I went to a training on addiction at work today that was one of the best trainings that I’ve been to in a long time, with one of the most well-spoken, knowledgeable, and engaging trainers that I’ve seen in a long time. While he was talking, I thought back to a conversation that I had over this past weekend with a friend, in which I said, “There just aren’t that many really intelligent people in the world,” and he responded, “And even fewer that are doing something with their intelligence.” Truth. I have long held the belief that intelligence is a gift, and that gifts – much like privilege and influence – come with responsibility, and must be used wisely. That is why we must read and write; we cannot waste our gift. And this trainer: He was using his gift wisely. I left the training feeling super fired up.
So, get this: After work, I went on a hike to think about how I was going to “do something” with my intelligence. I thought that if I was dating a person like that trainer – somebody smarter than me, more accomplished than me, more hardworking than me – I would feel super inspired and motivated, and then I would use the intelligence that I have better. So then, I started thinking about where I could meet somebody who had those qualities. I thought that maybe I should start attending interesting lectures in the Bay Area, because intelligent people probably hang out there. Or maybe I should start taking some classes, because smart people take classes. Or *maybe*, I should go back to school to get a ph.d., because I’d definitely meet some really bright people in a ph.d. program. Right?
Let’s review: my brain determined that the best way for me to “do something” with my intelligence was to find places to meet someone else using their intelligence well, and then follow their lead. Fucking brilliant. 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️
At this point, I realized just how ridiculous this train of thought was. What on earth do I need this other person for? I could just go to lectures, or take classes, or get a ph.d. – not to meet someone smart – but to GET SMARTER MYSELF. I can work hard myself. I can motivate myself to accomplish whatever the heck I want to accomplish. I could be the person that I want to be inspired by. I don’t do things to attract other people to me; I do things to make me like myself.
And then I remembered, “Oh, right, you’re supposed to be dating yourself right now.” Dating yourself is an idea that my sponsor taught me awhile back. Rather than saying that I’m not dating – which implies the absence of a relationship – I say that I am dating myself. Which is a damn good idea, given how little I know about myself after spending so much of my life hiding. I have been learning what I like, how to take care of myself, how to adult, what my priorities are, and what my values and beliefs are. The hope being that by the time I am ready to date someone else again, I will know and like and trust myself so much that I won’t lose or betray myself again.
And while we’re on the subject: I am aware that people think that I should start dating. I’ve never before thought about dating as a thing to pursue. (Granted, I’ve been in relationships almost nonstop since I was 15 or 16, which didn’t leave much time to consider the idea of dating from the outside, because I was always in it.) But when you are in your 30s and you’re single (and you’re a woman? Does this happen with men?), people expect you to be actively dating. And, in these modern times, “actively dating” means that you have profiles on the dating websites and have the “apps.” I recently made a list of all the reasons that I was not ready to start dating. Then I told my roommate about my list and she asked how I physically feel when I think about dating. “Nauseated.” “So maybe you don’t need a list. Maybe that’s enough of a reason.” Then I told another friend about that conversation, and she said, “You don’t actually need any reason at all.” Right. The only person that we need to answer to is ourselves in the stillness. (Thank you, Glennon.) So then I threw out the list and went back to dating myself.
And so, here is what we learned about Emma today: 1. I am easily and deeply inspired by people who are doing good work in the world. 2. I want to do good work, too. 3. I don’t like dating apps (and am discerning about apps, in general). 4. I want (need?) to keep dating myself.
5. I’m so freaking lucky and grateful that I can walk to DeLaveaga Park from my house to hike there after work, which is where all of these pictures were taken. 🙏🏼
And now, I’m gonna go read all about love by bell hooks. Because I’m making my brain bigger and not wasting the gift. All by myself. 🤓
Goodnight, y’all. ♥️