Desirables vs. Lovables

Food for Thought @ Izakaya Fuku

Pete and I have known each other since the freshman year in college, but I don’t remember ever going to a Japanese restaurant together. He had specific kinds of food he loved, and didn’t see a good reason to venture outside of them. He is a bit less stubborn these days.

When we were younger, we shared a particular outlook in life that we both realized later was misguided. Pete is legally blind, but since his childhood, he had refused to accept that he was any less capable. He went so far as to study illustration in college.

When I moved to the states in high school, I was determined to be a normal American. When I applied for college, I didn’t bother taking TOEFL, an equivalent of the English part of the SAT for international students. In essence, I applied as a normal American student who happened to score very poorly on the English SAT.

Some may find our efforts admirable but, looking back, we realized that we just had big egos. We didn’t want to accept the cards we were dealt. Pete didn’t make any friends who were visually impaired. I too avoided making Japanese friends. Although we stood out like sore thumbs, we pressed on with our mission to pass as normal.

Such a pursuit has devastating consequences. I became afraid of blowing my cover, which led to social anxiety. For instance, if I managed to act like a normal American guy at a party, I would want to get out of there before I screw it up. The harder I tried to be an apple pie American, the phonier and emptier I felt.

I wanted to be perceived as normal in order to be desirable, but becoming desirable does not necessarily make you lovable. Desire and love are fundamentally different, and in the end, the lovables win. Fashion models do not have an easier time finding love—if anything, it’s harder for them because they have to sift through a lot of noise. To be lovable, you only have to do one thing—gracefully accept whatever you were meant to be, desirable or not, because everyone is lovable to someone. And, those few are all you need and can manage to reciprocate in life.