Danielle, 28 years, Canada
The personal challenge I am facing at the moment is meeting new people and being more social, more specifically – to start dating. This is something I have never done before and I feel very uncomfortable doing it. I have faced quite a few challenges in my life so far but this one is particularly hard for me. I went to university, ran in marathons and travelled the world by myself, all cool experiences. But meeting new people and dating men freaks me out. I never know how to speak to them and what I am supposed to say. What am I supposed to feel and when am I supposed to feel it? And what if I don’t feel it at all? Is it me? My biggest fear though is that I will never get to the point I want to be. I wish for my future self to be in a fulfilling relationship and even have kids at some point in my life. Since this is so difficult for me already, does it get easier later on? And what if it doesn’t?
Because of these doubts I used to avoid these situations very successfully in the past. But now I feel it is time and therefore I have been making a lot of personal changes to conquer those exact fears. I am hoping to be in a place where I grow comfortable and where I might find someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. Luckily, I have a lot of support around me to help me deal with the uncertainties and who encourage me to be brave. My family and friends are helping by pushing me slowly in the right direction. So far I have signed up with an online dating profile and I am talking to different people. I have met some men already. Honestly, at the beginning I didn’t want to do it at all. I needed a lot encouragement from the people around me. I schedule 15 minutes a day on the dating website and I had to read every single message out loud to make sure it sounds ok what I was writing. I was not confident enough to just answer the E-Mail’s myself. I always needed someone with me I could ask what I should answer with. For example, if someone asked for my phone number but I didn’t feel I was ready to just hand it out. I needed someone I could consult to find out how to form my answer without pushing the other person away. At the beginning this was really stressful for me. But now I am getting to a point where it’s getting easier. I am not reading the messages out loud anymore and I gave my phone number to people and I actually went on dates later on.
I have been doing this for over 4 weeks now and I feel good about it. At the beginning I did not expect that I would move so fast and I am happy that it’s getting easier. It makes me feel a lot more confident about myself. When I first started I couldn’t imagine going out and actually meeting somebody for coffee and having a date. It was a really uncomfortable and scary feeling. But now I am a bit more relaxed. I also noticed that I am feeling much more comfortable with my own thoughts. I am starting to trust my gut when I think about who I want to meet and who I think doesn’t match my personality. When I first started I had the feeling I had to respond to every message I received. I had to learn how it feels to not be interested in somebody. After a few weeks now I can quickly decide for myself if I like talking to the other person by just looking at their profile or checking their message. I don’t have to feel guilty about it anymore to just not be interested. A more difficult task is to figure out what am I looking for in a partner though. I remember the first man I wrote which asked me what I expect from my partner and what am I looking for in a relationship. How am I supposed to know? I mean I have never been in a relationship before right. So I am totally clueless. Still. I think for now I would be happy to just feel comfortable dating. I am not even at the point where I think about my relationship goals. But that is ok too.
The whole experience feels like a ride in a roller coaster. Sometimes I hate what I am doing and sometimes I am proud of myself. I am aware that I don’t know what I am doing. This scares me and makes me very nervous. But I am still going for it because I know it’s the only way to get where I want to be. I start feeling better about myself and I am proud of myself that I am stepping out of my comfort zone. What I did though is setting myself a time frame. If I still feel the same way in 2 years about dating, I will stop. I will give myself time to adjust to the new situation but I won’t force myself to do this forever if it doesn’t make me happy.
My advice for everyone who is facing a similar challenge is to face your fears. Take it at your own pace! But know that you have to push for the next step. If you don’t you might not get to the next level and therefore you will never move forward. I have spoken with men online before and I thought that it was good. But I needed encouragement to move to the next step and to actually meet those men. Do what you feel good with but also accept the fact that sometimes it will feel uncomfortable when you move forward. And that is ok.