On my first date when I was fifteen, I was sure I was coming down withthe flu. My stomach was in knots and every cell in my body was screaming at me, ‘D I called my sister on the way to the movie theatre, telling her that I wasgoing to puke in the middle of the street.

Luckily, I didn’t puke on the cute guy I was seeing. I didn’t die or get kidnapped. And I definitely I didn’t have the flu. I had anxiety.

Ever since then, first dates have been my own kind of hell. Online dating in college was my worst nightmare and I usually had to resort to alcohol to calm my nerves (like at the two shots worth of alcohol). After college ended and as I started to work full time, I deleted my online dating apps and stopped trying.

Anxiety was ruining my love life. And I was letting it.

I let anxiety take the reigns. I let anxiety stop me from dating. I let anxiety control what I did and what I didn’t do. I let my anxiety stop me from the possibility of love. I let anxiety drive the car while I convinced myself it was the best thing to do.

At a certain point after being single for two years, I decided I needed to get a grip with reality and with my anxiety. After two years of being single, I decided to suck it up. And to finally just be a big girl and.

This is how I did it. I started going out more with my friends instead of hibernating all day and watching Netflix. I started going to coffeeshops instead of working in my bed. I started having more conversations, communicating with people who I ordinarily wouldn’t have even laid eyes on. And you know what? People started asking me out. And I started saying yes.

I’m not saying it’s been smooth sailing. I’m not saying I’m a pro dater now and that first dates make me want to jump for joy. I still get scared out of my mind. I still feel that pit of nerves in the bottom of my stomach just waiting for me to spill my drink or stutter over my words.

I still get scared. But I don’t let that stop me anymore.

Anxiety will always be a part of me. It will always be there with me on first dates and probably on most days, but it doesn’t have to control me now. It doesn’t have to tell me what I can and cannot do. It doesn’t have to rule my world.

I still don’t go on date after date like I’m Charlotte York from ‘Sex And The City’. I don’t serial date. I don’t feel like I have to date all the time. But, now when the opportunity comes along, I don’t back out. Now when the opportunity comes along, I take a few deep breaths and walk out the door. Now when the opportunity comes along, I don’t let anxiety win.

Despite the shaky hands. Despite the shaky legs and the upset stomach. Despite all of it. You can’t let it win. You can’t let it control you. You can’t let anxiety take your life away from you.

So, walk out that door no matter how scared you are. Call up that girl or that guy no matter how much your voice shakes. Take control of your life. You deserve to be happy. To meet new people and to explore life. You deserve to take the reigns of your own life.

Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/lauren-jarvis-gibson/2017/03/how-to-date-when-you-have-anxiety/