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Even as an adult with my own computer, I was still introverted, still awkward with my hands, still funny only to my friends.

As everyone around me started to pair off, the prospect of a future alone came into focus.

I was the girl would go to a bar to meet people, but then play on her phone, pretending to be busy so that no one would talk to her.

Being out late in a noisy, overcrowded bar is not on my list of fun ways to spend time. That said, I couldn’t help but wonder: with over eight million people living in New York City, couldn’t I find one guy who was allergic to the same kind of fun that I was?

I couldn’t speak loud enough for people to hear me and any time the attention was on me, I did whatever I could to deter it.

I was so scared of being knocked down that couldn’t bear to show myself.

And while it was easy to blame my freelance work-from-home lifestyle, the truth is, even if I was out and about, I still wouldn’t talk to people.

But once I started to match with people, I was brought back to that very same feeling of freedom that I first felt in AOL chat rooms. Every serious relationship I’ve had in my life came from a combination of swipes and red bubbled messages.And I could make myself even cuter online by typing in u P d Ow N u P d Ow N. My voice didn’t trail off at the ends of sentences when I was talking online. The internet took away some of my otherness and evened me out.Eventually, I would give up the Cali Surf Gurl QT persona and talk about my true self with ease. The key to expressing myself lay in a QWERTY keyboard and while my parents wished I’d go outside, it felt like I was.So, online became a special place for me to steal characters’ identities from Mary Kate and Ashley movies and use them to affirm some level of existence, at least as it pertained to boys.While my friends were sticking their tongues down each other’s throats and grinding behind the teacher’s backs at school dances, I was transfixed on the computer and twitterpated with my life online.

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