In the past weeks in the midst of all of the fighting and horribleness, my friends have been getting engaged. A lot of them have- I think almost one a week for about a month and a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite happy for them. But at the same time, I am worried for myself. Here I am, still not dating anyone seriously. Still finding myself being in very bizarre relationships, that either aren’t actually relationships, or ones that I am not sure what the status is.
I was reading an article about how Tu B’Av teaches us to take chances- to go out of our comfort zone. This made me think a lot about myself. Maybe I need to actually be ok going out of my comfort zone. Maybe the type of guy I thought I would be dating, is not at all who I should be dating. Maybe it is ok if he is different to me with regards to religious level or extrovertedness. Maybe I need to try and push myself to be vulnerable and share. Maybe even push myself to share these fears with specific people in my life.
I was asked by a friend why I don’t like being vulnerable. The idea of sharing, like really sharing, makes me squirm. It makes me sweat. It makes my stomach tie in knots. I am worried that they might think that I am stupid. I am worried that their feelings are not the same as mine, and that I will get hurt in the process. I am worried that once they know these things they are going to be able to hurt me. I am worried that I am going to seem weak.
Intellectually, I know that it is good to share. That it is actually important to share, that sharing is how we form relationships with other people. That no one really wants to be in a one sided relationship. And that in most situations, both parties are quite nervous to actually share, for fear of what the other person might think. But even with this knowledge, I still want to squirm when I think about having this conversation.
I’ve had the conversation many times in my head. In my head I can say things to everyone and anyone. I am very open with the other people. But in my head, I also can control what the other person will answer back. In my head, I am the one in charge. And that is my fear. I’m afraid of not being in charge. That if I give that power over to someone else, things won’t happen. Or they might happen wrong, and in that way I can get hurt. At least if I am in control, I only have to blame myself. If there is someone else, then maybe I’ll get into a fight. Maybe things won’t work out the way that I wanted them to. Maybe people will think that I am a failure.
The Mishna at the end of Ta’anit, that talks about the holiday of Tu B’Av, teaches that the women would all swap dresses with each other, so that no one would know who was rich and poor. Then all the women would go dancing in the vineyard seducing men to marry them. Thinking about that- if it is a small town or village, swapping dresses isn’t going to make people not know who they are. Everyone knows everyone. And to go out and say- “hi boys, look at me, choose me to marry”- that is putting one self out there.
So what why trade dresses? I think that it has to do with a costume swap. When you are wearing clothing of someone else, you allow yourself to act a bit differently. You might do things that you are not always willing to do, because you have to hold your self differently. And just from behind, people won’t recognize you. By doing this the women were able to put themselves out there. They were able to put themselves in a vulnerable position, saying- take me, I’m single, I’m looking for a partner, I’m looking for someone to be close with.
I hope for this Tu B’Av that I too can learn from these women. That I can find it in myself to really think about what I want and what I need from a partner. And on top of that, that I can allow myself to be vulnerable, to share and to explore with another person- even though it might terrify me. And maybe only with this realization will I be able to find a partner, and hopefully experience the happiness of my friends.