Sunday, December 27, 2015

Creative conundrum

When people tell me I'm creative, I never know what to say, because I don't think I'm particularly creative. The other day, when someone said to me, "I didn't know you could play the piano so well," I had a sort of revelation: To someone who cannot do what you do, or does not know how to do what you do, the very fact that you can do it is amazing. But you, because you are trained, or have some knowledge of the art -- you know you are far from amazing, because you have seen or heard others do even more amazing things, things which you are painfully aware are beyond your meagre skills.

But I realised I should own my creativity, I should own my abilities and talents. And it is wonderful that I can play the piano. It is wonderful that I can read musical scores, and it is wonderful that I can improvise somewhat if I have guitar chords instead of the full score. Okay, so I cannot play by ear, and feel terribly limited because of that. And I am not fantastic at improvising and I can't play in many different styles -- jazz, for example, is still foreign to me. But I feel I should be thankful for what I can do.

Although I don't consider myself a perfectionist, in some ways when it comes to creative endeavours, I am one. Which is a bit of an oxymoron, since creativity by its very definition doesn't lend itself to perfection. It has to be fluid and free. You can't box it in, or demand it follow certain rules.

But I am the child who always coloured inside the lines and was careful to ensure the space was coloured perfectly, with not a single minute white gap remaining to be seen. I am the child who believed that if you follow the rules, you will be safe. I am the child who thought mistakes were ugly and flawlessness equalled beauty. I am the child who decided that since A + B = C, there is always a process to be followed in order to obtain optimum results.

I am now the adult who struggles to create.

People who know me would not believe that statement. To the outside eye, I suppose I have a respectable output. But they don't notice that I produce the same doodles over and over again in office meetings. If the doodles look good, it is only because I have honed them to perfection after more than two decades of doodling the same thing. You can ask my high school classmates -- some of them would remember the doodles I left in the margins of my textbooks. I also play the piano in much the same style as I always have... which frustrates me, yet is safe.

So yes... within creativity I feel there are certain rules, like if one is colouring, one ought to colour within the lines. A circle should be a perfect circle, perfectly round. If I am making jewellery, every part of the piece should align perfectly. I struggle because it is good to have standards, yet stifling to be so rules-bound. It's difficult for me to let go and explore, not knowing what will happen or where something will take me. In that sense, my creativity is limited. I don't try crazy new things; I want to be safe, to know it will work -- not just work, that it will work the way I want it to work -- before I try it. Because I hate failing; I hate making something I'm not happy with. It causes me to feel upset with myself for doing something wrong, turning out something flawed.

My rational mind knows that whatever minor flaws or imperfections become part of the object's charm, causing it to possess a beauty all its own. But my heart can't accept anything less than perfection. So I get my logical mind to analyse the possibilities and then I meticulously create according to plan. Creating is very rewarding for me and something I enjoy, but is also something I approach rather timidly. This fear, this hatred of imperfection, is killing my creativity.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The workings of a woman's mind

This is how a woman thinks:

I like flowers. (For example)

I want him to buy me flowers because he remembered what I like, and he thought of me and wants to buy them to please me.

I cannot ask him to buy me flowers, because if I ask, that means he's doing it because I asked, not because he really wants to. It means the push came from me, not from him.

WHY HE NEVER BUY ME FLOWERS ONE?! Fucker doesn't care that I like flowers! He didn't pay attention and doesn't care about what I like or don't like. Therefore, he doesn't care about me! 😭😭😭😭😭

Not in control

The #1 most difficult lesson for me to learn in love is:

You can't make things happen.

If I want it but he doesn't, there is nothing I can do to make him want it.

When I reach that point of wanting to try to make him want it, I can feel the desperation in myself. And I know he will feel it, too.

It is then best to let go.

Friday, December 4, 2015


She is a flower
With soft, soft petals
So easily bruised.

She feels fragile
For a strong wind
Could rip her petals away
Tearing her apart
Leaving her bare and bleeding.

She trembles on her stem
Anticipating the coming touch
Fearing rough and careless hands.

She lies defenseless
In the face of the storm
On the cold frosty ground.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Practising vulnerability

    Over the last several years of unannounced disappearances, friend-zoning, and dozens of iterations of “I like you, but I’m not ready for anything right now,” I had no relationship to show for the extra night shifts of vulnerability I invested. The trend of men using my openness as a platform to rebuild their confidence and gain knowledge about the types women they really wanted left me, and continues to leave me, empty.
    --Tia Joy Davis, Why Girls Like Me Ask For Intentions Up Front

After listening to Brene Brown's talks, every time I start a conversation with a new guy on OkCupid, I'm very aware that I'm practising vulnerability. The only question is the extent to which I choose to be vulnerable.

