Missed Opportunity, Pt 2 – An Open Letter to the (Other) Men Who Got Away

In Part 1 of this post, I wrote to Mr. Missed Opportunity 1 and 2, who just didn’t work out.  Part of the reason was poor timing; another was personal choices.  These last two (and the bonus man) were simply circumstance.  And those can be the worst missed opportunities of all.

To Mr. Your-Hugs-Are-Awesome-But-My-Friend-Likes-You-Too

I’m not even sure if you were ever attracted to me.

But I will cherish that time when our eyes locked through a crowd of acquaintances, and you seemed to light up with a hope that I was not used to seeing on men who made me want to giggle.

You parted the crowd with your shoulders, leaning forward and extending your hands before you had a clean path to me.  Your eyes never left mine, not until your cheek passed my eye line, and I felt the warmth of your neck.

The hug was all-encompassing, full-pressed and revealing.  I recall thinking, “Good lord, does he hug every woman like this?”

Even when you pulled back, you stayed close, and I forced myself not to think about how easy it would have been to pop up on my toes and peck the underside of your bottom lip.  I tried not to think of the conversations we could have had, the fact that I’d overheard you weeks ago talk about out-of-body experiences and chakras and that you kinda knew what you were talking about.

I tried not to think about the way I’d caught you looking at me sometimes, and convinced myself I was merely feeding some narcissistic fantasy.  I mean, let’s be honest–I probably was.

Instead, I stored that epic hug in my starved memory banks to remind myself in times of settling that that–that is how a hug should be.

To Mr. Almost-Kissed-Me-By-the-Copier

Yes, I ultimately realized what you were about to do that fateful day.  It only took me three years and a thorough re-read of the journal I kept at the time, but I figured it out.

I think I regret my missed opportunity with you more than any of the others.  I liked you a lot, from the first time I met you and listened as you rejected me outright on multiple standings.  Despite our crappy start (which seriously played like the perfect opening for a rom-com), our chemistry was magnetic.  Your attraction to me wasn’t nearly as obtuse or vague as I imagined it to be.  The signs were very much there–and if I hadn’t been so naive or obsessed with seeing what I thought mattered, I would have seen the biggest sign of all that said, “I WANT YOU.”

The one you held right in front of my eyes.

Every Woman Wanted You

Every woman wanted you, even the ones who complained about your brusqueness or your arrogance.  Maybe that’s why I couldn’t believe you went out of your way to help me, even when it attracted the disbelief and sarcasm of our colleagues.

Besides, when you tell a woman, “I don’t want to get to know you,” they will turn off any type of charm they may have been trying to build as ammo against your defenses.

Thinking back, I’m a little flattered at how hard you ultimately worked to flip that circuit breaker back in the ON position.

And then, there was that dinner party you didn’t know I attended.  I was bored within ten minutes of arriving (it’s tough being a 20-something in the land of 40- and 50-somethings) and sipped my wine as I contemplated how much time was appropriate to say I’d successfully networked.  I’d seen you come in with your then-girlfriend–it was my first time seeing her; I was immediately humbled.  Out of respect, I kept my distance, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw you glance my way.

I saw you double-take. No one had ever “double-taked” at me before.

I tried to hide my pleasure as you hurried over to express your mild surprise, to introduce me to your date, to invite me to sit next to you at our select table.

The Last Time I Saw You

About 8 months later, the first words out of your mouth after greeting me were, “I broke up with my girlfriend.” Then, you glanced at me in as much anticipation as you could while navigating traffic on our way to a casual lunch.

I absorbed what you were telling me, registered why you brought it up.  I was strangely calm that day, for I was in love and knew what I wanted.  I planned my response carefully.  I opened my mouth.

“I’ve decided to get serious with this guy I’ve been seeing,” I said.

You didn’t answer.  I noticed that your driving aggression doubled almost immediately.  I jumped as we popped over several traffic cones.

After lunch, we agreed to stay in touch–but there was never any real intention to, I think.  At the time, I believed that I had found The One, someone who I was closer to in many areas.  If it’s any consolation, he and I didn’t even last another six months.

But then, what else would you expect from a Mr. You-Weren’t-Mine-So-I-Never-Cried-For-You?

