I recently went on a date with a guy I met on Tinder. This is surprising in so many ways, meaning that I hadn’t expected to even meet up with any of the guys from Tinder because of the obvious reason (well, it’s Tinder) and also, I am slightly terrified of dating / meeting new people. It means putting myself out there, right into the scrutiny of a new pair of eyes that are ready to judge me and thus tear me apart. Funnily enough, I usually do the judging-me part quite well without the help of others − but I’ll get to that in a bit.

So we went to a rather isolated place (sounds like a safe spot for a first date, right?) close to the city centre where we sat in the grass and drank cider. We talked for a bit and I was doing quite alright, not too nervous − which is quite unusual for me, especially since I had arrived at our meeting point far too early, as usual, meaning I had to wait (which is one of the worst premises for staying calm). After a few hours of sitting and talking, we walked back to the city centre to find some ice cream and all of a sudden, I wasn’t doing fine anymore. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who were out and about, making it difficult for me to focus on my date. My brain was clearly over-stimulated and I had a hard time processing all of this while being in the moment and acting naturally. Interestingly, the guy I was with noticed the change in my behaviour, so he’s either a very attentive person or it was really obvious − I truly hope it was the former rather than the latter.

I don’t know if it was the cider that had kept me cool at first or what exactly flipped my anxiety switch, but I suddenly wasn’t being myself anymore. I started overthinking each of my answers to his questions in order to say things and act in a way he would approve of (even though at that point I had no idea of knowing how that would be). It’s almost as if I was ashamed of who I am and what I like and therefore felt foolish talking about those things. I was disappointed in myself as soon as I started squirming and therefore proceeded to beat myself up even more. I felt immature and stupid, not worthy of anyone’s approval.

After that, I just wanted to get out of the situation, dreading the embarrassment I could possibly bring upon myself by being me. We parted ways soon afterwards, thus ending an otherwise rather successful date. Interestingly, he texted me the next day telling me that he would like to see me again, so it musn’t have been too bad.

The incident made me realise (once again?) that I need to work on being okay with who and how I am and accept myself with all my flaws so that I can stand my ground and not let myself get talked into something I’m not comfortable with, regardless of whether people might consider that weird. After all, I can’t expect somebody else to accept me the way I am if I don’t do it myself .

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