This is a calculated risk which I manage intuitively. Some depends on the extent to which the other person is open with me, some depends on how safe I feel telling him stuff (based on how he has responded so far and how I think he might respond), and some depends on how much I believe I might gain by doing so: no guts, no glory, as I like to put it. But whatever it is, it is my choice, and you should never blame others for a choice you made. I choose how vulnerable I want to be, and I have to live with that choice and its consequences.

I see three types, or perhaps three layers of vulnerability: one is when you choose to explain yourself, i.e. when you delve beneath the surface and allow another to see the motivations, reasons, and intentions behind your actions, when you reveal your thought processes and perspectives and opinions. Another is when you choose to speak of matters which are important to you or close to your heart, such as hopes and dreams, cherished memories, experiences which have shaped you, deep needs and desires. The final one is is when you choose to share the difficult, and often hidden, areas of life: your pain and sorrow, your struggles, your failures, your regrets, your weaknesses, your doubts and fears.

For me, vulnerability is always a challenge since I want to stay safe. I want to be sure that the person I'm trusting with more of myself will cherish that gift, that insight I'm affording them into the inner workings of my heart and mind, my very identity. So, to use a metaphor, I first lift up just a tiny corner of the blanket and give them a small glimpse of what lies beneath. If they respond with acceptance, kindness, and empathy, I eventually uncover more and more.

All this is not a conscious act, you must understand. I do it intuitively, and have so far not regretted my choices, ever. The only time I have been thrown off is when I allowed my assumptions or expectations to silence my intuition. Like, when I thought that due to the nature of our relationship, close family members would automatically be able to handle the information and accept this gift of being allowed to see into me. But no, being related by blood has no bearing on a person's capacity to respond to you with acceptance, kindness, or empathy. Lesson learnt.

And it was a painful lesson. It's always painful when the person you are vulnerable with doesn't respect the privilege you are extending to share your life, your very self with them. The greater the pain, the more tempting it has been to retreat and build high protective walls instead of practising vulnerability. But here is where the conscious decision comes in -- I have chosen instead to be very, very careful. I couldn't live behind walls... I would wither from the lack of nourishing human, soul-to-soul contact. So I keep trying, because the rewards are worth the risk.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Feeding the soul

Occasionally I like to buy myself a single red rose. It's clichéd, I know, but roses are my favourite flower, and having a rose on my desk speaks to me of hope. Sometimes I just need to be reminded that there's beauty in the world out there, if I choose to look for it.

I wrote that in March 2010. It's been a really long time since I've bought myself a rose, and I think I need to do this again. Flowers speak to me in a way I can't express; they delight and cheer my soul, they make me pause in awe at a Maker who put so much attention to detail into something that has no other purpose than to be decorative (in order to entice various insects or birds to pollinate the plant, yes, but still--!). And they are so delicate, requiring gentle handling... in some small way they whisper to me of God's love for me, for some days I feel fragile, and as I tenderly caress the soft petals I imagine Him tending to me with similar loving, gentle care.
...And then I discover I wrote a similar post here ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

OkCupid: Taking stock

Today marks 7 weeks since I started anew with OkCupid.

I have had conversations with 68 guys, most of which didn't last past a few exchanges before petering out. Out of those, I'm still in either sporadic or regular contact with 16, regretfully turned away 3, and blocked 5 for being dodgy. When I say 'dodgy', I mean asking me if I know how to give a blowjob; telling me he's very well-endowed; repeatedly asking me to come over to his condo so we could meet, right NOW; trying to persuade me that having sex is part of living life to the fullest, when I'd told him it was off the table; and not telling me he was married until we had sat down in a restaurant and ordered food.

I met up with 6, out of which one was the married guy, one fizzled out after meeting (i.e. no further contact later), one told me I win the "best buddies" award (got friendzoned, lol!), one asked for a second, then third date, one I ended up regretfully declining, and one... well, we'll see. I'm meeting him tomorrow.

28 guys didn't reply my initiating email.

19 moved off the OkC app to WhatsApp, including the 5 who ended up getting blocked and two of the three who were regretfully turned away. Of the rest, some have fizzled out, some are in sporadic contact, and a few in regular contact.

