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!