There’s a sweater which, whenever I wear it, never fails to get people fawning over me. It’s this chic, patterned item that works well on its own, but yesterday I had it on as part of a more formal ensemble that aimed for something of a “preppy British schoolboy” look.
The sweater struck again last night.
At a quarter-past-three, as the party was finally winding down, she was huddled close to me baring her every insecurity. She was too drunk to make her own way home, and I only wanted to watch over her to make sure she could safely hail a cab. But she had other plans.
Pressed up against me for support, here she was—one of the prettiest, most confident and capable people I’ve known—telling me how insignificant and uncertain of herself she felt. Her low-cut dress was doing little to hide her ample chest, but I hadn’t the urge to gawk. I held her supportively and listened to what she had to say, trying my best to calm her insecurities with my calm voice. Telling her how I honestly felt about her and her accomplishments; reminding her that she was still young, and had plenty of time ahead of her to explore anything she felt passionate about.
There were a few things about my behaviour last evening that leads me to believe I just might be growing up. First, the thought of taking advantage of her drunkenness didn’t cross my mind. Instead, I felt strangely protective of her. Second, I didn’t fall head over heels for her simply because of her closeness, slinky dress or soft scent. I was looking to be a supportive friend; truly wanting to reassure her that her self-doubts were unfounded, and make sure she got home safe. And finally, it was through reassuring her that I realised how secure I am about fundamental aspects of my self. I might not have figured out where in the world I will be next year, or what I will be doing with my life, but I have no underlying fears about how much I know or what my capabilities are. This awareness of self made me feel rather special, and allowed me to be calm and reassuring without thrusting any of my own neuroses to the fore.
The fact that I was able to serenely pull off all of this—with my actions not being motivated by anything ulterior—makes me feel so much more of an adult. An emotionally-mature adult capable of healthy, sincere relationships with the people I care about.
In other words, I’m beginning to think that maybe it wasn’t the sweater people were fawning over. Maybe it was me.