When you're stuck at home, like so many of us are right now, it's hard not to start planning what you'd like to do when you're allowed to go out again. Or, more accurately, when you're allowed to go back out into a world that has regained some modicum of normalcy.
Along these lines, I've been thinking a lot lately about a book I read and reviewed a while ago, The Offline Dating Method?by Camille Virginia. The book presents tips and techniques for striking up a conversation with a hot stranger in public, and then parlaying that conversation into a date or even a relationship. While the book seemed fun and frivolous (in a good way) to me when I read it, it seems even moreso now, when an in-person meet-cute seems as remote and perilous a possibility as a hookup on a mountaintop. But it's a nice notion to ponder, when daydreaming optimistically about what will happen when public life reopens for business .
One of the many concepts I've retained from Camille's book is her idea of the "vacation mindset" – the state of mind you get into when you're visiting an unfamiliar place. Camille argues that being a fish out of water can help you shake off your stale old self-image and slip into something a little sexier, flirtier, flashier. It's the reason I'll often chat up bartenders in cities I'm unlikely to visit again, despite almost never doing that at home; it's the reason I'll smile at strangers on the street in Portland or Montreal but rarely Toronto; it's even the reason I looked into Los Angeles escorts when I visited Burbank earlier this year. (Unfortunately, constraints on time and money ruled out that last one!) Being in a new place makes it easy to imagine being a new person – and even to move toward becoming that person.
See, if you feel trapped in an identity that is shy, reserved, and afraid, it's easier to move away from those traits when no one around you actually knows what kind of person you are in your "regular life." This was an exciting notion to me when I entered high school, for example, because I fully intended to cast off my long-outgrown plainness and step into a more fulfilling self-image – and I did! But the thing is, you don't actually?have to enter a new context in order to access this effect. You can trick yourself into embodying the vacation mindset without ever leaving your city.
I find this easiest to do in neighborhoods I don't often visit, because – like when I'm on vacation – I have the sense that I'm unlikely to see the people around me very often, or ever again, in the future. You could strike up a convo with a barista at a café across town from you, for instance, or get to know the person sitting next to you at a comedy club you've never been to before. This helps create a sense of "having nothing to lose" which I find very freeing in social interactions. You can still fuck up this type of encounter, obviously, but if you do, you can just apologize and then disappear forever from the life of the person you've weirded out, like a socially awkward Macavity.
These types of seemingly low-stakes interactions can be good practice for higher-stakes ones. You're building up your confidence, sure, but you're also building up your mental picture of the type of person you want to become. Even if you feel like a nebbish nobody for most of the week, feeling like a fabulous flirt for even one night can give you a foothold into that mindset – and maybe one day you'll be that charismatic charmer?all the time!
This post was sponsored. As always, all writing and opinions are my own.