Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Plot Twist

I haven't written anything on my blog for ages. When I first moved into my new flat, I had these aspirations of becoming Leeds' answer to Carrie Bradshaw - a single girl in her mid-twenties with a strong group of female friends, discovering the world of dating. I was going to document the experience satirically, making light of dating disasters and recording my cliched journey of "self-discovery".

What really happened though was that I found dating hard. Really hard. I don't know whether I was giving off 'vulnerable vibes' or what, but it just seemed impossible to find someone decent. Three or four months went by and I decided to tentatively try out some dating apps. After my first Tinder date I sat in the bath crying having been sent a rejection message before I'd even made it home. The guy had been a jerk. He was self-obsessed, over-confident and couldn't have given a shit about me. Yet he still had the nerve to text me and say that I just didn't have any spark. It was that night that I realised that this wasn't about finding someone; this was about being happy as me, and that becoming happy was the most the most important thing. I deleted Tinder, I blocked the 2 or 3 people who had messaged me when they were lonely on a Friday night and I took up running. After a couple of months, for the first time I could really remember, I was happy as me.

 All this time, work had been my constant. I'd considered looking for a new job but with everything that had happened over the last two years, I needed at least something to stay the same. A couple of months after my bathtub realisation moment, some new people joined our team, a girl and two guys. One of them was a student on a gap year, one was there on a very temporary basis whilst she waited for another job to start. And the final one... well, he captured my heart the very first day I met him.

I've never believed in love at first sight. I think it's cheesy and puts unrealistic expectations into the heads of teenage girls. But meeting Alex was like waking up. In our first real, "non-work" conversation he challenged me on why I hadn't gone travelling despite always having wanted to, about why I was telling myself I couldn't do things, about why I was settling for less than I deserved. After almost four years of feeling lost and like I was swimming against the tide, things seemed clearer. I won't call it an epiphany but really, in hindsight, it kind of was.

In Alex, I saw so many qualities I admired: determination, ambition and a sense of perspective. He taught me very quickly to stop worrying so much about the small things, the things that had a tendency to keep me lying awake at night. It was so simple; our first dates passed in a flash and before we knew what was happening we weren't just Fiona and Alex any more, we were "us". "We" rather than "I".

Alex has been in my life now for six months. We've been together for four wonderful, happy months that I will always look back on with fondness. I've watched more football than I thought I would ever want to, explored places I would never have thought to visit, smiled so much my face has hurt almost constantly, laughed til I cried and learned to trust in love again. I won't pretend it's been easy all the time but the challenges are always worth overcoming because I know with absolute conviction that we are right. Whether that's for now, for the immediate future or for longer doesn't really matter; people come into your life for a reason and Alex coming into mine this year has really and truly turned my world around.

And it's on that note that this Carrie Bradshaw sits down with her girls and breaks the news that she's moving, that when he asked her to go with him, the answer took no thinking about at all. That it's time to stop saying "but", time to stop making excuses and time to grab life by the bollocks with both hands. The details are a bit patchy at the moment but I couldn't be more excited to start the next chapter in this book. I just hope I can read it - my Korean isn't exactly great...

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