Eleven: Lessons Learned from OKC

“After a series of guys who left me high and dry and questioning why the hell I wasn’t just a lesbian instead (though, trust me, I know ladies aren’t a cake walk either) all of my friends asked me why I continued to go out with people from OkCupid. At first my answer was just that it was fun and gave me something to do on nights I would otherwise just stay home. But as I thought about it more, and began to write about coming out of my comfort zone, I realized that the reason I keep going out on OkCupid dates is because I keep learning about myself. Every date, every awkward encounter, every rejection, and every lovely goodnight kiss – I learn something new about myself and get nudged a little more farther away from my normal.”

I wrote that paragraph over a month ago. While most of it is still applicable I have actually deleted my OkCupid profile. There are a few reasons for this. One being that I am just overall tired of getting the same, lame messages. And two being that my time as of late has been very much occupied and I don’t have the time or the desire to go out with anyone else.  (I was actually given permission to write about that on the site but for my own sanity will not be doing so as of yet!) Anyway, as I say goodbye to OkCupid for the moment, I wanted to write out what exactly I’d learned about myself from my last year of using the site…

 1.    I’m incredibly awkward but somehow it works.           
I don’t think I was ever awkward as a kid. I was always the one who talked a bunch and made friends with everyone. But for some reason as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more and more strange. I no longer know how to strike up conversations with strangers. I no longer understand that some people don’t want to hear all the randomness that comes into my head. And I don’t seem to understand that others aren’t okay with long periods of total silence. But what I do know, thanks to the world of dating, is that my awkwardness, in some strange way, works. I have been on dates where I could literally feel the awkwardness seeping out of my pours but for some reason the guys eat it up and think I’m charming and not a total freak. Thank you nerdy girls before me! Paving the way for awkwardness to be labeled as quirkiness and allowing my weirdness to not be an immediate deal breaker.

2.    I don’t care about physical attraction, but instead about physical chemistry.
I always say to people that I don’t care about appearance. If you just rolled your eyes, I get it. Nobody ever believes me. And I never really had a good way to explain it. I would just say that I didn’t really care because when a hot dude ends up being boring and dumb, he immediately transforms from Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid Love to Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. But on the flip side of that, when I meet a guy who I’m not physically attracted to but he ends up turning my brain on and making my face hurt from laughter, he becomes so freaking handsome in my eyes. This is where people argue “but if you’re REALLY not into ____, personality can’t change it.” Fill that blank in with short guys, fat guys, black guys, whatever… What I’m here to say is that for me, that’s not true. I’ve realized that this theoretical not-so-attractive dude not only has to have a good personality, but we also have to have sexual chemistry. We have to like the same things and when we kiss there has to be something more. I need to want him in a primal way. I’m scared my dad might one day find this blog…so that’s enough about that. But in summation what I’ve learned is that my eyes are not what turn me on.

3.    I’m not as terrible of a flirt as I think I am.
I have to start this off saying one thing… THANK YOU INTERNET. Basically, I have never been a flirty girl. I’ve discussed this before on the site — I was always the friendgirl and never the girlfriend. Though I was in a really long term, serious relationship the beginning of that had almost nothing to do with flirting and almost everything to do with us both being young and looking for affection. So when I dived back into the dating scene out here, I wasn’t sure I would know how to flirt. When guys compliment me, I get pretty awkward (shocker) and don’t really know how to respond. It’s almost nearly impossible for me to give compliments. Seriously, it’s sad. The guy I’m currently seeing and I were having a talk and it took everything in me to tell him the things I like about him… The struggle was so apparent on my face. Luckily it didn’t scare him away! But the Internet has helped me so much in my flirting. How you ask? Well, I, like many others, am much wittier with written words than spoken words. And having the chance to talk to guys digitally before meeting them in person gives me a chance to flirt and build up the witty banter before being dropped into a date. Also, I think getting the small talk out of the way has done wonders to my flirting. I’m much better with substantial conversation, than the bullshit you have to talk about when you first meet someone.  