I am suffering from OkC fatigue. So much repeated small talk and doing the self-reveal over and over again is a bit draining. My inner introvert is screaming, but I admit I always get a thrill when I see messages coming in. I'm excited to read what a guy has to say, especially if he's replying to a message I sent. It's fun. But I don't think I can keep up this level of intensity for long.

I have discovered that chemistry is very real, and a couple either has it, or doesn't have it. I've also, however, discovered that there are different kinds of chemistry, such as a "best buddies" one. He and I get on like a house on fire, but there isn't a smidgen of romantic feeling in it. There's someone else I have chemistry with, the only guy who asked me out more than once, and that's exciting... we're continuing to get to know each other, enjoying the process.

Related posts:

Hear me roar

Alpha is not my default mode -- not even my preferred mode -- but if you will not step up, I WILL end up going all alpha on you, because I just. Can't. Stand. All that waffling around!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

To a certain Mr Needy

This is how texting works: you text me, and depending on what I'm doing, I may see it instantly or I may see it three hours from now. When I do happen to read your message, if I deem it one of those messages which necessitates some kind of response, I will reply when I have a  convenient moment. It's how it works for everyone. Stop sending me texts asking if I'm busy! If I were busy, I wouldn't be able to answer you anyway!

Monday, November 9, 2015

11:41 and STILL in the office!

Setting exam paper with "All I Ask of You" playing on repeat.

(And blogging out of procrastination.)

Facebook is not the Web

I've never thought of myself as an opinionated person, but as I was typing an email yesterday I realised I do have a lot of opinions, quite decided ones, on certain things. It's just that I'm never asked about them, so I don't voice them. Still, looking at the Oxford English dictionary's definition of "opinionated", I think I'm quite safe:

...pretty sure no one would accuse me of either of those things. I hope.

In response to news that I'm developing my personal website, someone commented yesterday that personal websites seem to be losing popularity as they're being replaced with Facebook fan pages. I went off on a rant. Poor guy :p

Facebook is insidiously inserting itself into our lives to the point it's becoming an inseparable part of our everyday existence. Setting up your page there seems like a no-brainer because it's convenient, easy, free, and, of course, right smack in the middle of an existing social network. You're in the thick of things, so to speak, and can easily broadcast important information or updates to interested parties, who can then spread the news quickly through "sharing". The lure is very real.

But what about the downsides? Essentially, I feel we shouldn't rely on Facebook too much because it's a third party corporation. They're motivated by profit and will act according to their business model. If you were to rely on a Facebook page for web presence, and for whatever reason Facebook decides to change settings of how it displays the page, suddenly makes pages a paid feature, or arbitrarily decides to take a page down without notice, you'd be up the creek without a paddle. And there would be no recourse since Facebook is entirely within its rights to do whatever it wants with your page. It has done this before, you know -- stopped page posts from appearing so regularly in newsfeeds... which I personally believe was to try to force people or small businesses to pay in order to be featured in the newsfeed (read: "sponsored content").

I also don't see why my professional content should further help them to monetise; it's bad enough that they're capitalising on my personal content! Hence the desire to have my own site independent of Facebook. Not only that, long-form prose (which as you can see I'm forever producing :p) is not suitable for a medium like Facebook, so if I'm going to pontificate I need to pontificate on the Web proper. Finally, although we may think of Facebook as ubiquitous, if a person has a global mindset he or she will realise that not everyone in the world is or wants to be on Facebook; indeed, there are places on the planet where the site is blocked by certain governments, and so on.

Ultimately, for me, it boils down to this: if you're serious about developing a web presence, you ought to realise that the web has a global reach, and plan accordingly -- there's nothing which frustrates me more when I'm searching for information and come across a website which seems to have only accounted for local visitors, such as an online store which will only ship to domestic destinations. That's called narrow, short-sighted thinking. Anyone in the world could come across your site, but you're still bound by geographical boundaries despite being on the boundless web! What's the point? Okay, so maybe a small store wouldn't want to bother shipping abroad -- it may not be cost-effective to do so. What about sites that, when asking you to fill out information, insist you must be in the US, and demand a US zip code? You'd be surprise how many times I've run into cases like this.

So no, I won't take the easy way out and create a Facebook page. I want to be on the Web. We're talking global limitless accessibility. Why limit yourself by sticking to Facebook? As a supplement to a website, sure, Facebook pages are useful, but they shouldn't be your sole Web presence. This is something I obviously feel strongly about, and didn't even realise it until the subject was brought up!

This is probably why Web developers hate clients

Me: "Basically, I'm looking for a theme that has a static front page and a blog behind it."

Caedmon: "That's nearly every template out there."

