When you run into a dating app guy at work

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to run into someone I’ve interacted with on a dating app out and about in society.

And then it happened—at work.

I haven’t had what one would call “success” on the dating apps I’ve used. I’ve tried a few, but I only have an account for the Bumble now. I’m trying to have a positive attitude about it, but I’m still not a fan.

A couple of months ago, I chatted with a guy for quite a bit on the app, but the conversation eventually ended up fizzling out. Fast forward to last week, and I saw an unfamiliar name of an individual who was going to be in our weekly team meeting at work. I looked him up on LinkedIn to see if I’d seen him around the office before, but I instantly recognized him as someone I’d seen somewhere else: Bumble.

Well, this just got interesting.

Hi, I’m Natalie. I often end up in interesting situations.

He walked into the meeting after I did, and I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to say something to him then and create an awkward and embarrassing moment for him in front of everyone. It became quickly apparent that he recognized me, as well, so he didn’t make eye contact with me the entire time. He ducked out of the meeting a few minutes early, and I figured he probably had another meeting to get to right after that one.

Or perhaps he simply didn’t want to interact with me.

I saw him in passing right as I left the meeting, and seeing as how he was now empty-handed, he definitely didn’t look like he was rushing off to another one. It was obvious what I needed to do.

Me (stopping him and forcing him to talk to me): Hey, I know you.
Bumble guy (with a knowing-but-pretending-to-be-confused look on his face): Yeah, you look familiar. What’s your name?
Me: Natalie
BG (awkwardly looking at me and then looking away multiple times)
Me: Dude, we met on Bumble. We talked for a while, but it went nowhere.
BG (awkward laugh and sheepish expression, obviously wanting to turn and run): Yeeeaaaahhhhh.
Me: Don’t worry—I’m leaving soon. Next week is my last week. I’m going back to teaching.
BG (with an audible sigh of relief): Oh, whew. I guess we’re just two passing ships.
Me: Welp, good to see ya.

And then I turned and walked away.

That guy and I obviously weren’t meant to be, and it’s for the best. It reminded me that there are a number of things that haven’t worked out in my life (especially my dating life), and I know that there’s always been purpose behind those closed doors and diverted paths.

Being back in Dallas means getting to make mems with these gems.

Even leaving teaching to realize that it’s where my heart truly belongs was an unexpected turn in my life that has led me back to a place I’m beyond excited to be. Then I unexpectedly moved to California and went through a great deal of difficult emotions while I was out there, but it was one of the most incredible life-changing experiences that I wouldn’t trade, and it led me right back to where I’m supposed to be. And now I’m unexpectedly on dating apps at the age of 34 because all of the relationships that never happened that I wish did left me with an achy-breaky heart.

I’m still not sure how I’ll meet my lobster, but maybe that’s actually a good thing—after all, so many of the unexpected occurrences that have happened in my life have turned out to be better than I could have ever imagined. (However, if you know a single fella between the ages of 34–39 who is funny and kind and loves Jesus and sports and will dance with me and resembles Ryan Reynolds, please give him my number.) So I’m trusting that my future love story will be even better than any romcom I pretend I’m in every now and then.

And it will not involve two passing ships.

Because I’d rather not hesitate

Sports have taught me many important lessons in life, including one I needed to be reminded of recently: Don’t hesitate.

And it came courtesy of a pickle.

I went to the Rangers game on Sunday afternoon, and one of our players (I won’t throw him under the bus completely) frustrated me quite a bit early on in the game. He was on second base, and when his teammate crushed one deep into the outfield, he rounded third and started to head home. But then he changed his mind and decided to go back to third. At that point, though, it was too late, and he was in an actual pickle. (If you don’t know what a pickle is, The Sandlot is here to help. This is a cool one, too.

Thanks to sweet Cristy for the great tickets.

When our guy realized that he might not make it back to third without getting tagged, he went toward home again, then back to third. The third baseman had the ball, and the catcher had run too far when he made the throw, so home plate was wide open. The runner would have made it home if he had simply run full speed at that point, but he made a huge mistake.

He hesitated.

The third baseman was then easily able to catch him and tag him out as I let out a loud “NOOOOOO! Why didn’t you go?!?! You had it!” And then, as you’re supposed to do at ballgames, I turned to my friend Piper to make sure that she had seen what had just happened so that we could both agree that his hesitation ruined everything.

How much are we all like that baseball player? Rather than running as hard and as fast as we can at the things that we truly desire, we hesitate. We start to think and overthink, which can often be to our detriment. I mean, I get that we have brains for a reason, and we need to use them much of the time, but sometimes we just don’t—especially if those brains of ours are going to be crowded with fears and doubts and anxieties and lies and insecurities and assumptions and discouragement and all of the other negative factors that talk us out of doing the things we want and need to do.

