At swing dancing a few weeks ago, the following thoughts chased each other in circles:
1) Everybody here is a better dancer than I am, on account of which nobody should pick me to dance with.
2) Almost everybody here is younger and prettier than I am, on account of which nobody should pick me to dance with.
"Do you want to dance?" someone asked.
"I do, but it's my first time here and I know nothing, so you should probably pick somebody else."
He graciously persisted and walked me through the basics, but my response has been rattling around in my head since then: "You should probably pick somebody else." It isn't the only time I have used it, it's just the only time I have used it out loud.
Other job candidates besides me? You should probably pick somebody else.
Other women interested in you? You should probably pick somebody else.
Other options open besides the one I had to offer? You should probably pick one from somebody else.
I'm not going to know the steps. I'm going to trip up. I'm not going to be able to read your mind, or to follow your lead. I'm not going to avoid disappointing you unless I avoid it up front by cutting off your opportunity to be disappointed. You should probably pick somebody else.
"At least I am more interesting than the pretty girls," I realized I was consoling myself, which was grossly unfair to women who might well be kindred spirits beneath all of their good looks. I know a lot of beautiful women who are thoughtful and kind and nerdy.
I can't help my age or my basic level of attractiveness. But I can learn to let myself be caught when I trip up, to laugh my mistakes off, to believe people mean it when they ask me to join them, to value the strengths of others without devaluing my own, to put my heart and soul into the mess of the dance that is life.
(Maybe I'll take those lessons back to the swing dance floor, too.)