I feel like I’m 15 again, petrified, and learning how to drive.
The size, make, and model doesn’t matter at this point, I just need to learn how to turn the key, hit the break, and steer…and not die. There’s no way to “learn” other than by doing, and hoping everything will turn out alright. But driving is a big responsibility, your life is endangered, and so are others’. Eventually I’ll get around to being comfortable with it, and then one day I’ll even have fun experimenting with yellow lights, speed limits, music blasting, and driving different types of cars in all sorts of weather. Along the way I’ll enjoy the different places I can go, see the sights, and experience new sensations. Hopefully I won’t get into any serious accidents, but there are no guarantees in life now are there? I just hope it doesn’t kill me.
Me and navigating the dating world is quite comparable. Except dating doesn’t come with insurance and there’s no one to teach me how to drive.
I’m alone in the car, full tank of gas, and keys in my right hand. What could possibly go wrong?
I think I decided to step into the driver’s side last summer, when I realized women have a lot of power over men. I’ve had my fair share of high school crushes to know that guys can have an effect on me, but it wasn’t until working in a male dominated industry that taught me I can have just as much of an effect on them, whether I want to or not. Being a young college-aged girl means guys do things for you, like open doors, or help you reach the top shelf, or buy your product. On one hand I find it fascinating and entertaining: I went to work wearing ugly clothes, got stucco and sweat all over me, and still men flirt with you on the job. On the other hand, I’m awfully scared of it. Power corrupts. I’m just trying to do my job, I didn’t ask for any of this!
I played with this allure once. At the Halloween party, some guy came up and started talking to me. Usually I get freaked out at this stage and run away, but I held my ground to see what would happen if I didn’t. I got bored of him within 5 minutes. But I still wanted to experiment. He offered to buy me a drink several times, and even offered to get one for my friend. At the end of the night I was wondering if he would ask for my number…he did. I gave it to him, but I never spoke to him again. I felt heartless, seeing how interested in me I could get him when I wasn’t interested to begin with. It doesn’t take much to get from “hey” to “can I have your number”. But it confirmed my newfound knowledge that women and men are equal in how they effect each other.
Since then I swore I wouldn’t do that again. I’ll only let guys talk to me if I’m genuinely curious about them, and as soon as I feel the boredom set in, I’ll walk away. Things change when I find out I’m not bored when someone talks to me. I start enjoying the conversation, want to get to know him, and see who he is. Then I get freaked out because of how I feel, how he might feel, and what I’m supposed to do with those feelings. Things also get more complex when I realize I have no idea what to do, because I don’t even know how I feel, or where we are. Am I bored? Should we stop? Do I want to stop? We need to slow down, but I want to go faster. It’s frightening and exhilarating.
But I guess this is like driving. You just gotta have a general idea, hit the gas, do your best, make ‘mistakes’, learn from them, but don’t regret them, because now you know something about yourself that you might have not known otherwise. I just hope my feelings remain honest, and that I don’t play games. One day I’ll fall in love, he’ll break my heart, or I’ll break mine by breaking his, and then I’ll swear off driving forever. But then I’ll get back in and keep going, just like July 5th.
It’s been 8 months since my crash, I’m a bit timid when others merge into my lane, but I still love getting in the car, hitting the freeway, and going wherever my heart takes me. And I’d like to think that that’s how I’ll continue on the road to romance.