The scent of fresh crayons. New school shoes. Introspection. These are all things that signal the end of summer for me – and maybe they do for you too.
As a child, I’d spend hours on Labour Day weekend writing down my thoughts, in hopes of getting a head start on the requisite “what I did last summer” essay that I’d inevitably have to write on the first day back at school. While I’m no longer scribbling in a pink Care Bears diary with a Lucky Troll pen, old habits die hard.
This past summer I’ve dated. I’ve made new friends. I’ve floated in lakes and lounged by pools. Through all of this, I’ve learned a lot. So, in the spirit of back to school, here’s a few lessons I hope we can all embrace this fall.
1. BE DECISIVE
At the beginning of the summer I was on a first date with a guy I’d met through friends. I was looking forward to getting to know each other over some drinks at a local craft brewery. The night seemed promising until the menu arrived and my date spent the next ten minutes trying to decide on which beer to order. I chalked it up to first date jitters, but when the time came for the second drink and the same thing happened again, I was worried. In the time that I’d chosen a drink, got up to go to the bathroom and done a lap around the bar, he still hadn’t made a choice. If he’d rather have me wait for him than make a small decision, what did this say about our future together?
Here’s the thing: decisiveness is attractive. Whether you’re deciding between an IPA and a stout or whether or not you’d like to be with me, I’m going to respect you more if you make a choice. Any choice.
2. OWN UP TO YOUR MISTAKES AND APOLOGIZE WHEN NECESSARY
In July, Jay-Z released his new album 4:44. In the title track he openly apologizes to his wife, Beyonce for his years of cheating and womanizing. Was it the public apology we’ve all been hoping and waiting for? Maybe not. But, it’s a start. It also acts as a powerful reminder that we’re all flawed human beings, and in order to grow we need to own up to our wrongdoings. In other words, if Jay-Z can apologize, so can you. Even if it’s something small, I’ve been making a point of acknowledging what I did wrong and apologizing in the moment. Be honest. Be humble. Move on. Don’t be the inspiration for someone’s personal Lemonade.
3.IT’S BETTER TO FEEL A LITTLE AWKWARD
…in the moment than be uncomfortable in the long term.
Flash-forward to a bit later in the summer, when a different man decided to send me a bunch of suggestive selfies. The photos made me uncomfortable, but instead of letting it carry on, allowing myself to become increasingly turned-off in the process, I decided to try something new: Tell the truth. I told him, “I think you’re lovely and handsome, but swapping these kinds of photos isn’t my thing.” He responded by thanking me and said, “I wish more women would just be upfront like that. Plus, you did it in such a nice way.” The fact that he was able to accept my feedback in a mature and respectful manner not only helped open up the lines of communication, it also made me like him more.
4. STAY OPEN
Some relationships are only meant to last a short time – and that’s OK. I’ve had some great romantic moments over the past few months, but I’ve also had some disappointing ones – like when someone I really liked broke things off with me. What’s different from my hot-weather romances of yore is that I haven’t let these setbacks derail my summer. Instead, I surrounded myself with good people who helped me breathe and eventually laugh through the discomfort – people I hope will be in my life for longer than a season – either as friends or something more.
Whether you’re single or in a relationship, what this summer has taught me is that it’s important to stay open to love of all kinds. Communicate your needs. Tell the truth. Be a grown-up and own up to your mistakes. Lastly, always read the menu ahead of time if you can. Your date will thank you.
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