Use Your Imagination
Imagination was a trait extolled on many of the TV shows I watched as a toddler and young child. Using one's imagination could allow one to travel to a new world, become a princess, have a cartoon like character guide them through song and dance. It was always pushed on me, the tiny little viewer, that using my imagination was as important as saying please or washing my hands.
And, as you may have noticed, I developed an excellent imagination. Fueled by copious amounts of media intake and never listening in class, my imagination has taken me everywhere and then some. Now, in the age of the smart phone, where I am more likely to be scrolling Instagram mid-meeting than running away with my favorite book characters, my imagination has had to find other outlets.
Boys are wonderful to imagine. I imagine my perfect guy, our perfect home, how this one guy who I heard two details about will fit in to my narrative.
And let's say there is a guy who I've heard about. He's in finance and he's 5'8 and he's from Los Angeles. It's so easy to create a story of who I want him to be. And I imagine myself as well on those dates, but I'm cooler. I'm finally the chill person I've always wanted to be and I'm as funny and quick in real life as I am in writing (which I never am. Writing pours from me, words can exhaust me and leave me needing quiet.)
And then he says yes to me. And I've casted him as my husband and I've studied. I know that I need to be kind and open and show him my best self and aim for a mixture of authenticity and vulnerability and don't get so involved with flirty trash talk that you end up insulting his mother.
And now he's reaching out to me. It's a text and it's riddled with grammar errors. Or he uses weird emojis. Or he writes megillas and double checks every detail with neurosis that puts me off. Or he's too cavalier.
Or it's a phone call. And he's awkward and fumbles it. He wants me to plan the date or meet him somewhere or makes a joke that falls flat.
Or all of this is fine and we get on the date and he isn't dressed the way I want him to be dressed. His hair isn't right. His car smells weird. He doesn't open the door for me. The place we go to is lame.
I can go on and on but you get the picture (and if you don't there are over 100 articles on here to read that will give you more of an idea. Then be sure to send your favorites to your friends.)
There are a million reasons (as Lady Gaga said) to say no. All you have to do is look for them. And imagination helps here. Because imaginary guy would never do any of these things that flesh and blood guy is doing. Imaginary guy would just know.
There's also the narrative that girls are bringing their A game far more than boys are nowadays. That's true too. There are plenty of articles (some on this blog) out there about that.
But eventually there is reality outside of imagination. Reality is that I'm alone and that life is full of issues; global pandemic sized ones and how terrible it feels to wake up feeling dizzy.
There are going to be issues in every single relationship. The problem is getting past my brain, which wants to mark every issue in giant yellow highlighter, to just allow myself to be.
No pro-con list.
Just experiencing another person and what they have to say.
Except I've never just experienced anything in my life. There was one year where my brain felt like it was going to explode all of the time. That year there was also a trip to Six Flags planned and I was so excited. On a roller coaster I might get a few minutes of peace.
Nope. My brain doubled down on the anxious thoughts that had nothing to do with roller coasters because I had been so excited to just feel.
So naturally, in a setting as fraught as a first date, I'm not going to be able to shut down the analysis.
Worse than the first date is after. If I have no reason to say no and I say yes to a second date there is likely going to be some time between dates. And during that time I am going to analyze it to the point of sudden death-where the relationship loses all humanity and becomes a math problem that I can solve by abstaining.
Solving by abstaining is my favorite tactic. If you remove yourself from a problem it automatically becomes less problematic because it isn't your problem anymore. Using this tactic I butted heads with many teachers but I almost always won. And I taught myself that removing me was the best way to win.
Except that removing me from every relationship leaves me alone. And maybe I don't want to be alone.
So I have to turn off my brain.
Easier said than done.
I'm 7 years into my dating life. The entire time I've been trying to make my head be quiet. It feels impossible.
So I'm going to imagine it instead.
Not the guy across the table. Just me, with a quiet head. Being with someone and feeling quiet.
Despite all the times I imagined flying on the back of a dragon (Dragon tales or Eragon) it never came true.
But I imagined lots of things that did. Some through effort and others that surprised me.
So maybe this will be one of those. If not, at least it's something to imagine.