When I chose the topic of this article, I was over dating and single. I wanted to share my naïve journey of going through Tinder dates like going through packets of vinegar crisps (they’re delicious and no one can tell me otherwise!) and hopefully finding the perfect match online. What a realistic goal to have. There’s nothing strange or shallow about judging whether to swipe right or left based on their profile picture and zodiac sign and hoping for them to tick all the boxes of requirements for the perfect man.
I know, I know, that love is a lot to ask from a dating app that has been notorious for being full of easy girls and douchebags. But let me tell you, I’ve heard some stories. My friend Becky found a boyfriend without even trying and they’ve been together for a year. My best friend moved in with her new “bae” after two weeks of dating and they’ve been going strong for months now. How did they do it? I have no idea. All I knew was that there was a small chance of it working out.
I wasn’t as naive as I used to be. I wasn’t dreaming of a gorgeous young boxer who could sing, play the guitar, work out, love photography, cats, Rick and Morty, and was handsome as hell. I might have just been happy enough with someone who could make me laugh and support my dreams and goals in life.
However, I was still lonely and desperate to meet new people. I kind of hoped my new job would be full of ripped guys I could get to know. It turned out that most of them were already married. Couldn’t blame them, if I could be married, I probably would have been too. So back to my point. I downloaded the app. And oh my, was I reeled in.
My already low standards at the time dropped even lower when I started slobbering over the fishermen and fitness junkies who didn’t even bother to fill in their bio. I laughed over the audacity of some men and fell for the promises of others. I felt my mood swing based on whether my match replied, if I even got a match or they just lost interest after I replied that sending nudes was not how I rolled.
I felt like a failure. Keeping to any sort of standard was frowned upon, and any time I went with a guy I would be boring, timid, or frigid for not giving them what they wanted (a night of “bliss”, or so they thought, was their end goal), or I naively hoped that one of them would realize I’m quite cool and would want to see me again. My standards dropped so low I started hanging around just for the company even though they wouldn’t dare introduce me to their friends. I once waited in a foreign town for five hours hoping for the son-of-disgrace to turn up for our date.
Let me tell you, ladies and gents, Tinder was not for me. I felt drained of all my hopes and dreams of what a relationship could be like, and I felt more like an object than a respectable human being. My talents, opinions, work, school and goals were nothing but conversation fillers and certainly nothing to be proud of.
I deleted Tinder and drowned myself in chocolate, ice cream and rom-coms, and the belief that I would never find love again. I gained 10 kilograms over a year of being alone (not counting the other 10 before this charade) and gave up on myself. Any feeling of loneliness was worked out on our building site as I carried bricks and stones and gulped down pints of beer, sausages, chips, and cheap wine. I was a Rambo builder who couldn’t be messed with because my fragile ego was wrapped in a snug comfort blanket of muscles bathing in chunky pillows of sorrow.
I let myself go. Any minimal interest sparked hope in my eyes and I still fell for men that gave me the bare minimum of human decency.
One day as I was walking my dogs, I took out my phone and started recording. I started talking to myself. “I have to stop giving my time to people who don’t appreciate it. I mustn’t rely on other people to be the source of my happiness and to plan events I can go to. I should be the creator of my own happiness. I can narrate my actions. I ought to be the main character in my life, making every day precious. My life choices are in my hands and I simply cannot be a mere observer of other people’s highlight reels on social media.” I wasn’t happy, and no one else could be the source of my joy if I could not love and accept myself first.
Your vibe attracts your tribe.
I spent the next few months contemplating my habits and attitude towards others. I could not blame anyone for my being surrounded by people who did not inspire me if I myself was not inspiring. It was my comfort zone. I felt comfortable not being the dumb one in the group. But if I wanted to change, I had to start challenging myself mentally. And sometimes hanging out with a more intelligent group would get through my walls and my ego, so that I could learn something new.
I started creating. I tried out modelling. Suddenly I didn’t need a person’s validation, a number on the scale, or a number of likes to dictate how I felt about myself. I was in awe of how many people I helped by starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. They shared their own stories and troubles with me. I started inspiring. I got my priorities in order. I started to be a little more bearable to be around because my attitude changed. My circle of friends got smaller but better.
I peaked around a month ago. I felt proud to be working at my current job. I nurtured my body and gave it the love that it so desperately craved. I was stable, having moved to a different town and focused on myself. I started giving dance classes. My body thanked me by returning to a healthy weight. My skin was glowing. I was strong-minded and grateful. I was grateful for the roof over my head, my family, friends, my life choices. I opted for calmness over chaos. The opinions of others didn’t bother me. I wasn’t afraid to hear constructive criticism from the people I valued to better myself. I wasn’t hoping for a miraculous man in a BMW to sweep me off my feet and for me to drop everything I care about to be with someone. I was on my path. And only someone who was willing to accompany me on my journey was welcome to join.
I don’t believe in your “other” half. You are a respectable and intelligent human being who can fend for herself. Your life can be complete without anyone making up for something that you might not have. And with that belief, I wake up every morning. I enjoy my own company. I do not need parties or alcohol to distract me from any problems that I might be facing. I deal with them head-on. I love to socialize, but I don’t seek out attention. I enjoy it, but I don’t let it affect me in a negative way.
But “Quelle surprise”!! I’m in a relationship. It happened the moment I stopped hoping for a miracle, the second my standards were so high I was over anyone who would only waste my time. I started working on myself so much that I didn’t need a man because I had built for myself the confidence of a strong independent woman (I know it’s cheesy, but I love the phrase). He is actually everything I ever dreamed of, and I am grateful to have someone like him by my side. But I haven’t sacrificed my life. I have stayed authentic to myself and I continue to thrive in my career and personal life. I still have “me time”. I can work on my projects, be creative, and have someone who supports me and accepts me the way I am. He doesn’t like vinegar crisps, but that is a flaw I can live with.
I hope you do not give up on your dreams. I needed this phase of uncertainty and challenge to truly find myself and not be defined by anything other than my own perception of myself. And whether you are on the other side of the mountain, or still wondering whether to climb, I hope you take a leap of faith to become the version of yourself that you deserve. Once you do, great things will follow.