4.    I don’t care what a guy does, I just need someone with passion and drive.  
Before really getting into “dating” I thought I had a list of deal breakers. A guy had to have a car, a job, and a place to live… Without those things, there was no way I would even think about dating them. Hey guys, wanna know what happens when you make a list of rules for yourself? You break them. About a million times. In a row.On OkCupid I’ve gone out with LA hotshots, who make lots of money and have TV shows on big fancy TV stations, who take me out to places I could never afford on my own. I’ve also gone out with dudes who live at home, have no car, and can barely afford their own lives, let alone taking me out on fancy dates. Of course, the majority have been somewhere between these two extremes. To be honest, I never thought I’d be super into the fancy LA guys. I don’t live that type of life, and while of course it’s fun, having excessive money and spending it on dumb shit is not something I can relate to. But what I found fascinating was that among all these guys, I didn’t really care how much money they made or if they had the stability I thought I was looking for… All I cared about was whether or not they were passionate about what they were doing. He could be a stand-up comedian, who pours every bit of his heart and soul into the sets he’s doing almost every night of the week or a dog walker, who believes in the importance of his work and loves each dog like his own – I don’t care! I’m passionate about my work and I need you to have something that consumes your whole heart sometimes. Something bigger than yourself that you’re willing to give yourself up to. Something you fight for. Something you can talk to me about and teach me about for hours.

5.    I have bigger balls than most dudes when it comes to rejecting someone.
This is the lamest of the lessons I have learned. From my experience, dudes don’t have balls when it comes to rejecting girls. I believe this partly has to do with guys being taught that women are crazy. Now before all the male readers get pissed off, let me admit – bitches can DEFINITEY be crazy. But hey, guess what? Stop dating those! Most of us are level-headed, rational beings who would prefer the truth to some bullshit excuse or you just disappearing. And guess what? We won’t flip out on you and text you non-stop! Choose better women and you will deal with better rejections. And guess what? Maybe you can even stay friends. Basically what I’m saying is that even in situations where I’ve had to reject a guy who I could tell was really liking me and who I had no real reason not to like except a lack of “chemistry,” I do it and I’m honest and I don’t beat around the bush. What I’ve learned to do to make this easier is make sure my body language on the date matches how I’m feeling. There have been times I’ve given someone a goodnight kiss when I knew I didn’t want to go out again, but I will not do that anymore! In coming out of my comfort zone, I’ve learned it’s okay to know what I do and do not want, and if people get pissed at you for you making it clear – well, that’s on them. All I can worry about is being honest about how I feel. Speaking my truth, right Jen?

So… Thank you men of OkCupid. Thank you for the drinks, the dinners, the stories, the great (and not-so-great) hook ups, the late night conversations, the texts you sent too often, the days at Disney, the games of pool, the karaoke singing, and so much more. Thank you for teaching me so much about myself. You have made my last year more memorable and don’t you worry your pretty little faces, I’ll probably be back. Or on the other hand, don’t worry, if you pop in my Quiver or suggested matches, I’ll click right past you. Maybe even hide you or block you! Whenever the day comes I find myself back in the crazy world that is online dating, know the girl behind the screen won’t be the same as the one who signed up last year because my comfort zone is getting nothing but further away!

Ten: Writing

For some reason, I’ve hit a wall in my writing lately. Every time I sit down to write a post or take my journal out to write or even sit down at work to draft up some template emails…nothing comes out. I don’t know what is going on. Every now and then I hit these rough patches and I can’t seem to get anything onto paper. And I must say, my well-being greatly declines! Writing is good for my soul.

My journey with writing began when I was just a wee lass… The first real memory I have of even thinking about writing was after watching Harriet the Spy.  At six years old, I knew I needed a journal of my own. Throughout elementary school I had loads of diaries, in which I would only fill a couple pages of before discarding it and moving on to the next one. Finding these childhood musings are hilarious, because as ridiculous as they are, it’s awesome to realize I was already using writing as an outlet before I even knew what it meant to have an outlet. I was writing about being frustrated with my younger brother, about the cute boy at school who just didn’t seem to notice me, and about how much I hated having to move away from the house I was born in. Around this same time, my mom also had me start journaling every night, making a list of a few things I was thankful for. Since we didn’t grow up with religion or prayer, I think this was my mom’s way of reminding us to reflect and be grateful for the lives we were given. (Ah, what a wonderful woman she was. Seriously, anything good in me is thanks to having her.)