Eating froyo and wondering where Starbucks guy is

After all, I hesitated with Starbucks cutie, and look where that got me. I went back one day recently, and he wasn’t there. IF YOU ARE OUT THERE READING THIS, CUTE GUY FROM STARBUCKS, LET’S GO EAT SOME FROYO TOGETHER. I’ve also hesitated way too many other times and am not proud of those moments, either. Michael Scott once quoted the great Wayne Gretzky in saying that “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” which is true, but those shots you don’t take could also cost you more than simply missing out. For our Rangers friend, he was tagged out and didn’t get another chance to score a run. (I won’t blame the entire game on him, because we lost 12-4, but still. Come on, bud.)

And, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not hesitate and, instead, run like Phoebe with my whole heart.

You might have heard me mention before that I’m not a huge fan of dating apps, but I am on them because it seems like there aren’t many people meeting each other many other ways these days. And some guys at my pool last weekend were living proof. A few of them were sitting on the layout chairs beside the pool, and I could tell that one of them was swiping left and right, and he wasn’t looking up from his phone at all. Then I looked at the pool full of half-naked girls without guys with them and then back to the fellas. It made no sense. There was an actual pool of girls in real life, and they weren’t even trying to talk to them.

I had overheard enough of their conversations to know that none of them seemed to be in a serious relationship (the term “one and done” was used at one point when one of them mentioned a girl he had gone out with recently), and maybe it was simply that they weren’t attracted to the girls in the pool, but it was a little odd to me that they weren’t talking to any of them. I know that I don’t live in the movies or TV shows, but there would definitely be some guys hitting on these girls in Hollywood productions. I have eyes that work—there were plenty of gorgeous girls there that day.

I never hesitate to get bright pink nail polish.

Although dating apps can be very beneficial and have sparked some lifelong relationships, they can also allow people to get so comfortable meeting people via apps that they hesitate in in-person situations. And I’m sure that many people feel like they’re in quite the pickles: Do they approach people they see and are interested in, or do they solely rely on meeting people online, because that’s where everyone seems to meet these days? To those of you who met in high school or college or through friends or on a plane or at Starbucks or in the produce section or at work or at a park or somewhere else that probably belongs in a romcom, bless you. I don’t mean to be whiny, but it’s rough out there.

I hope that you don’t hesitate and, instead, go full stride toward home plate when you get caught in a pickle of your own. Life shouldn’t always involve time for “logic” and thinking—sometimes we simply need to leave all fears and doubts behind and follow our hearts.

After all, we were always meant to be brave.

When you’re waiting on fireworks

While I’m not a huge fan of waiting until 9:30 p.m. for fireworks shows to begin, I endure it once a year.

Because they’re worth the wait.

The Fourth of July is one of my absolute favorite holidays. For starters, it’s in July, which might be my favorite month. I love summer and the beach, and I feel like July is a month that epitomizes both of those things.

Who doesn’t love an impromptu parade photoshoot?

And I really love fireworks. Maybe it’s the hopeful romantic in me, but there’s something about ready fireworks shooting up into the air and going off at just the right time to light up the sky in uniquely beautiful ways that makes my heart soar. I always picture the scene in The Sandlot when the boys are playing a night pickup game together on the beloved holiday, and they all pause—completely captivated—to look up at the remarkable fireworks show going on in the sky above as Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful” plays in the background.

I also always think back to a night almost 20 years ago (how am I so old already??) when I was on a family vacation in Florida. We had gone on a trip with some of our extended family members in early July. On the night of the 4th, as we were waiting on the beach for the fireworks show to begin, I wandered off from the rest of the group for a little bit and walked along the shore, wrapped in my own thoughts.

I was just a young teenager at the time, but I was already feeling the pains of rejection that I had no idea would stick with me for far too many years. A lot of my friends had boyfriends or a handful of guys who were interested in them, and I could rarely even muster up the courage to speak to the guys I had crushes on back then. Walking on the beach alone that night felt lonely—and not simply because I was literally all by myself.

I hope this precious gem always knows how loved and valued she is.

I came to know Jesus the summer before I went into high school, so I was still learning what it meant to live a life of faith. (Heck, it’s been 21 years, and I think I’m still learning what that means every single day.) That night on the beach, I’ll never forget the prayer I prayed: God, please don’t ever let me give my heart away too soon. I want to wait for the right guy You have for me, wherever he may be. Even if that means my first kiss isn’t until it’s with my future husband—maybe that’d be for the best, anyway—I want to wait. I pray for his heart right now, and I pray that You would keep working in mine. And I pray that one day I’ll be able to watch fireworks with him on the beach. Amen.

Bless my heart. I had no idea what kind of waiting was in store for me.

I remember that prayer so well because I’ve thought back to it so many times since the words left my heart and my mouth. The fireworks started as soon as the “amen” popped out of my lips, and I knew with every ounce of my innocent heart that God had His own fireworks show prepared for my life.

