Hear Me Roar

Sunday, 14th May 2017 – 12:43

In November of last year I developed three things: an idea for a short story (Luca’s Story), a horrid chest infection, and the beginnings of a relationship. By mid December, only one of those things was still around.

I met Roar (not his real name) on Tinder. It wasn’t my first time attempting to meet someone using the medium of online dating. But Roar was definitely the first person from that specific app I’d genuinely considered meeting. Based in Dundee, I was immediately hesitant to get involved with him fearing that there was just too much distance to start anything with him. However the more we chatted, the more I came to really like him. He was dorky, cute, and he made me smile. Pretty much everything I look for in a guy. I quickly became smitten with someone I’d yet to even meet.

But meet we did. After about a week of almost constant chatting back and forth we decided to meet up in Perth. It was for the most part, the middle ground between us. I had asked him out, so the date was mine to plan. I hadn’t really been in Perth since the year I had spent studying there almost seven years prior. Needless to say my ‘plan’ involved a lot of winging things as I went.

We agreed to meet at the Perth Train Station. I had driven through and parked as close as I could, using my sat nav to find a spot I could park for free. Roar travelled through from Dundee, and waited patiently even when I was a little late getting in to Perth. I made it to the station, but didn’t realise I had parked at the rear of the station and so when I approached, I actually entered the rear platforms, before making it to inner station. Roar eventually called me, I think he must have thought I wasn’t going to show. After assuring him I was really in Perth, he managed to direct me through the station, getting me to the main gates where I had to sheepishly find a guard to let me through the barriers. Both the guard and Roar found my plea to get through quite amusing.

Roar was sweet, he playfully mocked me for breaking into a train station, but it made it easier to talk to him. I admitted that I hadn’t really planned anything specific, but that I was hoping to find a place to have pizza together. Neither of us knew Perth particularly well so when we stumbled upon a Pizza Express within five minutes of walking I think we were both quite relieved.

We already knew quite a bit about one another through texting, and had even used FaceTime to talk in person a couple of times prior to actually meeting. We chatted back and forth, and it was just so easy to be in each others company. All too soon we finished eating. I don’t think either of us wanted to end things at that point, and so it was a relief when Roar mentioned that his next train was still an hour and a half away. What to do during that time?

We settled on going to the cinema. It was snowing lightly and neither of us were keen on being outside any longer than we had to be. There was nothing either of us wanted to see, but that didn’t stop us. We decided to watch ‘The Light Between Oceans’, in hindsight not a film for first dates, but it gave us a chance to just be around one another with no agenda or need to think of what to say. I’d say we spent more time looking sideways at one another than we did watching the film, and we left about half an hour before the end to allow time to get back to the train station.

The snow was still falling as we walked back to the station, and as we walked through the streets of Perth our hands met, and without it being a big deal, we walked hand in hand back to the station. It felt right, and it felt special.

It was less than a week before we met again. This time it was Roar’s time to plan the date, and his itinerary was much more detailed than mine. A full day of activities were planned, with a back up wet weather plan should we have needed it. We managed about two of the activities he had planned that day, due mostly to the fact that my chest infection had gotten much worse and beyond sitting in the cinema, or driving around, I was not really able to do too much that day. But it was a day that brought us much closer. I think both of us had allowed ourselves to get swept up in the joys of a developing relationship. Even on our second date, we really felt so close.

I saw Roar a number of times throughout the rest of the month. Each time we got closer, and more comfortable around one another.

Yet already my nemesis was at work. The part of me which destroys the things I care about. The part of me which walks away from things I am passionate about. My inner self, the part of me that doesn’t believe I deserve the good things I have. I had so many reasons at the time that made sense when it came to ending things.

I had no time, I lived too far away, I didn’t have enough money to travel so often. I had just given up a flat, and was living in between my brother’s flat and my parents house. I was a full time carer for my brother. I was still helping out regularly at home. I had a lot of work commitments.