Me: "No, it is not!"

Caedmon: "Yes, is! Is core feature of WordPress."

Me: "They don't look the way I want them to look!"

Caedmon: "Ok, so you need one that does what they all do but does it in just the way you want."

Me: "Yes, exactly!"

Friday, October 30, 2015


In the animal kingdom, it's the male who's usually more flamboyant and decorative, the female who's drab and dull. So why is it that with humans, it's the women who are expected to adorn themselves, be on display and maintain certain standards of beauty?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Knowing where to go

Facebook: Awesome crowdsourcing for answers. Sometimes even more effective and efficient than google.

(In other words: I have smart, experienced, and talented friends!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

T is for time

I sometimes feel that there is not enough time for me to do all I need to do, want to do and think I should do. The three are often mutually exclusive: for example, I need to mark essays, I want to make jewellery, and I think I should spend more time reading! I often feel like I'm getting tugged in three directions at once.

Maybe it's even harder for me because I'm interested in so many different things, and I'm not very good at focusing on several things at once. The result is a few months spent focusing intently on jewellery (the results of which are plastered all over this blog post!), the next few months spent reading all the time, then another few months doing something else, and after one or two other detours, finally eventually coming back to jewellery. Things get left on the back burner each time I turn my attention elsewhere. I left my dining table covered in beads for three months while I walked around everywhere with my nose stuck in my Kindle!

Some things I want to do or think I should do for work:

  • Finetune that rubric
  • Read up on techniques of teaching critical/creative thinking
  • See if there's a more effective method of teaching inferencing and other reading skills
  • Come up with ways to provide more scaffolding for the research project
  • Put together lists of 'essential idioms' to be taught each day/week
  • Figure out a way to help students practise said idioms
  • Improve lesson plans to get the lessons more structured
  • Consider how to incorporate music into the lessons
  • Read up on how to help students increase vocabulary
  • Set the final exam paper
  • Splice audio tracks for the listening skills final exam

...there are probably other things, but I've forgotten them for now.

The other thing I want to do is to fix up my official website (not this one). Been sitting on the domain name while the darn thing has been supposedly "under construction" for at least five years. When I attended a conference for work last week and presenters pointed us to their websites, I was reminded of mine. If I'd had mine set up, I could also have put stuff there and pointed people to it; it would have been like a sort of portfolio. The problem was I've never found a template I liked; I did eventually purchase a software that allowed to engineer my own template, but it still wouldn't do the exact things I wanted. I recently read somewhere that we should launch at 80% because the thing is never going to be perfect, and if you wait for it to be perfect, you'll end up never launching it. That, from experience, is SO TRUE.

Fixing the website will again require time.

Meanwhile, my little nephew is not well and I wish I could be with him. I visited on Sunday. What he has isn't serious in the sense that it isn't life-threatening, but that doesn't stop me from feeling worried. He's always been a cheerful little boy, and I guess I feel sad at the thought of his spirits being dampened. But on Sunday he seemed his usual self, active and alert, which soothed my heart a little. I spent time with him and caught up with my brother instead of marking essays, which I scrambled to mark the next day. It was worth it, though. If I only have a finite amount of time, the people I love will come first with me. People matter. Work needs to be done but it can be done later. If I don't grab the opportunity and spend these pockets of time with my nephew, they will pass and I can never get them back. I already can't believe how quickly he's grown. He turns 3 today and I can still remember visiting him in the hospital on the day he was born! Seems like that was just yesterday!

Monday, October 26, 2015

S is for storytelling

Although Andrew Stanton was talking about storytelling in a movie medium (he was the scriptwriter for Toy Story, Wall-E, and Finding Nemo, among others), I think the principles he talks about can be applied equally to storytelling in written form. What I like most was what he said about wonder:

    Wonder is honest, it's completely innocent. It can't be artificially evoked. For me, there's no greater ability than the gift of another human being giving you that feeling -- to hold them still just for a brief moment in their day and have them surrender to wonder. When it's tapped, the affirmation of being alive, it reaches you almost to a cellular level. And when an artist does that to another artist, it's like you're compelled to pass it on. It's like a dormant command that suddenly is activated in you, like a call to Devil's Tower. Do unto others what's been done to you.

He's right! Reading beautifully written articles, stories or books always makes me want to write. It awakens something in me. It's like the author's words rekindle a dormant flame; I'm reminded what words can do, and the desire to contribute something equally beautiful to the world arises from within.

