“Wait, why aren’t you dating the smart guy?” my friend asked me. “I thought you like smart guys.”

“I do,” I told her. “But I just don’t feel like I’m good enough for him.”

The truth was, I was afraid.

I was afraid that he’d turn out to be like my ex and use his wits to manipulate me into doing something I didn’t want to do. I was afraid he’d make me feel bad for mistakes that weren’t my fault to begin with.

Because of my past relationship, I had somehow come to associate ‘smart’ with ‘cunning’ and ‘manipulative’.

Looking back now, I wish I could’ve told myself how naive I had been for thinking that way.

The problem wasn’t dating a smart guy — it was me.

I had wanted to set the bar intentionally low without realizing that I was really just limiting myself from aiming higher.

And the thing is, when you lower your expectations to avoid a certain fear or an issue, you stop yourself from progressing. You’re telling yourself that it’s okay having what you get, when really in that situation, you should aim to become better.

Just because we’re scared now or we can’t keep up doesn’t mean it’ll always be that way.