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I’m Engaged to A Practice Date: Take A Chance And Change Your Life

I met my fiancé on a “practice date.”

That’s right.  I had just gotten back into the swing of things, been burned by a couple of other D-bags after my horrible breakup 8 months prior, and was not really looking forward to the whole dating process.

Let me let you in on something: dating is on the list, Top 5 Things Amy Loathes.

I’d much rather have met someone organically through a class, through a friend, or some other way that felt less forced.

Let’s take it back a bit here.

Warning: long intro, big payoff at the end.  Stick with me here. ;)

After that last breakup that chewed me up and spit me out, I realized how important finding love really was to me.

I wanted someone in my life that made me feel loved, beautiful, and comfortable in my own skin.  I wanted someone that was encouraging and supportive, that challenged me to be the best person I could be.  I wanted someone that pushed me to reach my full potential without pressuring me to do it.

But something hadn’t been working.  The guys I’d been meeting were jerks, or turned out to be jerks.

One date was with a guy that I met at a party in Hollywood.  I know, I know- that should have been enough to inform me of his douche-baggery.  We went on a hike a couple weeks later after a blah-coffee-date (I figured everyone’s worth 2 chances, right?).

I guess he wanted to show off how good at hiking he was, but I couldn’t tell you either way because he left me at the bottom of every steep hill we came to.  At least he waited at the top for me.  I was pretty surprised when he asked to hang out again.

I ended up being really busy… for the rest of my life.

I realized after my history of unsupportive boyfriends and horrible dates, that something wasn’t working the way I had been doing it.  I always ended up with a mess.

This was when I sat down with myself and looked at the way I had been meeting guys and why I had been choosing to stay in relationships.

I tended to choose people that filled in my self-esteem holes, or justified the way I felt about myself.

They either validated me by worshipping the ground I walked on, or told me to suck it up and get over it (I had an issue with the bad boys for a while).

Since I had worked so long on learning to love myself and boost my self-esteem, I realized I didn’t need that anymore.

I don’t want anyone to make me their world.  I don’t want to make anyone else my world.  I just wanted to grow with someone, and enrich their world as much as they did mine.

These qualities in a relationship became my priority and I caught myself when I would start to get sidetracked.

So choosing was out of the way.  Now came the act of meeting someone.

Oh balls.  If what I was doing wasn’t working?  It meant I had to try another avenue that I wasn’t used to.

I had to go out on a limb, make myself vulnerable, and try something new.

So when a friendly acquaintance of mine reached out on Facebook to set me up with a guy that said I’d come up as a recommended friend, I wavered, fought a little with myself, and said “Sure, I guess.”

What’s the harm in it?  You’re meeting in a public place for a late lunch that you can just run out of if you need to, or make a scene if he turns out to be a creepo.

This will be a practice date.  Get you ready for the real thing.

Going on that date was one of the best decisions of my life.

By taking that chance, by opening that door to something I’d never done before, I found the man I never thought I’d meet and fell crazy in love with him.

Ever since, it’s been an amazing ride full of adventure and joy.

I look back and see what I was so afraid of: wasting my time with another jerk; falling for the wrong guy again; getting my heart broken for the millionth time.

I weigh it with this outcome and know that all that risk was worth it.

Every road, every relationship gone bad, every date that made me want to claw my eyes out led me to this.  I learned from every one of those failures what I do and don’t want out of life.  What is important to me became evident from what I’d lost or had never gotten.

So how can you take this lesson and run with it?

This lesson is about taking a chance, going outside your comfort zone and trying something new to allow happiness in.

If you’re aiming for a goal and have not yet achieved it, you need to take a look at your tactics.  Something you’re doing isn’t working.

By trying something new, you expand your options and open up doors to possibilities that you haven’t yet seen.

Are you struggling to lose weight, or trying to crest that plateau you’ve been stuck on for the last month or so?  Try a new activity or piece of equipment that you haven’t used yet.  If you’re an elliptical-junkie, try walking on the treadmill on an incline.  If you’re a runner, try swimming.  Try lifting weights in a different rep/set scheme with lighter or heavier weight than what you’re used to.  Try taking a bootcamp class or joining a CrossFit gym to push yourself into new results.  Even if you’re intimidated, or think something looks ridiculous, who knows?  You might fall in love with it.

If you want to meet new friends, but are shy, try signing yourself up for a sports team or a Toastmasters club.  I signed up for kickball a couple years back and it was a blast!  Toastmasters is a great way to get more comfortable speaking in front of other people and to meet new people!  It’s scary, I know, but are you going to go your whole life saying “No,” because it scares you?

If you want to find happiness, but you keep feeling pulled down by anxiety or depression, consider some other avenues to gain freedom.  Have you tried all of these things: aerobic activity such as running, walking or swimming; meditating even if for just 10 minutes a day; talking to a therapist that specializes in mood disorders; journaling to find out your triggers, and then addressing them; joining a support group so you can talk to others that can sympathize directly with what you’re going through?  If not, give them a shot- you don’t know what works for you until you experience it first-hand.

If the life you want isn’t the one you’re currently living, change is inevitable.  Why not do it now?

Say “yes” to life, to taking risks, and to the possibilities you don’t even know exist yet.

