Despite what all my family, friends, and, probably, most acquaintances would say, I truly consider myself an extroverted-introvert. Sure, every job I've held has had a huge degree of customer service and sales, but I'm never one to strike up a conversation with a stranger on the subway or at a bar. I'd rather people-watch and make up stories in my head.
I think that's part of being an actor; simultaneously imagining inserting yourself into someone else's narrative and the act of actually doing it. My theatre training helped me develop my extroverted side. I get into character anytime I need to go into an interview, meet a prospective client, or attend a networking event. I play a confident person, someone who has her elevator speech down perfectly while still coming off as genuine and engaging.
I guess these skills are what have always made comfortable dating. I play the part of someone who is cool and collected. I'm open, inquisitive, and light. But the confidence is a false mirror. I'm usually an anxious wreck as I send that first text, make arrangements, and go on that date. I tend to drink a little too fast to calm my nerves. Each question or witty story has been rehearsed in my head at least once before, pulling from my memory like any actor trained in improvisation. I stay stay true to my part the entire evening, never breaking character.
Now nothing that I ever say or do on a date isn't true; it's not like I lie about who I am. But dating is an intricate dance number, and years of practice mean that your muscle memory guides you through the steps, as if it hasn't been 8 years since you've stepped on on that stage. You're ready to feel the warm spotlight on your face and find your mark on the floor.
Within the first few weeks of separation from my husband, I decided to start dating. It wasn't to fill the "void" of being lonely or try to "replace" what I had with him. I simply knew that I'd have to get back into the dating scene eventually so, like any practiced actor, I might as well start rehearsing. I know I'm going to fumble some lines and forget the steps at times, but I have to get back up and start from the top.