I’d be lying if I said that this whole waiting process has been breezy and enjoyable. In fact, many days, it’s the opposite. But I think back to that moment when I was a teenager on the beach, and I’m confident that I was meant to say that prayer because God knew that there would be a great amount of waiting involved for me. I even get a little sad that my first kiss wasn’t with the last man I’ll ever kiss (well, unless I never kiss anyone again), because that’s what my young heart truly wanted.

I don’t know how much more waiting I’ll have to endure until I fall in love with the man who will love me back forever. If we go solely off of my success on dating apps and in-person interactions lately, it’s an indefinite amount of time. But I know that God often makes things happen in the blink of an eye. I don’t think it necessarily has to be “when you least expect it,” because I think there’s value in having expectations, but I do think it often happens how you least expect it—at least that’s what I’m hoping, anyway.

I’ll forever love California, but this right here is why I moved back to Texas.

This Fourth of July, I ran with my sister, then went to a city parade with my family, then over to my brother’s for some burgers and swimming with the fam, and then to watch fireworks with some dear friends. As I looked up at the beautiful sky that evening, surrounded by two couples, I couldn’t help but have a heart full of gratitude. No, I still didn’t have my man to watch fireworks on the beach with me like I prayed for so many years ago, but I have more love in my life than I ever imagined possible. And I really do have an answered prayer—I prayed that I would wait for the right guy for me, and I have.

I recently finished reading Everybody, Always by Bob Goff and was once again reminded of how big and powerful love is with or without romance ever involved. (If you haven’t read this book, get it ASAP. While you’re at it, get Love Does, as well. They’re both life-changing reads, and I’m not exaggerating.) In this time of waiting, I’ve been given a countless amount of opportunities to love others, and I want to make sure that I’m not passing these up because I’m too busy focusing on what I don’t have. If we constantly focus on what we think we’re missing in life, we’re actually going to miss out on a lot more because we won’t see what’s actually in front of us.

My ride or die—forever and always

I don’t know when I’ll find my lobster, but I’m OK with that. There’s a lot of good that can happen in the waiting and a lot of beautiful heart transformation that can take place during that time. The girl who prayed that trusting prayer years ago on a memorable July night in Florida has gone through quite a bit to get to where she is now and has learned the tremendous value that can come from independence and singleness. I wasn’t meant to walk the same paths as my friends and follow the same timelines of their lives—that’s part of the beauty in the uniqueness of all of our journeys.

If you’re like me and in the waiting zone for something in life, know that you’re right where you need to be. I have to hope and believe that all of the waiting isn’t for naught. I’m trusting that you’ll make it through all of the pain and the tough times to get to that beautiful finish line of endurance to your heart’s desire.

And it will be a freaking fantastic fireworks show that you’ll know forever and always was worth the wait.

Because dating apps have taken over

If you’re not currently in the dating world, I applaud you.

Because it’s a rough place to be.

Honestly, I don’t know if I can even consider where I am as “in the dating world” since I’m not actually going on any dates with anyone. I did, however, decide to try the life of a dating app girl again, and I can tell you that it’s just as unenjoyable as I remember.

This is how dating apps make me feel.

I’m not trying to be a negative Natalie, because there are surely a number of positive reasons to use the apps, and I know many people who have met their husbands and future husbands this way, but the amount of success I have experienced is currently sitting at a number less than zero, and I’m beginning to lose all hope in humanity.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate that ghosting is a thing. Like, why is it OK to lead a person on and then disappear? And it’s incredibly easy to do on these apps with people you don’t even know yet. I was talking to one guy in the app who suggested that we should meet. He seemed like a nice guy and messaged me the next day asking me how my day was. I replied and then never heard from him again. Most of the stories I have are pretty similar: We’re having conversations, make unconfirmed plans to get together, and then nothing.

If you’re not interested in someone, that’s perfectly fine—everyone is not for everyone. But I feel like it’s better to be honest than to leave people wondering what in tarnation just happened.

I miss Monique. Cali seems far sometimes.

I was chatting with my sweet friend Monique recently, and we were sharing our frustrations with the current reality we face (and, yes, we are completely aware that it’s a first-world problem and that there are much more pressing concerns that people have on a daily basis). She mentioned that she doesn’t think it’s too much to ask to want a guy who will text her back in a timely manner and then said something that was funny and so true: You don’t even have to give my dad any goats!

Seriously, fellas. You have it a lot easier than some of your bros back in the day.

I think one of the most important things to remember—whether you’re using dating apps or miraculously meeting people the more old-fashioned way—is that your worth is not determined by someone else’s opinion of you. It can be easy to start questioning yourself for multiple little things: Do I not look good in any of the pictures I chose? Did I not say something clever enough on my profile? Was that a stupid response? Why did he match with me and not respond at all? Why did he stop talking to me? Why aren’t any guys interested in me?

