My two cents...
Go to a range that rents guns. If possible, take a friend who shoots guns. Rent at least 6 pistols and 2 revolvers. Fire them as much as you can; don't skimp on ammo. Put some time and effort and money into it.
Then, go home and organize your thoughts and impressions. What felt good? What worked best? Etc.
Do searches on this and other forums. Read and learn as much as you can.
Take your time. Don't let extrinsic events rush you.
Then make your purchase.
(This is where many folks stop. Don't do it.)
Next, buy a bunch of ammo and become skilled at shooting your handgun accurately and safely.
Enjoy a new lifelong hobby.
Finally, encourage your friends and family members to go shooting with you. Share your enjoyment.