Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!
So with 2020 finally out of the way and with 2021 here to give us more opportunities to better ourselves, I realize that in leaving 2020, I wanted to keep something up that I actually started last year!
… I started dating!
Late last year, I started to feel like I wanted to meet new people and challenge the fear I had about potentially getting into territory that requires… liking people in a romantic matter. Nevertheless, I felt like I needed to make that leap of faith and just downloaded an online dating app. And the rest is history.
I won’t lie; actually sitting down to create the online dating profile in the first place was the most anxiety-producing thing. I just felt like I wasn’t going to have people interested in me and that I was just going to be sitting on the app with no success. My best friend gave me the courage to just face that fear and go for it, because honestly what could I possibly lose? So one day on my way home from work, I sat on the bus, downloaded the app, and made the profile.
I got some matches here and there and spoke to a couple of people, but nothing really came of it. There was this one guy I matched with that actually wanted to meet and hang out, and while I was excited and nervous to have my first official date as a single person, at the end of the night it wasn’t a match and we went our separate ways. Since then, it’s been more of a miss than a hit, but I’m not stressed out about it.
The more I got around to the app and starting to experiment around it, I got less anxious and nervous engaging in conversations with people that I matched with. Sure, you don’t know these people, but the sole purpose of being on this app is to meet people!
I’m specifically on an app but allows me to write whoever I matched first, which in all reality has been helping me get over my fear of speaking to new people.
But, I can’t say dating has been the cure to my social anxiety; as a matter of fact, dating has been challenging my anxiety in ways that I haven’t seen in a really long time.
For starters, having those social cues that I haven’t been able to have in public due t the pandemic was interesting. My first date was awkward at first just because I didn’t pick up on the social cues in the beginning; i would stop talking randomly or just seem very tense and distracted and just in my head for the entire date. The same thing with writing the messages first: it causes me so much anxiety to think of something to say to these matches and to be able to keep up with them is just one of the hardest things to do, especially if they just aren’t willing to keep up the conversation with you in the first place.
Nevertheless, I am learning that this dating scene doesn’t measure my level of attractiveness and my ability to be liked on these apps. It doesn’t measure if I’m a good catch or not, it doesn’t determine whether or not something is wrong with me if no one is swiping with me; it literally means nothing at all but the fact that someone saw your profile and decided to either swipe left or right on you; nothing else.
Sometimes, I have to tell myself that.
As we speak, I have been somewhat taking a break from swiping and actively being on the app just because my mental health hasn’t been the greatest lately and before I can take care of someone else, I have to take care of myself. Although sometimes I allow my anxiety to believe these stereotypical things like “guys aren’t swiping on you because you’re a fat girl” or “you’re too boring and old, no one wants you”, I try my best to remember that I don’t have to take this seriously, and whatever comes from it, comes from it.
Personally, dating for me has helped me improved some areas of my social anxiety, but it also enhances some areas of it as well; that’s just what comes with the whole anxiety thing. Again, it’s about not allowing it to stick with you and make you believe that you are incapable of trying new things, finding and experiencing love, and just being a damn woman in her mid-20’s.
My anxiety can tell me whatever it wants about dating and the new people that come in my life… either way, I’m allowing these experiences to teach me instead of holding me back.