Moving onto middle school, I slipped into my emo phase and writing became even more important to me.  During this time, journaling moved from the random pink and purple diaries, adorned with Lisa Frank stickers and hand drawn hearts, littered about my room, to an online platform. I was an avid blogger before I even knew the word blogging existed. I started off writing on a wbeiste called Blurty (because Xanga was for the weird goth girls or the Asians, and I was clearly an emo kid) before moving on to Livejournal in high school. I really don’t know how I would have made it through middle school without my Blurty. Not only was it somewhere I updated about my daily life: who I was hanging out with, what was going on at school, how frustrating it was to be in love with your best friend who didn’t love you back, etc. It also served a place for me to process my mom’s disease and what it meant to be losing your mom at such a young age. Looking back through those entries breaks my heart but also amazes because I was so aware of how I would feel. With each sentence I wrote, I knew how much it was going to hurt and I was preparing myself for it. I remember at one point my mom found my online journal and started leaving anonymous comments — when I found out it was her I was SO PISSED and felt like my privacy had been violated. This is probably a sign of how private I would be about my writing even as I got older. This Blurty was also a platform for me to try out more creative forms of writing… There is definitely a poem or two published on there, a writing form I wouldn’t revisit until college.

High school is when writing became a more consistent part of my daily life. Not only was I writing in my Livejournal on a daily basis, but I was also on the school newspaper, and acted as editor-in-chief for three years. This gave me the chance to write in a more public way than ever before. Of course, I wrote typical news articles, covering the girl’s tennis team and the change in cafeteria policy, but I was also able to share my opinions. As someone who was raised to share her opinions and not just accept the status-quo it was so liberating and exciting to finally have a platform where I can explain my beliefs and people would read them! Thinking back, I’m sure nobody read my column. Keeping up with my Livejournal also provides me a way of remembering exactly what it felt like to be me at that time: dealing with the death of my mom and falling in love for the first time.

College is sort of the dark-ages when it comes to my affair with the written word. Though I started off as a Journalism major, I no longer viewed writing as something to be done for pleasure. This was ultimately the reason I dropped journalism and picked up psychology, along with realizing you don’t need a journalism degree to be a writer. I never want writing to be a chore… It’s far too important to my sanity to be something I don’t enjoy doing in my free time as well. After realizing this and shifting my vision on my craft, I once again started to enjoy writing. I bought a journal and vowed to write in it until I filled up every page. To carry it with me no matter what. (I just pulled it out of my purse and looked back at the first entry, dated in August 2010). While it still isn’t full, it’s always with me and I continue to write in it on a frequent basis. But not frequent enough.

All this being said, what I’ve discovered is that even with my writing I’m falling into a comfort zone. Writing for TNTML has weirdly tricked my mind into thinking that I’m doing enough. That I’m processing enough through my weekly posts. That there is no need for more writing. But I couldn’t be more wrong. Writing is about more than just having other people read it, it’s the way in which I learn the most about myself. Honestly, I’ve had more realizations about who I am and what I want and why I do what I do while writing than I have doing anything else. Sitting at the beach, journal and chai in hand is probably when I am most at peace. But at the same time, randomly pulling out my journal at a red light to jot down a thought is equally as vital to who I am as Chelsea. The written word connects with me on this other level I can’t even explain. I know I’m not an incredible writer. I wish my mastery over language was stronger. But this is all something I’m working on!

So as I push myself out of my comfort zone in extrinsic ways, I need to focus on pushing myself intrinsically as well. Most of the ways I have challenged myself are in ways others can hold me accountable so I am a little scared to try something that others won’t know if I’m succeeding at or not. But I want to write more; I’m tired of feeling like a phony when telling people I’m a writer. So here’s the plan: I am going to try and write every single day, and writing for work does not count. Before bed, I will pull my journal out and pour out whatever comes to mind. I love the practice of stream of consciousness writing. It’s not only great for your creativity but also so good to just see where your mind goes. I am also going to work on reaching out to other blogs and seeing if I can contribute anywhere else. TNTML is the perfect place to write about the journey about coming out of my comfort zone, but there are so many sides to me and I really miss sharing my opinion on social issues so I hope to find a place to share those. If not, I’ll keep them on my personal blog (which I am going to start updating with all of these posts and old writing from high school/college). I also want to give myself the freedom to write more creatively, whether that means poetry or fiction, I don’t really know. But it’s going to happen and I can’t wait. Oh, and as an aside to this I’m going to start reading more. Basically every time I go through a writing dry spell, I also pull back on how much I read.  Friends, you will all know when I’m writing more regularly because I am so much more in touch with myself and overall a better version of Chelsea.

What do you nerds to do as a way of processing and being more in touch with your true self? Tweet me! I want to hear about it. And please please please send me book suggestions.