And so many more—these are only a handful of the ones I’ve heard more than once. If you met your person online or through an app, I commend you for your perseverance. I’ve all but thrown in the towel and joined a convent, but there are qualifications I don’t meet that prevent me from becoming a nun.

For those of you single gems out there, I don’t have much quality advice to offer you regarding how to meet your lobster. I even messaged a guy I don’t know on Instagram to tell him that he’s cute, and that went nowhere. So I’m clearly no expert.

I’m just happy to be here.

But I would encourage you not to lose hope. Sometimes you have to go through a lot of crud to get to the good stuff. You might get your heart broken. You might get your feelings hurt. You might hear more than one pie-crust promise. You might experience frustration and confusion and discouragement. You might spend more than one Saturday night watching Modern Family reruns while eating Gushers on your couch. You might legitimately research the requirements to become a nun. You might go through a heart-wrenching time and expend more energy than you ever wanted and ask the question “WHY?” more times than you can count.

And you might just discover that you’re a heck of a lot stronger than you ever knew.

It’s great if you want a relationship—there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having that desire. I’m right there with you. But know that it won’t ever complete you, no matter what Jerry Maguire says. Your sufficiency and your identity can’t be found in other people. Whether you meet someone on a dating app or in person or not at all doesn’t change who you are and how valued and loved you are.

Because it’s a value and love that can only come from the One who would never swipe left or even think about ghosting you.

Because it’s what you believe about yourself that matters

Over the years—and it seems like even more so lately—I’ve learned that what I think about myself and believe about myself has much more value than other people’s opinions of me.

Especially guys’ opinions of me.

I talk quite a bit about how I have struggled in the past with my confidence when it comes to the fellas. It’s easy for me to be assured of myself in essentially every other area of life, but it’s another beast entirely when it comes to how I’ve tended to see myself in terms of being attractive to guys. There’s more than one reason for this, but the big one is because all of the previous rejections (and the indirect rejections) I’ve faced made me believe that I simply wasn’t enough for anyone.

It’s a complete lie, but some lies have a tendency to engrain themselves in our minds in painful ways.

Not too long ago, one of my friends gave me the number of a guy she thought would be a good match for me. While I would have preferred for him to have my number, instead, he apparently knew that his friend was giving me his number and that I’d be reaching out.

I thought about not texting him, but then I remembered that dignity is overrated, and I honestly had nothing to lose by sending a text to some guy I had never met. What ensued was one of the most boring conversations known to man. When I reached out, he replied and then sent a selfie so that I could “put a face with a name.” I thought that was a little interesting, but maybe it’s normal or something, so I sent him a picture of me with my nieces (and clarified that they were my nieces). After that, there was not much said at all. I get that it was kind of a weird situation, but he did know about me from his friend, and he easily could have kept the conversation going. He chose not to, though.

I then had a choice to make: I could get upset at the realization that he had seen my picture and decided that he wasn’t interested, or I could say “meh, oh well” and get on with my life.

Thankfully, I chose the latter. If this had been years ago, I probably would have gotten upset about homeboy not thinking that I’m pretty and started to feel uglier than I already believed myself to be. Sadly, it’s fairly easy to fall into that trap. But I’ve spent too much time trying to figure out why I’ve been single this long, and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’d rather continue to trust that this ever-long season (or lifetime—whatever) of singleness is with purpose and that I’ll meet the man I’m supposed to love and be loved by forever when I’m supposed to meet him.

This just seemed like a good spot for a photo.

The past heartaches don’t have to have a grip on me if I don’t let them. What people think of you or don’t think of you can’t influence the way you think of yourself if you don’t let it. As the remarkably feisty Detective Rosa Diaz (if you’re not a Brooklyn Nine-Nine fan, please rethink your life decisions) once said, “you can’t let other people’s opinions get in the way of what you want, especially because other people suck.” While the second half of that quote might be a bit harsh, she makes a valid point about not allowing what other people think dictate the way you live.

I’ve mentioned before a guy who shattered my heart and made me feel more emotions than I knew I had and how he made me feel like I wasn’t enough in a lot of ways. And I let him. I let what he thought of me (or what I thought he thought of me) and his words and actions heavily influence the things I believed about myself.

I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my cousin Rachel (whom I’ve mentioned I admire and respect in so many ways) at Thanksgiving almost two years ago. The broken heart was still very fresh, and I stood in front of her on the verge of tears in my aunt’s and uncle’s driveway and uttered four words that no woman should ever ask herself or anyone because of how some guy made her feel: “What’s wrong with me?” And I’ll never forget how, before wrapping her arms around me, Rachel made me look her in the eyes as she reminded me that nothing is wrong with me, and I should never let anyone else make me feel like there is.

