You should never go into a first date with any expectations, but it is hard not to let the possibilities of who you will meet overwhelm you on a blind date. Without knowing someone’s interests or intentions or appearance, you begin to imagine who they are even before you get there — resulting in some cloudy boy-figure you hold in your mind as you shower and put on make-up. Will he be talkative? Kind? Out of your league?
As this date was for an article we both had to write, I was worried going in that the boy I met would have little interest in me, and I would pick up a newspaper two days later to find all the awkward impressions I must have given off confirmed in his own writing.
In that regard, then, our date far exceeded my expectations. I arrived at the Ground Zero Performance Café with my heart rate quickening, aided only by my editor’s reassurances that my date was “very woke” and we would have “a stimulating conversation.”
But, I wondered as I waited: Why did I follow through with this assignment? Years of my heart being tugged backward and forward have resulted in a knot of insecurity I have yet to purge from my chest. A stimulating conversation should have been all I wanted.
Even still, I could feel a familiar hope rising inside of me as I leaned against a black column by the Ground Zero entrance, a hope that I wanted to shove down. However, I wasn’t waiting for long — he soon walked through the door, and there was a small moment where I recognized him before he recognized me (I was told to look for, in his words, a “tall, skinny, awkward white guy”), but he didn’t look very awkward to me. I immediately felt overdressed compared to what he was wearing (a simple USC sweatshirt), and I felt stupid for the amount of time I had spent painting on eyeliner in the mirror while listening to Radical Face’s music.
And yet as we both ordered tea, and as we began to talk about politics and dining halls and journalism, I felt a confidence grow inside me. He was that easy to talk to, and he was charming. Our date was less about analyzing someone for all the physical signs of interest and more about parsing through all the issues we both cared about. We talked about Saturday Night Live and which journalists we loved and indie pop. We lamented the state of the executive branch and fangirled over different political drama shows. We talked about our futures: He wants to go into government, and I want to go into film.
We spent an hour at Ground Zero before it closed, but afterward he suggested we take a walk around campus. Taking our date into public was a different feeling, and it was hard not to sense some of the closeness we had built up over warm tea dissipate into the cool night air. But still, the walk felt shorter than it really was, cutting past the fountain in front of Doheny Memorial Library and past the Thornton School of Music.
I showed him the School of Cinematic Arts, and we circled back so he could show me the building where he takes class. At the end of our walk we lingered, asking each other more questions. And then, after an hour and a half of conversation, it was over. We both had hours of homework to do and already the rest of the night was pressing against our backs.
It won’t be the last time we talk — we’re both politically involved and promised to keep in touch to link our organizations. But when I suggested we meet up for another conversation, I noticed he hesitated, and I could feel my mind already racing to familiar conclusions.
He doesn’t find you interesting. He didn’t expect you to say that. He’s just nervous. But as he smiled down at me, some calm inexplicably settled over my shoulders. I breathed again. And as we parted ways, I thought to myself, we had a stimulating conversation. What more can I possibly ask?
In the midst of a Wi-Fi drought, I fled to the newsroom so I could work more on my upcoming article. I was working quietly with my editor when I heard someone asking if someone could go on a blind date and write a story on it. While all the men in the office opted out one by one, there I sat, waiting for the inevitable: “What are you doing tonight?”
After thinking for a few moments, I decided to say no to the paper I needed to write and the midterm I needed to study for and yes to a night of risk.
Petrified of not knowing how things would go, much less even knowing who to look for when I arrived, I approached the Ground Zero Performance Café with some apprehension. Luckily, my date was there waiting by the front, saving me the embarrassment of walking up to random patrons to ask whether or not they were here for the Daily Trojan blind date.
While waiting for our chai teas, I realized we had a lot in common. For one, we both had received our fair share of unsavory comments on our past Daily Trojan articles. More than that, we had a silent but mutual agreement that we wouldn’t let the unconventional circumstances get in the way of enjoying the evening.
Conventional wisdom tells us to steer clear from politics at the dinner table, and especially on blind dates — but I couldn’t resist revealing the political nerd inside of me. Normally politics is divisive, but for us, venting about everything from the merits of Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer to the Sad! state of the President’s Twitter account helped us immediately form a bond. With a solid foundation in our shared liberal beliefs, the conversation veered to anything from majors to movies and from backgrounds to the basic joy that watching La La Land brings.
After an hour of easy conversation, the opportunity arose to address the elephant in the room. After sharing a laugh over the bizarre turn of events that brought us together that night, we spent the rest of the evening simply getting to know each other better without the worries of expectations or pressure.
A night marketed as a blind date and an opportunity to write about something other than politics for once turned out to be a chance to form a genuine connection with someone over common interests — something to always be valued. Sometimes we become so fixated on what dates mean that we lose sight of the importance of connecting with someone and having meaningful conversation.
So why did I say yes? Because I know I was tempted to say no. Life, and also love, is about risks, and I knew that I needed to be comfortable with the uncomfortable if I ever wanted to have the confidence to chart my own course free from fear and worry.
As someone who normally dreads spontaneity and uncertainty, a blind date was the perfect way to shake me from me from my own self-inhibition. So I in turn encourage you to say yes. Don’t worry about expectations or circumstances — take a leap of faith. Regardless of what happens, you won’t regret it.