I’m 22 and single. Even typing that makes me laugh inside. I haven’t graduated from college, still live with my parents and haven’t chosen a career yet, but the thing I feel that defines me is my relationship status. Now I recognize that, considering I don’t want to get married until my late 20s and I barely have enough time these days for myself, my family and a few select close friends, a romantic relationship should be the furthest thing from my mind, practically speaking. But strangely enough, I feel incredible pressure to be dating someone right now. I feel the weight in my grandmother’s question as she confirms that I am indeed still single and simultaneously reflect on how relieved she sounded two years ago when I told her I <<finally>> had a boyfriend. I watch classmates on Facebook get engaged, go “Facebook official” with their significant other or post picture of their husband/wife and kids and feel that somehow being single at 22 means that I’ll be single forever. I watch television and realize the seventh graders on Girl Meets World have more of a love life than I do. Heck, the five year old on GMW has more of a love life than I do.
I remember a year after my breakup I felt so incredibly strong and confident. I had finally discovered self love and I vowed to never turn back. Somewhere along the way, I unconsciously bought into the notion that I was less of a person without a boyfriend.
I’ve found myself daydreaming about my future relationship a lot lately. Not the healthy kind of daydreaming I had been doing the last few months, figuring out the traits I was looking for, the warning flags to look out for and the dealbreakers I wasn’t gonna stand for. No, I had started thinking in terms of what my life would look like when I was in a relationship again. You know, getting dressed up, eating out, feeling special, feeling pretty. I began to think about my current season as a season of waiting, as if my life was on pause until I got another boyfriend. How ridiculous is that?! How ridiculous is it to think that another person, much less a boy, could or should define my life? My life is not on pause!
I recently heard an interview with actress Jessica Marie Garcia (check out the podcast here: http://hollywoodparentsguide.com/jessica-marie-garcia-actress/) where she was talking about happiness and success. She explained that the idea that you will be happy when “x” happens is bogus. You have to find ways to be happy now or you won’t be happy when you reach whatever it is that you think will make you happy. I think that is so true. You have to be willing to love where you are, despite how far off it is from where you wanna be.
I am currently running on two cups of coffee and a can of Coke because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes open. I am that tired. My alarm went off this morning at 5am and I am currently sitting in my dad’s office in Pasadena because that was the only way to get a car to drive to my internship. I haven’t hung out with friends in weeks. I go to bed later than I should because I’d hate to disappoint my siblings by not watching our nightly episode of Once Upon a Time. I am not asking for your pity or for you to feel bad for me. I just want you to understand where I’m coming from as I write this. I’m not where I wanna be. But every morning when my alarm goes off, I thank God for where I am. I find ways to be so appreciative of this season in life because I know that I’m blessed and I know it will always be easier to find things to hate about my current situation than to be thankful.
I recently realized that I was placing a lot of my unhappiness on the fact that I didn’t have someone to come home to. No one was going to have my favorite meal waiting for me or cuddle with me on the couch while we watched what I wanted or pour me a glass of wine. I was telling myself that life would be so much easier if I had a boyfriend to walk through this tough season with me. Then one day I drove past the Citadel Outlets on my way home from internship, saw the billboard advertising La Mirada Theatre’s performance of The Little Mermaid musical and realized that is what would make me happy: Getting dressed up and going to see a musical I’d obsessed over for years (all of my favorite Little Mermaid songs are from the Broadway soundtrack). I didn’t need a boy to take me or even, anyone else to go with me. I (and only I) had the power to make me happy.
I wish I could tell you I went straight home and bought those tickets, but I didn’t. I waited and put it off and made excuses and forgot. Until I found myself hiding in my room on Father’s Day watching Youtube because I didn’t have the energy to spend time with my extended family. I couldn’t keep living like this. So I marched into the kitchen, asked to use the car, bought the ticket and promised myself that in a week for a few hours, I was going to focus on me.
It honestly turned my whole week around. Now I had something to look forward to. No matter how crazy the week got, I knew I had a few hours carved out to relax and take care of me. When Sunday came around, I made sure I had enough time to get ready, made sure that my family knew this was my time and you know what? I had the most fun I’ve had in a really long time getting ready for an event. I didn’t have to worry about dressing up or down to meet my date somewhere in the middle. I didn’t think about how tall he was when I decided to wear heels. I wasn’t hoping for compliments when I did my makeup because I was going to go hang out with a bunch of strangers. I felt like a princess because I felt like a princess, not because some boy (or well meaning friends) told me I looked like one.
Now, I’m by no means bashing being in a relationship. I consider myself a relationship person and cannot wait to be in my next one. But for now and until God decides otherwise, I am single. I am simply enjoying being single the same way I plan to enjoy being in a relationship. I’m choosing to love where I am instead of waiting anxiously for what’s next because that is the only way I know how to be happy. Also, being single is awesome! Just like being in a relationship is awesome. There is a season for everything.
If your current situation is less than ideal, do what you can to improve it then sit back and learn to love where you’re at. No one else is gonna do it for you.
Some photos from my Little Mermaid solo date adventure:
Truly a magical night & a magical show