I tried online dating for a couple of years starting back in 2010. I know that’s not very long ago, but back then sites like OkCupid were still fairly new, and there weren’t a million to choose from. People were still ashamed to do it. Not really ashamed, but a little. It was still a weird thing. There was still a sense that it was a sort of failure. You can’t meet people in person, so you need an algorithm to tell you who you should talk to. That’s how it felt to me at least, and that was a perfectly accurate description of me, so what was I being so proud about?
It started out all right. I talked to a few girls, and went on a couple of terrible to mediocre dates. I’ve never been good at talking to people in person, and as it turns out, I wasn’t great at it online either. Pretty soon the whole thing turned exhausting. How to get their attention, how to carry on a conversation with someone you’ve never met, knowing when to suggest an actual date, and all this after finding someone that doesn’t repulse you with their taste in movies. I wasn’t getting a flood of attention in the first place, but eventually the well dried up. It became a site I’d go to just to confirm that no one wanted to talk to me. I could blame the girls, or the whole system, but that would be unfair. It was me. I was so picky it eventually felt like OkCupid was scraping the bottom of the barrel. You didn’t want the compatible ones, huh? This girl rides a Harley and has a tramp stamp of the Confederate Flag. It was actively bumming me out, so I gave up.
Recently a friend told me I should try it again because “It would be good for me.” I know it wasn’t supposed to be insulting, but it kind of felt that way. Like she didn’t believe I could meet someone the old fashioned way. And ok, maybe she has ton of anecdotal evidence, but still! What about my pride?! Well it crumbled when I got drunk and lonely one night. I decided to check out Tinder, because it’s based on your location. I’m not now, nor will I probably ever be, the Random Hookup Guy, but sometimes I like to pretend. From there it seemed pretty logical to reactivate my OkCupid, and now here we are. Online dating. A new, old frontier. I don’t imagine it’s going to end any better, but who knows? I’ve come a long way since I gave it up the first time. I’m not as convinced I’m going to die alone. Maybe I’ll meet the love of my life. Or maybe I’ll be murdered.
Don’t wait. Writers are the only artists I know of who expect to get somewhere by waiting. Everyone knows you have to dance to be a dancer, you have to sing to be a singer, you have to act to be an actor, but far too many people seem to believe that you. don’t have to write to be a writer. So, instead of writing, they wait. Isaac Asimov said it beautifully in just six words: “It’s the writing that teaches you.” Writing is what teaches you. Writing is what leads to “inspiration.” Writing is what generates ideas. Nothing else-and nothing less. Don’t meditate, don’t do yoga, don’t do drugs. Just write.
I’ve been talking about seeing someone for anxiety and depression for years. Literally years. Sometimes it’s an offhanded “I should probably go see someone” and sometimes it’s a serious “I need to go see someone, and soon.” But I never have. Partially because going through the whole process freaks me out, but partially, I think, because I didn’t really believe that there was anything wrong with me. At least not anything real, like a chemical imbalance. When I would think about it, I’d come to the same conclusion, that I’m just another normal guy that doesn’t know how to be happy with the pretty decent life he’s got. And that the entire world is moments away from coming crashing down on me. But please, let’s not be ridiculous, this isn’t a mental health issue, it’s just idiosyncrasies.
That’s what kept me from going to a doctor. I don’t have a condition, I’m just a pussy. Then a couple of weeks ago a friend posted a comic that someone made about what it feels like to live with anxiety. By the time I was done reading it I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was signed “Evan Jones.” I would have thought “Weird, I don’t remember making this, but it is 100% how I feel every day, so I guess I did.” I decided I should at least see what else the internet had to say about it. I’ve been trying not to self diagnose, but that’s hard to do when you read a list of symptoms and put a mental check next to every one. Trouble falling or staying asleep? That’s when I think about everything that’s gone wrong. Irritability? Is it irritability if everyone actually is the worst? Alright, then yes. Being easily startled? I thought it was just loud sudden noises, but the other week I jumped because of a parked car, so ok. Inability to relax? How can I relax with all this stuff to worry about not doing?
So I can’t deny it anymore. There’s definitely something wrong with my brain, and to be honest, it’s a relief. It makes it easier knowing that it’s not my fault. I don’t feel like I’ll be wasting a doctor’s time. I’ve actually started trying to find someone, which is a whole issue in itself, but I know that I’m doing the right thing now. I know that there are solutions out there and that I don’t have to spend every day feeling like this. Thank fuck.