Omar Shaukat admits that despite being a stand-up comic, girls don’t find him funny on dates.
Let’s get this out of the way first: I don’t know how to date. Up until this point in my life all my relationships have simply fallen into place. Normally it starts as a friendship that slowly escalates into something more serious. The idea of dating different people at the same time to see what fits best is foreign to me. Moreover, for me to be judged by a number of different girls over a relatively concentrated timespan is my own personal hell.
Now for my second admission: I’m “technically” unemployed. I use the word technically to soften the harsh reality of the word unemployed. I recently quit my day job at an independent movie theater because I wanted to fully focus on writing and performing stand-up comedy. Oh yeah, I do stand-up comedy. Maybe that’s why I have such a great fear of people not approving of me. I also realized my dual BA should be used for something other than sweeping up popcorn spilled by drunken happy movie-going couples. (A side note: If you’re down on love you probably should not be working at the most popular venue for date nights).
Oh, and I currently live in the suburbs with my parents. How did you guess? When you live 30 minutes south and 50 minutes north of the closest major cities (Baltimore and DC respectively), it is a tad difficult to meet girls. If things end up going well, saying “Hey, maybe we should hop onto I-95 North, drive for 30 miles, and spend the night in my parents’ basement with my cat” will instantly kill any momentum
The bottom line is this: My market value in the dating world is questionable at best. How would I even get a DC girl to go on a date with me? Do I just hang out in various Starbucks reading Malcolm Gladwell books?
With all that being said, I have somehow overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and managed to go on several dates in DC. For someone who never dated before, the whole process is exhausting. Most times dating feels like a job interview where halfway through I realize I’m grossly under-qualified. But unlike job interviews, I can always drink through the impending sense of rejection. Most of my dates end with me wondering why I am even putting myself out there in the first place.
My main problem with dating is that I constantly feel like I have to sell myself to the other person. It’s a personal quirk that taps into my deep neurosis, and it’s exacerbated by being in this city.
I’ve spent a lot of time in DC recently, and I realize how intensely everyone here works. It makes sense. DC is a political industry, and just like any other industry (Hollywood, Music, Comedy, even Porn—especially Porn) the more you schmooze and the harder you work, the further you go.
Most dates I go on are like this: The girl is incredibly intelligent, driven, and inspired. Most of the time she is interning for a senator whose state I don’t know the capital of, or for an ambassador who has more consonants in his name than I thought was humanly possible. The girl has aspirations and convictions. Then it comes time for me to sell myself.
Let’s see: I double majored in Communications (often referred to as the Frat House major at many colleges) and Comparative History of Ideas (which sounds like a symposium they offer at Bonaroo). I live at home, I’m unemployed, and I guess I’m pursuing creative endeavors right now.
Then the girl asks, “What sort of creative endeavors?”
To which I reply, “Stand-up Comedy”.
I usually get this response: “I would have never of guessed you to be a stand-up comedian”. Read as: You are not funny.
Cut to me spiraling into a crippling whirlpool of self-doubt.
The night ends harmless enough, and then I try to make follow-up plans. The usual response is: “I don’t think I can hang out at all this week due to work, and next week I have X meetings, Y conference calls, and Z notes to type up. But I’ll text you when I can hang out next.”
This used to frustrate me. The whirlpool of insecurities would sink deeper. Am I the only person in DC not constantly preoccupied with work? Does that make me a less attractive partner? Then I had this epiphany:
Dating is a selfish act. People date to fill a void in their lives (cue double entendre), be it a physical or an emotional one. While I’m still not the biggest fan of dating, I’ve learned that going on dates and being with other people helps you gain a sense of self. Also, through dating you realize what you want and need in a partner. In the long run these are all things that help you become a better person. And isn’t that in the end what life is all about? To be the most complete human being you can be?
As for me, I’m slowly figuring things out. The realization that I should view dating as self-improvement was a major breakthrough. For me, whether it is something as significant as confronting my ridiculous neuroses, or as miniscule as realizing that maybe I should actually shave my beard every once in a while, every date I go on is making me a better man.
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