Going With the Flow

Dating Flow Chart

I checked my outfit in the mirror one last time as I heard Seth’s knock on my door. I’d chosen my knee-length maroon dress with a cropped khaki jacket, hoping I looked cute but not like I was trying too hard.

Seth had called me thirty minutes earlier and asked what I was doing. “Um… eating a quick dinner before bible study?”

He’d called me at 5:15 PM, and our Wednesday night bible study started at 6:30 PM. But even in light of the time crunch, Seth had asked me if I would like to get ice cream before bible study. “I can pick you up; then we can go to bible study together.”

Naturally, I said yes, but a quiet part of my mind was doing the backwards planning: It’s going to take him thirty minutes to get to my apartment in rush hour traffic; then another thirty minutes to get to bible study, which allots us only fifteen minutes to actually eat ice cream if we’re going to be on time.

But of course I didn’t say any of that. I have been coached by ex-boyfriends and ex-fiances alike that I am “too Type A” and come off as unattractive and “unfeminine” when I reveal the inner workings of my planning, detail-oriented mind. So I am learning to bite my tongue as I attempt to go with the flow.

At the sound of his rhythmic knock on my door, I tucked my hair behind my ear and unlocked my front door to open it for Seth. We greeted one another with a hug; then I stepped back and unintentionally looked him up and down. He was wearing a maroon button-down tucked into khaki slacks.

I giggled. “We match,” I told him, gesturing to my own outfit. He smiled in reply before escorting me down the hallway to his truck after I locked the door behind me.

We drove to a Chinese shaved ice shop where they serve bao bing in a variety of unique flavors. Seth and I opted to share a vanilla-flavored “ice cream sundae” topped with bananas, strawberries, almonds and bright blue raspberry whipped cream. Digging our spoons into the tower of shaved ice, we dubbed it the Smurf Sundae, and Seth laughed at me when I stuck out my tongue and asked him if it was turning blue.

We enjoyed relaxed conversation until Seth glanced at his watch and announced that we were definitely going to be thirty minutes late for bible study. Sure enough, we arrived at 7:00 PM, and everyone playfully raised their eyebrows at not only our tardy arrival together but also our matching attire. I saw one of Seth’s friends wink at him, and Seth – not realizing I was watching – grinned in response.

At the time, I was excited; hopeful; cautiously optimistic. But in the weeks that followed – while Seth and I continued to spend time together – he always arranged for us to meet in group settings. We met at a baseball stadium and bought tickets with a group of mutual friends to watch the game together. He didn’t even sit by me until the 7th inning, both surprising and disappointing me. But the very next morning when we went out to lunch after church with some friends, Seth – in front of everyone – asked the waitress to put our two orders on the same check, and I was encouraged again.

The theme of group outings continued right up to the week I went out of the country on a business trip. I had figured three weeks would be plenty of time for Seth to ask me on a date, but as the weekend of my departure approached, I started to wonder if Seth was interested after all. I’d been back in the dating scene for three full weeks, and he’d told me I would know when he asked me on a date. We’d gone out for ice cream one time, but he hadn’t called it a date, and we’d been rushed on our way to bible study. Was he interested or not?

The night before I left on my business trip, Seth had invited me to a birthday party for a friend of his who I didn’t know. I agreed, but about an hour before he was supposed to pick me up, Seth called to let me know he’d just found out there wouldn’t be any other girls at the party.

“That’s okay,” I told him. “You go ahead and spend some time with your guy friends. I can call up my girls to hang out.”

“But I wanted to spend tonight with you,” he told me. I smiled in spite of myself. So he did want to see me before I left!

“Well, I was a female engineer. I’m used to being one of the guys. I can come along if the birthday boy doesn’t mind.”

“Or we could do something just you and me,” Seth countered. “We could go get dinner or something.”

I felt the left corner of my mouth turn upward in a half smile. “Yeah, we could get dinner just us.” What are your intentions here, Seth?

“Okay. Let’s do that then.”

