I Learned The Truth About Love At Happy Hour — When I Was 12

Shirley Temple drink
Love, Self

It's not as weird as it sounds.

After reading the headline to this article, you're probably like, "What the heck?" Exclamation point. Exclamation point.

I get it — most kids don't spend a lot of time at happy hour (probably not any?). But when I was a kid, I did. It's not what you think, though. I wasn't getting boozy at the bar in middle school. My drink — Shirley Temple, extra maraschino cherries — was as virginal and innocent as me. I was there because my single mom liked to grab drinks with her girlfriends a couple of nights a week and didn't want to leave me at home alone.

I didn't have many friends growing up, nor did I care to hang out with people my age. I've always been an old-soul — every person I met as a child felt the need to let me know. So adults always felt comfortable talking to me about adult things, and that's why my mom's friends weren't weirded out by a twelve-year-old at Happy Hour, doing math homework and eating way too much of the free bar food. (One of my mom's favorite spots in our native Dallas had free wood-fired pizzas. I mean, come on. I was basically like, "You can just bring me a whole one.")

Little did I know, those nights at Happy Hour with my mom and her friends would lend themselves to some pretty great dating advice I could use in the future. My mom was single, as were her friends, so what did they talk about at Happy Hour (and all the time)? Men. And dating.

Hearing them b*tch and moan about the guys they were dating, how they couldn't find a guy to date, how they didn't feel attractive, blah blah blah … I accidentally retained a lot of information (because a lot of the times I was just pretending to do my math homework).

The main dating lesson from Happy Hour: "Don't waste the pretty." Remember that book-turned-lame-movie He's Just Not That Into You? Well, my mom and her friends were OBSESSED with it. I mean, they treated it like the Bible and Greg Behrendt was the Messiah. For about a year, the audio book blared through the car stereo everywhere we went, with my mom and her friends shouting "Yes!" to every line that resonated. (Sometimes drifting the conversation to more ramblings about the jerks in their lives.)

One of Greg's biggest messages and most quotable lines in the book is "Don't waste the pretty," which really is a great message. You're a beautiful woman, so why would you waste your gorgeous looks on a man who doesn't appreciate them? "Don't waste the pretty" is my mom's eternal motto — she even bought the t-shirt. And wore it during one of our annual mother-daughter photoshoots.

To go along with not wasting the pretty, look presentable every time you leave the house (because you never know who you'll meet)! What if Mr. Right is also looking for over-priced organic chicken at Whole Foods — and you look like you just rolled out of bed? To this day, when I visit my mom, she still makes sure I comb my hair, wear real pants and put something on my lips before I leave the house. (It really does make you feel more confident to get a little put together.)

Listening to a group of women go on (and ON) about their dating woes, I realized one major flaw: they didn't seem to love themselves. So one of my biggest takeaways is love yourself and love will find you. If you're confident and love yourself, people will notice. Men will notice. A lot of my mom's friends focused too much on having a boyfriend in their lives and not enough on self-love. They let having a man by their side determine their worth and lost sight of themselves in the madness of chasing love. Even a 12, I knew I didn't want that for myself.

Lastly, those nights at Happy Hour sipping my Shirley Temple taught me to just keep calm. Dating and falling in love should be fun!

These days, I still go to Happy Hour — I just like a little Smirnoff in my Shirley. My soul is still old, and I'm happily committed to a man I love. It's easy with him, but even before he came into my life, I didn't put too much pressure on myself to date.

I kind of feel like I dated all those years with my mom and her friends, too.

And it was exhausting.