Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look At Journals, Part 2 – The Youth Attempts Short Stories

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When I was younger, I wanted to be a lot of things. First, in second grade, it was an ice cream lady. I legit thought that was the coolest job in the world. I could just drive around making ice cream. After my startup idea fell through, I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist in 3rd grade. I doodled a lot in class, so it made sense, right? (I couldn’t draw then and I can’t draw now. But it’s good to dream.) Then, in fourth grade, I started reading the Jigsaw Jones mysteries religiously and decided I was going to be a spy. But the first rule of being a spy is not telling people you’re going to be a spy…which I did. All the time.

21-year-old Audrey still wants to be a lot of things. A writer. A copywriter. An actress. A nonprofit administrator. Maybe the dreams have gotten smaller, but they’re not just dreams anymore – they’re goals. Because dreams + money + a degree = a goal…right?

Maybe. But I think I can learn something from this little fourth grade pipsqueak who wrote in this oddly polka-dotted journal (affectionately called DJ, if you recall.) Which is where we find young a. w. today.

Journal #2: Circa April 2006 – sometime in 2007? (Young Audrey stopped putting dates on her journals. Didn’t she learn anything in fourth grade?) 

As we open this journal, we find Audrey coming to the end of her fourth-grade career. Let me fill you in on who this little lady was at the time – she was about 4-foot-8 and wouldn’t hit 5 until middle school. She had a pair of fuschia courduroys she loved wearing. And a purple hoodie. Overall, a lot of purple. She collected packs of gum in her marker box (which had TROPICAL COLOR Crayola markers, the coolest things on earth.) She wrote “books” (15-20 pages of college-ruled paper stapled together with a badly-drawn cover) and wanted to be a spy like Jigsaw Jones. She also frickin’ loved 4th grade. She did not want to leave.

Essentially, she didn’t want to grow up. She wanted things to stay exactly as they were.

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Her bark is worse than her bite, I promise. “Explosives ahead?” Really? A skull? Especially compared to the saccharine sweet entry adjacent to it (I might still have that teddy bear and his name might be Peter.)

Things haven’t changed a whole lot since the last journal, as you can tell from the front page of warnings. However, I’m sensing much more angst in this small human. She’s starting to grow up and things are changing. For example, her best friend moved away the summer before fourth grade. She spends five journal entries talking about it and writes a (bad) poem.

DJ, 

5! (I counted off how many times I’d written about my friend.)

Well, it gets better. I was upset, then I forwarded a letter to her and guess what? I got a VERY LONG reply! We now write to each other constantly but I still want her to be next to me again, I made a poem, that doesn’t rhyme:

Far Away (yeah I underlined it. It’s important)

I miss my friend so very much, 

Now that she moved away.

I wish she was right next to me,

on that empty swing.

All of those memories are treasures of friendship.

It has been filled up.

END. 

*cue hearts breaking* Feel free to take all the time you need after reading that.

After reading that, I thought about that friend. Inevitably, we’re not really close friends anymore. We’re still Facebook friends and such, but we don’t write letters every day. Kinda funny how things change. There was also another friend I talk about a lot who I barely speak to anymore. A lot of entries were “my friend is coming over tonight! I’m so excited! We are going to be BFFs forever!”

But now we’re not, you know? Like I said, funny to look back and see how that all changed.

Now back to the angst of a 10-year-old.

This young Audrey wrote short stories. For example: Audrey is going to play Laura Ingalls Wilder in a living wax museum for her fourth grade class. She’s SO EXCITED. Until her parents ask her to recite her speech for them. SHE BLANKS. So young Audrey writes this short story to cope:

The girl who became a failure (aka me)

Once there was a normal average girl. One day, her nice teacher gave them an assignment. “I want you to choose someone from history and make a wax museum for it.” The girl was excited. She worked at it and worked at it, and when it came to the eve of the wax museum, her parents asked her to say it to them. (She stands there, looking into space.) She never said a word, and on Monday, when people pushed her button (??????) she never said anything. Her teacher came over and thought she was a jerk and suspended her (I mean, EXPELLED) her for being rude, and no one heard from her again. The end

Girl, you need more confidence. (Disclaimer: She did write an alternate ending to the story afterward and then followed up the next day saying the wax museum went VERY WELL. So it was all okay.)