Seth showed up at my apartment thirty minutes later in a button-down shirt tucked into dark blue jeans and cowboy boots. I welcomed him inside, and we hugged hello. As we pulled apart, Seth kept his hands on my waist and looked down into my eyes with a nervous smile. “So… do you want to go on a date?”

My soft smile was immediate. “Yes, please.” I thought you’d never ask.

Authentically Aurora

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Bitterly Brilliant

Painting 2New, breaking research shows that over-thinkers tend to be creative geniuses. Although, in my mind, this study is hardly breaking unless it is breaking the mold that says enthusiastic extroverts are the highest performers. Or breaking the spirit of the insuppressibly happy. Or breaking the glass ceiling that prevents the bitter among us from rising to societal success (while we are still living, of course).

This study by Dr. Adam Perkins of King’s College London has found that anxious personalities plagued by negative thoughts trend toward greater creative problem solving than happy-go-lucky types. Although I appreciate when the scientific method is utilized to back up what we intrinsically know to be true, I think we can all look through history and acknowledge that the Greats of each era suffered for their genius.

Or we can just read through my old blog posts. Or talk to my mother. She has suffered my genius, lo these many years.

selfportraitVincent Van Gogh, iconic Post-Impressionist painter, suffered from severe depression and eventually committed suicide. He wrote to his brother, “I am unable to describe exactly what is the matter with me. Now and then there are horrible fits of anxiety, apparently without cause, or otherwise a feeling of emptiness… at times I have attacks of melancholy and of atrocious remorse.”

Sweden’s Karolinska Institute found that writers are 121% more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder and nearly 50% more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy and Ernest Hemingway all appear to have suffered from clinical depression. Charles is my gloomy groupie, Leo is my caustic comrade, and Ernest shares my melancholy mojo. We are indeed Brothers in Bitterness.

Open TabsThe Karolinska Institute also discovered that creative types tend to have higher levels of schizotypy. *Twitch, twitch* They are less able to ignore extraneous details; their brains do not allow them to filter. As a result, they take in more information than most, exhibiting keen skills of observation.

Think of famous fictional detectives: Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Adrian Monk and Miss Fisher. All of these champions in intuition share a remarkable attention to detail, and this characteristic, coupled with their ability to synthesize vast amount of information, is largely what made them brilliant.

SherlockMasterful detectives see patterns and connections that others miss. According to American psychologist Scott Kaufman, “It seems that the key to creative cognition is opening up the flood gates and letting in as much information as possible because you never know: sometimes the most bizarre associations can turn into the most productively creative ideas.” But the very attention to detail that makes these characters so great also lends itself to bouts of overthinking, anxiety and OCD.

Great inventors through the ages also frequently suffered from a neurotic fretfulness. HigherPerspectives writes, “In a sense, worry is the mother of invention. When you think about it, it makes sense. Many of our greatest breakthroughs through the years were a result of worry. Nuclear power? Worry over energy. Advanced weapons? Worry of invasion. Medical breakthroughs? Worry over illness and death.”

broodingDr. Adam Perkins explained his research, saying: “It occurred to me that if you happen to have a preponderance of negatively hued self-generated thoughts, due to high levels of spontaneous activity in the parts of the medial prefrontal cortex… that means you can experience intense negative emotions even when there’s no threat present. This could mean that for specific neural reasons, high scorers on neuroticism have a highly active imagination, which acts as a built-in threat generator. Cheerful, happy-go-lucky people by definition do not brood about problems and so must be at a disadvantage when problem-solving compared to a more neurotic person… It is easy to observe that many geniuses seem to have a brooding, unhappy tendency that hints they are fairly high on the neuroticism spectrum.”

Anxiety is linked to a stronger imagination. OCD is associated with concentrated skills of observation. Depression is correlated with deep thinking and heightened brain function. People with these traits often exhibit what are perceived to be negative personality patterns as a result of incredibly developed, creative brain function. Like so many things in life, this creative genius is a double-edged sword. “But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.” – Anne Brontë

Authentically Aurora