He looked into my eyes and told me I was amazing. It was approximately the fourth time he'd said that in the short time we'd known each other. A flag went up in my head. When you've spent so much time abroad, you get used to giving up an air of difference that people are both drawn to and put off by. Over and over I'd seen it play out in my relationships. I started out "amazing" and quickly became unreadable and unknowable. The infatuation and mystery would wear off and all that was left would be me, a person who didn't share their life experience and who didn't understand their references. Someone who is only playing at that initial persona.
Don't get me wrong, I do think I'm amazing. But not because of the charisma I project, but because of all the stubborn women who have come before me. Because I can navigate a new place with relative ease. Because if I get stuck, my mind is already thinking of fifty different ways to solve the problem. Because I will always support my friends in their endeavors. Because I strive to word my opinions in a way that's constructive. Because I don't always succeed. Because I've adapted to more cultures and social norms than I can count. But I don't always get it right. Because I like to push the envelope and challenge the status quo. Because sometimes I talk too loud and too fast.
When people say I'm amazing they usually mean that I'm attractive and charming. I've cultivated my social butterfly persona over the years. But that's not why I'm amazing, that's just an illusion.
So when he told me I was amazing, I wondered. Did he really see me? Or was I on a pedestal that I would eventually fall off of.