I was never asked to a dance in high school. Looking back, it's definitely not a big deal. But then it was. I remember watching my friends get asked to dances and wondering if anyone would ever ask me. One dance, Homecoming maybe, I remember sitting at the computer near our front door the night before. Just in case someone decided to ask last minute. The phone rang, my parents told me it was for me, there was a male voice on the other end of the line who said "Elise. This is Harry Potter. Please stop being so obsessed with me." Click. Needless to say, I didn't get asked to Homecoming at the last minute. (I also didn't stop my Harry Potter obsession.)
Like I said, in retrospect, those dances weren't a big deal. I turned out pretty alright even without a pretty prom dress. But if I could go back in time and hang out with 17 year old me on the night of the dance, I'd bring her a giant bag of caramel kisses and we'd have a heart-to-heart where I'd hopefully convince her a little bit earlier in life that her worth wasn't defined by how many boy's choice dances she was asked to.
That's the cool thing about perspective, looking back, you understand a lot more than you did in the situation. I like to go back and read my high school journals sometimes. I've learned to skip over the pointless pages of American Idol updates (although it is kind of fun to remember how many times I managed to vote for Clay Aiken and Carmen Rasmussen in a single night.) My favorite pages are the ones where I was convinced that I was "in love" with so-and-so for whatever reason it was that day. It would be embarrassing to admit how many last names I've sampled my first name with. (In gel pen, naturally.)
I've come to love writing an awful lot. I also like to think I've become a bit better at writing since my high school days. My notes app on my phone is full of half-completed blog posts and stressed-out word vomit sessions. I've also learned to write when I'm feeling happy or grateful, so that I can remember those things when I'm not feeling that way later on.
Anyway, here's the point of this post.
Months ago, I went on a really good date. There actually wasn't anything particularly special about it, mostly just that I had a good time, felt comfortable with my date, and felt some sense of potential. I try to begin and end dates with a prayer so, when I got back from this one, I was expressing gratitude for the date and felt like I should write what I was feeling. I pulled up my beloved notes app and wrote something that has been a real blessing to look back on since I wrote it:
"I think this is what hope feels like. A moment of believing that everything I've always dreamed of could actually come to be. I feel like spinning and screaming, the lights all seem brighter, I feel like every part of me is smiling.
I also feel this fear of 'what if I'm wrong?' and 'what if I get my hopes up only to get them crushed?' But something tells me that no matter what happens, this feeling of bliss and hope and 'maybe so' has a lot more to do with truth - it doesn't all rely on 'what if yes' or 'what if no'. I am valuable not just because tonight I feel valued, but because I am."
I actually feel really vulnerable sharing that note. Because, spoiler alert, not much more happened with that guy. And since nothing happened, it seems kind of silly that 'every part of me was smiling'. But I've had this note on my mind all day and I'm kind of impressed by what I seem to have understood the night I wrote it. Today, as I'm writing this blog post, I am valuable. Even though nothing progressed the way I hoped it would when I was all twitterpated that night, that simple date taught me something that had always been true all along.
And it's true for all of us. We are valuable. We have infinite worth that is not defined by whether or not we are going on dates, or our marital status, our employment/education status, or anything like that. That's something that has taken me a long time to understand. And somehow, separating those things in my mind has made all the difference.