Sunday, December 3, 2017

Threat Level: Me

My coworkers get such a kick hearing my dating stories. My two cubicle-mates are happily married; one with children finishing in high school and starting college, the other only a few years older than me with two young girls under the age of 5. My manager is a grandma who's had her share of life struggles with men. My VP is happily married man with three younger kids.

My manager has been checking out the construction workers in the building for me to see if there's any suitable guys. If that doesn't work they'll find another member of the Village People for me, they joke. My cubicle-mates banter that I should pull a Mrs Robinson to the 26 year old guy in accounting who just got a promotion and now has to drop off all the check requests to us.

They can't believe that I got ghosted by a guy after 4 dates because I have career goals. That one of the cute guys who approached me at the gym is married....well "separated" but still living with his wife and 4 kids. I am not in the least way interested in being a side piece thank you very much I've done that and am not a fan. I may not have the highest self esteem, but I at least know I'm worth more than messages on a secret encrypted application; I deserve to be shown off, go out, post pictures of me on your Instagram. 

Two Friday's ago I sat and talked with my manager for about 2 hours after work. We shared our stories of what we've dealt with regarding men. I confessed how as much as I enjoy being alone, and it doesn't bother me, it does get lonely. She mentioned to me how difficult it can be to be alone, especially as she said, when you have to go business events, because everyone will be bringing their significant others and you are alone. "You're now a threat", she said. 

I was first of all flattered that she thinks highly enough of me to see my career shaping enough within the company to progress to be attending future business events. I've been here 8 months, and I have no doubt that I've shown them I'm smart, hardworking, and able to tackle significant projects with little direction and accomplish them. I know that around the office my height is the first thing noticed and commented on, second only to my bubbly personality and a few of the women have pointed out my fun shoe choices. My manager and I have been stopped on more than one occasion in the hallway for some individual in a department I don't even work with to "does she work for you?" followed by a nervous yes, only to be told "what a breath of fresh air! She's always smiling and so nice to everyone. A fantastic new hire to have in the company". I joke with my manager that I'll try to stop embarrassing her around the office. 

I personally do not view myself in the light that other's do. I don't see myself as overly attractive, because thanks society, as a woman I'm not supposed to have an ego. I view me as the overly tall, nerdy awkward girl who has super random thoughts and still gets butterflies in her stomach when she talks with cute boys. I was taught to treat everyone with respect, and I do, from the maintenance people who come down our hallways each morning to our CEO when he walks by our cubicles. 

But I'm realizing that just because society has taught me I cannot be full of myself because I'm a woman, doesn't mean that I'm not attractive and that I'm not perceived as a threat. My eyes. My legs. My confidence. My intelligence.

Forget the fact I check in on my 92 year old neighbor below me regularly. Or that my sister and I visited my grand-mom for the past three weeks almost every other day while she was in a rehab for her fractured shoulder from a fall. Or that I stay late at work or arrive early to complete projects without prompting. There's no little billboard above me proclaiming my good deeds. There's just as society taught us, only my looks are what matter. And as a single, successful, confident woman, I'm a threat.

The guy I was hooking up with for almost a year had a girlfriend; I only found out I was his side piece when she opened an (unbeknownst) ill timed Snapchat last New Year's Eve and confronted me. I had another business contact's wife threaten me with whom there was nothing nefarious between us because I was attending a work event with him that she couldn't make. My Uber drivers into Philly always ask as soon as I get in their car if those are my real eyes or they're contacts. There's a gentleman here in the complex where I walk Homer, who since the first day I've seen him shouts "Hey Beautiful" each time he sees me, and the other day "I love you!" as he drove away. As mentioned earlier I had a guy approach me at the gym, we chatted it up until he asked for my number, and it was only then when we couldn't seem to find a time to meet up that he mentioned about his "separation".

I couldn't put my finger on it, I had this (drunken) discussion with my best friend's husband a couple months ago. I have this thing, I can't shut it off. He asked me who wants me to shut it off, and I said no one, but I keep attracting the wrong people. It wasn't until I read this passage, that it put into words what I'm experiencing. "There's nothing sexier than the woman emitting the pheromone of personal fulfillment". This isn't something I can shut off. It's me living my best life, and people are naturally attracted to that. 

I'm just me, and I won't stop being me, but I understand now how I can be perceived as a threat. I'm an attractive, smart, confident, funny woman who is comfortable in my own skin being alone. I went today to my own double feature movie. Between the first and second movie I grabbed lunch at the brewery connected to the mall. As I was wrapping up mine to go back to the theater a woman, all dolled up, sat two chairs away from me at the bar alone. She told the bartender she was meeting someone here, could she just have a water while she waited. She checked her phone constantly, adjusting her low cut, tight fitting top repeatedly, glancing at the door with every draft of cold air that wafted our way. I certainly didn't envy her, as I paid for my beers and meal, off to do exactly what I wanted for the day, not waiting for a man to walk in and validate me.

Most of the time, that is, because we all have our moments. I'm lucky in that my best friends all trust me, they haven't abandoned me because they see me now as a threat to their marriages. They're inclusive, check in on me, and always invite me along. They, along with my family, help me pick up my pieces when I'm feeling down and remind me that I'm someone who is lovable.  Hopefully me as a threat will eventually attract the right individual, but for right now, I'm just going to keep having fun living my ridiculous, random, adventure filled life. 

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