The first time I heard of writer/poet Warsan Shire was via the haunting spoken-word interludes featured on Beyoncé's Lemonade. I began to seek out some of her work, and thankfully found her piece entitled "For Women Who are Difficult To Love". And it resonated with me deeply. I think for women (and I'm sure some men too), we can all recall a time when we branded ourselves as "hard to love". I'm here to tell you: don't do it to yourself.
If after only a few interactions, a person is giving you the vibe that you are too 'difficult' to be around...
LET. THEM. GO.
Trust. No matter how much you might like the idea of having said person in your life - let go. No matter how much you think there's a possibility that you two could really 'click' down the line - let go. No matter how much they try to convince you that they like you for you - let go. Because if they truly like you as you are, they won't make you feel as though they like you in spite of (insert any of your random character quirks here).
During a recent chat with a friend of mine, the topic of men and relationships came up (as it often does among gal pals). After updating my friend on the goings-on in my love life, she hit me with an observation. She said she noticed that when it comes to me meeting people (i.e. men), sometimes I can come off as though I have a bit of a 'bite' to my character. I sensed the word "bite" to be coded language for "rudeness", "attitude"... or "sass" at the very least. And while she said it wasn't necessarily a negative thing, I started to seriously question whether or not my personality does, in fact, rub strangers (or people I'm trying to get to know) the wrong way...
To give you the full picture: I'd say that when I first meet people (men or women), my general demeanor is somewhere between animated character Daria Morgendorffer and Nene Leakes from the Real Housewives of Atlanta. That is to say I'm either super quiet and mentally exhausting myself for a round of small talk with you (*deepest of sighs*), OR I'll let off a funny/deadpan remark re. something I notice about you (because I need for both of us to feel a certain level awkwardness). Catch me on a good day and you might even get a two-for-one.
Either way, it's no secret that I'm not the typical perfect, flirty, social butterfly that I'm sure most men would consider 'approachable'. I was not born with the flirty gene. It's never been in my skill-set. I admit this. However, just because I don't smile wide, giggle, or make easy lighthearted banter upon meeting you, doesn't mean I'm 'unapproachable' or not interested in getting to know you. What it might mean (and I speak only for myself here) is that I'm busy in my own head trying to process the best way to connect with you.
Often times, if I meet someone and make a sarcastic joke off the bat, that's likely my version of flirting, or in platonic circumstances - it's my way of letting you know that I've assessed you in my head and concluded that you can handle my personality. But - I'm beginning to see that sometimes my rough edges are just too sharp for others to be around...
Example: I recently had someone storm out of my home because I sarcastically said to them: "You can leave", after us going tit for tat about something completely silly. Mind you, I said it with a smirk and was being my sassy/sarcastic self. To them, I was being unwelcoming. And even after I explained that I was only joking, they had already made up their mind about me and told me I was rude and that they felt disrespected by me. True story.
And so, in that moment I had to ask myself: "Was it me or was it them who was in the wrong here?"
After a sleepless night, I woke up and concluded that while I could indeed have tried harder to 'turn on the charm' and be less... well... me - the simple fact is that my comment did not warrant his dramatic reaction. For someone to walk out (without even giving me the benefit of the doubt) showed me that he was not someone who is for me. I guess he expected me to be more subdued, more caring... more delicate. Irony is that had he stuck around and not let a passing comment bruise his ego, he would have been privy to get to know a warmer side of me.
Maybe it's not so much that I scare people off, but perhaps between my blatant non-nonchalance and my gauche natural tendency to make improper banter, it can feel like I'm pushing someone away rather than letting them in. In this case though, my gut was telling me that if all it took was an innocent comment to incite that level of reaction, if I didn't nip this in the bud now, I'd find myself continuously walking on eggshells, picking and choosing my words ever-so-carefully so as not to set off a landmine on his end. So my only recourse was to:
LET. THEM. GO.
That said - I now see that there are times when I could be more mindful of how people perceive my character; but at the same time I won't change myself or make myself less 'awkward' just so a man can feel more desired/comfortable. I tried to shrink myself to fit into a man's world once, and all it did was leave me confused about who I was a person.
When the trifecta of comfort levels, context clues, and respect for different communication styles comes together, that's when I know I'll have found someone worth rounding my edges for.
I mean... in the end, even sarcastic, misanthropic-ass Daria got herself a boo... okaaaaay?
Just remember: You're not for everyone. Sometimes not even for those who on paper, seem to be what you need. You're just meant for the weirdo who loves you for you, in all of your off-coloured humour, awkward girl glory.
They're out there. I swear.