“There’s a huge array of online dating profiles that feature men showing their latest catch. Surely a female fisher would be well-received.”
You know the feeling when you’re being interviewed for a new job and without fail, the first question they ask is “Tell us about you. Quien eres? What do you like to do?
You have a mild moment of panic, while you try to remember the perfect pitch you’ve practiced over and over in your head. Personally, the truth would be to say I work five days a week at a desk job. I go home to an overweight beagle, heat up a frozen meal for dinner and I’m in bed by 9pm.
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However, the narrative that spills out of my mouth is more along the lines of: “I’m a motivated individual, who has a strong focus on my career and thoroughly enjoys stimulating my mind and body with extra-curricular activities in my free time . This includes, but is not limited to, reading, sport, arts and crafts.”
Both versions of my life are true, but we all know which works better on LinkedIn. But I didn’t just feel this pressure when interviewing for jobs – while I was dating, I believed it was necessary to tweak the way I presented my life. I wanted to come across as impressive and interesting.
In a work context, I was always concerned about not being captivating enough to qualify for the next round of interviews and in a romantic context, a second date. Did it matter if I didn’t actually want the job I was applying for? Nope. Same with a second date.
Did it matter if I thought the person sitting across from me had entirely opposing values and beliefs to me? Not really. Because the overpowering thoughts that kept creeping into my mind were, ‘What’s wrong with me? Am I not interesting enough? I know he’s not my soulmate, but why doesn’t he think I’m his?’.
I yearned for validation. I wanted reassurance that I was someone worth holding on to. When I started my dating journey (albeit, my online dating journey), I was incredibly overwhelmed by the idea of sitting in front of a person I hadn’t met before.
My life had become a fairly consistent routine of going to work, seeing my friends and family, and retreating to my apartment, alone, to recharge my introvert batteries (mainly by indulging in my secret love of horror films). When it came time to talk about myself on dates, I had this underlying feeling my lifestyle wasn’t going to be ‘enough’ to impress people.
So in an attempt to seem interesting, I explored several hobbies. I wanted them to act as conversation starters, and I hoped they would give me something fascinating to contribute to conversations. Cycling was one such hobby. I know this doesn’t exactly scream to the world that I’m living it up, but I thought it was a good starting point.
I didn’t go as far as investing in the full lycra get-up, but I can safely say that it’s not for me. Do I enjoy getting up early, feeling like my lungs are about to explode and constantly worrying about my sunburnt hands prematurely aging? As it turns out, I didn’t, but all power to you if this brings you joy.
I tried aerial yoga in the hopes of becoming not only a toned fitness queen but also to show my dates that I’m invested in my health. Aerial yoga is a hybrid type of yoga where you use a hammock to perform mid-air poses. It turns out the inverted pigeon pose that requires you to hang upside down is extraordinarily migraine-inducing (for me, anyway). Who knew?
I explored fishing. I wondered whether or not this could literally (and figuratively speaking) help me reel in my perfect partner. After all, there’s a huge array of online dating profiles that feature men showing their latest catch. Surely a female fisher would be well-received.
As it turns out, catching blowfish on my local jetty with my rod from Kmart didn’t really make me a worthy fisherwoman. The list of hobbies I trialled goes on and on. I even ended up giving scuba diving a go, and eventually became a qualified open-water diver. Initially, I wondered if I’d ever use the qualification, but now it’s become one of my favorite hobbies.
So did my quest to become ‘more interesting’ land me second dates? Perhaps yes, in some instances, but did it land me a supportive, long-term partner with common interests? Not at all. I didn’t find a suitable partner for many years – not until I understood my personal worth. And I can guarantee my current partner isn’t with me because I’m a qualified scuba diver.
In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to compare yourself to others. But in my mind, to preserve your own wellbeing and avoid dating burnout, the trick is to eliminate the words ‘interesting’ and ‘perfect’ from your dating vernacular, or better still, from your vernacular entirely.
It’s easy to forget that dating is a two-way street. And ultimately, what’s more important; feeling popular and wanted in the virtual dating world, or finding the right person with whom you can share your life?
So when your friends inevitably ask you whether your date texted you back or not, don’t let that feeling of uncertainty get the better of you. Dating is a process of failing your way to success. And for the record, it turns out the life I originally questioned was pretty damn good.
For tips on how to feel more like yourself on dates, try this.