“So what kind of guy do you like?”
While this question might sound innocent enough, and probably even normal for women who like to chatter with their friends about their type of men, it threw me off completely.
At the time, I stuttered, and felt as though I had the wind knocked out of me. I never really had an answer when women asked me this question, their eyes bright with curiosity as they tried to find out more about the quiet Sabahan chick, and I certainly didn’t have one for the man in front of me.
“I… I don’t know. I never really thought about it.”
“I guess not.”
I thought that was going to be the end of it, but it wasn’t. If anything, what was supposed to be a simple culture/language exchange hang out turned into an extremely prying conversation about what kind of men I like, whether I had a boyfriend, whether I was dating anyone, whether I’d like to get married, when I’d like to get married, etc. Just so you won’t feel like I’m singling anyone out, this was one out of dozens of similar incidents over the past 5 or so months.
Maybe other women could’ve handled it better than I had, but with the way I was at the time, this pressed right up against my commitment phobia. While I remained polite in all of my exchanges, I was always panicking on the inside, dizzy. At first, I tried to brush off this line of questioning as a difference in culture (all of these men are foreigners) and that it was just their way of initiating a conversation (I know it’s dumb, but I always had this belief that no one and especially not non-Muslims would be interested in, let alone look at, me), but then it got to the point where I’d avoid our community, just to avoid more incidents like that.
Still, despite the immense discomfort each of these instances entailed, I’m glad they happened; they helped me get a grip of my commitment phobia. I’d already spent close to a decade avoiding men (for the most part. I had a few dates here and there), so it was well about time for me to get past it. That, and my resolution to get to know new people were some of the reasons I had agreed to such meetings. I may be a strong introvert at heart, but I also recognise that it’s important to socialise and network.
I’m getting used to talking to people, and while there are still a few things I might get shy about, I daresay I’ve come a really long way from the person I used to be last year. And I’m proud of it.
I no longer internally panic when someone new speaks to me, I no longer make it a point to avoid people, I don’t clam up or divert attention when it’s time to talk about myself, etc. One of the biggest changes of all, is that my commitment phobia is now but a dwindling flame. Of course, I’m not about to just jump into any relationship, but the thought of one no longer paralyzes me with fear.
I’m just going to go with the flow; if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, then no big deal. Either way, I’ll continue to be grateful for what I have in life. There is so much to be happy for; it’s impossible not to be.
That said, I’m still going to hold off on making a full return to that community for a while longer haha.