I think of that moment often because I know that she’s right. It’s not what someone else thinks of me that’s important—it’s what I think and believe about myself that truly matters. If I don’t believe I’m worthy of love, that’s a much bigger issue than some guy thinking I’m not attractive enough to be his type.

Don’t let other people control your own view of yourself. You were made uniquely and purposely to be the person you are, and you don’t have to be ashamed of or defend yourself for being who you’re meant to be. I can tell you firsthand that it’s so freeing to be able to be comfortable with who you are rather than constantly trying to figure out what you need to change about yourself to be more acceptable. It’s a waste of your time and energy, and you’ll enjoy life so much more if you simply embrace who you are and invest that time and energy into pursuing your passions and loving others as they are.

The same way that you should be loved.

Because life isn’t one big game of capture the flag

There are moments in life when you realize that what you’re trying to find might cause you to lose focus of the wonderful things all around you.

Even during a game of capture the flag.

On Saturday night, the FCA volleyball interns I’ve been working with all summer invited me to play capture the flag with a big group of people. It’s one of those games that I really like but don’t ever play, so I was looking forward to it. Plus, those girls are all so fun and have such beautiful hearts, and you just feel better when you’re around them.

I’ve been pumping iron and stuff.

We played at one of the local college campuses, so there was a lot of ground to cover to try to find the other’s team’s flag. Most of us weren’t super familiar with the campus, and it became even more challenging once it got dark. I wandered off on my own to try to be a hero for my team, and I made the mistake of leaving my phone with one of the girls who wasn’t playing.

As it turns out, I’m still slightly directionally challenged and rely on Google Maps for way too much in life.

I started running because I wanted to make up as much ground as possible in my quest for the other team’s flag. After a while of searching all throughout the other side of the campus, though, I had to stop looking so much for the flag and start looking for the right way to get back to home base, instead. By this time, the sun had gone to sleep long ago, and I couldn’t see much. Somehow I ended up on the main streets and way on the outskirts of campus. I had zero clue where I was, I didn’t recognize any of the street signs, and there were no landmarks in sight to give me the slightest inkling of navigation help.

I had gotten so caught up in not being able to find the flag that I had gotten completely lost in the entire process.

Thankfully, I stopped some guy who suddenly appeared on the street (he appeared to be safe, and I’m confident in my abilities to kick someone’s a$* when necessary) and had him consult the Google so that I could find the right direction to run. I eventually made it to where I needed to be, but it was a much longer process than I had originally hoped or ever intended.

You know, kind of like my dating life.

I think trying to date in this day and age can be quite similar to a game of capture the flag—you search and search so hard for something that sometimes feels like it’s impossible to find. People keep telling you that “the right guy is out there” and that you just need to be patient and do more of this and more of that to find him. But it’s easy to get so frustrated during that searching that you end up feeling lost and almost hopeless at times.

The way people meet and fall in love has changed in so many ways than how it used to happen years ago, but that’s just part of the society in which we live now. One of my friends had mentioned someone she had heard of recently, which resulted in me meeting with a matchmaker one day last week. Think of the movie Hitch, and it’s a similar concept. It actually sounded pretty interesting and maybe even effective, but then she told me what the costs were for either a three-month contract or a six-month contract, and I had the same reaction that Elle Woods had when Vivian Kensington introduced herself as Warner’s fiancée.

I’m sorry. I just hallucinated. What?

Needless to say, I won’t be part of the next Albert Brennaman/Allegra Cole success story. I’m still trying to have high hopes for my dream of meeting someone unexpectedly and out of the blue, like me being hit in the face with a football or frisbee at a park or beach, and the guy runs over to check to make sure that I’m OK, and sparks fly.

A girl can dream.

Perhaps one day I’ll surprise you with a picture of me with a fella at the beach. Until then, here’s a selfie.

I don’t know how I’ll meet someone, but I do know that I don’t want to be so caught up in trying to find him that I get completely lost. There’s so much life to live, and there’s so much love to give others. I want my focus to remain on being thankful for those things and those people already in my life and pursue them. It turns out that life isn’t one big game of capture the flag—there are so many people in this world who need love and need to know that they are valued. Do I want to fall in love with my person and be loved unconditionally by him? Absolutely. But I can’t stop my life entirely to go searching for that one flag that might not be ready for me to find yet.

I had prayed for a miracle when I was lost during that game of capture the flag, and God sent me someone to help when there was literally no other human walking around in sight. And I know that, if it’s part of His plan for me not to be single forever and to forget about the guy I wish were still a part of my life, He’ll send me someone when it seems like there’s literally no one out there for me (which it feels like much of the time).

Whatever it is you’re seeking in life—whether it’s a relationship or new job or place to live or a multitude of other things—I hope that you eventually are able to capture it. But I also hope that you are still able to appreciate and enjoy what you already have in your life and show your people how much you care for them.

