Sandro was dangerously alluring. There was this aura of confidence about him and he spoke rather poetically. In other words, he knew exactly what women wanted to hear.
At times it came across as slightly arrogant. I was not accustomed to hearing such flattery, especially from someone I had just met. As our conversations progressed, I became more and more wary. In fact, I even started to doubt his intentions of being nothing more than a host during my travels.
We spent the day perusing Milano as a local might. Visiting various shops and even running a few errands. As we made our way back towards the condo I realized that most of the day was spent talking about me. He had many questions about my travels and what life was like as an athlete in Kazakhstan.
It was strange talking about myself. Usually I am the one listening. Perhaps it’s the curious photojournalist in me— but this sudden self-reflection opened my eyes to insecurities that I didn’t realize were weighing down on me: a lack of self-confidence and an underestimation of self-worth. My inability to recognize my own value was holding me back in more ways than I thought.
“Sandro, we have spent the day talking about me quite a bit,” I began curiously. “Can we talk a little about you?”
“Of course.” He encouraged. “Ask anything you want.”
“This morning, you briefly mentioned something along the lines of not feeling good enough. Why is that?”
He frowned. “The way my ex-girlfriend left was cynical. It’s been three years and I still believe that I’m not good enough. I feel like I am not attractive for anyone. If a woman were to look into details, I fear that they might find that I cannot sustain an intimate relationship. These are troubling feelings to be keeping uncultivated. It’s a temporary and insufficient shelter to self-destruct in. I am enjoying life for the minutes now rather than trying to overcome this sense of unworthiness.”
I was surprised by his answer. Confused more or less. I did not expect such a response.
“From what I remember you said three years has passed, are things better now?”
“I would say that I did not mature a lot from my last break up. I aged. Like the expiration date on a bottle of milk. It didn’t work out because I failed to be a complete man. I couldn’t provide what she wanted which was a stable job and future projection. I didn’t have this reserved wealth, something to make her feel more protected. Rather than trying to find a solution she chose to council me from her memories.”
“At my age I find that being satisfied in your business career is a strong pillar for other sides of your character to build onto. I can no longer recognize my life in love and relationship terms. I am trying to compensate my lack of recognition by indulging in a little bit of narcism. I fret that I will have a troublesome future. Perhaps one day I will evolve. Life should be a path of evolution until you die but if I don’t resolve my career, I am afraid I will never evolve to be less narcissistic.”
To some extent, I could relate. His feelings stemmed from an inability to recognize self-worth. A fear that was buried beneath deeply embedded wounds— and although wounds may heal, scars last forever.
I thanked Sandro for our short, yet profound time together. Underneath his charismatic and eccentric self, he was healing. We both were. We both had mountains to climb and obstacles to overcome. These anchors would not be lifted overnight, but life is a journey of self-discovery. A challenge where we will have to to jump over our shadows and face our fears.
I left Milano the next morning relieved to know that I was not alone. Nobody is ever alone.
Actually, far from it.