Audrey continued to dread the end of school. “Tomorrow will be the best day of my life, and the day after that will be the worst day of my life,” she says, talking about PJ day (WOOT) followed by the last day of school. She includes a picture of herself crying “faucet tears.” She later talks about wanting to invent a time machine so she could go back (or “time masion.” Her words, not mine.)

But there’s more deep-seated angst in this small child. I came across this story in her journal called “The guy who could hear anything.”

Once there was a guy who could listen in on everything. So the CIA made him a super-duper, ultra-matic, listen-inner spy! One day, he overheard his friend talking to another guy. “I was invited to go to Ultra Fun world with two friends, and you’re one!” HE WAS SUNK!

I have so many questions about this story. Where can I apply to be a super-duper, ultra-matic, listen-inner spy? And where is Ultra Fun world? And why did he decide to abuse his power in such a way?!

I’m thinking Audrey had some insecurities about her friends back then. This is neither the first nor the last time she gives voice to them. When she starts 5th grade, she really wants to make friends with the new kid (spoiler alert: she doesn’t.)

I think those insecurities never go away. They just change. Now I have insecurities about getting a job in six months. Will employers like me? Will I adapt into a workplace environment after being in a classroom for 16 years of my life? Will I find a boyfriend/potential husband who will accept me for who I am? Like I said, they don’t go away, they just change.

There are two empty pages at the back of this journal. Why did young Audrey leave these empty? She signs off the journal at the end of fifth grade, on the cusp of the Young Writer’s Festival (at this point, Audrey wanted to be a writer. Spoiler alert: she still does.) And leaves two pages blank. Of course she would be a drama queen. She just found her love for theatre this year, and that love is only going to get bigger.

Things are only going to get stranger and more difficult for you, young Audrey (who is now proudly 5 feet tall and almost in middle school.) Because – brace yourself – sixth grade is coming.

(Also, 10-year-old Audrey had a crush on Brandon Routh. 21-year-old Audrey doesn’t see a problem with that.)

a. w.

 

Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look at Journals, Pt. 1

I’m in the process of moving out of my parents’ house. Going from an actual house to a two-bedroom apartment is proving a challenge for my hoarding ways. I started “downsizing” a few weeks ago, and it’s been a little tricky trying to decide what should stay and what should go (cue The Kinks.)

Of course, when one cleans stuff out, one finds things. Like old AP Government notes from 12th grade. Or an award you got in middle school for taking out the trash (don’t start on millennials getting rewarded too much. Middle school trash is disgusting.)

And you find journals. In my case, lots of journals.

I first started journaling in 3rd grade. It became an almost daily practice for me through middle school, and then it kind of fell by the wayside when life got busy. I tried picking it up in college, but turned to blogging instead, and you know how that’s going.

So, for fear of belaboring the point, I’ll cut to it: for the next few weeks, I will be reading through my old journals and extracting the juiciest (?) bits from them. Maybe I had some wisdom to share as a child that I’ve forgotten about. Or maybe I can just give you the scoop on Audrey’s 3rd grade crush.

In other words, dis gon’ be good.

JOURNAL #1: Circa 2004-2006

Context: According to the first page, I started writing on December 24, 2014 (I got the journal from my cousin for Christmas, as written by 8-year-old a. w. in the first entry, see below.) At some point, I went back and added to them. (Dangit younger self, why are you ruining the memory of posterity for me?!)

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Seems innocent enough. I still have no idea what “Angels on Assignment” is. Stickers courtesy of American Girl. I was into that kind of thing.
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Okay, I’m literally asking my brother to read it with all these warnings. Also, I really want to know what I wrote on Thursday February 9. Did I murder someone?! Also I like that I crossed “crushes” out like I was above that or something.

I took a no-holds-bar approach to privacy as a youngster. Ain’t no one was going to crack open that journal, apparently. I even wrote “TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED” on one of the pages. Geez. Calm down, small Audrey. The IRS is not after you for what you wrote in that book.

