I used to pee like five times before going on a date.
I was such a ball of nerves, it didn’t matter how little or how much I drank before going out, I would be in and out of the bathroom too many times to count.
Before I met my husband in 2009, I went on a lot of blind dates. A lot. I did the whole online dating thing for a while before I met the man I am happy and proud to now call my husband.
But let me tell you, dating wasn’t easy for me. Dating while plus-size? In reality, I’m sure it’s not any harder than for any other woman, but sometimes it felt like it might be. In reality, if a guy likes what you look like online, and you show true, accurate photos of yourself as you look now — not 10 years ago — then you shouldn’t be afraid that the guy won’t like your looks. He’s seen you in those photos, so there’s no surprises. From there it should be all about chemistry and common interests.
That’s reality, though. And we all know that what runs through our heads is not exactly reality.
In my head, I’d fret over meeting someone new. “What if I’m bigger than he expected?” “What if he didn’t look at all my photos and only saw my profile — a headshot?” “What if he says something rude to me?”
Luckily for me, that never happened. If a guy just wasn’t that into me, he was polite in person and then would decline a second date … or ignore a text, which was much more likely! And if I wasn’t feeling him? Same. (Though I did try to actually face it and tell the guy the truth, rather than cowardly just ignore him.)
The sad thing is, even though I’m happily married and no longer in the dating scene, I still get nervous about meeting people for the first time. I try to dive into my well of confidence. I carry myself proudly, I dress nicely, I speak kindly and I’m usually well received, thankfully. But inside, sometimes I’m cowering. Sometimes I’m wondering if others are judging. I’m wondering if my fears or doubts are actually plastered across my forehead and visible for all to see.
While I know this is all in my head, it doesn’t always make being the “new” person any easier. I draw strength from the people who know me. The people who get me. I draw strength because, the more new people I meet, the more I know me.
When I break out of that doubt, out of that shell, as often as I can, over and over, and introduce myself clearly, happily, “I’m Jennifer. Nice to meet you!” it fuels my self-esteem.
And those thoughts about my weight or my appearance go away as we talk about common interests. As we get to know one another.
It’s amazing how something like online dating actually helped me to just be me.
But whether you’re dating or not — if you’re the “new” person somewhere, or just shy, or learning to network more or wanting to make friends at the gym or church, just do it. Over and over and over. Find that well of confidence within yourself and introduce yourself. Smile. Laugh.
It will start to come naturally.
And you won’t have to pee a bajillion times before you do it.