Non-fiction Saturdays

Online Dating:

I Almost Did It Again

man and woman sitting and laughing
Photo by Tiago Felipe Ferreira via Unsplash

In my mid-twenties, I logged on to an online dating website. If you asked me today, I swear, I couldn’t even tell you which one it was. It proved to be a decent piece of my life at that moment as I matched with a handsome young man who was incredibly intelligent, independent, secure in his job, funny, and respectful. We lasted all of three months. In all honesty, we were unclear as to what we wanted from each other in the beginning. After that third month, I noticed we were good together, compatible. We enjoyed each other’s time, we did jigsaw puzzles together, went to the bookstore, walked in the local parks, etc. We had in-depth, intense, and impressive conversations. However, he did not want anything serious.

I did.

Thus, our end made its way in front of us all too soon. I think about him from time to time. Although we only dated for three months, those were a pretty damn good three months and I smile when I think of them. Every so often, I wonder how he’s doing. If he still lives in the Greensboro area. If he ever got his own business up and running. He was the first guy I dated who kept an immaculate apartment (much like myself) and at that time, I thought it odd as the only young men I’d ever dated, almost never really cleaned house or cooked, let alone had a place that was worth leaving my place for one night or two. He had all these things yet we did not work out.

The more I thought about him, the more I realized–I was dating a male version of myself and today that seems pretty creepy but that’s what it was. It was going to fail and fail hard and fast had it not done so when it did.

But, something pressed upon me a few weeks ago. I have been thinking of saddling up the old horse and getting back on it to give it another go. I did so on Thursday night. I e-trotted over to eHarmony, answered their compatibility questions and guaranteed matching assessment quiz, built a profile, tossed up a few photos, then promptly deleted it. I lost my nerve. The fear that landed itself in my lap was palpitating and real. One moment, I was excited about the possibilities and could not wait to see what my new age and this new year has in store in the land of dating and the next, I was the Cowardly Lion.


women's black leather zip-up jacket
Photo by Naitian (Tony) Wang via Unsplash

I no longer bite my nails, but if I were still doing this, they’d be nubs. Within seconds, an indescribable sense of nervousness overcame me and all I could do and think of was to back out and back off. Before anything could even begin, I shot it down. I did not let it live a life of two to three days.

Nothing.

I told my best friend about this and she said, “It is beginning to concern me of the rate in which you’re letting fear prevent you from doing certain things. What’s the worst that could happen?” And I instantly thought, “Well, the worst that could happen.” I did not tell her this, though. She can overcome fear within seconds–she just does whatever it is she wants to do. If it needs questioning later, it’s questioned. But, I overanalyze things and create a small place in which I dare not go and this is what keeps me from doing many of the things I set out to do.

Last year, I overcame several of my fears and I am learning to be gentle with myself about the things that need work–about the things for which I still have mounds of hesitation in my spirit. I won’t rush things, but I am planning on not remaining in the bowels of the unknown for too long either. I know what I want. I know who I’d like to have these things with, but I am still unsure if I want long-term or dating only. I believe the last thought makes itself known within the first few weeks of dating someone. From what I recall, one can usually tell after two to three dates if one surely wants to keep spending time with the person one is dating.

According to a few statistics compiled by eHarmony,

“Female users aren’t just looking for hook-ups . . . Only 33% of women who use online dating websites say they have sex on the first online dating encounter, and 60% of female Tinder users say they are looking for a match, not just a hookup.”

This is good information to know as I am surely not just looking for a hook-up. This next statistic is intriguing and gives me a little hope about the way the dating world does things mostly now:

“Online dating statistics show that 20% of those in current, committed relationships began online and 7% of marriages in 2015 were between couples that met on a dating website.”

I know at least four couples who met their mates online and they are still together, three of those four couples are married. That says a lot, don’t you think? But, the older I get, the more I know/feel I do not want to be married. This is my now. Who’s to say what I may feel like or know deep in my bones one to three years from now.

So, I almost gave online dating a try again. I was so close. If I were to give myself another pep talk, build myself up to a place of belief that perhaps, a committed relationship could flourish for me too, there is no telling where my mind will lead me. But, will I stick it out, though? I guess there’s only one thing to do in order to know . . .

I still fear it just a bit. Just a tiny bit.

shift

I sat with my feelings for a week
and took a chance on shifting from
5-8s to 3-12s, rotating weekends.
Everything in my body says,
“Pray for this job, two days off
during the week one week, then
four days off during the week the next
is what you need.”

A smooth transition. Perhaps?
An easy transfer. Who knows?

But, I didn’t want to
fight myself later
for not taking a chance
just in case I actually get it.

I’ll never know unless 
I try.

Right?

Hidden

For Every Black Man Waiting To Be Loved

Jurien Huggins via Unsplash

Hidden: An Audio Poem

she tricked you into thinking
you weren’t noticed — your smile
didn’t meet her in the middle,
yet I see you.

I watch as you struggle to exist
in a world bent on keeping you
hidden behind its sullen corners,
you are not what they expect

when they envision greatness.

