Hi all and welcome to the second post from another brave and honest story teller. This months story is one that hits close to home for me and to anyone that’s done the dreaded dating in the 21st century, but before I get there, let’s start at the beginning, shall we.
Our story teller this week is Jessie Foss. I met Jessie when I was working at my first job out of undergrad. I was young and scared shitless. *Enter Jessie my postgrad-work friend-angel* The program I worked for was under an AmeriCorps grant called BuildingOpportunities which operated out of Workforce Connections, Inc. which is where Jessie worked. I didn’t start working with Jessie right away. Our original building was actually off site, so I only went in to bother her when I needed gas cards. She was always nice and gave me what I needed, but the interactions lasted no more than five minutes.
Then, my position changed in the company and I moved into the main building. Jessie recalls the excitement too. See, me and Jessie had a passion that saved us from the 9-5 office jobs in which we were sitting. Just what was that passion, you ask? The Bachelor. It was literally our saving grace being able to talk about the farmer from Iowa who was the actual worst, but also had the most dramatic season according to Chris Harrison circa 2015.
“I always love it when you can connect with somebody at work over ridiculous things… so yeah, yeah I loved having you over there that we could just talk about dumb stuff like that” she joked.
It really did save us because the other thing we had in common was a real struggle with the boss. One of my favorite memories of Jessie was when I posted a blog about how my boss called me naive and I cried in the bathroom. I remember her reaching out to me that night, or maybe the next morning, and just giving me the support I needed. It never ceases to amaze me how close I can become with my ‘work friends’ even if we never talk outside of the office. These are the people that get you through the tough meetings, the long days, and the mean bosses. Jessie was that person for me.
I hadn’t talked to Jessie much since I left that job except for the occasional message about The Bachelor, but as soon as we started talking it was like we never left that office building. We Facetimed as she entertained her pup, Carver, who is the literal cutest, like longtime friends would do.
She was on her couch in standard Sunday attire, the cozies I like to call them, with her hair looking fabulous as it always does. She has this amazing curly hair that I have pure jealousy over and a nose ring that I wish I was cool enough to pull off. Jess was just as bubbly as I remember her too. We pretty much laughed our way through the entire interview. Jess does some of her own freelance writing for the Coulee Region Women’s Magazine with her own hopes to write a book one day which I have no doubt that she will get done. She is a determined individual who knows what she wants and is not afraid to go after it which you will understand as her story unfolds. After the walk down memory lane, I just dove right into it:
“And so as far as the story goes… for my first interview I just kind of said ya know, is there a story that you want to tell or had in mind? Like what were you thinking of for your story?” I asked.
“…One of the things that resonated with me that you recently wrote was about the dating burnout. It’s so real. Like so real.”
This was the story I didn’t know I needed. Everything Jess said I resounded with a hard “yes, exactly.” She sat in her truth of being a 37 year-old woman who was still putting herself out there and trying her best to figure out what she wants while also feeling completely exhausted by everything dating entails. I think my favorite part of the interview was how confident she sat in this truth knowing that she was doing what she needs to do for herself. I often talk to people about dating and it is typically coated in this sad overlay of just wanting to be wanted. Jess, like most humans, wants to have a partner and be with someone and she also knows the things she does not want. (Funny enough, off the road truckers are something she definitely does not want. She’s not sure why because they make decent money, but it’s just an automatic no. Along with anyone that lists the school of life or hard knocks for their education. LOL Automatic ‘no’s’ for me include dead animals in a pic and people that write nothing. I’m sure both of our lists could go on.) Honestly, the whole conversation was filled, not with sadness, but that of like ‘I just want people to know what it is like to be in this situation and stop giving me bad advice or making me feel bad for my approach.’ She was essentially saying, this is me on my own “journey for love” (to quote our fav show) and if you could just let me be my own leading lady that would be great.
One thing I think we both want to shout from the rooftops to our well-meaning and at times hurtful friends is the saying that ‘if you stop looking, that’s when you’ll find love.’ Jess responded to this best when she said “I find [that] to be such crap too. Shut up. I just want to punch people a lot of times. I’m very crabby about it… I hate it because, I’m like, it makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong by putting effort into something thats important to you.” We get what you are saying, we really do. Except you really, really don’t get what she is saying. If you haven’t been single for a long time or haven’t dated in this century you don’t know what it is like. What your single friend really wants is for you to just listen and actually just keep the advice to yourself.
The conversation from there went on to talk about the people we have met in the process and the not-so-great-dates we have been on- Dudes that just up and ghost, to people that have no idea how to communicate, to the person that is DTF (down to f***, as Jess learned from her google search the first time someone sent it to her). Honestly, we talked about how scary it is to date right now. Online, you could be talking to anyone. We’ve seen every episode of catfish, okay? We know how it works.
I agreed with her ideas of safety and said “I think it has to be like a balance, like protect yourself, and also be open, and it’s a hard balance to find.”
She responded saying “I don’t think I’ve found that yet.”
Truthfully, I don’t think any of us have. What is the right amount of openness? How much do we share and how much do we hold back. How long until we can confirm the person on the other side of the screen isn’t a murderer, or married, or has 11 toes? I, for sure, don’t know. I have a whole blog about my life on the internet. Do I share it with my Bumble matches or do I keep it to myself? They could very easily find it with a simple instagram search I suppose. I preach openness, but I also don’t know where to draw the line sometimes.
Which is how we landed on the topic of the profile– it starts the whole connection in the first place. What to write, who am I trying to portray, is this picture sexy enough for someone to like, but not too sexy for them to know I wait a few dates before I’m DTF? IT IS A BIG DEAL. Jess has this dream of just “[putting] your worst pictures and like what you’re really like on a daily basis. Im probably gonna be a little bitchy sometimes… [and] if your gonna waste my time, my emotions, you’re not serious about this, like swipe left. Otherwise I’m cool.” Jess, I fully support this profile idea. I think the honesty and bravery revolution should filter into the online dating sphere. One hundred percent here. for. it.
We then talked about the part of the story that Jess really wants to take to her future book which will be titled “Your Last Single Friend”. She talked about what is like to be 37 and single and how this plays a role in her search. She said that it sometimes gets to her that she doesn’t have a partner that can take care of her during her upcoming surgery or be there after work, but the real struggle is “not having anybody else that relates to your life. Like that’s always hard. You don’t have that person to reach out to because [they] get it.”
And this is exactly what this blog is about. It’s about the connection that comes from sharing, because I know Jess isn’t my last single friend. I know people older, younger, and the same age that just haven’t found that person or person(s). I am also finding that more and more people are working to not settle, to find relationships that are meaningful and feel right. She mentioned the old adage if they are a certain age, then there must be a reason they are single. The more I think about this, the more I think that people are single because we aren’t falling for the stupid tricks society is feeding us. No matter the age, we aren’t just getting into relationships just for the heck of it. Jess wants someone that will go to church with her, likes dogs, communicates, and is preferably a male nurse. I see this in her future because she knows what she wants and she is not going to settle. We’ve seen the failed relationships, the abuse, the poor communication, the heartache and we are not here to continue that cycle. I think Jess and people like her are the people that remind me that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing and when I meet a person that I want to give more time and energy to, great. And until then they will go down in the bank of bad dates that I share with all my other single friends, who are out there relating to that content wholeheartedly.
A[wo]men & Jessie Foss
I want to thank Jessie for sharing her story and being so brave and honest with me about what it is like to be 37, single, and thriving. If you or someone else you know has a story that they would like to share please fill out the contact information on this page. And if you are single and want to send some love and support to the rest of us single humans, well that is just always appreciated.