I hate dating so much, you guys

I once wrote a 20-page paper on how much I loathe the modern paradigm of dating for my couples counseling class in grad school. I wrote it in one sitting, at my kitchen table in my loft apartment in Boone, while eating chicken alfredo and I didn’t even edit it. I just hit save and made it APA format and sent that sucker in, typos and all. The only A- I ever made in grad school was from the professor who looked me in the eye one day and told me I needed to leave the program because she thought my mental illness would impair me too much in the field, so that 3.96 was never gonna turn back into a 4.0 anyway, really. Hashtag risks.

Anyway.

My high school friends talk to me all the time about their breakups and love qualms and all of that stuff and something I always say is “hashtag never settle.” It is our thing. I tell them all about their value and worth and that this is just the beginning, and they’re still learning who they are and what they love and what makes them excited about life. And they mostly think that I do not know anything, but sometimes they listen, because I tell them that when I was seventeen, I was convinced that I was going to end up alone, too.

I don’t really want to be afraid of ending up alone. I want to be afraid of not discovering my passions, of not going after my dreams. I want to be afraid of letting someone stop me from figuring out how to change the world because I was too distracted by trying to be someone else’s cup of tea. Maybe that’s not how it is for everyone. I’d like to think that when you’re with the right person, your dreams engage each other and that you set each other on fire in really cool ways. I don’t know a lot about relationships, but I’d like to think that. I know sacrifice is involved, and I get that a lot of people know a lot of things about marriage that I don’t, and I’m not even trying to embark down that road, but…

But I’d like think that the same God who walked me through the woods and trenches and thickets and darkness of depression and anxiety, and the discrimination that came with that, and almost getting kicked out of grad school because of a diagnosis, which is not a story I have even told publicly...

The same God who was present through losing Maggie, and the grief and doubt that came with that...

The same God who apparently decided I could handle all of that, and stuck all these ideas in my head about equality between physical and mental health concerns and stigma destruction and speaking out for the disenfranchised, and leaving a really secure career to go back to school for who knows how long, possibly involving a 5-year-long PhD program (when I thought my dream was to be a freaking stay at home mom and not stir the freaking pot because that is a lot safer, probably), even when I said “BUT THAT IS AN INSANE IDEA,” and He was like “I KNOW, BUT IT’S YOUR DREAM"...

The same God who was down with all of that – I would LIKE TO THINK that He would like, kinda sorta take into consideration that I need a ride or die companion who will be down for all of that as well. I would like to think that He wouldn’t say, “And I’m going to have you end up with someone who just shuts all of that down and tells you to be quiet and tells you that you’re pretty a lot.” I would like to think that He has cooler plans than that. Doesn’t mean He does. Maybe it’s a solo hustle. Am not omniscient here. But I would LIKE TO THINK that if all this stuff really is His calling for my life, that He would protect me from things that are going to distract me from it.

This is currently the best logic I can come up with for the whole situation when a guy I really liked asked me out on three dates in a week and then all of a sudden needed to “focus on his career” and couldn’t see me anymore because apparently I am a “distraction.” Well, okay, if you don’t want a distraction, then you don’t want me. Guess I can be down with that paradigm.

And trying to find that said companion has been a FRUSTRATING PROCESS. All caps. Yeah. I ate fried pickles the other day in the name of said process. I cannot even. Who am I?

It is not exactly an easy hustle, wanting to be the Oprah of mental health advocacy and grief counseling. But it’s my hustle, and I love it, and if I’m not running hard after that, what am I even doing? If we’re not spending our lives trying to hone in on what sets us on fire, I mean really on fire, what are we doing here? Taking up space and buying shoes and a doing a lot of stuff that’s meaningful, probably, but my life just expanded in ways I never could have imagined the day I finally tapped into my calling. Which actually had to do with dating. I was dating this guy (and I don’t even know if you can call it that, because we lived six hours apart and talked for months and then had lunch at Juanita Greenberg’s one time and my quesadilla had onions in it and that should have told me everything I needed to know), and he called it quits all of a sudden and I was upset for a while, but then I was like “well, I guess I can write that blog about people judging me for having a mental illness.” And so I sat down, in that same loft apartment in Boone, and wrote that blog post in one sitting, and then thousands and thousands of views and a couple of speaking engagements later, I’m working on a book proposal. I never could have pulled that off on my own, for one thing, or if I was still trying to impress some guy with how neat and perfect and not complicated my life is. My life is not neat, and so imperfect, and so seriously complicated, and I am such a drama queen, and maybe I am a distraction, and I think I fall in love after ten seconds sometimes, you guys. I am a mess. But I love me. I love every bit of myself. I love my dreams and my passions and that I cried watching a video of a puppy the other day. I love that I want to talk to strangers on the subway when I’m in New York because I think other humans are fascinating and I want to know their stories. And I love everything I’ve been through because I think God is redeeming all of it and using every square inch of it to allow me to help other people. Even the worst and hardest and most unexplainable things.

And so I’ve said before that January was kind of a trial month for me, and that’s mostly because I went on 11 dates and spent a lot of time working on my Tinder profile and constructing responses to questions to elicit some sort of appeal and be attractive, and then my friend Michelle made me delete my account at brunch a few weekends ago. But I also just finished this conference, the If Gathering, and one of the speakers just prayed this really great prayer that we would all lean into our enoughness instead of trying to be skinnier or prettier or more accomplished or anything else, and I think that’s what I want to start doing. I said I was quitting dating, but instead I re-did my Match.com profile to have fewer selfies and more substance. And turns out the homies on online dating are into that too, so I had a date where we ate fried pickles and talked about our dreams and I didn’t worry about if I was a distraction or not, I just worried about the stories the person on the other side of the table was telling. And it was nice, and it didn’t make me feel like I was too much or not enough. I didn’t use it as a mirror. And if he ghosts after two more dates, I’ll apply the same logic I did to the last guy, I guess. And continue to just be me. And chase my hustle. And wear my tank top that says “I just really need to work on myself right now” to the gym. Because I am nothing if not dramatic, and apparently a distraction. Am good with it.