Ask Jono: You Are Probably Not a Hopeless Dork
First of all, you're so awesome. How did you get that way? I bet it was epic. Second of all, I have a problem. I feel like a dating pariah. I'm going to be graduating next month and I have never been on a date, let alone been complimented by a member of the opposite sex. I know that statistically I'm in the norm, but it hurts like the dickens. I go to an online high school and only have one class in the local high school, so I'm kind of thinking that this contributed to the problem. I do socialize regularly with my friends from church (as in seeing them multiple times per week and doing fun things with said group), though. I think that I'm a pretty girl, I take care of myself and make sure to actually have conversations with other people. I even play a mean game of foosball. I normally don't care, but prom is this Saturday, so I have to see all of these happy couples while I go to bed every night thinking "Oh-man-I'm-never-gonna-get-to-go-on-a-date-because-I-did-something-wrong-I-bet-guys-hate-girls-that-are-scifi-fantasy-geeks-I'm-so-ugly-I'll-die-alone-with-fifty-cats!" Is there something that I can do, or should I just count on college this fall? Is there some magical password that lets a guy know that I wont rip their still-beating hearts from their chests if they ask me out? Please help, Jono, I feel so dorky and stupid here.
Oh, Concerned Dork. I'm not sure if you're the statistical norm, but I urge you not to think in those terms anyway. Statistically, you are more likely to be attacked by eels than to win the lottery, and you will accidentally eat about fifty bugs this year. These statistics are true, but they are bad ways to look at life, and dating statistics are equally unhelpful; if 100% of teens were lonely and miserable, it still wouldn't make you feel better about being lonely and miserable. Comparing yourself to a bunch of happy couples is a good way to drive yourself crazy with jealousy, and before long you'll find yourself standing on top of a mountain lair, building a death ray and muttering about how you'll show everybody. Skip all of that and just focus on being not-lonely and un-miserable.
Not being in a physical high school, with physical humans, has definitely made things a little tougher for you. But the single most ridiculous concern on planet Earth is that guys everywhere are thinking "Oh, a pretty girl who likes foosball and sci-fi/fantasy? BLECH." There are dudes out there who will literally pay actual dollars to play video games with with a person who has girl parts. Consider that for a second; these shmucks are paying money just for the validating feeling that any woman, anywhere, could possibly share their hobbies. Geekiness isn't going to hold you back. If anything, it'll give you common ground—something to talk about on those first few moments of a date, when you would otherwise open your mouth to say something enchanting and instead find yourself saying "Ummm, one time I barfed, at the carnival," and then sitting there in mortified silence. So cross geekiness off the list of things to worry about.
Normally I hate platitudes, which I prefer to call badditudes. But some of them ("be yourself," "stay positive") are valuable in your situation, because you seem pretty fatalistic about stuff you haven't even really gotten to try yet. Most worthwhile human interaction is unplanned and incidental; you make eye contact with some dashing young gentleman in the halls and you leave each other cryptic notes, or you run into someone wearing the same Firefly shirt as you, and you romantically imprison him in your basement. But this stuff usually happens, at least in my experience, when people are relaxed and off their guard—in class, or at lunch, or whatever. I don't think you've had much of that kind of low-key contact, and that's where basic human connections come from.
So yes, college is definitely going to help you. But I have to stress that college isn't magic, unless you are going to wizard college. My situation was kinda similar to yours; I'd gone to a Stupid School, was completely out of place in high school, and functioned like a clumsy robot until too late for it to matter. I rightly assumed that college would be better, but then what I did was show up at college, put my hands on my hips, and go "HERE I AM, LADIES," to the sound of many crickets. I assumed that everything would just magically work out as soon as I changed settings, which I can assure you it doesn't (especially if you don't do a lot of boy interaction right now). College is perhaps the most accessible dating atmosphere there is, but even there, a boy is not just going to explode out of the bushes like a jack-in-the-box and demand your hand in marriage; you're going to have to make the approach yourself sometimes, and maybe even be the one to ask the guy out. You will, at least, be an environment more suited to it than the one you're in now. Just don't get discouraged, don't respond to attention that is clearly the sleazeball kind, and always remember the Boy Password (which, by the way, is to lean in really close and whisper, confidentially, "HAMBURGERS").