Online Dating (And How I Became Awesome)

I tried that whole online dating thing once upon a time. In real life, it was about 4 years ago.

I’ll never do it again.

But it’s probably not for the reasons you’re thinking. Sure, I discovered my fair share of assholes. I found the men who were just lonely or needed someone to fill a void. The men who were tired of the bar scene. Granted, I also found some people I had chemistry with.

The whole rainbow of online dating personalities, really.

I was fairly lonely myself at the time, so I’m not passing judgement.

I recall a particular time, in the throes of it all, when I was looking for someone who set the world on fire – someone to rub off on my rather vanilla lifestyle of get up, go to work, come home, go to bed routine. After all, I was boring – the only thing that made me interesting were my aspirations. Then again, we all have them – how many of us do nothing with them? I wasn’t.

I decided that this man who set the world on fire – my ideal match – the one that would be the caramel syrup to my vanilla ice cream – did not live within my zip code. Granted, men in other states would never be a dating opportunity, but what did it hurt to see what existed outside my fishbowl?

Plus, I was sick of reading the same profiles month after month. That’s the other thing about dating sites. It’s always the same pool of people in your area. Anyone new that joins is immediately inundated with flirtatious requests and not even worth the ask for about a month.

I found what I was looking for about 600 miles away. Yes, that’s right.

And let me tell you – he was perfection in a profile. A world traveler, a runner, a dog owner and, of course, he was gorgeous.

I totally dug that online persona. But something else struck me – it was just that: a persona. We can be whatever we want to be online. We can be beautiful or popular or funny or wise. But what are we really?

Was HE really?

Probably not.

That’s about the time I realized that I didn’t want to be an online datable persona.

I don’t want to be judged by a photograph. I don’t want to be picked because my hobbies match someone else’s. I want to be awesome. And I want to be someone’s partner not because my online self was up to snuff, but because I was doing awesome things and because I was an awesome person in real life.

If I wasn’t setting the world on fire, I would at least fan a few embers.

This isn’t to say that people don’t find perfectly fulfilling relationships online. I’m aware of a several online relationships that have blossomed.

But it’s not for me.

The funny thing is, that I still consider myself rather vanilla. However, the life that I have built for myself these last four years is anything but. I’ve written four books in one year. Three of them have been published. I’ve built a business from nothing. I’ve adopted not one, but two crazy dogs. I’ve traveled. I AM.

It’s nothing extraordinary, but it’s something – it’s fulfilling dreams instead of just dreaming them.

And I got all that from dating online.

Who’d have guessed?

The Idea Of

I’m unusually fascinated by the idea of relationships today. The marriage culture, without a doubt, is alive and well, especially in the Midwest, where I’ve lived my entire life.

I realize that writing this as an unmarried, near thirty, entrepreneurial woman, may lead some to believe my opinions are skewed. Perhaps they are.

I’m not entirely sure how my path diverged so much from the path of so many of my peers. A psychologist, I’m sure, would be able to unwrap many warning flags that I’ve long since forgotten about.

For instance, I was never popular. I was always a little bit bigger than the other girls my age. Often a little quieter. I didn’t drink or party in high school. I didn’t really participate in those activities in college once I came to discover that I had poor self-control. Wise for a twenty-one year old, I’d thought, even then.

Is that where it started? Should I have cut loose more often? Depended more heavily upon others for my well-being rather than solving everything myself?

There is something to be said for people’s ability to let someone in to their entire life. I’ve never been able to tolerate it much beyond a few months. After all, isn’t the idea of marriage – of forever – hard enough without coming into it with problems?

I wasn’t always like this, of course. There was a time I desperately wanted a relationship. I wanted to feel complete. I wanted to know that there was someone out there who wanted me exactly as I was.

He has never come along. And eventually, it began to sink in, that he might never come along. At first it was hard. Now it’s almost comforting – knowing that if he doesn’t come along, I’m still perfectly capable of living a full life.

In the last few years, I’ve come to understand that relationships – romantic, that is – come in all shapes and sizes. I was so preoccupied in my younger years by the idea of forever that I perhaps forgot or didn’t even know the beauty of the abbreviated love.

Abbreviated love, also known to some as “soul mate” is when you meet a person that you’re only with for a short time, but it changes you in ways that it would take years for another to achieve. Perhaps it is this person’s philosophies or their belief in your abilities. The way they look at you when you’re naked or the way they push you to your brink. In one way or another, they rip you open, the light shines in, and nothing about you is ever the same.

That’s not a way to live, though, some have said to me. Being constantly ripped open, constantly growing and changing. It leaves you breathless, sometimes incapable of living for days, weeks, months at a time, doesn’t it?

On the contrary. I find that I’m forever in and out of these abbreviated loves between which I take months, years to myself before finding the next.

And that’s what got me thinking. Some people find this existence frustrating, painful, and downright illogical. After all, don’t I want to stop being pulled apart only to have to piece myself back together?

Not right now. Maybe not ever.

And just because someone feels it’s wrong, doesn’t make it so.

That’s the beauty of love – its lessons are never complete. And abbreviated love is no less dazzling, no less of an education, than marriage in my opinion.

Perhaps not everything has to be about ending in marriage – in long-term commitment where we are forced to grow and change and love and hurt with the same person day after day. Not that, that way of living is wrong. In fact, it’s beautiful.

It’s just not for everybody.

What do you think?

What will you do to change the world?

