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art theplaceSo, what’s it like out there?

That was a recent question posed to me by an older friend, one who has been happily married for the better part of 30 years. He wondered what it was like these days. You know, being single and immersed in the battlefield that is the modern day dating scene.

Well, I said, it has changed a lot, and, at the same time, it also has remained the same. In an era where the variety in what people want, and are looking for, is never-ending, navigating the world of single folks can be a murky, often confusing place, one that tends to raise more questions, about yourself and those around you, than actual answer or solve.

For myself, I find the best approach is to go-with-the-flow. People can be hard to read, especially when their face and intentions are hidden behind text messages, Snapchat and Instagram posts that are ambiguous and sometimes misinterpreted. Face-to-face communication is a lost art these days. Positively engaging with another person can be a challenge for some, but a bountiful one when you finally realize we’re all looking to make a connection with someone who can put a kick in our step, a song in our heart. 

More times than not, when I’m talking to another single person about their experiences, they tell me how difficult it is to “just find a normal person to spend time with.” And yet, those folks looking for a “normal person” also a lot of the time haven’t actually sat down and thought what it is they are truly looking for in a partner. Sometimes the expectations are high (too high) or low (too low). Sometimes it simply comes down to your routine. 

I mean, if you’re only bouncing between the same three places (home, work, neighborhood bar), of course you’re not going to meet someone special because your field-of-vision is like Groundhog Day. Try new things. Go to new places. Shake up your routine — you’ll not only meet new, interesting people, you’ll also learn more about “you” in the process by seeing yourself from another perspective. 

When it comes to asking somebody out, men and women can be terrified by this idea. Walking up to a complete stranger, striking up a conversation, making a connection, getting a phone number and making plans for a date. Seems simple, right? Then why is it such an emotional hurdle for everyone? A lot of that fear can be pinned down by the action of rejection — a feeling that only gets stronger and more poisonous when middle school dances turn into high school proms, college parties into adulthood social gatherings.

But, so what? The worst a person can say is “no.” Don’t be a creep, read the room, make the person be comfortable (be comfortable yourself), and you’ll be surprised how easy it was to make the first move in pursuing that person from across the way who has caught your eye.

Which brings me to my next thought — having your cake and eating it, too. With the world at our fingertips and an endless freedom of choice when it comes to every facet our lives, there is a large, growing segment of the dating population that sincerely wants “it all.” And by that, I mean be able to see as many people as they’d like, but still be able to pick and choose what exactly they desire and will consume, as if ordering off some vast menu of humanity. 

So, where does that leave us? Well, men have always been sort of the selfish bunch, getting away with murder when it comes to femme fatale endeavors, while women get labeled wrongly for embracing their sexuality and social experiments. But, the pendulum is shifting, where more and more females see the value in pursuing what’s best for them, with the old adage of the “spinster” being either thrown out the window or worn proudly. 

At age 30, I find my own mindset changing. For awhile, I felt maybe there was “something wrong with me” for getting older and still being, well, by myself. Raised in a small town, you tend to carry with you that philosophy of “marry young, have kids, raise kids, etc.” Nowadays, I see the beauty of doing my own thing, a devil-may-care outlook that also leaves the door open to whatever long-term female possibilities wander across the threshold of my soul. 

As I’ve always said, “we all have our own victories in our own time.” The only person you need to worry about is yourself. The whole “Keeping up with Joneses” is all a crock. The more you compare yourself to others, and materialistically compete with those around you, the more miserable you’ll become. Life is about discovering the beauty within oneself, and also being able to identify those same traits in your daily existence. 

Sure, the modern dating scene may be confusing, but it really is the same as it has always been — an unknown abyss of people, priorities and prerogatives. The key, right now, is to also incorporate three new “P” principles — pride, patience and passion. Be aware of your value, and also realize that vulnerability in what you’re seeking isn’t a bad thing, it just shows that you’re trying, with the first step taken in anything worthwhile being able to stand up and head out the door, into a new day of unlimited possibility and potential.

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.  

 

Hot picks

1: The Nantahala Brewing Company “5th Anniversary Party” will be held from 4 to 11 p.m. May 15 in Bryson City.

2: Classic Wineseller (Waynesville) will have The Russ Wilson Quartet (jazz/swing) May 16.

3: Andrews Brewing Company will have Heidi Holton (blues/Americana) 6 p.m. May 15.

4: The Heritage Bluegrass Music Festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 16 at the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center.

5: No Name Sports Pub (Sylva) will have The Hooten Hallers (blues/hard rock) at 9 p.m. May 17. The band will also play the Water’n Hole Bar & Grille in Waynesville at 9 p.m. May 18.

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