Let’s take a look at the first entry, for reference (completely unadulterated, with spelling mistakes and all):

December 24, 2004

Dear journal, 

My cousin gave me a jornal for Christmas! Well, a day before Christmas. I am in 3rd grade. We do cursive. Tommorow is christmas, and I cannot wait. And I got a barbie. 

This is all well and good, lil’ Audrey, but what’s your lead? None of this is very interesting. Also, your syntax is horrible. The first few entries are a bit clunky and formal because I was getting used to the idea of writing my thoughts down on paper.

LET’S FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED ON FEBRUARY 9, SHALL WE?

. . .

Upon further investigation, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING happened on February 9. Small Audrey, you sly dog. It was a TRICK.

She may have been talking about December 29, 2004, which has some very strict warnings on that particular page. Little Audrey talked about how she wanted to make a cartoon when she grew up and she didn’t want anyone taking her idea. (I STILL don’t want you to take my idea, so I’m not gonna tell you.)

I talked a lot about how I wanted to be a cartoonist (affectionately spelled “cartoonest” in my weirdly round handwriting) I dressed up as a cartoonist for career day. How do you dress up like a cartoonist? I don’t know. I just kind of went with it. And I was hardcore into career day, let me tell you. I have at least five journal entries about it in this journal alone.

The first few months are BORING AS HECK. You’d think I had no social life at all. (I didn’t. Because I couldn’t drive and I was eight.)

Sometimes lil a. w. waxed poignant. Skip ahead to “Thursday evening of April 2005” (I even came up with really good stream-of-consciousness poem titles.)

Dear journal, 

I’m just sitting on the driveway, dreaming and writing. I just like time alone after the hussle and bussle of the daytime. (Once an introvert, always an introvert.) I just like sitting here and listening to the birds and looking at God’s wonders. I like it here in the caldisac. It’s always pretty, There’s a whole bunch of nature around it. I hope we never move away from here. 

Spoiler alert: We never moved away from here.

And now we go to fourth grade where THE DRAMA GETS TURNED UP A NOTCH.

I had a crush in fourth grade, and it was the stupidest crush I’ve ever had. Wait. Every crush I’ve ever had has been stupid, but anyway. The first of many. Let’s take a look at Tuesday February 7, 2006.

Dear journal, 

Today was like any normal day. I’m working on a new book, it’s called, The Map to Treasure! (note: could have been the next great American novel, but I never got passed page two.) Tommorow (I didn’t learn how to spell that until I was like 18) I have piano lessons, yesterday I had GEMS. As you know (I guess my journal is sentient) Valentine’s day is coming up and I like someone. His name is Zach (last name withheld). I’m going to write him a love note. 

Sinceraly, 

Audrey W, 4th Grade (Cuarto Grado)

 (I was learning Spanish and couldn’t spell.)

The drama intensifies. Will Zach say yes? Will he accept my Sweet Tart Valentine with a really bad “roses are red” poem in it?

Spoiler alert: everyone in fourth grade got wind of my crush and I never dropped a crush so quickly in my life. He then fell madly in love with someone else in 4th grade (guess what? It didn’t last.) and then again in 5th grade (still didn’t last, sorry to disappoint.) I’m not proud.

We will wrap up this segment with Sunday April 2, 2006, since this journal isn’t super interesting. The young, doe-eyed girl is still developing her voice.

Small Audrey is very excited about her birthday, which is over a month away. But this entry will give you a good picture of what I was like at the age of 9.

DJ, (oh yeah, I should tell you that at some point I abbreviated “dear journal” to DJ to be hip and trendy like the hip and trendy kid I was.)

We have plans for my birthday. Here they are. 

MAIN THEME: SPYS

(after 3rd grade, I really wanted to be a spy.)

Scedule: (Small Audrey is organized.)

1.Go bowling

2.Come home

3.Play games

4.Cake and pizza

5.PRESENTS! (I have priorities.)

My birthday is May 16. Du big 1-0!

Audrey

After I read this, I laughed for a solid five minutes at “du big 1-0!” I remember how big of a deal that was.

Isn’t it weird how “big deals” change as we get older? When we’re little, big deals are crushes and sleepovers and birthday parties. Now they seem like small blips on the radar, don’t they? There’s going to be a lot of “blips” on this journey – “best friends,” friends moving away, loves I thought would last forever, and all that jazz.

