OH MY GOD – I’m almost 40. It’s coming at me with the force of a freight train and there’s no stopping it now. The years of dread have shrunk to a month and all I can do now is prepare myself, put my head down and brace for impact. OR, I can saunter into into the new decade chest puffed, swagger on, smile bright. New decade, new date-able me.
Unfortunately once the balloons popped and the confetti settled on the first morning of the new year (and once I pulled myself off of the bathroom floor…the result of way to much fun saying sayonara to the last decade) I found myself in quite the little slump. I had such grand plans to get on the paid dating site, put myself out there with no expectations, be confident in my being “a catch,” but the cold days and long nights, and the lack of post-holiday sparkle has curtailed my plans. It’s okay, I know, to give myself a break. To take some downtime and recharge and do whatever self-care I need to make it through. But I’m finding myself discouraged.
I also said that when I hit 40, I would make a decision once and for all in terms of whether or not I was going to go it alone one the kid front. I don’t feel any closer to being confident in this decision. And despite my efforts to not see every man I go out for a drink with as a potential inexpensive sperm bank (not the best way to seek a partner), and freezing my eggs to make each date a little less “do or die,” I’m still in a state of almost constant panic.
To try and get some headspace I just returned from one of my bi-annual silent retreats. Three days with no talking, walks in the forest, sitting by the lake, reading, eating and sleeping. Heaven. Beyond just taking a break from my incessant need to babble, I also crave the silence in order to connect with my own voice, that normally gets lost in the melee of life noise. Connecting with that voice and not the voice of society/friends/media/dudes on dates, gives me a small measure of confidence of my place in the world and what I can/want to accomplish. I do feel slightly calmer and more centered on my return, as is usual after time spent in nature. But the confidence in my intuition to make decisions, and my ability to offer value to those I’m dating is still at a low. So I did some research on how to get back into that space of “you go girl!” confidence.
Give me some confidence yo!
“Fake it till you make it!” is some pretty common advice in this area. But that always feel so disingenuous to me, and pre-fixed on some future destination that is there and not here. The idea that when you get there, things will be okay: when I meet that guy; when I make that big decision. But until then, here’s my little quick list of how to amp up that confidence (outside of the obvious power poses in the bathroom mirror):
- Practice, practice, practice. This one might sound a bit strange when it comes to dating, but it works just the same as with any other pursuit. The more you experience being around strangers, having conversations with new people, talking positively about yourself and meeting new people generally, the more in tune you will be with who you really are outside of the nerves, and the more you’ll be able to spot what you actually are looking for.
- Stop the negative talk. Your inner critic will give you enough of it, no need to repeat it out loud. My date doesn’t need to know about all of my insecurities on date 1. How about just approaching things from a place of confidence? Suspending disbelief. Acknowledging deep down that there are flaws, but choosing to present the positive.
- Find your team. That cheesy song “Cheerleader” has it right. You need to surround yourself with at least a few of them. I know criticism is required and character building. But you really do need some people on your team that will give you a bit of a pep rally when you need a little push to keep going.
- Rejection? Let that shit go! A lot of people won’t like what you put out there for a million little reasons. Just like you don’t love a bunch of stuff. C’est la vie.
- Don’t catastrophize or put too much weight on any one person’s opinion of you or your decisions. It’s not all or nothing. One “no” or negative response is definitely not the end of the world.
- Let go of perfectionism. There is no perfect set of steps that will get you want you want.
- Do one thing every day that scares you (ahem like a date). Or sets you up for a small rejection so that you can get used to them. Side job selling Duct cleaning anyone?
- Comparing is for chumps. We all know it makes us feel miserable and small. Every single life path is different.
- Find your Sasha Fierce. Beyonce uses this alter ego that brings out all of her confident characteristics. Come up with your own alter ego that brings out all of those traits buried within you.
- Tune into your gut. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked friends what they think of a potential suitor’s picture or job or whatever. Who cares! They don’t have to date them. They don’t know how that person makes you feel. Spend some time away from the advice of others and tune into those little butterflies or cockroaches in the pit of your stomach that tell you whether something is for you or not.
- Just do it anyway. Even with all of the insecurity. The fear will be there anyway. You don’t have to be confident, you have to be brave. Go on the damn date! And you probably don’t need two glasses of whisky first (but we’ll get there….baby steps).