-see-him, in love with him.
My point? It’s that it can be difficult to break up with someone or something when it’s comfortable, especially if there is no one or nothing to take its place. However, the only way you can open yourself up for opportunity is by making room for it.
I had to do this recently.
I have taught a college course for the past few years. Initially, it was exciting and interesting. But running its inevitable course, the interest and excitement waned. Although it was time for something new in my life, I rejected seeking that possibility for the comfort of the familiar.
Feeling apathetic and bored, after several semesters, I complained but continued teaching. My husband, like my roommate years ago, asked why. And, again, I listed all the positives. It provides supplementary income, keeps my skills sharp, is geographically close and it allows me to step out of my athleisure for a night.
The truth–the class was Dave. It looked good on paper but it wasn’t fulfilling. It was simply something to do because nothing else was there to take its place. It had turned into a waste of my time. Time that, as a writer, I wanted to spend writing.
So, after another semester of debate, I recently wrote an email declining a position for next semester. And with that sent email, another space in my life opened up allowing for the chance of something wonderful to come in.
Thank you for reading. I’m excited to hear what you think.