Don’t worry, friends. There’s more sass and threats to come. It only gets better (and more hormonal – middle school is coming!) from here. Stay tuned!

a. w.

Things that Mean Things

13308640_1175953279118227_6365910480183376487_oI’ve been cleaning house lately,

getting rid of things I don’t need.

The usual stuff:

Blankets,

Old clothes,

Stuffed animals from years gone by,

Books that have gone untouched for years.

It didn’t take long for me to whittle down

All the things I didn’t need,

Put away in brown bags to be sent to Goodwill.

Then I found myself amongst

A different pile

Of old things.

A picture frame

that holds four smiling people

And says

“Friends forever.”

A few years ago,

I would’ve held that picture to my chest

and maybe cried.

But I looked at it

and for the first time

I didn’t feel

Anything.

An old pillowcase from fourth grade

that I used to cry into

when I had anxiety

but before I realized

anxiety

would become part of my life’s narrative.

I looked at it, felt it, smelled it

and it didn’t mean

Anything.

A plethora of other pictures

Notes passed in class

Candles from birthdays gone by

I looked at them

sitting in various boxes

and realized –

That’s not the way it is anymore.

I used to need those things,

the people in those pictures,

that blanket for comfort,

that note from that person.

But now

I

don’t.

What happened?

Nothing, really.

Just time.

Time happened.

Time caused a gap

Caused silence

Caused apathy.

And that’s okay.

If we were meant to say in a harbor,

we would be a buoy, not a ship.

We sail. We don’t stay.

And by sailing,

We move away from the things

that used to keep us safe

to search for things

that grow us.

We sail away from old memories

that used to make us cry,

but now only bring a tickle to our throat

before disappearing forever.

We part from friends and leave them on the shore,

so they can build their ship

and sail too.

We leave the things

that once used to be

so so important to us 

on the sand

to be lapped by the waves.

What used to be treasure is now merely driftwood.

And that’s ok.

We weren’t meant to crave driftwood,

to hang it in our houses or cling to it at night.

We weren’t meant to be tied to the dock.

If we hold onto the things that used to be us,

we’ll stop becoming who we’re meant to be.

We’ll be a ship, but we won’t be any use.

We’d hold onto

everything

that ever made us

anything

and

slowly

we’d

sink.

So let go.

a. w.

Not How you Are, but Who you Are

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I laid in my bed feeling like I was going to throw up. I wasn’t sick, but I was certainly queasy. My heart was pounding out of my chest and my stomach felt like a rock. It was nearing midnight after a long day, and I had gotten home late only to log on to my computer and find out I needed to buy a textbook for my summer class – a textbook that cost almost $200.

You’d think the computer had punched me in the stomach. That’s almost half my savings. So at 11:30pm I shakily entered my debit card number with a limp index finger and smashed my head into my pillow with thoughts racing.

Why did I decide to take an unpaid internship this summer? Why didn’t I try to find a higher-paying job? Why am I even taking this class? I’m paying off loans, shelling out cash for parking every day, and just scraping by with a minimum wage job.

I could take on another job. There’s got to be something I could fit in to my schedule. How am I going to pay for my apartment in the fall? 

And then the racing thoughts got deeper. Why did I decide to go to a private college and live on campus? I’m up to my eyeballs in debt. I’m never going to get a job that will pay it off. I’m gonna be homeless. This is a disaster. 

(It’s amazing how money will make you regret every decision you’ve ever made. But that’s a discussion for an entirely different blog post.)

Summer is a weird limbo period for most college students. You have a heck ton of time that you didn’t have during the school year, so you have lots of time to think. Instead of cranking out homework, you’re probably working a wage slave job to scrape up a little money for the semester to come.

And trust me, when you have time to think, you think. A. Lot. And your thoughts can turn on you fast.

This has been one of the most stressful summers of my life. I spent a month (and a lot of my money) in Europe on a school trip, which was three weeks of physical, spiritual, and emotional intensity. I returned broke and exhausted and threw myself into a part time job at Starbucks, a play, an internship, and a summer class. My gas gauge and my bank statements descended quickly. I overdrafted three times in the month of June. I still try to make it each week with a tiny paycheck (thank heavens I live with my parents. I’d live in a box if I didn’t.)

