Confronting my fears (and finding love) during COVID
Maybe it isn't as hard as we think?
I recently met someone very special and for whom I've never felt anything like before, and I met them in a very unorthodox way. Add quarantine to the mix, and I would have never thought I would be where I am today.
Quarantine gave me a lot of downtime by myself. I was finally facing some of the most daunting parts of myself I had tried to ignore throughout my life. My self-image, where I wanted to work, and - weighing most heavily on my mind - my sexuality.
Growing up in a very small, provincial town on the central coast of California, I see people I know everywhere I go. With this in mind, I felt very confined and limited trying to meet new people. I wanted to explore my sexuality, but didn't feel I could in a safe, inconspicuous, and natural way, especially during the pandemic. After accepting a recommendation from a friend, I decided to download the popular social media app commonly known as Bumble.
If you're not familiar with Bumble, it is a popular app that you can get on your mobile device to meet new people. There are three sections: Date, Bff, and Bizz connections. I chose dating. Bumble is unique because it only allows women to make the first move. Though, in my case, anyone could text the other first.
I was very afraid that some of the peers I grew up with who also used the app would see my profile. I had to finally accept that seeing a few acquaintances was far less concerning if it meant being able to discover more about myself. Plus, I had no intention of actually swiping right on anyone, so what harm could come of it?
At first, I was very discouraged. I had always been a firm believer that meeting the "right person" was not something to be sought out, but instead something that would enter my life naturally. So Bumble was an exception to the rule: a way for me to see other women, to see how others present themselves to potential partners, and to entertain the possibility of a new relationship. It was weeks until a friend finally convinced me that even if I wasn't completely in love with the person, swiping right on someone would help me practice talking to other women and spark new fires in my life.
So that's what I did. I swiped right. My heart skipped a beat when I matched with someone. I was soon having conversations with other people, despite the discomfort and anxiety that texting strangers gave me. Nothing really seemed to be successful in my eyes, just a couple days of brief interactions over text and getting a couple Snapchat friends along the way. I was discouraged once again despite the big step I thought I had taken in choosing to actually talk with people. Soon, I stopped swiping right on people entirely. That was until I saw someone who caught my eye.
It was their smile that I noticed before anything. The widest grin I have ever seen. The type of picture that is only captured in a moment of pure laughter. I read their profile and was completely enamored. They seemed very sweet, passionate, and cute. I swiped right, knowing I was breaking my rules again. My stomach dropped as my screen lit up with a yellow "BOOM!" We had matched. I panicked in pure excitement and anxiety over who would message first, what I would say, how to continue conversations, etc. Hours past when I finally messaged them introducing myself.
I won't act like everything was smooth sailing from there. I was always nervous and anxious to text them, always trying to think of ways to keep conversations going while not coming off too desperate. About ten days of infrequent texting passed when we finally asked each other out. I was elated. I was terrified. But, in the end, I was so happy to talk to someone knowing we felt the same way about each other. I really enjoyed texting this person and they seemed very honest.
And so we met up. They ended up being 45 minutes late, and as I waited in a park in the small town they lived, I contemplated leaving. I had never done this before. I could be stood up. Or worse: kidnapped. As a precaution, I texted a close friend to alert them of my situation. I sent the text then looked up. Across the park, I saw my date.
I knew it was them right away by the way they walked despite never seeing them in person. I'll spare you the details of the date, but we ended up hanging out for close to 7 hours that day. They were even better in person. Funny, charming, and cuddly. We were both very nervous and awkward, but we went through it all together.
I guess the point of my whole story, and as the title alludes to, is that I am very glad that I took this step in my life. It not only got me out of my comfort zone and into the world, but it affirmed the feelings I had been having about my sexuality. A pandemic doesn't have to put a halt to everything. And while taking that small step can be very difficult, it can also be as simple as downloading a silly dating app. The little decisions that feed our curiosities and passions can be some of the momentous and life changing choices in our lives. While I am not sure how my new relationship will work out in the future , but I am now more comfortable and accepting of some of the parts of myself that I was most afraid to confront.