The following quotes from the talk are notes for my own reference :)

  • Storytelling is ... knowing that everything you're saying, from the first sentence to the last, is leading to a singular goal, and ideally confirming some truth that deepens our understandings of who we are as human beings.

  • Stories affirm who we are. We all want affirmations that our lives have meaning. And nothing does a greater affirmation than when we connect through stories. It can cross the barriers of time, past, present and future, and allow us to experience the similarities between ourselves and through others, real and imagined.

  • "Frankly, there isn't anyone you couldn't learn to love once you've heard their story." ... that is probably the greatest story commandment, which is "Make me care".

  • ...what all good stories should do at the beginning, is they should give you a promise. ... A well told promise is like a pebble being pulled back in a slingshot and propels you forward through the story to the end.

  • ...the audience actually wants to work for their meal. They just don't want to know that they're doing that. That's your job as a storyteller, is to hide the fact that you're making them work for their meal.

  • The elements you provide and the order you place them in is crucial to whether you succeed or fail at engaging the audience.

  • ...all well-drawn characters have a spine. And the idea is that the character has an inner motor, a dominant, unconscious goal that they're striving for, an itch that they can't scratch. ... And these spines don't always drive you to make the best choices. Sometimes you can make some horrible choices with them.

  • ...change is fundamental in story. If things go static, stories die, because life is never static.

  • When you're telling a story, have you constructed anticipation? In the short-term, have you made me want to know what will happen next? But more importantly, have you made me want to know how it will all conclude in the long-term? Have you constructed honest conflicts with truth that creates doubt in what the outcome might be?

  • A strong theme is always running through a well-told story.

  • The best stories infuse wonder.

  • Use what you know. Draw from it. It doesn't always mean plot or fact. It means capturing a truth from your experiencing it, expressing values you personally feel deep down in your core.


...literature is a form of fondness-for-life. It is love for life taking verbal form.
--George Saunders, My Writing Education: A Time Line

Sunday, October 25, 2015

O is for online dating

I've been trying online dating off and on since 2009. I finally decided to quit last year, disabling my OkCupid account and removing my profile from, reminding myself that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results (a quote famously attributed to Albert Einstein).

I don't have any good reason for signing up on OkC again, which I did three weeks ago, about a year since I'd bowed out of the scene. Totally new profile, this time with a profile picture that actually shows my face clearly, instead of the previous one which gave a side profile view. But it seems to be working differently for me this time around--then again I'm a different person now and at a different place in my life... and I'm approaching this online dating thing differently now.

In hindsight, I think one can't log into one of these sites with the expectation or even hope that you're going to find your soulmate. I'm not saying it can't happen, just that it's rare. I can only speak for myself: I invested too much hope in it, then got frustrated and discouraged when it didn't work. When a guy stopped writing, I'd wonder why and second-guess myself: Was it something I'd said? Did he not like something about me? Should I have presented myself differently? But at the same time, I was constantly judging them: Were we compatible? Did he have the qualities I want in a partner? Could I live with a guy who was like this?

I think it's an unhealthy way to approach a potential relationship. It's like not being interested in the guys for their own sake, but only as a means to an end. Everything said and done has some ulterior motive; you don't want to know who he is, you just want to know if he ticks all the checkboxes on your list and fits the nice little box labelled "significant other". You can't enjoy the friendship or connection that's developing, because you're always jumping ahead inside your brain and evaluating and analysing.

I also discovered that when you want so much for something to happen, you risk losing yourself. You want the guys to respond favourably to you, so you're full of anxiety. You overreact to what they do or don't say. You read too much into the silences--how long they take to reply emails. You second-guess what you write in reply. It's... exhausting.

This time around, I'm a great deal more relaxed about the whole thing. I feel more centred inside and I'm enjoying the connections I'm making, without attaching a great deal of expectation to them. I can be myself, be honest, without being haunted by the debilitating fear that I might be inadvertently destroying my chances with someone by doing so. Unsurprisingly, it's been a much more rewarding experience so far!

Friday, October 23, 2015

N is for new definitions

A guy recently told me that he admires what I'm doing because "teaching is a noble profession". And I know this is a common perception, but I can't for the life of me figure out why teaching would be any more noble than, say, being a doctor or a nurse. They help people too, don't they? What about customer service representatives and sales assistants? Or receptionists and tour guides? Or... you know where I'm going with this.

But even more than that, I feel like a fraud when people say this to me, because I don't think of what I do as anything noble or particularly admirable. My main goal was to do as the proverb says: "Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." I wouldn't be teaching if I did not enjoy it, so my choice is entirely self-serving!

