What Exactly is Dating at 21?

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Have you heard of Bumble? It’s a dating app much like Tinder where the user gets to see photos and profiles of people who fit their preferences; then they get to swipe right on those they are interested in and left on those they are not interested in. 

So, for kicks and giggles, I wanted to try it out. I mean, how else do I find interesting people to date in a college/retirement town over summer? Besides bar hopping.

Bumble was my solution. Meeting people online has its risks, I know that. They could be fake, catfishes, bots, or so many other things. That’s not the risk I want to talk about though, I want to talk about dating… Or not.

After all, what do we consider dating for young 20 something youths in the 21st century?

From what I’m told, some people aren’t really into being together in the sense of actually courting one another or getting to know one another. After all, it’s nice to have your freedom and not be tied down by emotion and responsibility. So I’ve heard.

Other people are into dating and that’s great too. They aren’t into hook-up culture or just kind of going with the flow without definitions. Sounds a little more like my preference at least.

My problem comes in that I don’t understand where I fit into this whole schema. I’m not really into hookups; that’s just not my thing. And if you don’t know what that means, leave it at not being into casual flings.

On a lot of these apps though, despite what other people may claim, they are just looking for friends and maybe some casual hangouts. It gets a little complicated to try and figure out what someone else is into.

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I mean, how do you even mention that topic when you just “meet” someone online? Remember now, I’m awkward.

I bring it up now because, well, I met a nice boy on Bumble and we were supposed to hang out. So we made a plan and I figured out what I was wearing, who I would tell, who would drive, etc.

But then came the mental deliberation: Do I mention it? Of course I mention it, not doing so would be foolish. But what do I say? Uh… “Hey, so I don’t know what you expect but…” But is that too much?

It took a lot of back and forth, trust me, but I ended up just letting him know what my intentions were not.

And then I waited for a response.

Then I waited. 

Took a shower, started laundry, then waited…

And waited some more.

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After two hours, he didn’t answer. There was my answer I guess, he wasn’t into the whole dating thing and would simply ghost me instead. 

I shrugged, switched into sweatpants, and went about my night. That’s how it goes for my age group on dating apps at this point, its a hit or a miss. Kinda like some medications… It’s a trial and error. Some won’t work out, you’ve got to find just the right one for it to work out all right for you. 

That, my readers, is how I am navigating dating at the age of 21. Apparently, it’s a little complicated. Less hookup common than Tinder, but still this is how I’m starting with Bumble.

After I go on a date with that nice boy next week. Because three hours later, he did message me back and said what? He respects whatever boundaries I set and he won’t cross them without affirmative consent.

So maybe 21st century dating isn’t awful. I’m still confused and who knows, maybe he isn’t that nice of a person. But I’ll find out by taking a chance and also taking precaution (meeting in a public place, telling someone where I’m going and when to check in, etc) while I do. 

About Last Weekend–We Live as We Learn

If you’re wondering why my post was so late last weekend, you’re about to find out why. But don’t worry, as promised I still got my blog to you all by Friday night. You’re too important to miss after all.

There’s been a whole lot of growth in my life within the last few years (at least I’d like to think so) and there’s this one concept that I’ve never quite been able to move past. Call it a personal need to be important to people or be of use to others, but it’s gotten in my way. A lot. Maybe you can relate.

You see, I have always felt the need to not only be just a friend to someone or just a support system but anything they need. No matter what someone is looking for or needs from this world, I have always wanted to be the girl for the job; I am constantly compelled to be their person with all the answers or solutions, even if the role is a few shoe sizes too big that I just can’t fill.

That want, that constant need to be what other people need, it comes with a lot of problems, you know? Problems and unhealthy standards.

Because, no matter how hard I might try, I can’t be everything someone else needs, I’m just not built that way. None of us are. And something about the last weekend of my life truly made me see that.

Last weekend, I officially became a new member of Cal Poly’s WOW Team at our yearly Team retreat. Even though it was raining half the time and none of us had any idea what we were going to be doing, I think it was the epitome of learn by doing and trusting the process. Because days like those, through the beauty and the pain or the growth and the fun, remind me of what college does for us. It lets understand just a little bit more about the world and ourselves along the way.

Imagine this: 40 Cal Poly students, hand picked through several interviews and observationals, to be a part of orientation Team. Then put us all together for one weekend of bonding, early mornings, friendly competition, photos, and late night talks. Something about it, somehow we all just clicked together faster than I thought possible.

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And in the process, every person I met opened my eyes to something I haven’t fully grasped before.

Throughout college, for all my life really, I’ve switched from group to group or team to team, just trying to find a place to settle down. Maybe sometimes we find that place, and we stop for a while, enjoying what it means to be okay with where you’re at before things change and it’s time to readjust to reality again. College has been much of the same sequence of events for me, just on a much faster pace than it ever has before.

