Coleman Osbourne finally figured out what he was supposed to discover from all of those “learning experiences” in love.
“It’s all a learning experience.” I used to hate that saying.
Growing up, my father said it a lot. I always cringed inside, since it was almost always used when you envisioned an outcome and it didn’t go the way you planned. I would tell him my “problem” or thing that went wrong and his response never differed: “It’s all a learning experience.” After cringing, I would tell myself he didn’t know what he was talking about.
But boy, was he right. And boy, did I find out that it goes beyond mixing your red and white laundry together.
Breakups suck. We go through what, one, five, a dozen before we find the right person? I don’t know the answer, as I’m still waiting for my number … waiting for Ms. Right to come along: someone who would also think it’s fun to go out in the middle of a downpour and slow dance, just for the heck of it. I haven’t found that yet. But as my dad said: “It’s all a learning experience.”
Recently I went through another breakup. Only this one was different: this time I was completely blindsided. We had just spent a beautiful time together in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we were planning future trips together, we were doing a lot of activities together—we were great together (so I thought). We hadn’t slow danced in the rain yet, but I thought it was possible. Inside I told myself, “This is it.” I thought, “This is the one.” So did everyone else around us. They all said how well we fit together, how good we were together.
Then one afternoon, a phone call came. “I’m not emotionally attached to you anymore,” she said. I was confused. How can you spend so much effort and time with someone, show so much affection, and then tell them you’re no longer attached? What did I do or say that was wrong? What happened?
I never got an answer. I never was told why, or what made her feel that way. But you know what? “It’s all a learning experience.”
Three weeks later, it’s Thursday night and a buddy invites me to go out and have a few drinks. Sure, why not? It could be fun. We order and have a seat at the bar. Of course he tells me he wants to talk to women. I cringe. I feel my body and mind start to resist this “going out thing,” and thoughts like “I’m not ready yet,” creep in. I feel uncomfortable all of a sudden.
Then this woman comes over. She’s attractive and has a great smile. She starts talking to me, smiling the whole time. In that moment I interrupt her mid-sentence and say the first words that come to mind: “Your smile is contagious.”
It was. And it wasn’t a pick-up line. It was totally authentic; in the moment, it was the first thing that popped in my brain. I felt myself smiling, her smile making me smile. I felt warmth in my body, the feeling of connection.
We talked for hours that night. She was my type: traveled a lot, held a Master’s in Mathematics at the age of 23, could speak multiple languages, shared the same outlook on life, and was very attractive. Nothing happened; no phone numbers were exchanged, but I learned my father’s lesson that night.
As I drove home, I thought about her and the great conversation we’d had. I was still smiling because of the connection, the conversations, and that gorgeous smile (I like a woman who smile. Can you tell?). That’s when it hit me. I’m a 28-year-old male who can find someone who is the right fit for me. I can be the person I want to be, find the person I want to be with, and recreate and better my next relationship.
Duh… Why has it taken me this long to figure this out? Why is it that every time I break up with someone, I feel I’m in the wrong or that it was my fault? Why do I need an answer to, “Why?”
Why? Cause it’s all a learning experience. I’m learning.
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