If you had asked me eight years ago what life would be like for me eight years down the road, I probably would have answered that I'd be living the typical American Dream - my own little nuclear family complete with husband & kids in a house with a white-picket fence, all happily living in "Suburbia" just like the little doll family in my childhood doll house. That's not exactly what transpired over the past eight years. I'm a single mother now.
It's no doubt that most of us crave that ultimate feeling of being in love with another person. We are programmed to think that finding love will bring happiness, safety and security. Starting at a very young age, you just can't help but be bombarded with love stories. Turn on the radio, TV or even just visit a bookstore – there are subliminal messages everywhere that keep telling us to find love. Through the eyes of a single person, everywhere you look see nothing but couples playing and laughing together.
At present, I haven't dated in over a year. When my last relationship ended, I made a conscience choice to stop dating, and to stop searching for “my other half”. It turns out that I don't really need another half. I am my own, whole person after all, not just a "half" person!
It took me a very long time to be comfortable in my circumstances of being single. I always had this script running through my head, telling me that I wasn't complete without finding “the one”. For me, mate-hunting (as I affectionately call it) was a lot like playing slot machines. I would go along searching for the man whom I could fall completely in love with, marry and spend the rest of my life with. I ended up kissing a lot frogs, so to speak, but I just did not find that special person.
So, in time, I would lower my expectations and gradually lower my standards. But why? To marry someone who wasn't quite right for me? I'd rather be alone, than to settle for someone who isn't a good match.
When I finally realized that I don't need to be in a relationship/married, and realized that I don't need someone else to "complete me" (sorry Jerry Maguire fans), I felt much more at ease with the fact that I was very capable of being content and self-fulfilled on my own. Having someone to love or being in love is not the 'end all/be all'.
If I could give my younger-self some advice, this is what I'd say:
- Build your relationship skills. Read books, take workshops, etc. There's nothing wrong with fine-tuning yourself.
- Create a network of friends & family who you care about you. It's crucial to build your own community.
- Don't hold on to the past. It drains you, and takes your focus away from the present. Put the past behind you.
- Don't put off buying that house, taking that dream vacation, or planning for your retirement. Life's too short. Live it now.
- Realize that there is purpose to your life. What do you want to be when you grow up? Think about how you'd like to make a positive impact on your world around you.
- Treat yourself! Buy yourself flowers every week, if that's what you want. Enjoy a life rich in pleasure.
Don't be afraid of singleness, or look at singleness as negative thing. Instead, look at singleness as an opportunity for nurturing a relationship with yourself - a relationship that too many of us often overlook.