I have been told for many years to ‘just put myself out there’. It's as if this 'ground-breaking' piece of advice is the key to the gates of Shangri-fucking-La. Every time a friend suggested I whore myself around this mystical place called ‘there’ in order to find the elusive love affair I wasn’t even sure I desired, I wanted to punch them in the left kidney. I’m 33 and still sleep with a night-light… ‘out there’ is scary and you can’t make me do it!
I am however a big fan of nudges of encouragement to drag my lazy ass into new adventures… but I’m also a big fan of baby steps. I freak out... a lot. I can also be found overthinking perfectly normal situations until I’m bleeding from every orifice. It’s exhausting. But I wanted to do something bold and ridiculous in 2016. I wanted to go on just one small, insignificant date to help build my slightly battered confidence with women. Baby steps right…
Soooo… without telling anyone... I applied for the reality TV show First Dates Ireland. A dating series that sets you up with a complete stranger for members of the public to point, laugh and annihilate you on Twitter in 140 characters or less. Kinda like Mad Max and the Thunderdome... but with more hearts and a shit load more awkwardness. (I clearly didn't think any of this through before applying.)
I auditioned in December 2015, filmed the date on a cold January evening, and it went live on national telly in May. Here are the 10 stages of basking in approximately 48 hours of being a reality TV ‘sensation’ from maybe 8 minutes of screen time.
I’ve just been told I’m on the show! Woop! Fire all the cupcake canons bitches!
Realise the magnitude of going on TV and alternate between silently weeping whilst Googling ‘how to lose 56 stone in 2 weeks’ … and screaming obscenities at my naked body in a mirror.
Decide that life is too short and I need to love myself just the way I am before anyone can love me. Namaste and stuff.
Laugh hysterically at my pep talk and drink nothing but cayenne pepper mixed with bleach for the next 2 weeks at an attempt to look like Beyonce in Dreamgirls.
Hire a media savvy PR team/my best mates who tell me to avoid being a drunken prick… and nobody needs to hear the story of when I first got my period.
Arrive at the venue and instantly wanna vomit with nerves. Everyone seems so young and fresh faced… and all I can offer are inappropriate comments, side eye and sparkly shoes.
My blind date seems fun… all is well even though she fucks a grilled lemon onto the floor. Wait… hold on… do you know what would make this SO much better?? Attempting to moonwalk across the restaurant like the massive prick my friends warned me about.
Have a little sit down next to my date in a small room where we are put on the spot and have basically 30 seconds to decide if we want to bump uglies.
I know she doesn’t fancy me… (because she has eyes!) Even though I look crushed... the fact that I’m more excited about the free cab ride home than getting her number suggests I don’t fancy her either. I leave the date confused and overwhelmed at what I just did.
Wait 4 months until the show finally airs on TV and snuggle up to a false sense of security that everything is fiiiine… despite my body being riddled with anxiety. I sit down to watch and violently yell at the screen, “SHEM.. NO… WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!! MAKE IT STOP!!”
1 radio interview, numerous social media abuse about my hair and strangers in the street discreetly shouting “FIRST DATES!” directly into my face later… and normality resumes. Alas I am still single… but the quota for ‘putting myself out there’ has now been filled for the foreseeable future.