I made the choice to take an unpaid internship and rehearse for a play back in April. I, being the idealist, didn’t see the harm. Until I started paying for gas after driving across the city for rehearsal every night, and sticking coins into a parking meter every morning (and getting a ticket…) And months before then, I made plans to get an apartment with my friends before school starts in the fall. Idealism, am I right?

I’ve struggled with myself this summer. I feel like I’m one of those second graders that’s getting held back (remember how scandalous that was when it happened? It was basically jail.) I’ve never felt like more of a hapless child, even moreso than when I was a hapless child.

I’ve been asking “how come I…” a lot, with the emphasis on “I” because a lot of our worries stem from ourselves. How come don’t have a boyfriend? How come didn’t get that paid internship? How come decided to do all of these things for free? How come feel stuck and like I’ll never amount to anything?

And then the even more dangerous question: What’s wrong with me?

So what’s the answer to that?

Nothing.

Nothing is wrong with you.

Parents and counselors will be the first to tell you that, but let me tell you that as a fellow human being, and maybe someone who is around your age. There is nothing wrong with you. In fact, keep asking those questions. But instead of wallowing in them, answer them.

Why did I decide to take an unpaid internship? Because it’s in a field I’m interested in. It will help me learn what I want to do, and I won’t just be doing it for a paycheck. I’ll have to keep showing up because I want to. It will grow me as a human and as a professional.

Why did I decide to be in a play instead of working more? Because I love creating art, and I’ve made something beautiful with a group of people I love. Because life isn’t just money. Life is experience. And no experience is wasted if you decide to learn something.

Why do you feel stuck? Because maybe you’re not supposed to be where “that person” (someone comes to mind, don’t they?) is right now. You’re supposed to be where you’re at, spending a summer with kids at a camp, bussing tables for 60 hours a week, getting married, preparing for the birth of your first child. None of these things are small. And you can learn something from it if you decide to. And something good can come out of everything if you decide that.

Life is more than gas money. Life is more than the number of zeros on your paycheck. It’s more than your relationship status, your friend’s Instagram feed, the number of messages in your inbox. It’s about who you want to be now, in a week, in a year, in ten years. It’s about how you greet your coworkers on a Monday morning. It’s about how you treat the stranger sharing your seat on the bus. It’s about who you are and not how or what you are. The kind of friend, sister or brother, husband or wife, mother or father you want to be. It’s your eulogy at your funeral, the words on your gravestone.

Life is Patience. Not merely standing by, but actively waiting and seeking. So be patient. You’re not there yet because you’re supposed to be here. So while you’re here, learn. Grow.

Be patient. Wait expectantly for the sunrise in the middle of the storm. Walk in the rain instead of rushing through it with a newspaper over your head. A year from now, look back at the storm. Instead of thinking about how it was or what it was like, think about who you were then and how you changed. Don’t let it be a regret and don’t let it be a waste.

Let it be something that, no matter how difficult it was, made you who you are. Not everything has to be a period, conclusive and final. Maybe right now, your life is at a comma. Because you’re not sure how this short story in the anthology of your life is going to end.

But I promise you that when it does come to an end, it will make sense.

a, w,

 

I’m A Christian, But…

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I’m a Christian, but sometimes I don’t act like it.

I’m a Christian, but sometimes I don’t feel very Christian.

Sometimes I don’t love people.

Sometimes I don’t care.

Sometimes I even hate people.

I’m not proud of it.

I wish I could be the Christian that everyone else seems to be.

Always happy, always perfect, always #blessed.

I’m a Christian, but my life isn’t like that.

Sometimes I don’t act like Jesus.

Sometimes I don’t want to follow Him.

Sometimes I don’t even love Jesus.

I love myself more, most days.

Some days, I openly disobey. I go my own way.

And I don’t even care.

I’m a Christian, but sometimes I chase the world.

I chase it relentlessly.

Because I want it.

Fame. Money. Happiness.

Being a Christian is hard.

It’s impossible in this day in age to have a definite opinion about anything.

But if you’re a Christian, you have to.