Since you’ve been on this blog with me for three years, I guess maybe you’ve realized how many things I’ve become a part of at this school—yet, no matter what I get into, I always find something new to jump into next. Because nothing I have found has felt like a safe place to land, to stay for awhile and get comfortable. Sure, I might catch a glimpse of what that looks like for me in this friend, or that roommate, or this one club, but it’s never stuck. That is, until that group found a way to stick to me instead.

That thing about WOW Team, we don’t really pick them. Somehow, they pick us.

Last weekend, I met a whole lot of new people and somehow learned almost all their names in two days. It might sound strange, but I now hold an oddly large amount of affection for people I’ve only known for a week. Maybe because with them, I felt more like I could be enough as I am. Not because they told me that, but simply because I feel that way about every one of them realized that maybe it applies to me too.

Some of them are incredibly funny and can lift any mood going through the room. Others are impossibly kind or open-hearted in a way that makes you feel loved, even by a stranger. And then almost everyone is beautifully intelligent, insightful in a way that makes you feel seen, or heard, understood as you are with no expectations of anything less or more.

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They were all little bits of what I look for in my own people, yet not a single one of them could be everything I want in a person. Even surrounded by people who earned their opportunity to be there, just like I did, it took me a minute to realize this. Because while surrounded by so many wonderful people all on that retreat for the same reason, I came to accept that maybe that’s okay.

There are only so many pieces of who I am, all these little bits of my personality or my being that can’t fill the gaps other people need filled. Even as I grow, developing into a more rounded and hopefully insightful person than I’ve ever been, I realize that while I can be a whole lot for certain people, there are some things I simply am not for others. And I’m beginning to be okay with it.

Because at some point, I think somewhere in this life I’m making for myself, I’m picking up people who can fill those holes or those gaps for me along the way.

For now, with my eyes open and ready to learn more as I go, I’m fine just the way I am. This is your reminder that so are you.

Nobody Puts Baby In A… Box?

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Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash

Okay, I have to be honest with you about something… I’ve never actually watched Dirty Dancing all the way through. I mean, who doesn’t know the famous line regarding babies and corners whether or not they’ve seen the movie? It’s a classic.

But what I can tell you I have done, through and through, is something I think we all do without even noticing it.

I’ve put myself in a box, plenty of them actually.

And I’m not just talking giant refrigerator boxes borrowed to make forts out of, I’m talking the hypothetical box we oftentimes put ourselves in that may turn out to be boundaries holding us in rather than opportunities to branch out.

Think about it, as children we are asked what we want to be when we get older— I think I said a veterinarian because I loved animals, typical I know.

Next it was a doctor, a professional reader, even a designer at some point. These are the things I held onto, that I shaped myself around and into even when the definition didn’t quite fit.

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Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Welcome to Box #1.

How about, the one that we’ve all seen before whether we want to answer it or not, from job applications to standardized testing. For some people it can be an identity crisis because, what if more than one applies and you’re only allowed to pick one? There it is anyway, the question we all see coming: What’s your race or ethnicity?

Box #2.

And of course, that universal question on personality tests, you know the one that asks you what kind of person you are before only offering two options. That stereotypical difference between those sitting in the back of the bleachers and those leaning far over the front of them: Are you introverted or extroverted?

Box #3.

From the things we love and the passions we hold to the people we chose to be and the paths we pursue, they’re definitions, ideas to fit into. These boxes help people to figure out who they are, but they can also hold us back.

Let’s go to that second box for a minute, humor me. Do you remember the amount of times I’ve told you I’m an introvert, that I’m quiet and generally pretty reserved? It wasn’t a lie, I am and if you asked my friends they would probably agree. But only sometimes.

Give me an option to go out to a party or kick it back with a few good friends, and I’ll probably choose the latter. But throw me in a group where nobody knows each other, and you might catch a little extra sass and comedy from yours truly.

This isn’t because I have a big personality, though I might, but because it can be nice to vibe off the energy from people around me. I’m not saying I’m very funny and in reality a complete extrovert, but in some situations, I can find myself somewhere in the middle of that box.

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

So why do I hold onto the label of being an introvert so tightly?

Because it makes me feel like I belong to something.

It’s the same way for some people who believe themselves to be more analytical than creative— maybe they were told in grade school that their mind is so strongly geared towards logic that they decided to follow that belief.

Even if creativity was always itching up their arms in the meantime.

In figuring out who we are or what defines us, we can get so attached to the identity we think we already know that we forget to let ourselves back out of that box every once in a while.

Just because you are a talker at heart, it doesn’t hurt to listen.

Or if you are good with computers and have never picked up an instrument in your life, there’s no reason not to try your hand at music if you want to.

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Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

There are these middle ground, gray areas, that allow people to be more than one thing or the other. If you feel so inclined in one direction, then go for it. Follow it to your heart’s content.

But if you ever feel a pull coming from your other side, don’t let the person you’ve always been or thought you should be turn those boxes into a cage around your personality.

Nobody should put you in a box you don’t want to be in. Not even you.