So Near, Yet So Far…

Among my group of mates we have a tradition of booking what we call ‘Secret Holidays’. The idea is simple; one person books flights and accommodation and the rest all find out the destination when we arrive at the airport. It has thrown up some interesting places and the one I have us all booked for in October is somewhere the others wouldn’t even have heard of. Should be interesting.

This will be our eighth excursion under this format and I’m looking forward to seeing their little faces light up upon the revelation. I only hope that this trip lives up to laugh fests that we have encountered previously. I’m sure it will.

As quite often the only single one of the group, I am requested to download Tinder and start making connections. This became a tradition on our Gothenburg trip in an attempt to find out the best places to go in the area. And it worked. We had a brilliant night.

I have carried this habit on any time I have gone away, only this time it is out of curiosity for who might be out there. I am so pulled in by the idea of meeting ‘Mrs Right’ yet I feel in no way prepared to be in a relationship. It turns out that this apprehensiveness has its roots stemming from shame.

Social media is great advertising. You can make anything look great if you know how. From personal experience I often used Facebook status updates as a way of telling the how many hundreds of ‘friends’ I had how good life was. All the while I was dying inside. This has me wondering if this is happening for anyone else.

With endless choice in everything in life now, we have lost our patience. If something isn’t going our way we can sack it off and do something else. I did this with jobs in my younger age every time I got the hump about something. However, the biggest problem here might be a trust issue. If we’re telling the world how great life is with our pictures, interests and hobbies, then we’re not revealing the full truth.

I followed my manic, hedonistic mentality and it catapulted me into depression quicker than I could say “let’s do shots!”. Before I knew it I was £45k in debt, in a miserable relationship and I made the Cookie Monster’s eating habits look quite reserved.

So if we paint this fabulous picture of ourselves then what happens when life’s inevitable struggles come along from time to time? We’ve been sold bliss from someone’s profile and now all of a sudden we’re having to get our hands dirty. We didn’t sign up for that. And there lies the issue regarding trust. We’re not trusting ourselves to put the real ‘us’ online. Why? Fear of ridicule and judgement, perhaps? I would say because it doesn’t promote this desire for perfection.

This is why I don’t trust social media as a platform to meet ‘the one’. I know many married couples that have met online and good luck to them. It just isn’t something that I can get to grips with myself. Through extensive work on myself I have learned to open up more, however, from what I have been learning about lately, that may not be such a good idea.

Recently I have been studying the works of Brené Brown. She’s a researcher that studies topics such as vulnerability and shame. She tells a great story about a guy that approached her after a talk telling her that he feels as though his wife and three daughters would rather see him die on his white horse than fall off it. That hit a nerve with me.

I know from my own pervious experiences in relationships that women want their men to be more open but we stay locked down. However, according to Brené’s research, women seem unable to handle it when a guy opens up. So, as a guy, I personally would find myself caught in this perpetual cycle of wanting to express how I felt but at the same time not wanting to. And it was my issue, not theirs.

Being willing to show vulnerability, by admitting in certain moments that everything wasn’t ok, would cripple me. Therefore I would keep my stiff upper lip and plod along as normal. Whether it is a guy way or the British way or whatever I have no idea. The truth is I wasn’t courageous enough to open up during times of struggle. To accept that at times maybe I’m not a mountain after all would feel as though I was admitting defeat.

Aside from having a coach I don’t have anyone in my life that I feel safe with showing the real me. The positives and negatives. That is an incredibly tough pill to swallow. Only now am I realising just how messed up that is. This blog is my platform to open up and be honest which I am sure many people would consider to be brave. It isn’t that brave because I know that nobody reads it so I still remain in my safe zone.

As I mentioned at the start, all of this comes down to one thing; shame. I’m ashamed of myself because it is me that hasn’t accepted the negative parts of myself while at the same time ignoring the positives. None of my previous girlfriends ever stood a chance in all fairness.

My coach told me recently about our three main fears. Poverty, loneliness and illness. Oh how these three things have had a stranglehold on my consciousness for quite some time. Having started my journey into self-employment with low self esteem I started to let the fear of poverty take over and ironically winded up in all that debt. This meant that I cut myself off even further from society whilst increasing my stress levels. It is fair to say that I was on the path to experiencing all three to some degree.

Recently I started putting together a list of things I was critical of myself for but have now come to love. Firstly, I don’t handle pressure. Not one bit. As someone with a disdain for authority I have no problem telling someone to go fuck themselves. Yet I was always at the mercy of other people’s opinions or it may have been a work scenario that I desperately needed so I kept my mouth shut on more occasions than I should have. Now I feel as though I am coming into my own and beginning to align my behaviours with my values.

Another pressure I can’t handle is time. Which is great because, for one, it makes me more organised and efficient, and two, it means I am now taking on less. Taking on so much was as a result of fear of missing out (FOMO). This doesn’t just apply to the fun stuff in life. In my case it was work. And I am now in a position to start claiming my life back, for example by transitioning out of working weekends.

The third thing on my list is my over-thinking. I consider myself to be somewhat philosophical and so I am always pondering something. I am convinced that as a society we have built a lie and so I want to look deeper. I want to explore consciousness and not be confined to the belief systems and social ‘norms’ of the masses.

I am excited for where this list will take me because for each addition I get ever closer to that estranged feeling of unconditional love of myself. I have put so much time, energy and effort into my development and I am amazed at the progress I have made personally, I just never expected the journey to be so long. I guess good things come to those who wait.

Curiosity will continue to get the better of me. I feel as though in a world of instant connection that we are further apart from one another than we realise. We are social beings after all and we seem to be replacing the ‘love hormone’ Oxytocin, accessible by something as simple as hugging, with dopamine, the brain’s pleasure chemical. Every time we get a match on Tinder we get a quick dopamine hit. This becomes addictive and all of a sudden we become more interested in clocking up the matches than we do with the original purpose.

This just leads to conveyor belt dating. Well one thing is for sure; I don’t do auditions. Why is it that we all of a sudden have the chance to pick from a parade of people instead of sourcing out the right person in real life that we can genuinely connect with? I can’t be the only one to find this epidemic so perverse. Surely?

Perhaps I am sounding like an old fashioned git and ignoring evolution in full flow. Who knows, maybe I get it wrong about online dating? Based on what I have seen so far from the typical profiles of listing out expectations along with likes: “Gin, Wine, Coffee, Brunch, Travel…”, it would seem that the idea of being ‘perfectly imperfect’ has little room for manoeuvre. My idea of changing the world is to bring people closer to love, not as far away from it as possible.

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