After a catch-up session over caffeinated beverages or food, I've had many a friend tell me that I should write a book--or a blog--about my dating experiences. (Sorry, folks, that's not going to happen. I have some sense of decorum. A modicum, anyway.)
I won't lie: I find dating awkward and depressing.
In college, no one dated. We simply all hung out and, eventually, two people evolved into a couple. Thinking back, I can't remember how that evolution exactly came about. Whatever the case, dating in the '50s-television-show sense just didn't happen. And if we did go out to dinner with romantic interests, we certainly weren't dining or even hanging out with multiple romantic interests at once until we decided that one was "exclusive."
So I suppose I haven't had the right experience for this dating ordeal. For me, the first few dates are goofy--and that's if you have a few. More often than not, it's a one-and-done situation. Both parties are perfectly nice people (well, usually), yet it's just not a match.
Flip the coin. Change the lens.
I looked back at my dating life recently and saw it in a new light. You know what? As painful and despair-inducing has it has sometimes been, dating is an incredibly valuable experience.
I can't imagine another scenario in which I would have had one-on-one conversations with so many different people. Yes, I meet a lot of people in my corporate role. However, my conversations with these people are framed by work agendas. We talk about what my company does or what their companies do. Or how I can help them professionally. Or how they can help me get FrogDog to the next level. Not the same as an open-framework conversation with a near or complete stranger.
Once I decided to put myself out there and truly date--another self-appointed task borne of my initial goal-setting session--I met so many interesting folks and heard so many interesting stories. People talked about their careers and how they ended up in them. People shared their decisions to move to the United States--and what it felt like to leave behind everything and everyone they'd known. People described hobbies and passions--some I'd never uncovered. I saw the ravages of heartbreak. People revealed tales of lost parents and siblings. My eyes opened anew to human emotional and spiritual hunger.
None of these men were my soul mate. But it hasn't been a waste. There's a lot of life learning in sharing an hour with people I otherwise never would have met. They shared their stories. I gained insight into new worlds and lives. I could tell you details, but the particulars are theirs to tell--not mine.
To all of them: Thank you.