Continuing from Saturday’s segment where I detailed how my 22nd birthday signalled some new, positive changes in my life and how my burgeoning confidence inspired me to seek love, my story continues below…
Down With Love
Let’s just get this straight before I go on, I had never had any kind of success when it came to love and relationships by the time I had reached 22 years old. I think I can speak for a lot of social anxiety sufferers when I say that by that age, that section of my life was totally non-existent.
And in a lot of ways, I have myself to thank for that. I was definitely a self-saboteur when it came to affairs of the heart. As a teenager, when ever a member of the opposite sex would show me the least bit of interest, I would immediately shut it down.
That’s because in my head, I couldn’t even begin to fathom that someone could find little old me even remotely attractive. It just couldn’t compute in any way, form or fashion and I refused to even entertain the thought.
I see now that it was a form of self-preservation to prevent any one from getting to close to me, I secretly feared exposing my vulnerability which essentially is at the core of being in a romantic relationship.
I was either too fat, too ugly, too boring, too quiet, basically too much of anything negative to deserve to be loved. And so I went through my teenage years keeping in the shadows.
I dressed like a tomboy deliberately to blend in and to not appear womanly or feminine. I hardly talked to males unless it was for work related reasons when I was in academia.
Fizzle And No Sizzle
I thought I was being smart by becoming the invisible woman but secretly by my early twenties, I felt like I may be ready to be in a relationship. Don’t get it confused though, I didn’t feel like I needed to meet someone in order to feel complete, I knew that I had to find that in myself and not rely on anyone else for that verification.
So I started by signing up to a few dating sites like OkCupid! and Match. I figured it would be easier to meet someone online because I could get comfortable messaging them first before perhaps getting to the stage where we could go on a date.
Lol, let me tell you this, I was terrible at flirting and trying to appear seductive and cool. It just wasn’t me and try as I might, I just couldn’t fit into that persona.
I remember going on a couple of dates though with two different guys but I think because I was so nervous, I couldn’t relax and enjoy myself. Things would pretty much fizzle out before they’d even begun to fizz which left me a bit discouraged.
Guy Seeks Friends
I decided instead to focus on finding friends rather then a partner. Since I had left University the prior year, I had lost touch with everyone and didn’t have any friends of my own to socialise with whatsoever. I reasoned that it would make more sense to start making friends and become comfortable with that before attempting to embark on a possible relationship.
My twin sister told me about Gumtree and said that they had a free ad service on which you could post messages in order to meet friends. I thought it could be a good way to meet people who had similar interests to myself and so I signed up and started trawling through some of the ads.
The very first time I started looking, an ad caught my eye. It didn’t say anything particularly ground-breaking and I remember the title was ‘Guy Seeks Friends’ which doesn’t actually tell you that much. Nevertheless, I was curious, read the ad and then sent a message.
Over the next few weeks, that guy and I started sending emails to each other. We then progressed to texting and speaking over the phone. Finally, after a month we met in a café in Notting Hill on a cloudy day in August 2008.
Naturally, I was worried about meeting face to face and thought that I’d run out of things to say, which didn’t happen. On the contrary we talked for over three hours straight about anything and everything.
After we had said our goodbyes, I remember feeling pleased that for the first time in years I had found a friend who I felt completely at ease around, which didn’t happen very often. Something told me right away that I was going to know this guy for a very long time. And I was right. Just over four years later, that guy became my husband.
So by the time my 23rd birthday rolled around, although some aspects of my life were still up in the air as I was just starting to slowly get myself together, (my career aspirations for one) my love life for the first time was in full bloom.
I was in love and it was a good feeling. If only the rest of my life could have run as smoothly…
Stay tuned for part 8.