Someone Like You

I imagine, a couple times per year, what our relationship may have been like.  Yours was the slow, sweet burn of getting to know someone for who they were, winks and warts alike.  It was awkward, rude, hurtful, inspiring, warming, painful, and wonderful.  Nevertheless, despite my levels of regret, I think I know that we wouldn’t have worked out.  I was much too much of a mess in my 20s and wouldn’t start un-messing until, oh…three years ago.

Be grateful you dodged an emotional bullet.  But also, know that I’m grateful for my time with you.  It set a bar in my dating world.  I will be very lucky to meet someone like you now–someone who will make me feel the way you made me feel, and more.

BONUS: To Mr. Celebrity-Who-Possibly-Internet-Searched-Me-But-Probably-Didn’t

I’ve admired you since childhood.  When I met you last year and received your autograph, I mentally fist-pumped when you called me cute.

I actually tweeted about it later.  Sorry about that.  I’m not the kinda girl who gets celebrity-obsessed, you know?

By the way–if you use the internet in the middle of the night, I recommend–don’t.  You’ll end up on some crazy sites.

Like that one where you can see people who performed Google searches on you?  It sounds awesome at first, but honestly? I think it’s rigged.

I don’t know how or why your first initial and last name came up as someone who searched for my name. Maybe I was half-asleep.  Maybe I need to get a life, and you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Actual details are cloudy.   Don’t care.

The point is…I’ll take it.

So thanks. 🙂

man walking away missed opportunity

What would you say to the Mr. (or Miss) Missed Opportunity who got away?

Missed Opportunity, Pt 1 – An Open Letter to the Men Who Got Away

The memories of a missed opportunity rise in our heads at the moment we least expect them.  For me, it was while rummaging through my closet this weekend, scrounging for blouses and dresses that I never wore, that I can’t wear, that I will never wear.  One missed opportunity after another, I think ruefully, yanking a crisp, custom-cut Pink Floyd top off its hanger.  Never even had a chance.

My life has currently grown extremely busy to the point that I have very little time to spend on activities that aren’t directly correlated to one of these projects.  Unfortunately, this has also included what remained of my casual dating life.  No longer time to look other than to indulge a passing, aesthetically pleasing glance.

Like the purge on my closet, there have been gentlemen in my life who seemed to stand primed, merely waiting for me to pull them out and make them an active part of my daily routine.  I’d passed them often, admired them, and moved on.  Or I tried them on at the wrong time and was left feeling off, unattractive, or just annoyed that it didn’t look the way that I remembered it looking.

Then, days like today arise.

And I realize I’m far too late to try them again.

Swimming Against the River

As I scowl into the box of apparel folded and primed for the Goodwill shelves, somewhere within the bittersweet fog lies the remnants of regret amongst the memories of men whose feelings of attraction were–or were very close to being–fairly mutual between him and myself.

I probably wasn’t as coherent in these moments as I am now.  That’s probably why it’s called a missed opportunity.

None of these men are active parts in my life now, as time is the river who guides us all along in life.  If they were, I wish I could have a chance to say these things to them, just to let them know…

To Mr. You-Weren’t-Mine-So-I-Never-Cried-For-You

I’ll begin with you, sir.

Of any missed opportunity, our tryst lasted the longest.  Probably too long.  Part of it was because I kept up the silly hope that, despite everything, it was me you really wanted.  Life had just given you a supremely crappy hand.

Funny.  There was another guy I was kinda seeing on and off at the same time as you, and I didn’t like him half as much as I liked you.  He and I broke up countless times. Almost each time, the tears rushed out heated and heavy.  I’d sob to myself, or I’d call a friend and blubber over the stupidity of the relationship to them.

But you?  I never cried for you the way I cried for him.

Maybe because he was real.

A Fake Missed Opportunity?

You were a phantom, a ghost, a fairy.  You were mythical, beautiful.  If I could prove to others that you were real, that would have been truly magical.  If I could claim you in my clutches, I would have done the absolute impossible.

Ultimately, you had already been caught by someone else.

For her, you were solid and tangible and touchable and available.  When she summoned you, you appeared and lived the mortal live destined for you.

