Dating sucks, a lot.
There is the constant fear of rejection, the let downs of highly-anticipated dates that do not go well. There is the disappointment you feel when you check the four different dating sites you’re on and no one has looked at your profile, and the confusion when you get ghosted and for the life of you, you cannot figure out why. There is the vulnerability of putting yourself out there and not knowing if anyone will love you as you are.
But there is the wonderful feeling of first kisses, the butterflies in your stomach when the cute guy or girl across the bar smiles at you. There is the excitement of putting together an outfit for a date or seeing a new message from a match on your profile.
Writing sucks a lot, too.
There is the constant fear of rejection, that no one will like your work and no one will publish it. There is the frustration of putting your work out there and seeing that no one has read it and not knowing why it’s not showing up in online searches. There is the vulnerability of putting your innermost thoughts that you spent hours pouring over and editing out for the world to read, not knowing if anyone will appreciate them.
But, there is the high of seeing that someone has read your site, the rush that comes when you get a new idea for a piece. There is the gratification that comes when one person tells you they like what you wrote.
Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
I wasn’t very good at dating in my teens and early twenties because I had a hard time putting myself out there. I didn’t want to be vulnerable because I was so sure that I would be rejected. Or worse, I wouldn’t be initially rejected, but then I would end up being a bad kisser (or, as I got older, bad in bed) and then I would be rejected, and that would be even worse. Sure there were mild flirtations and awkward hookups, but nothing that ever amounted to a real relationship. And even though I felt safe and protected, it was also lonely I knew I wanted more.
So in my mid-twenties, I decided to do something about it. I went to therapy for my issues with anxiety. I used my then-latent writing muscles to craft the best possible description of myself and I set up dating profiles on multiple sites, including ones where I had to pay. I even worked with a matchmaker for a little bit. I went on some good dates, and a lot of bad ones, and I learned about myself and what I wanted in the process. I invested time and money into the process of dating, rather than just waiting for it to happen to me.
And, eventually, I got what I was looking for. I met my fiance three years ago, and we’re getting married in the Fall. The awkward dates and different people I met helped create the person I am today, the person I bring to my relationship. I have no idea what the future will bring for us, but for now, I am happy living in the moment and happy to call the process a success for me.
So where does writing come into this? Writing was actually something I considered myself good at from early childhood. I always received good grades on writing assignments, and got positive feedback leading from teachers. Writing felt natural, fun, easy. I went to college and majored in English with a focus in creative writing.
And that’s when things got tough. I had classmates with more original ideas than I did, whose skills were more honed. One professor did not hold back in his criticism of my work. I was crushed. Instead of bouncing back and learning from it, I retreated into myself and turned away from writing, just like I was doing with dating and relationships.
But recently, something feels like it’s been missing. Words have been flying around my head, trying to get my fingers to type them out, to make sentences and thoughts come together on the page. And it’s been terrifying but exhilarating.
I know what I want, now. I want to write again, and I’m willing to put in the time and effort now to do it. I’m writing drafts of my pieces rather than giving up when I get discouraged. I am taking classes and talking with other writers and learning from them. I am even putting myself out there by posting this and starting my own blog. I am investing in the process more than I ever have before, and I love it.
At the moment, I don’t know how I’m defining “success” with my writing. For now, it might just be doing it every day, putting some stuff out there for feedback that I can use to grow. When it came to dating, my definition of success was finding a long-term partner, somehow, through a combination of luck and persistence, I did. But that doesn’t mean that it will last or always be happy. Dating and relationships require work, and practice, and learning. Just like writing. Maybe the work I did to get comfortable with dating is helping me here, maybe not. All I know, is that I’m excited to start.