I was in Boots. I remember browsing the new L’Oreal masks when a gentleman from Australia approached me. He thought I looked nice, he said, and he wanted to just give it a try and chat to me. I could immediately feel my face going bright red because these things don’t usually happen to me. We chatted for a while when he asked what I liked to do for fun. I could feel a knot form in my stomach and my voice was stuck in my throat. “I like to read”, I said, although I could tell that this was not the answer he was looking for. He confirmed by saying, “And on the weekends?” – “Oh, I’m more of a ‘drinks with friends’ kind of person. You know, good food, good company. That kind of thing. What about you?” He looked at me and said, “Getting together with the lads, drinking, you know.” – “Mhm”, I mumbled. “See, I don’t drink, so…” – “Wow, you’re really selling yourself there”, he said, said something about wishing me a nice evening… and left.
From all the things I’ve been called in the past, this subtle but clear statement was one that hit me the most. The underlying message of “You’re boring” made me feel angry, sad and somewhat intimidated all at once. How does any part of the above conversation make me boring? Because I don’t drink alcohol? Because I like to read? Because I prefer easy nights?
Facebook regularly sends me back in time with its “On this day”-feature. A lot of the time, I find status updates such as, “I am so hungover, I don’t think I can ever move again” or people’s messages to me along the lines of, “Do you even remember talking to me last night?!” And I seriously wonder: Was I a cooler person back then? Does filling my brain with words rather than booze these days make me less interesting? Less of a woman in her late 20s? Less deserving of manners, of respect, of love?
And whilst I should know that the answer to the all of the above is ‘no’, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’m doing life wrong. If I have to settle for less because I’m not doing what society is expecting a woman my age to do. Not to mention how this is pure fuel for my anxiety.
I’m not going to change who I am or how I live because of a five minute encouter in Boots on a dark winter’s night but needless to say that this is not the only time something like this has happened to me. Guys usually stop talking to me the second I mention that I read, that I write, that I’m bilingual, that I don’t drink. Let’s hope that some day, someone won’t be scared of my a woman who’s got her priorities straight but will take them as they are and dive deeper. There’s so much more to me than this.
’til next time x