Because, unlike flags that are tough to find, you don’t have to go searching very far to let them know that they’re loved.

When you live like you won’t fail

I’m not ashamed that I learn a great deal about how to live from little kids—I love their boldness and blind faith.

And now I’m even taking life lessons from their toys.

My friend Amanda and I were playing the pitch-n-catch velcro game the other day, which allows you to catch even some of the worst throws (not that we were throwing any of those, though). You can get pretty confident with your showmanship in that game, and she brought up the analogy of how differently we might live our lives if we went into everything knowing we wouldn’t fail.

Daaaaaaang. Cue deep convo during a game of catch.

I consider myself a confident person, but I can’t say that I go into every situation with complete belief that I’m going to be successful. But why? Sure, it isn’t going to happen all of the time, but why is it so difficult to believe that it will?

When you play a normal game of catch with a baseball and glove, you might drop it, or you might throw one way off target. It’s bound to happen at some point. But is it so wrong to believe that you are going to catch it or throw a perfect ball each time right before the ball goes through the air? When you’re playing the pitch-n-catch game, you don’t even have to worry about any of that. Even when Amanda’s velcro “glove” broke (I clearly don’t know my own strength), the ball still stuck to it.

You can CATCH us in the 2020 Olympics. (You’re welcome.)

It makes me think about the scene in The Sandlot when Smalls first plays with the gang, and Benny tells him to stick his glove up in the air, and Benny would hit the ball into it. Smalls stands out in the outfield with his glove held nervously in the air and quietly says to himself “please catch it.” Would he have been as worried if it were part of the velcro game and if he knew that he wouldn’t fail?

Let’s talk about my lack of dating life now.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I spent far too many years of my life not taking chances because I always assumed that rejection was going to be the only thing I received from the guys I thought were right for me. But what would have been so bad about being brave in those moments? What would have happened if I had believed that the tennis ball would stick to the velcro in those situations? I guess I’ll never know, but I can certainly change the way I let myself think now.

What if, from now on, I believe that I actually have chances with the fellas who catch my eye? I don’t mean this in a conceited way but more in a velcro-game-of-catch way. It doesn’t mean that it will always work out, but it does mean that I will be more comfortable being genuine and vulnerable because I’ll have that no-fail attitude. I think it sounds like a pretty solid plan.

And this is something that we can practice in other areas of our lives, as well. No, we won’t always be successful in every single thing we attempt, but we can change our mindsets going into each one. Besides, striking out doesn’t make you a complete failure—it simply means that you have some adjustments to make the next time you go up to bat. Failures allow us to learn and grow.

When playing the velcro game, every once in a while, a person can launch a horrible throw that is completely out of reach of the person with the other velcro glove, and the perfect toss-catch streak ends. But that doesn’t mean that the person throwing it the next time will think the failure rate is now going to increase. Instead, that comfort of not failing is still there—there’s confidence and belief that the ball will land exactly where it’s supposed to on that velcro.

I don’t know about you, but I want to live more like I’m playing the pitch-n-catch velcro game. I want to go into situations without hesitation or fear of failure.

When I finally step on the starting line again to race, I don’t want to fear failure.
When I go into work at my new job each day, I don’t want to fear failure.
When I send a text or talk in person to a fella I fancy, I don’t want to fear failure.
When I finish writing my book and work to get it published, I don’t want to fear failure.

I want to be as brave as I was throwing that tennis ball at a velcro target in each and every moment of my life. What would my life look like if I were? What would your life look like if you were?

Living like you won’t fail doesn’t make you egotistical; it makes you brave and confidently hopeful.

 

What’s an area of your life in which you wish you wouldn’t worry about failing?

Because dating should be as easy as friendship

Being an adult certainly isn’t the easiest assignment in the world.

If you have a friend like Amanda, keep her. End of story.

Especially when the word “dating” is thrown out there.

I live the life of a single girl—a very single girl—so I’ve grown accustomed to going to places alone and having solo adventures. At the same time, though, I’ve also made some wonderful friends since I moved to Cali, and I get excited when I have others along for the journey with me.

My sweet friend Amanda and I recently went on a beach boardwalk walk (one of my new favorite pastimes) together and were talking about all things life. One thing we discussed was how making friends as an adult is kind of like dating. It’s a lot easier to make friends when you’re in school—you’re placed in this huge atmosphere that really isn’t that huge, you’re around the same people all of the time, and you’re thrown into a lot of the same activities together, so the friendships happen pretty naturally.

When you’re a grownup, though, it’s different. You have to make conscience efforts, and you actually have to ask people for their numbers and find time in your busy schedules to make the hanging out part of the friendships actually happen. After you spend time together once, one of you has to make the suggestion that you should get together again soon, or maybe that relationship doesn’t actually become anything more than a mere acquaintance thing.

