About two and half years ago I remember catching up with an old girlfriend over some whiskey at a quaint little restaurant. We talked about work, upcoming travels, and my recent break-up. I had just gotten out of a seven year relationship which consumed the majority of my twenties and prior to that I was in an on and off whirlwind of a relationship. Up until this point in my life I considered myself a serial monogamist.
This was new territory for me; unfamiliar land that I wasn’t sure how to navigate. Most of my friends and acquaintances were all either engaged or married, some of them with children.
And here I was, in my early thirties, newly single.
I never planned on having children so I wasn’t worried about my biological clock ticking, but up until that point I thought I had found the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Though I think I adjusted quickly, my new normal took some time to get used to. I was used to falling asleep and waking up with the same person everyday. I was used to having a hand to squeeze when the plane took off. I was used to texting the same person anytime something funny or exciting happened during the day. Life had become a lot more quiet; silent. But in that silence I began to hear my own voice, a voice that had lain dormant for far too long.
Another round of whiskey and my girlfriend, who was and still is single, said something that has stuck with me since. She said that she truly believed that there was something waiting to be “unlocked” in your thirties, a type of magic that you could only find within yourself when you’re alone. If we ever chose to date again, get married, or have children, we still had time to do so, but women in their twenties who decided to settle down and start a family wouldn’t be able to have quite the same experience.
Now that I’m well into my thirties, looking back on past life decisions is so baffling to me.
It’s almost embarrassing that I would allow myself to be treated poorly by men I dated and how I’d be in absolute awe of the bare minimum they were proving. Some of these questionable life decisions even go beyond dating like accepting pay that was too low or working for free, saying yes to things when I wanted to say no, and constantly doubting myself.
But I later find out that these embarrassing moments would turn into lessons and make me who I am today.
Because of all this trial and error I have higher standards now that I apply to all things in my life and I know that I’m not done growing and learning. Because of these situations it’s easier for me to identify things I want in life and in a potential partner.
For the longest time I knew what I didn’t want but it was difficult to figure out what ideal qualities I was looking for in a partner. Then something crazy happened. I woke up one morning and realized it had been exactly a year since my break-up. Rather than let the anniversary of my singleness put a damper on my spirits, I decided to celebrate. I decided that morning that I would spend the evening cooking myself a gourmet meal and stopped by the store to pick up an expensive bottle of wine, a bouquet of beautiful flowers, and an oversized red velvet cupcake.
In doing so, this sparked the beginning of the most beautiful and important relationship of my life. This was the beginning of my own love story with myself.
It became very clear to me soon into this renaissance that the key to make me feel whole and loved wasn’t dependent on a partner but my happiness was in my own hands. Within these last couple of years I’ve learned to love myself in a way that I don’t think anyone else can compete with. I’m not saying he’s not out there but if he is, he’s got some pretty high heels to fill.
While my standards have skyrocketed my timeline has also diminished. Deciding you’re on no one else’s timeline is a very empowering feeling and presents so many new opportunities you wouldn’t be able to see clearly when you’re consumed with pleasing others or trying to keep up with society’s expectations.
So for now, I’m choosing to be single because I’ve decided it’s the absolute best and I deserve nothing less.