The next job interview you take that you’re feeling shaky about could turn out to be the one that gives you the freedom you’ve always dreamed of.  That ballet-inspired class that you always shake your head at could be the answer to those last couple inches off your waist.  And that date you want to think of every excuse not to go on could turn out to be the person that was made just for you.

“Practice dates” come around just about every week, if not every day.  The ones that change your life are the ones to which you say “Yes.”

What’s one “practice date” that you’re going to say yes to this week?  Have you begrudgingly tried something new and been amazed by the results?  Please share!

photo 1 by me, photo 2 by Capture Of Dreams, photo 3 by <<saigerowe>>, photo 4 by kretyen and adapted by me, photo 5 by the practice date ;)

9 Responses to “I’m Engaged to A Practice Date: Take A Chance And Change Your Life”

  1. Benny says:

    Congrats again! That’s a great story of how you two met.

    One thing I tried out of my comfort zone was joining a kickboxing class when I lived in Taipei. I had known about it for so long, but didn’t join even though they welcomed anyone. It was run by a Danish kickboxer and had a bunch of foreigners and some locals. Finally one day, after more than six months, I said I needed to do this. I wanted to make some friends and really thought kickboxing would be an amazing workout.

    I had no good reason NOT to join. I was just nervous about joining a new group and getting out of my comfort zone. Even that night I decided to finally go, I said I’ll go and could always turn around if I wanted to.

    It turned out to be one of the best things I had ever done. Everyone was so nice of course. I had the best workout twice a week. We’d go out sometimes on the weekend. I went to my first club since college! I thought I hated clubs, but I really liked them! At least the ones in Taipei.

    The second time we went to a club, I met this cute girl who I danced with and kissed at the end of the night. Three years later we got married!

    So if it wasn’t for getting out of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have had the best time of my life and met my wife!

    • Amy says:

      What an amazing story, Benny! That is a perfect example of how taking a chance can reward you ten-fold.

      I am actually trying to find a martial arts class to take here as well. I’m thinking kung fu or Wushu. Not quite sure yet.

  2. Mary Hartley says:

    Okay, so this morning, before I’ve washed my face, I read your very cute blog and I got this note from The Universe: “Get out, get out, get out even more! Because there are people you’ve yet to meet, laughs you’ve yet to share, stories you’ve yet to live, and riches you’ve yet to tap into, that will not find you under any other circumstances. Besides, how else can I shower you with surprises?” (Do you subscribe to TUT?) Anyway, it looks like you’re in sync with The Universe. Gotta get out now. Thanks for the blog. Have a great day!

    • Amy says:

      Yes, Mary! Perfect! I’m so glad I was that kick in the behind this morning! ;)

      I’m not sure what you mean by “TUT.”

      Go! Get out and experience life to the fullest! :)

  3. Eva says:

    So I woke up this morning feeling BLAH for no reason. Well then I got your blog post in my rss feed and I couldn’t help but smiling while reading your story.
    I too had some pretty horrible dating experience and you pretty much summed it up
    ” I tended to choose people that filled in my self-esteem holes, or justified the way I felt about myself.”
    Yes! That was me :) I was going from one relationship to another, Different men but the same story. Then I read somewhere that we keep repeating the same lessons in life until we truly learn the lesson.
    So when I broke up with my ex bf few months ago, I realized that instead of wasting my energy on drama or anger, I could use all that time and focus to improve my life. The only sacrifice I had to make is a commitment to change.
    I also like taking chances in life and getting outside of our comfort zone. The comfort zone is where we feel somewhat safe but we are also stuck and that’s for me the worst feeling ever….

    Anyways, CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement, Amy! Only the best for the future and keep us posted about your wedding plans :)

    • Amy says:

      “I realized that instead of wasting my energy on drama or anger, I could use all that time and focus to improve my life. The only sacrifice I had to make is a commitment to change.”

      I’m doing a standing ovation over here! That is a PERFECT way to look at life!

      Thank you so much, Eva! Oh wedding plans. All I know is I’m going to try to keep it cheap… then go on an elaborate honeymoon! ;)

  4. Marvin says:

    Love this post! Life really is about taking chances, and it’s so beautiful to watch two people do that in style. This post was so inspiring, and filled with so many nuggets of wisdom. Especially like the part about making happiness possible by getting out of your comfort zone.

    Too many of us wallow in what we’re not happy about in our lives, when the solution is to interrupt that pattern so that a space opens up for happiness.

    Congratulations to you both. We knew when we met you at WDS that you were headed for this, and we are so happy and excited for you as a new chapter unfolds in both your lives!

    • Amy says:

      Thank you so much, Marvin!

      “Too many of us wallow in what we’re not happy about in our lives, when the solution is to interrupt that pattern so that a space opens up for happiness.”

      I think you said it perfectly there. The pattern is so easy and comfortable to follow… even if we end up in the life we told ourselves we’d never lead. The solution is truly to catch yourself, stop, and start creating the life you want.

  5. […] I’m Engaged to A Practice Date: Take A Chance And Change Your Life A terrific story about the benefits of practice by Amy Clover of Strong Inside Out. “By trying something new, you expand your options and open up doors to possibilities that you haven’t yet seen.“ […]

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