As a man who’s been single for majority of his adult life, I’ve come to realize that I spend a tremendous amount of time trying to find, preparing for, going on and breaking off with dates. Too much time to be proud of. Sex drives me more than it should.
Despite my sporadic self-sabotaging tendencies, I truly believe in the value of continuous self-improvement. To wake up every morning and know that who I am today is doing something better than who I was yesterday. Anything. So instead of trying to break my slump, I embraced the extra time and energy on bettering myself.
Just to be clear, this post is not about some epiphany I’ve had on the shallowness of my life. Nor is it going to end with me denouncing casual sex. That’s never going to happen as long as I’m a single man. But what is going to happen is me spitballing some ideas on how I redirected my energy from trying to get laid to trying to improve certain aspects of my life.
Writing more (differently)
In college, I used to be able to write two, three short stories a week. Now it takes me a week, just to finish 3,000 cohesive words. That is, until I sat down and completed a 4,000-word story in one night last week, with a beginning, middle and end. I’m not saying that sex took away from my creativity or my drive to write, but it certainly distracted me from it. Sometimes I’d walk out of my door on a Friday night with a story idea in my head, but instead of sitting down to write it, I’d go out to meet with a girl who may or may not hook up with me. The possibility alone can be an enticing distraction.
Work Out (furiously)
When I finally embraced my dry streak, I also inadvertently removed liters of alcohol out of my weekly life. I noticed I had more energy on the weekends. For the first time since my competitive running days, I actually went to the gym twice in one particularly uneventful day. The testosterone that used to be depleted elsewhere are now focused on running faster and picking up heavier things. The irony, of course, is that I look great, but beach season is over.
I speak four languages and I want to learn more. It’s on my bucket list. Not just Portuguese, but French, German, Spanish, and maybe Russian. I don’t just want to be multilingual, I want to be an extreme polyglot. I learned a little bit of Portuguese for my trip to Rio last year, but I hadn’t kept up with it, so now it’s mostly gone. Finally, with some spare time, I’m listening and reading Portuguese material again with some results.
I really like cooking for people, especially, for women who may or may not sleep with me, and I also cook for myself. While I was traveling I couldn’t cook. So I spent a lot of effort in looking for good food. And since it was for work, that meant that most of my meals were paid by the company. When one pleasure is taken away, another compensates. And because I’m working out more, I can afford to eat fattier and sweeter. Eating my feelings and frustrations. Nonetheless, life became more delicious with less guilt.
Like I said before, this isn’t about me denouncing sex. This is about looking for silver linings in the cloud. About not wasting time and energy. About controlling the effect, regardless of cause. So next time you have a dry spell, a sexual ennui, a slump, or whatever you call it, don’t think of it as a curse that you need to break. Embrace it as an opportunity to amp up your life, to double your effort on things that you’ve always done. Aside from those everyday things, there are very few outcomes which you truly control.
- Eric Wang