This post is dedicated to my students who inspire me everyday to be a better person.
I have been an absolute slacker about writing my blog this last year. I have so many stories to share, but it seems like daily life got in the way and I neglected this project. However, from the beginning I have hoped that my stories will inspire others to overcome their apprehensions about modern dating, and to quit my blog would be to give up on a project that I truly believe has worth.
I teach at a college, and at the beginning of the semester, my class spends weeks discussing strategies for setting and sticking with goals, usually professional and academic goals. I am a firm believer in practicing what I preach, and today I admitted to my students that I wasn’t following through with the goals I set for the new year. One student sighed and said, “I hate goals because when I don’t do what I’m supposed to I feel guilt.” This little devil on my shoulder told me, “Go home tonight and relax. Don’t worry about your blog.Sometimes life gets in the way.” Then another student, a little angel on my shoulder, piped in and said, “No, you have 12 hours left today! You have to do it!”
This made me think about the concept of grit which has been hailed as the key component of success by Angela Duckworth. I teach my students about grit, so I feel a need to model that same behavior. During the 52 First Dates Project, I definitely had grit. According to Duckworth, the most successful people aren’t necessarily the people with the best skills or the highest IQs, but the people who persevere, even through adversity, with their focus always on their target. They face failures but bounce back by learning from mistakes.
I think a lot of people set professional, educational, and personal goals, but how often do people think about goals when dating? When I started the 52 First Dates Project, I had a clear goal in mind: meet a quality guy worthy of having a relationship together. I set a realistic (for me) goal of going on one date a week with a new guy for one year. Just as in setting a professional goal, I did research: tested out various dating websites, read dating advice books, and consulted friends and occasionally my personal tarot reader.
Throughout the entire process, I journaled my progress, recording details of the dates, the good and the bad, and reflected upon my failures. There were many! I was stood up, a few times. I was ghosted. I was love bombed, twice. I was used. I was even slapped in the face, literally.
Despite all these blows, I always got up, keeping the final goal in mind. I knew that if I kept searching I would find the right guy, and you know what, I did! I’m not going to tell you when or how that happened right now. You’ll have to follow my blog to find about how I finally found my Mr. Right for Right Now (We’re about to hit our two year anniversary). I don’t know how long that Right Now is going to last, but what I do know is that I never would have found him if I hadn’t had grit. I could have settled for one of the Mr. Wrongs, but I had a clear goal in mind, and I wasn’t going to compromise my values and settle. I had done that too many times in the past.
Reaching goals is hard work. As I told my students, a genie isn’t going to magically appear and grant your wish. Any goal takes commitment and hard work. Dating is no different. If you are truly seeking a fulfilling relationship, I encourage you to commit your goals to paper. Who are you searching for? Be specific about the values that are important to you. How will you find them? How will you learn from your failures? Commit to some kind of self-reflection about your dating patterns and habits if you aren’t finding your true match. Maybe you have some work to do yourself before you are ready to get involved with someone else.
Finally, enjoy the ride. I’m not sure how much this has been analyzed when talking about grit, but I think that gritty people who are successful try to find joy in what they are doing while they are trying to accomplish their goals. Dating doesn’t have to be agonizing. Approach it with an open mind. Remember, it’s only a first date, not a lifelong commitment.