One of the greatest challenges I have found in dating over forty is the baggage everyone carries with them. How does your baggage affect your life and choices?
You might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t have any baggage” or “My baggage isn’t affecting my dating life”. Are you lying to yourself? Of course you are! We all have baggage. It directly reflects the choices we make in our relationships. Think about it…How many times do you compare someone to your past relationships? How many times does a response you make to a situation remind you of ‘old times’? Is your baggage holding you back? Is fear of repeating the past keeping you from going forward? How do we get out of this rut?
I know I have been asked many times what do I want…out of life, in a relationship, for my future. I always look back and compare it to my past. This is what I don’t want, this is what I’d like to have, etc. How particular am I? Do I honestly know what I want? Are my decisions based on my baggage?
I have a dear friend who loves telling allegories:
You’re standing on a river bank. The water is rushing past you. A bear is coming to eat you. You can’t swim, but there’s a floatie on the bank. Its not a new floatie. It has a few patches but looks sturdy. Which do you choose? The bear (fear of the future) or the raging river (life and a future) with a slightly used floatie (a friend) to assist you?
You may think the answer is obvious but if you have very heavy baggage from your past the choice may be difficult to make. Do you trust the floatie to get you through? Have you ever had a floatie you can depend on? Or do yo let the bear eat you to avoid a possibility of drowning? What if the floatie is exactly what you needed and the ride down the river ends up being fun? Which do you choose? The choice is yours.
You see a handsome guy at a party and you want to talk to him, but you don’t. You’ve been dating her a month and you want to tell her you love her, but you don’t.
Why don’t we just jump in with both feet? Take the plunge? See what happens? Fear! Where does that fear come from? Past experience.
Remember when you were a kid and you’d try anything? I remember climbing chain link fences. I was brave until my jeans got caught at the top of a fence once and I couldn’t get down. That was the end of my climbing days. Or how you wrote notes to the guy/gal you liked, “I love you, do you love me? Circle yes or no”? Even when you received “no” you persevered, wrote a note to your second fav and moved on. I was brave until forth grade….Not only did I get a resounding “no” but “your fat” came along with it. No more notes after that!
Rejection is probably one of man’s (and woman’s) greatest fears. Who wants to be shot down? The problem is if you don’t put it out there you’ll never know if your fear is unfounded. I know, easier said then done. In my twenties fear of rejection was probably my number one fear, heights being the second thanks to the fence. But in my forties I’m not so worried about it. Granted I’m not out looking for dates but there is rejection, and fear of it, in all areas of our lives. I have come to realize I’m not getting any younger and if I want life to be at its best I have to step out of my box. I have to take rejection by the horns and give it a shake!
Life can be as exciting and fun as we want it to be if we are not afraid to grow from a bit of rejection. Rejection can be good. We learn from it and move forward. Look at it as stepping stones to greatness. Fearing it only holds you back. Yes, sometimes the rejection isn’t polite, friendly, or thoughtful. Sometimes its ugly and hurtful. Take a step back, shed a tear, regroup, put on your big girl thong and get back out there. Fearing the unknown and not facing that fear puts life on hold. Do we really have that kind of time?