All of the following things are true about my living situation at this moment:
1. I live in the woods.
2. I live in a dorm.
3. I live with teenagers.
4. I live where I work.
These factors all add up to one rather obvious statement: Eligible men are hard to come by. Unfortunately, that has been a theme for most of my adult life.
When I was in college, I didn’t really date. I studied and I sang and I busted my ass to graduate in eight semesters instead of nine. Looking back, I wish I had let my hair down a little bit more during those four years, but that’s a different story. I wasn’t really interested in the boys at my school — they were nice, and many of them were very attractive, but I also spent most of my time in the music building, and, let’s face it, straight single men weren’t exactly abundant there. And even if they had been, it’s difficult to look and act alluring in 8am ear training class, when you didn’t get to bed until 3am and barely had time to brush your teeth before sprinting out of your dorm, only to be forced to sing Ottman exercises in a croaky morning voice in your shameless attempt for an A. Snagging myself a boyfriend wasn’t really on the top of my priority list while I was up all night memorizing German lieds and practicing my solfege hand signs. (You can’t believe I was single, can you?) Anyway, when I did go out in college, I usually used my gay “boyfriends” (there were plenty) as decoys at the bar so the creepy guy in the corner wouldn’t hit on me. I was a wimp.
The problem is, I never learned how to “meet people.” If you know me, you probably know that I’m frighteningly bad at flirting. I’m pretty introverted, so I’m not good at making smalltalk, batting my eyelashes, and being seductive. In fact, I kind of suck in most social situations unless I’m surrounded by people I already know. Not that I have anything against talking to strangers, I just don’t make the best impression because I never know what to say. If a random guy ever asked for my number, I would think he was kidding, probably say something completely incoherent, and scare him off.
I think the problem is I am too set on falling in love with a friend. I can’t picture myself meeting someone at a bar or on a blind date and then eventually marrying them. I want to fall in love with someone I already know, who means something to me. I know it’s crazy, and looking at my track record, it’s obvious I need to change my approach. I mean, pretty much any person I’ve ever had feelings for has been my friend first. I like getting to know someone, really know them, before I realize that I want to kiss their face. I want to have a classic love story — best friends and then lovers, a la Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly (yes, my whole life is a giant Office reference) — that I can tell my kids about. I want to have memories from “before” we became a couple, when we were just two people who had a great time being friends and spending time together. I want love to grow out of that.
Okay, so if the magical Jim/Pam relationship isn’t going to happen for me, then what is? Am I destined to die alone? I can’t even become the crazy, stereotypical cat lady because I’M ALLERGIC TO CATS. I need to change my game plan. I need to learn how to flirt.
I need to be more comfortable putting myself out there, meeting new people, and not fixating on where things are going. I need to be okay with striking up a conversation about music or books or my weird ass job because I AM AN INTERESTING PERSON, GODDAMNIT. (Right? I mean, if you’re reading my blog, you’re probably a better judge of whether I’m interesting or not…) I just don’t know how to show others that I’m interesting. The other night, one of my coworkers asked me to share a “nugget” of information about myself and I couldn’t think of a single thing to say! I thought to myself, What if this question was being asked by a really attractive guy I had just met? If I can’t even come up with an answer while talking to someone I already know, how am I ever supposed to meet someone new?
I think the problem is that I don’t believe myself to be very interesting to people who don’t know me. I’ve never been the “life of the party” type, or the person who comes up with spontaneous, exciting things to do on a Friday night. I’m more content following the crowd and enjoying the company of the people I am with. I’m horrible at making decisions (probably one of my most frustrating traits, if you ask any of my friends), so I don’t mind other people taking the lead. But I’m still trying to convince myself that that doesn’t mean I’m not an asset to the conversation or the group I am with. A good friend of mine gave me some valuable advice recently. She said, “You need to start taking yourself seriously, otherwise other people aren’t going to either.” She’s completely right. If I don’t believe myself to be interesting, or a worthwhile date, or fun to talk to, then I’m not going to be. I need to boost my self-confidence and learn not to be the shy tagalong anymore, because that’s clearly not getting me anywhere. Except maybe closer to being a cat lady.
…Maybe I’ll start getting allergy shots, just in case.