So apparently 29 is your “danger year?” There’s a good chance that my coworker is just making this up, since I found nothing in a quick Google search, but rumor has it you’re supposed to use 29 as your last chance to get all the crazy out of your system before you turn 30 and … what? Life stops? You have to stop #adulting and just be an adult?
I’m always up for a challenge, so I’ll embrace this nonsense, though I’m not too keen on the connotation that it’s all downhill after the big 3-0. I’m already avoiding any and all BuzzFeed/Bustle/blah blah listicles with titles like “30 Things That Start To Happen When You’re Almost 30” and “30 Words That Have A Different Meaning After You Turn 30.” Just stop.
I think a good way to celebrate my year of danger is to finally cross off #1 on my bucket list (sky-diving). So that’s a goal before 2018. I’m also flying to Europe in June, which doesn’t technically sound dangerous but I’m actually a little nervous about it.
And … it’s time to start dating.
I’ve never been big on timelines or milestones, mostly because they’ve never exactly worked out for me. My life took a sharp turn after college—it was like I was just driving along doing everything I thought I was supposed to and the GPS sent me off a cliff. I was continuously recalculating. But most people love timelines. And life plans. And expectations for what your life should look like by a certain age.
And when you’re a young woman of a certain age and you’ve been single for a long time (a looooong time), people love to thrust advice at you. (You may still be young, but you’re not getting any younger, ya know?) It comes from good intentions, but I eventually hit a breaking point a couple years ago where I was going to scream if one more person told me that if I stopped being so picky, or joined Match or Tinder, or got back on OkCupid—because it worked so well the last time? I got so many unsolicited dick pics that I could’ve assembled a scrapbook!—or just tried putting myself “out there,” I’d be sure to find “the one.” Or at least a date for Saturday nights.
The very concept of online dating makes me cringe. I know that we now live in such a technology-driven society that people pretty much only meet online anymore, but there’s just something about that fact that I find so depressing. I grew up on fairytales and happily ever afters. I was a bookworm, burying my nose in love stories. I was also a ‘90s kid, so of course, Disney princes ruined me for life. (Thanks a lot, Walt.) I think I’ve been secretly holding out for a meet-cute.
It took me ages until I felt comfortable even trying again. I was perfectly content to focus all my energy on getting my career off the ground, enjoying weekends with my other single friends, just drinking and dancing and reassuring ourselves that we were doing just fine flying solo. And I was fine. But sometime over the past few months, something clicked.
Now I’m not deluded into thinking that this past year has been anything other than a flaming hot dumpster fire, but here are two important points in defense of my 2016:
- Career: The stars aligned and I finally achieved everything I’ve been striving for over the past six years, or more accurately, for most of my life. It’s not where I thought I’d end up and it may not be where I’ll stay forever, but right now I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I work for an amazing company and I don’t take one single second for granted.
- Home: I have a place to call mine. Not a room in my parents’ house or my grandparents’ house, not a college pad with three other roommates, but a big beautiful apartment that’s slowly starting to feel like home. I was beginning to think I’d never get to have one and it is total bliss.
So I’ve finally reached a point where I’m truly proud of the life I’m living and of all of the hard work and heartache I’ve put into it. And I’m ready to share it with someone. Ready to let someone in. Ready to get “out there,” wherever the hell “there” is. The danger being, of course, that it’s probably gonna be a nightmare.
You’d think my career path would’ve prepared me for this.
Journalists are constantly required to put themselves out there, in the thick of it, on the scene, while struggling to remain objective. We are entrenched in the stories we tell. You try listening to a mother explain how she lost her son in a tragic accident and not find tears in your eyes. Or try talking to a survivor of domestic violence as she describes the night she finally escaped and not get chills radiating throughout your entire body. Those visceral reactions inevitably find themselves woven into our words. So, as writers, we wear our hearts on our sleeves.
As reporters, we call it like it is. We’re used to digging for the bottom line. No bullshit. No games. That may freak some people out, but I happen to think it makes us pretty low-maintenance partners. You’ll always know where you stand. (And we’ll always want to know where we stand.) Jury’s still out on us, but I’m biased.
So, as I prepare to enter a brand new year full of brand new opportunities and possibilities, my last year of being a twenty-something, I’m starting to prioritize. Career? Check. A place to call home? Check, check. But there’s something missing. If I’m being 100% honest for a moment, it feels like there’s always been something missing.
It’s time to actively try to find someone who thinks it’s cute that I wheeze when I laugh really hard or when I get way too invested in the lives of fictional characters, who knows how (and how often) I take my coffee, and doesn’t mind when I correct their spelling or grammar—because I just can’t turn that shit off.
If I meet someone cute and nice and seemingly genuine, I’m done sitting around to “wait and see” what might happen. I’m taking steps to make it happen.
If someone’s crossing my mind at random moments throughout the day, I’m done ignoring the feeling that maybe it means something. Maybe it does. Maybe I should find out.
Of course, the added danger here is that I have no clue what the hell I’m doing. I’d say I’ve been out of the game too long but I never actually started playing in the first place. I’ve been yelled at for being completely oblivious to guys checking me out, bartenders winking at me, whatever. I just don’t even see it. And my feeble attempts to initiate never work. Get a few drinks in me and I start making eye contact with cuties across the bar, hoping it looks like:
… but it’s probably more like:
Anyway, I’ve been “out there” for barely more than a week and I already feel like an idiot, so I must be doing something right.
Apparently that’s how this thing goes though or so I’ve been told.
Welcome to modern dating.