Swipe Right

The 20s exploring your own self perception. Oftentimes the ways in which we see ourselves are drastically different than the ways that others see us. When you ask your friends, family, and coworkers to describe you usually they say something different than what you would say about yourself. That dichotomy can sometimes be jarringly stark. There seems to be clearly defined differences between how we show up and how we think we show up. Maybe it's worthwhile to reconcile the two? Time to get your match on; this is swipe right.

There is nothing to me like spending time in an airport. Regardless of the all the horribly boring experiences of waiting for delayed flights, missing crew members, and cranky patrons, there is just something about them that I find eye-opening to reflect upon every time I am in one. They are hubs were I come into close contact with vastly different people. The diversity of them is always a welcome change of pace particularly from the bubble of my campus culture. People from varying walks of life coming to and going forth across the country and the world. Some for work, while others are adventuring to see family or to get away from it all. You never know who will you meet in an airport. The hair styles, skin colors, body sizes, clothing, technologies, convictions, and everything in between ranges so much. I relish in it deeply and find myself engulfed in trying to figure out people's stories. What brings them here, where are they going, and what are they going to do there?

I used to think airports were scary. Scratch that, I still do, but another part of me is thoroughly intrigued by them. They are like little contained cities. Seemingly anything and everything you could possibly need in one place. Airports are where I see multiculturalism show up most, albeit in some problematic ways as in racial profiling through security, cultural racism, and stereotyping strangers, but at least visually diverse peoples are represented and representing themselves. It's always my signal that my normalcy is distinctly my own and everyone deserves to take comfort in theirs as well.

Definitively one thing I have come to appreciate in the experience of being a person of color in a society that epitomizes whiteness including in beauty, attraction, and dating is that I find myself being absolutely floored by people's across racial and ethnic lines. I think in understanding why appreciating other cultures is imperative I am able, willing, and steadfast in putting it to practice. I've written about it time and time again but a side effect of internalized racism is devaluing yourself, having a skewed self-perception, and honestly feeling ugly, unwanted, or undesirable. In the department of visible diversities to say Vermont is lacking is a gross understatement. Spending four years being excluded from the dating scene and doing lots of self-removal for it in tandem made me feel invisible. In the past few days travelling has made me see myself in a complete different light. Swipe right for me.

When it comes to dating it seems I have always known that I would be more than okay with interracial relationships, it's the other person that I have been worried about. Don't get me wrong, I also find black women across the color spectrum with or without natural hair to be true queens. When it comes to mixing it up though in my head I'm thinking does this person even see my humanity let alone my potential as a match? If you cannot dialogue across difference and celebrate identities then there's nothing for me in you in looking for a partner. It's only been in utilizing tinder, unabashedly I might add, in major cities while travelling to the Midwest for my spring break and actually across all of Ohio have I realized that well ... people do find me attractive. I've been getting matches all over the place and it's caught me off guard. A friend once told me that it was only after they left the New England bubble that they found their inner confidence in themselves and in others to pursue the basics of dating. People who look, speak, and present themselves in drastically different ways are matching with me. It's been so empowering and a good reminder that I'm not invisible, people have been missing out, and perception is powerful. Swipe right for ya boy.

People at my institution have continually told me that I am top catch and a well-rounded steal of a person, but it's never played out in real life with people showing interest. It has been so frustrating and sometimes demeaning receiving mixed messages. Somehow I became the most eligible bachelor who just so happens to be undatable. I used to think it was because of the nonstop go lifestyle I've subscribed to but I realize identities and actualizations are always at play. If only I were white I'd be perfect is what I glean when people have comments like "you're cute for a black guy," "I would date you but you're not my type," and "you're perfect for someone else." These past few days of swiping right and having it be reciprocated overwhelmingly has given me renewed hope of not just finding "the one" but finding anyone in general. It's time for me to get out there, go on some dates, have some fun, and play the game. The deck of cards I want to play with comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. If you're down to play then go ahead and swipe right.

I'll end with this. Know your biases - there are certain things that are finicky and others that are just plain bigoted. Making generalizations of not being willing to date a person of any generalized identity is messed up. In doing so you write off people for a particular characteristic rather than who they are and their compatibility. Swipe right on or off-line every once in a while on someone who is "out of your league" (as if those exist), "not your type" (change it up), or "unconventionally beautiful/handsome" (forget traditions - get real). You may be surprised who you connect with.

My blog post question for the day is ... what is something recently that has surprised you about yourself? I would say the different ways I am able to show up and proceed forward kind of has kept me guessing even with myself. Coming into your own as a young adult has moved me forward in multiple ways.


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