I started online dating. My app showed over 1,000 people who wanted to bang me, even though, when it came down to it, 99% of them never wanted to talk to me. I get it. A lot of us are just looking for the fantasy of something new, but meeting someone you actually care about is not as easy as a few swipes might make it seem.
I want to bang, too, but I want to bang someone I love. And love costs a lot. I wasn’t sure I could afford risking a mistake, especially not after my last broken heart. And I felt like my life was one wrong move away from spiraling out of control, and the only thing keeping it tethered was my ability to dig deep and find the will to keep going.
When I started my Patreon, it quickly became a lifeline. The financial support stabilized my income and helped me feel free enough to pursue work that truly inspired me. Then I started failing my patrons at the $100 Happy Mail Box tier. I thought I’d organized things well enough to offer interesting and unique perks each month, with several months lined up in a row, then I let one thing after another fall through, and felt wretched as each week passed with me farther and farther behind.
Still my Patrons supported me. I don’t know that I’ve ever really experienced unconditional love in my life, but I imagine this is what it probably looks like: constant support despite every failing.
I kept working to bring my dreams to reality. I toiled over several water bottle designs that were flops until I found one that I loved. I kept battling with inspiration over fabric designs until I finally found one that was full of joy. My Patreon hit the $500 mark, where my promise of downloadable paper dolls then party invitations then scrapbooking accents baited me as I failed to start on the project goals month after month after month.
My patrons kept supporting me, unconditionally.
I kept trying to find a connection in my dating life. I was catfished, cancelled on, stood up, kissed without consent. I went on a date with someone who liked me more than I liked him, and went on a date with someone I liked who only wanted to be friends. One guy wanted to tell me all about his fetishes. Another sent me a link to his YouTube channel with his dramatic monologue of him forcibly sodomizing his boss.
The advice of my friend Dawn to protect myself better on my dating profile by removing my Instagram and not giving out my phone number started to ring true.
Then one night I swiped right on this cute guy who liked to throw dinner parties, the most recent of which had a Beauty and the Beast theme. We quickly became infatuated with each other and when we met, he lifted me up into the best hug of my life and twirled me around like a Disney princess. I brought his favorite of my paintings, Thicket, so he could feel for himself how the paper was torn with the pain of the loss that it represented.
We kissed. I got scared.
He lived hours away, after all, and was leaving town soon. He held me and told me not to worry, to just enjoy the moment for what it was. That night I went home and dreamed a wildly poignant dream about him, then woke up with a start, realizing that this guy was bringing out my idealized self, and my subconscious was trying to tell me to relax and stop worrying so much about it.
So I’m stopping the worry. I don’t want to create paper dolls or party invitations or scrapbooking accents. Other people have mastered so many cute and giftable applications of their artwork, but when I try to turn my art into crafts it feels like banging my head against a rock wall. I don’t want to try to do this anymore, so I’m rewriting my Patreon. I now have 1 goal: supporting my storybooks. Starting now, every time we reach a new $250 threshold, every single one of my Patrons will get a THANK YOU in the mail.
And I started relaxing, so much that this week I completed my Happy Mail boxes. I am sending out 5 months’ worth of perks in one package, and I’m updating my Happy Mail perks moving forward to accumulate and be sent out seasonally, which is much more doable for me.
And I deleted my dating profiles. I don’t need 1,000 matches. I need 1 match, and it isn’t even with this guy who kissed me and flew out of my life or with the other people I exchanged phone numbers with who may or may not pan out. It’s with myself. I have a place here, no matter who is or isn’t dating me. I want to embrace my life and stop letting my anxieties get in the way of my joy.
I will keep trying new things, loving new people, being vulnerable and hurting and letting my heart start to soar. I’m going to keep dreaming big and falling short and dreaming again. I don’t know if it’s a failure or a success. I don’t think it matters. It’s an experience of the only life I have, and even when that life feels sad, the fact that I can feel anything at all is its own kind of joy.