Once upon a time in Midtown Manhattan, a 23 year-old-girl lived in the throes of a massive, giant, all-consuming "lesbian crush." (I couldn't help but throw in the "lesbian"-- it takes me back to that infamous scene in "Mean Girls").
The girl was me. The massive, giant, all-consuming "lesbian crush" was a 34-year-old graphic designer named Amber.*
Amber had her sh*t together, and to 23-year-old me, that was the sexiest trait a person could possess.
I mean I was 23; all of my friends were hot drunken messes, but Amber was a totally different animal. She was in her 30s. How outrageously glam. How undeniably sexy. How gorgeously mature.
She also boasted an impressive job, for she was a creative director of a very important graphic design firm. She had that unique mix of being extremely technical and wildly creative at the same time -- a mix that makes you the hottest sex vixen in the universe through my mascara-adorned world lens. (If you're artistic and can also wrap your brain around the complexities of modern technology, call me, girl).
While my friends at the time were lusting after pill-addicted f*ckboys with guitars, I was lusting after women geniuses a decade older than me, real grown-ups, ladies, with health insurance, and saving accounts, and clean sheets.
Amber lived in a high rise apartment in Lower Manhattan in an ornate, pre-war building with a white-gloved doorman and a shiny marble lobby. I used to see Susan Sarandon in the elevator (She smiled at me once or twice).
Amber was the kind of put-together woman who had a membership to the Equinox in Greenwich Village, attended art galleries on the weekend and collected expensive coffee table books that she would "casually" scatter across her perfectly polished black lacquer coffee table.
Not only was I completely and utterly infatuated by Amber, I was super hot for her. My brain became a circus of vivid, X-rated fantasies about her on the subway that were so intense that my whole body would TEEM with relentless desire. My dirty thoughts were so powerful that I would become embarrassed, certain the pimply teen boy next to me on the train could read my salacious mind.
We met in acting class and were scene partners. We had to get together three times per week (on our own time) for "rehearsal." It was supposed to be a strictly professional affair, but every time I went over to her apartment, you better believe I had ulterior motives.
I would waltz into her chic lobby reeking of the timelessly sexy Chanel Mademoiselle, clad in a clingy black dress and noisy sky-high heels that would loudly CLANK against the marble floor. "A bit much for the daytime," my posh mother would have advised, but I've always been a rebellious drama queen who rejects parental guidance anyway.
One mid-winter's afternoon, it happened: We kissed. She had offered me a glass of white wine after one of our "rehearsals," and before I knew it, I had crawled into her lap, and we were passionately making out.
It was one of those glorious kiss sessions that was more satisfying and more intimate than any sex I had ever had (at the time). I wanted to fall asleep in her pillowy lips and never wake up.
She pulled my head away, held my face in her delicate hands and asked me to go dinner.
I was outrageously intimidated by Amber. I completely shut down around her. I went from a wild over-sharer in fishnets to a meek little meerkat dressed as a dull emulation of an English royal.
That night at dinner, my brain cashed blank checks. I was in the prison of self-consciousness.
I just wanted her to think I was perfect. I just wanted her to like me.
I didn't want her to know that the night before, I had gotten so blackout drunk that I didn't know how the hell I had gotten home.
I didn't want her to know I was on a hefty dose of medication to treat an escalating anxiety disorder. I didn't want her to know I was sad because my best friend in the world had just passed away, and I felt like there were empty holes in me all the time, and I didn't know what to fill them with that wasn't booze or meaningless hookups or cheap validation.
I didn't want her to know that when I was alone with my thoughts, my brain didn't feel like a safe place.
I felt like if I revealed any of my vulnerabilities, she would deem me a giant girl mess that she didn't have time to clean up. So I pretended to be a different girl in her presence. A watered-down version of myself. A pretty blue-filtered version of myself.
But herein lies the problem with inauthenticity: People can smell your bullsh*t. It's a people propellent, except to narcissists and predator types.
You can paint your face so it looks like the most gorgeous thing to ever grace the planet, but no amount of mink eyelash extensions will hide the fact that you're uncomfortable. You radiate a desperate, vibrational energy when you're trying to be something you're not. It's a palpable falseness that makes people feel uncomfortable in your presence. It's the kind of energy that propels people to say things like "I like her, but she's sort of off, and I can't quite pinpoint why."
So I guess it's no surprise that Amber wasn't so into little inauthentic me. After three weeks of casual dating, in which I attempted to paint myself as the poster girl of total perfection, she broke it off.
She came up with a sh*t excuse in the vein of "Oh, honey, I'm not over my ex" kind of bullsh*t. I'm a woman, and like all women, I'm a perceptive animal. I knew deep in my gut that it wasn't about anyone else. Amber wasn't feeling me.
Right after Amber, I became the object of affection with a different girl, a photographer named Lex*. I liked Lex, and I was my complete and total self around Lex -- probably because while I liked her, I wasn't overcome with a rush of imploding feelings around her, like I had been with Amber.
I did me around Lex. Laughed a little too loudly. Drank like a fish. Asked deeply personal questions at dinner. Cursed like a mother f*cking SAILOR.
I told her all about my screwy life and the crazy characters who lived in it. I told her about the nightmares, the traumas, the quirky ticks, the embarrassing fears. I didn't care if I scared her off.
And guess what? I didn't scare her off. Not even a little bit. She was super into me.
In fact, the more I revealed my "crazy" to her, the more into me she was. It was the first time I really wrapped my brain around the concept that authenticity always wins the race.
And it wasn't just Lex -- it was a pattern that repeated itself through out my 20s.
I didn't catch on. And every time I lusted after a girl, I watered my crazy down.
I was so afraid of scaring people away. I was convinced that surely everyone wanted that baby blonde, perfect-family-having, white-picket-fence, instagram-loving, kale-consuming "normal" girl. I thought there was no room in the love world for black-haired, creative, pale girls with emotional complexities and dirty senses of humor.
But every single time I attempted to round out my sharp edges, I was boldly rejected. Something wouldn't click. And I would be left shame-spiraling, wondering where did I go f*cking wrong? When, in all truth, the only thing I had done wrong was try to be someone I'm not. I wasted so much precious time trying to be someone I'm not.
And not only did it never, ever get me the girl, it took a serious hit at my already fragile self-esteem. When you think who you are and where you come from isn't "good enough," it chips away at your relationship with yourself. The most important relationship at all. When you become disconnected from yourself through the self-abuse of being "fake," you can't connect with someone else. And connection, real authentic connection, is the driving force behind real attraction.
At some point in my late 20s, I began to piece the broken parts together. I slowly began to realize the people who really fell in love with me, fell in love with all of me. They fell in love with the intense, quirky, inappropriate, tattooed, scarred, politically incorrect, sexually deviant girl I had become. They didn't just fall in love with the successful parts of me; they loved me just as much for my failures.
And no one ever fell in love with me when I tried to be someone different.
So what's my f*cking point? Good question, babes. Hold still. I'm getting there.
My f*cking point is the more authentic and genuinely CRAZY you are, the more they will want you. People are bored by perfection. Men, women and everyone-in-between are magnetically drawn to real, multifaceted individuals.
Because when you're real and vulnerable, you exude a confidence that is sexier than anything in the world. Sometimes I catch myself blurring out the scars because I like a girl so much. But as soon as I feel myself dumbing down (yes, dumbing down) my fierce crazy for someone else, I stop dead in my tracks and check myself.
Because even if I did scare her off with my individuality, I don't f*cking care. The ones I want are the ones who WANT my crazy, too.
*Name has been changed