You wouldn’t think that creating an online dating profile would have much to teach. Surprisingly, I found it an interesting exercise in self-knowledge. Moving through a transition and trying to decide  what the next chapter of life will look like, can be a wake up call. How many of us have lost touch of what  we do value and want in our lives? Simply writing a profile was much more challenging than I expected.

Online dating has become a way for many people to try to meet someone with whom to form a relationship. The act of creating a profile is the necessary first step in making contact with a potential date in this forum. It is an interesting exercise in deciding what is and isn’t important for someone to know about you.

Beyond the basic details of favourite food and the last movie or book you read, is how to describe to others, just what makes you tick in a way that is appealing. Unless you are in marketing, this is a somewhat more challenging activity than you might expect. Frankly, I got to a place of personal amusement by numbering my word documents as profile # 35, 53 or 91. Each an effort to capture the essence of me, or enough of me, to be alluring. The numbering might be off, but the efforts to capture who I am and the resulting different versions reflected my struggle to find the right wording.

Getting to what you care about

The irony, is that I am at heart the person who sits in the back row, the observer. I am not especially good at self promotion and even less interested or likely to have a lot of pictures taken of me. As you can imagine though, in the online world, more is better. Talk about pushing my comfort zone!

Beyond the picture expectations, is the descriptive self promotional piece. Yeah, that was tons of fun. Truthfully, it required me to think about the areas most important to me.  I hoped that a clear statement would both attract and weed out potential dates. It made me more discriminating too, as I began to realize what I truly cared about.

While travel might be a common interest, it is the widening perspective of a world beyond that I appreciate. So, to list travel, it was important to note my enjoyment of learning about people and cultures. Since I care about my health, I noted that I like to eat well and engage in activities like cycling and hiking. Finally, I mentioned that my kids are grown and my time my own. I wanted to ensure that those looking would understand that I was past the raising of kids and now looking to be a more active participant in the bigger world.

The Who, What and Why Gave Me The How

Each of the things I mentioned helped me realize who I am and  what I wanted. Motivated to live beyond TV re-runs, I  embrace learning and yes, enjoy the freedom to pick up and go, no longer bound by parenting. It narrowed down the dating pool, but that was okay. I learned too, I would rather be alone and living the life I needed, than becoming a couple to avoid being alone. That too was an important piece of self discovery and self-knowledge. Understanding  what was important and what I wished to create, increased my confidence. The more I learned about myself, the easier to  move through this unknown territory.

Self reflection is not an activity that is especially encouraged in today’s world. The busy badge of honour  keeps many of us from determining what is really important. Often, it isn’t until difficult episodes in our lives occur. We are then more likely to accept the invitation to whittle down what is worth fostering and what we can let go.

Writing the online profile became a much more valuable effort than what I expected. The time taken to craft numbers 35, 53 and 91 profile versions all taught me and brought me closer to who I am and yes, what is important. They helped me focus in more clearly on the areas I wanted to develop, with or without a relationship as an end result.

If you would like to exercise your own opportunity for self growth and creating the life you want, consider putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard and creating a personal profile. Regardless of your relationship status, it can give you a window into who you are, or would like to be. From there, the world awaits.