Here’s something you should NOT do if you’re in a low and vulnerable position: set up an online dating profile.
“It’ll make you feel better to see what’s out there,” said my friend. Lies! This might be true if you’re in your early 20s and live in a city filled with kindly souls who are looking for love. (If so, please let me know where that is, because I’d like to move there.) If you’re me, however, you should stay the hell away from dating sites.
To be clear: I have nothing against online dating. If you’re currently Tindering or J-dating or e-Harmonizing (does anyone still do that?) I harbor no judgment. I’ve been there! I just can’t go there right now.
Setting up a profile comes with many decisions: the dreaded username, which photos to choose, how to market oneself in an honest yet appealing way. For today’s purposes, I shall focus on the series of probing, inappropriate questions that apparently lead to an OkCupid match:
How many dates do you wait to have sex?
I don’t know because I haven’t been on a date IN THREE YEARS. This is not one of the choices, so I leave it blank.
How often do you bathe or shower?
Um, what? Does anyone EVER choose “rarely/never”? Is that kind of person trying to date people? Why is this an option?
How long do your romantic relationships usually last?
If I’m being honest? Longer than they should, but not long enough to count. I choose “12+ months” which is, coincidentally, the lengthiest option. Thanks for reminding me of my past failures, algorithm!
This continued for far too long, until I felt too old and weird to continue. Zero actual dates transpired. But I had newfound clarity about my life. And it wasn’t pretty.
Here are the facts: I am thirty. I am single. I do not have kids. I live with my tiny dog in a tiny apartment that sometimes plays host to creepy bugs and weird smells. Late at night, when I have trouble sleeping, I convince myself it’s haunted. I am wealthy, but only in spirit.
If this sounds like a laundry list of complaints, it isn’t. All things considered, my life is good and I am grateful. There are times—walking my dog or sitting across the table from a person I love—when I feel immeasurably lucky to be at this exact place in my life.
But I can’t escape the fact that it looks nothing like I imagined.
Do you ever feel that way? Are you where you thought you’d be?
When we “take stock” of our lives, what are we really doing? Comparing ourselves to some larger societal metric? Measuring our own successes against those of our peers? So many things are beyond our control. So why should we feel bad about them?
I read a quote earlier this evening that managed to soothe my anxious spirit: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” It made me realize: So often, taking stock of our lives boils down to listing what we have or what we’ve accomplished. But what happens if, instead of asking ourselves where we are, we ask ourselves who we are?
Have I become who I wanted to be by 30? I think the answer is yes. That person will figure out the rest; I’m sure of it.
(But I think I’ll take a pause on setting up that profile… just to be on the safe side.)