You have to disagree with people.

You get accused of telling people they’re going to Hell.

You get accused of saying you’re perfect and special.

You get accused of being a hypocrite.

Why do we get accused of these things?

Because sometimes, these things are true.

We can’t help it.

We’re. Not. Perfect.

I’m a Christian, but I’m. Not. Perfect.

I’m selfish. I’m broken. I’m filled with negativity.

I’m a Christian, but I’ll be the first to tell you that

I

need

Grace.

I need grace even when I don’t think I need it.

I need it every second of my small, selfish existence.

I’m a Christian, and I need Grace. We all do.

The earth groans for grace,

and she doesn’t even realize it.

I’m a Christian, and it makes me different,

but it doesn’t make me better.

It doesn’t make me more loved or cherished.

God so loved the world 

that He gave

and gave

and gave

and gives.

I’m a Christian, but I’m not perfect.

I’m not perfect, but I’m loved.

 

a. w.

My Adventures in Online Dating, the Conclusion: Mars & Venus

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“Welcome to my world.”

“Good job with the face.”

“You have a nice smile! *winky face*”

“Did you know that cows have best friends?”

These are some examples of the smooth ways I’ve tried to initiate conversation on Bumble. Each of them failed at least once. (Disclaimer: “good job with the face” and “nice smile” were the only ones that merited a response. I bet you can guess why the other ones didn’t.) Some of my more successful attempts have been a bit less interesting, like “You don’t have a bio, so what do I ask you?” or “Tell me about yourself!” Or even the typical “Hey!” Which apparently guys don’t want to respond to…but, hey (!) do guys even know what they want?

Not on Bumble they don’t!

And neither do I…?

Or maybe I actually, secretly do know what I want and that’s what makes online dating so difficult.

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I definitely didn’t want that.

After online dating for about two and a half months, I have gone on a grand total of three dates. I haven’t kept track of how many people I’ve matched with, but it hasn’t been an astronomical number. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting to be ambushed with men as soon as I logged on, but I have to admit, it’s been a little discouraging. One of my dates turned out to be an atheist. One now has a girlfriend. And another brushed me off after dangling the possibility of a second date. There are a few I haven’t even met but kinda sorta really want to but can’t for reasons.

So yeah, it’s hard.

But it’S hard offline too. I realize that. The dating game is the same in the real world – you usually have to anticipate rejection, unless you want your self esteem kicked around. But after awhile, it sort of helps you grow a thicker skin, so you can continue to enter the dating pool with confidence.

In short (but not short, really), I’ve learned a lot about myself through online dating. I learned things that I really didn’t expect to learn, to be honest. When I joined the online dating scene, I thought I was simply going to be swiping left and right and going on cute, fun dates all the time, just to test the waters. But it’s actually been a rather emotional (and, dare I say, spiritual) journey for me these past few months.

I’ve never really been ~on~ the dating scene. I was an awkward-as-heck high school student who never had a boyfriend and asked her own date to prom. I wasn’t the victim of freshman frenzy in college. I’ve never really been the “chased-after” one. And that can do a number on your heart sometimes. You see everyone getting with everyone else and you wonder what’s wrong with you. (I’ve talked about this before, haven’t I? I’ll bury the dead horse now.) So to jump into the dating scene at this time in my life, when I’m still becoming the adult I’m meant to be instead of the teenager/juvenile I was, was like jumping into a cold lake, when I thought it was going to be like wading into a tropical seaside.

But life is never quite what we want it to be, is it?

So, before I get any more tangential, here’s a few things I’ve learned while surfing the web for a husband (not an overstatement):

1. 90% of men are really bad at online dating. Ok, that’s not an official statistic, and it’s probably not accurate. But I feel like I’m weeding through a lot of roughs to find the diamonds. Here’s some reasons why they’re bad at it (let the meta-lists begin!):

