A few months ago I came across a Jewish mindfulness practice that I’ve thought about a lot since. The practice is simply to say “Here I am” to yourself or God whenever you’re distracted or out of sorts. I find it particularly helpful when my mind is wandering in meetings at work: “Here I am, in this ninth-floor boardroom, at this cross-functional team meeting.” It helps bring me back to what I’m really doing. It’s also helpful if I’m getting caught up in the unhelpful stories my mind is so good at telling me: “Here I am: It’s 10:30 on a sunny Saturday morning. The story I’m telling myself is X but Y is also true.” It’s helpful and grounding.
This practice came to mind this morning as I thought about this new blog. “Here I am, trying to articulate my thoughts and feelings about singledom and dating.” So far I’ve introduced why I’m undertaking this project and talked about some broad social trends that make dating hard, but I haven’t said much about who I am. It’s an important question, not because I’m special but because my experiences of dating have been just that: my experiences; and my beliefs and opinions about dating are just that too. They are mine. And no one else’s. So it’s important for me to share a bit about who I am and from what perspective I’ve come to this blog.
So, here I am.
I am a thirty-nine-year-old, Christian, single, white, gay male living in Toronto. I have an undergraduate degree in linguistics and a master’s degree in theology. Each of these things (among others) comprises part of who I am and therefore the ‘me’ I bring to dating and the ‘me’ I bring to this blog. Some of these traits make dating easier for me than for others, some make it harder. Here I am.
A few years ago, I came to a sudden realization that the romantic relationship I want and feel called to is more a question of “if” than “when.” While still possible, and maybe even likely, it wasn’t something I could rely upon. This changed how I approached dating and how I approached life. As much as I longed to build a life with someone, I couldn’t wait any longer to build a life. I needed to get on with it and pray that the life I built for myself would be compatible with the life some worthy man was building for himself. The side benefit of this was that, in my reasoning, the more I worked on healing the wounds of my past, the more I worked on growing up into the full stature of maturity, and the more I leaned into the things that made me uncomfortable, the better I would be able to successfully live out my marriage if it were to happen. And so, truly getting my shit together would feed two birds with one bread.
This has been a powerful thing for me and in so many ways I feel I’m ten times the man I was five years ago. But, ironically, the more and more I’ve grown into the man I feel I am meant to be, the less and less I am what contemporary dating culture values. I don’t regret this — we only live this life once and I’m not about to be any less than who I am just so guys will like me — but it hasn’t exactly been encouraging. Here I am.
And so, here I am, writing this blog. Here I am, reflecting on the past decade of dating, and trying to date well. Here I am, a sometimes messy mixture of characteristics. Here I am, more than I once was but not all that I hope to be. And ‘here’ is the place from which I write. My experiences have been my own and, while that doesn’t make them any more important than anyone else’s, they also certainly aren’t any less important.
So that’s about it for now. This has just been a little bit about who I am and what I care about, and what I’m bringing with me as I write here.