“Overcoming ‘First-Date’ Jitters”
Do you happen to be among the millions who are seeking to calm those nerve-wracking “first-date” jitters? Well, welcome aboard because most of us who are reading this know the feeling of having sweaty palms, feeling insecure, or not being sure we’ll know what to say.
It is easy to feel ruffled–even awkward, apprehensive, and shaky–when meeting or dating someone new for the very first time. After all, no one likes to face possible rejection. And though most of us have heard well-intended advice such as “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, such pearly wisdom doesn’t always seem to help, does it?
In truth, however, a first date is not much different from other challenging first-time encounters which many of us face all the time. After all, don’t we occasionally attend job interviews, place sales calls to customers, apply as candidates for training programs, or even attend meetings where we try to convince the committee to accept our product or ideas? What it boils down to then is having enough confidence to believe that we have something wonderful to offer.
So I would like to propose some new thought, namely three recommendations to help boost self-assurance and overcome “first-date” jitters. After all, without a first date, we can’t ever get to the third.
First, we must be willing to step outside of our comfort zone by using positive self-talk, much like I did when faced with the scary challenge of zip lining on a trip to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, where we were not told what we would be faced with. Part of my challenge involved arduous steep climbs to reach a series of eleven separate cables, each of which varied in length. We were then instructed to hang on to our pulley tightly, lean back, straighten our legs, then zip along each cable, one of which stretched across deep wide canyons with a darkened tunnel in between—the part they didn’t tell us about. At least twice, we hit speeds of 50 miles per hour–very unexpectedly!
And even though I knew I was wearing a backup harness for safety, at times the experience was still so terrifying to me—very much like dangling all alone mid-air above the Grand Canyon!—that I steeled my nerves by using positive self-talk over and over. “I’m merely flying inside a small airplane, I’m merely flying inside a small airplane.” It worked! Not only did I enjoy the thrill of flying without panic, but secretly enjoyed bragging about my experience later to my “worldly” college-age grandsons.
Similarly, whenever we’re faced with nervous “first-date” jitters, I suggest we tell ourselves something along the line of “Lucky me, I’m about to meet someone new and I’m just fine with however it turns out…I’m just fine with however it turns out…”
Secondly, we must be willing to risk trying something new, much like a friend of mine who authored one of the short stories from my last book, Hot Chocolate for Seniors. In “The Courage to Place the Ad”, the storyteller describes how at first she was adamantly opposed to placing an ad in the “Senior-meet-Senior” listings in her local newspaper. She finally overcame her resistance, however, decided to give it a try, and soon met a man she really liked—over the phone, that is.
But when the time came for the face-to-face “first-date” with a stranger at a Black Angus restaurant, she nearly backed out at the last minute because of nervous jitters. Again and again, she argued with herself, “What on earth are you doing at this age?” Fortunately, she regained her composure in the nick of time, used positive self-talk, and showed up. The beautiful pay-off is that she and the man she met have now been happily married for more than sixteen wonderful years!
And thirdly, we must be willing to take the authority over our thinking. There is amazing power in our thoughts! But it’s up to us to take the authority over what we think.
I urge you to tell yourself that there’s no harm in taking a chance and to think of life as an ongoing journey, full of many wonderful unexpected surprises. Think positive thoughts and focus on how natural it feels to meet new people every single day. When it comes to a first-date, there really is nothing to lose, provided we’ve picked a safe and sensible place to meet in the first place, as most of us would.
Do remain polite though if you decide to cut the meeting short because being respectful speaks well for your character. A simple tactful explanation such as, “Oops, I’m running late…must pick up a grandchild after school” is all that’s ever needed.
So I hope you will be willing to step outside your comfort zone by using positive self-talk, risk trying something new, and taking the authority over your thinking. Concentrate on all that you have to offer and know that it’s a numbers game. We mustn’t allow fear to control our thinking or we’ll never meet someone with whom we can share the joys of falling in love again.
And if things do turn out to be disappointing, I urge you to always always always get back up, dust yourself off, and try again another time because life is full of infinite miracles and endless possibilities.
For as Rev. Robert Schuller said, “Anybody can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.”
NEXT TUESDAY: Don’t miss “Senior Dating Etiquette”