I was on a date with a boy I had been seeing for a while, enjoying good food and good company, when suddenly something hit me in the gut.
It was a sentence.
“My friends think she’s prettier than you, but I don’t. She doesn’t have your face.”
He was talking about one of my friends he’d met recently, and he was right, she is very pretty. I noticed that if I was out and about by myself, men would look at me. But when I was with her, I often felt invisible. Despite the feeble compliment wedged in there somewhere, his words made my stomach hurt.
I’ve written about comparison before. We all know it’s no good, very bad, poison for your self-esteem and all that jazz. But the thing is, even though you can mentally smack yourself when you start to compare yourself to others, you can’t stop other people from doing it for you. Unfortunately, it happens all the time. Our society is sort of set up that way.
Boys do it to girls. Girls do it to boys. Professors measure us against our classmates. Employers compare us to other employees and job applicants. Maybe even your mom has hit you with a “why can’t you be more like your sister?” at some point.
But damn, does it suck to hear how you stacked up in the results from a recent social media stalk fest over tacos and margaritas. Check please.
I used to crave attention like a pregnant woman craves chocolate. I had to learn the hard way that attention from boys, especially the wrong boys, was not going to make me happy. Okay, maybe it would for a little while, but when the attention faded, my confidence would fade with it. And that was just no good.
Out of necessity, I gained a different perspective. When I started to pay more attention to my relationship with myself, I stopped craving attention from others. So hey, here are some tidbits of advice for the girl who’s ever felt invisible, glanced over, second-rate, or maybe just downright fed up with boys comparing her to other girls:
Boys, Beers, and Bars
Newsflash: you’re probably not going to meet the love of your life in a sticky nightclub. I mean you might. Anything is possible. But you’re much more likely to meet a significant other through mutual friends, at work, at a museum, or even in the produce aisle of your local grocer. Because let’s be honest, true love doesn’t often blossom over tequila shots and Flo Rida’s latest hit single (which sounds exactly like the last one tbh). More often, guys will give attention to whoever they deem the most attractive girl in the room. Not the gal with the best personality or stellar SNL impressions.
Promise me this. Don’t ever let your self-worth be determined by sweaty boys in sticky bars. By the amount of eyes that stop on you when you walk down the street. By the number of guys who are texting you, calling you or asking you out on dates.
Because it doesn’t mean anything.
There is always going to be another girl in a shorter skirt or with perfect hair or model legs. That’s just the way life works. And if you go out with your friends and feel that boys seem to glance over you, then they probably aren’t great guys to start with. It might still cause a slight pang in your chest, but hang in there girl. You are whole all by yourself.
Be Picky As Hell
Don’t waste time with boys who don’t ask you questions about yourself. If they don’t want to know your favorite band or what you were like as a kid, then they’re not worth your time anyway. Sure, maybe he gives you butterflies when he smiles at you, but if his eyes glaze over when you talk about your dream job or which cartoon character was on your lunchbox in fourth grade, he doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
Don’t Be a Hypocrite
The same goes for you. Have you ever noticed that someone you met by chance ended up being one of your favorite people? Maybe a boy that you wouldn’t have sought out ended up being one of your favorite humans. Attractiveness and good personalities have no correlation. Sure, Ethan Craft was a total babe, but Gordo was much better company.
Develop a strong opinion of yourself
It’s taken me a long time- twenty-two years if you want to know the truth- but I think I finally get it. You don’t feel the need for attention when you’re comfortable with yourself, when you like the person you are. Seeking validation about your intellect, attractiveness, worthiness, sense of humor, or even your taste in movies, from sources outside yourself is only going to heighten your insecurity.
I know I’m fun to be around. My mom tells me so. Okay just kidding, but I believe that if I wasn’t me, I’m the type of person I’d like to get coffee with. I don’t need anyone else to make me feel special. If I get attention from people that are nice and funny, that’s great. If not, tough cookies. I’ll be fine.
Whether you get a lot of attention, a little or virtually none, if you know that you’re worthy, you won’t care so much about boys who don’t know the real you. The right guys will invest time in you because they like everything about you. Not just your legs or your face or the way your jeans fit.