Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What We Talk About When We Talk About Lace

I have this unhealthy habit of watching The Bachelor. I say unhealthy because I recognize that there's a lot to dislike about the show and its premise. Sure, there are 25 beautiful women and the eye candy factor is a strong appeal to me. But they try to win the affection of someone they barely know, by allowing themselves to be put in awkward situations that no self-respecting person would allow themselves to be placed, to start a very fake relationship with someone that rarely lasts longer than a couple of months beyond the final episode.

So here's a personal confession: I have very conflicted feelings about relationships. One side, the hopeless romantic in me, believes in true love and that there's a soulmate out there for everyone. Then there's the fatalist in me, who is convinced that, given enough time and exposure to each partners' dark side, all relationships are eventually doomed to failure. I guess The Bachelor appeals to each side of my own inner conflict.

The show's producers excel at editing in all the crazy from all the contestants. Most of them are probably very normal, but that wouldn't make good TV so normal interactions hit the cutting room floor. Every season there are a few "stars" who steal the show, who come across as, say, less than normal.

This year one of the early stars was Lace. Lace got a lot of attention by pulling Bachelor Ben aside what seemed like a couple hundred times and complaining that he wasn't paying attention to him, one time even after she had received a rose from him. This led to Lace being the subject of relentless livetweeting, and at one point I tweeted about it as well.

But on Monday night's episode, a funny thing happened on the way to the rose ceremony. Lace pulled Ben aside and told him she was leaving. She said "you can't love someone else until you love yourself."

That hit home with me. There have been times in my life when I didn't love myself and I think that often got in the way in all facets of my life. Learning to love myself is still a work in progress. I think I have much more self-appreciation that I used to, and that's helped me immensely in recent years. But there's a fine line between blind self-love (obliviousness, cockiness, arrogance, or however you want to phrase it) and wanting to improve as a human being, telling yourself, "You know I'm a pretty cool person but I'd be more satisfied with life if I [insert random self-improvement tool here]." I still have things I need to improve in myself, but I'm much happier and healthier than I was a couple of years ago.

Usually The Bachelor is just mind-numbing TV. Last night I felt like I learned something about myself. And it was all because a young lady named Lace changed the course of the conversation, even if only for a couple of  minutes.

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