A common theme I hear when talking to other single people is a general sense of frustration with the dating scene and being single. Even if you have a wonderful matchmaker guiding you through the process, dating can be trying. While meeting new people and going on dates can be a lot of fun, you can only go on so many first dates where the person looks nothing like their JDate or Saw You At Sinai profile picture, or attend a singles event where you are certain you accidentally put on your invisibility cloak because literally no one seems to be noticing you, so many times before you can become understandably fatigued. As we learned in the Torah portion a few weeks back, patience is a virtue that is not often acquired easily.
So the question becomes: how do you date without getting frustrated? I have a story that I think fits this situation, and how to respond, pretty well.
I was in Israel for the first time a few years ago and spent the intermediate days of Passover at Ascent, a youth hostel in Tzfat. After I had arrived and unpacked, an announcement was made that there was going to be a special tour of the local cemetery, where many famous Jews are buried, such as the Kabbalist the Arizal. The tour was being given by a professor who had spent his life researching the graves of the people buried there. This was not a tour usually offered and I was very excited to go.
While I had been encouraged to attend the tour by an English speaker, I quickly realized that the professor guiding us was Israeli, and so the tour was in Hebrew. However, the weather was splendid, the cemetery is actually quite lovely, and one of the other Americans in the group spoke Hebrew and offered to translate for me.
I first started to get a tad frustrated when the translation services offered didn't come through - the tour guide spoke very quickly and the American was having hard time following him. Plus, he would speak for 15 mins without taking a breath, so by the time he paused, she had forgotten what he had said earlier. Meanwhile, the rest of the group was 'oohing' an 'ahhing' and I felt like I was missing out on some really cool information.
Next, the sun started to set. Having only been in Israel five days, I didn't realize how quickly the air cools once it gets dark. While the air had been pleasantly brisk when the tour began, it became downright cold, and I was unprepared for the change in temperature. Some people really enjoy cold weather - I am not one of those people. It had also already been an hour of trying to catch glimpses of what was being said in Hebrew, and I was getting rather tired of being immersed in a foreign language.
I figured it had already been over an hour - the tour was surely going to end soon. I would be able to go back to the hostel, with it's heat and English speakers, and all would be well. Fifteen minutes passed. Then it was 30. I was getting colder and colder, and more and more miserable. It was very dark, so there was no salvaging the tour by at least appreciating the scenery. I had given up all pretense of trying to follow the guide, and was actually becoming angry at the other group members who were obviously so enjoying the talk. It's easy for me to say now that it was completely irrational to be irritated with them, but it is all too easy to transfer your anger at a situation on innocent bystanders.
By this point, what I had thought would be a 45 minute fun, inspirational tour, was over 2 hours long. I had no idea where I was, and was stuck in the situation for who knew how much longer. I was freezing, mentally exhausted, and just down right miserable. I would have traded anything to be out of the situation, but there was nothing I could do about it. Once I realized there was nothing I could do about it, I started to calm down. I reminded myself that the tour would eventually come to an end, nothing lasts forever. Plus, if I calmed down, I might be able to just appreciate the experience of being at the grave sights of really accomplished, spiritual Jews, and actually get something out of it. Just like that, a feeling of serenity came over me, as I shifted my paradigm and began to enjoy myself.
And just like that, the tour was over. I was actually disappointed! As soon as I learned to make the best of the situation, it was finished.
Sometimes we are put in situations that are out of our control, and despite our best efforts, we can't do anything to change it; like no matter how many shadchanim you meet with, or singles Shabbatons you go on, you still can't meet anyone that you click with. It can be really frustrating, watching as your friends start pairing off, with seemingly no effort, while you are stuck. But - if we can shift the way we look at the situation from, "This is impossible, I'm going to start planning my Will to leave my possessions to my cats," to, "I'm going to make the most out of my time to work on me, take up new hobbies, donate my time for chesed to people who are really in need," the frustration really can disappear. And if you have a positive attitude towards life, and are focused on what you can control, rather than what you can't, you might be surprised one day to find the thing (or person) you were searching for is right there.