Life as we know it is a series of small, careful choices that we make day in and day out. We choose to watch television, to go to yoga, to eat that last piece of cake, to go the long way home instead of taking a cab. We make these choices as a part of life with little thought and a decided lack of consideration. If you’re single, and decidedly so, that’s a choice — an easy choice to make for some, a difficult choice for others, but what does it mean when you decide that you want to choose to date, but aren’t sure how to go about doing it?
The concept of making yourself available is a notion that is more difficult to put into practice than it sounds. We spend so much of our time being available only to ourselves — choosing what we want to read next, or where we want to go on vacation, or whether or not to eat Chipotle two days in a row for lunch. These are choices that come like second nature to us. To make the decision to let your delicate, quivering soul out into the universe is a terrifying one, but it is necessary if you choose to be available.
In order to do this, you have to be receptive to whatever the universe is trying to offer. Crossing your arms and shuttering your heart and your mind against all that could be with another human is not being available. Delivering a terse answer to the handsome stranger asking you for a light is not being available. Being available is a necessary step if you decide that you want to find someone who could possibly fit into the small corner of your life.
Deciding to be alone is a decision that feels proud, but deciding that you suddenly want to find someone to make the endless drudgery of the rest of your days go by a little easier feels shameful, a purposeful shrugging off of your independence, a capitulation to the shrieks of your family and all the well-intentioned people around you urging you to just find somebody, anybody already, to settle down with. It’s hard to work around this shame, but you must try, because listen to me: there is nothing wrong with wanting someone else with which to share this strange and enlightening experience we call life.
Being available is hard because it feels like work. It’s work because it means removing yourself from your routine of a heads-down, earbuds-in commute and being aware of the world around you. I am not saying that at any moment the love of your life will come tripping out of the crowd, spill your coffee on the ground and whisk you off your feet. This is not a movie. Being available means that you just have to pay attention to the subtleties of human interaction that you miss when you enclose yourself in a protective veneer of Beyonce’s greatest hits and The New Yorker on your Kindle.
Here are some ways you can be more available: Smile at people if they smile at you. Make small talk with the person at drug store selling you tampons. If someone asks how your day was, and you’re in the right mood, shush the eye-rolling goblin in your head, and answer, “It was pretty good.” The worst thing that will happen is that you will have told a tiny white lie to a stranger, but participated in the dying art of human interaction.
If a well meaning friend tries to set you up on a date, do your absolute best to go along with it, even though every bone in your body is screaming at you to turn drop everything and run in the other direction. The gut reaction of refusal you’re feeling is natural, because a blind date means ceding control. You trust your friends.You love your friends.Give it a shot. The best thing about blind dates is that you learn very quickly whether you want the person sitting across the table from you to stay a stranger. Sit through an hour and a half of small talk, pleat a straw wrapper for 45 minutes, nod and smile and be charming. You can leave whenever you want, because you are the master of your own destiny. The important part is that you tried.
If you’re making the choice to open yourself up to looking for a partner, do so with conviction. Be invested in yourself enough to feel comfortable with the notion that you are worth sharing. Be ready and willing to go through the bad dates, to expend the energy, and to partake in the soul searching that goes hand in hand with the messy work of finding someone to love. It could be worth it, but only if you choose to try.