Monday, February 13, 2012

A Lesson in Boldness: The distance from my barstool to possibility

Years ago I was in a bar with a friend when I noticed a particularly handsome man across the room. (“OMG!,” I said. “This guy is hot.”) After doing a double-take, I saw that he was watching me too. Throughout the evening we took turns glancing at each other, locking eyes for a moment before looking away. At one point I went to the bathroom and returned to find him still looking at me.

Now this is where most women would keep making subtle glances and wait for him to come over. But when it became apparent that for whatever reason -- nerves, fear of rejection, bad passed experiences -- he was not going to cover the distance between us, I had a choice. I could stay on that barstool and pretend nothing was happening, or I could stand up, gather my courage and take a chance based on nothing more than a gut feeling. (At that moment, I finally understood how hard it can be to be a man.)

“Hi,” I said as I approached him. “I noticed you’ve been staring at me for quite a while so I figured I’d come over and introduce myself.” That was the beginning of a four-year relationship. A relationship that began with one bold moment.

The words I used were honest and to the point, something I think he really appreciated. You see, more times than not, we’re not truthful with our words. We use sarcasm, we ramble out of nervous energy or we say something that is not even a true reflection of who we are. I think that’s because being truthful requires being vulnerable and that’s hard. You risk rejection or embarrassment when you put yourself out there. But, you also give yourself the chance to experience something great.

Women are notorious for not saying what we feel but letting others draw conclusions. We do it with friends when we let them make assumptions about our intentions because we are unable to voice them. We do it in job situations when we hesitate to ask for the sale or speak up for that promotion. And more than anything, we do it with men when we chose to be subtle over choosing to be real.

So here’s what I’ve learned from my experience. First, life’s too short not to take a chance. Allow yourself to create moments of happiness whenever you can. When you do, be prepared to risk being yourself -- it’s what opens the door for the other person to truly appreciate you for who you really are. And finally, be honest with your words. It’s the only way to have anything that’s true.

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