It’s easy to shrug something off as impossible. We do it all the time – with jobs, with goals, with dreams. Frankly, it’s a wonder humans get anything accomplished at all what with all the time we spend talking ourselves down from impossibility.

Between you and me, I believe that inside each of us lies the power to change the world.

Bold? Perhaps.

If you’ll stick with me, I’d like to share a story.

It’s not a story of great impact, but it covers a basic struggle: how do I approach my goal as myself?

I have always wanted to be a published author. I had no idea how to write a book, but plenty of other people did. When the idea first hit me, I devoured page upon page of “how to” novels. I’m not joking – hundreds. There are probably thousands left. And with all of that advice, all of that education – I just wasn’t getting it. It was like Algebra all over again.

What I really could have used was a guidebook entitled: Allison Janda’s guide to writing her first novel.

The truth? There are no guidebooks to life. You don’t discover a nice, neat black and white path with your name marked all over it. And while you can prepare yourself with advice from others (I can’t begin to tell you how many Elizabeth Gilbert/Janet Evanovich/John Grisham interviews I read) in the end, it’s just you, my friend. You work an 8 to 5? Wake up at 4:30. You don’t have a strong voice? Take a class. You have too many social engagements? Cancel a few. Excuses are just detours – and you could detour forever. I wrote and published 3 books in 9 months – I ran out of excuses. I created my own guidebook as I went along.

That’s what so many of us miss. We’re constantly hunting for the “right” path or the “easy” way. Others have accomplished the dreams we wish to attain – but how? In the end – they just did it. They slogged through all the work and the time and the pain and the financial struggle and the dip in social life. You can too, you know. You have that power within you.

When we change whether by doing or not doing, we ourselves become different – it’s impossible not to. Those changes affect not only us, but also those around us and so on and so forth. A ripple. And maybe it’s a change that sees history books. But it doesn’t need to, to prove impactful.

What will you do to change the world?

PS: Here’s how Shane started changing the world – and inspired me to write this blog.

Why Indie?

I’m not asked this question a lot, but I am asked often enough that I feel inclined to post about it. While the subject matter is a bit more geared toward this blog, I felt it deserved a more personal space.

The question: Why be an indie author?

Frankly, there are a lot of different reasons I picked this route. Some are well thought out and others not so much. Then again I’m not the most strategically minded decision maker, but I find that shooting from the hip works for me better- maybe that’s why I keep doing it.

The best laid plans, right?

While I could make this blog impossibly long (I have 5 reasons for self-publishing in my head as we speak and more just keep popping in) I’d really like to focus on the main point in my decision making process as I feel it’s the most important to understand.

If you’ve self-published or if you’ve considered self-publishing. If you’re a reader who loves indie authors or if you can’t understand the indie phenomenon – the bottom line is:

I’m good enough.

Don’t get me wrong. I may still be in my 20s (barely) but let me stress that this is NOT a generational/immediate gratification thing. Frankly, I have my opinions on that as well, but that’s another day/another blog.

Here’s the root of it: technology has reached a point where, as a writer, I don’t have to depend upon a higher up for something if I’m willing to work my ass off and do it myself. That’s why I’m an entrepreneur. Being an indie author is simply another way that I can flex those entrepreneurial skills.

By self-publishing, I don’t have to worry that someone is going to tell me my writing isn’t good enough. I don’t have to wait to hear back about the major changes I need to make in order to be put into a consideration pile and hey, maybe I’ll hear back one way or the other after 6 weeks.

Screw. That.

I’m all for learning, improving and taking constructive criticism (or not so constructive as it sometimes may be). I did bring on an editor, after all.

However, I put my hours, my crappy eyesight, my tears, my money and so much more into producing a product that I’m proud of. You hear that? I’m PROUD of what I wrote. Best of all, I’m CAPABLE of sharing it with you myself if I put in the time and effort to learn how (or if I invest in someone else who does). Why let someone tell me that I shouldn’t have wasted my time because it isn’t THEIR idea of worthy work?

As far as I’m concerned, it IS good enough. Good enough to share with the world, in fact. And while I’ve had friends and family compliment my writing, I’ve submitted my books to a variety of book bloggers, too. Book bloggers that read hundreds of books every single year. Guess what? They seem to think it’s pretty good, too.

So that’s the bottom line for me. I can. Granted there are some really crappy self-published books out there. You know what? There are some really crappy traditionally published books, too. I’ve read plenty of them.

It’s Not Always Easy

This morning, I was having a great day. I was loving that I was an entrepreneur. I even took the morning off to go to the zoo (which actually inspired my newfound joy) and see some gorillas. I love gorillas. One day, I will meet one in person. It’s a bucket list item.

Fast forward to 5:38pm when I got a phone call. My biggest client will no longer be in business – and I am out of not only an excellent client, but also a reliable paycheck. Suddenly, being an entrepreneur is terrifying and rather sucky. I’m looking at my bills and thinking- how am I going to make this work? I absolutely can not make this work. I’m going to be broke. I’m going to be poor. After all my hard work, I’m probably going to be evicted and then – *slap.*

Deep breath.

There’s an answer. But the answer is…I have no freaking idea. However, I’m also not one to totally lose it in the face of a crisis. Bring it on world. Also, despite you pooping on me today, I really appreciate that gorgeous sunset you let me admire from the parking lot as I munched chicken fingers and blasted this.

Oh, hey wait…the world pooped on me YESTERDAY. It’s 12:59 AM…what does Thursday have in store? Good surprises I hope.