What I needed was a reorientation of focus. I wanted to see myself, not through the Official david rose free hugs just kidding dont touch me shirt but in fact I love this imagined gaze of a prospective lover, but shorn of that persona entirely. If I were not a lover, not the pursued or adored or obsessed or idealized or depended upon, then who might I be? It was a surprisingly frightening thought. Even as a lifelong feminist and queer femme, I had spent my whole life estimating my value in large part by my appeal to others. I knew, intellectually, that a self-esteem generated in the eyes of others is no kind of self-esteem, but it was reliable, nonetheless. I knew exactly how to get that kind of infusion. When I mentally subtracted the mirrors of lovers, my self-conception went a little fuzzy
It was challenging at first. I caught myself scanning rooms, or the Official david rose free hugs just kidding dont touch me shirt but in fact I love this contacts in my phone. After the first month, that instinct relaxed. Then, the criteria that governed my activity began to shift. There was no longer any reason to attend certain parties. I stopped wearing makeup (mostly) and began wearing sneakers to evening events. What did I care what my silhouette looked like? My evenings at home became richer and less predictable now that I spent them alone.