Thursday, December 16, 2010

Breaking Out of My Shell

I've opened up a can of worms. It all started when, based on the conversations I'd had with the Summer Fling, I realized that I needed a new online dating profile. I needed to shake up my old profile and make it more fun. This led to the realization that in fact I need to shake up my life and make it more fun. The more I thought about my current profile, the more I've realized that it is actually reflecting my current life. My life has gotten boring. My work is intense and interesting to a point but I don't want my life to be all about my work. I find it stimulating but it doesn't fulfill me. I've always prided myself on keeping my life interesting, of doing fun things with fun people but somehow lately I've lost that spark.

It's time to make a plan for more fun, more adventures, more excitement, more playfulness, more ME. I am more than my work. I need to make sure that is reflected in the things I'm doing, the places I'm going and the people I'm spending time with yet I'm not sure how to make that happen.

I feel like I need to explore some more of what makes me who I am. I've spent a lot of time trying to be what other people expect. I did all the things I was told to do and now I find myself waiting for the rewards I was told I would receive. For some reason, those rewards didn't show up. There's no husband and babies when I expected that I would have them. I've been good but Santa seems to have skipped over my chimney. I've made the lists, I've taken the classes, read the relationship books, worked with coaches and therapists, I've visualized and believed with all my heart that I would have that life but here I am, 35 and still single and childless. I've got a PhD but am not sure I want the career that goes along with it. I'm not so young and not exactly the classic definition of pretty and now somehow I've managed to become did this happen?

I feel like I've flirted with the edges of some worlds that might hold interest for me but I can't quite get into them. I've recently discovered that I'm more of a geek than I knew. I've always been interested in sci-fi/fantasy to a certain degree, I stumbled across the work of Anne McCaffrey and Piers Anthony as a teenager but didn't figure out where to go next with it. I loved stories about dragons and unicorns and psychic powers. I discovered a show called Quantum Leap and loved it but I didn't know anyone else who liked these things. I wanted to fit in, to be liked by the other kids at school and I never found a group who I really fit with. I was also fairly oblivious. There were probably other kids around who liked what I liked but I didn't see them. I was smart and I liked to sing and these things fit with the groups I could find. I had friends but we didn't really have deep connections. I'm friends now with a few of them on Facebook but we don't really stay in touch. No one in my family liked the geeky things either. I was working so hard to avoid the negative judgments of others, the judgments related to my body and my bookishness. I was afraid to be different in any more ways than those. Now as an adult I've explored it a little bit more and I've discovered a bunch of things I really love, the books of Neil Gaiman and Dr. Who being two of them. Yet I don't know how to engage further in that world. I feel stuck. I read all those books and watched all the new Dr. Who episodes but how do I find other people who are interested in these things? I feel like I'm behind, like those who are engaged in that world all started when they were teenagers and now here I am in my mid-thirties, just admitting that I like this stuff. Just looking to connect over these things, just starting to explore these worlds.

Another world I've flirted with is the arty/hippie world. I went to Burning Man twice, met some amazing people, LOVED dressing up and the theme events, enjoyed the art, but was shy about the drugs, not wanting to admit my inexperience and naivete and being too afraid to try things that I didn't really understand. I couldn't fully engage with the open sexuality there. I got scared, backed off and just felt envious of those who were able to open themselves up to it. I feel like I've really repressed my sexuality. I've always been intrigued by a much more open sexual world, more kink, more exploration but again, I've been afraid. Afraid I don't have the right body for it, afraid others will laugh at the fat woman who wants to be a sexual creature. I used to like talking about sex with people. I've always been fascinated by what's out there though I've felt afraid of getting into a situation where I didn't know what I was doing. I've lost a bit of the thrill in my sex life in the last few years because I haven't had a consistent, playful partner. I don't even know how to describe it, but I've been afraid to explore my sexuality, afraid of doing it wrong, afraid that it's too late to explore, afraid I'll offend someone, afraid that I'll end up being a slut full of uncontrollable desires and unmet needs, afraid that I'll ruin my chances of living this life I thought I was on the path to with the good job and the family. The life that isn't happening anyway but somehow this is a threat to it.

Another community (and one that I suspect may overlap with some of the others) are the folks who play online games and go to Renaissance Fairs but with all of these, I can't quite figure out how to gain entry, I feel like I need someone to give me a tour and show me the way, to say "Hey, come with me and try this out." Why can't I just do it myself? I am still afraid.

I've spent so long repressing my true desires and worrying about what others think that I am having trouble digging into that space inside myself. By covering it all up and trying to be who I thought I should be, I think I've lost what makes me interesting. I think I've hidden the things that could have really allowed me to connect with someone. I've pasted on this papier-mâché Kim that has covered up the light of who I really am. I want to let that light out. I want to explore these sides of myself without fear. Without looking ignorant to both those inside and outside the communities, without fear of the consequences. I've lived too much of my life dictated by fear. I have a lot more light to radiate. I have to break free of this shell I've created. The funny thing though is that it's not about being fat. The shell isn't the fat girl hiding the thin girl who has always wanted out. The inner me is still a fat woman. She's just bolder and less afraid and she's much more interesting.

Edited to fix my many spelling errors.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Better Catch-The update

So in my last post I talked about the man I dated last summer who recently suggested that my online dating profile needed to be reworked and made me a bit uncomfortable in the process. I ended up having a very good conversation with him about the situation finally this past week. We'd been trying to find a time to talk for several weeks but we both have busy schedules and then there's the three hour time difference so it took a while.

Soon after I posted the previous entry, I responded to his email saying that I was a bit uncomfortable with the initial suggestion. He immediately sent back an apology. When we were finally able to find a time to talk on the phone he continued to apologize and clearly realized why it was awkward. He said he'd wondered if he might have put his foot in his mouth when I didn't respond immediately and was upset that he'd done something that made me uncomfortable. He told me that when he wrote the email he was trying to find a way to reciprocate for some advice I'd given him that he'd found very helpful and since he's done a lot of online dating he thought perhaps that was an area where he could offer something to me. I felt better after hearing his explanation and explaining a bit more about my feelings and I'm glad we got a chance to talk about it.

When I then asked what his feedback was, it actually was illuminating though I haven't decided what I'm going to do with it yet. He mentioned that it struck him that my profile is very serious while I am actually a very playful person who uses a great deal of humor in my day-to-day life. I think he's right and after he told me this I started to reflect on why this might be. I realized that part of it is that I'm not very happy about online dating. I don't find the process of sorting through the replies to be fun or exciting. Perhaps I'm even a bit burnt out. I want to be dating, but I feel cynical about the potential. I've been on so many bad dates now and had so many good dates that then ended up not going anywhere that I feel as if I've lost my hope for finding something meaningful. I'm tired of wading through the guys who are looking only for a sexual connection when I know that I want something more.

Since this conversation I've been a bit frozen with regards to my online dating presence. Realizing that this part of my life just isn't fun anymore makes me wonder if I should be doing it at all. I do know that I want to be in a relationship again. I really enjoy couplehood. I like the day-to-day companionship and I know that I thrive when I have someone to engage with in that reciprocal caring way. I want a lover again in my life. I miss the intimacy of a good regular sex life. I love to touch and be touched and I know I'm a more balanced human being when I'm getting those needs met.

So now I'm asking myself where I go from here. Do I try to rework my profile to better reflect my personality, the joyful fun parts of me as well as the serious? Do I take a break from online dating for a bit? I doubt I'll meet anyone offline as I work with mostly women and my friends and social contacts all seem to be married these days. Is there a way to bring the joy and fun back into the process of online dating without sacrificing who I am and what I want? What do you think readers?