For me, adult friendships aren’t difficult, because I’m pretty shameless (cue Garth Brooks). I ask people to coffee all of the time, and I hate coffee. I’ve even straight up used the phrase “we should be friends” on more than one occasion. I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed about that, but I’m not because I’ve actually made friends that way. I love people, and I love spending time with them. I love knowing them and being known.

Why, then, is it so hard for me to do this when it comes to actual dating?

For some reason, I’m more hesitant about being honest with a guy I’d like to spend time with than I am with a stranger whom I don’t want to be a stranger anymore. Sure, I’ve gotten a little better, but there’s still the fear and anxiety of being rejected and feeling like I’m not enough.

Friend, whether it’s dating or friendship, you are enough.

Maybe this should be my new tactic to get guys to ask me out.

I certainly have to remind myself of this often. I’ve mentioned before (probably more times than you’d ever want to hear) that it can be tough to live your life solo while almost everyone around you is either dating, engaged, or married while you’re sitting on the sidelines wondering if anyone will ever actually want to take you on a real date. One thing I’ve always valued about true friendship is that it’s genuine, and you know that the other person wants to spend time with you, too—you’re both pursuing each other, in a sense. With dating, though, it seems like it’s much more of a guessing game than any friendship ever is.

Sure, there are some friendships that become one-sided, and you eventually move on and realize that perhaps those individuals were only in your life for different seasons. So I guess that’s one way dating relationships are pretty similar, because all of those certainly don’t last forever. Though I don’t really like saying this, many of the friendships that I’ve lost along the way haven’t caused me a ton of emotional pain. While I might have been sad for a bit, I knew that growing apart is sometimes just a part of life.

So why does it hurt so much more when it’s a guy who is walking out of your life than a friend with whom you might have been even closer? Honestly, I think it comes down to the importance we place on those relationships because of the way they make us feel. It’s nice to feel wanted by someone (and I’m really hoping that I will know how that feels one day) so much that he chooses you over everyone else. Maybe that’s the real difference—your friends probably have many other friends, but your person picks you and only you.

Since moving to California, I’ve been trying not to think about my lack of a dating life (even though I know it’s the main topic of most of my blogs—but it says “flying solo and writing about it,” so you really shouldn’t be shocked about that), especially now that it’s been so long since one homeboy broke my heart so many moons ago back in Texas. Instead, I want to focus on investing my time in others to help them know how valued and loved they are and how much they matter. I want them to know just how much God cares for them and that they are enough in Him.

I’m just sitting here thinking about froyo.

And it’s also something I’m reminding myself of often.

We were meant to have friendships and relationships with others. We were meant to live boldly. We were meant to love people well. And that’s how I want to live my life—even so boldly that I am comfortable enough walking up to a guy I fancy and saying, “Hey. We should go grab froyo or walk the boardwalk together soon.” I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

When you think about it, life really is a lot shorter than we realize. And the older you get, the more quickly it seems to fly by. I hope that you live every day as completely as you can and that you never miss out on an opportunity because you were afraid. I hope that your friendships are many and that your love is bold.

And I hope that you always know that you are enough as you are.

Because ghosting has actually become a thing

There are many things all of us humans could do better in life (besides accurately forecast the weather).

Like treat people well.

I’ve mentioned before how I feel about online dating, though I’m happy for the people who have their success stories from it. One thing that drives me crazy about it is how easy it is for people to dodge those they suddenly realize aren’t what they’re looking for without so much as a “hey, this just isn’t going to work.”

Is that really so difficult to say—especially if you’re not even saying it to a person’s face?

I have a friend who had been chatting with a fella for a while now and was supposed to get together with him recently. But then when it came time for them actually to hang out, he vanished. When she reached out to him to check on their plans, nada. Zilch. Zip. He straight up just didn’t respond, and she didn’t hear from him again.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had friends experience this, whether after meeting someone on a dating app or elsewhere. I realize that these people who do the whole “ghosting” thing, as the hip people call it, usually don’t have deep relationships with the people from whom they suddenly vanish, but it still makes no sense to me why anyone would lead someone on only to stop all communications completely.

And I can’t say that I haven’t fallen victim to this myself.

This is just part of who I am.

I’ve been on the wrong end of a text that never got a response or a hand-written note that was never even acknowledged (that one hurt quite a bit). Oftentimes these situations leave us hurting and wondering what could possibly be so wrong with us that we can’t even get the people we truly care about to give us enough of their time even to respond. Maybe some individuals are forgetful or extremely busy, but you make time for the things you want to make time for in life, and it doesn’t take that long to reply to someone.

I spent more years than I would like to admit thinking that I simply wasn’t good enough for guys—I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or experienced enough or whatever enough for them to think I was worthy of their time. Friends, I hope that you never feel this way. It’s a horrible place to be. I’m confident now that I don’t need to worry about any of that because I was uniquely made as I am for a purpose and on purpose. I have quirks, and I’m never going to look like a supermodel, but there might be someone out there who will be captivated by me for me.

