Hands shaking, I poured myself a gin and tonic.
Two hours later, I poured myself another one. If I was anxious before the photo shoot, it was nothing compared to how I felt after.
When I was told that I had been chosen as one of the bachelorettes for Branded Magazine’s February issue last year, I was extremely excited and flattered.
Like, squealing in my car excited.
I remember thinking, “Why me? I’m not cool enough for something like this.” At the time I knew a lot of beautiful successful girls, all of which were just as “eligible” as the next. But nevertheless I was ecstatic. “This is the closest I’ll ever get to being thereal bachelorette!” Don’t pretend you’ve never day dreamed about what it would be like.
Which by the way, I could never handle. I was a nervous wreck after one photo shoot. Suddenly the thought of having my picture printed in a magazine seemed like a nightmare. And this was one city. Imagine the whole world watching you and judging you?
I applaud the girls on TV who manage to do it with confidence and grace. Even if they did not find true love, they nailed thousands of new Instagram followers, probably a book deal, and now get to live their dream of being a ‘fashion blogger.’ Doesn’t seem like such a terrible fate, but like I said, I don’t think I could handle it.
It’s a small world after all.
“So you’re having a bad day because you got your picture taken?”
The guy riding my elevator with me was mistake number two of the afternoon, following too much gin.
“They put me in a pencil skirt.“
He knew me well enough to know that tight skirts and heels were not my thing.
But complaining about how they styled me was just a cop out for what I was really feeling. They could have put me in anything and I still would have needed those gin & tonics. For two reasons.
First reason belongs on an episode of Sex in the City.
After I was told that I had been chosen as one of Calgary’s most eligible singles, I obviously wondered who my fellow single bachelors and bachelorettes were.
Facebook stalking commenced.
I already sort of knew who one of them was because she teaches at my favourite spin studio. I had just never been to her class because I’m one of those snobby fitness people who has a favourite instructor, bike, spin outfit, and music preference, hence it takes a lot for me to try someone new.
I had found out through the grapevine that we had something in common, or rather, someone. But since he was not an ex that either of us had seriously dated, this didn’t impact our blossoming friendship. If anything, we bonded over it.
“Omg, such an asshole right?”
But the other girl I knew nothing about, so…
Click, click, click. “Like” so that she knew I meant no animosity. This wasn’t going to be a Kaitlyn versus Brit scenario.
It became clear that not very long ago she was in a serious relationship. I came to this conclusion because in my world, you don’t have a profile picture of yourself with a boy in it unless you’re in love.
“This guy she dated looks familiar,” I thought.
The photos were really grainy and taken either very close up, or very far away. But then I came across one that made my jaw drop. The ex-boyfriend in her profile picture was undeniably the same guy that I had just ended things with a few weeks prior to the day of the photo shoot.
This finding meant that the last two guys I had dated were the other two bachelorette’s exes, of some sort or another.
Hence, the first gin and tonic that day.
What were the chances? If I didn’t already feel like I was turning into a serial dater, now I definitely did.
But whatever. As quickly as this small world story had be downing a gin, I also just as quickly realized that it was nothing more than a coincidence, a funny story to tell my friends, a ‘blog-worthy’ occurrence.
This whole experience was pushing on my self-love buttons.
Most of my anxiety came from being all dressed up in front of a camera, about to flaunt my single status in a sparkly pencil skirt to a whole bunch of people. People who would be cruel and judge me. Because that’s how we imagine most of the world to be, right? Critical and mean.
I’m not giving y’all much credit am I?
I wonder if any of the real Bachelor’s or Bachelorette’s have a panic attack after they’ve started their journey with Chris Harrison. After their first day of filming when there’s no turning back do any of them stop and think, what the hell am I doing? Do they freak about their hair not looking perfect, or what they’re wearing, or being laughed at?
Or are they the kind of people who have an unshakable self confidence that someone like me only dreams about having?
This may have seemed like a really great problem to have – I was about to be featured in a magazine as an eligible single. But what this made me realize was just how much I had gotten used to shying away from being seen.
20,000 copies of a magazine was about to change that.
The stress and anxiety that I had after the photo shoot forced me to confront what I was actually afraid of. That all too common fear of not feeling ‘good enough’ and being afraid of what ‘they’ think.
Whether it’s a magazine photo shoot, standing up in front of a crowd, or just standing up in front of one person, there comes a time when we’re forced to step up, show off, or be seen. And in my case, step into a pair of high heels.
If it’s scary, it’s probably worth doing.
A few months later I was relieved to hear that one of the other girls they photographed that day did the same thing as I did after her photo shoot – got rip roaring drunk.
What surprised me was that I thought of her as this beautiful, confident, inspiring person. One of those girls with unshakable confidence and a rockin bod to go with it. Never would I have thought that she would have been feeling the same fears as myself.
This whole experience taught me a number of things.
- It’s a freakishly small world. It only took two years of dating again, a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things, for it to feel like I had exhausted all of my options and that the love of my life was surely not in this city. And if he was, chances were one of my friends had already slept with him.
- It doesn’t matter how beautiful the photograph is, how confident we look on the outside, or how perfectly put together we seem, you never know what’s happening on the inside.
- And with that being said, I learned that we’re not all that different from one another. We all go through the “I’m not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough” roller coaster of emotions. And if you don’t, well then good for you.
As much gin as it took, I’m quite happy to have had this experience and gone through the highs and lows of being put in front of so many people. By the time the magazine was actually printed, I had worked through my shit, let go of the “what will they think” bullshit, and gotten back to the squealing excitement that I felt when I first found out, the excitement I felt before I let that handsome devil ‘fear’ have his way with me. The excitement that bubbles up in you and makes you grateful for the chance to step into those high heels and own it.
When you let go of what the world thinks of you, what’s on the other side of that is well worth the roller coaster.
It feels like freedom, and in my case, it did indeed eventually lead to love – self love AND the boyfriend kind.
Originally published in Branded Magazine