I come to you, arms outstretched,
urging you to know my ways . . .
I want to calm your seas,
let me be your peace.

the caves for men aren’t designed
to home the wildest creatures,
we have to make our way —
we are not the boxing kind.

wrappers and bows.
garland and lights.
presentation is everything and
we put on a show.

come, dance in my direction.

I yearn to watch the little boy
emerge with his face aching
for the sunlight.
I know he’s there.

let me watch you
enchant this world around us,
give me the hope of a new season —
the flesh of a beating heart.

you haven’t allowed yourself
this kind of love in
nearly a lifetime, yet here I am . . .
flaunting it for you to touch.

I will not hide you, no . . .
not when something as beautiful
as you should be placed on the
front row of city buses.

no hesitations
no second thoughts
no reconsiderations

necessary.


Originally published on Medium.

The Building Blocks of Me

Supriya Bhonsle via Mixkit.co

Stepping Out of Fear’s Shadow

The crows caw and squawk outside my window. It’s a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning and Jernee and Nala are quiet. They are resting while I work. The weekends are designated days for in-depth writing, reading, listening to music, soul-searching, and growth. I am learning how to shed old skin and create positive energy spaces for myself once again. I lost the sense of me a long time ago. I allowed fear, rejection, one-sided relationships, and false senses of love to rule over me. In the throes of sadness and pain, we can become fickle beings, even more than we already are.

I am learning how to shed old skin and create positive energy spaces for myself once again.

Opportunities are presenting themselves and instead of swatting at them because I do not know what agreeing to them will bring, I am saying, “Yes!” to open doors and walking through them. I always sit with something new for assessment purposes — to understand and research it thoroughly before committing. Quick decision-making can go two ways: good or bad. I’d like to aim for more good outcomes than bad and I have done this for the most part.

I am setting up my life as I would building blocks. Every new aspect, change, or decision is becoming a tool for growth and my future. I have goals set and many of them, I am planning to accomplish before the end of 2020. I have curbed my spending, devoted more time to reading and writing, and focused on building a brand. If I do not get a headstart on my future now, I may never do so. Once time has passed you by, it doesn’t circle back around to collect you on the rebound — it is ready, even if you are not.

The crows squawk again. There are five of them. One seems to lead the others into a cawing fest as I attempt to drown them out. Nature will not step aside because you need silence. The wind does not know its whistle disrupts your thinking process. The rain has no forethought of your plans to pen three articles before dinnertime. It is up to you to stay focused and get the work done.

I am my own pep squad.

While alone at home, I have to take mini breaks for moments of encouragement. If I do not do this, the work suffers. And at this point in my life, I cannot let the work suffer. When I think about the possibility of shifting from 40-hour weeks to 30-hour weeks, maintaining a strong writing base, and studying methods to enhance and hone my craft, there is no time for suffering. I sing to myself. I say delightful phrases and aphorisms. I make myself believe that everything I envision, along with prayer and patience, will manifest itself into being. I am my own pep squad and I cheer myself on wholeheartedly.

Support: It drives me.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines support as follows: the act or process of supporting: the condition of being supported. (n)

I know how important support is: familial, by way of readers, and friend-based. I have grown from it. I appreciate it. It is what keeps me going on my worst days. If it were not for support, I could not be a writer. What I have gained in the sense of love, understanding, kindness, and acceptance, has come in vast amounts from support. From the day I began putting my work online until now, I have needed support and I have gotten it.

I sing to myself. I say delightful phrases and aphorisms. I make myself believe that everything I envision, along with prayer and patience, will manifest itself into being.


I am stepping out of fear’s shadow. I made the decision a few weeks ago and since then, even though my limbs shake and my stomach gets queasy, I press forward. I want to know what I can do — what I will allow myself to do if I remove myself from the harmful grip of fear. Some fear is good. It can be a reminder. There are things in life that require you to be fearful of them so you will not bring harm to yourself or others. I am mindful of this type of fear. It keeps me safe. It keeps my loved ones safe too.

“Fear is a feeling that is internal and is conscience.” — Dr. Mary D. Moller

“It arises when sensory systems in the brain have determined an external stimulus poses a threat. Outputs of threat detection circuits trigger a general increase in brain arousal and can result in altered threat processing: fear and anxiety disorders.” — Jaime Rosenberg

The fear I speak of is that clutching fear that barks at you to not do something because it’s bigger than you — to step back and away from infinite possibilities. It cripples you, stirs up anxiety, and causes your body to shift and change along with this emotion. This fear will not have my attention anymore. I am setting boundaries and it is not welcome. Am I frightened? Hell yes! But I will not remain in that mode. If I cannot move past the scary bits in life, how will I ever know what can be?

With each passing day, I urge myself to do something a bit more difficult than the previous one and for me, this is a massive accomplishment. I am taking a personal stand against what fear has done to me and what I have allowed it to do. Reprogramming my brain regarding this emotion will take time, but I refuse to sit back and continue to do nothing. There is a life that I envision waiting for me and I intend to experience it.

I am taking a personal stand against what fear has done to me and what I have allowed it to do.

These are the building blocks of me and with every step, I am changing.


Originally published via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this an article behind Medium’s paywall. This article is also curated by Medium Editors and featured in the “Self” content tab for Medium.