There was nothing I could do.  After all, it wouldn’t have been proper to reach into a cage someone else had built for you.  Especially when you walked into that cage of your own volition.

It took a fake psychic to exorcise the longing of you from my heart, to purge me of ever wanting to see you again.  Take that as you will, and enjoy your life.

To Mr. Touches-Over-a-1000-Piece-Puzzle

The first time our fingers brushed, I wrote it off as an accident.  It was a 1000-piece puzzle, and there were yours, mine, and at least five other pairs of hands pawing through the piles of borders, corners, and cogwheel-imprinted cardboard.  There were bound to be collisions, and when ours occurred, it was a sweet little tingle.  You were considered the cute one in our group outings, but you were also fresh and new.  Any interest in my aged mind (and my silly personality) was implausible.

The second time, the touch was impossible to mask for anyone watching. Most of the other puzzlers had given up, wandered away from the table.  You and I and a couple of other remained, though the third had leaned back into her phone, her hands occupied by the touchscreen.

The fourth, our host, rose from the table and asked if anyone wanted something to drink.  “B?” he called when I didn’t answer immediately.

“Yeah?” I said, and lifted my hands above the puzzle to clear it for any wanderers.  As I turned my head in the direction of the speaker, I saw your fingers rise, too.  And as I pondered over my beverage options, I felt it–the lightest, slowest trace across my knuckles, my palm.  A pause of delicate, interlocking fingertips–just enough to recognize that someone was recognizing, appreciating, exploring.

My train of thought faltered, but I let my hand hover to let you continue–and you did, for a blink.  It was probably me who drew back and resumed searching the puzzle piles.

I Wasn’t One of Them

I imagined it all, of course.  We hardly ever talked.  We moved in different circles.  You were sweet and hopeful; I was tired and damaged.  I knew the kind of girls you liked.  I wasn’t one of them.

At the end of the night, I packed up silently and moved to the front door, panning the room lovingly as general social pandemonium commenced.  I stopped when I saw you, standing on the other side directly across from me.  You were watching me, carefully.  I thought I saw a note of sadness in your body language.

But I must’ve imagined it, just like I imagined everything else.  And after all these years, you’d probably have no idea what I’m talking about.  So, if I made you uncomfortable, I’m sorry.

But the shy wave and the silent smile you passed across the room made me think that maybe I didn’t have anything to be sorry about.

When I first wrote this post, I thought I had fewer missed opportunities than I actually had.

But then I thought of another…and another…and another.

And I realized something.

Maybe I need to start taking more leaps of faith.

To be concluded in Pt. 2!

The Search to be Self-aware

When you’re consumed by a new concept, don’t be surprised when you hear about that concept from the least likely of sources.  For me, that concept was being self-aware.  The source?  My job.

Last week, I attended a lecture in which one of my department’s leaders was the speaker.  I wasn’t sure what the lecture would entail, and I went only because another coworker of mine (who had just joined our team a few weeks ago) was attending.

I didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t interested in supporting my people.  After a good internal whine-fest, I smiled and said, “Cool!  You ready to head over?”

Once we arrived at the conference room, we were surprised to see that it was, instead of a large lecture hall, a smaller, more intimate venue designed to hold only about 20 people.  We had run into our leader at the elevator of the building, and she’d laughed with relief to know that some of her team was going to be joining her at the lecture.

The facilitator, a manager from the North America Business Unit of our company, soon began the meeting.  I quickly realized that this “meeting” wasn’t to discuss manufacturing practices or a new trend in the food science industry.  Instead, it was meant to encourage discussion regarding “servant leadership.”

“Leadership,” I’ve heard of.  “Servant leadership,” not so much.

Servant Leaders–What It Means to Self-awareness

I went, as I always do, to Google.  Here was what the top result told me:

Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.

Okay, great.  So…what does that mean?

I read further on the Center for Servant Leadership website, and found out that servant leadership is something of a process.

  1. The Natural Desire:  “It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first”.
  2. The Conscious Choice “Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead…”
  3. The Best Test:  “The best test, and difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons…”

These are the site’s words, but my takeaway is that, perhaps there is a cause you want to provide for.  Or there are people you want to help.  You make a decision to do what you need to do to help them.  Maybe it’s through starting a charity drive, or serving as a mentor to those who need it.

