Your 20s are considered to be a time of self-discovery, a time of navigating your way into adulthood, and for better or for worse, a time of putting yourself first.
Depending on the circumstances, many of us spend much of this time single. Coming out of college and entering the working world provides a great opportunity to “play the field.” In theory, new jobs, new cities, and new friends provide access to a large network of people to meet and mingle with. But being single after college has its challenges and hardships, even for a millennial.
For one thing, it is significantly harder to meet someone you’re interested in after college. A typical collegiate atmosphere provides thousands of potential hookups or relationships at the tip of your fingers, and generally speaking, everyone is on the same page.
Approaching that cute girl on campus and starting a conversation was easier because at that point, we all shared common ground: we went to the same school, took the same classes and had the time of our lives weekend after weekend. There really wasn’t much thought put into talking to someone. Though, when college ends and we’re thrown into the blurry masses, that easy interaction doesn’t always come as seamlessly.
For many of us, it’s difficult to approach a random stranger. It’s hard not to question yourself:
Are they even into me?
Are they single?
Wtf do I even say?
…Fuck, I’m pathetic.
In college, there was the aid of almost always being a couple of beers deep, having a group of friends around to boost your confidence, and the general assumption that nothing was meant to be too serious. No one was intentionally trying to find a serious relationship. If it happened, it happened.
Now that we are out of that safety net, it’s often harder to approach someone. There seems to be some added pressure to make a good impression or to avoid embarrassment. To make things worse, many of us are unsure of what we even want. Is it time for a serious relationship? Or should you just go with the flow and keep it casual?
It becomes increasingly harder to think clearly when your friends enter relationships as well. Whether it was a college girlfriend that stuck, a new fling, or a consistent date, once you have more friends that are in relationships than ones who are single, it’s hard not to feel like you’re missing out on something.
Make it easier on yourself and choose your opportunities when you feel most comfortable. It may be a little nerve wracking to approach someone in an environment where you feel you’re being judged by others; if a girl/guy caught your eye at the bar, wait until he/she goes up to get a drink rather than approaching a whole friend group. If you see someone interesting at the grocery store or a coffee house, start the conversation about something general. It’s all about being as relaxed as you can, or at least pretending to be.
At the end of the day, the key is to try and maintain some semblance of who you were in college. Don’t take yourself too seriously or the situation you find yourself in. You’re in the midst of a period in your life where most of us feel inadequate and completely in over our heads. So, we get it. It’s a mistake to pressure yourself or force yourself into anything.
Bottom line: The dating game may have changed for you a bit, but don’t be afraid to utilize some of that college-esque self-confidence to change the rules a bit.