I hope that you’ve never been suddenly ignored by someone you thought really might care about you as much as you care about him, and I hope that you never do that to someone else, either. It might be the easy way for you, but think about how you would feel if it did actually happen to you. Regardless, I truly hope that you know that your worth doesn’t change based on someone else’s words and actions—or lack thereof both.

Being single isn’t always easy, especially with each year that goes by and each friend and family member you watch fall in love, get married, and start life together with someone else. And now with all of those dating apps that are out there, it’s even more challenging at times to meet people organically. Like I’ve said before, my ideal way to find someone is getting hit with a frisbee in a park by the guy who is my person, and he runs over to check on me, and sparks fly (I’ll keep you updated on if that happens).

The more I go through life, the more I appreciate people who are genuine. While it’s not necessarily the best idea to be honest about everything that’s on your mind at all times, I do think it’s important to be sincere in how you treat people and that you match your words with how you actually live your life. And one big part of treating people well and loving them well is not leading them on. Whether you’re afraid to hurt someone’s feelings or are only regarding your own feelings at the time, it’s not a good idea to make someone believe you care when you actually don’t.

Legos and Barbies are toys—people’s hearts are not.

When you pursue what you know you should

Unfortunately, we don’t always get the things we want in life.

No matter how hard we chase them.

When I was a little girl, I used to follow my brother around everywhere and insist that he let me play in every pickup basketball and football game and street hockey game with him and all of his friends. He usually acted pretty annoyed about it but let me play (most of the time, anyway). Back then, I thought my brother was one of the coolest people who existed, and I wanted him to want to hang out with me—I pursued a strong sibling relationship with him.

What hurt, though, were the times when he didn’t want to spend time with me, too, particularly as we grew older in middle school and high school. I realize that some kids and teenagers go through stages in which they become “too cool” for their younger brothers and sisters, but it’s never enjoyable to be on the wrong end of a rejection, especially from someone you care about so much.

Thankfully, my brother can’t ever actually get rid of me, and I’ve enjoyed being able to spend more time with him in the last year or so as I’ve gone over to his house to spend quality time with my niece. Being halfway across the country now, I’m thankful for FaceTime to help me still be part of their lives.

But not everything we pursue turns out so great—including when we pursue people.

I think I’ve always been a people pursuer. I love people—I love spending time with them and hearing their stories and sharing inside jokes and making memories and reaching points when you know each other’s special quirks and tendencies. It’s comforting to know others and to be known by them.

My sweet friend Jayna is one who wholeheartedly pursues friendship. She even sacrificed an entire afternoon to help me pack the day before I moved so that she could spend time with me.

It’s not always easy, though, because a lot of people are very busy, and sometimes it’s more difficult than I would like to connect with them. Whether it’s work or family or social activities, we all have a tremendous amount of stuff going on in our lives, and I think a lot of times we get so caught up in our own worlds that we forget to pursue some of our relationships. I know I’m guilty of this, though I’ve been trying to be better about reaching out to people more often, especially now that I live so far away from most of my people.

Starting over in a new place has also been challenging because I definitely have to do quite a bit of pursuing to form new friendships and reach those levels with new individuals to where we know each other well and become more like family. I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m not ashamed to ask people right off the bat to grab coffee (I don’t even drink coffee) or go for a walk or something so that we can get to know each other better. And I pretty much consider everyone a friend after at least one conversation. I don’t mind pursuing people—I like for people to know that they’re important enough to have others want to make time for them.

But there’s one area of my life that I don’t necessarily want to pursue someone—and that’s obviously in the whole love and dating arena. It’s not because I believe in some conventional gentleman-has-to-ask-out-the-lady thing; it’s more that I simply want someone to want me for a change.

I’ve gone my entire life being interested in guys who are never interested back or only lead me on for a little while, and it often feels like I’m chasing them, but I’m on a treadmill going nowhere, and they’re on the normal ground actually moving. I don’t want that—at all. I think that’s one reason I don’t like dating apps: I don’t like to feel like I’m having to pursue a relationship and forcing something that might not be there. I want someone to fall for me out of everyone else in the world and pursue me for once.

Is that so wrong?

I was thinking the other day about how God continually pursues us, and we don’t always pursue Him back. We’re too busy being wrapped up in all of the busyness in our lives that keeps us chasing all of the things. I’m trying to be more diligent about pursuing Him and the opportunities He’s given me rather than chasing after the things that may not be right for me. I’m going to try not to worry about whether or not I may be single for the rest of my life, and I don’t want to let my heart get broken again by focusing so much on someone who may or may not have ever actually cared for me.

Will I still pursue the friends and family members who are placed in my life? Absolutely.

Because everyone deserves to be pursued and feel loved.