In Ohio I've never really been hit on by men. It's was a foreign concept for men to be interested in me because I feel I've just always been unattractive enough and dress too strangely to pique their interest. When I moved to New York City, it was shocking to me to be hit on by men because it's something that's never happened. Perhaps it's because I come across sheer thousands of more people in one day than I do in a week in Ohio. Or, perhaps I just had a glow to me because I was so happy in New York. I really don't know (it still perplexes me to this day why men were suddenly so interested in me). But with men's sudden interest in me, I dipped my toes into the world of dating this summer.
Between one five year relationship, taking a good year and a half to get over that, and then dating another for a year... I haven't had much time for casually going on dates. It's a concept so foreign to me and if I think about it, actually kind of funny that at 22 years old I'd really never played the dating game. Both my boyfriends had been from my home town and I knew them before we dated. There really wasn't much of a 'courting' process; we just liked each other and started dating. That was it! So it was perplexing and like a whole new world to go out on these dates with these random guys I met throughout the city this summer.
Some I met on tinder; which my fellow interns at Cosmo dared me to get because they thought it would be a hilarious experience for a girl like me. (turns out they were right). Others I met just out and about where they asked for my number. I learned so much from each guy I went on a date (or two, or three) with. Some were jerks; others were honestly the nicest guys I've ever met. Casually dating this summer was a huge stepping stone for me in the big scheme of helping me further develop who I am as a person. Because it's one thing to be yourself by yourself. Another to be yourself with a solid boyfriend. And a whole other level to be yourself with a strange man whom you're trying to impress.
Some dates I can say I was completely myself, and would let my guard down so the guy could see the real me. Other dates I frustrated myself because I allowed myself to be controlled by the opinions of people who don't matter. I let my insecurities take over. Not necessarily physical insecurities, but personality ones. I've never been confident in my personality because it's not one people naturally gravitate to. It's definitely not a "people person" personality. I don't know how to be funny and I'm incredibly awkward unless I'm engaging in deep, meaningful conversation. When I'm there, I feel comfortable. But if I'm trying to stay afloat in surface level small talk, I find myself quickly drowning in a sea of "they must think I'm boring, odd, unintelligent, and very dull" panic.
I learned quickly after those dates that if I felt like I couldn't be myself with the guy, then he wasn't worth my time. It was an important lesson I took away to not dim my shine down for any man; no matter how insecure I feel. I now know that the right man will see my light and admire me even more for it.
I have a lot of thoughts on my dating experiences this summer. Lots of revelations realized and pieces of advice taken from lessons (sometimes) learned. I feel kinda like Taylor Swift right now if I'm being honest, but I really can't wait to continue sharing the pieces and parts of these moments I had with you all. Dumb as it sounds, dating shaped me so much more as a person because there is no harsher reality of learning about yourself than through boldly making mistakes. Living boldly. Words I never thought would apply to my life. I'm a person who loves routine and safety. By allowing myself to live boldly this summer though, I opened myself to parts I didn't know existed. It felt so incredible to finally reach outside that comfort zone I've trapped myself in.
With much love, Lauren.