I sometimes feel that we need new definitions. So what if teachers are "moulding the next generation"? We need mechanics and plumbers just as much as we need teachers. It's just like how some people snigger at geeks for being awkward and "uncool", but what happens when your computer gives you the Blue Screen of Death? Or your hard disk crashes and you lose all your data? Or your printer just won't print? Whom do you call in a blind panic? Why, precisely those IT geeks you were so disdainful of.

I feel that everyone has a role to play and we all need each other. Why hold up some professions over others? Is my office cleaner's job any less noble than mine because she vacuums our floors, empties our wastepaper baskets and scrubs the restrooms? Her work is more demanding than mine, yet she is one of those I privately term 'the invisible ones', people often overlooked or taken for granted. People who quietly do their jobs with dedication, but are rarely recognised for it or even thanked. Yet we rely on them in so many unconscious ways.

The polarisation that comes with stereotypes is equally bad. At a conference early this week, I was listening to one of the presentations when it suddenly struck me how unfair we have been to a certain ethnic group in our country. This ethnic group is often considered lazy or incompetent, but at the conference I met so many teachers of this ethnicity who clearly worked hard at their job and were good, dedicated teachers, seeking to improve their skills and discover the best ways to help their students. I came away with a new respect for them, and a reminder to myself never to take stereotypes at face value.

One's job, one's skin colour... these things do not define who we are inside. My job is part of my story, as is my ethnicity... but they are not the ONLY stories, and may even be the least important ones.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Two lightbulb moments in as many days

Was writing an email to someone, talking about my work, when I wrote this:

    There's always so much to do, and I'm always looking for areas and ways to improve my teaching. It has to be something that is useful and practical, which will benefit the students. I think that's why I like teaching so much -- I'm continually challenged to innovate, so I'm constantly learning. There's no one batch of students quite like the other. They have different needs and a one-size-fits-all approach would never work.

It was a lightbulb moment.

Writing never challenged me that much; it comes easily, maybe too easily. It was fun in the sense that I was constantly meeting different people, and I did learn both about them and from them, but it was so touch and go: a single interview and I was unlikely to ever meet them again. There was no continuity and no challenge to better myself, to hone my craft. Newspaper writing style is pretty standard, and no one gave me feedback, suggested ways of improving my writing, or even talked with me about interview techniques, beyond the very basic stuff.

Teaching gives me both continuity and challenge. I see my students every day for a period of 10 weeks, and I'm trying new things all the time, thinking up new ways to convey various concepts to the students, experimenting to see if there's something I can do to spark greater understanding or retention. I taught one subject for four years before my boss moved me on to another, but even after teaching the same thing sixteen times (four semesters a year), I was still not satisfied and had plans in the pipeline to change certain approaches or try certain activities in the classroom. 
There's no chance of being bored or remaining static. I'm constantly innovating, and it's exhilarating. 

*      *      *      *      *      *
           Each time I resigned myself to never hearing from him again, he would write.
           "Are these dates?" my friends would ask.
           "They're datelike," I would answer, referring to Jonathan as my imaginary boyfriend, my insignificant other, my friend without benefits.
           Thirteen months of suboptimal dating passed. Several times I announced I couldn't see him anymore because I had feelings for him that weren't reciprocated. That went nowhere. If he looked (in my opinion) stricken, I would take it back.
           Finally, we had words, harsh ones, via email. He said I made him nervous, that I wasn't his girlfriend, that I was deluding myself. I asked him not to reply to my hotheaded rant of an answer.
    --Elinor Lipman, Taking a break for friendship

This, I could identify with. I've been there, wanting too much, maybe even pushing too hard, so I know how it is. You have to read to the end to know how her story went; needless to say, it does have a happy ending, and it made me smile.

But more than that, it gave me another lightbulb moment: For years, people have been telling me love will come when I'm not looking. I used to scoff and say, "How could I not look?" But now I think this refers to your state of being. That you're in a place where you're calm, relaxed, heart-whole, able to be yourself and to accept things as they are, to enjoy the now without continually getting ahead of yourself or anxiously second-guessing yourself.

You need to let go, let go of that dream, of that hope, so that with it you also let go of that anxiety which winds itself around you and constricts you and causes you to do and say things which you would ordinarily not do or say, to the point where you scarcely recognise yourself any longer. You need to stop trying so hard to make it happen and just be. That's the best version of you, the one who's comfortable in her own skin.

So it's not that love will come when you're not looking, but it's that you should not grasp your dreams too tightly in your hands, for you'll end up strangling love.