In addition to the early decision to play for a draw, this game provides an excellent example of other major errors in my thinking. In the opening phase, I was limited in my conception of how to play a flank opening, mentally not even considering the move e4 because it would have meant advancing a central pawn (horrors!), although this would have been advantageous at several points. In the middlegame, I relied on the idea of piece exchanges (starting on move 10) to reach a draw. Exchanges can have far-reaching implications for the rest of the game, among other things determining which side's remaining pieces become more effective, so simply exchanging is hardly a recipe for a draw. Finally, White's repeated pawn advances created major weaknesses that Black could exploit, showing how I failed to understand their long-term implications.
It's because of games like these that I saw a serious need to improve my mental toughness and stop worrying about ratings. My attitude was completely wrong from the start here. It's one thing to aim for a draw later in the game in an even (or worse) position, quite another to ignore any ideas of winning at the start of the middlegame. Playing for a draw can often lead to losing in the end.