The arm rub made an impression on me, and it made an impression on me because it made an impression on me. Because I thought I had my self-esteem in order, you see. I thought I was generally happy with who I was, or at least happier. But yet, attention from a pretty woman still validated me, still made me feel better.
And I wondered why. Why it mattered that she rubbed my arm, why it mattered that she was pretty. What did it say about me that I needed external validation from someone I found attractive? Intellectually, I knew it didn't mean she found me attractive; it was just a friendly gesture. But maybe emotionally, I didn't care. She was nice and friendly and liked libraries; it's not like her appearance was the only positive thing about her. So why was I so focused on it? Especially when, seriously, any woman I just met who hugged me and rubbed my arm would set off my inner "Aw, shucks."
In discussions following the original post, I came to the realization that I have been told I'm SMART my whole life. By this point, I hardly believe it, it's been so instilled in me. I don't want people to tell me I'm smart anymore. I want them to tell me I'm HOT because that's what I'm not used to hearing. So then it would make sense that I would consider people I think are hot to be the keenest arbiters of whether or not I am hot. It might make sense. We all know there's definitely, definitely, definitely no logic to human behaviour.
I also realized that my original post was basically a callback to this post from three years ago, ironically titled "Not a Pretty Boy." In case you were wondering whether men had the same beauty issues as women.
And it turns out I'm still that same guy from three years ago. Am I dysfunctional? Is it okay to be pleased by the beauty of people? Why should a particularly pretty woman have any more power over me than another? I'm still the same person regardless. Of course, we seek validation from all kinds of sources: funny people, popular people, famous people, rich people, etc. We want people who have what we want to tell us that we are just as good as they are.
It's a silly, sad system, but I don't know how any of us can get around it. Is it just human nature?
The discussions inspired by my post caused me to question myself and my motives and how I felt, drudging up issues I thought I had long since resolved. In an attempt to reaffirm my identity, I end with words I wrote five years ago almost to the day:
I'm feeling strangely content with who I am, faults and all. I'm a romantic and an asshole, an idealist and a cynic, a hero and a loser, smart and stupid, sweet and spiteful, thoughtful and lazy. Word to your mother.