The list went on and on. Yet while each reason was valid and made sense, ultimately my decision was truly a reflection of my relationship with myself.

It’s often very easy to get swept up in something new. Roar wasn’t just something new in my life, he represented something I don’t think I’ve ever had before. He represented a desire to have more than just a life which facilitated to the needs of others. He represented my desire to have a life that catered to my needs as a priority. It wasn’t just that I wanted a relationship, it was that I wanted to put myself first.

I’m a very closed person. I don’t let my guard down easily, I don’t let people in, not entirely. Even the people that know me best have had to build up what they know about me over years of friendship.

With Roar it was different. I not only wanted to share the bits of myself that I was proud of, but I felt I could share the bits of myself that I often tried to hide. I ended things before they ever really begun. I ended things because I was scared. I ended things because by opening up to another person, I had finally began to open up to myself. I realised that I needed to become more familiar with who I was, and the things that I actually wanted in life, before I could share that with another person.

Learning to love yourself is a daily practice. I wish I had been able to figure these things out before I met Roar. But meeting him, and getting to know him has led me down a path that I am happy to have travelled. I doubt I will ever see Roar again, but I will be forever grateful that I met him. Knowing him left me with the realisation that it is okay to feel special, and that it is okay to want more from life. Above all, it made me aware that my needs are as important as the needs of other people.

Six months have passed and while the relationship with Roar is long over, the positive relationship with myself that I once again have is something I can take from our short time together. So thank you Roar. I truly hope you also find lasting happiness.

Being Single

I read an article yesterday, written by a young woman who talked about being single in today’s world. She could count on one hand the number of dates she had been on, and had never had a significant relationship. She felt that there had just never been a time, where she had found herself as desirable and so could summarise only two reasons as to why she is single.

  1. She is ugly.
  2. Her personality is so terrible, no one wants to be with her.

This was the entirety of her argument. She felt that if it was number one, she could combat that with makeup and weight loss, that that was not something she felt was too taxing. But it was the second point, she couldn’t figure out where to begin to change her personality. She decided she was going to remain being herself, even if that meant a life of solitude. Not because she was happy with that decision, but because she didn’t know where to begin.

This article bugged me. I couldn’t tell you exactly why it bugged me, but it did.

After sleeping on it, I realised that part of what plagues me without even realising it, is that her reasons for being single effectively encompassed her entire being. She felt that the only way to address this was to change everything about who she was.

I’ve been single for much greater periods of my life than I have ever been together with someone. I can count on one finger the amount of relationships I’ve had, and I don’t need the rest of my hand to count the remainder of people I’ve dated.

I have reflected as this woman did on what it is that makes me so undesirable, and I have never been able to pinpoint it. But point number one: I don’t think telling yourself you are ugly is anything other than walking into failure. There are aspects of my physical form that I am sometimes unhappy with, but I am not unhappy with my body. My body and I have come to a mutual understanding, I will take care of it, and it for the most part plays along.

Point number two: This one is harder to shake. My personality is off putting.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am… eccentric. I’m opinionated, yet reserved. I am loud, yet introverted. I am compassionate, dedicated; yet flighty and forgetful. I am naive and oblivious to almost everything that goes on around me. I am unique. Just like every other person in the world. 7 billion unique people, no life ever lived in the same way. No my personality is not off putting, but I can understand that there are people with whom I do not resonate.

I think as long as we continue to try to fit the mould which the media, and society would have us fit into we run the risk of being someone who is not truly representative of the unique individuals that we are. Finding that special someone is a great feeling, and being with them can make you feel complete. But for now, I feel better knowing that I am doing everything I am doing to complete myself on my own. I am my own person. I’d love to share my outlook with someone eventually, but I can rest easier knowing that whomever that person is, they too are likely becoming the person they are, following their own path. I look forward to the day our paths cross. I just hope I’m not so oblivious I fail to notice them.

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