In the summer of 2015 I married a stranger. A group of experts matched me with a man I had never met before. The first time I met my husband-to-be was at City Hall about three minutes before we said: JA (I do). It was broadcast on national TV in a reality show called Gift ved første blik (“married at first sight”).
“How brave of you! You are truly courageous!”
That’s the most common reaction when people find out about what I did.
And sure, it feeds my hungry ego when people say that. Who doesn’t like the idea of being brave? But I’m not sure that I am so brave. Is it brave to throw yourself blindly into something without knowing all the factors? Isn’t it stupid and naïve to entrust strangers to such an important decision?
I never expected the thing to actually happen. After I signed up, I was put through a lot of tests and meetings where the experts tried to figure out what kind of a person I was. At the time, I treated it like an interesting, narcissistic hobby, with no actual goal. I didn’t think for a second that I might be exchanging vows with a man I had never met before.
But a week before the wedding I got a call from the caster. They had found me a match. And not just some stupid, superficial Tinder-match – a match with someone they actually thought I would have a lot in common with. Someone I could have a crazy experience with. Someone who actually wanted to do something, who’d be willing to work at getting to know me and try it out. Yes, finding a man who embodied these things had so far proven difficult.
I knew that I had to meet this person. My curiosity was far too great to not go through with it. It did not feel like an act of courage, more like taking advantage of a new opportunity (and a free wedding dress). I was far more excited and curious, than anxious.
Maybe I should have been more scared of being publicly judged. Last season, the show garnered more than 800,000 viewers. That’s a lot of people silently, and not so silently, picking apart everything about me, from my decisions, to my personality and looks.
But I soon stopped worrying about how viewers saw me. I’m my own biggest critic anyway. I didn’t sign up to have nice things said about me.
I did it to finally admit to myself the dreams I actually had. I dreamt of finding someone to complement me, to challenge me and to share the hopes, fears, and joys of human existence. A partner to start a family with.
Admitting that out loud is scary. What if it doesn’t work out? But once I admitted it to myself, it stopped being so hard to say. The dream of a life companion is not so strange after all.
And what was the harm in doing it publicly? Would it actually make a difficult situation any more difficult?
All you can do is be honest and try your best. I did it and I survived. We always do. Because taking that first step is always the hardest – admitting to yourself what you want. To dare to look into your future and reach for the simple things that will make you happy. It’s easier not to, to learn to be satisfied with your lot in life and not to take any risks.
But that’s not happiness. We owe it to ourselves to reach out for the simple things, the ones which make us truly happy. Once you do it, and survive, you soon begin to realise all the things you might miss out on if you give into fear. All you need is a little courage.M