  • Ya’ll don’t specify who you are in a group picture. If all your pictures involve multiple people, I have no idea which one you are. And that makes a difference. Are you the one cuddling the puppy or holding the liter of beer? I need to know these things.
  • YA’LL POST PICTURES THAT INVOLVE YOUR EX (or multiple women.) If there’s anything that’s super unattractive to me, it’s when guys on dating apps post pictures of themselves a) with their ex (or a woman who is draped over them for some other reason?) or b) multiple women who are apparently competing for who can wear the least amount of clothing, or bleach their hair the brightest. That’s a huge turnoff for girls who are looking for something real. Unless you’re not looking for something real, in which case…as you were. I’ll pray for you. (Only slightly kidding)
  • You don’t post anything about yourself. Seriously, a bio goes a long way. I tend to swipe left on people who don’t have bios because I’m not much of a risk-taker. I do understand that some people are on dating sites for much…different reasons than I am, so maybe a bio doesn’t matter much to some people.

2. I’m bad at online dating too! Be you not afear’d, men. I am also terrible at online dating, as you’ll see by my awful conversation starters. I’ve done really jerk-y things, like unmatch with someone after a conversation (essentially “ghosting” them.) I’ve gotten unnecessarily angry at people I’ve matched with. And I’ve been hecka impatient. That’s been my biggest pitfall so far. Even now, I’m beating myself up for something I texted one of my matches weeks ago. What the heck possessed me to say that? 

3. It’s really overwhelming. It can feel like online shopping at times…which is probably not how it’s supposed to be. (But if you think about it, IRL dating can be like shopping too…) It’s almost like that scene in The Emperor’s New Groove (I’m very cultured) when Kuzco is choosing from a row of women for one of them to be his wife. And then when you do swipe right on someone, you get hopeful that you’ll match. And sometimes you don’t. And that can be draining or discouraging. In the last week I’ve talked to only two people on Bumble, and both conversations were unfruitful. I matched with several guys, but those people let the conversation expire. And I keep thinking why? What’s wrong with me? (Wrong way to think about it, but I’ll get to that later.) It can do a number on your self-esteem.

All that to say, my journey on Bumble has been a journey of the soul. (Cue candles and ambient music.) It sounds canned, but it’s kind of true. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I learned that I get attached really fast. After matching with people, I sometimes imagine what our first date will be like, or what our first cute Instagram photo will look like. I imagine what it’s like to drive in a car with them, listening to their favorite music. Audrey, that’s ridiculous. You haven’t even met them yet. (Cue Michael Buble music.) I know it’s ridiculous. It’s friggin’ ridiculous.

Which is why I think I’m going to call it quits on online dating.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I don’t think I’m at a good spot in my life to be doing it. However, I’m really thankful that I made that decision to join a few months ago, because I don’t think I would have learned about who I am or what I want if I hadn’t. Here’s the way I see it: Online dating sites are for people who don’t know what they want. But I’ve realized that I actually do know what I want, which is kind of a weird thing for me to say, because I feel clueless half the time.

Secondly, no matter how hard I want to look ~authentic~ on dating sites, it’s almost impossible to be 100% real online. (Like I said, I went on a date with an atheist and didn’t realize he was an atheist based on his profile.) Sometimes I think the more we try to be authentic, the more fake we are. And yeah, I try really hard on dating sites. So it’s not doing me any favors to show that “me” to potential dates. You can fake it all you want, but just remember there’s no screen when you go on an IRL dates. It’s all you. And it’s exhausting to try to keep up an ~authentic~ facade.

I’ve made some good connections on Bumble. I still talk to some of the people I went on dates with. One has a girlfriend now (we figured out after one date that we weren’t super compatible, but are cool as friends) and is giving me advice on future romantic pursuits. I still talk to some of the people I haven’t gone on dates with, because hey, you never know.

So, in short (1440 words later), online dating is a great thing. But remember, you might not be ready, and you might learn the hard way that you’re not ready. Be patient with yourself and with all those left-swipers out there. Don’t take every rejection personally. Continue growing and cultivating who you are first and foremost.

And most importantly, be the realest you you can be.

What if when he sees me
I like him and he knows it?
What if he opens up a door
And I can’t close it?
What happens then?
If when he holds me
My heart is set in motion
I’m not prepared for that
I’m scared of breaking open
But still I can’t help from hoping
To find someone to talk to
Who likes the way I am
Someone who when he sees me
Wants to again

– When He Sees Me, Sara Bareilles

a. w.