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You Have to Give Yourself Permission
Kaitlyn McQuin explores getting out of our own way and believing we deserve what we desire
Several months ago, I deleted my dating apps and swore off dating for the remainder of 2020. It lasted all of one month before I was back on the apps, swiping left and sometimes right, and feeling completely and utterly disappointed in the crop of men at my fingertips.
And feeling completely and utterly disappointed in myself, too.
My approach to dating was incredibly negative, and I might not have anyone to blame but myself and my own experiences with navigating the “playing field”. Anytime I’d open the apps or get a notification, I’d roll my eyes and brace myself to be disappointed. And I was. Every single time. So, I deleted them once again, embraced the single life, and poured my energy into work, my side projects, my friendships, and my dog.
It was time well spent. Always is.
One evening while on a walk, I spotted a white house with blue trim and three rocking chairs on the porch. I pass by this house regularly in my neighborhood, but this time, it felt different. And seeing it that night changed everything.
It was the onset of the holiday season, and the air was crisp. Lights had begun to go up on houses, Christmas trees twinkled in the window, and I had a shopping list longer than a CVS receipt for gifts to buy and desserts to bake. It was officially the most wonderful time of the year, and I was ready for it. Excited for it. I looked down at my dog and back up at the rocking chairs on the porch, and I thought, “What I have right now is more than enough… but, eventually, three rocking chairs wouldn’t be so bad.”
As I continued my walk, I began to think about all of the ways in which I have kept my heart guarded these past two years. I’ve kept my distance from anyone and everyone who dared to get too close, for reasons such as knowing they weren’t for me, to fearing vulnerability, to not having the time or energy to dedicate to another person, and more. And while I believe the wall of protection around my heart was necessary then, I don’t feel like it’s necessary anymore. I feel like it’s getting in the way of something good, and dare I say, something great.
So, I decided the wall has to come down. One by one, brick by brick, it has got to go. And ever since that evening walk in New Orleans, the wall has begun to crumble and break apart. And it feels pretty damn good.
While I believe the wall of protection around my heart was necessary then, I don’t feel like it’s necessary anymore. I feel like it’s getting in the way of something good, and dare I say, something great
I didn’t want to get back on dating apps to find my person. I long to meet him while browsing the aisles of a bookstore bundled up in a scarf, holding onto a twisty memoir and lighthearted fiction, weighing which one I should buy, and I want to lock eyes with him, a handsome man in a tailored coat and leather boots. After exchanging glances, he’d walk up to me and ask, “What are you reading?” And I’d say, “I can’t decide.” And he’d say, “Get both. Life needs both twisty and carefree.”
And then we’d get married and read books and take walks and talk about morbid things and laugh a lot.
But I’m a realist, and the realist in me knows I won’t be meeting anyone while out and about at a bookstore (do men read?) or a cocktail bar anytime soon. So, I redownloaded the dating apps. I uploaded photos, I answered prompts, I changed my settings to “liberal – dealbreaker”. But this time, it was different. I created my profile with intention, which I can’t say I did fully in the past. This time, I know what I want, and I know what I’m looking for: a life partner who has, like me, been on their own for a little while, who might also be working to break down self-imposed barriers, who knows what it feels like to hurt but cherishes love enough to risk it again anyway, who would stop on the sidewalk, look up at a porch, and think to themselves, “I want three rocking chairs.”
About a month ago, I went on a date—my first date in a year—and I felt like I got my groove back. It really is like riding a bike, as they say. You hop on, close your eyes, and hope for the best. My friends were just as surprised as I was when I told them I had a date.
“You mean you like someone enough to actually meet them?”
The answer was yes. It shocked me, too, but it also confirmed that my approach to various aspects of my life can absolutely change the outcome. And I think that is wildly important to remember moving forward in all areas of life, not just love.
The date went well. We had dinner and drinks and clinked glasses and said “Cheers”. We talked about important things and not-so-important things. He asked questions. He listened. I did the same. It felt hopeful; it felt like a new beginning, both for the potential of a romantic connection, but more so at the prospect of a new connection with self. It was less of an us thing and more of a me thing.
If I could conjure up this feeling on a first date, imagine what else could happen when I start living life more intentionally. What other areas of my life can I delete, redownload, and approach with a new perspective, one that is based on envisioning an outcome that I want and setting myself up to receive it?
My approach to various aspects of my life can absolutely change the outcome
Because there are a lot of things that I want… but I don’t always believe I deserve them.
Like love. I deserve love. I don’t think I fully believed that before. But I deserve love. And I deserve everything else my heart desires, too: a banging job with a banging salary, healthy and loving friendships, the chance to wake up every morning and feel excited to live my life.
And you do, too.
So why don’t we start acting like it?
If you’re walking the path and looking at the ground, might I suggest looking up instead? Even if only for a moment. Just look up. You never know what you’ll find. Perhaps it’s a sign that you’re heading in the right direction, perhaps it’s a glaring reason to turn around, or perhaps, like it was for me, it’s a set of matching rocking chairs that inspires you to live more purposefully, whatever your purpose may be.
When we believe we deserve what we want, it finds its way to us, and, more importantly, ensures we’re ready when it knocks on our door. We sort of need to give it permission.
So, I give myself permission to find joy. I give myself permission to find love. I give myself permission to find happiness. And I give myself permission to dream of three rocking chairs on my front porch that inspire another during her evening stroll.