Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Mackenzie
I am a firm believer that one needs to have their affairs in order or for lack of a better term, shit together before they date. As is proven over and over again in this column, at least how I perceive it - if we are true and honest with ourselves, we basically need to possess the qualities of the mate we wish to attract. If one wants thin/athletic, fit, successful, etc, it is probably a good thing that the procuring partner be those things as well to a certain extent.
I am in a transitional point in my life in my mid 30's. I just returned back to the US from a year abroad in London obtaining my Masters (yes, you will love it as much as you think you will - especially as a New Yorker). I feel like I keep making excuses to get back into dating, but I can rationally quantify them with statements such as: "I need to pay off student debt", "I am using my degree to transition to a new career and need to have that solidified before I date", "my finances are in major triage mode and won't be able to date how I am used to - going 50-50 in terms of dinners, drinks, weekend getaways". The list goes on. I know you wrote a column to this similar effect which I think also adds to some validity to this way of thinking.
I don't have a hard time dating quality people, however when all my ducks are not in a row, I am more susceptible to "sabotaging" something good b/c internally I feel less then. I have found my best relationships have been when we are 50-50 in life stage, finances, and stability. It makes things a lot easier, at least for me.
Bottom line - Am I making excuses? Should I just jump into the pool? Or should I put 100% into my personal goals at hand? I am comfortable being single...too comfortable which I am not sure is necessarily a good thing either. I don't want to be one of those cautionary tales where I have spent so much of my time focusing on myself that I miss the boat. I think there was a column this week about a yoga instructor/artist who wanted to improve herself only to wake up at 45 to no options. I want to be smart and thoughtful about all this. Age: 36 City: Los Angeles State: CA
To me, it sounds like you're afraid that the men you want to date won't think you're good enough for them. I hear fear, not someone trying to be practical. I'm sure much of this has to do with being a single woman trying to date in a city like LA, which is notorious for how shallow and status-conscious it's inhabitants can be. If dating in NYC is difficult, LA has to be exponentially worse. So I get your concern. However, it's important to realize that anyone who would pass you up because you don't make enough or don't work an impressive enough job is not worth sweating about. Dating someone like that will be a constant blow to your self-esteem. Why?
Because you'll NEVER be good enough for them. Like, ever. They will always want you to be more: thinner, richer, more successful, less needy, less competent, etc. You get the picture. Those people don't want partners, they want ponies they can trot out at functions and nights out with friends.
Here's a truth that might blow your mind: there's no such thing as the right time to date. There will always be something you think you need to fix or improve. Self-improvement is critical to our self-awareness and general sense of identity, but it has little to do with our character or value as a human being. You need to not just accept who you are and where you are in this moment, but appreciate the journey that got you there.
Having just finished your Masters, you've probably been out of the singles scene for a bit. You likely feel rusty. Waiting to jump back into the pool is only going to exacerbate your insecurity. The longer you wait, the harder it will be, because you're going to get deep inside your head and psych yourself out. Once you let that little voice inside you take over, it will chip away at how you feel about yourself. Know what happens then? You end up dating the wrong people, the people who exploit that vulnerability for their own benefit.
The best version of you is who you are right now. Tomorrow you'll be an even better version. The next day, even better. Every experience we have provides a teachable moment. That's what makes us better people. Not a degree or job title.
I say go for it. Right now. Put up a few dating profiles on Tinder and OKCupid. Install Hinge and Bumble. Just do it. Fight the fear, but do it knowing you're good enough right now. You want someone who recognizes your drive and intelligence and integrity, not accomplishments and aesthetics.