My friend is a member of various dating websites. She checks out the photographs of possible male partners she finds herself attracted to and settles down with a glass of wine to peruse their profiles.
Having found one or two lucky contenders, she enters her details in the boxes and tabs down to type in her personal statement. ‘Fabulous at Fifty, she writes… Drop-dead gorgeous lady, oozing style and confidence. Curvacious … it goes on … and on! Her many talents include sport, cooking, entertaining and too many others to begin to mention. I interject here and ask her to make the list shorter. ‘Men won’t read all of it’, I suggest gingerly. She continues with the list; gardening, golf, walking, holidays … [that’s walking comma holidays, not walking holidays].
I tried an imaginary process for myself. As an exercise on paper, well on screen of course, I attempted to write my own personal statement for a dating site [purely for research purposes, you understand]. I faltered, dithered and finally decided that I was a woman with er … hem … er
It’s not as easy as it seems, Unless you ooze with confidence.
No wanting to give in at the first hurdle, I decided to try again. With real paper and a pencil [easier to delete]. I managed to concoct a short list of positive things about myself and a longer list of negative things about myself. I extended the positive list as much as I could and threw the negative list away [a positive gesture in itself!]. I wasn’t gorgeous, fabulous at 50 but a few encouraging characteristics began to emerge on the page.
I considered working on these findings in a similar way to dieting – where you write down all the things you eat during the day, then adapt to eating what’s good for you and train yourself to leave off what’s not. Looking at my list yesses didn’t tell me anything I didn’t really know; upbeat, focused, hardworking, caring, family centred person. Hmmm. I didn’t expect to be able to change my personality overnight but honestly, my positive list wasn’t helping.
The discarded sheet of negatives lay half screwed up on the floor, not having made the bin in the first place. I unravelled the bad news and absorbed the text … anxious, self-doubting, apprehensive, nervous energy … I taught my children to turn negatives into positives. So why am I not following my own advice? What have I got to lose?
I made a new list:
Q. What was actually making me anxious?
Q. Why the self-doubt?
Q. Why am I so apprehensive?
Q.What can I do with all that nervous energy?
Clearly, a psychotherapist could work all this stuff out but on the surface it all seemed so simple once I had dragged the thoughts from my mind and put them down on paper …
I realised I wasn’t achieving some goals I had set for myself. I’ve been talking the talk and not walking the walk.
The yearning to get to writing and complete my novel was making me anxious – partly due to having to be selfish in the time required to finish the novel, partly due to self-doubt. Writing a novel is a lonely project. You don’t actually know whether it will work or not until the novel is completed and you find that needle in the haystack – an agent – an audience.
Any new project; thesis; venture; business deal can cause apprehension. I’m ok with that.
Clearly all these unsettled feelings are hyping up my nervous energy levels. If I concentrate on the writing, this might alleviate anxiousness. If I focus on marketing my product, my energy levels will be consumed. That’s it! Then I’ll just while away a few worrying months, waiting for all those agents to come knocking at my door.
And this is where the dating agency comes in … What I learned from my friend, was her marketing skills. I need to make the stone, stonier, put the icing on the cake, over-egg the pudding ...
I won’t be competing on Dateline, Tee for 2, Harmony et al, after all they are for single people looking for romance and a GSOH. I’ll leave that to my friend ~ and I ~ will be in a dark, lonely place for at least 3 months whilst Edward, Verity, Rob and Katherine sort our their quest for more in my debut novel, Consequences !