“You’re so brave.”
I get that all the time from people who read my blog – particularly the women. I suppose it does take a healthy disregard for personal safety to continue plumbing the depths of the Internet for dates with men who all too frequently turn out to be maladjusted weirdos. Granted, I meet them in public places, but more than once have I had too much to drink around them, allowed them to walk me right to my doorstep, or otherwise put myself in a situation that would make Ted Bundy salivate.
Since I haven’t yet been hung up on meat hooks in someone’s basement, I’m “brave.”
Then after my dates, I air out my dirty laundry on the Internet. That, apparently, also makes me “brave.” I’m brave because I put so much of myself out there for public scrutiny and criticism; I’m brave because I continue to search for true love no matter how many times I feel the rush of infatuation for someone only to have my hapless heart crushed and aching over him later.
I can see why it appears that my life is defined by bravery.
But, in truth?
It’s actually defined by fear.
Until I started writing Date Me, D.C.!, I’d never done anything particularly noteworthy with my life. I was an unremarkable student. I was an unremarkable employee. A middle child, sandwiched between a tremendously talented opera singer sister and a developmentally disabled brother – and oft overlooked as a result. I’d never had aspirations of greatness, and I’d never have categorized myself as ambitious.
Then, the blog. And with it, accolades I’d never even attempted to imagine: that it was sooo good, and that I was such a talented writer.
Fast-forward to today. I now throw happy hours, offer a dating profile rewriting service, generate a bit of ad revenue and get nearly 1,000 hits every time I post a new entry. I’ve jumped out of an airplane, visited a BDSM club, rubbed shoulders with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made some amazing friends and gallivanted all over this city. I’ve done more living in a year-and-a-half than some people do in their entire lives.
All of that is pretty remarkable. And like I said, I’d never done anything remarkable before this.
However, the blog has started to produce negative returns.
I still get the compliments, but I also have a dedicated band of anonymous readers whose spiteful, vindictive missives cut me to the core daily.
I’ve made some amazing new friends, but I’ve also alienated some old ones.
I lost my job last month. The blog was never specifically cited as a reason, but I believe it played a role.
And, of course, I’ve had my heart completely and utterly broken. Twice. It took almost seven months to get over John. And now, with Chris, it feels like I never will. (Even as I write this, I’m sitting here hoping that somehow Chris will read it and have the sudden epiphany that he loves me and that letting me walk out the door was the single biggest mistake of his life. Fat chance on that, though.)
As I see it, I’ve got a couple of choices: I could decide to spend every waking moment on the blog, fine-tuning my writing, pursuing local advertisers, cobbling together a book proposal and turning my avocation into my vocation. Or, I could just quit. I could quietly fade back into oblivion.
But I’m too scared to do either.
Simply put, pursuing a path in creative writing would be hard. I’ve never written a book before. Hell, I’ve never written a book proposal. I’m not so sure I could do either. And if I were to submit a draft to a publisher only to have it sent back with a “Thanks, but no thanks” note? Though I’ve gotten pretty used to getting the proverbial boot over the last year, I’m not sure my fragile psyche could take that kind of rejection.
But quitting bears no joy, either. Being able to express myself through the written word has been so personally fulfilling. And furthermore, for the first time in my life I’ve negotiated a spotlight, and I’ll freely admit it – I love the attention. I love being interviewed about my blog. I love when people want to meet me. I love being popular.
Seriously – I. Love. It. And I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy chugging along with the status quo again.
Meanwhile, I’m failing in the stagnation. Every second I pussyfoot around those choices, the decision-making process becomes more difficult. The negative parts of blogging become more severe. My aching heart aches worse.
I’ve got to figure it out sooner rather than later because I can’t keep feeling like this – like a wannabe-author-heartbroken-hack who is starting to seriously daydream about what the surface of the Potomac looks like from the vantage point of the bottom of the riverbed.
So there it is – I’m stuck. I’m too scared to stop and I’m too scared to try. My quarter-life crisis is that I’m consumed by a paralyzing fear.
And I don’t know where I go from here.
You can follow Katie on Twitter: @DateMeDCBlog
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.