Finally! Directions To "Out There"
Singles are repeatedly advised to get to this mysterious place called "Out There," where single men and women are aplenty.
Out There is the modern day land of milk and honey for anyone looking for a meaningful relationship. Or perhaps it's more like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, with rivers of rich chocolate, trees dotted with jelly bean blooms, and fluffy whipped cream-spotted mushroom caps.
The place operates like a secret society in that everyone seems to know about it--are quick to reference it--but it's location is rarely mentioned. In fact, they don't even acknowledge that they've given you a place to go to with no directions.
Despite the lack of navigation, Out There is a real place.
I've been to different Out There locations, so I can assure you that it's not a myth. Before I reveal it's whereabouts, understand that visiting comes with a couple of catches.
Catch 1: Out There is a wildly expansive area that reveals itself to us when we follow our interests and have an appreciation for where we are. And really, that's what's so great about this place. It's about you.
Catch 2: The true purpose of being Out There is to bring yourself joy, not to find a date. I'm sure that sounds counter intuitive, particularly because this place is often associated with finding a significant other, but when you dig into your interests, happiness tends to bubble up inside you.
Happy, content, and relaxed = you being incredibly attractive to others.
Follow Your Interests
While Out There can include the internet, as in online dating, this does nothing to cultivate your interests or feed your curiosity. It's possible to do both at the same time--date online and pursue a pastime--but it's important to immerse yourself in a pursuit and surround yourself with like-minded people.
- What do I enjoy?
Watching and playing sports? Playing chess? Cooking? Shopping? Sailing? Traveling?
- What are my interests?
Painting? Wine? Adventure? Fitness? Experiencing different cultures? Photography? Collecting comic books?
- How would I like to improve myself personally and professionally?
Through volunteering? Community service? Mentoring? Becoming a better presenter at work? Obtaining a certification?
The answers to these questions will give you ideas about how to get to your next destination--closer to the heart of Out There.
At a time, I was involved in a civic organization, a public policy institute, and a public speaking club. Additionally, I took a writing class. Plus, I had the things I regularly enjoyed: art, books, writing, and football, to name a few. This was my Out There. I met many quality people and developed lasting friendships during my time spent within these various organizations.
There was one evening I attended an art reception where I met someone I'd go on to date for 3 years. I didn't go expecting to meet anyone. I went to do something I love.
Another time I had the need for adventure, so I registered for kayaking. Absolutely nothing came out of it in terms of my meeting anyone, but I had a good time, along with a great story to tell about how I braved the littered and oil-slicked Buffalo Bayou.
Sometimes you'll meet somebody special who shares your interests and sometimes you won't, but either way, you're living.
Since then, a few of my interests have shifted. For example, I participate in less policy-related activities, but am obsessed with learning how not to kill plants (some call it gardening). My Out There location has changed, as is normal.
Here's how to navigate to your Out There location:
Get involved: Getting involved with organizations that do work you respect and admire is a great way to expand. Look up professional organizations, community-, culture-, or political-based groups, or midtown/downtown/neighborhood alliances. Google volunteer opportunities in your city for special interests like assisting with voter registration, feeding the hungry, or reading to children.
Research activities: Look up events going on around town through the convention & visitors bureau, the local newspaper, the events section of organization websites and through general web searches. Attend an event or a member's meeting (if it's open to the public). From concerts to yoga in the park to professional events, there will be plenty of new people to mix and mingle with.
Look up affordable cooking classes, chess clubs, or special interest meet ups. Whatever you're into, explore it!
What you're doing is expanding your world. New people. New connections. New opportunities for you to do things that make you happy while simultaneously putting yourself in a position to meet someone special directly or through a new friend.
appreciate where you are
Making concerted efforts to get out there is nice and all, but my everyday world is full of surprises, too. So much pressure is put on singles to travel to a dreamy version of Out There that it's easy to take what's ordinary for granted because in the absence of glitter, bow ties, high heels and tweed jackets we don't recognize it for what it is.
When we go grocery shopping, when we stop for gas, when we take an evening walk, when we go to the courthouse for a speeding ticket, go to the mailbox, go pick up an order of hot wings, we're at Out There.
It's not always pretty, but ironically, that's the beauty of life. Wonderful things can happen at unexpected times and in unorchestrated ways.
I suspect that when people talk about Out There, what they're suggesting is being open to new experiences and making yourself available. And I think there's merit in that message.
Understand that we hold the directions to our unique Out There locations. It's as much in our Q&As as it is in our realizing that we're already there. Perhaps we haven't explored it fully or we need to expand our area or maybe we need to change locations, but we're there.
Photo credit: Oran Viriyincy via CC Flickr