Becoming Natalie

December 24, 2009

That title didn’t come out as cool sounding as it did in my head.

I recently discovered I had broken an old habit and I am giving myself a huge pat on the back. It’s something I’ve done since I was about 15, and I learned it from an American Girl self-help book when I was 10 or so.

The habit? I stopped being someone else in the presence of people I’m attracted to. I’ve almost come into my own as just an awkward, lush loudmouth, and haven’t felt like I’ve been anyone else for awhile.

The American Girl book was a book called “Help” based on the advice column in their magazine. Basically, girls would wirte in for advice, and American Girl would answer with practical ideas. At the time, I was totally convinced that if I wrote in, I would get in the magazine. (It never happened.) But where it steered me wrong was the following letter… I mean, it’s not exactly, but this is how I remember it:
Dear Help,
I like this boy at school but I don’t know if he likes me. I want to talk to him, but I am afraid. Please help. Sincerely, Shy

Dear Shy,
You should find out what sort of music he listens to, what his favorite tv shows are – things like that – and see if they relate to your interests. Start a conversation with him about something you have in common. Sincerely, American Girl.

I admit, I took this to an extreme. In high school, a girlfriend and I memorized football stats so we could keep up with the boys. I remember listening to all this shitty ska and punk music (my least fav :/) that a college crush listened to so that we would have something in common. I was constantly trying to act smarter than I actually was for my boyfriend in college, and when I started dating in the city last spring, I found I was trying to pass myself off as some sort of confident, film pro. I was constantly adapting traits of the men/boys that I liked in hopes it would make them like me more. Now, I am perfectly aware that taking interest in your interest’s interests (wtf sort of sentence was that, Natalie?) is part of a relationship – learning to like new things and sharing. But the fact that I was predetermining what I should know and how I should act left me with a jumble of “who the fuck am I?”

Only recently in my dating experiences have I learned how to just be myself, and boys will like me for that. There’s the occasional false front… a wall of sorts, that protects parts of the “real” Natalie from escaping and sabataging everything (as chemically deprived Natalie constantly tries to do…)

Anywho, my point is, I don’t feel like I’m trying to impress anyone anymore. There are a few people that deserve great thanks for that, but my confidence in who I am is somewhat legitimate instead of a defense mechanism.

I don’t know if this is making any sense to anyone, but I don’t really give a shit. I’m actually kind of happy I’m not pretending to like shit anymore. (Listening to all that goddamn terrible music almost killed me.)

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