The Great Communicator—by Jamie Levine
Lately, I’ve been immersed in the task of finalizing my personal statement for graduate school; at the premise of my essay is the fact that I’ve always relied on the power of communication to thrive. Not only did I major in Communication as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, but I’ve been a writer throughout my life, and have always cherished the value of words. I’m also rather loquacious—all of my friends can attest to the fact that I rarely shut up—and, as most of you know, the focus of all of my school work thus far has been on speech therapy, which I intend to make my future career. It seems pretty clear that I know how to communicate…or do I?
Recently, Library Guy, the man I’ve been dating, started reading my blogs and acknowledged the fact that it’s cathartic for me to write down all my thoughts, but complained that I seem to be having all of these complex conversations with myself—and it would be nice if he was included in them. He also remarked that I am, indeed, great at chatting…but that doesn’t make me a great communicator. And you know what? When it comes to relationship-talk, he’s right.
I haven’t been in a relationship for a long time; for the past several years, my focus has been on Jayda and I thought that was enough for me. Maybe it just felt safer. Prior to Jayda’s birth, the relationships I was in were pretty unfulfilling. I made a lot of poor choices in men—and tried to hold onto quite a few of them who were wrong for me. As a 30-something woman whose “clock was ticking,” I think I was relationship-desperate—though at the time, I never would have admitted that to anyone. And ultimately, I tried too hard to turn nothing into something with a lot of guys whom I dated. I learned to keep my guard up, and my emotions hidden; sometimes I even pretended to be someone I wasn’t. The thought of actually talking to a guy about how I felt (especially about that guy!) scared me to death…especially when I thought it might scare him away.
Intellectually, I’ve always known that if any one thing I say to a guy “scares him away,” then he never really was mine—and he certainly isn’t someone whom I should be wasting my time with. But that never made it easier for me to share my feelings and speak my mind. It’s still not easy for me…but at least now, I’m trying. I love spending time with Library Guy—and I tell him that; when I’m thinking about him, I also let him know. In the past, it felt torturous for me to play games and to hold back my feelings from men I really liked, but I did; friends advised me that men needed to chase me, and I thought it would keep guys more interested in me if I wasn’t effusive with my emotions. But in my heart I’ve always known that I gotta be me—and I’m a sappy, affectionate, heart-on-my-sleeve kinda gal. Library Guy is getting to know the “real” me in that sense, and it feels good.
I keep telling myself—and Library Guy, too—that wherever this goes, I just want to enjoy the ride; and I genuinely am. I’m also learning a lot about myself and what I really need to feel complete with someone: I need total trust; I need to be challenged; I need to feel cared for and needed; and, most of all, I need to always be true to myself. From the very beginning, Library Guy told me that you have to take risks to reap rewards and I know he’s right. I’ve taken a lot of risks in my life—from literally jumping out of an airplane to having a baby on my own, to embarking on a new career at 40 years old; it’s about time I took a chance on a guy. And no matter how things turn out, at the very least, I’m hoping to become a better communicator.