Your work is beneficial.  Your words become influential.  You couldn’t really care less.

You’re not doing any of this for selfish reasons.  You truly want to help, to see others progress and evolve.

At the time of the lecture, I didn’t know any of this.  And yet, one of my leaders was presenting content on this topic.

Being Self-aware and Shaping Yourself

I will honor the main principle of the group’s confidentiality (“What’s said in the circle stays in the circle,” the facilitator started with a smile.).  I will however, say that when my leader spoke, I was surprised by what I heard.  It wasn’t some generic comment about how everyone is important, and believe in yourself, and leading is important, and blah blah blah.

Instead, I heard the story of a human being who, when doors opened for her after college when literally there had been no options before, recognized that she could not and did not want to lose opportunities when they arose.

The first sentence out of her mouth was, “I was the most extreme introvert you could meet.”

My ears perked; she continued. “However, I knew I had to fight through that shell.  There were certain things I wanted to do, and I could not remain in my shell, staying indoors, reading all the time.  I had to change that.”

As she recounted her journey to her current role as a high-profile leader, she paused.  Her speech, laid heavy with her European accent, was calm and soft, but unequivocally layered with natural authority.  “I think we as a people need to put more emphasis on being self-aware.  We don’t spend a lot of time listening to ourselves.

“As we grow, we have to ask ourselves, what do we want to do?  My family–my husband, my child–is scattered across the world; we are truly an international family.  But I had to take this job opportunity and be where I am right now.  If I wasn’t the best of me, I wouldn’t be able to help my family.”

I saw several heads across the room nod.

Self-aware ≠ Selfishness

For someone looking outside of the leader’s family, it could be easy to think, “Oh, you moved halfway across the world away from your husband and son, just to take a job?  That seems a little selfish.”  To me, it seems one of the bravest, most selfless act a person could do.

Our leader did not force her family to move with her to the States.  Her husband had an established routine where he lived, and so did her son.  What would have truly been selfish was if she told them to come with her, or even if she had ended any communication with her husband, perhaps declaring his refusal to leave his job as a slash against their love.

Hers is a strong family, one in which each individual is aware of the life and career he/she is striving to develop.  In this stage of their lives, they must be apart to fulfill this stage.  The separation does not weaken their bond, but rather strengthens it.

Our leader, in her talk, said that her family is everything to her.  It is because they are everything, that she chose to take this job.  Physical distance is exactly that–physical.  The spiritual bond–the love–will remain strong as she grows in this new position and helps reshape our department as best she can.

How Self-aware are We?

I left the presentation with a newfound admiration and respect for my leader, one that I had admittedly wavered on before.  It can be easy to hear someone say, “Oh, he’s a great leader/she’s a great leader.”  But it can be difficult to understand what that means.

Recently, I’ve been told that I would be a good leader.  I’ve had people reach out to me, look at me as if they expect something extraordinary to burst out of me.  If I am housing the unicorn of Alien chest-bursters, it certainly would be new to me.

“What do you want?” I want to scream, feeling awkward and nervous under their anticipation.  “What do you expect me to do?  I’m just me!  I’m nobody!”

I’ve prided myself on being a “super introvert.”  I’ve told people I need my alone time; I need isolation and selective activity.  People “exhaust” me.

Not only that…but people don’t like me.

…They don’t.


I promised myself at the beginning of this year that my life would change not just for the better, but towards a permanent future of amazing, wonderful possibilities.

I meant this promise.  I’m still doing everything I can to keep moving in a direction of physical, spiritual, emotional growth and fulfillment.  But if I am to be truly self-aware, maybe calling myself a (proud) super introvert is not the most flattering aspect of myself.

I am not fully self-aware yet.  I’m still not sure want to do in life, or even what I want out of life.

But, I want to.

I’m trying.

And hopefully, that is moving in the right direction.

To conclude, here is one last quote from my leader, one that really, really resounded with me.

“We have characteristics that shape us, but we shouldn’t let that shape who we want to be.”